The Frolic Room Prophet – page 84
Whap!Whapwhapwhap! Then dead silence. Robbie’s old car came to a stop in the middle of Sunset Boulevard in East Hollywood. “Shit! I’ll be late to work again.” He got out after shifting into neutral. Robbie started pushing with one hand and steering toward the curb with the other. Two more men stopped, and both started pushing from the rear bumper. The car then rolled so quick it hit the curb and bounced a little. Robbie lifted the hood to see what the matter was as the helping men came to look.
“It’s there, the fan belt.” Spoke one of the men. Robbie reached down and pulled the twisted broken belt out of the pulleys and sighed. “Where are you headed?” Asked the other man.
“Work, Piggly Wiggly and I’m late now.”
“I go right by there. Jump in.”
Piggly Wiggly was busy when Robbie arrived and his boss, Red Dawson was angrier than most days. With red hair and a florid face with red freckles he chopped a woman’s order behind the glass counter at the butcher’s block stained red and brown that spoke of the volumes of meat he already cut before Robbie came in late. After wrapping the woman’s order and sliding it across the steel counter, he turned to Robbie and vented.
“Goddamnit Bugglesworth! Of all mornings to be late again, I have worked my ass off and was supposed to be at school for my son’s Pinewood Derby! My fucking wife has called me crying. crying crying Goddamnit! I missed it. Say something you bastard!”
“Im sorry. My fan belt broke. I had to hitch a ride. I’m sorry Red.”
“That damn car of yours. Buy one that works.”
“I can’t afford to, you only pay me fifty bucks a week.”
“How about I fire you and then how much you gonna make?”
“Please don’t Red. Please don’t.”
Red stormed off to go for a smoke as Robbie waited on another customer. For the rest of the long day, Red sat in a chair off to the side of the butcher counter and watched Robbie work. He refused to help when several customers were in line, even when Robbie pleaded with him. At closing time Robbie clocked out and walked down the alley into the back door of the Tick Tock Lounge, a blue collar bar that nice folks did’t frequent. The bar was busy as people were getting off work and needed a distraction from the grind of the day. Robbie Bugglesworth found an empty stool next to Fred G. Woodley. “Woody” was a drunk, although a high functioning one. He ran a part time auto repair business but closed every day at three pm, so as to sit at the Tick Tock until bedtime. His age was uncertain but looked to be somewhere between thirty and fifty. Brown as a nut and lean as a pole, he read the newspaper as Robbie drank his fresh beer.
“Woody, I need a favor.”
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