remembering how to sign his name, and put pen to paper in a short, quick stroke.
Before this gig, I’d held several jobs, never one that actually took: used car salesman, personal banker, fastfood restaurant GM. Each had their perks; each had their downfalls. Probably the worst was being a recruiter for Hertz. My job was to pack in as many bodies as possible, all on thirty- or sixty-day temp contracts. Their job was simple: to detail the cars. I’d find these kids all over, working as gas station clerks, trolling Facebook for anyone complaining they were out of work. Bail bondsmen would send me referrals, kids who’d been arrested for public intox or street racing. All of them were desperate; all of them needed something to hold on to. And so that’s what I sold them, stability. A chance for them to better themselves. Problem was it hardly turned out that way. The company I worked for, Singular Temp Associates, had a cash flow problem. A year prior, their CEO had been sued over a commercial real estate deal that went south, and he had a judgment placed against him. That left him with his revolving line of credit called due but a contract to fulfill. He had temps to pay in thirty days, but Hertz didn’t pay until sixty, a problem he never was able to fix. The kid who got to me the worst was a boy named Eddie. Seventeen years old, he’d been busted for a B&E a couple of months prior. Wasn’t the kid’s fault, really, if you believed his lawyer, just started hanging out with the wrong crowd, got dragged into something that wasn’t his idea. We worked with the DA to get his charge reduced to a simple trespassing if he kept his job for ninety days and completed a year’s probation. Day 68 rolled around, and Eddie didn’t get paid and so he quit. Couldn’t blame the kid, working for nothing. This sprung the terms of his plea deal, though, and the kid wound up getting charged as an adult and spent a year behind bars. Once released, he showed up at my doorstep. Eddie was a wiry kid, malnourished, the veins protruding from his arms an indigo blue. Wrapped in his hand was a crowbar. “You fucked me,” he said. “I’m sorry.” “You stole a year of my life.” “I’m sorry. I really am.” Didn’t matter though. Ended up with a four-inch laceration on my forehead, black eye, a fractured cheekbone. I could’ve turned the kid into the cops, got him sent back to the pen on an assault and battery charge, but I didn’t. Instead I just made myself a promise: I’d never fuck anyone over like I had Eddie. Not knowingly anyway.
My girlfriend at the time, Callie, collected vintage action figures and comic books, selling them to nerds throughout Oklahoma City and Tulsa, usu52 Noah Milligan
The Hofstra Journal of Literature and Art