This chapter is brought to you by Kangaroo Court- Capital Cities because it came on when I started writing this.
you don't need to listen to the song while reading this chapter
I had shown up to Rocky's Pizza nervous and in a panic mood since I was late. I could tell you why, but I'm trying to forget the run-in I had with Emily. Oh, well never mind then. It didn't matter why I was late or that I was late anyways since the manager, Ivan, was twenty minutes late compared to my seven minutes. He was supposed to train me, but he really didn't tell me much. I thought he would explain things to me, but it was the exact opposite. By the end of his tour, he never gave me a chance to ask questions. He told me to ask another employee, Hailee, if I needed something. That was when I first knew there was a lot to learn about my new job here. Ivan told me to go to the back where the boxes are. I did, but I had no idea what I was supposed to do.
I ended up meeting Hailee and found out my job was to bring in the boxes that were outside, open them, count the items to make sure everything is there, and put it all away. It wasn't bad at all, there were three boxes, but I had trouble putting everything away correctly. For example, I had no idea where the mushrooms were supposed to go since there wasn't a label or that I was supposed to toss out the pineapple that was already there. I learned a lot today and when the time came for my break, I was relieved to say the least. Hailee also told me one of the perks about working here is that on breaks, we can have pizza or whatever we wanted for free. I decided that having a free lunch was better than my original idea of paying for one.
Now, I'm sitting at a table by myself eating lunch and watching a guitarist and a singer get ready to perform on the small stage. I could get used to this job.
"Hey Niall, can I join you?" I looked up at Hailee and nodded as I chewed a bite from my slice of pepperoni pizza.
"Didn't I tell you it gets better?" She asked after I swallowed my food and washed it down with soda.
"If you don't mind me saying, I know you're not from Arcade. Where are you from?"
"Oregon, and don't laugh, but I'm from Gaylord." I could see the laughter bubbling up inside her and when I smiled, she started to giggle.
"I'm sorry, but I never knew there was an actual place called that. Do you like it here?"
"I'm getting used to being out here. It's hotter than Gaylord and sunnier, too."
"Have you met anybody?" I knew she was just being nice and trying to make conversation, but it sucked knowing I didn't have at least one possible friend yet.
"I've met people, but no one I would call a friend." She nodded.
"Don't worry about it, you'll have friends soon. This place isn't big. Do you have a house or an apartment?"
"Apartment, the complex on San Bernard."
"Oh, that sucks. That place has cruddy apartments. You've probably met Philly then and have seen Emily." I nodded.
"You know them?" She let out a small laugh.
"I've known Emily since elementary school and we went to the same schools since. Philly has been coming here since Prescott, or Press, worked here." I didn't respond, and continued to eat my pizza as the duo started to perform. Hailee drank some of her soda before she continued speaking.
"Philly has always been a jerk, but he really isn't that bad. Emily actually used to be nice, but something happened to her and she changed. We used to be friends, actually. She missed almost a week of school and came back avoiding everyone. After a while she got a bit better, but she still kept to herself until she became reclusive and mean."
"So she used to be nice?"
"Yes, but that's all there is to know about her. I'm sure you've been told to stay away from her already." I nodded.
"But she does smoke a lot or she just likes buying a bunch of packs."
A couple of minutes of silence passed as the topic of Emily was dropped. For some reason, she was always brought up. But I forgot about her as I finished my slice of pizza and worked on my drink. The guy on the guitar was really good, probably better than that girl from the last time, and the guy singing put quite a bit of emotion into the lyrics. I'm sure Hailee was enjoying it as much I was. After three songs, I took off my hat and ran my fingers through my hair before putting it back on. I should be getting back to work now.
"Is it time yet?" Hailee asked.
"Yup, I don't know what I'm supposed to do though."
"We're working the registers." She sighed as she picked up her trash.
I expected Hailee to be in a better mood since she's been smiling since I met her. I guess even the most cheerful of people hate working. I would put myself below that group. I cleaned up with Hailee and followed her to the registers. She gave me a quick overview of what to do, then sat back as I took on my first customer.
"Hi, welcome to Rocky's." I smiled using the same line I've heard at nearly every fast food joint I've been too.
"Hey, I'll have a large pizza with half sausage and mushrooms, and the other pepperoni and olives with bell peppers and onions on both. Also, I'll have four sodas." The order wasn't complicated, I just had a hard time keeping up with how fast he talked.
"I'm sorry, would you repeat the second half again, please?"
"I want pepperoni and olives on the other half. I also want onions and bell peppers on both halves." He said slowly, and I already knew he was annoyed with me. I hate working the registers, which is probably why Hailee sighed.
"Okay, and with the four drinks your total is.... twenty one dollars and seventy eight cents." He pulled out three fives and six ones, and a handful of change. I felt like hitting my head against the wall repeatedly as he counted the change on the counter and started over every thirty seconds.
"Here, I'll get it." I offered pulling aside thirteen pennies, five dimes, and three nickels. It wasn't hard at all.
"That was good for your first time." Hailee smiled with her arms crossed while she stood beside me.
"Sure, I don't like this at all. I'd rather be dealing with boxes than this." Hailee laughed.
"Really? You're good with money and counting. You're also pretty good with people. Some would flip if they had a customer like that guy."
"Don't worry, I was this close." I said and showed her with my fingers. She rolled her eyes and laughed.
"Don't worry, there's only three hours of this, and then you go home. Tomorrow you'll come back and will do the same thing again."
"It's not as nice as you make it sound."
"Trust me, you'll get used to it."
Hailee was funny and made working the register very bearable. For a second, I didn't recall working until I remembered all the times I had counted change for people. I think the people in this town like saving all their change for some odd reason. I hate the sound of change clinking together now. Hailee and I had walked out of Rocky's together and to her car and my truck. After saying bye, I knew I made one friend finally. When I got home- I can't believe I'm calling it home- my phone started ringing like it was an alarm going off at just the right moment.
"Hello?" I asked, not bothering with checking the ID before answering.
"Niall, how was your first day of work?" My dad asked. Great, I just can't escape them. Way to kill a mood...
"It went pretty well, I'm looking forward to working there."
"That's wonderful! Do you like your job?"
"Yeah, it's nothing special."
"I'm happy for you. So Arcade is looking good, then."
"Have you made any frie-"
"Yes, I did make a friend, a coworker actually." Okay, maybe I'm being optimistic about my friendship with Hailee. She just seems like the best person to hang out with, even at work.
"What's their name?" My dad asked too quickly.
"Her name is Hailee. And she's my friend. She basically trained me."
"She isn't your boss, is she?"
"No, she's a coworker. My boss's name is Ivan, well he's the manager."
"Oh, that's good. How's the apartment?"
"Already feels like home." There was a pause that started lasting too long for my comfort. I shouldn't have told him that, now he's going to be upset.
"Well, I'm glad you're liking it down there. I assume you've already adjusted."
"I did. I miss home, yeah, but I'm used to it here."
"Good, well I won't keep you, son. Please take care. I hope you're eating well and cleaning up after yourself."
"Of course I am, dad."
"Just making sure. Love you, Niall."
"I love you, too." There were some muffles and static before my real dad came on the phone.
"Hey Niall, how are you?"
"Good, dad. I like my job, I made a friend, I already feel like home, life is good."
"I'm happy for you. I hope it stays that way. So you've made a friend, then? It wasn't hard?"
"Dad, I've gotten over that now. I try not to think about him anymore. I don't want to forget him, but I just don't like being reminded."
"You know it wasn't your fault."
"Dad, please, I don't want to talk about it." I tried not to get angry with him, but it was hard. He knows what happened, and it was my fault. It was all my fault and I was stupid to not see it coming.
"All I want to say is that what happened with Dennis wasn't your fault. There were a lot of things that factored in to why he-"
"Is this why you wanted to talk?" I didn't want to be rude, but I can't stand the subject and memories. I miss Dennis too much.
"No, it's not. I'm sorry, Niall. So you like Arcade?"
"Gaylord is better, but I do like Arcade."'
"Maybe dad and I will come down to visit you soon."
"Alright, just let me know when."
"Of course we will. Okay, son, I'll talk to you again another day."
"Bye Niall, I love you."
"I love you, dad." The line went dead, and I locked my phone and dropped it beside me on the couch.
I tried watching TV, but I couldn't. I decided to do my laundry now instead. I was grateful my apartment came with a washer and dryer that were in good a good condition when I moved in. After showering, I started the laundry and was thankful my dad showed me how. Again, I'm sure in most scenarios a mother would do that. But as I was folding my clothes from the white load, I heard yelling outside my apartment. I quickly went into defense mode and walked to the door.
I sighed when I found out it was just Philly and Emily having another go at it. I don't see why they can't just ignore each other or try harder to avoid the other. If Emily is so introverted, why is she always arguing with people? The yelling stopped, so I went back to folding clothes. I remembered Hailee saying Emily used to be nice. I wonder if she can change back.