Saturday, October 22, 2005

Excerpt from "Goys R Us"

The current crew of five employees consists of yours truly, George Kostopoulos, Bubba Burlock, Ellis Adler, and Davy Goodman. Ellis and Davy are the part-timers, but because it’s a busy time of year, the cusp of another Rosh Hashanah, (the Jewish New Year), their status has been elevated to a full-time position.

We have all been at Ultimate Produce long enough to understand what it takes to work here, physically and mentally, all except for Davy that is. Davy was hired two weeks ago, to replace the abruptly fired Little Pete, so he hasn’t had much time to acclimatize himself to the surroundings, but that aside, he doesn’t have an adequate grasp on things. Let’s just say his mental capacity, (if indeed it does exist), is a little weak. Think part Rainman, part Forrest Gump and you have Davy. What mad scientist was responsible for incorporating these two entities into his large framed body, I don’t know? I just know that somewhere in the creation of making Davy into a Goliath, Dr. Frankenstein had neglected to include a necessary brain in his monstrosity.

Another example of the various defects infecting Davy like a virus, is his voice. It has a warble in it when he speaks. It’s almost a gargling sound, actually. It surrounds each and every sentence, like he is constantly trying to repel morning breath with a swig of mouth wash.

He calls everyone by their correct name except George. On his first day here he had seen a pair of George’s work gloves, in the back room, that had George’s written on them. Davy, believing that was his name, began calling him Georges. The rest of us amused and trying desperately to stifle our laughs, never corrected him. Davy the harmless victim of a harmless oversight. That pretty much sums up his entire being as I see it.

I feel however, inside Davy there is a sleeping giant, dormant now, but unpredictable, insubordinate, with no prognostication as to what would happen if he ever awoke. None of us, accept maybe Bubba, seem too eager to set the alarm clock.

Ellis Adler is a naive boy going through a tough time in his late teens when everything revolves around sex. Asking about sex, thinking about sex, dreaming about sex. I won’t say he’s a chronic masturbator, but he sure spends a lot of time in the washroom during his shifts. --and then there are the questions. "Dude, what’s it feel like? Dude, is it true what they say about Oriental women? Dude, can I go blind if I do it too much?"

Ellis is an unusual name for anyone, even more so for a Jewish boy. Of course there is a story as to how Ellis got his name. He was named after his grandfather, Moshe Adler who immigrated to the States with his wife before the second world war. At that time immigration officials had a hard job understanding the refugees coming into the country, assigning names to them when they could not decipher the accents of broken English and foreign mother tongues. Moshe fell into this category and let his wife, who had a better command of the English language, do the talking.

Overwhelmed by her new surroundings and gazing about in excitement and awe, she could barely answer the questions she was asked.



"Your NAME?"

"Shoshuna Adler," She proclaimed still looking about with a gaping mouth of joy and wonder. She then touched her husband lovingly on the shoulder and said in her European whine, "So this is Ellis . . ," but before she could finish her statement . . . "Island." The immigration officer interrupted, "Shoshuna and Ellis Adler. Proceed to the next desk."

Proceed they did for years, with Moshe going to his grave believing that, Ellis was an ethnic slur that these crazy North Americans used to describe new immigrants.

"Hello Ellis." "What country are you from Ellis?" "Nice day today huh----Ellis?"

He would just grumble and mutter one of the few words he ever learned, "Bastards!"

"That Ellis isn’t a very friendly guy."

George Kostopoulos is a big guy, a more apt description would be built like a brick shit-house. Yet for his size, like Davy, he is timid and doesn't know his own strength. Once, he tried to help Sol Goldstein, a customer we all call Sully. Sully doesn’t see very well, having only one eye. The other is a glass one. He lost it sometime ago probably just after somebody said, It’s all fun and games until someone losses an eye. He also dresses like he has poor vision. How else would you explain the tight fitting bright cobalt-blue and mustard-yellow blazers that he wears over the bulging tartan pants, ripped at the crotch?

He is an older gentleman who is short and pudgy, smells of mothballs and reminds me of a garden gnome. He has a low sandpaper rumbling voice, and a pushy disposition. Always in a terrible hurry when he’s in, but likes to sample food before he purchases it, usually sticking to his favorite — avocados, which he devours on the premises.

One day Sully exclaimed in his distinct whispery rasp, as if requesting food from a short-order cook, "Avocado for here." "Go ahead," George said. He quickly stepped into the back room and began peeling his bumpy fruit over one of the sinks. In an effort to quickly ingest the light green flesh, he accidentally inhaled the pit and it became lodged in his throat.

Seeing that Sully was in obvious distress, choking and gagging as his face began to match the shade of his tight fitting electric blue blazer, George had quickly run to the back. He put his arms around the mothball emanating Sully, and gave him the Hiemlich maneuver. The rescue worked as the pit shot out of his guacamole-covered lips. Except, George’s strength had also broke two of the old fellow’s ribs, and popped his glass eye out of its socket.

The ocular projectile sailed out the backroom and whacked a small child, between the eyes and rendered him unconscious. I accidently stepped on and crushed the tiny, rolling, glass cue-ball as I ran to retrieve it and a woman close by had fainted at the sight, believing it had been a real eye that had been squashed with a crunch beneath my foot. The woman and the child never came in again.

Sully now wore glasses. Not to see better, but more-of-a lens barricade to keep his new eye canon ball from escaping again----and George was now more careful about whom he helped.

If you have something you want to eat, don’t leave it laying around. Bubba Burlock eats everything, chips, cookies, personal lunches, nothing is safe around this junk-food junkie and his vacuous black-hole-of-a-mouth. I find it hard to comprehend that he so callously shoves anything and everything into this orifice—you see— Bubba has Crohns disease. We know this, because I, and everyone else hear about it daily. He spends a considerable amount of time holed up in the washroom, even more than Ellis, and that’s a lot. He can fart on command and they are usually hideous and follow him around like a homeless guy looking for spare change.

It was hard to decide what everyone liked least, being the next one into the privy after Bubba, or listening to his play-by-play, after-the-fact descriptions, texture, consistency, blood loss. To him, it was like a treasure hunt. Guess what I found in my shit today? Ugh . . . I shudder as much as you must be and you only have to read about it.

For some reason that Bubba won’t explain, he hates Davy and pesters him constantly. Bubba also can’t stand our boss Jacob. With all the things on his hate list, I believe he loathes Jacob most of all. Although the run-ins had never led to fuck-you’s and a knife fight.

I can identify with each of my co-workers in some way. They all posses qualities that I find in myself. George’s compassion, Ellis’ dry sense of humor and lust for lesbians, Davy’s ability to clue out although mine’s by choice... ---and Bubba. My alter ego. My dark side. Bubba possessed all the death and darkness, venom and vitriol that I sometimes felt working at Ultimate Produce but—the one difference. I never acted on it, with Bubba you couldn’t be sure.

Tomorrow: Excerpt from "Jacob's Ladder"

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