Friday, June 21, 2019

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 25 - The Last Pickup

The challenge this week was to write about a dumpster. That wasn’t all though. We were also supposed to include five random words from a random word generator. I got some doozies! They were: Grape, soda, protect, realize, and consider. I highlighted those.

The Last Pickup

Hey. It’s good to finally see somebody. I’ve been alone here for what feels like forever. Have you got a minute? I won’t take up much of your time. I really won’t because I don’t have much time before… Wait. I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Let me tell you my story from the beginning. The way you’re looking at me, I’m certain you have many questions. By the time I’m finished, I guarantee, they’ll all be answered. When I am done though, if you don’t mind, I have one question for you. It’s very important to me to be able to get another opinion from someone who can look at this situation objectively. Ready? Okay.

Consider this. Oh, I forgot. Sorry. My name is Two-Tone Tony. No, that’s not the one my old mama put on me, but it’s the one I go by. You can call me Two-Tone. Where did that come from? Some kids when they’re growing up, they’re watching cartoons, but not me. No. I was a different kind of kid. I watched every gangster movie that I could find. Yes, I said gangsters. I thought they were the luckiest guys on the planet. They were always dressed in expensive suits, had diamond pinkie rings, gorgeous dames on their arms, and special shoes.

Special shoes, you ask? Yes. They always had on shoes that cost more than my Pops earned in a month. And the shine? It was like they were walking around with mirrors on their feet. I made up my mind that if I were ever that loaded, I would wear shoes like they did. Mine wouldn’t be just one color though; mine would be two, like black and brown, or beige and tan – you get the idea. Mama gave me the Tony part, and the people in our neighborhood added the Two-Tone part. I knew with that handle, I could get what the gangsters had. The money, the dames, and most of all, the respect. That was the biggest draw for me. The respect.

You don’t call it respect? What do you think it was? Fear? You’re probably right about that. All right, maybe everybody in the neighborhood was afraid of them. But I still believe you can throw respect in there, because respect was what I had for every one of them. When I got older, I realized that I had real gangsters right in my own neighborhood. I saw what they did and what they had, and I wanted to be one of them. Big Belly Bob ran our neighborhood, and my old mama would invite him in for coffee when he walked through his territory. I asked her why she gave him cakes and lit candles for him in church, and she said it was out of respect. See? Respect.

Fast forward to now. I ended up working for Big Belly Bob. Don’t get the wrong idea about him. There’s no ‘shakes-like-a-bowl-full-of-jelly’ about Bob. He’s no Santa. He’s big, he’s tough, and he’s as hard as they come. But, if you do what you’re supposed to, you get paid, and his guys protect your family. Good deal, right? I used to think so, but thinking about how much green he was raking in, I began to want more. Now, mine was not a job where you get reviewed and then get a raise every year. I got paid what Big Belly Bob wanted to pay me, and not a penny more. It was okay with me at the start, but over time, it started bothering me that he was sitting back and taking it all in, while I was the one out there doing all the work.

I was a collector. Folks owed Big Belly Bob money every week. I collected it on Saturday mornings from everybody on my route, tallied it up, and laid it all at Triple B’s feet. Literally. That’s the way he liked it. We all had to do that. Sound like harassment of your employees? Yep. But, remember, we had no HR Department to complain to. Anyway, not making a cent more than when I started, I felt unappreciated and took a little bit of cash from each case I picked up one Saturday. I brought them to Triple B, handed him the tally sheets that I had made up, and went on my way. A couple of hours later, his guys paid me a visit and asked where’s the cash I took? Of course, I said, what? I wouldn’t… That’s as far as I got. Turned out that lately, Bob’s been double-checking counts against what folks owed, what they said they paid and… You get the picture.

So, here’s my question. I’ve worked for Bob for years, and I was honest and loyal, and never said a harsh word to or about him. Yes, I skimmed a bit of his cash off the top, but it was only one time, and I was never going to do it again. If you were Bob and you found out what I did, would you put the hit on me? You would? Wait a minute. Remember the bit about honest and loyal. Now, I’ll ask again. Would you order a hit? Yes? Huh…

Thanks for listening, but you probably have somewhere to be. Besides, the garbage truck’s coming to pick up this dumpster I’m hog-tied in. The driver won’t see me fall in the back because it’s all done automatic, you see. I’ll be in the middle of the landfill by supper time – me and the can of grape soda somebody rudely tossed in. I hear the truck coming. What? Thanks for your concern, but don’t worry about me. I knew the score when I took the job. One thing upsets me though. I’ve got new shoes on. Got them this morning. Navy and sky. Classy. Expensive. Now they’re all sticky with grape soda…


  1. What a cute story. I like Two-tone's voice as he tells his tale. I know it's not going to end well, I'm just not sure what the final insult will be. And it's the soda on his shoes!

    1. Thanks, Mike. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I started and re-started this one several times, but Two-Tone and his story won. He knew the rules of the game before he began; if only someone hadn't messed with his shoes!