Abandonment – Part Four
“I like Taylor, but he doesn’t really know his place.”
“Yeah, you can tell he’s more of a follower.”
“I totally understand what you’re saying.”
Nathan’s heavy eyes quickly, forcibly widened as he heard these two voices echoing closer and closer to him. The Use-ery was in a particularly empty section of the mall, making human contact almost unheard of before noon. Some days, he was happy enough to witness mall-walkers or unenthusiastic teenagers. They at least reminded Nathan that the mall was open for business, that the doors didn’t lock behind him, making his presence a waste of time.
It was Sunday. Obviously, there would be some bored teens wandering about. But they usually kept to the more occupied corridors. This was a most unexpected occurrence.
As if reacting to instinct, Nathan pushed his hair into a respectable part, straightened his scraggy vest, and stood upright at his designated spot behind the counter. He shuffled some papers so as to look busy.
The two young ladies, each with straight long hair that was a different shade of brown, walked right past the pitiful shop without even giving it a glance. Nathan didn’t even see their faces, which were buried in their smart phones and hair. His shoulders’ relaxed as the two meandered off; he was happy to not have to feign interested in another living thing before 12.
Back in his comfortable solitude, Nathan slowly walked over to the large, black construction bag of second-hand junk left in the center of the store. His manager, Manas, did this every Sunday, a new bushel of useless items plucked gingerly from the fertile tree of God-knows-where. Nathan chuckled as he imagined the short, pompous man strolling casually through the less desirable portions of a local flea market, a sore thumb with a proclivity for cheap product that he could hock at an inflated price.
Today’s grab-bag of second-hand products were not unlike the ones directly presented to him a week before: antiquated electronics, ornate beer mugs, a neon sign from a cigarette company, some Z-list vinyl (mostly polka and one-hit wonders from the 80’s), and a small ransom of mismatched silverware, plates, plastic cups, and creepy miniature dolls. These were most certainly the prized possessions of any good hoarder or enthusiast.
Lamenting the organization process that would have to follow, Nathan returned to the counter to retrieve an outdated pricing gun, a bulky device with a worn black handle and a surrounding tint of beige that screamed “affordable suit”. A rookie of the establishment would need the laminated price chart to figure out the appropriate tagging. Nathan, however, was a seasoned professional, and could easily analyze the value of any and all product that was commonly sold. Out of all the duties of the shop, this was the only one that really mattered; Manas was a stickler for correct prices.
Having filled a box with all “new” electronics, Nathan stood up and took the pieces to the furthest right aisle to be tagged and shelved. He wished he knew less about this chore, and then perhaps the process would take up longer than an hour of the day. During his first two weeks, it could take him up to three or four hours to have everything put away, and at the time his enthusiasm strengthened his determination to move faster and learn the prices by heart. If he had known how soul-crushing a year of employment at this shop would be, he would have stymied his occupational development.
Cheer up, he told himself as he tried to untangle a mess of cords that led to nowhere. Any minute now, Devon will show up.
PREVIOUS: Abandonment – Part Three
more by THOMAS
photograph by Emanuele Bresciani