OLD WRITING AGAIN #3: “RETAIL: A TELEVISION SHOW” (2013)

BLUE SCREEN INPUT

PLAY PLEASE STAND BY PROGRAM FOR SIX SECONDS

FUZZY BLACK & WHITE SCRAMBLE FOR .5 SECONDS

PLAY THEME SONG WITH THIRTEEN SECOND CLIP REEL OF THE HISTORY OF SHOPPING IN AMERICA

BLACK SCREEN

YELLOW SCREEN WITH SALE SIGN THAT READS

EPISODE ONE:

The Day The Scoreboard Went Dark

FADE INTO MAIN CHARACTER KNEELING DOWN IN FEARZ 

I was hiding behind the robotic pool cleaners at Fearz Super Store. I was selling vacuums. It was Christmas Season. Hundreds of people were everywhere. I wanted to die. The shells of war were cold pennies falling into a can. Everyone was losing it. The environment littered the senses with credit cards swiping like knives sharpening against the cranium of hell. The whole idea was a disaster, and I was showing men how to use sewing machines. I didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. “This one is THE number ONE BEST rated EVER. It’s a fine American product…made in….” “Hey Henry…” It was the store manager. He was an old heavy metal freak from the eighties. He refused to get rid of his blond mullet and no matter what he said I agreed with him. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, he had me on guard duty. My job was to warn him if anybody was coming. His name was SuperMart. His real name was Larry. He was crazy, and he said some very strange things to people like, “I’m more than down” He said to a female employee. She showed-up to work still drunk. She didn’t look too good. She said she was going to quit. Larry calmed her down. It got awkward and even more so, when Larry was rubbing her shoulders in the automotive department. He didn’t see anything wrong with his behavior but the girl didn’t seem to mind either, so I guess none of it mattered anyway.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK. SHOW ADVERTISEMENTS FOR MOVIE THE DEATH OF A ROBOT. BANKING COMMERCIAL FOR P.B.J. & TRUST. DREWCORP INNOVATIONS ON THE MOON, THE FUTURE IS NOW LEADING THE WORLD IN LEADING PAID FOR ADVERTISEMENT.)

Larry said he was impressed with her determination to get through the day. He told her to go take a nap in her car. She did. When she left he joked around with us. He called us, his gang. He talked about how hungover he was for the first thirty-five years of his life. I didn’t care. Wait…What day was it? It was Thursday. Larry had me patrolling the hallway.

“Whatever, you’re all clear” I said, and when the coast wasn’t clear it was my job to warn SuperMart by yelling whatever the hell popped into my head…

“YEAH LARRY! TARTAR SAUCE HUSH PUPPIES FOR ME!” This was code for: WAKE UP AND MANAGE STUFF.

“Thanks again. You’re my friend Henry. You know that. Sure you do. I think you would look out for anybody. No matter who they were.”

“I don’t think that’s entirely true” I said, and it was sort of embarrassing because I was thirty-seven minutes late to work. I was real tired. The prior night I was up until five in the morning boxing-up the Skinner Behavioral Research Laboratory because the department lost funding when they were consolidated with the criminal justice program. He didn’t care about us college kids. None of them did. They hated us. They didn’t like that we reading books during work hours and they thought we thought we were better than them. This was weird, and it got too weird on the day when I lost my cool. This happened when I was standing there sweaty and on two hours of sleep. I was thinking about something. One of my favorite professors was retiring. I was thinking about the last thing he said to me…

“Henry, it’s basically over. What are you going to do after?”

“Huh?”

What was I going to do after? After what? I didn’t know. I didn’t even know what my old professor was talking about. After? After what? That’s the reason I was going to college. They were the teachers and managers. They were…his voice was so bad…

Larry was singing and it was still the morning. I wasn’t in the mood to hear his voice. As soon as I saw him walking towards me, I turned around and walked the other way.

“Henry? Where you going? We’re having a meeting. Wait. Check out this robot move…”

(BREAK)

(Insert commercials for the noveldome social media site. J.R. MacArthur for president advertisement. Guests for late night with space monkey named human. Movie trailer for gnomes in the snow. “Life should be hard” spot for the drug bonerz. “Your money is our money to us” advertisement for P.B.J & trust)

(SHOW RESUME)

I don’t respond when people talk to me like that. One time they were screening me for a potential corporate position. I didn’t want it I mean, look at what happened to Larry. They asked me questions. I didn’t talk for the first two interviews. I didn’t say one word. They asked me for a third interview without even hearing my voice.

“What’s wrong Henry? That’s the big leagues…”

“It’s just well… so to me, none of it seems… functional.”

“Man. What’s your deal? You could be making some serious money and be partying twenty-four seven. You see what I’m throwing down? Wisdom. And this functional word? You need to get real. I don’t know what you’re talking about. It works out just fine…see. Check out this money roll. Looks fine, don’t it? There’s good people here. Think of the memories. Me and you. SuperMart and the Henry Oldfield kid. We’re almost like best friends. I don’t know why you don’t just suck it up and do what normal adults do.”

“And what’s that?”

“Pretend you like it.”

“That doesn’t make sense.”

“Henry, you need to realize, nothing makes sense. That’s the god damn meaning of life.”

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