I scowl as I look at the sandwich before me. Damn the spinach- it’s started to go bad, and damn that strange-armed man Popeye for making people seem like it’s some sort of magical leaf. I should be at home editing my next SciFi novel- The Color of Houm, Book One: Seeing Red, but I’m, stuck at my job in the deli. Just gotta pay for the cover, and pre-reviews, and advertisements… I repeat these words to myself, hoping that by the time the sequel is out, I’ve at least had enough sales to recoup the cost of the cover. I gaze at the long, monotone brown of the wheat roll and just hope I have enough turkey sliced for the lunch rush.
Mike is supposed to help me, but he’s making sure that the Karen is getting her ham sliced just to the right thinness, and properly shoved into the little bags we use. Therefore, she cannot help staunch the flow of all the hungry nerds who are going to inevitably come by very soon from the game store next door. They’re hosting a DnD campaign there. If I wasn’t working, actually, I would be there. Well, maybe if I weren’t totally shy. I totally bet all of them would love to read my books, too. That is, if they ever actually picked up a single book and read at all, and not just watch anime. Such is life.
And so as Mike went on break, the parade of neckbeards began. Many were talking about their adventure or their dice rolls and nat 20’s to think about their order before they arrived before me. And so, footlong after footlong, messy meatball after messy meatball, I fulfilled their disgusting mayo-slathered orders. At least none of them would ever dream of choosing my wilted spinach. Until her.
She was discussing the treasure the party had just gotten out of the dungeon, and warning about what would happen if they didn’t fulfill the terms of their quest. She was far from just the Dungeon Master- or Mistress, rather- she was the game store’s manager, Christina Graisse. She turned to me, smiling, transporting me back to the world of the normal smelling.
“My good sandwich man? Twelve-inch turkey-bacon-ranch on nine-grain, no cheese, please.”
She had obviously rolled all nat-twenties when she was speccing into beauty. I nearly cut my fingers open preparing her roll, as I was distracted by her neatly-fitting graphic tee of what was likely a band I had never heard of.
“And… anything besides the regular stuff?” I ask, pushing the winkled, cold bacon into a neat, greasy pile.
“Oh, just load it up with spinach, please.”
I look down- shoot- all that’s left is the wrinkled, wilted stuff at the bottom of the pan.
“Oh.” She says suddenly, looking over the smudged sneeze guard. “Well, that is unfortunate. Your cucumbers look just fine, and really, they’re both pretty much all water, am I right?”
Is she teasing me? I had never thought about it, but she was likely right, that both were pretty much watery, tasteless, and very much unrequited on any sort of real sandwich. Well, maybe not that last part.
“Just toss on whatever you’ve got,” Graisse spoke up, smiling as I turn my face to the sandwich wrapper. I feel my fingers flush as I finish slicing and wrapping the long roll of meat and bread.
I prepare the price tag for her, “I’ll take off a bit just to make up for the lack of spinach.”
She shakes a finger at me. “Oh, don’t worry, sandwich man. Perhaps you’ve saved me from having a nasty bit of spinach hanging to my teeth later when we start up again.”
“Uh… sure.” I managed to peep out as she talked behind my back. I turned to face her once again and offer the neatly wrapped food to her. Our hands touched as it swapped grasps.
“When do you get off?”
Huh? I feel my cheeks redden.
“From your shift here. You can stop by after, we have some fresh character sheets if you want to drop in. I mean, I see you peering in the window all the time on the way to your car.”
“Two… two more hours.”
“Good. Hope to see you then.”
Damn. She’s perfect.
April Fools! No, I won’t write more. Half of a chapter of the ‘source material’ is already too much to read, let alone analyze.