So I’m lying flat on my back in the middle of Atlantic Boulevard, the main highway between Jacksonville, Florida, and the beach, reflecting on how I have wasted the better part of the past year working the overnight shift at a convenience store without a single day off.
I might also have spared a thought for a pair of nasty looking strippers who flashed their big tits at me when they came in that night to buy cigarettes. But that doesn’t sound quite as sociologically profound.
This was many moons and a couple of wives ago, when I was eighteen and flat broke. Scraping together first year college tuition meant taking a fifteen month break between high school and higher learning. The only work I could find that promised plenty of overtime was a shitty minimum wage job that a third grade dropout could have landed: holding down the eleven to seven shift at a convenience store.
I was feeling completely fucked, in every sense but the one that counted. That’s because my financially better off high school sweetheart already had started her freshman year, four states away. Intellectually, I knew Holly was being faithful. But I also knew that the object of my erection was surrounded by thousands of horny, manipulative, smooth talking college pricks who would want the same thing from her that I did.
As I checked in dead of night deliveries from bakery trucks, I imagined Holly serving up her own sweet muffin at off campus keggers, letting every hungry frat boy have a slice. Would she spare a thought for me when those blue blooded bastards’ boners were buried in her beautiful butt, her pretty pussy and her marvelous mouth? Doubtful.
While I brewed another endless night’s third pot of bitter coffee, I pictured Holly sipping jug wine with a goateed professor whose hand was roving down her unbuttoned blouse. He would make Frasier like references to Kierkegaard and Kant, talk about the summer he spent “finding himself” in Europe and confide how mature he found her for her age. Then he would whip out his purple headed teaching staff and ride her sweaty student body until more than the morning came.
On rare occasions when a police cruiser rolled past my isolated place of employ to see if I had acquired any job related gunshot wounds, I imagined Holly double teamed by campus security cops who had devised fascinating new uses for their nightsticks.
Even one of my best friends, who was enrolled at the same college as Holly, was not above suspicion. I imagined him easing his way into her heart and her panties, winner her over with wit, charm and the reality that he was close enough to kiss while I was far enough away to kiss off.
In other words, I imagined my precious, innocent angel fucking and sucking every stiff dicked guy she met. She had grown up in one of those conservative churchgoing households that routinely produce girls who go cock crazy as soon as they move away from home. And she thought a guy like me was a good catch, proving she was way too trusting and gullible for this world.
It was enough to make a guy go lie in the middle of a major highway, perpendicular to the divider line, half in the eastbound lane, half in the west.
So I was bitter, bummed out and bored. The kinds of characters I encountered on the job every night were not exactly the sort who made a fellow feel glad to be alive, either.
Take those strippers who’d flashed me. They had okay tits, big and round and not too ridiculously fake. But both were the cynical, hard eyed type, at least five years past what should be their profession’s mandatory retirement age. If I had liked my dick a bit less, I could have gotten either of them to blow me in the back room for a ten spot. Maybe both at once. They probably had done a lot worse than suck off sorry ass, sleep deprived saps at second rate stop and shops.
Another customer who made a lasting depression on me was a red faced inebriate who left a sloppy, passed out blonde in his convertible. Nobody else was in the store when he approached my counter. Not meeting my eyes, he quietly inquired, “Do you sell photo elastics?”
I had no idea what he was talking about. “Excuse me?”
He rubbed a hand across his mouth in exasperation. “You know,” he said. “Photo elastics.”
I really was not trying to fuck with him. “You mean camera supplies?”
He glared at me like I was an asshole. “No, man, I mean rubbers!” Apparently he had been going for the word “prophylactics.” God only knows why he didn’t just say “condoms.” Drunks are funny that way.
I had to tell him we did not stock those particular items. I hope he found a place that did, because I could tell he would fuck his slutty companion with or without a “photo elastic.” I saw him years later, tenderly telling his oldest child, “You were conceived the night Daddy had the misfortune to stop at the only goddamned convenience store in the entire fucking universe that didn’t sell scumbags!”
Then there was the morning a pair of Manson look alike, leather clad bikers stopped by, around three. They seemed to linger a bit longer than necessary, wandering among the rows, making my sphincter draw up tighter than a nun’s cunt at Easter. Finally, one of them eased toward the register.
“That guy across the street looks like he’s casing your place,” the bearded biker said. “If he pulls any shit, don’t worry. We’ll be watching your back.” Then he casually opened his vest. In a sheath clipped to his studded belt was a gleaming knife that looked big enough to fell a small tree.
My guardian Hells Angels seemed almost disappointed when the suspect drove off without incident a few minutes later. As a token of my gratitude, I sold them an illegal, after hours six pack. Or maybe they just took it.
Most nights were not so eventful. Hours could pass without a single customer breaking the monotony. It is remotely possible that a guy in such a situation might saunter to the Health & Beauty aisle, open a Vaseline jar and skim off an undetectable smear of the contents, then replace the lid. He might grab a porn mag, sit behind the counter and yank his out of sight crank. Anyone who spied his visible upper body through the plate glass windows might wonder what he was staring at, or why his eyes suddenly rolled up as his face went through brief but alarming contortions.
Fortunately, no one ever caught that hypothetical jerkoff in the act of sampling his store’s merchandise.
Considering the line of work I entered in later life writing flagrant filth for those same sorts of magazines it seems amazing that I remained as faithful to faraway Holly as I hoped she was being to me. I did not stray, even though I was at my biological sexual peak. Ain’t young love grand?
I should have rekindled a romance with Valerie, the skinny Fiona Apple look alike I dated before things got serious with Holly. What a mouth! I remembered the time my foot slipped off the brake while we were making out at a red light, causing me to rear end the car in front of us. How did I resist calling her up and trying to get her big, beautiful, bee stung lips around my woefully neglected cock?
Or Donna, the bohemian retro hippie with turned up nose, gamine haircut and sexy gymnast’s body. Why did I not try to get her to do naked splits on my face? Who would have known?
Hell, even those strippers would have been good for a little temporary blue balls relief. The cost of their services would not have made that much of a dent in my college funds.
Instead, I grew more frustrated by the day. Which may explain why it seemed a fine idea to “lie down on the job” across a major highway one night. Sometimes, you take your safe sex thrills where you find them.
There never was much traffic on Atlantic Boulevard between three and four in the morning. I waited until nothing was coming as far as the eye could see (quite a distance in flat as a pancake Florida), walked to the middle of the divider line, stretched out flat on the asphalt, clasped my hands behind my head and stared at the stars.
I wish I could report experiencing a cosmic epiphany. The truth is, I felt kind of stupid. After a few seconds, I got up, brushed off my smock and headed back inside. Four states away, Holly probably was getting cornholed by the dean of students in the middle of the quad while members of the marching band impatiently waited their turn and the school mascot bulldog bayed mournfully at the moon.
As for me, there was that violated jar of Vaseline waiting on the shelf, and a new issue of Forum in the wire rack behind the counter.