I am currently co-writing a book with Daniel London titled, On Bitches, most of which is being serialized online, before being assembled for print publication. Manuel Pfister at Single Dude Travel has expressed an interest in work place stories that might address the sexual specifics of being a Single Dude. So here it goes, a pained tale of young love to which I was an unwilling party, and which still haunts me 15 years on…
Night crews in supermarkets—especially Baltimore City supermarkets—can be as chock full of characters as a Foreign Legion squad. I will introduce them by way of an old story that I have published in a book on writing that almost nobody will read.
Lord of the Lezbos or ‘Harm City Island’
How Would Regular People Recreate Society?: A Creative Writing Exercise Gone Awry
© 2013 James LaFond
I have received e-mails and comments from readers—all far more intelligent than the people I normally associate with—concerning the questions of masculinity, feminism and society. A decade or so back I did a creative writing experiment that sheds some light on how the normal person thinks.
What us writers and avid readers often forget is that almost nobody writes and very few people read beyond the level of advertisements and warnings. I have often used working class and criminal people as models for primitive characters in fiction.
[2014 insert] Ann Sterzinger, in her recent review, and in an e-mail, hinted that I am reluctant to succeed commercially as a writer as it would endanger my status as a laborer and cut off the source for much of my character information. I must admit that there is something to her theory. How would I write another ancient slave believably and at variance from previous depictions if not for the inspiration of the wage slaves I share my life with?
So, for those men and women who wonder what things might look like if we suddenly started from scratch again, here is one possibility.
Just before New Years it is annually my habit to try and convert as many of my handwritten notes to computer files as possible. So, I thought it was about time to file away this faded memo pad from late December 1999. I do not know if you are old enough to recall, but it was supposed to be the end of the world as we knew it: Y2K. All computers would go into digital menopause and the world of finance, the power grid, the ‘star wars’ array, would all of a sudden be married to a raging virtual female of global girth.
Back then, I was winding up my research on the Violence Project, and preparing to dive headfirst into a huge ancient boxing project which entailed the reading of over 1,000 books. I wanted to take a break from the nonfiction grind and write something fun, but lacked the mental energy. My coworkers, on the inner city supermarket night crew, began discussing the End Times which were nigh. Since I was the only employee who could actually decipher the union handbook I was regarded as something of a Lex Luther type genius, and always consulted on such matters.
I decided on a self-serving writing exercise, once attempted by my 7th Grade teacher, until some 13 year-old psychopath ruined it. I thought this exercise might provide me with a storyline to go with the crazy characters I worked with. The concept was to ask a group of people what they would do if they were all of a sudden shipwrecked together on a desert island, with no foreseeable chance of rescue.
My method was to ask everyone three questions at break time [midnight] and then see them about their answers at lunchtime [3:00 a.m.]. In the meantime they would be alone in their work areas, and unable to share information. After setting the stage briefly, I asked them:
1. What would your immediate goal be?
2. What would be your first action?
3. What would be your second action if the first action went poorly?
My cast was quizzed from highest ranking to lowest [by position and seniority], and consisted of the characters named below, according to the nickname they were known on the crew:
1. ‘The Dark Elf’ or ‘Asshole’ was the night crew captain, aged 35, short, and weighing in at about 125 pounds. The Dark Elf was a lazy, rural, white back-stabber who took credit from and laid blame on the crew that did his work while he played nurf football or read the newspaper.
2. ‘Buster’ AKA ‘The Forty Year Old Virgin,’ was the loyal, dimwitted, second man, about 200 pounds of stubborn urban white resolve.
3. ‘Silverback’ was the senior clerk, a 60-year-old black man from the Deep South, who stood six-two and scaled about 260 ponds.
4. ‘Bigboy,’ was the frozen foods clerk, a black, 35-year-old former minor league football player and street thug from Washington D.C. [Bigboy and Silverback had previously engaged in a brawl in the lunchroom, resulting in a bite wound and a drawn razor.]
5. JoJo was the deli clerk, a hard-talking former street-fighter. Although she weighed in at only 105 pounds and was 45 years of age, this white chick was, pound-for-pound, regarded as the toughest person on the crew.
6. ‘Archie’ AKA ‘Sissy Boy,’ at six-foot and seven-inches tall, this 21-year-old white clerk was inclined to poetry and group sex.
7. Liz, at 25-years-old, was a curvy natural blonde cashier who pulled in about a half-dozen cops every night, eager to chat her up rather than fight crime.
8. ‘Sammy,’ a 20-year-old gay mixed race clerk, was the new guy on the crew, and was being targeted for economic death by ‘The Dark Elf’.
9. ‘Chiquito,’ was an illegal Mexican immigrant who cleaned the floors at night. He scaled about 90 pounds, and was routinely tormented by Bigboy who he called ‘El Gordo.’
Okay, so what could go wrong with this group of castaways? I only have their answers, having never written the story. I leave it to you, my readers, to come up with your own interpretation of the probable first 24-hours on Harm City Island. I was partially interested in how the existing hierarchy, such as it was, would hold up. I certainly wasn’t expecting Gilligan’s Island. The one thing that this crew had going for it over most crews, was that there were no alcoholics or drug addicts, which usually constitute 60% of a crew.
Goal-Action-Contingency, by Survivor
1. ‘The Dark Elf’: “Are you kidding me? I want to survive. That means I’ll run my ass off for the hills as soon as we hit the beach. Back-up plan? Run faster!”
2. ‘Buster’: “Kill The Dark Elf, strangle him most likely. If that doesn’t work I’ll drown him.”
3. ‘Silverback’: “That Sweet Thang dare—gots ta have dat. First course will be to whoop dat Bigboy butt! Not kill him, jus’ make an example—lay it down. If I lose? Hell, I guess I’d be stuck with JoJo—Oh hell no! Dat evil bitch like ta cut my throat in ma sleep. Shee, I guess I either take dat faggot or break in Sissy Boy—ya hea’ dat Archie! You big sissy, you betta hope Bigboy don’t whoop dis ass! Old fella might could use a hand! I’d have me a bitch one way o da otha.”
4. ‘Bigboy’: “Liz. The rest a them fools be killin’ the Boss. It a be a throw down with ole Silverback! He is a big boy—en bite like a goddamn rot. So, if I lose, I guess I’ll settle fo JoJo.”
5. ‘JoJo’: “Survive shit! Working this shitty job is survival. Living with a crazy drunk that beats my ass is survival. This would be my life’s chance at a vacation! Okay, you know Silverback and Bigboy will be fighting over Liz while the rest of those idiots kill The Boss. The loser will want me. No way. They are all ugly! I’d rather go lezzy with Liz. At least she’s good looking. Whoever loses, Chiquito and me will kill in their sleep. Then, we go over and murder the other big bastard. Contingency shit. This works or I die trying. We will need men to work while I’m learning how to be a lezbo, and to fight in case cannibals show up. Buster and the sissy boys can live.”
6. ‘Archie’: “The Dark Elf dies on the beach! That’s it. Nothing else matters.”
7. ‘Liz’: “Why would you ask the steak what its goals were just before you threw it to the dogs? I’ll stick with JoJo and do what she says. I hope she doesn’t pimp me out.”
8. ‘Sammy’: “The men are all callous idiots. I will align myself with the women.”
9. ‘Chiquito’: Our Vera Cruz native had very little English. He does draw a finger across the throat convincing though, as he did when he snarled, “El Gordo filetta finito!”
These folks did not describe all of the foraging and hut-building I would have expected. The surprising thing for me was the reliability with which they were able to predict each other’s behavior. 6 of 9 individuals settled on violence as their first action. We had four basic choices uppermost, which were chosen at the following rates, from the top of the preexisting hierarchy to the bottom:
1. Survival: 1 in 9
2. Companionship: 2 in 9
3. Vengeance: 3 in 9
4. Alliance: 3 in 9
In retrospect, rather than as a story-generator, I like this as a crisis behavior predictor, as it was initially used by my poor school teacher. The vengeance results here would extrapolate to attacks on politicians in a fall of civilization scenario. It is also interesting that you immediately ended up with 2 blocks of weak and oppressed people [the entire bottom of the crew] who struck out at or allied themselves against those at the top of the existing hierarchy. Overall, violence clustered in the center of the existing hierarchy pyramid.
I don’t know about you, but I think JoJo has a lock on the post-disaster power structure.
So there you have the crew that was present for the following story. Archie was an introspective former goth kid, who had been harassed in high school a lot after the Columbine shootings, being forcibly counseled by teachers, teased and picked on by jocks, and ignored by females in junior high school and high school. He was a towering broad-shoulder physical specimen with long Conan hair. He was, however, lacking in masculine character.
Once, while working the soda aisle, Big Boy talked Archie—who he used to slap around and wrestle into humiliating positions in the stockroom regularly—into threatening me over something trivial. Archie had recently transferred in from another store where he had worked with Big Boy, who was another recent acquisition. Archie did not know my reputation. Big Boy did, and grinned wryly as Archie stalked over to me, grabbed my long hair in his huge left hand, placed his box cutter to my throat, and then said that he was going to cut my hair.
I grabbed his penis and left nut, squeezed, twisted, and snarled something which I forget and he was soon submitting in a whining fashion. He came to me later and apologized. I made peace with him and offered to give him boxing lessons when he inquired about my level of twerp fearlessness, as these fellows towered over me like giants, but did not ever, insult or threaten me.
JoJo came to me, having heard about my heroics, and asked me how big Archie’s dick was! I answered matter-of-factly, “He’s well endowed. I could barely get my hand around the dick and the left nut.”
She then gave me a twinkle of the eye—as she had had a crush on me for a couple of years after seeing me punk out a security guard—and skipped off in her animalistic, sexy, broken puppet kind of way.
After I made Archie grovel in the soda aisle Silverback and Big Boy would not let up, accusing him of being a “sissy’ a “faggot” an “ass-licker” and “big ole bitch!”
Silverback rode him particularly hard, denying Archie’s claims to be dating an attractive blonde, a senior in high school. Archie was, I think, 22, four years older than his girl. He showed us a picture of a tall blonde with elfin features, and still no one but I believed he was not gay or a virgin.
One night, on Archie’s night off, he came into visit us with a fine looking girl—the girl in the photo—on his arm. He introduced her to JoJo and Liz, to me and Buster, and walked her by the night captain and the big black men disdainfully as Big Boy and the Dark Elf drooled. I thought they made a fine looking couple, with her standing a gracile six feet in sneakers next to his broad six-foot seven inch frame.
After they left, JoJo skipped out in the aisle and said approvingly, “They are a cute couple.”
As she skipped away, Silverback snorted, “Shee, dat notin’ buta bag a bones—pretty do she may be. Ifin’ a man gonna be large en in charge he needs himself some butt and some booby, some strong thigh—why, I jus assume lay pipe on dat drowned rat lookin’ bitch JoJo.”
Big Boy was more considered, “Shit nigga, she white ain’t she? It’s a brutha’s duty ta smack dat snow booty!”
Silverback, as usual, dismissed Big Boy’s opinion, “Is you blind, Fool? What booty—where?”
And on the insanity rolled.
Although everyone was polite around Archie’s girl, when he came back to work only Buster, Sammy and Liz and I were complimentary and considered. The Dark Elf was talking about, “Gangbanging that jailbait,” Silverback said, “Hey faggot, dough I don’ normally lay pipe up on a white woman, if you girl need her some real lovin’ send her on along, boy!”
The worst was Big Boy, who grabbed Archie by the arm, pressed him against the wall and snarled threats, such as, “You been holdin’ out on me, Boy. I ought ta tax your ass for not passin’ that pretty thing along to me—you know I got my needs, Archie!”
Archie was in a spot, being heckled all the more by his cruel coworkers. What was worse, we no longer had our own work areas, but “ganged” [sodomy metaphors abound in retail food] the store as one unit, working out ahead of Freddie, the Mexican floor tech, who scampered among these giant Americans like the ghost of some lost tribe.
Archie asked me to speak with him in the lunch room, which was a tiny space behind the scanning office and the two restrooms. He wanted to know if I found his girl attractive, and also how well endowed I was. I stopped the line of inquiry with an admission that she was very pretty, but that, in my late thirties, I was not in the habit of thinking of women that age in a sexual light.
As we sat closely he confided in me, that although his love life with his elfin princess had been fulfilling, she wanted to experiment, she wanted a threesome. He had brought her in to work on his night off, not to show her off, but so that she could make a selection. He then dropped the bomb, “We want to have a threesome with you. I trust you and she finds you attractive.”
I said, “Arch, she’s fine enough, and I won’t do it for two reasons: one, I have no desire to be naked in bed with your big ass. The other is, when I have sex with a woman, they fall in love with me—always. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. It’s like a curse—I can’t get rid of them.”
Then, as he winced and began to gather his thoughts for a statement, the women’s room door squeaked open and JoJo skipped out, over to us, threw her little butt up on the lunchroom table between us and said, “I think it’s a great idea. I’ll be the fluffer!”
“What the hell is a fluffer?” I asked, dumbfounded that the woman I had been taking to a motel room once a week behind our spouses backs, had been eves dropping .
“It’s the girl who blows all of the porno guys behind the scenes!”
I now felt like I was on the spot, and, recently learning how violent my little lady friend was, was now in a panic to find a way out of this situation, a way which did not smack of a rejection of her. Fortunately, Archie let me off the hook and made his life more miserable, with an ill-considered statement, “Get away you scary little woman—you are not invited!”
She immediately got angry—as was her temperament—and then scrunched her face in conspiratorial glee and skipped away, out into the aisle, to inform our savage little world. I patted him on the back and went to work, apologizing for not being able to oblige him and his lady.
The rest of the night was pure torment for Archie. Through it all he continued to plead with me, even in front of the other crew members, to have sex with his girlfriend, assuring me that he would not touch me, that he was not gay, and that she just wanted to experience being penetrated by two men at the same time.
Silverback was uproariously critical, laughing and joking all night, with such quips as, “Hey Big Boy, you hea da joke ‘bout da two white boys en da light bulb? Hey, Big Boy, how many white boys do it take ta lay pipe on but one bitch?”
I could not fathom Archie’s persistence. Finally, he said to me, almost in tears, “I have to get a second guy. She really needs to experience this and said if I couldn’t arrange it that she would.”
Finally, I said, “Man, I’m really sorry. It’s bad enough that I’m cheating on my wife. But if you think I’m going to take a chance of cheating on JoJo, then come to work and turn my back on her while she’s got a case cutter in her hand, you have another thing coming. Seriously, I feel for you. I would just walk away.”
He then got weepy, “She’s my first girlfriend. I love her.”
And then came Big Boy from the side, with a man-crushing shoulder hug that made Archie wince, “I love you, Archie!”
Archie’s world had gone mad.
About a week later, Archie came to work morose and sulking, not even snapping back at the “sissy” insults, caring not enough about his torment to point out how stupid and illiterate his coworkers were as they heckled him. There was not enough juice left in Archie’s soul to feed the vampires that surrounded him.
Then, about 2:30 a.m., as the customers who stopped in after closing from the bars shopped for their munchies, Archie’s girl came through the door with two men in their mid twenties, one holding each slender hand, who looked to be well-to-do by their clothing. They walked by Archie, seemingly not knowing who he was, or the significance of their presence, as she bought two packs of condoms from Liz.
The joking stopped.
We all knew now that Archie was sulking because he had been dumped.
But this was beyond the pale.
Silverback and Big Boy and Buster looked on angrily at the threesome, even as the Dark Elf shook his head.
Buster said, “I got your back Arch.”
Big Boy snarled, menacingly, “We could say them rich boys was steelin,’ plant something on them after we whoop dat pretty-boy ass.”
Silverback said, open-mouthed, “Ya may be a sissy white faggot, Arch, but dis shid hea ain’ right. No man deserve ta be done like dis. I would kill dat bitch.”
Archie said softly, as he turned away from his tormentress and began to face up the pickle display with his giant hands, “Thanks guys, but she’s already dead to me. And I thought you were the savages.”
Archie began taking boxing lessons from me, had a few fights, and became a guy that was not picked on. Eventually he got a few promotions outside of the store, and the last time I saw him, when I was working as a vender in another location, he seemed to have matured into a man that lives in his own mind.