I don't hate mornings.
The more I tell people this, the more I believe they think I'm insane, though I can't completely comprehend why. True, mornings are probably the worst possible time of my existence and I don't seem to make them any easier for myself or anyone else for that matter. It's also true that I'm never in a good mood, everything seems to go wrong, and anything that comes out of my mouth is a four letter word. However, I am not entirely opposed to mornings in general. In fact, sometimes they're almost…nice.
"Who in bloody hell plays Prince at the fucking crack of dawn!?" Maybe just not this particular morning. "Turn that damn bloody shit off before I shoot someone! Does no one in this building have any good musical taste?! For pity's sakes why don't you just jump off the freakin' building while you're at it!" My tirade went on, more than likely reaching the ears of all residents in the vicinity, and possibly across the street. So perhaps mornings weren't my most favorite time to be alive and breathing, but it wasn't as if Prince made it any easier.
I flopped out of bed and turned on my own music, an eclectic mix of screaming that eased the pain of having to listen to Prince. The guy only seemed to remind me of better days, and those days had definitely faded away. The ceiling thumped and I heard some kind of shouting from above. I gave whoever it was the finger and turned up the volume. I hated living in an apartment building.
My bedroom door hit the wall, creating a noise loud enough to awaken my room mate next door, and probably made an even larger dent in the drywall. Ben had to work as early as I did, so he should have been thanking me. Instead I heard a series of curses intermingled with my name. So much for birds singing and bright sunshine, or whatever the hell mornings were supposed to entail. I was still only clad in purple underoos and a tank top, but I could have cared less; there was only one thing on my mind.
"Good morning sunshine." Michael smiled in a half sarcastic, half bemused sort of way that earned him a glare. He always managed to appear so cheerful and composed during the morning, so much so that I envied and hated him for it.
I ignored anything else and went straight for the coffee pot next to Adam, who looked as though he'd been hit by a truck, much like I felt. Elbowing him out of the way I grabbed a cup and poured the precious elixir almost to the rim.
Adam glanced at me and grimaced, his sandy brown hair mashed in all directions and completely out of control. "If all women wake up as gracefully as you do, I think I'll remain single." He smirked. "Nice panties though."
Another glare graced my brow. "You can't keep a girl for three days; what makes you think you can just decide to be single?"
Ben waltzed in just in time to hear the conversation and add his unwanted two cents. "Someone sounds bitter. Ami, maybe we should have –"
"Shut the hell up, Ben." I brushed past him and went back into my room. He whistled appreciatively at my retreating bottom. I would have cared except Ben got horny over anything with a pulse.
The problem with living amongst three other men is that they have no sensitivity to your bad moods. Therefore, the fact that they'd had their heads ripped off was blamed on them and their all around need to be jackasses. I sighed and leaned my back up against the door once I'd closed it. The room went dim and I could barely see the spotless red carpet and the various paint stains splattered against the off-white of the walls.
Truth: I hated mornings. They always seemed to kill me, starting with when I managed to pry my eyelids open all the way up until I began work. A headache began to show its sorry self on the radar just as I rested my head on the door. Pain. Great; just what I'd needed, really. Perhaps it would help to numb myself from the idiots I lived with and the day that loomed before me.
With a sigh I pushed myself from the door and sauntered to my closet, drinking large gulps of black coffee and ignoring the fact that my mouth was burning. I had too many clothes, I decided. Thrift shops were amazing for finding treasures, but I seemed to buy twice as many clothes as I would have had otherwise. Quickly I threw a black pleated skirt, black t-shirt with white eyes peering out from the chest, and black and white striped socks over my shoulder, feeling in a dark mood. Generally my fashion stemmed from my moods, as sad and pathetic as it seemed. The boys found it to be a good indicator about what they could or shouldn't say to me.
I lined my eyes with thick lines of black. Bright royal blue peeked from underneath black hair, and was only hinted through the dark when I pulled it into two pigtails. This tended to give off the indication that I was sweet and endearing. To finish the whole ensemble I pulled on a pair of lace up black boots, the only ones I'd found that didn't have a heel and almost reached my knees.
"Nice hooker boots." Ben commented, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively the instant I entered the living room where he was busy tying his work boots. Alright so generally speaking my fashion choices were a good indicator of what or what not to say.
"Keep talking and they'll be lodged up your –"
"Hey, Ames, have you seen the phone bill?" Michael noted my outfit and tilted his head. "Nice boots."
"They're pretty hot." Adam entered the conversation as well, his clothes in a rumpled state, though he didn't seem to care. "Did you get a new job or something?"
Ben snorted. "Maybe her own street corner."
I glared with very little amusement and headed towards the door. "I'm going now."
Despite my moody emotions and my angry disposition, the morning seemed to be holding out for the best. The sun shone through the thick grime of smog, the birds sang, a man played acoustic from a spot on the side of the sidewalk – then I witnessed a rear-ending followed by honks, curses and yelling and cell phones. The picturesque, quiet city scene deteriorated from there. People generally ignored the accident and the rest of the human race as they rushed by, anxious to get to wherever it was they were going. I didn't mind the city due to the fact that one could be alone in such large groups of people and not have to care about making feeble conversation.
I made it to work ten blocks later and stormed through the door without caring who or what would be in my way. The place was empty, save for Kelly, who was taking down chairs.
I worked in a café – no, actually I shouldn't say that. The instant the word 'café' comes up you immediately associated it with words such as 'artsy', 'mellow', and sometimes 'brown'. Scenes of beautiful fall days sipping a cappuccino while sitting outside and watching the leaves blow down the street, or listening to the sounds of jazz and poetry, or spending a day just reading and drinking tea often came to mind. At least, that's what I thought when I contemplated ideas surrounding the word 'café'. Well, let me just make it clear. Hell's Hole was not artsy in the least bit; it was elitist.
You see there were only two kinds of customers that lurked around Hell's Hole, and both of them were neither appealing nor interesting by any means. Firstly, there were the old artists who still thought they could hack it in their trade by flicking paint on a canvas or stringing up old cutlery. Essentially they believed themselves better than anyone, and resided in Hell's Hole day after day staring down anyone that came in, criticizing any kind of art that they'd seen, or hadn't. I'd taken to calling them the Peacocks because really, all of their self appreciation and preening was quite nauseating. The second half, the younger half, were a bunch of Goth punks who believe they were terribly misunderstood by the rest of society. They sat in a corner in their black make-up and pale skin, reading deeply depressing books and talking in groups about how they were such individuals. Right.
Me? I was just some blue-haired girl with anger issues trying to pay for college so I could get out of Hell's Hole. All of the deep egoist art shit and angry, rebellious rants had me going insane.
My boss, Kelly greeted me with a cheerful grin. "Hello, Ami, how are you today?" He was a real winner too, and by that I mean I believed him to have some kind of mental instability. I had no idea what he did on his off days, but when he worked he carried a bright smile on his face and if anything happened to go wrong, it turned a little crazy-looking. I put up with him only because he somehow paid for my rent. If I'd met him on the streets, I would have avoided him immediately.
I glared at him and stormed past to the back room to hang up my bag.
"Yes, Ami, how is your day today?" Taylor asked with mock flamboyancy; it wasn't appreciated in the least.
Another glare was tossed in Taylor's direction. "Shut up, Taylor."
He looked up from his newspaper. "Is her majesty having a bad morning?" A smirk appeared as he stared me up and down appreciatively. "Nice hooker boots.
"They're not hooker boots!" I shouted, unable to contain it any longer. How was it that a busty blond could wear practically nothing and be deemed 'fashionable', but I was dinged for a pair of bloody boots?
Taylor nodded, his blue eyes going back to his newspaper. "That about sums up everything nicely I'd say." It was a good thing we were short staffed or I might have killed him.
"Leaving now." I muttered as I exited the back room and tied on an apron slowly.
Hell's Hole had never put me in a very good mood. The vibes there were extremely angry, contradicting the manager completely. Secretly, I believed Kelly had mental breakdowns at work because there was too much anger floating around for him to stay serene and eccentric. Yeah, that was it.
I supposed my own anger issues helped in no way, but it wasn't as if my coworkers said or did anything to remedy the situation, especially Taylor. He enjoyed seeing how far he could push before I left the counter and had to take a five minute "time out" in the back room in order to restrain my homicidal urges. Despite the outbursts, Kelly was always saying how "pleasant" I was; it was really kind of strange.
"By the way," Kelly suddenly appeared at my side as I examined intently the shot glasses we used for espresso. "Trina called in sick this morning. I think she's pregnant or something, but she won't admit anything to me just yet."
Lovely. Another employee potentially gone; this was just what we needed. Wait. I mentally calculated who was left to work Trina's closing shift, but Kelly finished my train of thought out loud.
"So I'll need you to work a split shift and close tonight." The short man that wore leopard print collared silk shirts and disturbingly tight black jeans barely batted an eyelash, as if I would say yes without question.
God, I hated work. I hated Hell's Hole. I hated my life. "Fine, but don't expect me to act happy about it." I scowled and returned to my inspection. My day had just gotten worse, and so had my head ache. Split shifts were the bane of my existence. Actually, that was false. I could have come up with several other things that were also the bane of my existence, and therefore were looked upon with the same amount of hate.
Kelly chuckled, whether to himself or at me, and went to the back to get something or other.
I sighed and went to the CD player, plunking in Feist. Her sultry voice suited my rather deflated mood, and it was something I knew that Kelly wouldn't demand to be turned off. I went about preparing for the morning rush, feeling the head ache begin to prick at the back of my eyes. Lovely.
The Peacocks came in first, which wasn't that unusual because usually the Goth punks slept off their hang-overs until at least noon. There was Arthur, Tom, and Cecilia, and they took at least half an hour to gaze at the new set of art work that some kid named Zane had put up the night before. I didn't mind it, the artwork. The kid had some talent, especially when it came to the colors he chose for just the right amount of lighting… I blinked. I was beginning to sound like the Peacocks in all their critical vainglory.
"Hello, Ami." Arthur greeted me at the register, pronouncing my name incorrectly as he always did. He liked to sound French and I wondered some days if he did it just to piss me off. One thing was certain: I was not his friend, no matter what language he butchered.
I managed to eke out a rather flat and slightly strained smile. "The usual, Arty?" he didn't like me calling him that. We had a mutual dislike for each other underneath all the social formalities.
The older man in his mid fifties, with graying hair and golf cap, nodded gruffly and rubbed his scruffy face.
Cecilia was worse, her thin face full of wrinkles from chain smoking her way through her career. Her nose was pointed much like a bald eagle's, and she looked many a painted piece down it. Beady blue eyes were sunken but looked at the world with a critical, calculating coldness that gave me the creeps and brought out just a little indignation and resentment towards her. In short, she was a bitch, but then, apparently so was I, so I couldn't exactly judge. She ordered her usual as well and went to the table in front of the artwork with Arthur.
The only Peacock that I actually didn't mind was Tom. He looked like an old rockstar, and he'd pulled out a guitar once or twice. The difference between him and the rest of the Peacocks was that he actually smiled every once in awhile, and he was the only one who could get my name right. I'd had a smoke with him one day on my break. All hell had broken out in Hell's Hole, and Kelly had broken down. Tom told me a bit about his life, the places he'd been, the people he'd seen. He was a lot more down to earth and humble about his art than Cecilia or Arthur.
"How's your morning, Ami?" He asked with a wry smile.
I gave him a long suffering grimace. "I just got handed a split shift, I have a head ache, my room mates are male, and I woke up to Prince; it's about as shitty as it gets."
He handed me some change for his black coffee and shrugged. "I wouldn't say that too quickly."
I supposed worse things could have happened – like tripping over my "hooker boots" and getting hit by a truck. Yeah, that would have been the icing on the cupcake, or however the hell the cliché went.
The morning rushed by as there were more people coming in for their morning cup of coffee and suddenly I was told to leave. I had to kill some time, and come back to Hell. At least there were drugs at home to kill the head ache that was beginning a riot act between my temples.
"Oh, Ami," Kelly stopped me before I could get out of the back room.
I halted my footsteps, closing my eyes, waiting for whatever bad thing would come next.
"Could you come in a bit early? I need you in at four and I'll pay you some overtime." Kelly's voice was incredibly sweet, like a munchkin or a three year old. My hands could easily wrap around a munchkin or a three year old.
I blew a chunk of hair out of my face. "Fine," I ground out and stalked through the café like a black cloud. No one took much notice. After all, being dark and brooding was what Hell's Hole was all about, really.
Adam sat on the couch, still playing his damn video games, when I arrived back to the flat. He was "in between jobs" or something – just another excuse to make his parents pay for his rent. Apparently they were rich, so it really didn't faze the pile of human flesh that could consume his weight in potato chips.
Music blared from the surround sound speakers and made me feel as if a train were running me over – a train with at least two hundred cars. I closed the door behind me and dropped my bag to the floor, uncaring of where it fell. All I wanted was some Advil – drugs, I needed drugs.
Adam's mouth moved, but I didn't hear a word he said. I ignored him and went to my bedroom, slamming the door and wishing I lived alone. A year ago I probably could have warmed up to the idea of living with three boys, but that had seemed so long ago now.
It had been Michael's idea. He was the one who'd decided – without asking me – that we were moving into a giant flat with two other strangers – read: children. Michael and I had traveled across the country together, both of us for our own reasons. We'd known each other since diapers, and while we weren't the chattiest of friends, he was always there to talk to, even if I didn't use every opportunity. As for the other idiots, rent was cheap, and money didn't seem to grow on trees; these facts alone were the only reasons I managed not to become a murderer.
I sighed and scratched my scalp, trying not to think of home. Instead I changed out of my "hooker boots", striped socks, and black skirt, exchanging it for some loose brown pants held up with a studded belt and Velcro sneakers. The black t-shirt stayed, just because I hadn't felt entirely out of my dark mood.
In no time at all it seemed I was back at work, and loving the atmosphere as usual. I was the only one around; save for the few die-hard customers that had no social lives and intended to stick around, chatting with a few common dwellers about their similar lifestyles. Damian, a Goth punk with a cute smile came over to talk to me for a few moments before his "friends" began to wonder why he was conversing with someone who didn't give cold stares. That wasn't to say that I didn't give cold stares, but I was definitely not wearing enough make-up to be labeled as a pretentious Goth punk.
And that was when trouble walked through the doors. Actually, that's false. He kind of stumbled in because he tripped on the ledge that was clearly marked in yellow spray paint.
He had a kind of 'I'm a washed up stock broker' look to him, and to be honest, I wondered if he wasn't drunk and lost when he'd staggered into the door of Hell's Hole. He wore a brown pin striped vest and matching pants with an equally brown tie and a light yellow collared shirt with the sleeves rolled up past his elbows. His sandy brown hair was disheveled in such a way that I couldn't tell if it was on purpose, or just due to the fact that he'd woken up that way. As he regained his composure I noticed he was tall and he wasn't drunk. I was dreaming. This was bizarre, even for Hell's Hole. I glanced around and noticed that I wasn't the only one dreaming.
The Peacocks looked pretty pissed at his presence, and the Goth punks seemed a bit outraged that he was wearing colors, and a suit. I smirked, but continued with my work, trying to ignore him for as long as possible.
"Hey, do you have a phone?" he asked, sounding not as drunk as I'd expected.
Something about him ticked me off. He just had this strange vibe about him that irritated and grated on my nerves. "Yep," I replied without looking up from my monotonous work. The back counter had my rapt attention.
The silence following the answer threw him off a bit. He scratched his head, probably attempting to make his hair look half-way decent. "Could I use it?"
I glanced up at him briefly before returning to my duties, determined not to glare at him openly. "Possibly."
I could feel him getting annoyed as he leaned over the counter and looked both ways. After a few seconds he simply hopped over the freshly cleaned counter, slipped behind me, muttering a grumbling 'thanks', and grabbed the phone from the wall.
"Phone book?" he asked, spinning around and looking again.
What was I, his servant? My lips twisted ruefully. "In the microwave." Kelly had had another slight breakdown the night before; that was all I knew.
He said nothing about the location of the phone book and made his call, something about directions. The phone was hung up with a sigh, but I really didn't have any sympathy to give him. There was just something about him…
"Nice shoes." I blurted with a bit of curious sarcasm before I could stop myself. Why couldn't I just leave those things alone?
He glanced down at his shoes and shrugged as though owning classy vintage dress shoes were nothing special. "Whatever." For a few moments he just stood there, almost jadedly.
I really wanted him to remove his sorry self from his current position and relocate somewhere other than the café. I had to close. All silent recollection could be done outside on the sidewalk.
At more silence he scratched his head again, messing his hair up even further. I would have let him use a shower if I'd thought it would have made him leave any faster. "Anyway, thanks for the phone." He moved to go, but I stopped him.
"The phone book." I said, actually looking up from my work long enough to make eye contact. His eyes were green, a soft sea foam green that my mom used to paint her toes with when I was five.
They looked at me funny.
"It needs to go back into the microwave. One of my co-workers suffers from…I don't know – something. He's very particular about having things where he put them." Taylor and Trina had a bet going on whether Kelly was some kind of cocaine addict. I at least had to wonder.
He did as he was told and then stopped to squint and look at me sideways. Perhaps he suffered from the same symptoms as Kelly.
"I'm closing." I dead-panned, staring at him with a rather blank expression, but one that clearly indicated my strong dislike of his presence.
His face settled in a smirk, as if he found something terribly amusing about me. I wished he wouldn't. "Thanks for the phone."
"I didn't give it to you."
"You have a good night." He emphasized 'you' as if he'd worked too many years for McDonald's. What a pretentious imbecile.
About forty-five minutes later I closed the store and walked home, tired and in no mood to do anything but sleep. I was glad I had the next day off. These days of work – eleven in a row – had been enough to snap a nerve. I made a mental note to turn the telephone off so I wouldn't get any phone calls from Kelly begging me to work another day. Nothing could be worse than that.
I trudged up the steps to the apartment, imagining only my warm, soft bed. Before my eyes I saw fluffy pillows, layers and layers of blankets, fuzzy slippers, hot tea, soft robes…a…large frat party in my living room. I blinked at the open apartment door, teeming with bodies and beer and loud music clearly indicating a party – a large one, at that moment.
So there was something worse.
A/N: I found a song by a band called go set go entitled 'I hate everyone'. Inspired, I felt I had to write Ami's story. This in no way means that my other stories are not continuing, but it's a nice respite when my brain goes on the fritz. Comments, constructive criticism - anything - is greatly appreciated.