A/N: *blows dust off this account* Hi there, internet. My name is Lumi and it's been a while since I've even paid this account any attention. Shame on me. Even though I've had people asking me about the His Girl series. Maybe one day. And one day maybe soon. I don't know. We'll see. But right now, we're going to go into something a little different. This is, yet again, another NaNoWriMo project that's getting edited and posted here. This was a good one. And it's one of my favorites, so…I'm going to shut up and let you guys indulge yourselves here. K? K.
Sometimes, you wake up, get the mail, make a bowl of cereal, and go to work for eight hours at a job you thought you'd love when you applied for it. But then, you wake up the next morning, go through the same bullshit routine. And the next. And the next. Although, I made a vow to myself today. Today would be different. Today will be the day! For what, I'm not sure, but it'll be something. I pushed myself out of bed, threw the mail on my kitchen table, inhaled my Lucky Charms, and headed for work.
But first, I had to get her motor running. Quite literally. A '92 Civic doesn't exactly run like it did off the showroom floor anymore. But Rosie tries her best for me. All I need is for her engine to start and I'll know. I stuck the key into the ignition and gave it a little bit of a jiggle. Come on, Rosie. You got this. You can do it. I jerked my hand back, feeling a little jolt in the key. Alright, you bitch. Is this how we're going to play this? You're going to fight back? No, no, no. I shoved the key back in. Start, you piece of shit!
Then, the engine fired up. Even though it sounded like it was going to explode, she still moved. That's my girl. It's amazing what a little verbal abuse can do to this car. Works like a charm. I left my cozy little two-bedroom house and headed to work. When I applied for a job at a video game store, I thought it'd be great. It's the one thing in this world I had ample knowledge about. I've been playing them since I was four years old. I kicked ass at a good 2D side scroller. Why not get a job at a place where you could pass on that knowledge to the next generation?
I'll tell you why, past, optimistic Quenton. Because most of the kids who come into the store could give two shits less about the beautiful intricacies of a well put together 16-bit side scroller. All they ask for is what has the most blood, the most gore, and the biggest explosions. Not that I'm totally knocking that altogether. It's just that there needs to be more substance to a game for it to be good. You can't just Michael Bay your way through it. Or maybe at my ripe old age of twenty-five, I've become the bitter old man who doesn't understand the young people anymore.
Maybe I just appreciate the classics. Some indie games have come so damn close to nailing that same warm, nostalgic feeling. Whatever happened to the simplicity of going in, fighting the bad guy, and saving the princess? Are those days long gone? Are all anyone cares about anymore first-person shooters and battle royales? I'm starting to think I may just be a cynic clinging to a time since passed. What can I say? I miss those days.
"Hey, Quenton," one of my fellow employees-in-arms Roxie greeted me, staring over her black framed glasses with her usual sunshine disposition…If she ever had one. Rox was just as big of a cynic as I was, if not worse. Despite her usual bitchy attitude, Rox and I got along famously.
"Good morning, Roxanne," I bowed to her with a hint of overdramatic, "How are we on this fine day?"
"It's raining," Roxie pointed out, leaning over the counter with her usual look of discontent.
"And?" I pulled up a stool next to her, "Good day for business."
"No one wants to go out on a rainy day, Quenton," she blew a big, pink bubble and waited for her gum to pop, "Let alone on a Tuesday morning. Other people have jobs, too. What's got you so uppity anyway? Did you get laid?"
"No," I shook my head, "I can't just be in a good mood? Jesus Christ, Rox. Who hurt you?"
"You and I are only here for eight hours, Overstreet," Roxie put her hand on my shoulder. Her fingers had the same calluses mine did. Although, Roxie's were a little worse, "You don't have that kind of time. But enough about me. This is an uncharacteristically good mood. Your usual good mood is typically…less bouncy. And you never ever call me Roxanne. Did someone finally try Tinder?"
"I didn't get laid, Rox," I rolled my eyes, "Honestly, it's just a good mood."
"You're hiding something from me," her eyes narrowed in suspicion. That was the other thing about Roxie. I loved her like the little sister I never had, but she's paranoid as all hell. No one gets anything past her.
"Excuse me for not wanting my women delivered to me like takeout," I jabbed, getting the store ready to open, "I'd rather go to the bar like a normal person. It worked last time."
"If you say so," she scoffed, "You truly are an old man in a young man's body, Quenton. When was the last time you had a woman in your house? And I don't count."
"Well…" I bit the inside of my cheek, remembering the last time I had a woman in my house. Needless to say, it didn't end pretty.
"Mother of God," Roxie gasped, "Seriously? The she-beast was the last one?"
"What have I said about calling Veronica a she-beast?" I scolded her. It wasn't that she was overly big or ugly or anything like that. Veronica and Roxie never got along.
"The bitch took off with her yoga instructor, Quenton!" she squeaked, "If that's not a good enough reason to call her she-beast, I don't know what is. How could she leave someone like you for some meathead like him?"
"I don't know, Roxie," I joined her back behind the register, trying to suppress that memory. Veronica came into my house, told me we could always be friends, and then, she promptly moved in with her yoga instructor and left town. Good times.
"You got a lot going for you, man," Roxie gave me a light swat to the shoulder, "You're smart, you're funny when someone gets your dark ass sense of humor, you're not the worst looking creature to crawl out of the primordial ooze."
"Thanks, Rox," I threw an arm around her, "I'm glad you're amused by my sad excuse of a dating life."
"I'm telling you," she insisted, "Just find a girl, get a little casual something, something, and then, look for love. You need a rebound, my friend."
"I don't want a rebound, though," I needed to get her off on a different scent before I go down a gallon of bleach in the breakroom, "Didn't you have a competition last weekend?"
"Oh," Roxie held her chin in the palm of her hand, "Yeah. What about it?"
"You don't sound too excited," I thought, "Usually, you're stoked as hell when you come back from competition. What happened?"
"Was it bad?" I wondered.
"It could've been worse," Roxie shrugged it off, "But it could've been a whole hell of a lot better."
Wow. It was a rarity we had customers so early. And with Roxie now in a much more bitter headspace, I was going to have to be the guy to take care of him, "Hi."
"Hey," the guy gave me a nod.
"You looking for anything in particular?" I asked, my customer service face working overtime.
"Not really," he thought, "What do you have in the line of a futuristic FPS?"
"So," I assumed, "You're talking something like Halo or Mass Effect?"
"Yeah," the guy seemed to get really excited. But then, he caught sight of Roxie brooding behind the register. And zeroed in on her, "Hi…"
"Can I help you, sir?" Roxie groaned.
"Maybe you can," he smiled, "Do you play games, too?"
"Yes, sir," she stared blankly at him, knowing this song and dance all too well, "Did you need me for something? Because I'm pretty sure my associate had you taken care of. He's a knowledgeable guy."
"But I didn't ask him," the guy got a little too close for my liking, "I asked you."
"Look, dude," Roxie blew him off, "I'm really not in the mood and the last thing I need right now is some asshole thinking it's ok to hit on a girl while she's cornered at work. Pretty predatory, if you ask me."
"No," he lied through his teeth, "I wasn't trying to hit on you. We were just talking. What's your favorite game?"
"Ni No Kuni," she told him, "Now, either buy something or get out."
"I've never heard of that one before," he leaned over the counter.
"That's because you're uncultured," Roxie backed away, "Hey, Quenton. I think this guy's looking for something specific."
"Here," I put a game case in his hand, "This is the Darkness. Personally, I think it's underrated as far as the FPS games go, but the storyline's great. The kills are cool. If you've never played it before, I suggest getting this one."
"Thanks," the guy brushed me off, trying to get closer to Roxie, "Now, what time do you get off, pretty eyes?"
"Not your business," Roxie practically hid behind me.
"Can you stop please?" I asked him, "She's seventeen and you are coming off kind of predatory. Just buy the game and leave."
"Oh," the guy dropped it immediately, "I thought she was just playing hard to get."
"At what point did I seem like I was playing hard to get?" Roxie snapped, "Ever think playing hard to get is just you not taking no for a fucking answer?"
"Here," I rang up the guy's game, "$42.87."
"Thanks, man," the guy gave me the money and shot a dirty look over at Roxie, "Someone needs to teach you some manners, young lady."
"And someone needs to put you on a watch list," Roxie wasn't having it today. And honestly, I can't blame her. Unfortunately, that wasn't the first time someone's come in here and hit on her. And even worse, it probably won't be the last. As soon as the guy left, she fell into my arms.
"You ok, Rox?" I hugged her tight.
"Depends on your definition of ok," she let out a heavy sigh, "But I think I'll live. Thanks for lying about my age, Quenton. I appreciate it. The baby face has some perks."
"No problem," I helped her back up, "You want to take five in the back?"
"Why?" Roxie shuddered, "So, weirdo can find me in the alley? No, thank you. I can manage. Besides, if I let him knock me down, he wins. I can't allow that."
"What an attitude to have," I applauded, "Why don't you get the plushies out of the back and we can restock the plushie shelf? Is that ok with you? Something easy to get your mind off him?"
"Honestly," she admitted, "I'm still more pissed off about last weekend than the guy. I was the one that screwed up and lost our team the win, Quenton. I'm not supposed to be the weak link."
"It's alright, Rox," I tried to cheer her up, "You win some. You lose some."
"Yeah," Roxie headed toward the back, bringing out a big ass box full of nothing but different game characters in soft, squishy form, "But if we lose, none of us get paid. I don't know about you, but I got student loans and shit to pay off and a sister to put through private school."
"You're still paying Madilyn's tuition?"
"Yep," she took her box cutter out of her pocket and worked it beautifully, "All because Connie can't keep a man or a job longer than a couple weeks and what she does make goes up her nose."
"Forgive me if this is overstepping," I winced, "But have you ever tried going for custody of Madilyn?"
"We've been down that route," Roxie confessed, "I've tried proving her an unfit parent, but that's a moot point. She manages to hide her coke and Child and Family Services say I'm not financially stable enough to support her. Shit sucks, man."
"I'm sorry to hear that," I always had a soft spot in my heart for Roxie. She didn't exactly grow up with the best life. Dad took off. Mom went down a spiral. Little sister has a borderline genius IQ, but unless she gets out of there, she has no hope for a decent future.
"She still stays with me sometimes, though," she went on, starting on the bottom shelf, "She says she's going to a friend's house, but she'll kill a weekend with me. Or if she needs somewhere quiet to do her homework or something, she'll go to my place and hole up for a while. It's not exactly ideal, but we get by."
"Does Connie know where you live?" I wondered.
"Nope," Roxie shook her head, "And if I have my way, she never will. It's better for everyone that way. Not to mention, I don't want her selling my setup for coke money."
"You do have your apartment locked, right?"
"Good," I sighed out, "My offer still stands."
"I know," Roxie laid her head on my shoulder, "If I never need somewhere to stay, you got a spare bedroom."
"And you're always welcome to it," I assured, "You wouldn't be the worst roommate in the world."
"I come with some baggage," she reminded me, "You know that. Is that really something you'd be prepared to deal with?"
"You haven't scared me off yet," I gave her a little smile, hoping it'd be infectious. To no avail, "I doubt that you ever will."
"Someone better snap you up, Overstreet," Roxie teased, "She-beast doesn't know what she's missing."
"What did I tell you?" I shoved my finger in her face, "Veronica's not a she-beast."
"And she's also not your girlfriend anymore," she retaliated, "Stop defending her. She was a bitch that left you for Meathead McGee there."
"Of course, it was a fucking Trent," Roxie giggled to herself, "It's always a Trent. Trent is definitely the yoga instructor that steals your girl and takes pride in it."
"Whatever makes you happy, Roxie," I let her have that one. The girl needed a cheap laugh albeit at my expense.
Although, she did have a point. It's not like we were going to get much for business today. The rain put a bit of a damper on business. No one would want to come out and if they wanted to buy a game, they could download it. The digital age kills another struggling business. It has made things easier for the modern agoraphobe, though. We did pretty well, though. Between the game wall, the movie wall, and the collectables, the store brought in a nice, little profit.
But since the rain had us running slow today, Roxie and I had a way to kill time between customers. We hooked up one of the older consoles that someone had brought in and we have ourselves an afternoon. Today's game of choice: Mortal Kombat. It was one of Roxie's favorite games and even though I didn't know how she did last weekend, she needed something to boost her confidence again. And it was one game I knew she could kick my ass in. She took great pride in that, too.
Once she had the power of Kitana in her hands, Roxie proceeded to beat the ever living shit out of Subzero. I'd be lying if I said I didn't put up a hell of a fight, but this match wasn't for me. I hated seeing Roxie get so down. It broke me in a place I didn't like to be broken, but the most I can do is find some way of putting an almost smile on her face. After a couple kids came in later in the day to take the closing shift, it was time for us to go home.
"You want a ride back, Rox?" I offered.
"In your death trap?" Roxie teased, "I don't think so. But thanks, Quenton."
"You're welcome," I gave her a little smile, "Kiss Maddie for me."
"Will do," she gave me a half-hearted salute and took off on her scooter, "See you tomorrow!"
"Later," I prayed for my car to start and lo and behold, she started for me. It was a better day. Better than I thought it'd be. It could've taken a dark turn a few times, but Mortal Kombat saved it. Weirdly enough. Who would've thought animated blood and gore would've been the thing to pull Roxie out of her weird headspace? I would. That's why we played it. Because I know how that girl ticks.
When I got home, I got the mail from today and tossed it on yesterday's mail. By the looks of the fridge, I needed to go grocery shopping sometime soon. I'm damn near out of milk. Fortunately, I still had Hot Pockets in the freezer. The essential food groups: Milk. Lucky Charms. Hot Pockets. Could I stand to take a little better care of myself? Probably. Was I going to start any time soon? Probably not.
While I waited for my ancient toaster oven to heat up, I checked my mail. Let's see. Water bill…Power bill…Phone bill…Fun. It's nice when they all come at once. That's a good time. And there's the internet bill, too. Woo-hoo. It's times like these where we need to bust out the shitty three-dollar bottle of champagne and celebrate. Then, a deep purple envelope stuck out from the rest of them. It's not my birthday, so the odds of getting a card in the mail are nonexistent.
Wow. Wax seal and everything. What time period is this? Whatever. I'm not going to complain. It's neat. I ran my fingers over it. A raven on some kind of branch. A little Edgar Allen Poe for my taste, but I'm not going to complain. I ran my finger under the envelope and broke the seal only for the envelope to unfurl like parchment. Ok. Edgar Allen-y or not, this is pretty cool.
Dear Mr. Overstreet,
You have been cordially invited to a gala dinner at
Mistress Luella Holloway's mansion
On October 23rd
Your attendance is strongly encouraged
Please RSVP immediately.
The Holloway Estate
Huh…I didn't know anyone named Holloway, let alone Luella Holloway. Why would she want me there? Maybe this was just some timeshare thing. Something about it feels like they're trying to sell me a timeshare. Oh, well. Might as well toss it. I mean, it's not like I was going to go to this. I'm not exactly the gala type. It's too bad. The invitation was kind of pretty. If I don't show up, then they'll take that as my RSVP, right? Too well to attend isn't an option, but it's my excuse.