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Looking up from the battered counter top, fighting to keep my eyes open.

There is a cycle to this. Moving from trash bin to trash bin, emptying them & replacing the liners.

Gas hours, two am, liquor locked up. Soft rock is streaming overhead. The late night love-in calls for love lost and found.

I head back behind the counter. Opening a snack bag of greasy bites; never to expire, covered in dust, dust covered fingers.

^DING DING – customer:
*blah, blah,blah..
*vroom vroom vroom

The clock moves at a snails pace, even if you have caffeine jitters. It’s not the monotony, it’s reality. The shift started at eleven and now the headache that was throbbing has subsided.

The combination pack of aspirin, caffeine, and nicotine must be the perfect prescription. The headache isn’t something you accounted for although it has be much worse…could be persistent.

It’s time to pace the rounds like a warden. Shuffling, dusting & adjusting. Two a.m. is a dull space – The hour before purgatory, three to six am.

Working as an oasis in the graphite night can attract drolls or grifters. I head out to dip the tanks. I like to take the stock before purgatory. This requires a fifteen foot pole dipped into the gasoline storage tanks underground.

DING DING – customer:
*blah, blah,blah..
* vroom vroom vroom

In fact, when I began, I didn’t notice it. It was only after 30 days or Two weeks that it started to surface. Why am I so damn tired all the time? I am dehydrated. Mentally justifying.

I find a dime on the floor. Stick it in a pocket. It’s the small perks of the job. The doorbell chimes.

I take my position behind the battered counter. The customer wanders to the brew of tin can coffee. Fills up a supper sip up cup. They wander up to me moving languid.

“I’d like to put $20.00 on two”

I’m like the croupier and the customer they’re placing a bet. “That’ll be $22.79”

They throw the money on the counter. I pick up the bill and it has that odor. It’s a scent that strikes the senses like lightening on my hands.

The high is already wearing off into a dull ache in the head. Nothing alleviates this feeling. 

“And Five makes thirty.”

I say handing the customer their change.