Rewrite. Brought to you by Mikey's Twitter. A woman comes in to get Pokemon cards, and will stop at nothing to make sure she gets them.
He could smell her desperation the moment she staggered through the door.
“Hello, can I help you find something,” seventeen-year-old Mikey Way deadpanned. He had his sneakers propped up on the glass display case beside the register, his long legs hooked over one another at the ankle. The latest edition of Fangoria was spread over his thighs, and Mellon Collie was blasting on the stereo behind him. He glanced up only briefly at the woman before turning his attention back to the gore spread on page twenty-six. “We just got in the new Sonic – “
“Pokémon cards,” she barked at him.
Mikey rolled his eyes, still focused on the magazine. “I’m sorry, we’re out. Come back tomorrow and we’ll have a new shipment in.”
Instead of turning tail and shuffling out of the store defeated, like the other ten people that had come in before her looking for the same thing, the woman marched up to the front and planted herself in front of the display case. “Like hell, you’re out.”
He heaved a sigh, and flipped the magazine on its face before glaring up at her. “Look, ma’am, I don’t know if you’re seen the news or anything, but those cards are the new Transformers. We can’t keep them in stock for more than a few hours.”
“Where are you hiding them?” she demanded.
Jesus Christ. It was like her life depended on the damn things. Mikey arched an eyebrow and got a better look at her; upon speculation, maybe she did need them. Her hair was a rat’s nest, greasy and bleached blonde with ashy brown roots. The bags around her eyes were a deep, blackish purple, and deep lines were carved around her mouth and between her overgrown eyebrows. Maybe she resold them for drug money. The way they were selling, it wasn’t so far-fetched.
“Come on, kid, I have a screaming six-year-old in the car who’s not gonna shut up until I get him these fucking cards,” she snapped. “Where. Are. They.”
“Lady, they’re gone.” Mikey shoved his glasses up his nose and shook his bangs out of his eyes. “If we had any, they’d be hanging on this little plastic tree thing here.” He gestured to a tower of white plastic hooks sitting next to the register. They had a Pokémon logo taped to the top. “I promise, we’re out. But come back first thing tomorrow, and we’ll have some.”
The haggard woman lurched forward, and braced her palms against the display case. Mikey was walloped by a wave of her ultra-flowery Kmart perfume. “Don’t give me that shit,” she snarled, while Mikey reared back on his stool and wiped at his watering eyes. “You have to have them. Understand? You have to. I’ve been to every goddamn store in Essex County today.”
He coughed, and peered at the clock. Seven-thirty. He could fake that they needed to close. Actually, he really did need to start locking up, they closed at eight on Friday nights and he had a party to be at by ten in North Arlington. “Ma’am, I can’t help – “
“Please.” She collapsed on top of the case, her stomach pressed up alongside the edge, and grabbed one of his hands with both of hers. From the new angle, Mikey could see all the way down her rhinestone-encrusted t-shirt, and grimaced. “I’m desperate.”
“I can see that,” said Mikey, trying to stand up and politely wrench his hand from her grip, which was vice-like and sweaty. “But I have to start locking up, it’s almost closing.” He finally pulled his hand free, and rolled up the Fangoria, tucking it into his back pocket while he turned to switch off the stereo. “Justin,” he called to his co-worker. “Come on, dude, it’s seven-thirty, we gotta start closing up.”
“I’ll suck your dick.”
Mikey froze. His jaw swinging somewhere below his collarbone, he jerked around to face the blond, who was still draped over the case. She had her head in her hands. Had she just…? “I – I’m sorry?” he choked, blinking fast.
“I need these cards,” she said, her voice a pleading whine. Mikey swallowed. “You don’t understand. He’s been throwing tantrums all day and I just…I can’t take it anymore.” Her head shot up. “You’re not queer, are you?” she suddenly asked, looking at him through her lashes.
Speechless, he shook his head.
“I’ll blow you. I’ll fuck you. Anything.” She struggled upright and gazed at him tiredly. “As long as it’s quick.”
Mikey could only stare at her for a while. He had dealt with desperate moms before, but this was another thing altogether. Not once, in the entire year he’d been working there, had he been offered sexual favors in exchange for ten stupid pieces of flimsy cardstock. Did she do this a lot? Maybe there was no kid. Maybe she slept with clerks in stores to get free stuff to sell for drugs. He was pretty sure normal women didn’t do this sort of thing, but then again, his interaction with women was on the low side and he wasn’t one to speak for what was normal, anyway. He shook himself, and found his tongue. “J-Justin,” he tried, moving toward the Employees Only door. “Justin, inventory can’t take this long, come on, man!”
“Please,” she begged, close to tears. She launched herself up and over the case, like she was planning to rob the place, and backed Mikey against the bulletin board hanging on the wall behind the counter. Panicked, he tried yelling for Justin again, who was probably sleeping; the bastard, but the blond clamped a hand over his mouth. “Don’t say anything. Just get them after.” And then she forced her mouth onto his, and holy shit what was even happening, this was so wrong on so many levels, oh God gross her lips tasted like Fritos and Jesus fucking Christ she was trying to get her tongue through what the actual –
In a last-ditch attempt to save himself, Mikey braced his hands against her shoulders and tried to heave her away, but she got the exactly wrong idea and went down on her knees instead.
“I don’t normally do this, I swear,” she said, as she started yanking at the waistband of his jeans. “I’m just at the end of my rope with the little bastard and – “ She popped the button on his fly. “Take my advice and never knock a girl up.”
He had to be dreaming. That was the only logical explanation for what was happening, because people didn’t do this unless they were in porn videos. And last he’d checked, he hadn’t signed up to be in one of those – wait a goddamn second, maybe this was a prank. As a matter of fact, Gerard was still supposed to get him back for the “you’re signed up to receive eight vaccinations” joke Mikey had convinced the clinic doctor to play along with. But no, on second thought, this wasn’t really Gerard's style. He was more active with his pranks, and if Mikey’s work was to be involved, it would probably involve Gerard running in and doing something stupid, like throwing a bucket of fake blood on him and then taking off again. Whether Gerard was involved or not, the woman seemed bent on getting his dick out of his pants, and he needed to nip that issue in the bud.
“St-Stop!” he gasped, as she was shimmying his jeans down his thighs. “What the fuck are you doing, lady!”
To his shock, the woman burst into tears, and threw her arms around his legs, sobbing. “His father was supposed to take him this week, but then he got arrested – I can’t – he’s a monster, a fucking monster, I don’t know what to do with him anymore – “
Mikey decided he was not getting paid nearly enough to put up with this, as she hugged his legs tighter and wailed. “Justin!” he shouted, rebuttoning his jeans. “Justin, get the hell out here, now!”
“I’m sorry,” the woman bawled, wiping her face against his pant leg. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, please!”
Justin wandered out of the break room at last, yawning, and stopped short when he realized what was going on. Mikey gave a helpless shrug, saying, “I don’t even know, dude, she just came in and flipped out,” and the woman let out a hysterical wheeze. Eventually, the combined effort of Justin and Mikey pried her off of Mikey’s legs, and got her back in front of the display case, where they gave her a bottle of water and tried to coax her down from the ledge. Justin found a pack of unopened Pokémon cards stuck between the cash register and the drawer, and gave them to her free of charge, as long as she promised to leave and not come back.
Mikey later told Justin the whole story, as they were locking the doors and flicking the overhead lights off. Justin pulled the gate down over the front door and shook his head.
“Never happened to me before, either,” he said, when Mikey asked. “I’m telling you, dude, we should make way higher than minimum wage for the shit they make us put up with.”
“I hate Pokemon cards,” Mikey complained, as they headed out the back door. “I never would have applied for this job if I’d known what hell they were gonna unleash.”
As he parted ways with Justin and made for his car, Mikey spotted an SUV parked in front of the store. The blond woman was slumped behind the steering wheel, unconscious or else newly dead, while a little kid with a bowl cut screamed his lungs out and flung Pokémon cards at her ninja-style from the passenger’s seat.
“Jesus Christ,” he muttered to himself, hiding his face in his hand as he unlocked his car. I will never have kids, he thought grimly, sliding behind the steering wheel. Never.