“And this wash basin is for the staff. Always be washing your hands. It’s a good look and the customers like to see it.”
Dwayne nodded. Already, his scalp was starting to itch beneath the hairnet he was being forced to wear. Around his neck, a lanyard dangled his staff i.d. card. Already it was beginning to feel like a millstone.
“These are the cheat sheets,” Wanda, his supervisor, pulled battered and peeling laminated sheets of A4 paper from behind the steamer. “In case you forget how to make a macchiato or a skinny mocha, or whatever the hell it is. But don’t worry; you’ll have it all down pat in no time. This is a high pressured job and you have to think fast. Thinking fast means learning fast. Can you do that?”
Dwayne blinked as though in slow motion. Wanda lifted his chin with her finger to close his mouth.
“This is Louanne. You’ll be shadowing her for the first half of the shift. And then you’ll be flying solo. OK?”
Dwayne, sensing some kind of positive response was required, nodded.
Wanda rolled her eyes in Louanne’s direction. She left them to it. Louanne turned to Dwayne and smiled. Dwayne gaped. Louanne was gorgeous. Even in the dull brown uniform and hairnet. The pink of her hair shone through, the glint of her piercings. She was an angel come to Earth to serve hot beverages.
The angel squinted at his name tag. “Dwayne? Let me show you how to work the cash register. This one can be a little bitch but if you treat her right, she’ll open right up for you. It’s just a matter of pushing her buttons right.”
Dwayne drooled. He watched Louanne’s fingers dance on the keypad, bracelets jingling, A tattooed snake curled around her forearm, disappearing tantalisingly into the sleeve of her polo shirt. Dwayne was in love.
“So, what do you do, Dwayne? I mean, what do you really want to do?” Her smile was like sunshine through clouds.
Dwayne twitched out a shrug.
“I mean, serving coffee is not my big dream,” Louanne’s laughter was like little bells. “I’m studying to be a veterinarian.”
“Nice,” Dwayne’s voice caught in his throat. She loves animals! She is perfect!
“And what’s your deal?” She cocked an eyebrow. She’s interested! In me! Dwayne couldn’t believe his luck!
“Um, I ah,” Dwayne’s cheeks flushed hot. His throat was so dry all of a sudden. “I, well. Um.”
Louanne’s smile broadened. “It’s OK if you haven’t figured out who you want to be yet. It’s cool.”
“Can you show me how to open the till again?”
“Sure.” She did.
By the third demonstration, Dwayne was confident he’d got the hang of it.
By the end of his shift when his confederates burst in, armed to the teeth and roaring blue murder, he was on the point of reconsidering his career path.
While Skip and Bonner took control, locking Wanda in the storeroom and keeping the customers cowering on the floor, Dwayne opened the till and took out the cash. Louanne, her dainty hands raised in surrender, sent him a pleading look. She backed away, her escape cut off by the cake display.
“You don’t have to do this,” she said, eyes brimming.
And for a moment, he allowed himself to believe her, allowed himself to believe she liked him, she was truly interested in him, she really would one day be a vet and help all those poor, sick animals.
“Yes, I do,” he said, steeling himself. He nodded. Bonner grabbed Louanne from behind and dragged the blade of his craft knife across her throat.
“Pity,” said Skip, giving Louanne’s body a kick. “She was kinda hot.”
“Na,” said Dwayne, forcing himself not to look down. “She was just another stuck-up bitch.”