I credit my mother and father with my birth and, therefore, my existence — the microscopic bonding of my parents’ genetic material having served as catalyst for the manifestation of my biological form, the resultant replication and specialized categorization of cells culminating in a rather queer scenario whereby my partially actualized body, perceived by my burgeoning consciousness, found itself inside my mother awaiting forced expulsion into the outside world.
Imagine my surprise at being flushed out into the arms of a perfect stranger! A nice enough gentleman to his peers, I do not doubt, but if you were to ask my opinion of the man, he would be described as an ignorant cad, a brutish creature who had the indecency to chop off a rather vital, life-sustaining fluid valve! Not to mention his crude cupping of my backside and smacking it about to an audience of uncouth, jubilant voyeurs. I recollect with profound resentment how the boorish man hoisted me aloft, brandishing me like a trophy to his masked audience, shaking me with un-called-for violence to the apparent elation of the congregation, all the while grinning sardonically as if harboring some nefarious, self-satisfying secret.
After recovering from the crucible of this initial life event, I began satisfying the primary biological imperative tasked by the Universal Creator to each individual member of a species, that imperative being, simply, to live. During my formative years, my mother and I co-habitated in a wood-based structure in the city of Detroit in the state of Michigan in the United States of America, which is on the planet Earth. Oh, you must believe me! Detroit is a most gracious and tactful city, however rude and ill-mannered it is portrayed on the electronic telescreen.
My mother was the picture of health if you consider, as I was engendered to believe by early observation, that health possesses as its main requisites the persistent inhalation of tobacco smoke and consistent ingestion of spirituous fluids. In the daytime, we went about the daily functional tasks and required biological needs of our fleshy forms. At night, we rendered ourselves unconscious – me by devouring G. Flaubert and mother by draining J. Daniels, the soporific effects of her beloved liquid drug serving as catalyst for some brand of faux sleep.
At the age of twenty-six, after a period of habitual maternal urging, I began seeking labor in return for green paper rectangles which, my mother explained in soggy English, could be exchanged for goods and services. I resisted her notion with the stubbornness of a blacksmith, until she conveyed to me the prospect that with said paper rectangles I could buy Skittles, a candy for which I have great relish, and of which, incidentally, Wild Berry is my favorite flavor. Being thusly informed of such a prospect, I was all at once cheered by the thought, relinquished my resistance to my mother’s viewpoint, and set myself to the task of “job hunting” with earnestness, vigor, and a certain esoteric aplomb.
Owing to my steadfast efforts, I had the pleasure to gain employment at an establishment that possessed as its primary raison d’etre the purveyance of foodstuffs and products of a utilitarian nature – items that were of a day-to-day usefulness to the Detroit populace in terms of their nutritional or pragmatic value. What a challenge! I was given the assignment of operating the device used for the correct calculation of transactional amounts for the sale of such items as lettuce, cereal, nails, prophylactics, cat litter, and other materials too numerous to list without an undue investment of time by you, cherished reader.
I performed my tasks with great deftness, by my own estimation. After determining the pecuniary amount for each product, I would convey the aggregate value to the patron by way of a cheerful verbal communication. The patron, in return, would convey to me, through a physical movement, the appropriate number of paper rectangles and/or metal circles in exchange for the proffered goods. Should a patron prefer to utilize an electronic bullion card for his or her purchase, I would direct the customer to one of my respected colleagues in Checkout Line 1 through 5 or 7 through 14, my comprehension of the transactional process and electronic mechanisms in my workspace having only advanced thus far to transactions of a “hard” and not “soft” nature, if you will. Our esteemed store manager, Jason Crenshaw, assured me that with time and fearless effort on my part, knowledge regarding the electronic bullion card process would be imparted to me at some undisclosed future date in order that I would, at that time, become a fully-actualized calculator of product value in Checkout Line 6. Although the acne festering on Mr. Crenshaw’s face was distracting to the point of nausea, I had no cause to doubt the stoutness of his character or the validity of his promise.
It was on a certain occasion during my first month of employment at this establishment, in the year 1992, that a noteworthy incident occurred, after many serene and successful days. The unpleasantness commenced when I, performing my duties in Checkout Line 6 as adequately as could be expected, began visually tracking four gentlemen of seemingly corrupted nature, based on their ill-conceived choice of garments, profane language, and grammar that caused my body to shudder. Keen observation of the unseemly crew bore fruit! I witnessed one of the young men engage in surreptitiously rendering himself in possession of a Snickers brand chocolate bar without exchanging any green paper rectangles or metal circles for the item with any of my colleagues in Checkout Line 1 through 5, not to mention 7 through 14. Rather, he slipped the delicious foodstuff up his sleeve and walked swiftly toward the exit.
I intercepted the young man before he could abscond, explaining that I was particularly deft at operating the device utilized for the correct calculation of transactional values for the purchase of such items as lettuce, cereal, nails, prophylactics, cat litter, and other materials too numerous to list orally, as I was sure he had important business to conduct elsewhere and did not have time for the full inventory of foodstuffs and utilitarian products for sale, but of which, among the available items, and possibly most notably, were Snickers brand chocolate bars, and that I would with all humble willingness endeavor to finalize the transaction for any potential Snickers bar in his possession through the exchange of the appropriate number of paper rectangles, or metal circles, should that be his preferred method of payment, unless an electronic bullion card was his preference, in which case I would, with great joy and utmost deference, serve as liaison between he and one of my estimable colleagues in Checkout Line 1 through 5 or 7 through 14 to finalize any potentially accidentally overlooked candy bar transaction.
The young man appeared utterly confused, then forcefully angry, in the face of my polite proposition.
“Fuck you, bitch!” he said. “How ‘bout this? How ‘bout I fuck you up instead?”
I pondered his question.
He turned to one of his comrades. “Yo, Kenny! Look at dis stupid mothafuckin’ bitch!” he said. “What dis stupid bitch gonna do, right?” Kenny smiled, nodding with earnest approval as he tossed an avocado back and forth from left to right hand with impressive dexterity. It has been said, and I have always agreed, that the importance of jesters in court has gone grossly underappreciated over the ages. “He ain’t gonna do SHIT,” offered Kenny. He pulled an orange from a nearby bin, adding it to the act. The young man had sincere potential.
The Snickers-pilferer tilted his head back to me. He grinned, at which point I observed what appeared to be nuggets of precious metal stuck to his teeth, the amount of which would surely be worth several dozen Snickers brand chocolate bars.
“Yeah, I stole it, bitch,” he said. He pulled the Snickers brand chocolate bar from his sleeve, waving it under my chin. “What you gonna do?” I paused, having a desire to be delicate and thoughtful in my response. Ignoring me, he barked at another cohort, which sent a rather rude message that my response to his query was of no interest to him.
“Yo, Oreo!” he shouted. “Check out dis dumb-ass mothafucka!”
“KILL THE STUPID BITCH!” said Oreo, emerging from the cereal aisle.
The golden smile morphed to a menacing grimace as the young man approached even closer. “You ain’t gonna do shit, noam sayin’?” He planted a finger in the middle of my chest. “You ain’t golden, noam sayin’?” He tapped my chest several times, ostensibly to convey emphasis. “You ain’t golden, bitch!”
My intellectual curiosity spiked (feverishly piqued!), but before I could inquire as to what was meant when one refers to another as golden, and, more specifically, why I, in his view, lacked this golden quality, he shot out his right leg, sending a pyramid of tuna fish cans crashing to the floor.
“Now there’s mothafuckin’ tuna fish all over yo mothafuckin floe, bitch,” he stated. “What you gonna do now?”
My heart ached with sincere condolences for Martha, who had constructed the glorious tuna fish pyramid with the skill of an Egyptian architect over the course of countless hours, only that morning!
“Jimmy, you wanna lay down a mothafuckin’ ninja assault on dis piece of shit?” said the golden-toothed man, “or should I just cap the bitch?”
A pudgy fellow sauntered over, suckling on a Blow Pop. He crouched down, then sprung up with a shocking suddenness. He kicked a foot spastically toward me, but apparently only in jest, as his faux attack fell shy of its mark by several feet. “Waaaaah!” he screeched.
Presently, the young man with which I was primarily engaged plucked a firearm from the back of his ill-fitting jean pants, pressing the shooting-end against my forehead.
“Eva see a gun, mothafucka?” he inquired. In truth, I had seen firearms on innumerable occasions, but it was of novel interest to see one at such proximity.
“See dis?” he said. “Dis a mothafuckin’ GUN, bitch. I will shoot you in tha mothafuckin’ head with dis gun if you don’t get out my face toute de suite.” He pressed the gun with renewed vigor against my noggin. “Toute de suite, mothafucka! Get it? Get it, you dumb BITCH?”
I did not have a chance to respond, as I was scanning my memory for the proper sentence structure to say I am a lover of the French language, also!
“That’s what I thought, bitch,” he said. He pulled the firearm from my forehead, waving it in the air. A grand, sweeping gesture! He made an announcement, full of conviction, to employees, shoppers and passers-by alike.
“My name is Ajax, mothafuckas!” he yelled with the grave forthrightness of a stern monarch. “Don’t ANY OF ALL Y’ALL IN DIS MOTHAFUCKIN’ STOE FORGET IT! Y’ALL FUCK WITH AJAX AND Y’All FUCKING DIE, MOTHAFUCKAS! GET IT? PEACE, MOTHAFUCKAS!”
With that, the rowdy crew swaggered from the store, up-ending gumball machines and pulverizing Halloween pumpkins upon their egress.
“Clean up that mothafuckin tuna fish, bitch!” His parting sentiment. Poor Martha.
I did not deign to pursue any physical or intellectual debate with the savage young man, having only really understood the French parts and being, as always, engaged in satisfying the biological imperative tasked by the Universal Creator to each individual member of a species, that imperative being, simply, to live. I have always wondered whether Ajax enjoyed his Snickers brand chocolate bar.
The day after the unpleasantness, Mr. Crenshaw awarded me an “Employee of the Month” plaque and bestowed upon me the honorary rank of “Head Cashier,” a title which I was to hold as figurehead in tandem with Delores from Checkout Line 1 for an undisclosed amount of time.
The ceremony was rather jubilant. Janice from Checkout Line 12 manifested jelly-worm brownies through a baking process and Kimberly from Checkout Line 4 fabricated a pale yellow cake in the shape of a star! Jeff from Checkout Line 3 cupped my backside in a congratulatory gesture in the parking lot after our shift, grinning at me sardonically as if harboring some nefarious, self-satisfying secret.
My mother was singularly sanguine upon hearing the news! She rewarded me with a bacchanal feast of pepperoni pizza and Skittles, which, I admit, I devoured with a certain gluttonous zeal unbecoming of the newest shining star of Thompson’s Grocer and Hardware.