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"Cactus”
by
Shelby Graham

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Helene Simkin Jara

Eight to Five

“Hey lady.  How fucking long do I have to wait here? I ain’t got all day and I’m in fucking pain.  You know what I’m talking about? Pain. Real bad pain.”

Samantha felt her jaws clench.  She snuck a peek at her watch: 9:15 a.m. They’d only been open since 8:00 a.m. and it was already starting. She looked up at the tall, gaunt man with several teeth missing. He was standing about a foot away, but she could smell the body odor, the stale cigarettes, the alcohol. She thought back to yesterday evening. Her first night after coming home from what she had imagined would be an interesting job.  Oh, it was interesting all right.  Her legs were aching from standing for almost 8 hours. She was supposed to get two 15 minute breaks and an hour for lunch, but it was too busy. That night she had a tension headache like never before.

“You’re working in a pharmacy, darlin’. Just grab some of them Vicodin or Oxycodone.  That’ll fix you right up,” her boyfriend Phil had said to her when she burst into tears at the kitchen table.  He had no sympathy whatsoever. She looked over at him, plastered in front of the TV, a can of Budweiser in his hand.

“Oh, stop your whimpering. That ain’t hard work. What I do is hard work. I work with power tools, saws and hammers all day long in the hot sun. That’s hard work. Why you, you’re just standing there pretty as can be, handing out pharmaceuticals to the lovely downtown population of addicts and old ladies. Don’t complain to me. I wouldn’t mind handing out drugs.  I’d just say, ‘One for you and two for me.’”
 
Phil laughed, let out a long, loud burp and scratched his stomach.

Samantha stared at him, stormed into their bedroom and slammed the door. She turned her back to him later when he came to bed and shrugged off his amorous advances.

And now, here she was. She cleared her throat, fixed her facial expression into what she hoped was a sympathetic one.
 
“I’m sorry sir, the pharmacist will get it ready as soon as she can. If you’ll just sit back down over there, I’ll call your name as soon as it’s ready.”

She watched him as his eyes clouded over. He slowly turned around, wincing with each step.  When he reached the chair, he lowered himself slowly with a heavy sigh.

The next person in line was an elderly woman. She had on a powder blue rainhat that tied underneath her chin. Her pink lipstick wasn’t entirely on her lips. The powdery smell of Lillies of the Valley was permeating through her crisply ironed white blouse. Samantha hoped her prescription would be ready.
 
“Name?”

“What?”

“What’s your name, ma’am? How can I help you?”

“What?  Speak up, young lady.  I can’t hear you!”

Samantha raised her voice.

“HOW CAN I HELP YOU, MA’AM?”

“Is my prescription ready?”

“PLEASE TELL ME YOUR NAME AND I’LL CHECK, MA’AM.”

“What?  I can’t hear you!”

“WHAT IS YOUR NAME?”

“Is my prescription ready?”

Samantha looked at her watch again: 9:30 a.m. She felt her face flush. Grabbing a pen, she wrote down the question and showed it to the woman:

“What is your name?”

The woman squinted at the note.

“I can’t read this! It’s too small.”

Samantha felt her knees grow weak. She walked slowly to the back room of the pharmacy, looked carefully to make sure no one saw her and counted out three Oxycodone. She slipped them into her pocket, silently counting to ten. 
 

Helene Simkin Jara is an actor, director and writer.  She has been published in The Porter Gulch Review, La Revista, Mindprints, Phren-Z and Nerve Cowboy. She won “Best Prose” (2003) for “Josefina,” (2009) for FUBMC and (2011) for “Vat Means Rad?” in The Porter Gulch Review.  She was twice a finalist for Glimmertrain and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2007 for “The Difference.”  She published a book called Because I Had To which is available on Amazon.com. She is currently hoping to publish two non-fiction books, one about dolls and a memoir about artist modeling.

In Celebration of the Muse
Jean Walton Wolff
Patrice Vecchione
Dena Taylor
Lisa Simon
Dee Roe
Joanna Martin
Cindy Knoebel
Rosie King
Helene Simkin Jara
Kate Hitt
Clifford Henderson
Carolyn Brigit Flynn
Sigrid Erro
Margaret Brose
Carol Brendsel
Barbara Bloom

Featured Artist
Shelby Graham

 

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