Fat Girls Get Taken Advantage Of

July 6, 2011

I’m trying to get some work together for the second installment of the OPEN 24 hrs. This book is to be called Afternoon Shift. The first was called Day Shift. These are revivals of stories that I might have put on her before. Fat Girls Get Taken Advantage Of is a story about something that hasn’t happened yet. I have two young daughters in their 20s so I’m aware of the pain girls go through in their teens. Its all about awkwardness and confidence.

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Josephine Baker was the prettiest girl on Prennan Avenue. According to her father. She just needed to lose a little weight. A little around the middle. Something under the arms. Put on a little make-up. Spend that little smile more freely. Meet more kids her own age. Quit being so negative. Accentuate the positive. But, oh how lonely she felt standing in front of the bathroom mirror. There was nothing there that would interest anyone. Why did she even try? She smiled. I guess it’s not that bad. How strange this new world was to her. Making her feel awkward and ugly and so full of hope. Hope that sometimes made her feel like she wanted to die. Nothing ever seemed to happen fast enough for Josephine Baker.

Most of Josephine’s friends described her as sweet. Sweet enough to eat. Josephine did not have enemies. Not a foul word in her lexicon. No one got to know her that well. Sometimes she hated herself. Would have spit if she had to show it. Why was she always so very agreeable? Listening closely to any discussion to make sure that her viewpoint did not contradict. Anyone else’s opinion. Do not argue. Back down. From any hostilities. Why did Josephine feel that she could not afford to lose any potential friends? And as a result, she had few friends. People described her as two faced, not because she was malicious or talked behind people’s backs, but because her opinions changed depending upon the company she kept. She was a chameleon. Fading into the background. If only they knew. She was disappearing.

Josephine graduated from high school. With honors and entered college. Studying science. Headed for a career in medicine. It was thought how wonderful it would be if she was the first female to become the county coroner. That’s what I need. All my colleagues will be corpses. Josephine took a summer job at the local drug store. Her father, who was a police officer, had connections with Mr. Edwards, one of the owners. Josephine loved working as a cashier. It was easy. She didn’t have to think. Just smile and give people their change. Everyone liked getting money back. And she liked giving. She liked it so much that she considered quitting college and working full time. Her father forbade Josephine from making this decision. Anyone with your I.Q. should not be working in a drug store the rest of your life.

And there was a boy. Paul McGregor smiled at Josephine the first day she worked in the drug store. The first moment she walked through the front sliding doors. The first time she walked out of the Ladies’ room wearing her blue and ruby uniform. Josephine had been blind sided, struck by Cupid’s arrow. Working at her cash register, she would glance down the aisle hoping to see Paul. Working. Merely walking by. I’m mad about the boy. A gay appeal that makes me feel that there is something sad about the boy. On her breaks Josephine would sneak out to the back of the drug store where Paul went to smoke. Bought a package of cigarettes so that she wouldn’t look out of place. And she smoked. Studied smoking. Practiced in front of a mirror. Got real good at it. One day Paul offered her a cigarette and she took it. Even though she had a package of her own. Smoked like she’d be born to it. Paul looked impressed. Addicted her to the cigarette. And the boy. Occasionally Paul would come up and talk to her and May, another cashier, when business was slow. Paul was a mysterious figure to Josephine. He smoked. He shaved his head. And he liked to read books. He had the letter A tattooed on the back of his hand. The only person she’d ever met who read Moby Dick for pleasure. And he wanted to be a writer. If only I could employ some magic that would finally destroy this dream that chains me to this boy.

Josephine wrote as well. Mostly poetry. About romance. And unspeakable crimes against loneliness. She submitted her work to several magazines. And was published. More than once. The publisher encouraged her to write more. They loved the gothic edge to her story. Stories where love and death were lovers. Where blood and wine became interchangeable. Where nothing ended happily but always in some sad and ominous manner. And so Josephine wrote. And submitted. And got published. But she kept all this quiet. Her father did not approve of such frivolous activities as poetry. Won’t pay the rent! was his usual refrain to any activity he didn’t agree with. Nor did she tell her mother. The content of her poems would have scandalized her mother, a religious and rather prudish woman.

One day when Josephine caught Paul writing in a small book he always seemed to keep on him, Josephine mentioned that she wrote. Paul encouraged her to bring in some work so he could read it. She did. When Paul finished reading three of her pieces he just stared at her, his mouth hanging open.

“Aren’t you going to say anything?” she finally asked.

“They’re very… adult.” He smiled awkwardly.

“You think I’m a pervert?” Josephine asked. “I’m taking an introductory course in psychology at college and I have all the symptoms.”

“Is perversion an illness?” Paul asked.

Josephine nodded. “I believe so. It’s in the genes. My father is a police officer, you know. He has all these unresolved conflicts between good and evil. And my mother is quite the prude even though she was quite the hot number when she was young. I was born out of wedlock. Conceived in the back seat of a ‘57 chev. Custom built. I have this image of my mother’s left foot dangling out the car window. All of these conflicted traits get handed down in the genes. I think I’m a mess.”

Paul laughed. “You are interesting.”

“Do you think so?”

“No doubt about it,” Paul responded.

Josephine glared at Paul. “Is that good?”

“It can cause problems.” Paul replied.

“Do you think I have talent?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” Paul responded. “Do you think it’s going to rain this afternoon? I didn’t wear a jacket.”

Josephine sucked on her cigarette, pouting.

“I’m trying to become a writer myself,” Paul explained, “so it’s not like my opinion means anything.”

Smoke slithered out of Josephine’s lips. He doesn’t like them. She took the poems from Paul and placed them back in the brown envelope that she kept them in.

Paul watched her.

“But I’d keep writing,” he said. “I go to a writer’s workshop once a month. We read each other’s work and offer criticism. Would you like to come?”

Josephine’s face lit up. She nodded. Then sadness turned her mouth down.

“Would I have to read my stuff?”

Paul shook his head.

The next evening Paul and Josephine met after work. They took the subway downtown to a café above which the writer’s workshop met. There were about a dozen writers, mostly in their early 20s. Josephine was introduced to the group and soon forgotten. The other writer’s were anxious to read their work. At the end of the workshop a group of the writer’s decided to go across the street to a pub and have a few drinks. Paul encouraged Josephine to attend. She drank too much. On the way home she kept passing out on Paul’s shoulder. Paul walked Josephine home. There was a park near her house and they stopped. Paul went into some bushes and took a piss. Josephine sat on a park bench and looked out into the darkened park. There was a tennis court. In the darkness of the court she saw something move. It was a couple. A light from a distant house where someone had opened the door flashed across the tennis court. A girl was giving a boy oral sex. The door of the house closed. Paul returned and sat down on the bench beside Josephine. She turned to him.

“Do you think I’m fat?”

One Response to “Fat Girls Get Taken Advantage Of”

  1. Very interesting David.

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