by Jason Gordy Walker
I want this lady to go on a diet, I want her to bathe at least fourteen times a week, and I want her to start using antiperspirant. Preferably Dove.
She’s a knock-off of a woman I sniffed last year. This woman had halves of hard-boiled eggs for eyes, a pickle for a nose, and loaves of moldy French bread for arms. And her hair was greasier than the McDonald’s hamburgers she ate.
“Are you enjoying your ice cream?” the lady asks, behind the countertop.
“It’s good,” I say, sitting on my usual corner barstool.
Her grin grows wider than her hips and she asks, “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“You can quit working here, go home, take off all your clothes and bathe until your skin bleeds. Make sure to ask your neighbors for all of their soap first.”
“OK,” she says. “My pleasure.”
She returns with four bars of soap and asks if that’s enough.
I say, “Yes. Thank you.”
I wipe my mouth with the napkins she gave me and recall a time when I actually told someone what was on my mind.
I had been sniffing teenagers all week. I remember how they would leave the factory smelling like Downy and return with fresh-cut grass and rotting pork chops drifting from their pores. When my boss asked what I thought of the new teen deodorant, I told him kids would have to be stupid to buy it. He fired me on the spot.
The lady walks toward my personal space. I’m finished with her sweat, so I don’t know what she could want.
“I wanted to make sure you enjoyed the ice cream,” she says.
“I did,” I say.
“Wonderful,” she says. “Would you mind filling out this survey? It lets us know how we’re doing.”
I fill out bubbles without paying much attention until I reach the final question. This question, unlike the others, has spaces to write on. It reads: Did you enjoy your ice cream?
I consider telling the truth. I like coming here, no matter how crowded it is, because I like how the ice cream melts on my tongue, how it cools my mouth and sweetens my teeth. But today I can’t taste the ice cream.
So I write, “The lady you just hired smells like a corpse. Get her out of here.”