Tastes Good For Three seconds
By Theo Thimo
(Illustrated by Kelsea Basye)

Someone threw up in the elevator. My manager told me to get some gloves but I said I would quit right then and there if she tried to make me clean that up.

Me and the guys played hacky sack in the storage closet for the next few hours.

Mikey hadn’t come in the last three times he’s been scheduled and no one knows why.

We worked on the lower floor of the hotel where the conference rooms are. We’d set up tables for banquets and functions, mostly. They gave us a full day to do what was usually thirty minutes of work.

Except today, the day before Thanksgiving. After that night’s function our manager gave us the sheet for the next day’s set up; a banquet set for four hundred people. It would take us all night to finish.
My coworker, Emilio, who grew up in a bad neighborhood and was addicted to cocaine I think, kept repeating, “That bitch, that bitch.”

The manager would always leave after 10 PM. When she left we were alone for the night. We hung around the break area, reluctant to really start working.
Emilio kept telling us, “She can give some of this work to the morning crew. She’s making us do it because she wants to be a bitch.”

And Ryan, my age, agreed with him.
I never really cared what work we had to do, or how long it would take.

Michelle, from the restaurant upstairs, who was good friends with Ryan, was staying with us even though her shift had ended.

We sat around a table, and she would keep showing me stuff on her phone. She would go, “This is so funny,” and show me a picture of an alpaca with the caption, “ALPACA BOWL”. I would laugh and say, “Yeah, that is funny.”

When me and Ryan were alone he went up to me and said, “Michelle wants your dick.” I didn’t know how to respond so I said, “Okay.”
“Are you going to hit it?” he asked.
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Everyone here thinks you’re gay,” he said.
“Yeah, I heard.”
He asked me if I was and I told him I wasn’t.

Me and Emilio carried a table into a room that wasn’t being used for a while. They had a couple trees there all ready for Christmas Season, with ornaments and everything on them.
I sat down on a chair.

“I heard that Mr and Mrs. X [the owners] paid some company like, one thousand dollars per tree. Apparently each ornament is hand made and costs like, fifty dollars,” I said to Emilio.
Emilio looked at the tree and went, “Oh yeah?” before he took one of the ornaments, dropped it on the ground, and stomped on it.

I started to laugh. “Are you serious, dude?”
He took another one and dropped it.
“Yeah, you know what?” He stomped on the ornament. “Fuck them.”
He took another ornament off the tree. “You wanna know why?”
“Why?” I asked.
He stomped on it, shattering the glass. “Because Mr. and Mrs. X are assholes.”
“Alright,” I said. “You shouldn’t do anymore, man.”
He stared at me, took off another one and threw it against the wall.
“I don’t give a fuck,” he said.
“Yeah, I can tell.”
I started to head out and said, “I’ll get a vacuum to clean that up.”
“No, leave it. I want them to see it. What are they going to do?”
“Give us shit for it and try to fire somebody.”
“Fuck them.”

I got a vacuum and cleaned it up later anyway.
Around 2 AM, Ryan found that one of the bartender’s left the wine cooler unlocked and took out some wine from it.

We got some dixie cups and drank for a while.
Emilio kept talking about how much he hated the job and I ignored him. He kept saying how he wanted to be a mechanic.

“What do you want to do?” Ryan asked me.
I looked up and said, “I don’t know.”
Ryan insisted I must like something and I took a sip from the dixie cup and said, “I really don’t, man. I don’t. I don’t care either. This is all stupid. I don’t care.”
“You don’t want to work here forever do you?” he said.
“No. I’m quitting as soon as I can.”
Emilio looked at me. He said, “Seriously, you’re gonna quit soon?”
“Yeah, I hate this job, man.”
“I do too but I don’t just quit.”
“I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe you should too.”
Ryan asked, “Don’t you like hanging out with us though?”
I drank too much maybe and said, “Not really. Not any more than everyone else.”
Emilio said, “How can you say that, man.”
“Sorry,” I said, “I don’t like doing that stuff. I just don’t like hanging out. This is nice and all but I’d rather just be alone, you know?”
It was kind of quiet and I kept saying, “I don’t know.”
Emilio said, “So much for friends.”
I said, “Don’t give me that, man. Don’t say that.”
Michelle looked at me.

I said, “You know we’re not friends, man. You guys are cool but we’re not friends. You’re just people I work with, man. That’s all. You’re not my friends. I know you’re not my friends. I know it. I don’t have any because I don’t like hanging with people. That’s why. I’m sorry but I just know you guys don’t care about me, you know. So don’t say that to try and make me feel bad because it won’t work.”

I felt a little embarrassed so I got up and did some work alone for a while.

Michelle came up to me and asked me if I meant what I said.
“No.” I said, “I’m just a lightweight and drunk,” before laughing.
I don’t think she believed me.
Emilio and Ryan were taking another break and we sat with them. It was a little awkward but I think we all got over it.
Ryan was telling Emilio about how he had sex that morning.
I was on my cellphone. I looked at Michelle and said, “Hey, look at this.”
It was a picture of Juicy Fruit. The caption said “TASTES GOOD FOR 3 SECONDS”.

She thought it was really funny and I smiled.
Emilio started laughing really hard at some thing Ryan said to him. He started slamming his hands on the table and his face started to tear up. I couldn’t help but laugh and I wanted to take back what I said earlier but didn’t want to bring it up.
We sat around for another thirty minutes maybe. We really did not want to start working again.
“I think it’s the new desk clerk that’s upstairs tonight,” I said.

Ryan smiled and went up to the phone wall and dialed the desk clerk. We were all smiling because we didn’t do this very often. It always got us into trouble.
The desk clerk picked up the phone and Ryan changed his voice a little and said, “Hey, it’s Mark. A senior is coming in from the airport and needs some help with the luggage.”

There was a pause and Ryan said, “Yeah, it’s a red Honda near the back.”

We all ran to the window. We saw the desk clerk walk all the way to the back of the parking lot. When he got there Ryan gasped, “No!” and, by some miracle, there actually was a red honda parked there. The desk clerk stood there confused, next to that car, for maybe ten minutes before giving up. We were nearly on the floor laughing. We really knew how to entertain ourselves, I think.

Later on, I was finishing up a room with Emilio.
Emilio kept looking at me. When I asked him what he was thinking about he said, “Yo, Mikey tries to get at Michelle everyday, man. Every. Day. And she always turns that nigga down. Now, she wants you, shes stayed here an extra four hours just to talk to you, son. And you don’t even try, man. What is that? You don’t even care.”
“I don’t know, man.”
“There has to be something to it, man. Just talk to her.”
“Do I have to go with her just to impress you?” I said.
“Something ain't right with you, man. That must be it.”
“Yeah,” I said. “That must be it.”

When I finished up the room, I couldn’t find anyone.
I saw all of them having a smoke break outside.
I could tell they were talking about me by how they all looked when I came out.
“What?” I asked.
Ryan said, “We were talking and be honest, man. Do you think Michelle is cute?”
I looked at Michelle and she looked away.
I didn’t know what to say so I said no.
I regretted that really quick. I could tell Michelle got her feelings hurt. She didn’t say anything for the rest of the conversation.
I think Ryan was angry at me for saying that too.
I stayed by myself for a while after that because I felt dumb.

I saw Michelle sitting alone later and I sat next to her and said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t know what to say.”
“It’s alright,” she said.
“You know, I don’t think you’re bad looking.”
“Wow, thanks.”
“I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t mean like, anything by it. I just don’t think anything of how you look. I like talking with you if that makes a difference. You’re easy to talk to if that means anything. It’s not easy for me to talk sometimes.”
She didn’t say anything but I think she kind of nodded her head.

It was around five AM when we finished and the sun was beginning to come up. The manager would be back in an hour and our next shift was at 12 PM.
Sometimes when things take this long, we’ll ask the desk clerks to let us stay in a vacant room for the night. Ryan asked him for us but the desk clerk, who obviously knew we were the ones fucking with him before, wouldn’t give us a keycard.

I learned how to work the machine that designated the keycards to particular rooms a while ago so we got Emilio to tell the clerk about the unlocked wine cooler. The manager has the keys for everything. If something is unlocked, we have to tell him and he has to lock it.
While he was doing that I went behind the desk. We didn’t know how to tell which rooms were vacant so I assigned us rooms on the fifth floor, the most expensive, which are empty 99% of the time.

Michelle asked if I wanted to room with her. It didn’t make any difference to me so I agreed. There were two beds in the room but she wanted to sleep in the same one with me. I told her we could do that.
I took a shower and I went to bed in my boxers and she wore her shirt. I felt very awkward in the bed.
She said to me, “I know you don’t like me.”
“I do,” I said.

I was not looking at her but I thought she was probably crying.

“I’m sorry,” I said.
She told me that it was alright.


theo thimo lives in massachusetts