short story - fiction
My new boss is on the shorter side. He has a bald head and a big smile, and he wears a suit that is not tailored to his stocky frame. I enter the dimly lit bar and shake his hand, he says “welcome!” with a forced toothy grin, telling me his name is Rudy. He introduces me to the bartender, whose name I forget instantly.
Rudy shows me around, pointing at things, describing them. He tells me what time to come in on the days I work, and where to put my things. He hands me a new work shirt, it’s crisp and white. My new boss tells me that we only get two of these and if I want more I will have to buy my own. I nod seriously.
“Let me show you the kitchen.” Rudy says, and I follow him. He shows me how to taste each of our sauces, how to know if they are good or bad. He lets me taste a lemon dressing and asks what I think of it. Four members of the kitchen crew stare at me and I say that it tastes good. The tallest kitchen member blinks.
“Not really. Too sour.” He looks at the kitchen staff and they nod their heads, mumble a little. “It’s okay to tell them when it’s not good.” he says to me. I try to look agreeable, knowing I will never tell them anything about any dressings, ever.
Rudy takes me to the area where the freezers are. The freezer door opens and an icy cloud puffs out and covers us. He reaches inside and pulls out a large, red lobster. I take a tentative step back, watching the antenna wiggle at me. The creature’s claws are sealed closed with green rubber bands.
“You like lobster?” Rudy asks, smiling like a clown.
“To eat? Sort of.” I reply.
He roughly throws the lobster back in the freezer and I wince.
“So they’re all alive in there?” I ask as Rudy slams the icy door.
I must look sad, because he touches my shoulder and says: “Don’t become a lobster in your next life.”
I stand, unmoving next to the freezer. What could someone possibly do to merit becoming a lobster in their next life?
At night I can barely sleep. I toss and turn for hours, but comfort never finds me.