The last (?) Steve Garvey fan fiction piece. Because the world needs more of this, right?
(ANSWER "RIGHT" OR WIGGINS WILL DESTROY YOU.)
When Wendy pulled into the parking lot she breathed a sigh of relief. She wasn't here yet. Wendy had been brutal to her gas pedal the entire commute. It wasn't a far drive, but she had slept in longer than she expected. The last thing she wanted was a scolding for being late. Her slightly crooked lipstick work was an indication of the type of morning it had been.
Wendy fumbled in her purse for the keys. Her hand couldn’t seem to find them. She shifted her weight to her other foot , switched her purse to her other shoulder, and tried looking with her left hand. Nothing. She softly growled and began to shake her purse. A slight jingle gave her hope. She plunged her hand back in one last time and it furiously scraped the bottom of the bag like a newborn puppy frantically searching for its mother’s teat. Finally her index finger rubbed against metal, and a small victory was had.
No sooner had Wendy stashed her purse in her locker and begun the morning rituals—so engrained in her brain she completed these tasks without so much as a conscious thought—did she a flash of light sprint across the room as the morning sun reflected off the windshield of a car that was hastily, crookedly parked in one of the front spaces. Wendy’s heart dropped into her bowels. Maria had arrived.
Why Wendy continued to work at Los Hombres, she couldn’t say. It was the first job she’d ever had, and perhaps she simply couldn’t think of doing anything else at this point in her life. At first Maria had been like the auntie Wendy never had, asking about Wendy’s family and encouraging her to pursue an education at the local community college. But over the past couple of years things had changed. Maria had become the bane of Wendy’s existence. “I’m the one who really runs this place,” Wendy would sometimes think to herself, especially after Maria would criticize her for not smiling enough at the creepy letch who came every day just before noon to order a tostada plate and confess to Wendy he “liked the way she filled out her shirt.”
Apparently, it was one of those days where Maria didn’t acknowledge Wendy’s existence. Wendy stood there invisible as Maria strode past her and into the back room. Within a minute she was in the restroom. Wendy thought she could hear vomiting but she wasn’t sure. “Probably hung over again, f**cking drunk,” Wendy said aloud before holding her breath and hoping Maria hadn’t heard.
Jose and Mike would be here soon and that would take some of the heat off Wendy. Maria had a “thing” for Mike, so her focus would shift from belittling Wendy to trying to coerce a nineteen-year-old boy into thinking it was perfectly fine to be sexually harassed by a woman who was nearly two-and-a-half times his age.
But there was something calming about working at Los Hombres. At least Wendy knew what to expect. She had figured out Maria’s nonsense not long after she began working there and had become adept at avoiding the games and pitfalls her boss set up for her. If Wendy’s workplace were a minefield, she knew the few safe places to plant her feet without being blown to smithereens.
“Morning,” Jose smiled as he walked in. It was so obvious Maria hated him because he was anything but handsome, but he never missed a day of work and prepared customers’ orders with a steady quickness, so she left him alone. Like a fine artist preparing to paint a masterpiece, Jose began getting his workspace ready for the day. He took some cheese out of the refrigerator, opened a fresh pack of tortillas, and fired up the grill.
“Hey Wendy. What’s up?” Wendy smiled and returned pleasantries with Mike. It wouldn’t be long before Maria came out of the back room to have a look at what her would-be boy toy was wearing today. There was a particular pair jeans that he would usually wear once or twice a week that were her favorite, and on those days she was always just a little bit nicer.
Wendy finished counting out the money in the register, put yesterday’s earnings in a bank bag and locked it in the cash box “hidden” in the closet where the paper towels were stored, washed her hands, and walked over to the front door to change the hanging sign from “Closed” to “Open.” Nobody was waiting outside. She headed back to the front counter and opened a package of straws and began placing them in the slot next to the beverage machine.
The first customer of the day arrived seven minutes later. The bells on the door chimed as he entered. Wendy stood at the register and waited while the man scanned the menu on the wall above her head. She didn’t pay much attention to what customers looked like. They all became a blur to her. But something about this particular man looked strangely familiar. He was dressed in a white button-down shirt, tucked neatly into a pair of navy blue slacks. She wasn’t sure if the shoes he was wearing were actually Hush Puppies, but she chucked to herself when that brand name came into her head. “Hush Puppies. What a name.”
“I think I’ll just have a good old-fashioned burrito.” He smiled and winked. Wendy hated when men winked at her. What did a wink mean, anyway? It seemed pervy.
“Would you like to add a beverage and make your order a combo?” Maria was big on the up-sell, and the one time Wendy neglected to offer turning a customer’s meal into a combo Maria wouldn’t stop pestering her about it for a week. She reminded Wendy that her salary was paid by the “f**cking combo” and unless she wanted to work for free, she’d better push customers to buy it.
“I’ll take a Coke. Just a medium size.”
“I’m sorry, sir, but we only have Pepsi.”
The man stood there with a hurt look on his face, as if he was a young boy on Christmas morning and Wendy had just told him Santa Claus was dead.
“I’ll skip the combo, then.”
Wendy could feel Maria’s ears listening from the back room. “We can substitute another drink. Would you like a medium horchata?”
“I don’t know what that is.” He bit his lip. Wendy watched and waited for an answer. “No, I’ll skip it. Just a burrito.”
With tax the cost came to $5.17. He passed her a twenty dollar bill. Wendy handed back two five dollar bills, four one dollar bills, three quarters, one nickel, and three pennies. She watched as he put the bills back in his wallet and slid the coins in his pocket. None of his change went into the tip jar displayed predominately next to the register.
“Your order will be ready soon.” And she meant it. Jose and Mike prepared food with a swiftness that seemed inhuman. Jose, in particular, had a sixth sense when it came to the kitchen, and he had already started working on the man’s burrito before Wendy had finished ringing up the transaction.
The customer put his hands in his pockets and began to whistle a tune. It just sounded like a random assortment of off-tune notes, but he did his best. His eyes never left Jose and Mike. Interestingly, both men kept stealing glances back at the man—something they never did. Wendy thought this was odd.
As the burrito’s completion drew near, Wendy could sense a feeling of excitement growing. The man seemed more than just hungry. He seemed almost desperate.
“Thank you, thank you,” the man said as he grabbed for the bag containing his burrito and rushed out the exit. Wendy watched as he made his way to a slick-looking sports car. He hadn’t even unlocked the door before he had taken a massive bite of the burrito.
“Do you know who that was?” Mike said with wide eyes. Jose was grinning ear to ear.
“No, I’m not sure.”
Wendy had heard the name before, but she didn’t quite know why she should care.
“He was on the Padres…” Wendy shrugged. “He hit that famous home run against the Cubs in the playoffs…” Wendy looked back at Mike with a blank stare. He seemed disappointed in her lack of excitement but at least Jose was giddy. The two of them began talking about how they couldn’t believe Steve Garvey came into their workplace.
Wendy looked at the clock. Only eight hours and twenty-four minutes to go.