Sunday, January 24, 2010

Games A La Mode, Part Two


I was struggling to stay awake through an afternoon shift when a tall girl about my age with reddish brown hair and a sad face walked in. She looked like a lost rabbit. She stood at the counter and stared at me. I felt something take control of me. It was one of those moments in your life when you feel your head fill with light and electricity shoots through your body.

“You’re here looking for a job, aren’t you?” I asked.

She nodded her head.

“Great. We need somebody real bad. Wait here. I’ll go tell the manager to hire you.”

I went to Earl’s office, told him to hire the girl and he did. Her name was Rebecca. She lived in Ooltewah, a tiny town on the outskirts of Chattanooga. She was a real country girl. She was a hard worker, too. With her working at Games a la Mode, my schedule whittled down to something more normal.

Rebecca and I were attracted to each other, but the situation was awkward. We were both getting over someone before we met each other. We didn’t flow together. We bumped into each other and retreated and then forced ourselves back to each other. My relationship with ex-girlfriend had been so intense. I didn’t want to jump back into something heavy. I wanted something light and easy. What I wanted was a lime freeze.

Rebecca only worked at Games a la Mode for a few months before she moved on to a better job. However, we did stay involved in each other's lives for years to come, thanks to the child we had together.

Meanwhile, Bressler’s main office told Earl that Games a la Mode was such a success that they were planning on updating and expanding the store. Earl would get a promotion. Hell, even I was going to get a promotion. I was going to be assistant manager and work in the office instead of behind the counter.

The store was closed down in late November for remodeling. We were told they would reopen in December and that are jobs were secure. Just enjoy the holidays and come the new year, we’d be working in a much fancier place with brand new pinball machines.

What actually happened was that during the Christmas holidays, Bressler’s had the store gutted and broke their lease with the shopping mall. My job at Games a la Mode had melted away. Turned out that Bresler’s had no intention of reopening the store. They had had enough of the drug busts, the rednecks hanging out but not spending money, and the complaints from the other merchants at Eastgate Mall. The Games a la Mode experiment had failed to achieve the desired results. Bresler’s gutted the store and sold the space.

I didn’t get promoted to assistant manager. Earl didn’t get promoted to district manager. Instead, Earl and I got our last paychecks in the mail and that was the last we ever heard from Bresler’s Ice Cream and their 33 flavors.

I met with Earl one last time before he moved away. He told me he felt sure we’d meet again some day. I said I hoped we would.

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