Change of Plans

So that WoW story’s on hold, at least at the moment. However, I have a treat for everyone in the form of a sneak peek at Wilson 4, also known as Cliff’s 2, also known as We Value Your Business.

The old woman was frighteningly thin, with dark, beady eyes hidden beneath old, droopy eyebrows plucked clean of hair. Her pursed lips and wrinkles made her look as if someone had shaved a pug and stretched its skin out. The woman also looked vaguely pissed, as if she resented having been shaved and stretched out. Regardless, Clarice was pleasant. “Your total is six dollars and thirty cents,” the girl said with a smile from behind the register.

The woman handed over a twenty. Clarice punched a couple of buttons and the cash drawer popped open.

“ Thirteen seventy is your change, ma’am,” Clarice said, holding out the money.

The woman never even made eye contact. She was eyeing something in her purse. “Is that with the senior discount?” she asked.

You know damn well—

“Um, no, it’s not,” Clarice said, innocently.

The woman’s eyes came up and seemed to stare through the girl. “I wanted my discount,” she intoned.”

I’m not giving this old… thing an inch.

“Oh, I’m sorry, ma’am. You have to ask for the discount,” Clarice said, tamping down the venomous urges.

“I’d like my discount,” the woman said again. The talonlike fingers of one hand curled up slowly and she put her fist on her hip.

“With all due respect, ma’am, on a six dollar order the discount’s only going to amount to… about thirty cents,” Clarice said. She tried to make eye contact, but couldn’t; the dark beads staring back were too intimidating. “For a transaction already completed, I’ll have to go get my boss, if you’ll—”

The woman suddenly made a wordless sound of contempt about three seconds late. “Don’t tell me how much it’ll be, you little brat.”

That’s it.

For the first time since she’d started her counseling in seventh grade, Clarice Hoesly snapped.

“Brat?! Listen, you hag, it’s thirty flipping cents. It’s not worth my time, it’s not worth your time. At the rate the food here will kill you, that thirty cents will matter even less.

The woman twitched almost violently, shuffled backward and turned to find a seat. Clarice, the red mist fading, realized what she’d done, gasped, turned, and ran into the back of the restaurant.

Twinkie was working the next register over, helping a family of five. As Clarice ran off, he blinked for a moment. He then turned to the seven-year-old boy across the counter from him. He leaned down. “Hey. What’s your name?” he said with a grin.

“Billy!” the boy replied, smiling.

Twinkie smiled and reached out, hoisting the boy over the counter and setting him down in front of the register. He looked up at the family. “Billy will be taking the rest of your order. I have to run,” he said, darting back after Clarice.

And Clarence, watching one more employee snap at a customer via the security cameras in the office, simply began to laugh.

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