Posts Tagged 'Cliff’s'

Sneak Peek: Resistance

No, not the Muse song. The new story I’m working on! With class dialing down and with a semester that I’ve spent mostly writing-free behind me to recharge my resentment batteries, not to mention another story of mine getting published to boost morale, I’m trying this whole “writing” thing again. It’s been too long! Please share and enjoy this new taste of my (everyone’s?) favorite fast casual restaurant:

Clarissa watched Clarence trot back into the office with a smirk on his face as she stood in back getting a drink. She’d heard the proceedings and knew that Clarence had won, the Cleaners had lost. With their defeat, Clarissa felt the mantle land on her shoulders, the feeling that most people only feel in a ninth inning, a fourth quarter, or when everyone else has been shot in Counter-Strike.

“It’s all up to me,” Clarissa mumbled.

“Get back to work!” Clarence called out from the office.

Clarissa carefully set her cup of Diet Pepsi down and shuffled back up. It truly was up to her. The Cleaners would behave now for fear of their jobs. The teenagers that worked nights wouldn’t care, the kitchen crew wouldn’t notice, Denise didn’t question the authority of males, and Twinkie, well, Twinkie was obsessed with ornithology this week. That might sound impressive, but it was only an offshoot of his obsession with dinosaurs last week. Clarissa would have to be the hero. There was just one problem.

“I know you don’t like me,” Clarence had said when he called Clarissa into the office the day after his promotion. “You think I’m cruel. You think I’m downright evil.”

He’d started pacing across the office with his hands clasped behind his back at this point, and Clarissa dropped her face into her hand.

“That will change. You’ll come to understand my methods. You’ll even embrace them.”

He paused and looked at her. Clarissa sighed loudly and threw up her hands. “No, never,” she shrugged out.

“Oh, yes, and sooner than you think. I’m going to drive you crazy the same way I was driven mad,” Clarence said.

Since then, Clarissa’s morale had been sapped daily by her new job. She felt another little piece of her grey matter flake away as she pushed the button on the headset.

“Thank you for choosing Cliff’s, how can I help you?”

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Mission Partially Accomplished

I said I wanted to get some writing done on my in-progress Wilson story, and I guess you could say that I succeeded. What ended up happening, however, was that the piece I wrote fit so well on its own that I pulled it over into a standalone vignette. Two reasons I’m happy about that.

One, it means I get to come up with a new title, which is always fun. I’ve decided to go with Customer Service is Job One.

Two, it means I no longer have to go to work and then come home to write about a thinly veiled version of my workplace. This is a relief, as I like not thinking about work when I’m not there.

That’s all for now. Think I may go play World of Warcraft.

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.

I’m Very Bad at Chess, Too

It’s one of those days when I don’t feel like a grown-up writer. I’m sitting here, plugging away at Always Happy to Serve You, taking my existing writings and adding a couple more auxiliary characters in earlier – folding them in, as a chef would. And I’m thinking about a group of people I’m planning to portray, and I think ‘Wow, someone could get mad at this portrayal. But when you really analyze it, I’m portraying these people as smart and as human beings, so it’s really a good portrayal.’ And then I stop, and I look back, and realize how… high school that sounds. Will I outgrow this? Do real artists still get that feeling, or do I just need to learn to plan ahead more, look into more depth?

EDIT: To prove that I’m not blowing smoke, and that I actually am working on Wilson III, here’s another taste.

Cliff’s Eatery was a mildly successful, unassuming restaurant in Wilson for fifteen years before Clarence Zimmerman started working there at the age of eighteen, and it remained so for two more years until the freshman mayor, Norman Haroldson, had privately mentioned it in passing as having greasy, unredeemably unhealthy food. A local newsman heard about it, reported on it, and then asked owner Clifford Kaplan what he thought. And Clifford Kaplan, in what many considered shrewd and Clarence considered insane, embraced it. He changed unredeemable to shameless, unhealthy to decadent, and kept the greasy, and began playing up the complete disregard for human life contained within his menu. Soon, he introduced the Stentburger, named for the heart procedure and slathered with ketchup, mayo, and cheese. Next came the Cardio Chicken, deep-fried and served with barbeque sauce and bacon. Before all was said and done, there was even the Haroldson, named for the mayor that started it all, a triple burger with cheddar, bacon, and even onion rings right on the sandwich. The monstrosity was immediately popular with the kind of people that backlash against people who generally mind their own business while trying to stay healthy – namely, Wisconsinites.

Sneak Peak: Wilson 3

As you might be able to see, I don’t have a title yet. Well, that’s not true. I have three cool titles with no stories attached to them in my mind, so I’m gonna write this and see if any of those apply to it. If not, I’ll come up with something else.

In any case, enjoy this obviously-inspired-by-real-events snippet.

“You’re such a patient young man!” the older woman with gin blossoms said while her face shifted into a smile. Her jowls trembled at the motion like splotchy, flesh-colored Jell-O.

Having taken the handful of coin from the woman and correctly tallied the three quarters, five dimes, seven nickels, and forty pennies into two dollars of currency, the drive-thru worker thanked God as she finally pulled out three singles to pay the remaining portion of her order. A ding and a sigh accompanied the opening of the cash register, and the money was quickly tossed inside. The cashier put on his best customer service smile and adjusted the name tag stating that “JARED would like to feed you today” before turning back to the woman and handing her the order. Two Stentburgers, no tomato or onion – God forbid, the clerk thought, this woman eat anything resembling a vegetable.

The woman with gin blossoms took the bag and set it gingerly on the passenger seat of her car before turning back to the clerk. “Thank you, young man.”

The cashier grinned as if flattered and nodded. “Actually, you want a bit of advice?” he asked.

“Oh? What’s that?” Blossoms replied.

The drive-thru worker leaned in close. “What you might not know is that they have these places, called banks?”

The customer’s Jowl-Os quivered in confusion.

“Yeah. What you do is, you take your change there, and they put it in a machine, and then they give you real money, and you use that to buy sandwiches so that the cashier – that’s me here – doesn’t have to spend five minutes counting your goddamned change while a line of cars grows behind you that I then have to deal with instead of going and getting a drink of soda.”

Blossoms remained silent, shocked.

“So. Next time, you bring me paper money and no more than 99 cents of exact change, or we find out how much your corneas like ketchup and mustard. And maybe ranch dressing.” The cashier nodded sagely. “We’ll play it by ear.”

The woman stared, and the cashier put on his most genuine smile once more. “Thanks for choosing Cliff’s this evening, you have a great night!” And he continued to smile as he slammed the drive-thru service window shut and went and got a drink of soda.


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Header photo by David Reber's Hammer Photography. Many ideas and images copyright Blizzard.
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