Lester springs out of bed and prances in a way best described as manic across the layer of dirty clothes which act as a carpet over the wooden floor of his bedroom. He glides through the living room, glimmers in the light shining in through the window in the front door, sings along with the squeak of the hinges as the door opens, then his energy drops like wooden pins when they’re struck by a bowling ball.
“Well…” Lester says to himself, then swallows nervously. He can feel his Adam’s apple dance a little jig. “I suppose they wouldn’t deliver it first thing in the morning, even though it’s the deluxe model with the mugs…” He takes a deep, measured breath. “Fine, it’s… it’s fine. You know, I actually feel pretty good this morning. Maybe I don’t need the tea to set myself free, maybe I just had to get off the DoperMe. Maybe… maybe everything I need is all on the inside.”
A moment passes, then, “Yeah. Maybe it’s all on the inside.”
Lester closes his front door, gets ready to sling filthy bowling shoes to even filthier little maggots and the horrific flies who cart them to the Q-Bowl on a daily basis, then opens his front door again and heads out.
Lester gets out of bed and gathers himself. Though he can’t quite touch his toes, he still does a bit of stretching, and it feels nice. He was so wired after working overtime last night that he cleaned all the clothing off his bedroom floor and put it through the wash. He hasn’t done his laundry in weeks, you believe that? The load is sitting in the dryer now, and it’ll stay there until after work today.
Speaking of which, Lester has to get to work soon… but he’s so tired. The Aw-Tea-Matic dispensed some chamomile lavender tea after Lester dealt with his laundry last night and it knocked him out so fast he didn’t get a chance to brush his teeth, and he’s still feeling it a bit now. ‘Well, at least it’s not the depression making me feel so slow. I’m free now; that means I’m free to choose my attitude.’ Attaboy.
After getting dressed, Lester places the Aw-Tea-Matic’s sensors into his ears like they were earbuds. The Aw-Tea-Matic, sensing that Lester needs a little pick-me-up this morning, pours a concentrated gulp of steaming black tea into the little Tuesday mug. Lester drains it, replaces the mug, then heads out the door.
Lester crawls out of bed, throws his unwashed uniform on, ‘Shit, the dryer is still full,’ then heads into the living room to doze on the couch for a few many minutes. Usually overtime is a rare find at the Q-Bowl – well, rare enough that Lester’s single coworker usually claims it before Lester has the chance, and more power to her; the girl’s got a daughter and a senile mother to take care of, she needs the cash – but it’s been flowing like water this week, and today will surely be no different. At least he’s getting paid well. Time and a half ain’t too shitty when time itself is eleven and a quarter.
Lester’s eyes burst open. Small misty tears fly off the ends of his lashes. “I have to be there in an hour, I can’t be falling asleep now!” He stands and slaps himself across the face, but very softly. “C’mon Lester, let’s get into the game!”
When he said game he meant kitchen, evidently. The Aw-Tea-Matic, sensing that Lester needs a big pick-me-up this morning, pours a concentrated gulp of double-caff black tea spiked with rum into the little Wednesday mug. Lester drains it, replaces the mug, then heads out the door.
Lester rolls out of bed, forcing his feet to catch him. His eyes are burning and his head aches like nobody’s business. Jenny didn’t even show up yesterday, Lester had to work the Q-Bowl all by himself for twelve hours straight. He was so tired when he finally escaped that he didn’t even fold his days-dry laundry.
“It’s funny,” Lester mumbles as he drags his feet into the kitchen. “I wanted to set myself free, and I’m free from the DoperMe now, but… oh never mind, nobody can hear me. Here’s Lester talking to himself first thing in the morning, sheesh. Today’s going to be interesting… well, as interesting as it can be. I work in a Goddamned bowling alley, for fuck’s sake.”
The Aw-Tea-Matic, having read Lester’s deepest brainwaves, senses that he needs a change in perspective, a key to the mental door he’s locked himself behind. It pours a concentrated gulp of simmering psilocybin mushroom tea into the little Thursday mug, and Lester drains it in one quick shot. He replaces the mug in the machine so it may clean it, then heads out the door.
She quit. She wasn’t getting paid enough, so she decided to leave and get paid nothing. Why bother giving yourself all that free time, Jenny? It’s not like it’s going to help you. We need to work. When we don’t work, that’s when the bad things happen, and besides, how are you going to be free if you don’t work?
How is Lester ever going to be free if he stays working at the bowling alley?
How is the bowling alley going to stay open if Lester, its only remaining employee, decides to quit too?
How is Lester going to get to work if he stays in bed all morning?
Lester falls out of bed and hits his head on the floor. He doesn’t want to do it – hell, he’d rather put a gun in his mouth and… well… anyway, he puts on his grimy bowling alley uniform and goes to the kitchen to use his Aw-Tea-Matic, his savior, the only thing that gets him through the day. He puts the earbud sensors in and slumps over a bit, not caring what the machine pours out.
The Aw-Tea-Matic, sensing that Lester feels existentially trapped and that there is no way out for him aside from the big way out – sensing that Lester wants nothing more than to set himself free – pours a concentrated gulp of hemlock tea into the little black Friday mug. Lester drains it, replaces the mug, then heads out the door.
Hello Commons, this has been Aw-Tea-Matic, the flash fiction story attached to the weekday mini-mugs from rePurpp, the official store of The Hillside Commons. Click here to go to the store and check it out for yourself.
I also write fiction books, all of which you can read for free on my website. Click here to see the list.
Be well Commons~