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Summer Job

S.A. Meyer

Smashwords Edition

copyright 2017, S.A. Meyer

This story is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places and incidents are invented by the author or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any similarity to actual persons or events is purely coincidental.

All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author.

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Acknowledgements

Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way. You know who you are.


School had been out for two and a half weeks. That was just long enough for the excitement to wear off and the boredom to set in.

He hadn't done anything more exciting than watch the fan spin lazily in his bedroom window.

The air circulated around the room freeing Isaiah from the suffocating thickness of humidity. He closed his eyes and sighed deeply, focusing on every wave of fresh air that graced his sticky skin.

The growling of Isaiah's stomach forced him to open his eyes and face reality.

He couldn't stay in bed any longer.

He found a clean pair of basketball shorts on the floor and slipped them on. Isaiah didn't play basketball, or any sport really, but the thin fabric and loose style were ideal for the middle of summer. His white wife beater shirt had a few stains on it, but he was grateful that it didn't smell.

Isaiah would've gone without any shirt if he hadn't been so self conscious. He was one of the youngest guys on the block. That also made him one of the shortest and scrawniest.

His Ma told him he'd have a growth spurt soon enough, that he shouldn't be in such a rush to grow up.

Isaiah didn't want to grow up. He was just tired of being useless.

He opened his bedroom door and stepped into the living room. Across the barely furnished, yet somehow still cramped quarters, Isaiah could see his mother sitting at the kitchen table. He could even see the papers spread out in front of her.

She was wiping her face, but he had already seen the tell tale shaking of her shoulders.

It wasn't the first time he had caught her crying over bills.

She always made sure that they had a roof over their heads. Most of the time there was even food on the table.

Isaiah knew that his mom tried her best. It wasn't her fault that her best wasn't good enough.

"Morning, baby," she called over her shoulder to him. Her voice was steady, only slightly nasally thanks to her stuffed up nose.

"Morning, Ma," Isaiah greeted before giving her a kiss on the offered cheek. It was still wet with tears. He pretended not to notice.

"Got any plans for the day?" She asked.

"I was thinking about going to the library. Getting my summer homework out of the way," he answered. He opened the kitchen cabinet only to find it empty.

"That's my good boy. You stay outta trouble and keep up with your school work. You're smart. You can make something of yourself."

The trouble was, Isaiah was smart. He was smart enough to see where his life was headed, but not smart enough to stop it. He figured that his best bet, if he was really lucky and worked really hard, he could live paycheck to paycheck working at a minimum wage job until the day he finally died.

Isaiah looked at his mother, who was smiling fondly at him. He forced a smile back for her sake.

Her smiled widened.

Suddenly feeling ashamed, and not entirely sure why, Isaiah turned back to the fridge and opened it. There was only a bottle of ketchup on the second shelf and his Ma's insulin on the door.

Isaiah closed the door with a little more force than necessary.

"Oh, baby," his Ma said when she saw his face.

Neither of them spoke for a moment.

The first of the month was the next day. He would only go hungry for a day or so.

He was lucky this time.

Isaiah glanced at his Ma and saw her eyes filling up with tears.

"I think they're still giving away free lunches at the Family Center," he said quickly.

His Ma nodded slowly, her eyes unfocused as she stared at the fridge behind him.

"I'll see you later," Isaiah said with a smile.

His Ma shook her head. "I picked up an extra shift tonight," she explained. "I want you home before dark and in bed asleep when I get home. Do you hear me?"

"Yes, Ma," he answered as he headed to the front door.

"Be safe!" She shouted as he closed the door behind him.

The humidity was terrible. It made the air dense and unbearable. Breathing was a chore only made worse by the smell of garbage rotting in the gutter of the street.

Isaiah felt like he deserved it for lying to his mother.

The Family Center had run out of funding, and therefore free food, the week before. Rumors had even begun spreading about the Center being closed down permanently.

His Ma didn't need to know any of that though. She had enough to worry about.

The A.C. was on at the corner food store.

He was deciding what to spend his last dollar on, a drink or an ice pop, when he realized that the cashier wasn't paying attention to him. The man was too busy watching a group of older teens who had come in after Isaiah.

Without thinking about what he was doing, Isaiah picked up a bag of overpriced beef jerky and carefully tucked it under the waistband of his pants.

Isaiah quickly picked up a drink and made his way to the counter.

The man barely looked at him as he scanned Isaiah's beverage and took his last crumpled dollar.

Isaiah finished his drink before he even got down the block.

He tossed the empty bottle into an already overflowing trash can before removing the jerky from where he'd stashed it.

Like a wild animal he tore open the packet and shoved a handful of the flavored meat into his mouth.

He barely tasted the first few bites. He was too concerned about relieving the cramping hunger pains.

Isaiah forced himself to slow down and savor the last few bites.

After weeks of Ramen and cheap frozen meals real meat was a delicacy, even if it was processed and full of preservatives.

"Not bad for an amateur," a voice spoke up from behind Isaiah making him jump.

Behind him stood an older boy named Avil.

Isaiah had never met Avil before, but he had heard the stories.

It was rumored that Avil had beaten up a teacher when he was Isaiah's age. That led to him getting kicked out of school. He had started dealing, moving up the food chain quickly until he started his own business.

Separating the truth from the lies was difficult.

The only thing Isaiah knew for sure was that Avil was not the kind of guy his Ma wanted him to befriend.

Isaiah remained quiet, tensing slightly when Avil reached forward to grab the bag of beef jerky out of his hands.

He watched as Avil ate the last of his food.

"That was pretty cool how you ripped off the Muslim. You're a good thief." Avil dropped the bag on the ground without a care.

"Not good enough. You caught me," he replied without thinking.

Only after the words left his mouth did Isaiah realize what he had said and to whom.

Avil laughed, startling Isaiah.

"You move fast and you think fast. That's good."

Isaiah shifted his weight from his right leg to his left as Avil eyed him. He was about to make up some excuse to get away when his stomach let out an almighty growl. It had gotten used to being fed and was demanding more.

He dropped his eyes to the ground where Avil had discarded the now empty bag.

Avil followed his gaze before looking back at Isaiah. His smiled was gone and he looked almost apologetic.

"You hungry kid?" Avil asked.

Isaiah's shame kept him from answering beyond a shrug.

"Come on," Avil said as he jerked his head toward the pizza place across the street. "I'll buy you a slice."

Isaiah took a step back. "What do you want?" He asked as he looked at Avil through narrowed eyes.

"Just for you to listen."

Every bone in his body was telling Isaiah not to do it. But his stomach was yelling at him to go, listen to whatever Avil had to say. Anything for some food.

Isaiah slowly nodded.

The pizza was greasy and undercooked, but it was still the most delicious thing Isaiah had ever eaten.

He was halfway through his second slice when Avil finally spoke up.

"Imma get straight with you. I want you to work for me."

Isaiah froze, the mouthful of gooey cheese and sloppy sauce covered dough sitting unpleasantly on his tongue until he slowly swallowed it. He wiped his mouth with his napkin, staining the unblemished white bright red. When he finally did speak he went slow, choosing his words carefully. "I don't want to be dealer."

"You'd be an awful dealer. You don't have the body or the rep. No, I want you as a runner. You'll just be picking up and delivering packages for me."

"Plenty of guys would kill to work for you. Why you asking me?"

"Those fools are loud and stupid. You're fast and smart. And you're one of the few guys on the block that the cops don't look twice at."

"What happens if they do look twice at me?"

"See? There's them brains I was talking about." Avil leaned back into the plastic booth, but Isaiah noticed the tension in his shoulders.

Isaiah didn't speak.

Avil sighed. "You're a kid. They'll go easy on you."

That was a lie and they both knew it. Before Isaiah could call him out on it Avil started talking again. "Besides, the reward outweighs the risk. You haven't asked me how much I'll pay you."

Isaiah licked his lips. His voice was breathless as he whispered, "How much?"

"Fifty bucks a delivery."

Isaiah blinked.

Once.

Twice.

Three times.

"How much?" He repeated.

Avil smirked. "You heard me."

Isaiah knew that if he was making fifty dollars for every delivery than he would probably be delivering stuff more expensive than pot.

But with that kind of money he could help his mom. She wouldn't have to work so hard all the time. Maybe he could even take her out to dinner at a real restaurant.

"I'm gonna grab us another slice," Avil said as he stood up." When I come back you can give me your answer." He walked back to the counter, giving Isaiah time to think.

If Isaiah said no, he had no doubt that he'd be leaving the shop with a target on his back. Either from Avil or from a rival dealer who heard about the two of them having lunch.

If he said yes, he'd still have a target but he'd have people to protect him.

Either way he was screwed.

But it was the image of his mother, tired and worn out and in tears over money that they didn't have with bills they couldn't pay, that made his decision for him.

Avil returned carrying two more slices of pizza, one of which he slid across the table to Isaiah.

Isaiah looked at Avil before dropping his eyes to the pizza.

"What I have to do?" He asked as he picked up the slice.

About the Author

S.A Meyer is a life-long writer who has written for both stage and page. Published in Devoultion Z Magazine and winner of a local playwriting contest two years running, S.A.'s works can also be found online at Amazon.com for Kindle and BarnesandNobles.com for Nook, as well as various other online retailers. For updates on works in progress and new publications, follow on Twitter @_SA_Meyer


Avil smiled.


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