Jerry keeps busy. It’s the only way to keep his mind off the self-condemnation.
When nothing is open in town for Christmas, (including Liberty House or any other place in any town for that matter), Shift Manager Jerry volunteers to train the restaurant’s new hire, Wade, who also says he has no holiday plans and wants to complete training ASAP; he says he needs to start picking up shifts bad, like the West-Ranch Dog Park goers need to pick up dog shit after a sunny Sunday afternoon.
“You’re a natural,” Jerry says to Wade after tasting the rookie’s first attempt of the Texas-style brisket recipe that The Liberty House Restaurant is known for.
“Nah, I ain’t nothin’.”
“Well, you must not know the kind of nimrods we got on payroll compared to you ’round here. So, I guess in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. And that’s you m’friend. Know what I’m sayin’?”
The two do a little of get-to-know-ya conversation all the while. Wade even lays out the picture of the tough spot in life he’s gotten into: broken marriage, laid off, slapped with child support and spousal maintenance. The works. Jerry definitely relates but he copes by busting his ass at Liberty House eighty hours per week.
Jerry goes through closing routine and tells Wade to meet him the next morning for training day two.
Wade’s late in the morning. Jerry is already there, unloading the pots and and pans from the industrial dish washer. In a panic, Wade bursts into the restaurant, eyes bloodshot.
“Man I gotta just come right out with it.”
“I didn’t sleep at all last night. One, because I couldn’t make the electric bill and I laid in bed shivering under three blankets. Even with my entire head covered. You know, it dropped below forty last night. Second reason is I did something yesterday I never imagined I would do in my life. Bro, I couldn’t help myself; I lifted that bank deposit pouch from the back office yesterday when you wasn’t lookin’.”
Pausing mid-motion, Jerry flares his nostrils and presses his lips together hard.
“Jerry, I don’t know what the fuck I was thinking. I know I ain’t nobody to you but I’m desperate man! I went out and bought a new $429.00 starter for my car I haven’t driven in months. I installed it last night. It’s two hours walk to here from my apartment. But today I got here in fifteen minutes!” His words are frantic and his eyes glisten.
Jerry does not respond.
“I know it’s serious,” Wade continues. “I guess I’m a piece of shit now. I don’t know. I mean, I know it’s like, stealing. Some people chop hands off for that. I seen some shit in a movie– look I just went blank. I went numb and grabbed the bag. I figured no one checks the books for a while over the holidays– hey, hey, where you goin’?”
Jerry pivots and leaves through the back entrance.
“Jerry? Jerry! I need this job. I need this job!!! You callin’ the cops?”
Wade watches Jerry drive out of the parking lot then waits around, expecting to soon be handcuffed. He falls asleep inside the restaurant in a booth instead. The restaurant is toasty warm. It’s dark when he wakes. No cops. No Jerry. Wade spends the rest of the night there, a little confused, but determined to do the right thing.
The clack of the wheelchair entrance button wakes Wade out of the booth. He shoots to his feet. In walks Jerry with a large heavy box from the local office supply and bookstore.
“Well, you’re here nice and early. Welcome,” Jerry says.
“Look, Jerry. I’ll turn myself in. I’ll bring the money back. Whatever you want, just say the word–”
“You have all rights to be fucking pissed off at me, man–”
“Woah. Pissed off? We don’t even know each other, Pal.”
Neither man speaks for a minute. Jerry unpacks the supplies from the box at the lunch counter: some receipt paper rolls, stamps and ink pads, books, etc.
Jerry slams a heavy package of printer paper down on the counter. “Did you hear what I said, Mister? I ain’t never seen you before in my life. Nice. To. Meet. You. Wade.” Jerry holds out his hand.
Wade freezes then slowly shakes Jerry’s outstretched hand.
“There, now. Are you ready to start your first day of training or not?”
Jerry pushes a crisp paperback book across the lunch counter entitled, Honest Work: Ethics and Conduct on the Job. “Hey, I got some more errands to run.” Jerry gets his keys out of his pocket and starts toward the front door. “I’ll be back ’bout two, three hours. Go ‘head and read that for me and we’ll consider your training complete. I trust you don’t got nothin’ more to say to me?” He pauses at the door without turning around.
Wade silently shakes his head “no”, even though Jerry can’t see it.
My story is inspired by a narration involving a man who once confessed to committing a serious crime/sin to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). I wanted to do my own, modern version of this.
The Prophet (pbuh) (upon hearing the man openly admit to a crime) had pretended not to hear the man and even moved himself away from the confessing man so as not to know any further details.
The Prophet’s character was such that he would do anything to allow for people to have a second chance to go to God with repentance, make amends for their crimes/sins, and to vow to never repeat them. He was very slow to scold, speak harshly, or punish anyone.