Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches by Terveen Gill

SLAM!

It was the tenth door of the day, shut rudely in his face. Morgan looked at his wristwatch and it was only quarter to twelve. Lunch wasn’t till one-thirty and there were many doors to knock on till then and after.

Sigh…ehh…ehhh…Ehhhh…

The man couldn’t even sigh right. The air tickled his throat, and a cough was ready to seize him. It wasn’t his fault completely. Childhood asthma and recurring episodes of pneumonia had had their way with him.

‘My life sucks.’

These were the only words that made sense and Morgan repeated them like a prayer that needed to be heard.

There was a park across the street and an empty bench sought some company. Morgan hauled his bag and a briefcase to the shaded seat and sat down. A squirrel scurried past him and up the trunk of a tree.

‘Lucky bastard.’

Only a pathetic person could be jealous of a rodent. But Morgan knew he was just that. He opened his briefcase and took out the glossy catalogues.

YOU’RE NEVER TOO OLD TO BUY GOLD.

‘What a cheesy piece of crap.’

The tag line was even cheesier.

YOUR LOVED ONES WILL THANK YOU ONCE YOU’RE DEAD.

Morgan crumpled a catalogue and hurled it at a bush. It fell short of the green shrub.

His incompetence couldn’t be glorified more than this. Not wanting to, but having to, the man rose and retrieved the wrinkled document. He smoothened the thick paper and placed it in the middle of a bundle.

For every catalogue he ruined or misplaced, his paycheck was lightened by a few cents.

‘Greedy creeps.’

With still more than half the neighborhood to cover, Morgan decided on an early lunch break. He was his own boss when out in the field.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with saltines on the side. Strawberry Kool-Aid in his thermos. With nimble fingers and dainty bites, Morgan ate his lunch and drained his beverage, wiping his mouth with a cotton handkerchief.

‘Need to catch a few winks.’

The man spread himself out on the bench, his bulky bag serving as a pillow while his briefcase lay beneath his legs. If anything was stolen, the company would give him hell and the thief would probably clobber him for carrying around scraps of garbage, misleading the criminal community, and wasting their precious time.

The breeze was ideal and so was the bench, so Morgan overslept, finally waking at quarter past three. His bag and briefcase were intact, and a squirrel sat a few feet away observing him.

‘What are you looking at? Scram!’

Left alone to realize his carelessness, Morgan shouted at the trees, the bushes, and the breeze. He got the same reaction that he got from humans – nothing.

Lugging his bag and briefcase out of the park, Morgan resumed knocking on doors and they continued slamming in his face. It only made him more bored and tired. By five, he hadn’t reached half of his intended target of the day. His boss wouldn’t be happy.

‘I give a damn.’

Morgan returned to the office to hand in his daily report. The woman at the desk barely looked at it. She was a human bloodhound that could smell defeat and disgrace a mile away. Her question was ready.

‘What’s your excuse this time?’

Morgan blurted the first thing that came to his mind.

‘A squirrel attacked me. It was ugly.’

The woman laughed. It sounded drier than the Sahara Desert. She then leaned back, crossed her arms, and uttered the golden words.

‘You’re fired!’

Morgan dropped the bag and briefcase, curled his fists, and sucked in more air than he could hold. His face began turning bright red.

The woman raised an eyebrow and shook her head.

‘Are you kidding me, Morgan? When will you grow up?’

But the man was adamant, and he wouldn’t breathe till he got what he wanted.

‘You hate this job. I’m doing you a favor.’

Morgan let the words slip past him.

‘Alright! Stop! You’re not fired!’

The woman shot up from her seat and slapped the man hard across his face. He opened his mouth and began gasping for air, doubling over, coughing till his breaths weren’t in order. When Morgan finally settled, the woman asked him his favorite question.

‘What do you want for lunch tomorrow?’

The man picked up his bag and briefcase, a smile breaking through his lips.

‘Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Mom. You know they’re my favorite.’

33 comentarios sobre “Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches by Terveen Gill

  1. I can always count on you for a witty, surreal dive into the human psyche, Terveen. This story is sublime in its portrayal of the hapless sad-sacks of society, those of us who just can’t win. The imagery is brilliant, something out of a weird 1950s tv sitcom almost. And that ending! You possess a deftness when it comes to creating characters (yes, I know I sound like a broken record but hey, you’re really good at it) who live, breathe and act very strangely. 😀 All in all, I love this piece. Well done! 🙂

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    1. I can’t thank you enough, Mike. Your words are always so kind and uplifting. They make me feel like I need to sit down and write more. And I do have an inclination for weird and off track. Maybe it’s the way I feel about myself – weird. But as long as I’m putting it to some satisfactory use. Let the weirdness thrive and thicken. Appreciate it and take care. 🙂

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      1. I noticed a strange translation error in my comment above (it’s not the first time I’ve seen a translation error on this particular site). For some reason, it shows «You possess a weakness when it comes to creating characters…» when in fact I intended to say a «knack» or a «talent» or an «inclination» for creating characters. Very weird! 😀 Anyway, let it be known that as far as I’m concerned, you have no weaknesses at all when it comes to writing. Your tales are sublime in all ways. Just wanted to clarify that. 🙂

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      2. There is something fishy at times. But your comment was absolutely perfect when I read it. No mistranslations anywhere. That’s very sweet of you to mention again. Thanks a lot, Mike. I wish you the very best always. Keep your chin up. 🙂

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  2. Ahahaha. That’s the best ever, Terveen. It’s amazing how strong of a reality we can create for ourselves, and without the ability to disrupt it, can be stuck inside of this reality for a lifetime. Your writing, as always, provided the reader with a visceral experience, and the title is perfect. Wonderful!

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    1. haha! I completely agree, Jeff. Each person creates their own reality upon their understanding, experiences and opinions. At times, it may be quite contrary to the truth, but then knowing something different would take tremendous effort and unlearning. Thanks so much for the lovely comment and have a great start to your week. 🙂

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