Everyday, making his rounds (dropping off the vegetables) he cringed when it came to this one stop – that restaurant, the really really really fancy one – the one that re-defined fancy restaurant – became the reference of anecdotal restaurants for the better part of the ensuing decade – that one made him cringe, every time, ‘cause the receiver, the guy who signed the bill, was just a mother-fucker. There was no other word for it, often, at least once a day he could imagine running the bastard over – just as a way to relieve the pressure – imagined him stepping out of the service entrance, his long white coat grubby at the hem – he’d just plow into him and be done with it. It made him smile – the sight of Nick folding up under the front of the van, his face contorted with confusion, fear and pain, It brought a smile to his own face as well as a sense of warm complacence, of ease and well-being, when-ever he thought of it, which was generally before he dropped off and sometimes after he’d dropped off too.
He couldn’t have said what it was, exactly, that bothered him so especially about Nick. The guy was an asshole – natch, without saying – that much was incontrovertible – but there was something else about him that really served to sort of close the deal.
He would be dropping off and maybe one time out of every ten, Nick would refuse the order, saying it was damaged and he’d refuse to sign for it. Bob’d get back to the warehouse and Will (Bob’s boss) would look through the box and ask Bob if he really thought all these tomatoes – were ruined?
-Well, no, but –
-But what? There’s nothing wrong with them, didn’t you tell him as much?
-I couldn’t – Hey –He’s the one who says they’re no good – call him up and tell him
-You can’t fucking help me out a little here? Pick up a little fucking Slack? Or don’t you think for yourself?
Bob would stand there at that, glowering – what was he gonna do? Tell his boss to go get fucked?
-That’s not my job Will – guy doesn’t like your fucking tomatoes – take it out on Pablo and his cousin packing the shit.
And then later in the day Bob would have to go back. This was when he’d imagine Nick wandering out the service entrance and into the middle of the street, a look on his face as blank as a cow’s, just lobotomized, drifting out into the middle of the street where BAM! Ka-thunk Ka-thunk, Bob would take him out, run him over like a dog 0h, just cream the fucker.
-So these are what you’re gonna pass off on me this time?
Bob handed him the slip without looking, without comment: Mute in his own way,
– Fuckin’ Will – probably sending me back the box I sent back myself.
Nick looked at Bob here and this was exactly what always got Bob – He said nothing, just looked right back at Nick, who was clearly looking for some kind of reaction. Bob wasn’t giving though, let the fucker rot – you know, in the juices of his own expectation. He sat tight, looking right back at him. He’d swear about six years passed while they each sat there, waiting – trading stares – Nick wanting Bob to do something, who knows, jump, shout, punch him in the head – something – maybe just react – but Bob wasn’t having any part of it – was never having any part of it – told him (without speaking, of course) no fucking way.
They sat there looking at each other for – maybe literally one minute, while the invisible and inchoate silent battle raged, R-A-G-E-D
Until finally Nick, who’s face had turned an un-healthy shade of red and then back again, spun the box around and jabbed a finger at a pen mark that wasn’t there
“I’ll sign it this time – but only this time. Tell that no good will son of a bitch that if he tries this shit again I’m ditching him – this is the last time I’ll sign for this fucking bottom-of-the-barrel shit.”
Nick grabbed the sheet from Bob, signed it, and then went back into his little smelly broom-closet of an office.