Sunday, October 15, 2017


    Betty the Bitch – 1975

I’ve known Betty the Bitch since first grade, when my family moved to the neighborhood. She is the cashier at the corner store where my friends and I exchanged our pop bottles for ice cold bottles of Dr. Pepper, Squirt and Pineapple Crush and handwritten notes with two quarters for packs of cigarettes to bring home to our parents.
We call her Betty the Bitch because she wears a permanent scowl on her face. Betty chain smokes Virginia Slims, wears too much bright red lipstick, and most impressive of all, she has the largest ass any of us have ever seen. Proportionally speaking. The rest of her is normal size. You can’t help noticing the thing. I mean to tell you that ass is everywhere. It’s ubiquitous, man. She wears stretchy capri pants that betray the crater-filled moonscape that is Betty the Bitch’s never-ending, forever ass.
Now that I’m fifteen and a half, my grandfather has arranged employment for me at the corner store where I will to be paid a whopping $1.65 an hour. When I report for work the first day dressed in a blue Hang Ten shirt and yellow corduroys, Betty the Bitch looks me up and down, scowls and tells me I look like a ninny. After a minute period of careful rumination, I decide not to tell her that she has the largest ass I’ve ever seen.

    Bill Pedrino – 1976

Bill Pedrino owns the corner store. The boss-man is about forty and he has good hair. I guess you could say he has an Elvis thing going.  Sporting Clark Kent glasses, he wears white t-shirts, pressed Levis, and shiny black steel-toed work boots. While he has a powerful physique, he can’t be any taller than five-five.
Some crook wandered into the store last week, shoved a gun in Bill’s face, and robbed him of the eighty-six dollars in the cash register. Three days later, the boss was robbed again. This time Bill Pedrino chased the hold-up man out into the parking lot.  He blasted away at the crook with his shotgun as he sped off in his getaway car. The next day my friends and I marveled at the smattering of shotgun pellets embedded in a telephone pole.
I am working the evening shift at the register when Bill walks in the door carrying his shotgun, a box of shells, a power saw, and an extension cord.
“Okay Billy. Listen real close, now. Anybody pulls a gun on you, you know – tries to rob my place, you drop to the floorboards because I’m gonna blast ‘em – from a hole in the wall, right over there,” he says pointing at the wall, just a few feet away. “Nobody robs my place. Not anymore.”
Bill Pedrino lights up a Camel nonfilter and disappears into the back room. I hear him crank up the power saw and cut out a six-inch by six-inch square opening in the drywall about eight feet to the left of the cash register. The smell of sawdust becomes downright oppressive. I hear the shot gun click open. There is the sound of Bill fumbling for shells. I hear the boss carefully slide one into each barrel and then click the shotgun shut. Bill Pedrino’s bespectacled eyes peer out maniacally from the opening as I run the cash register on knocking knees, much more terrified of the boss’s shot gun than the prospective holdup men.

    Sue Kim 1977

Not long after Bill Pedrino started using me as bait for his target shooting endeavors, I quit my job at the corner store, focusing on basketball, school, and more than anything else, trying to figure out the complicated workings of the opposite sex.  Basketball season has ended I find myself in need of walking around money. The corner store has changed hands. The new owner, Sue Kim, recently arrived from Korea, has agreed to pay me $1.75 an hour to come back on board.
It’s my first day back and I stand with Sue the Korean Lady on the wooden pallets behind the counter.
   “Anybody try to rob Sue Kim’s place,” she says with a maniacal look in her eye. Sue Kim’s maniacal look is considerably more maniacal than the maniacal look on Bill Pedrino’s mug when he peered out from the hole in the wall. She fumbles recklessly beneath the cash register and pulls out a polished black snub-nosed pistol and waves it around without regard for anything remotely resembling firearms safety, “You kill him! YOU KILL HIM!”

    Sue Kim is scarier than Bill Pedrino and clearly meaner than Betty the Bitch.

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