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13/03/2018 / hbrowne4

Bright Eyes Burning Like Fire by Stephen Brady

He wanted her job, and it would be easy enough to discredit her.
Dermo had worked at Super Burger for three months, and he felt he had the measure of the place. He was on sanitation detail, but he knew that he was destined for greater things. His uncle had once been three numbers away from the Euromillions Jackpot. He was Alexander, he was Caesar, he was Muhammad Ali. He was Conor McGregor and the Pope, in a single skinny frame. And he was sick up to his back shite of mopping floors and swabbing out toilets. No… Dermo was marked for something higher. He wanted to be Supervisor.
The only problem was Tracy. She held the Supervisor’s role in a death-grip, clasped to her flat bosom in nicotine stained fingers. Tracy was short and thin and wore her oily hair in a fascist ponytail. She wore the keys to the breakroom on her belt like a prison Governess. She was the only one allowed look at the CCTV. They’d even given her a walkie-talkie.
“Skinny bitch,” Dermo would mutter as he dipped his mop in the wheelie-bucket for the billionth time. “Bleedin’ jumped-up spotty no-arse look-at-me-I’m-the-goddamn-bleedin’-queen-o-Europe bloody stuck-up wagon.”
And sometimes, as she patrolled the tills and frystations with an imperious eye, she would catch him staring at her. His wasted frame propped on the mophandle, the air between them thick with professional resentment.
“Yew!” she’d shriek. “Get back ta work! You’re not in FAS now, ya prick! Get moppin’ or you’re goin’ on report again!”
And sullenly, Dermo would comply.
As the weeks wore on, his obsession became to de-throne the High-and-Mighty Tracy by any means, and snatch the Supervisory crown for himself. And one weekend, after a thirteen-hour marathon of Miami Car Thief on the X Box, Dermo concocted his plan.
The key was that everything which happened at Super Burger was Tracy’s responsibility. If anything went wrong, it was on her head. All he had to do was concot some catastrophe, and lay it at her door.
And once decided on this course, the instrument presented itself.
Dermo was cycling through the park when he met Reggie. It was his day off, and he was en route to the canal to drink 9 cans of Bavaria and smoke some Camberwick Green. But when he spotted Reggie, the ten-speed ground to a halt.
Reggie had once been a squirrel. He had met his demise at a spot beside the bike path. The birds hadn’t gotten to him yet. But poor Reggie had started down the sorry path to decomposition.
Dermo got off his bike and went over to Reggie. He eyed the corpse, deep in thought.
Poisoned, maybe. Or he might have choked on something. Some kids might have fed him a screw in a handful of nuts. Dermo had done stuff like that, before he became a model citizen. But the cause of death was not germane. This was the answer, and he knew it. Dermo scooped Reggie off the ground and dropped him in his bag.
The next time Dermo sauntered into work, he brought his new friend with him. He changed into his uniform, and, stealthily, conducted Reggie into the prep area. It was early and the place was quiet. Tracy was nowhere to be seen. But the deep fryers were on, and the oil already bubbling. Dermo took his Liverpool scarf and draped it over the CCTV camera. Then, with a quick glance around, he produced Reggie, and dropped him in the oil.
“Godspeed, ya little bollix,” he hissed. It was to be poor Reggie’s only valediction.
The other staff appeared and began to shuffle through their duties. They were mostly undernourished stoners like Dermo, and barely registered his presence. Tracy had appeared, and was patrolling around giving out yards. Dermo looked down into the shimmering oil where his little friend was crisping up nicely. An evil grin spread across his features. Wait, he thought. Just bleedin’ wait. Some prick’ll order a main o’chicken and get battered squirrel instead. And I’ll be the King o’this kip.The bleedin’ King.
He returned to the mop and bucket with a spring in his step. As he swabbed the tiles he kept one eye over his shoulder. He watched Tracy stalk her kindgom, with her walkie-talkie and her keys. It was only a matter of time.
And finally, like a vision from on-high, a fat fuck in a Pokemon cap rolled up and bellowed for a fried chicken Super Meal with a Fanta.
Dermo cackled sourly. He watched as the prep staff assembled Fatso’s order. A particularly large and oddly-shaped lump was lifted from the fryer and deposited on a tray. The crew put french fries and a Fanta on the tray, and handed it across to Fatty. The customer waddled over to table, collapsed on a chair, and began to feed his face.
Dermo lingered by the counter. He didn’t want to miss a thing, now his hour was at hand.
Two minutes later, the fat fuck sent up a blood-curdling howl.
“Here! Here! What the fuck!”
Tracy shot over to the table. Mr Pokemon, batter and Fanta smeared across his bosoms, was gesticulating wildly. “What the fuck! What the fuck!”
“Sor,” said Tracy, “please keep yer voice down. Wha’ seems ta be the problem?”
Mr Pokemon yelled, “This is a rat! A bleedin’ rat! I ordered a Super Fried Chicken Meal! An’ you give me a battered rat! What the fuck!”
Dermo cackled. The holy keys and the hallowed walkie-talkie were almost in his grasp.
“Sor,” whined Tracy, “We value yer feedback. If you’ll just lower yer voice, I’m sure we can, eh… come to an arrangement?”
“I want vouchers,” said Mr Pokemon sullenly.
“O’course, sor, o’course. We’ll give ye vouchers.”
Mr Pokemon poked the squirrel with an oily finger. “I mean, it wasn’t bad like. Just wasn’t what I ordered.”
Tracy provided the fat fuck with a whole book of half-price vouchers and another Fanta. And that appeared to defuse the crisis.
Dermo retired to the corner, sulking bitterly. His chance at the Supervisory crown was evaporating before his narrow, hateful eyes. He watched as Mr Pokemon palmed his vouchers and, after a meditative belch, resumed eating. You just couldn’t rely on people these days.


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