Faux Fame

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*  *  *

  I’m sitting behind the counter reading the ingredients to the edible underwear when Dalton walks in. I don’t need to look up to know it’s him. We rarely get customers this early in the afternoon, for the dolls at least. Sometimes a business-man will walk in at lunch and pick up something from our latest shipment of classy erotica or a ball gag or something, but it’s rare. The only reason we open as early as we do is I need to be here to accept deliveries and as long as we have someone in the store, we might as well be open. Dalton likes to know someone’s watching the store too, in case he wants to send a potential client over for a free lay or to check out the merchandise. That isn’t rare.

  He crosses the short space from the door to the desk in four long strides and sets a tray down from the Mister Doughnut over on Yasukuni Dori. There’s a box of four doughnuts on it and two tall polythene cups of coffee.

  “Asano hasn’t been yet?” Dalton asks, looking around for signs of a delivery – flatpacked cardboard, new stock – and finds nothing.

  “Nope, looks like she’s running a bit late. You waiting on something?” I reply.

  “Yeah,” Dalton says, picking up his coffee and taking a sip. I wait for him to elaborate, but once done with the beverage he simply reiterates the “yeah” and knocks open the box of doughnuts with his knuckle. He gets the same order every time, two iced with sprinkles, two with custard filling. I reach and grab one of the latter, shrugging away the gnawing inquisition that was building inside of me about the delivery and it’s mysterious contents. He takes one with sprinkles and we consume absently. The coffee is good.

  “How was it last night?” I ask once we’ve both polished off what I guess was our lunch.
  “It was alright,” Dalton says, nodding slowly, still not quite here, not altogether at least. He’s distracted and I know him well enough to know it wasn’t the graveyard shift that’s got him this way.

  Our rotor is pretty simple. One week I’ll work the afternoons – get in around midday and work the store whilst it’s quiet; set up displays, shift things around, clean the dolls. The gritty stuff. Dalton will usually get in at six and we’ll shoot the shit for a couple of hours until business picks up at eight, where I’ll leave and head home. The next week we switch. I was a little worried about working for Dalton before we got the Womb set up, but it turns out he’s as laid back about work as he was about everything else in our friendship. Our patterns are about as liquid as they come and we often spend our spare time hanging out in the store with one another anyway, but Dalton is usually never here for delivery.

  “We had four people hit Haruka last night,” he says suddenly, blinking out of his daze and looking at me as I finish my coffee.

   “Wow,” I say, popping the register for the first time today and looking quizzically at the absence of notes.

  “Dummy,” Dalton says, “I’m not gonna leave that much here overnight. I took it back with me. “But I had to send one guy away. Asked him to come back later when she was free.”

  “I guess he got his rocks off someplace else then?”

  “No,” Dalton says, obviously still incredulous, “that’s the thing, he came back. One hour later, just like I asked. I gave him ten percent off for being so patient.”

  It was strange, but I wasn’t that surprised. The place had picked up recently. Admittedly it had only picked up from the depressing depths of a single customer every couple of nights, but business was business. Haruka’s fame seemed to be building, and – by association – her two guardian Gaijin’s too.

  “On nights like that, I find the only real problem is the cleaning,” I say, grimacing a little.

  “Tell me about it. I had to lock up every time I took her in the back to prep her.”

  “We need help,” I say bluntly. It was something that I’d been thinking about for a while, but had been a little hesitant to say aloud. More employees meant a profit divided, but if we ever wanted to take off proper we needed more hands on deck on busy nights.

  Dalton nods slowly, considering or just absent again I’m not sure, and finally says, with no humour in his voice, “We’d need more doughnuts.”

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~ by Joseph Blame on November 11, 2010.

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