A Day In The Life Of: Reese
The bells above the door ring. My first customer of the day. Before I turn and greet the customer that familar hope seizes me. Maybe it’s a new citizen, maybe it’s someone from another town, maybe it’s death Himself come to take me from this mortal coil. But no. When I turn, customer service smile slapped on my face, I that it’s the human. It always is. First person through the doors when I open, every morning, without fail.
“Hello! Come on in!” My voice sounds ridiculous. High pitched, almost a whine, cloying with sweetness. Am I even speaking real words anymore?
The human walks up to me. “How can I help you?” I know how this is going to go. But we all have our roles.
“I WOULD LIKE TO SELL ITEMS.” The first hundred times the human yelled this at me I was startled. The second hundred times I was pissed off. After that my mind just grew numb to it, no more annoying than the buzz of an aging fan in the middle of the night.
“You want to sell? Sure, let’s see what you have!” Absurd, right? The human just told me that he wanted to sell things. You might think it’s good customer service for me to confirm what the customer wants to do but, no, it’s more that I don’t feel like being carved up into lamb steaks tonight.
What? The human likes routine.
With a flourish and a wave the human pulls his wares from his pockets. Hundreds of peaches, pears, apples, bananas and cherries spill from his pockets. Fish flop against the ground, gasping their dying breaths, dozens of bugs fly angrily through the air.
A bee stings my lips.
But I endure it with a smile. There’s only one customer in this town, and that customer is always right. “Is this all? Let me go ahead and start crunching the numbers!” Not that I bother actually doing the math. We’ve been doing this so long that I know what the human expects for this haul. Who cares if the little shit is owed a few thousand more bells? If he’s happy, then I’m happy. And if I end up a little closer to being free of my servitude on this island hell? Well, that’s just gravy. “How does 20,451 bells sound?”
The human nods. “YES THAT IS GOOD I AM GOING TO BUY A NEW FLOOR FOR MY HOUSE WITH THESE BELLS I AM GOING TO TALK TO TOM NOOK NOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO COME BY MY HOUSE LATER I WILL NOT KILL YOU.”
I smile politely. “Thank you for your business, please come again!” Filling bags with bells, I slide them over to the human who immediately stuffs them into his pants. Watching those fifty pound bags of bells shrink and disappear into the time-space rift that is the human’s pants never fails to fill me with unease. The ‘vwoop’ sound they make every time a new item is put inside, it’s what I imagine the end of the world would sound like. Quantum mechanics gone awry from someone who wanted to store more apples in his pants.
Sounds like a bad porno.
Hours pass. One of the town’s citizens shows up. A frog. He says “Brah” a lot, like he’s some frat boy from the human world trying to score. He sells me an apple. One. Single. Apple.
I give him two thousand bells. Enough to pay his bills and buy him food for weeks. This economy is so fucked. Of course, the little bastard doesn’t buy anything. He’s off to go find the human and see if he can trade off a nightstand for a samurai sword. Why does a frog need a sword? I’ll have to watch out for that one, he’s probably gone insane.
More time passes. No one visits the store. I stare out the window of my shop, wondering what could have been.
The human comes back. Same old song and dance.
“I WANT TO SELL THIS SOFA I FOUND IN A TREE.” Thud. A six foot long sofa erupts from his pants, which is not a euphemism. It’s pink and gaudy and looks like something you’d see in a love hotel or a ‘pick-up artist’s’ home. I want to tell him that it isn’t worth anything, that it’s garbage for terrible people. But the human is watching me, glint in his eye, hand idly holding his axe.
How many notches in that axe are from more than trees?
The human leaves with his thousand bells.
“And who da’ flyin’ fuck was that layabout?” The voice startles me. My husband, so rarely awake during the day. “Ye’ be cheatin’ on me now woman?” I sigh.
“How many times do I have to tell you this, darling? That’s the mayor of the town. We’re here to serve him until we pay of our debt to society.”
“I dunna’ remember agree’n t’ that.” Jealous rage tints his every word. He thinks I’m lying to him, thinks I’m sleeping with that abomination of a human.
“That’s because the police had beaten you half to death, darling.”
“Ha, tha’s a likely story! If ye’re gonna’ like to me, woman, at least make it convincin’!” I smile my customer service smile, willing the dullard back to sleep. I loved him, once, but even the most forgiving woman would falter when her husband gives a child cocaine cut with aresenic.
That it was the chief of police’s kid was just icing on the shit cake he’d baked for himself. And, of course, I was guilty by association.
“Honey, go back to sleep. I have customers to attend to.” A blank stare from him. His eyes crossed, went dull, then rolled back in his head. No idea why telling him to go to sleep knocked him out like that, probably a lingering effect of the police’s beatings, but I wasn’t complaining. I drag his limp body back to his workshop and prop him up in the chair. The human has never suspected that my husband is anything more than a lazy carpenter, and all’s the better for it.
No more human. Thank god.
I close the shop for the evening. Slip the carpet back from the cellar door and open it, step down into the dry air below. Storage. A vast cavern that stretches for dozens of miles toward the mainland. The heart of this island enterprise, this is where we shop owners sort our wares for collection.
I used to try talking to the crews that would come by and collect my goods. When one of them spoke to me it was cryptic, and vague. The next day when the crew came back, minus the animal that had spoken to me, and with armed guards riding along with them, I learned to not speak to the collection crews.
As I sorted dozens of fruits and animals and bugs into piles for collection my thoughts came free. No one would explain what this place was, and why the humans had so much power here. How the hell did an economy where basic food commodities cost more than an ancient handcrafted sword work? Why?
Of course no answers came. And none ever would.
I pulled myself out of the cellar in the wee hours of the morning, dawn lighting the horizon outside my window. Sleep. Needed to sleep.
The human would be here in a few hours.