This Job I Had • by
Beatty • Minneapolis, MN
About the Writer
Beatty's jokes, poems, reviews and stories have appeared in numerous
print and online publications, including All Music Guide, Conduit, elimae, Exquisite
Corpse, Fresh Yarn, Gulf Coast, Hobart, Juked, McSweeney's
Internet Tendency, Monkeybicycle, The Quarterly, Rain
Taxi, The Rake, Seventeen, Spout, Yankee
Pot Roast, Word Riot and Zygote In My Coffee.
He has performed stand-up comedy at the Brave New Workshop, Bryant
Lake Bowl, Fitzgerald Theater, Northrop Memorial Auditorium and
the Improv in Hollywood. Brian grew up in Brazil, Indiana, the
hometown of Scatman Crothers, no matter what Wikipedia says.
Brian also performs stand-up and reads his writing in public
whenever given the opportunity. He lives in Minneapolis.
In high school I got this job working for a slumlord/used car
lot owner who thought nothing of sending a teenage kid to collect
overdue rent from a lunatic stripper and her ex-convict boyfriend.
“If they try giving you any shit,” my boss explained, “tell
them I’ll repossess that hunk of junk Chrysler I sold them
so fast their heads will spin. Then I’ll call his probation
officer. Seriously. Those ignorant mother fuckers ought to know
better by now than to buy drugs with my rent money.”
School was out for the summer, so I drove right over that same
morning. Maybe I’d catch the boyfriend still sleeping off
the previous night’s partying. That was my wishful thinking,
Fifteen bucks an hour, paid in cash at the end of each day. That
was our gentlemen’s agreement.
I pounded on the front door like my boss had said to. I pounded
until my knuckles were raw purple. I tried peaking through the
dirty yellow windows.
I didn’t threaten that I was the police like my boss had
also suggested. I was just seventeen years old, but that seemed
like the worst idea in the history of the world.
Eventually, a woman sauntered around the side of the house in
a mismatched bikini at least two sizes not big enough for her.
Her mirrored sunglasses were crooked on her acne-scarred face.
It was difficult to imagine that guys paid money to see her wearing
even less than that pitiful swimsuit.
“I was out back working on my tan,” she said. “You’re
lucky I had to go inside to take my meds.”
The cigarette haze surrounding her was so thick I choked when
I tried to explain why I was there. Doubled over coughing, I almost
didn’t notice the gangly dude with all the tattoos and the
“I told that asshole Kenny he’d have his rent this weekend!” the
dude with the gun shouted. He wagged his weapon in the direction of my car. “Get
out of here, kid. Unless you mean business.”
“Goddamn it, sweetie. You’re scaring him to death,” the
woman said. “Put that thing away!”
I wondered if the gun was even loaded. What kind of idiot
would stand out in he middle of his front yard in broad daylight
waving around a loaded gun?
“I’m not going to shoot anybody,” he promised
her. “I’m just trying to make a point here.”
Then he shot out my car’s back passenger side tire.
He gave me a look. “How fast can you change that?”
He gave the woman a look, too. “You’re done sucking
strange dick to cover our rent every month. There’s nothing
wrong with me selling a little weed.”
I’d never changed a tire before, so it took me forever.
The two of them watched from the porch like Norman Rockwell’s
worst nightmare come to life in 1987.
When I got back to the used car lot, I tried to tell my boss everything
exactly as it had happened — in case he wanted to notify
He didn’t want to hear any of it. He was clearly disappointed
with me. “I bet you never got around to saying that I was
coming for that piece of shit Chrysler if they didn’t fork
over today. You didn’t, did you?”
“He had a gun!” I said. I pointed to the lot. “Did
you not notice the ridiculous spare tire on my car? That could
have been me, Kenny!”
“Bullshit,” my boss said, reaching into his desk drawer. “I’ve
got a gun, too. You can take it with you when you go back for that
rent you didn’t get last time.”
“Kenny said to tell you if you don’t hand over
twice the amount of this month’s rent in weed right now,
he’s coming for your car. No blowjob, no bullshit. This is
business. What’s it going to be? The weekend is not an option.
Is it me or do things seem to be going differently now that you’re
not the only asshole with a gun?”
I kept rehearsing what Kenny had said to say.
I looked tough at myself in the rearview mirror. Getting twice
the rent due was my idea. I deserved a cut — for my trouble.
Nobody was going to know the difference, anyway. But at a corner
where I was supposed to turn left, I took a right instead and headed
The money I got for Kenny’s gun at the pawnshop bought a
new used tire and a warm case of beer.