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His ankles were already swelling only two hours into his shift. The café was almost empty. Only a couple, sitting on opposite sides of their table, reading separate books remained. He did not know their names despite the fact that they were regulars.
Standing behind the register, he wasn’t much of a looker. On the top of his head stood a helmet-like mass of bright red hair, straight and undeniably clean, much like a child’s. He was egg shaped, with short stubby legs. He also had the face of a child. Smooth and shining, always locked in a mischievous grin.
Jon’s face did not betray his mental turmoil in the slightest bit.
Like everyone (at the age of ten) he had a strong sense of fairness. He felt his current situation was unfair, and so he was pouting.
She made more money than him, here, and then she had her little thing on the side. She was probably rich, but that was unfair.
He knew what he would do about it. He had made a plan, and he would follow through with it. It would all work out in the end, just like in the comics, the good guy always wins.
She kept her stuff in the trunk of her car, he had seen it. When he was sitting on the curb in front of the café where they both worked, he had seen her open the trunk and sell some to a mean looking guy. He knew that he could steal it. All he had to do was get her keys out of her locker and with them, pop the trunk. He would then take the contents and throw them into the canal. Simple.
Everything was simple to Jon. He thought life was simple, death was simple, work was simple, love was simple, really, Jon was simple. When surrounded by complex and volatile situations, childlike simplicity is not an asset.
Jon’s knowledge of this situation was limited, but it did not amount to nothing. He knew that Mrs. Cummo, his manager, was selling drugs (although he really had no idea what marijuana was). He knew that he wanted to put an end to it. And he knew how he would do it. He didn’t know the consequences. It seemed like he never did.
Cause and effect had always been a difficult concept for Jon to grasp. When his father hit him, he just thought “Daddy had mad hands”. He never considered that he had, only hours before, eaten a full jar of mayonnaise with only his pudgy fingers as utensils. Adversely, when his father, who as mother had said was not “all bad”, lavished attention on him, he simply assumed that his father had “put on his happy hands”. When in reality, his father was much relieved to hear that Jon had been taken out of remedial classes.
Throughout Jon’s life, he was never aware of his own simplicity. His schoolmates surprisingly never revealed it to him through teasing. Even at the cruelest ages, they humored Jon’s two dimensional view of the world. They even tolerated his outrageous stories.
For twenty-six years, Jon walked through life thinking he was normal. He even thought that he was especially smart! But if you knew Jon, this wouldn’t come as much of a surprise. He was brimming with delusion, about himself and about the world. His stories, the ones curiously tolerated by his classmates, were ridiculously fabricated. Some days his grandfather was General Patton’s right hand man. Other days he described his great feats of physical fitness. When he was especially animated, he would brag of his habit of consuming massive amounts of Pepsi (More than two liters a day he said). Then minutes later, he would claim that he had run a marathon only months previous. He truly had no sense for cause and effect.
His lack of the ability to understand causation would lead to his downfall. Jon. never knew he could get caught up with such dangerous people.
Primarily, Jon’s plan went well. He easily stole the drugs (that smelled like the time when he had been sprayed by a skunk while taking out the trash for his mother) and he dumped them into the fast running canal. When Jon looked into the wind, his hair ruffled and he felt brave. He thought of his mom, and knew that she would be proud.
Jon. wasn’t nervous the that night, he knew that he had gotten away with it. He could just picture the look on his boss’ face, that cheater, when she would open her trunk and see that her contraband was gone. Jon felt wonderful, he had the confidence of someone who is truly in control of his life.
He looked different at work the next day. His eyes were alive, much different from before, when he would stand behind the counter with his eyelids drooping and his head cocked to one side.
Jon was euphoric all day. Until Mrs. Cummo, with the voice of a jackal, called him into her office.
“Sit down Jon” Mrs. Cummo said, not turning to look at him, but instead striding towards her desk. Her heels making an unnecessarily loud clatter.
Now Jon was sitting. From the doorway the scene was utterly comical. Jon was sitting on a chair made for a normal sized person. The backrest was in its fully reclined position under Jon’s weight. The black square of the backrest seemed so small on Jon’s back that it rested between his shoulder blades. John’s love handles hung off the sides of his lower back, over his belt, and were very visible through his tucked-in shirt.
Sitting in front of Jon, it seemed that Mrs. Cummo could not contain her anger. She used her two rodent-like front teeth to bite at her bottom lip.
They sat, avoiding eye contact, until Mrs. Cummo summoned the anger and courage to speak.
“O.K.” Mrs. Cummo croaked
“Do you have something that doesn’t belong to you, Jon.”
The more she spoke, the more she replaced her nervousness with rage.
“I was told that you were seen fishing around in my car”
With this remark, even Jon, with his defective brain, knew that there would be trouble. He was afraid, and the moment was long. It was like the time his father had caught him with the mayonnaise so many years before.
Jon sat petrified, he could not speak.
“Give it back to me today, Jon” Mrs. Cummo insisted. Her tone was deliberate. She knew she had control.
Jon didn’t move. He didn’t speak. He just sat, air escaping though his pressed lips, making an almost inaudible buzz.
“You know my husband? He is a very bad man. And if you don’t return my pot, that I know you took, I’m gonna have to let him know.” She said this all slowly. Her head slightly leaning back. Her eyes moved to the bottom of their sockets to maintain contact with Jon’s.
“Do you understand, Jon?” She said again calmly, but firmly. Absolutely demanding an answer.
“Yes” Jon mustered, and then he began to cry. Mrs Cummo walked out of the room.
Jon laid in his bed that night. Staring at the ceiling. His enormous pajamas covered his whole body, excluding a visible pink section of his lower midriff. He wanted to cry to his mother, but he was afraid. He wanted her to make it better. He wept into his pillow. His only solace was the presence of his mother, only one door down the hall.
Then he heard the pounding. Loud and invasive. It jarred his head, and his heart rate rose and his breathing became shallow. Jon, wide eyed and violently shaking, ducked under his covers.
That was when he heard his mother drowsily stepping down the stairs. He wanted to call out to her, to warn her, but he couldn’t. To Jon the pounding was terrifying, but his mother was still half asleep when she opened the door.
Jon heard the pounding of their boots on the wooden floor when they forced themselves in. He heard a clamor, voices, but no discernable words. Next a horrible cracking sound. At last he heard his mother’s soft, mournful cries.
As the men beat Jon, his huddled enormous mass showing no signs of resistance, he dreamed of his long forgotten father. He wanted to reach out to him. His desire for love was great. But his father looked disdainfully down on Jon. Jon’s father turned his back, and Jon was dead.