Vincent Crow had heard somewhere that you could trade a piece of useless junk on the internet and within a year of swapping it for better and better things you could get cool stuff. Crow decided that he himself was going to start off as that piece of tat, jump from one job to the next; indeed he would trade one lifestyle for a new one, until he was finally a success. Every three months he would have to trade-up for an entirely new life - new job, new girl, new wheels, new pad, new threads - until he reached the top.
The plan of comparing himself to a used item traded over the internet was of course marginally flawed, as there is a human factor to all of this which he'd over-looked. Besides, success isn't just about work. It's about the car, the clothes, the house, and getting the girl, so changing all of that with every new trade upwards is a lot more difficult than swapping an old stereo in the classifieds. Crow quickly learns what the price of success really is. An education he would never have got if he had gone to college.
Vince scraped the gunk from the bottom of the final saucepan with his water-wrinkled hand. He plunged it into the lukewarm, murky water of the sink and scrubbed half-heartedly at the bottom with a scourer. He was convinced that his boss wouldn't mistreat the pans, or use quite so many, if she was the poor
bugger who had to wash them up afterwards. Natalie Sedgwick, who was both the cook of questionable bar-meals, and spouse of the pub's owner, was currently in the bar enjoying the New Year's Eve party. Vince imagined her, G&T in hand, flirting
with the regulars. She would be laughing in an over-the-top way at their crude jokes whilst Dennis, her husband, polished glasses at the end of the bar, watching in silent annoyance and jealousy. She had about as much apathy towards Vince's desire for an easier run, as Vince had towards his current occupation.
Delving into the depths of the industrial-sized sink, Vince located and removed the plug, watched the water slowly gurgle down, and then began to scrape more gunk and soggy bits of vegetable from around the plug hole. Natalie Sedgwick had a
thing about her sink looking cleaner than the pots that were scrubbed in it.
Vince swept and mopped the floor of the kitchen. The muffled sounds of 70's Christmas classics accompanied the shouted conversations of people with better jobs than him, who didn't have to work on public holidays. Once he'd finished, he
propped the broom up in the corner, he grabbed his coat and left via the back door which led into the car park. Having dumped the evening's black bag of soggy leftovers in the bins at the top of the car park, he began his walk home.
Passing the front of the pub, he peered through the window at the drunken mob of revellers. He knew a lot of them. Through the frosted pane he could see Jenny Davis, a girl that he'd had a crush on throughout school. She was at the end of the bar getting-off with Dan Bridges, whom coincidentally he had also been at school with and despised with a passion. Jenny was now a receptionist at a car rental place. Dan worked on a till in a supermarket. Vince pondered at how amazingly pathetic a bunch of drunken people appear when you yourself are sober, and yet somewhere within him was a need to be as drunk and pathetic as them. After all, being wasted and getting off with Jenny Davis was the pinnacle of aspiration in small town life. It didn't get any better. The days in-between such fleeting moments of excitement were a monotonous drudgery, and it would never change. Jenny was not going to progress past receptionist. She neither had the drive, the skills or the opportunity. Indeed, her looks had probably helped her land the job and a younger, better looking girl would eventually come along and replace her. Meanwhile, Dan was always going to be a thug. He was a violent piece of work at school and was still a moron now. His strong jaw-line, rugged appearance and just enough money to buy attractive girls drinks would carry him along until he eventually got one of them pregnant and would have to get married. He'd then realise he actually had a naff job, a life which had acquired responsibilities, and then take out the frustrations of his wasted existence on his kids. Their offspring would in turn on go to become thugs and terrorise more sensitive kids at school. This was a circle of life that was rarely covered on in-depth
As Vince crossed the road opposite the pub, he turned on hearing the front door of the pub swing open and two pissed up, middle-aged women staggered out. The stagger was emphasised by their clothes that were a few sizes too small and
rather impractical for the cold urban winter. Their make-up was applied liberally to evoke a message of availability. The first one immediately fell into a bush next to the porch. The second then screeched with laughter at an unnecessarily high volume. Having realised this noisy display had failed to attract any welcome attention from passing hunks, she knelt on the ground and began to throw-up loudly into a pot plant: damp soil and vomit no doubt making an unwelcome addition to the peroxide. Should these delightful ladies remember any of their display, a romanticised version of the incident would surely be their big story for many Friday nights to come. Vince looked through the open door at the groups of drunken party-goers. A week before he would have walked right in there and joined the crowd. He would have happily spent all the money he'd just earned whilst washing-up their dirty dishes trying to become part of the Jenny and Dan social group. He would eventually leave with less money and a similar social status to when he started, but the water-wrinkled hands from a night of washing up would remain.
Instead he walked straight past the pub and started down the road towards home with a wry grin spreading across his face. Vince Crow had been party to a revelation the day before, that was going to change his life forever. He was no longer one
of the small town crowd that delighted in tales of vomiting into plant pots.
Vince Crow was about to start living life differently.
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