As much as Vince and I enjoyed Christians, our all-time favorite subject was
Bryan; it didn't hurt that Bryan was a Christian. Vince had gone to high school
with Bryan and his ex-girlfriend Wendy. It had ultimately fallen to Vince to inform
Wendy of Bryan's
indiscretions with a nasty hooker, thus causing their infamous breakup. I'm not
really certain if Vince had narced on Bryan out of concern for Wendy or if he did it
so we would have endless fodder for our evening conversations. Not that we needed
any more reasons to laugh at Bryan - he was the constant target of our derision as
Bryan would always come to work wearing khaki pants, a golf shirt and brown loafers
and then complain when he got oil or gasoline on them. He constantly made up lies,
usually about the most meaningless things. He was discharged from the Army. Nobody
really knew the whole story behind that, but we did know that he hadn't even made it
all the way through basic training. When he was working on the night shift, he would
stand around the office and practice the proper way to salute an officer and other
maneuvers. Maybe if he had spent that time concentrating on his homework, he would
have made it through more than one semester of community college. His parents had
given him a brand new convertible Mercedes just for passing his first semester.
After about a year of splitting the night shift with Vince, Bryan decided he wanted
to move to the day shift; he got his wish when Jason moved to another state. The day
shift was really a perfect fit for Bryan. He liked to drink as heavily as Frog and he
had just dropped out of college, partly due to his depression over his breakup with
Wendy and partly due to the fact he was basically an idiot. He was also the only
person at the station, other than Frog, who actually looked at the giant stack of
pornographic magazines sitting in the back room; though Justin would use them for
making collages during pixie binges. Frog had one Playboy in particular that Bryan
liked. It was the
October 1994 issue
and the girl on the cover could have been Stacy's twin, except Stacy never wore makeup, which
was just as well - no work of man could have done anything but detract from her beauty.
"Yeah man, that chick looks just like Stacy," Bryan would say, his weaselly voice
quivering and his forehead moistening with perspiration.
The scent of cologne from the magazine assaulted my nostrils and awoke the reptilian
core of my brain. "Dude, you say that every fucking night. I'm going to light that
goddamn magazine on fire and shove it up your fucking ass." I never bothered to be polite
"Sorry, man," his thin lips would twitch.
Personally, I liked to tease Stacy with the magazine cover myself. She'd just giggle
and get a big grin on her face that she couldn't get rid of and say, "I don't look like
that chick." But I'd had to sit through countless hours of detailed descriptions of
Bryan's disturbing sexual fetishes. It was bad enough imagining Bryan engaged in such
activities with Wendy or Angela the Gummy Hooker. But the thought of him violating
Stacy made me entertain unspeakably violent notions.
Needless to say, I was happy to see Bryan go. I'd had to put up with his constant
whining about Wendy leaving him for nearly a year. It would also mean that Vince would join
me permanently on the night shift.
One day, I arrived at the station my usual fifteen minutes late and walked in and sat
down on the safe. Bryan was sitting at the side of the desk drinking whiskey from a bottle
wrapped in a brown paper bag and Frog was drinking his usual vodka and Mountain Dew cocktail.
I immediately recognized that they were both extremely drunk. Vince was usually closer to
being on time than I was, but he hadn't gotten there yet. I realized I had interrupted
an especially poignant moment between Frog and Bryan and they ignored my entrance into the
Bryan took a swig from his brown paper bag, "...yeah man, there's something to that shit.
Like those people who let snakes bite them and they don't get hurt. And people speaking
Frog reddened, put his hands over his eyes and started bawling, "I've seen tongues!" He
got out of his chair and wobbled into the restroom to yank a tissue off the roll. He dabbed
at his teary eyes, "I've seen tongues!" Frog closed the door to the restroom and all I could
hear were loud howls of emotion.
Bryan began to weep, evidently equally touched by the Holy Spirit. Goddamnit, where was Vince
when I needed him? I just sat on the safe and watched this train wreck in quiet fascination.
One of our regulars pulled in. It was "Belly Boy" - so named because of his enormous gut which
he proudly displayed by wearing his shirt completely unbuttoned. Frog called him "Belly Berdella," after
Kansas City's notorious serial killer, Bob Berdella. Belly Boy was short and balding with blonde hair
around the sides of his head that curled outward at the ends. He had a blonde mustache and wore glasses. He
liked to flirt with us. I hadn't officially started my shift yet, as nobody had counted their money
or read the pumps, but even Belly Boy was better than what was going on in the office and Belly
always used a credit card, so I wouldn't have to make change.
Belly Boy got out of his car while I started his gas and cleaned his windshield. He was wearing his
usual blue flip-flops and I determined he must be in high spirits, as his belly was round, firm and deeply
tanned. He was telling me all about his wild weekend at the "Winnebago" which I guessed must have been
some sort of gay dance club popular with the forty-plus crowd. Once I finished the windshield, I saw
Vince getting out of his girlfriend's car. Vince always had a pretty girlfriend; he usually went for
thin ones with long blonde hair and blue eyes - cheerleader types. He didn't seem to care much for
relationships, so he was always going out with a different girl. As Andrea pulled out of the station she
smiled and waved. I waved back and turned my attention to Vince. I smiled, knowing what he was about to
As I was finishing up Belly's gas, Vince came outside with a look of horror on his face, "what in the
hell is going on in there?"
I just shook my head and shrugged; I'm sure Vince realized no halfway reasonable person could possibly be
expected to answer that question. Belly gave me his credit card and, as I took it back inside, he tried to
talk Vince into coming over Friday night for a beer. I wondered if there was any place on the planet that
was free of psychotic enraptured drunks and serial killer homosexuals.
After several months on the day shift, Bryan befriended a largish man in his late 30s named
Shannon. Shannon drove a brand new dark blue convertible. He seemed to have money flowing out of
every pocket, which of course easily seduced Bryan. Shannon had steely blue eyes and dark hair that
was buzzed close to his scalp. Whenever he came into the station, he always acted like he was
everyone's best friend. We all hated him - except Bryan. Even Frog, who was usually pretty friendly
to customers, didn't like the guy. Shannon would always leave us absurdly large tips for doing
basically nothing. Shannon had a girlfriend who he frequently had with him. She was thin and had
long blonde hair. She was cute but she was mentally handicapped and that was reflected somewhat in her
appearance; it also effected her speech.
There had been much speculation about Shannon's career as, more and more, he seemed to be spending
a lot of the day at the station with Bryan. We thought maybe he was in construction, but he didn't really dress
like it. Eventually, Bryan discovered that Shannon was a coke dealer and was quick to whore himself out
as Shannon's stooge. First it was hiding coke in the back room until Shannon could come and pick it up later.
For that, Bryan would receive 60 bucks or so. Later, it was delivering the coke to other sketchy characters who
would come by the station and Bryan got a cut of that too. Bryan was the man now. Shannon's increasing reliance
on him was like a runaway helium tank filling up a balloon; I eagerly awaited the explosion.
Frog grew increasingly disgruntled by the situation. Shannon had co-opted the station and was coming and
going as he pleased. He would freely walk into the back room to take care of his own business, completely ignoring
Frog. As was Frog's wont, he complained incessantly about the circumstances to Vince and me, rather than tell
Shannon to get lost.
Months went by with Bryan acting as a paid lap dog. He would run errands for Shannon and probably fetched his
slippers and morning paper for him too. Some nights, Vince and I would be at work and see Shannon driving down the
road with the roof off the convertible. His girlfriend would be in the passenger seat and Bryan would be sitting in
the back seat like the family dog.
One afternoon Frog was doing the shift change while Vince and I waited in the office with Bryan.
Shannon pulled in with his girlfriend and came inside. He pulled out his wallet and removed a wad of
cash, "hey Bry, I have some business I need to take care of. You think you could take Mandy out
tonight... you know, just have a good time... Keep an eye on her?"
"Yeah, man!" Bryan eagerly took the money.
"Wow, Bryan, usually you have to pay them." I smirked. Vince and I never wasted an opportunity to
kick Bryan down a few notches. Vince tried not to, but couldn't help but to laugh heartily. I loved Vince's
Bryan had a look on his face like he'd just been kicked in the gut, "thanks man."
I smiled with satisfaction as Bryan quickly counted his wad and tossed it on the desk before scurrying
out the door in a manner that reminded me of a rat.
A couple weeks later, I pulled into the gas station, late as usual. This time Vince was already
there. The second I got out of my car, I heard Frog yelling at the top of his lungs. Vince must have
seen me pull in, as he ran outside to meet me.
Vince put his hands on my chest as if to push me back, "you don't want to go in there, man."
"Frog is going off."
"Bryan just told Frog that Shannon guy is an undercover cop. He's been selling drugs that he's confiscated
from people he's busted."
The balloon had burst. "You have got to be shitting me," I said with glee.
I smiled evilly and recited an improvised version of Bryan's Theme Song that Vince and I always repeated
whenever we saw him, "Cut, cut, cut. Slash, slash, slash. I peel away Frog's flesh and feed on the organs.
His flesh will fill this emptiness. If I can't have this job now I will have this job. Forever."
Vince and I stood outside snickering until Bryan slithered out the door, hopped in his car and left the
station without saying a word. The next day, Chris filled in on the day shift and I never saw Bryan -
or Shannon - again. I was never really clear if what Bryan had told Frog was true. But if it was a lie,
I decided he probably deserved to get fired just for being stupid enough to say something like that to
someone as paranoid as Frog.
A year or so later, a friend of ours had just gotten out of the Navy and stopped in the station. He asked
Vince and I if we knew of Bryan's whereabouts. Neither of us did. Evidently, Bryan had been busted - no doubt
God had told the cops where to find the drugs, as he had with Bryan's parents years ago. The cops had let
Bryan off as long as he "cooperated." Bryan had narced on one of this guy's friends and they were both dying
to have a word with him. To this day, I don't know if Bryan is alive or dead and I doubt there are many who
01. The Pervert
02. The Night the Retards Came
03. The Paranoid Schizophrenic
04. The Art Institute
05. Frog's Restroom Misadventure
06. The Pixie Who Destroyed His VW Van
07. The Hooker
08. The Old Woman Who Drove Backward
09. The Brown Recluses