Oscar Cedeno

Applause Literary Journal - Issue 33 Submissions

The Delivery Driver

            “There is movement at your front door.”

            Kyle looked up from his phone at the voice assistant. “Computer, show me the front door.” A face appeared on the 5 inch LCD screen. The man looked angry in his green vest.

            “No way!” Kyle said, taking the stairs two at a time. Reece bounced at his side, feline tail swaying in shared excitement. He opened the front door to reveal the man and the cardboard box marked with a curved arrow logo.

            “Your package,” the man made a face. His eyes were bloodshot and Kyle could hear his teeth grinding.

            “The one I just ordered a minute ago?” Kyle hesitated, then picked up the box, pressing down on the side like he’d done a hundred times so he could get a finger under the packing tape and tear off the top. “Yes, 400 googly eyes! How is this possible?”

            “Googly eyes,” the man said, stamping one foot against the rug. “You chose same-day delivery at 11:59 pm for googly eyes. May I ask you, sir, what was the emergency you were hoping to solve with the googly eyes?”

            “I just want to look cool and it’s crazy that you get 400 of them for $11. I was going to put them on like a thermos I guess and take them to work tomorrow so…”

            “Right, right,” the man said, spitting to the side. A tooth bounced off Kyle’s lawn. “Do you want to know how it’s possible? Imagine you need a job and you discover that the shipping center of the largest company in the world is hiring right next door.”

            “Clearly I upset you. I’m sorry. I think I’m going to go to bed.” Kyle said, closing the door with a creak on the man. “Thanks again.”

            “There’s movement at your front door,” declared the voice assistant he had in the living room. “Now announcing from the bell: “

            “You see, the thing is, you asked me how that’s possible,” the man’s voice carried across the room. The screen down here was the 8-inch model, showing even more detail of the man’s clogged pores. “And I feel like it would be rude if I don’t give you an answer. So I’ll tell you how it’s possible and you’ll listen to me.”

            Kyle took this phone out of his pocket. It was frozen.

            “Now imagine you took that job and were paid $15 an hour. And then you do such a good job that you get promoted to floor manager and make $17 an hour. Forget that every day after work your muscles ache like an old man but you’re making more money than all your friends.”

            “Please sir, can you go?”

            “But the metrics are falling, it’s getting harder to keep up, and corporate blue vests prowl your workstation like vultures looking for an excuse to take your livelihood. One day you have an outgoing delivery, an ashen leather-bound book with thread that looks like a maiden’s hair. In it, you find an enchantment to make any wish come true.”

            The man coughed, a horrible noise that sounded like something was seriously wrong inside him. “I’ll call a doctor for you sir, please.”

            “The compulsion would just get me out of the ambulance, it would be a waste of time. Now, let’s say you made a wish in that book. For money? Happiness? Nothing that simple because you think it’s a joke. So you wished in the book that you always hit your metrics, but it turns out the old adage is as true as they say.”

            “So that’s what happened to you? You wished to always meet your goals at work and now you do?” Kyle unplugged the back of the assistant. The screen did not go off.

            “No matter how late, no matter how long the hours, my body labors. All across the United States like a non-unionized Santa Claus. I would have died years ago, save for the magic holding me together. As long as there are people like you willing to ask the impossible, I work. I make it work, down the list, from A to fricken Z.”

            “I’m sorry, I won’t do it again.”

            “And as you step back, 10 million more will step forward in your place.” The man coughed again and collapsed.

            Kyle rushed to the door, dropping the cheap plastic package scattering its 400 eyes. The man was twitching on the steps. Kyle patted the man’s pockets looking for a cell phone. They were empty.

            With convulsive zombie-like movements the man rose. “Break’s over. Another delivery has no chance of making it on time. Without me, the metrics will fall and the corporate prophets will be displeased.”

            The man turned and jogged off, rounding the corner down the road leaving bloody footprints on the sidewalk. Behind Kyle, he could hear a googly eye rolling as the cat batted it back and forth across the living room. It sounded cheap.

Oscar Cedeno is a Utah Valley University student who indulges in mac and cheese and witty puns. He marvels at Mother Nature’s intricacies via weather segments and finds joy in rearranging magnet letters on fridges to form new phrases.

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