Benny Hertz a Little – Todd Mercer

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The first day on the job shuffling cars between O’Hare and Midway for the rental agency, Benny acted like he’d forgotten his driver’s license at home by mistake. They were supposed to make a copy of it for their employee files.

Benny said, “I’ll bring it in tomorrow.”

So they let him work without the proof that day, but soon it was a day later and Benny didn’t have it then either. This was an issue to the HR guy.

Dispatch felt differently though. The Dispatch Manager needed a slew of mid-sized sedans returned to Midway, so he chose to believe a shakier story and put Benny into cars.

Benny strode in for day three and the Manager’s Manager intercepted him.

“Whoa fella!” he put out the stop-hand like Diana Ross used to. “We looked you up with the DMV.”

Benny hates when situations unravel while he’s still learning everyone’s names. “Hey, listen Boss…”

“No. Not listening. I am talking. Are you surprised when I say they don’t have any record of you?”

“Well, I’m from Indiana. That’s all. So… uh…”

“Enough with the snow-job, Benny. Where’s your valid driver’s license? This is the Show Me state.”

“Sir, I’m almost sure you’re referring to Missouri.”

“Smartass. Okay, we’re the Big Shoulders state. Either way you are out of here. You are officially fired. Goodbye, Benny.”

He hopped a train back to the Chinatown apartment, tried to beer away the feeling of failure.

At the end of the day Benny hung his pants over a chair. A set of rental car keys fell from a pocket to the floor. He’d taken them by mistake the moment the big boss had confronted him. Keys to a Chevy Cruse. Was this a sign or a little opportunity? He didn’t wonder long. He went out and dropped them into the US Mail box out on Cermak. Let the slow boat method return them to the proper place.

Benny decided to see the weekend as vacation time. He licked his wounds, took a walk along the river. And, you know, beered it up.

About the contributor: Todd Mercer was nominated for Best of the Net by in 2018. Mercer won the Kent County Dyer-Ives Poetry Prize. His chapbook Life-wish Maintenance is posted at Right Hand Pointing. Recent work appears in: A New Ulster, The Lake, Praxis and Mojave River Review.

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