SABRINA RODRIGUEZ - THE LATE SHIFT
Sabrina Rodriguez is a freshman, creative writing student at Full Sail University. For the past two years, she has been a member of both the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Honor Society. In her spare time, Sabrina likes playing video games and learning new languages. She currently speaks three languages and lives with her grandmother and mother in Texas.
The Late Shift
The motion-activated museum doorbell rings as a couple carries their twin sons out of the museum, the children’s drool discoloring their shirts. Rachel massages her legs and leans against the compressed wood desk. The runner’s lunge pulls her hamstrings. Rachel's muscles relax and contort once again as she switches legs. Heavy work boots clip against the polished museum floor. Charlie yawns and rubs his bulbous belly. He pats Rachel on her shoulder. She recoils and peels the damp clothing away from her skin. The cotton fabric squelches as it separates. It gets canceled out by the front desk’s leather chair wheezes under Charlie’s body. The leather folds like a deflated soufflé. Charlie kicks off his size eight women’s shoes. They clatter against the floor like a grenade. The heavy shoe lands at Rachel’s sneakered feet. Rachel’s skin bristles and she turns her face away from Charlie. Her neck tenses and her nose burns with every shallow breath. Acid tickles Rachel’s throat.
“What was your name again, kid,” Charlie asks.
“Ah, Rachel,” Charlie says. He scratches his salt and pepper beard. His skin rocks back and forth. Flakes of dead skin and dried wax flutter down Charlie’s baby blue button up shirt. Rachel’s shudders and digs her stiletto shaped nails into her fleshy palm. “How long have you been a security guard, kid?”
“Ten years, sir.”
“Ten? Damn. Just how old are you? You look like a baby.”
“Um.” Charlie fans his face with his hand, beads of sweat dribbling down his squirrel-like cheeks, and continues, “Twenty? A twenty-year difference isn’t that bad, right?”
Rachel chuckles softly and retightens her unfussed ballerina bun. She twists her fingers and meticulously straightens her uniform. Once again, Rachel turns her head away from Charlie. Charlie smiles. His thin lips disappear under his heavy mustache. Rachel looks down at her silver watch, its black face ticks down the seconds to six fifty p.m. She nods her head towards Charlie and leaves. Her sneakered feet are squeak as she all but flies across the hardwood floor. Rachel’s movements slow when she passes through the adjoining room’s threshold. She exhales.
The paintings of old kings and scenes of vicious battles clutter the satin red colored room. Rachel’s eyes focus on a painting of a ship caught in the grasp of the sea. The water holds the ship hostage, perpetually suspended without control and waiting to be crushed under the ocean’s titan strength. A beefy arm wraps around Rachel’s throat. She claws at the hairy hand. Dark red blood smears through the thick hair. Rachel speaks but all that comes out is gurgling as the hold around her neck gets tighter and a wave of damp breath puffs against her ear. It reeks of old cigarettes and fish. Her throat and mouth are flooded with a metallic taste when she clamps down on his hand. The assailant clenches tighter and huffs in her ear with every pulse. The edges of Rachel’s eyesight get hazy. Rachel goes limp in her assailant’s arms. He eases up and reaches to hold Rachel by her waist. Rachel gasps. She balls up her fist and pummels the man’s groin. The stench of cigarettes and fish grows stronger as the man deflates. Rachel spins around and snatches the man’s right arm. She twists it behind his back and pulls at his long, greasy hair, to reveal her attacker’s face.
“Charlie, do you need help with something?” Charlie groans and tries to tug his arm free. Rachel pulls tighter and shifts her hand from his hair to the middle of his back. A soft push and Charlie yelps.
“Fuck you, bitch.”
Spit flies out of Charlie’s mouth and bubbles of saliva pool around the corner of his mouth. Rachel pulls harder. Charlie’s shoulder stays in place as Charlie lifts himself up with every tug. Rachel leans back and places her knee against the small of Charlie’s back. The rolls of fat give Rachel a stable cushion. Charlie’s shoulder starts creaking and shifting, centimeter by centimeter. Rachel heaves again and the arm goes with her. Rachel smiles and lets go of his wrist. Charlie’s arm falls to his side. It doesn’t respond even as Charlie shifts onto his back. Charlie clutches at his lumpy shoulder. His tears streak through his beard. Rachel turns on her heel and goes back to the front desk. The leather chair groans, deflating for the second time. Rachel stretches back and hoists her tingling feet onto the desk. Her watch beeps. The fluorescent colored numbers flash against the black background. Seven o’clock. Rachel grabs her belongings out of her locker. She loosens her black tie and unpins her nametag as her presses against the glass museum door. Rachel flips over the open sign.
“Charlie,” she says. “Close up when you’re done.”
Rachel grins and salutes the air. She blows him a kiss as Charlie rolls on the floor like a turned over cockroach. The museum doorbell chimes and the door hisses shut.