For the next two weeks I wasted away in the hot sun at the VFW pool six hours a day with Rhonda. I was not complaining. There were plenty of boys, Cokes were ice cold, and I’d never had a better tan. My only problem was that Rhonda and I were tearing through the money I’d saved at a rate that would have me broke in a couple of weeks. My cigarette business had been cut down to practically nothing since school had let out and I had no new cash coming in.
It was time to get a job. A real job. Besides, if I heard the life guard tell Rhonda to put her top back on one more time, I’d lose my mind.
I needed a car in the worst way. It was in no way cool to ride my bike anymore, so I ended up walking everywhere which was not cool either but I refused to ask people for a ride. I didn’t want anyone thinking I owed them anything. I’d found out the hard way sometimes people wanted something in return for doing me a favor.
I was turning fifteen in a couple of weeks and would finally be old enough to get a hardship license. Jubalee said I could get one if I could pass the test.
“You can’t even pass science class. What makes you think you can pass your driver’s test?” she’d asked me. But it didn’t matter because even if I got a license, I still had nothing to drive. Even if Jubalee offered to let me drive The Green Bean, I’d have to turn her down.
I thought it would be easy to get a job in Randolph. Sonic, McDonald’s, Dairy Queen and Wal-Mart all had hiring signs in their windows, but no one would hire me because I wasn’t sixteen. They said it was the law. I told them all they were wrong…I’d been working for Jubalee since I was six.
I figured if Jubalee was the only one I could work for, she ought to at least pay me. I asked her for an allowance.
“What do you mean you deserve an allowance?” she’d demanded.
“Well,” I said, soapy dish water up to my elbows, “I just mean that maybe you could pay me a little for all the work I do around here. Other teenagers get allowances, and some of them don’t do near the stuff I do.”
“Ha! You ain’t other kids. Your payment for doing your chores is a bed to sleep in and food to eat. I don’t owe you nothin’. You get those things ‘cause you work for them. Ain’t nothing free, Teenie. Now start supper.”
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