Alan Catlin

The Usual Suspects: The Short Order Cooks

All the missing links, gene pool
dregs, drummer who will spontaneously
First day in the job guys, black hair
dyed blacker still, soul patch goat,
“Nice to meet you. Can I borrow
twenty ‘til pay day?” dudes.
Amateur tattoo artist’s test case
dummies: the agony and apostasy,
acres of mistakes that cannot be
Short order dealers, hand delivers
the mail: powder and packets, COD
only, still in his whites, doesn’t do
take out or OD relief.
Bossman says hire clean cut guys only.
Daily newspaper ads say, “No freaks
need apply. Experienced Only.”
whatever that is supposed to mean.
“Only guys worth shit were born
three quarters gone and went downhill
from there. Have screaming eagle tattoos
where their brains were supposed to be.
Last crew cut guy we had was ex-Army.
No one checked his discharge papers.
Came to find out he was dishonorably
discharged with oak leaf clusters
and pitchforks. Last anyone heard of
him he was crashing a borrowed car
into a telephone poll, driving drunk,
suspended license, outstanding warrants
in two states and a territory. Left the wreck
running, driver’s side door open and
hitched a ride to parts unknown,
still wearing his black and whites,
work boots filling up with blood from
multiple wounds. God only knows
who picked him up. Safe to say they
deserved each other.

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