Erkan arrived at the house in the quiet suburban neighborhood just before 6 PM. He had expected to be a bit late, but traffic was against him- most of it went into San Francisco on Saturday night. Thus, he arrived slightly early. He knocked on the door.
“Oh! You must be Erkan,” said the kindly woman who opened the door. “Come in, come in!”
“Thank you. Mrs. Newman, I presume? Are my parents here yet?” Erkan shook his head, “Oh right. I forgot. Of course they aren’t. They’re running on Armenian time.”
Mrs. Newman smiled, “That always seems to be the case.”
Erkan had some chips while he waited for people to show up. There was no point in going to a party if you didn’t eat the food. That was what they were all about. On a related note, he couldn’t afford to go to parties too often if he wanted to keep intact any sort of figure that wasn’t ‘round’.
A few more couples the age of Erkan’s parents showed up, along with some younger ones. Along with some of the parents came some young women. Erkan could guess his mother’s reason for inviting him to this specific party. Then his parents finally showed up, carrying more food than was necessary especially since there was already enough food to feed a small army. Well, not that Erkan would mind having some pilaf.
His mother came to find him shortly after she arrived, “So, how’s the party?”
“It’s fine.” He supposed it was nice to talk to some different people occasionally. He just wasn’t sure if it was worth getting up early for. Sadly nobody planned parties for 7 AM which would be a nice ‘evening’ time for him.
“Did you meet Angela?”
“And Catherine.” Erkan shrugged. He didn’t really have anything against them. They were nice enough, but he wasn’t really looking for a girlfriend at the moment. For one thing there wasn’t really any way it would work out if they only interacted once a week, and probably with at least one of them being sleep deprived.
His mother looked slightly disappointed, but didn’t say anything more. Erkan didn’t think he would ever be able to stop her from trying to set him up with someone, but at least she didn’t react poorly when he wasn’t interested.
Erkan’s father found him soon afterwards, “How’s work?”
“Normal. ” Erkan shrugged, “Maybe I could change my doctorate to a study on the nocturnal lifestyle of microorganisms.”
“Does it make any difference on that level?”
“Not to most things… and there’s enough artificial light it’s not really a feasible experiment anyway.”
Tuesday was the same as any other Tuesday. Work, lunch in the middle of the night, and a coffee run. Tuesday was his day, after all.
“Oh, umm, thanks uh…” Erkan couldn’t remember the name of the particular barista in front of him. Looking at her nametag was cheating, of course.
“Savina. Actually, I’m new… but I saw you leaving when I came in for my interview.”
“Oh yeah, right.” No wonder she looked familiar. At least he hadn’t forgotten, really. Not her, anyway. Just her name.
After work, Erkan needed to visit the deli. He might as well make it part of his regular schedule, since he only bought a week’s worth of sandwich meat at once. He arrived at George’s, only to find the front window boarded up… and a big “closed” sign hanging on it. “Well, crap.”
He was about to turn around and leave when a large man stepped out of the shop, carrying something that looked big enough to be a whole cow hindquarter. He nodded to Erkan as he turned the other way down the street.
Erkan saw lights on inside, so he tried the handle. Finding it open he poked his head in. “Umm… the sign says closed but…”
“Hey, come in!” Justin called from behind the counter, “Don’t mind the sign.”
“So are you actually open or…?” Erkan stepped inside.
“Yeah yeah, the sign’s there because after the windows got all smashed up it was just easier.”
“Won’t you lose a lot of business that way?”
“Will I?” Justin raised an eyebrow, “Haven’t missed a single regular customer all week.”
“… How does this place stay in business?”
“Good meats and cheeses!” Justin slapped a bag down on the counter, “The usual, right?”
“Yeah.” Erkan waited while Justin rang him up, “You seem relatively unperturbed by what happened.”
“Are you kidding? I’m furious.” Justin’s face twisted into a grimace, “I’d strangle those guys if I could get away with it. But still, business must go on.”
“The cops can’t do anything?”
“Can’t, won’t… little of A, little of B.” Justin shrugged, “Well, if they come back here and take a single step inside they might regret it.” At that moment, Justin was using his cleaver to chop something into hunks.
“Well, good luck with your business.”
“Thanks. See you next week!” Justin waved cheerily.
As Erkan moved to open the door it was ripped out of his hands by someone at the door who rushed past him, seeming to not see him. “Justin! You got any aged steaks?”
The door thudded closed behind Erkan. He wasn’t sure why anyone would be so eager to get inside. There wasn’t even a line… but at least Justin had business. He was nice, and Erkan didn’t want to have to find somewhere else to go.
Akio sighed, “Ugh, it’s Wednesday. That means I’m the one who has to do the coffee run.”
“It’s fine, I’ll go,” Erkan volunteered.
“Look, I appreciate the offer but we gotta keep things fair around here. I still have to do my part.”
“No really, I don’t mind. I’ll go.”
“Weren’t you one of the biggest proponents of each person going once per week? What changed about that?”
“…Nothing,” Erkan said while avoiding looking at Akio.
Akio narrowed his eyes. “Is this about that new barista that showed up last week?”
“No.” Erkan lied with a straight face.
“Really? Because I don’t mind letting you do the coffee run… but I don’t want to take advantage of you.”
“Umm… don’t worry about it.” Erkan shook his head, “I just want to get out of the lab.”
“Well, far be it from me to look a gift horse in the mouth. Good luck man.”