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[size=1]The breath of something new was in my face. I looked into the mirror, looked at my face and thought it to also look new.

I changed from my Pink Floyd T-shirt into the red, now so familiar, KFC shirt. I placed the cap on my head, placing my hands on the bill and curving it. And then I looked in the bathroom mirror again. Something new, again, breathed me in the face.

I was here. Had obtained what I'd sought the entire Summer like a maggot needing dead tissue to evolve any further. I had found that dead, decaying tissue I needed to evolve any further.

I stepped out of the bathroom, fully dressed, fully paved and sent into the service of KFC as a trainee Colonel. Walking over to Cindy, my shift superviser, I played with the bill of my hat like some shy girl twisting her hair, flipping it around and over in a sly motion.

Cindy introduced me to Hailey, a fellow co-worker. I again fumbled around with my hat a few times as I introduced myself to her. After accosting our greetings, we were sent out to sit in the dining room area since it was not yet time for our shift.

We sat at the table, the sun hitting our eyes, our hands and legs propped here and there on the table in helter-skelter fashion. Hailey then asked me a few questions. None of which was of too much importance, and none which I cared for. Yet I still kept kindness enough to answer.

She asked me questions such as what school I went to, how old I was, and other merely inquisitive nudges. Not that I thought she would ask anything too personal.

After enough time had passed, we were taken to working. I had no idea what yet was my purpose, so I was of course taken to a trainer. And my first task was to learn how to prepare the chicken, I soon found. Cindy sent me in the back, and there I was met with another new person, Matt.

Matt was rather tall, perhaps lanky. He stood out to me, buried under his hat, just like me, and pointed to get a plastic apron on. He said it all in his kind matter.

From then on the day flew on. I became sheltered yet still frostbitten with my surroundings. The numb feel of the dead, chopped pieces of bloody chicken in my hands became just another thing. The feel of the flour as it swished and painted the chicken to its breaded whole become just another twitch.

Entirely the place had this dirty feel to it. Breaded chicken flakes crunched the floor. The heavy aroma of oil and chicken entwined into a heating gloop. Flour stained my clothes to a ghastly white, like I'd become some lost and ambling spirit. People rushed to and back, gaining on about their jobs, servicing as fast as humanly they could.

That first day I paid intent attention to Matt. I listened with the ears of some deceptive, acceptive dog. I asked and prodded and obtained with the wonderful crushing of a hand.

When the day was done, I went home, tired, drained. A maggot too nauseous of its eating.

From then on five weeks elapsed like a wide-eyed, howling moon. During these weeks I learned more of the same, and some other new tasks. I met other fellow workers, and was further along trained as an aspiring Colonel.

Tim was the main one I now remember. He was almost like me in many ways. He liked music, he wore glasses, and was very satirical and sarcastic. We got right along in the jaded concessions of the KFC, often talking of nothing much.

Tim often told of how the other night he had gotten, or was going to get "**** faced," as he so put. He was not alone as the only one that drank alcohol that worked there.

There was Robin, a fat, bellyached man that appeared to be in his forties. He rode his bike to work, and worked another job along with this one. Looking at him it was easy to see that alcohol was in some part of the equation with him. Not to mention I'd often wonder if what I smelled on his breath was alcohol, or if when he sweated if it was beer he was outpouring by the gallons.

Robin, too, was not even alone. John, another worker there, also drank beer, and often proclaimed it loudly enough that most knew of it. One time I had even seen him carrying a whole cooler cased with it, and filling it with ice from the ice box.

It seems alcohol was a thing brought and somehow linked and beaten into my workplace. I even remember one day while I was absentmindedly mopping the dining room that a man had staggered in like a groaning zombie. His eyes were glazed in a stupefied haze. He walked to the front and Cindy started taking his order.

The man said something near to, "Ah'd like sum chikun." It came out all slurred, visceral. Like the way raw, red, bleeding hamburger looks.

Cindy asked how many pieces. After a long time of drunken deliberation, he continued stuporing around as if in some backdrop of his mind he was processing the human genome, and the rest of his brain cells were locked in their chains and behind their bars. Then with some childish yet childless drivel he finally ordered how many pieces. Even then he continued to stand there doing nothing as Cindy read out his total.

He stood like this for what was the longest time. Then finally, digging into his pockets as if he was digging for the root of some deep weed, he came out with a few scattered one dollar bills. Cindy asked him if he had more. He dug again, this time bringing even more out, this time enough. Cindy then gave him back his change, told him kindly his order would be out soon, and was off on her way to pack it.

The man, upon receiving his order, sat down and just ripped the package holding the chicken to hell. He ate like some starved waif, groveling and chewing harshly and so loud you could hear the smacking of his teeth. It sounded like some loud cow chewing on long prairie grass that was prematurely born as a pig, it was so loud and boisterous.

Having just mopped the area where this guy had made his mess, I was forced to do it all over again. I did so, having to sweep up demeated legs, thighs, and wings that looked like some bone collector's lost fortune. Not to mention all the little scraps and pieces of ripped and gutted paper that looked something like clattered pieces of obtuse glass.

That done, it was then time to clean the bathrooms. This I was really not inclined to be forced to do. Cindy said she might have seen the guy go in there.

Eventually Tim got enough guts to go in. He didn't even seem too shaken from it at all, and I guess grafting myself to his mind, I wouldn't either. It probably was something relatively commonplace to him. The guy luckily wasn't in there.

I certainly wouldn't have gone in there. I had had this horrible picture of what it would look like inside: all this barf and phlegm showering the walls, the guy lying there on the ground like some life-sized blow up doll that's too lifelike to be one in the first place.

It did kind of seem like alcohol just had its own face there. And seeing this, I began to gather some thoughts about my long-term time working there.

I began thinking I had been doing a good job. I thought that probably I was more adept than anyone else. I certainly didn't say anything like that, or say I was better. Nor did I think it, but I knew if people like this could work there, then there must be some room for me.

Yet it is funny how as certain something can be, how uncertain it can become.

It was a few days after I had worked nearly ten hours on The Fourth of July that it happened. That day I was assigned as a cook. It was easy enough.

I remember clearly John saying that I was the most messy person that had ever worked there. I had looked at him, brushed at the usual thick dust of flour all over my hands and apron, thinking why he'd even said it. I simply came to the thought that at least I wasn't afraid to get down and dirty and into my job.

Also I remember Tim being there, and him asking me what was wrong. It is strange remembering this now, it sort of feels like he knew something. Maybe he already had known what was to happen that day?

Near the end of my shift I had been cleaning out the vents all about the kitchen. When we were finally finished with this, Diane, the owner of the KFC, beckoned me into her office like some anonymous felon.

Diane, while I had been working at KFC for my five weeks, had been on vacation time, living it up on some beach of sand, sun, and fun. Walking into her office I knew just what was going to happen. It was all over her face like some casual mess trying to not crumble all over a cleansed floor.

She sat me down next to her, staring at me. She began by explaining that she had gotten some "complaints" from my gracious fellow co-workers. One had complained that I had a bad habit of always putting my hands in my pockets, she said. Another had claimed I didn't know how to pack chicken good enough.

And then it was like a boxing match, her fat girth suddenly transformed into lean, muscular being. She hit me with the last and finally degrading punch.

"I don't know what to do. I've wasted all the hours training you already. You should know how to at least work the till by now." I just stared at her, everything seeping in like blood seeping back into an open wound.

I should know how to work the till by now? Well just look here now. You're the one that sets the pace at which I learn my job, you are the ones that train me. So you're telling me it's my fault I haven't learned the till? If you wanted me to learn it, then you should've done so.

I didn't say a thing. I only sat there thinking that, telling myself that I was sure that part of it was me probably. But lookie here, lookie here. Ms. Queen of the Chicken was on vacation. I'm supposed to pick up the slack of your absence and learn as fast as I am supposed to?

Then it was time for another punch even though I was done and gone and out. "You haven't even learned how to pack chicken yet. You should have that nearly mastered by now." I just glared at her, not saying a word. "Do you even know how to pack?"

"Somewhat," I said. I could've said that I did. I could've told her that I actually mostly did. But what was I? I was a little colonel, I was a yodeling cajoling little Barney the Dinosaur. I didn't know jack. And it was pointless to tell her the truth, I could see it in her pig eyes that I wasn't going to get out of this. So I kept shut.

"Somewhat. So you see, you should have it all down by now. So I'm going to let you go. You could've been a cook, but Arnold already has that."

So then it was all over, and I left. I drove off and drove home like a maniac. I was pissed. Yet I didn't know what to feel. Defeat? Anger? Hate? What was I to feel?

I had loved working at KFC. I had met friends in my coworkers. And just like that, bang, I was gone.

A few weeks later I remember getting a little something in the mail from KFC. It was a champion card, the ones used to award those that had done some special work. They were used to claim a worker of the month, who got to park at a special spot at KFC, and got paid some higher wages.

The card was filled out by Tim. On it it read, "For doing a good job to help close." Then his signature. I was surprised when I got it, also somewhat sad that I had never gotten to really be anything with Tim. But I suppose it wouldn't have been any real friendship, other than at KFC. Still, it is kind interesting to try and see what it would have been like if I hadn't gotten fired.[/size]
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