In today’s addition to our New Voices catalog, Gabriel Welsch explores what it means to hold yourself accountable for your actions. Zeke, on his first night back, helps his aunt Cici with a charity event at her restaurant. But then the judge who sent him to juvie pulls in. Read the excellent “Casino Night” below.
“I think, Does he have any fucking clue? I could drive this car away. I could ram it into a telephone pole.”
I’m not there five minutes and Cici’s going off on me: Big college boy. Too smart to clear a few tables. Too good to work in the kitchen. I thought she’d go after me for wearing a shirt with a collar, but she didn’t go that way. That’s not how it was going to go down.
“Why you giving me shit? Why you gotta be that way?”
She grins as if it’s supposed to disarm me. It makes me even more pissed, but she is surrounded by a bunch of volunteer firefighters moving cases of soda and beer in from a truck. Church ladies are straightening their blouses every time they do anything. One is stacking napkins. One is making piles of ones and fives for change, and another is taking the cellophane off stacks of playing cards. Night’s coming, and I can see that they are all working hard and don’t care to notice me one way or the other.
“What do you need me to do?”
She nods her head toward the front of the restaurant. “Sweep,” she says. And I do. I tap myself a pitcher of beer for inspiration, and before long, it’s easy to sweep in long, easy pushes, like I am getting all Zen in a world competition of sweeping. For the first time in weeks it feels like I am good at something.