“Venice” Novel Excerpt by T.J Larkey

I don’t like the sound of it.
“Group interview.”
But I need a job.
It’s getting pathetic.
I’m living off a credit card and the very little money I have saved. Money I made working back home in Arizona and money my father gave me right before I moved here, in the hopes I’d make something of myself.
What I’m saying is, I’m broke.
And still pretty soft.
I looked online, using my neighbor’s internet, and found that a movie theater not far from me is hiring. I sent over a resume and the manager responded a few hours later, telling me to come in tomorrow for a group interview.
And the first thing that goes through my head is NO. I’m not ready. Can’t handle groups, let alone group interviews. I don’t even know what they are. Am I to become part of a group, or are they?
I type it in on my computer and read and read and read, preparing.
If I know what to expect, then I have a chance.
My favorite article that I find is called “How to Nail a Group Interview: Tips, Questions, and Work Simulation Exercises”.
I study it.
I let it become part of me.
I read it again and again until I know every question by heart.

“How do you work in a team?”
I grew up playing sports, so I am very comfortable with the concept. I live and breathe for the team. I love the team. I am the team and the team is I.

“If one of your team members asked you for help with their work, before you are done with your own, how would you react?”
Fuck yeah. You need me to sweep the floor? I’ll sweep. I’ll pick that popcorn up with my bare hands. I’ll slurp that nacho cheese right up. You need help with the bathroom? On it. One of the urinals broken? Easy. I’m the new urinal. For the team, I will serve as a human urinal.

“What is your biggest weakness?”
Well, sir, I’ve got to be honest here. I am too hard on myself. A perfectionist.

“Why do you want this job?”
Ah! I’m glad you asked. One word: Film. I have been a student and lover of film my whole life. Just to be close to it — the magic, the prestige and pageantry — it would be an honor.

And I’m still playing it all in my head over and over as I walk to the interview the next day.
I’m wearing my best t-shirt and my hair is combed back.
I look like an asshole.
Hopefully though, an asshole with a job.
I can see the movie theater ahead of me and a mixture of hope and sickness fills my head like cold wet fingers pushing in through my ears.
I look down at myself, run my hands through my hair, inhaling that magical Californian air, and cross the street toward my destiny.
Ahead of me, a young man in a tucked-in button-down shirt is walking in to the theater. He’s college age, my age, but he looks younger than me somehow, more alive. I watch him as he talks with an employee, smiling confidently, thanking the employee by putting his hands together and bowing slightly.
Then I watch as he walks through a door next to the snack bar.
He’s here for the group interview.
He’s my competition.
And I think, good.
If it were easy, I wouldn’t want it.
Someone once told me that men are like sharks, that when they stop moving and competing, they die. And I am (essentially) a man. A shark. A competitor.
When I get closer to the theater door, I see my reflection. My nicest shirt isn’t so nice and my eyes are sunken in and red and there is a big juicy pimple in the center of my forehead—couldn’t be more symmetrical, pulsing and ready to explode on my fellow interviewees, so noticeable I feel like I’d have to address it.
But that’s okay.
I’ve done my research.
I can do this.
I walk in and head for the door the nicely dressed young man went through. As I pass the snack bar, I can hear two employees talking. They’re saying something about the actress in some new movie.
“If I was that hot,” one of them says, “I’d be in movies too.”
“Yeah, like, she’s not even a good actress!”
“Fucking lucky bitch.”
“Exactly. It’s all luck,” the other says.
And I start to feel physically ill.
The voices of the employees seem really sharp.
The smell of stale popcorn is all around me.
The floor is sticky and my shoes are making a crunching sound as they rip away from the soda-soaked tile.
My mind starts to drift off. The confidence is fleeing along with it. And for some reason my whole body feels hot and starts moving on its own. I’m walking out the door and then I’m on my way home and then I am home and then I’m on the phone with Fresh asking if we can meet up. I find myself in an alleyway behind a smoke shop. Fresh appears and he takes the cigarettes out of my shirt pocket and lights one, then sticks a small bag in the cigarette carton and hands it back to me. I realize it’s my turn so I take out the money from my pocket and we slap hands and bump chests. He says, “later bruh bruh” and then I walk home with the image of the nicely dressed young man smirking at me, like he knows something that I don’t and never will.

“Venice” is available for pre-order and will be released on October 15th,
for more details please visit: https://backpatiopress.bigcartel.com

T.J. Larkey lives in Arizona. He is doing much better now. Also his name really is T.J. He has been called that his whole life. It’s not abbreviated to hide something dorky like Timothy.

Twitter: @Tjlarkey

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