I was excited to pick the Russian up from the mall. It was just like way back when, I’d take to him to or from whatever retail store he was working at this week.

When we first met, I had just melted down at whatever high stress $75k IT job I had at that time and I’d run off to Key West.

My boss at the time was a programmer, and the day I announced I wasn’t returning again he had picked up a remote control and pointed it at me and said “if I could program you and make you stay, I would.”

I looked out my boss’s window at the bullpen where development sat, and grimaced:

“Okay, I’ll let you program me but don’t let those guys program me or I’ll have even more bugs and quirks than I already do now.”

He asked me if I had a drug problem or if I was mentally ill.

I snorted and asked “why can’t it be both?”

I was never seen or heard from again.

I was delivering packages for UPS Sonic and a local trucking company whenever I needed to pay my rent or get some beer money. Lyft and Uber didn’t exist back then so people like me just picked up and delivered packages and you had to kind of know logistics and have some connections to get an in and just work if and when you fucking felt like it.

The Russian worked his ass off and I mostly sat around the house watching cartoons and eating cereal in my underwear back then.

I really hated malls, both then and now, but as I recall I was always free to take him to or from work.

And so there I was again sitting in the parking lot of one of those awful fucking things waiting for this boy to get off of work so I could put on some cartoons and let him put his head on my chest again and I found myself thinking that I feel like I’ve done this forever.

I’d have all the time in the world now, just as I did back then… but not him so much. We’d only have a few hours until his alarm would go off and I’d have to take him back to the stupid fucking mall again.

Just like back then.

I’d inevitably grumble that he’s lucky I like him so much because I won’t even get up at 7:00 in the morning for my own fucking job.

Just like back then.

I’d barely put the car into drive when he started telling me about his new obsession with Oreo McFlurries and how he wants to fuck the hot cashier at McDonalds.

He described how he had it planned out in his mind already, the cashier was going to be shirtless and wearing suspenders and leather pants.

Not like pleather or leather queen circuit boy leather, he made sure to point out:

Mote like a soft raw animal hide.

The cashier would be sitting on an iron throne like that one show from HBO, except that instead of iron swords this particular throne would be made of waffle cones and frostee cups and it would be called “Game of Cones.”

All of this had flashed through his mind in the three or four seconds that the cashier had to greet him and ask him if he was ready to order yet.

He decided that he was going to perform sexual favors for the cashier in exchange for his Oreo McFlurries because he was poor.

I side eyed him and asked him “so would that make you a FROST-itute?”

His eyes lit up and he yelled “I MISSED YOU!”