John worked at Café Loca in the valley for twenty years as the resident busboy. He shuffled around on an inflated body in one pair of pants that were hemmed too short. Way too short. Sweating. While he didn’t technically get breaks at work, he could be found from time to time taking one anyway, resting in the storage room with the short pants off of his body and draped over a chair, lounging with a radio on his belly. John liked every kind of music and for having English as a second language he was particularly impressive with his memory of lyrics. It was probably a gift.
He could be seen and heard singing a pop hit from any era at any given moment, occasionally substituting a waitresses’ name into a jam to really personalize the love songs. They would laugh and pat his arm.
John was alone in family and in love and yet not very lonely. He would come home from a shift to a hot apartment that was full to the brim with sports paraphernalia and newspapers, idol candles and action figures. Random items made a home for him, and his homemade a life, so his coworkers often passed along their castoffs. He particularly loved other people’s shoes, since they had lived on other people’s feet and he could feel the life in them. Since they often didn’t fit his own feet he would sometimes hold them and imagine where they had been. Leather and canvass stories.
His prized possession though, was the karaoke machine that his manager’s daughter had outgrown. It was loaded with poppy top 40, just the way he liked. Juan would kick off his shoes and sing into the night, toes shuffling through the carpet, before sitting down to a feast of spaghetti and tacos on his TV tray. He’d fall asleep mid-meal sitting up in his recliner, and come morning finish the leftovers before heading back to the café, eager to see what sort of treasures the new day would bring.