8: “But, hey, you like God”

Joey had seen the forgiving face of Jesus and had come away changed. Granted, it had been a drug-induced hallucination, but it counted. He had given up the high stakes life of drug dealing and had gotten himself a legitimate job. The problem with that was that Joey hadn’t ever really had a legitimate job and had very few marketable skills, unless you counted being able to run away from danger really quickly and swindle assholes out of drug money. He was good at both of those things. He could also take a punch really well, but that also wasn’t something to put on a resume. He did manage to get a job, though, primarily by lying about his background in “sales” and having Vinny pretend to be a legitimate job reference.

He’d been working for a full two weeks before Robin noticed. Robin happened to be up early on a Wednesday for a morning shift at the record store. Joey left his room in a pressed shirt and a nice pair of trousers. Robin, who was sitting on the couch in a pair of ripped jeans and a t-shirt eating a massive bowl of cereal, looked up at him in shock.

“What’re you doing?” Robin asked as if Joey was doing something outlandish simply by wearing trousers.

“I don’t understand the question, dickhead,” Joey returned, continuing on his way to the kitchen to get his own breakfast.

“Why are you dressed like that?” Robin clarified, twisting around in his seat so that he could track Joey’s movements. “Did someone die?”

“Oh yeah, Vinny’s dead,” Joey replied. Robin stared at him for a moment.

“What? Really?” He checked.

“No, dumbass,” Joey snorted. “I’m going to work.”

Robin frowned at him for a long time, likely trying to work out why Joey had dressed up to sell drugs out of a backpack in the far corner of a Best Buy parking lot.

“What?” He asked eventually, evidently deciding that that one word effectively summed up all of his questions at once.

“I got a job,” Joey shrugged, leaning back against the kitchen counter while he waited for his toast to toast.

“What?” Robin repeated.

“I work at Cell Phone Emporium,” Joey shrugged again. Robin stared at him for a long time. He looked stunned. His cereal was probably getting mushy.

“You got a job at Cell Phone Emporium,” Robin repeated dubiously. Joey nodded.

“Yes. It’s a great fit for me because of my background in sales.”

Robin raised an eyebrow at that, but Joey only laughed.

As it turned out, Joey hated working at Cell Phone Emporium. He’d only been there for two weeks and he already hated every part of it. Cell Phone Emporium sold countless brands of cell phones at various discounted prices. Joey was partly convinced that half of the products were coming from the black market in China, but he was fine with that. He was used to a certain level of dubious morals and selling cell phones to morons at a box store that may or may not have been getting shipments of Samsungs from triad members was pretty far from the most corrupt thing Joey had ever done.

Joey worked alongside some of the worst people in the world. There was Ernie, an older divorcee struggling to make alimony payments to his aggressive ex-wife. He complained all the time, usually about alimony payments and his aggressive ex-wife, but also about losing his hair and the length of his teenage daughter’s skirts. They were, apparently, much too short. She’d come into the store one day so that her father could drive her home after school and Joey was inclined to agree that they were much too short.

But Ernie and his constant complaints were nothing compared to Chad, Brad, and Thad. They were a trio of idiots. They were in constant competition with each other, each vying to be the top salesman of discounted cell phones, but they remained endlessly supportive of one another nonetheless. That was the worst fucking part. They were always slapping each other on the ass and calling each other bro. Joey fantasized about smacking each of them in the face multiple times per day.

To complete his transformation to reformed citizen, Joey had decided to find religion. Seeing as Jesus had already spoken to him once, he figured he was well on his way. He continued to go to church every Sunday morning, but he stopped using it as a way to purchase large quantities of drugs from Beezy and started paying attention to the actual sermons. What Joey primarily learned was that there used to be a lot more lepers in the world and his attention span was very short. Regardless, he was determined. He decided to go to Bible Study. That would surely enlighten him. He tried to make Robin come with him.

“Uh, that’s a hard pass from me, bro,” Robin said in response, before turning to Finch, who was over. “But, hey, you like God.”

Finch gave him an unimpressed look.

“Why don’t you go to Bible Study?” Robin continued. Finch glared at him again.

“Because I don’t want to go to Bible Study,” Finch answered darkly.

“Yeah, but you like church,” Robin countered.

“Come on, sweetheart, I’ll buy you a milkshake after,” Joey offered with a grin. Finch glared at him instead. But in the end, Finch came to Bible Study.

As it turned out, Joey didn’t enjoy Bible Study. It was full of old people who had incredibly strong opinions on Bible stories that Joey hadn’t even bothered reading. He was beginning to suspect he wasn’t a very good Christian.

“How do people care so much about this?” He asked Finch while they were taking a break. He had dragged Finch outside so he could have a smoke.

“Religion?” Finch returned shrewdly, one eyebrow raised. He was standing partially in the shadow from the vaulted roof of the church so his facial features were slightly distorted. He looked demonic. Standing outside of a church, it felt more scandalous than it should’ve.

When Joey was at work the following day, he tripped Thad while he was rushing to help a customer who had just entered Cell Phone Emporium. Thad stumbled into a display of auxiliary cords and it brought Joey a lot of joy, which was how he knew he wasn’t a good Christian after all.


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