Thomas Mundt is the author of one short story collection, You Have Until Noon to Unlock the Secrets of the
Universe (Lady Lazarus Press, 2011), and the father of one human boy, Henry (2011). Teambuilding opportunities and risk management advice can be found at dontdissthewizard.blogspot.com.
Dustin, age twenty-three, being of relatively-sound mind but questionable hygiene, is still sorting shit out. He would like to make that very clear, and from the jump. His horizons are bright as hell, though, and who are you to say otherwise? Are you saying otherwise? Because, if so, say it to his face. That is just the honorable thing
to do in this scenario. That he learned from 2 Fast 2 Furious. He is giving credit where credit is due.
His possessions are many, ranging from Aéropostale board shorts to every gaming platform on the market from Sega Genesis to the present, all currently stored in his mom’s basement in Jupiter, Florida. Dustin himself is also stored in his mom’s basement in Jupiter, where he sleeps on a semen-enriched futon after nights at The Benches, passing blunts chock-filled with brick weed he would have less-than-politely declined at a party in Tallahassee less than six months ago but now embraces with the gusto of a fourteen-year-old building a launch ramp. He is on a budget, after all. Specifically, he is on mom’s boyfriend’s budget. Mom’s boyfriend’s name is Nasik but prefers “NASDAQ,” a reference to his virtually-unrestricted access to The Means of Production and constant market-watching via smartphone. It is worth noting that NASDAQ’s distressed denim collection is one of the most highly-respected in South Florida and he prefers his automobiles, all five of them, to be of a lemon hue.
NASDAQ is not an Automated Teller Machine, however. This he made abundantly clear to Dustin during a recent trip to Outback Steakhouse, and while Dustin’s mom got up to use the potty. He will assist Dustin in repaying Sallie Mae, as NASDAQ was kind/foolish enough to co-sign on the loan Dustin needed to finance his final two semesters at Florida State, having squandered considerable sums on Jai-Alai wagers and weekend excursions to Lake Havasu, but only because, according to NASDAQ, that shit affects my credit too, bruh. He will also earmark a small allowance for gasoline to ensure that Dustin can make it to and from Jersey Mike’s, his current employer, without having to place a non-emergency call to NASDAQ’s cell just before the NYSE opening bell. Again. NASDAQ is considerably-less enthusiastic about the latter capital expenditure, given that Dustin is presumably well-versed in basic automobile upkeep, including but not limited to the constant need for fuel, but he simply does not have an opening on his Outlook calendar to listen to a whimpering Dustin plead for either the use of his AAA card or the personal assistance of his intern, Caleb. Again. Indeed, Dustin knows this is NASDAQ’s busy time of year.
Consequently, Dustin ekes by, saving approximately .06% of his bi-weekly paycheck in the hopes of eventually moving in with Richie “Bathrobe” Delgado, his former dealer and current mentor in all things adult. Bathrobe, who earned his nom de marchand by greeting clients in the terrycloth Lacoste number he stole from a Sandals lost-and-found, has a townhome a stone’s throw from the Atlantic with an available room, less bed and more laundry in nature. Technicalities aside, it is out of mom’s basement and into Life, and this is where Dustin wants to, nay, must, be. It is imperative that he leave his signature in giant, borderline-ostentatious cursive on Planet Earth and all known galaxies, and in the presence of a Notary Public so as not to arouse suspicion as to its authenticity. It is the specifics of doing so, the getting from Point A to Point B without Q’s fucking everything up, that vex Dustin.
Open a tire shop? A tired cliché. A different kind of tire shop, one that also sells tortas and, for reasons yet unknown to Dustin and his small-but-trusted circle of prospective investors, attracts a disproportionate number of fetching female Snowbirds looking to reinvent themselves sexually, post-divorce? His options are plentiful, crippling in their sheer quantity.
Dustin does not fret, however, realizing there is still sand in the hourglass. It is merely a question of volume. Rome was not built in a day, and neither was the Epcot Center. The former was reduced to rubble and rebuilt, or so he has been told, while the latter continues to thrive. Still, there is the unfortunate case of Bandit to consider. At age six-and-three-quarters, Dustin was under the impression that his prized hamster was immortal, that no deity, Western or otherwise, would dare muss his oily, sawdust-freckled fur, much less smote him. And yet, The Lord up and decided that Bandit was too beautiful for this world and claimed him as His own, and as Dustin and his father, Glenn, watched the 1995 NBA Draft. They took turns blowing into Bandit’s mouth and performing chest compressions as one young black male after another shook Commissioner Stern’s hand and smiled, graciously accepting Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets and Indiana Pacers ballcaps with the tags still attached, but it proved futile. It was at his father’s funeral four years later, Glenn having lost a piece of his skull during a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, that Dustin made a solemn vow that the lessons of Draft Day ‘95 would not be forgotten, misremembered, or molested in any way, shape, or form.
No fool, Dustin acknowledges that there is a coffin with his name on it too, preferably one with a jack for the Beats by Dre™ headphones on which he is currently bidding on eBay. He also realizes that, not unlike this particular auction, which happens to be ending in six days, twenty-two hours, seven minutes, and thirteen seconds, he can either be Life’s Winning Bidder or toil among the poor schmucks awaiting a Second Chance Offer.
Only, there are no Second Chance Offers in Life. This Dustin believes, despite keeping an open mind with regards to both reincarnation and Re-Animator-style advances in medicine. Thus, he will continue to put his best foot, his right one, forward and always keep his polo shirt tucked in while working the register, per the dictates of Jersey Mike’s New Valued Team Member training video (Cutting the Mustard, a JM Productions Joint, 2010). He will keep the door to mom’s basement open a smidge, just enough to the let the light in.
Unless Dustin brings a girl home from Bottomless Wings Night at O’Hanahan’s, in which case he will most certainly lock said door, so as to protect the privacy interests of his partner.