Underthrow, 11

When the customers began to appear, the Subway shift fell into its usual routine, even on Sarah’s last day. Travis took orders, sliced breads, and assembled the meats and cheese; he passed the sandwich to Sarah, who added vegetables and condiments; she wrapped the sandwich and moved it along to Miles, who took cash or credit before telling customers to have a nice day. Vin ran to the fridge when they were low on peppers or provolone. During the lunch rush, when the order line stretched beyond the front door, they became a mindless assembly line. Travis often found it relaxing, like a long jog around the park, except for the oily skin.

Today, however, Travis wanted to stop; he had to convince Miles to play football. He funneled the anxiety into the job, mishearing three orders, dropping a turkey sandwich meat-down on the floor, and slicing open his index finger while halving six inches of wheat bread.

The latter, at least, brought momentary peace. Travis soaked his finger in the back room sink, watching the blood twirl red ribbons into the hot rushing water. The distraction of stinging pain pulled some of the panic from his afternoon. He wondered if he could drain even more of his adrenaline through the open wound, if only to keep him from tripping over his own feet and decapitating himself with the bread knife.

“Trav,” Miles said, sidling over and putting an arm around Travis. “Let’s make a deal.”

Travis turned away from his damp hand. Miles was sweating; his fingers tapped a rapid gallop along Travis’s shoulder. Even at his most stoned, Miles never came to work this anxious.

“We can play football,” Miles said, “if you need to so bad.” He flashed a smile. “Just do something for me first.”

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