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Alison Aleister, Party Planner

words by Faith Gardner
07.14.2011

My new job at the Goodwill suits me because I’m not a people-person person. That is, I don’t mind people – it’s people who like other people I dislike. But Alison Aleister is a people-person. I wouldn’t even know her name except she gave me a business card as I rang up her shopping basket full of mismatched china plates. Like I gave a shit. The card was bruise-purple, and said, Alison Aleister, Party Planner!!! in curly font. With a cartoon of a fucking bunny rabbit with a fucking party hat on its head.

“Like parties?” she asked.

“No,” I lied. But the word “party” means different things to different people, and this woman, in her starched white pantsuit, puke-pink lipsticky smile and high-as-hell heels, was not of my world.

“You’re kidding! Are you kidding?” she asked.

I shrugged.

“Birthdays?”

“They come every year,” I yawned. “So what.”

“Graduations?”

“Education’s retarded.”

“You’re young,” she said. “You must have friends who like parties.”

“Does an orgy count as a party?” I asked.

“I’ll just take the plates,” she said, smiling bigger, taking back her card.

I learned Alison was a Goodwill regular – the most regular Goodwill regular we had, actually. She parked her Beemer out front every other day around five, bought a shopping basket full of china, and left. She annoyed me, always small-talking at the register, complimenting my hair and my tattoos (I can’t stand compliments, what brownnosing bullshit), asking about where I went to school and blah blah blah. And smiling like her face was surgically set that way. After a few weeks I naturally started wondering what in God’s name a blond Beemer-driving party planner with business cards would be doing with all that china.

“How’s the party planning business?” I asked.

“Just fabulous.” She blinded me with a toothpaste-ad smile.

“What do you do with all these dishes, might I ask?”

“Oh,” she said, waving a manicured hand in the air. There was a band of skin whiter than the rest where her wedding ring would be. “You know – charity.”

“What kind of poor people need bone china?”

“Poor people deserve nice things too.”

“How about giving homeless people footrubs?”

“That would be gross,” she said, shaking her highlighted head and blinking her mascara-heavy eyes. “I hate feet.”

On a particularly wonderful day at work, a random customer – a Mohawked guy with Bambi eyes – asked me if I wanted to go to the Flipper show with him that night and I, of course, said yes. Then my boss gave me a ten-cent raise and I found an ashtray shaped like a foot. Plus, I got off early. As Alison Aleister left with her usual box of china, I watched her from my Datsun while it warmed up and spewed sick smoke throughout the parking lot. Through the haze I saw Alison’s Beemer zip away. And I followed.

Besides that time I saw Danzig in a Wal-Mart parking lot, I’d never car-stalked anyone before, though in movies it looked pretty fun. I drove behind Alison just for kicks at first, watching her check her makeup in the rearview as we passed my apartment above the taco joint. We joined the freeway. Where was she going, this party planner, this people-person, this opposite of me? She got off at the marina exit but sped past the marina, onto a dirt road that said “NO OUTLET” where all there was was an old defunct freeway bridge. She parked on the bridge. I parked behind some trees maybe fifty feet away and spied.

She got out of the Beemer and leaned against the railing, gazing at the rocks, graffiti and junk below. I’d gotten drunk and thrown TVs off that bridge countless times, but I couldn’t think of a single reason for Alison to be there. This was where junkies and homeless people and drunk teenagers hung out, not ladies in starched pantsuits with business cards. Unless she was a jumper. There were those.

Shit. Fuck. Not funny.

I grabbed my phone. Was this party planning bitch going to kill herself right now? I dialed a 9 and a 1. My hand shook. Then I heard her opening her trunk, so I looked up.

She put the box on the cement and started chucking china plates into the pit one by one. Whiz. Crash. Whirr. Smash. She screamed like a horror flick chick as she did. Thrashed, possessed. Breaking bone china. Hurling delicate secondhand plates. My heart hammered. The hairs on my neck stood up. When she was done, she threw the empty box in the air and administered a bizarre karate chop, sending it soaring down into the pit below. She got back into the Beemer and drove away, grinning, smoothing her flyway hairs in her rearview. She didn’t see me. My mouth still hung open.

I drove fifty feet forward, got out of my Datsun, and stared down at the pit, at the blizzard of fresh smashed porcelain hiding the annihilated TVs and the broken vodka bottles and the fast food trash.

Faith Gardner lives in Oakland and has work in or forthcoming in PANK, Word Riot and Defenestration. She can be found at faithgardner.com.

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