doug | by Theo Francis

i used to work at a movie theater

actually, i used to work at 2

one when i was 19 and another when i was 27

both jobs were horrible and i drank a lot in both eras

because i hated myself and i wanted to die

not immediately, nothing acute

i had plans to die in my 30s, from one complication or another

that was the kind of self-hatred i could deal with

the enduring kind, the kind that would always be there

and that fed on a series of deadend jobs

but at the second theater job, the one where i was older

and should’ve known better

we had an assistant manager named mark

mark was short and had a goatee

and looked like his wife dressed him

and never really smiled

and didn’t really serve any managerial function

but he wore a tie

while the rest of us wore filthy white aprons

so when he came around we’d feign labor

and he’d be like, working hard or hardly working

that kind of guy

one day, my coworker referred to him as doug

he was like, yeah, doug is so boring

and we were all like, doug who

and he was like, you know, the assistant manager dude

and we were like, that’s mark

and he was like, mark? i thought his name was doug

he looks like a doug

and we were like, shit man, you’re right

he is a doug

from then on, he was doug

we’d talk about doug to other coworkers

like, man, has doug ever laughed

and they’d be like, doug who

and we’d be like, you know, the assistant manager dude


but he looks like his name should be doug

and they’d be like, shit, i can’t believe it

you’re right

he is a doug

once, after hours, after doug had punched out

we roasted doug

i mimicked his walk, which looked stilted and unnatural

like he was always trying to hide the fact he shat his pants

or like the blockheads from gumby

one of the servers, brian, declared a war on dougs

one of the bartenders, ryan, said that doug always looked like a pile of dirty laundry

i thought his description was on point, but i was still pissed at ryan

because he had recently stormed into the kitchen

singled me out

and bitched at me, of all people

for “fucking with his money”

because a certain panini was taking too long

and his customers were getting impatient

and he thought that i personally was to blame

even though someone else was doing sandwiches

i’d deadpanned, you seem upset

and he’d said, motherfucker where’s the muffuletta, i’m losing money here

and i’d said, it’s on the fucking grill, “motherfucker”

and i’d put “motherfucker” in air quotes

and probably moved my neck & shoulders in a sassy manner

and he’d asked if i wanted to “take it outside”

not in air quotes, but just as ridiculous

and i’d deadpanned again, you are upset aren’t you

and ryan had stormed off

anyway, that was why i didn’t congratulate him on his succint description of doug

but it was true

doug looked like and had the personality of a pile of old clothes from marshall’s

baggy khakis, cheap shirts with ties that didn’t match

i was always scared that he would find out that we called him doug

and not by his real name

because it was somewhat cruel

but also absurd

to resort to namecalling when you’re 27

i thought about people thinking i was ridiculous

which i was

and saying that i looked more like a tucker

or a tyler

and not a theo

and i knew that i’d be pissed and sad

but as far as epithets go

doug isn’t that bad

i’ve heard worse



Theo Francis has appeared in FanzineEntropyFaded OutUncle Ken Presents, and other publications. He is working on a manuscript of poems. You can reach him at and @faketheofrancis