COLUMN: The view from across the street


Trent Jonas

Trent Jonas is a graduate student studying English and can be reached at 217-581-2812.

Trent Jonas, Columnist

Sheer hell. That’s what it looked like to me, standing in front of the shuttered Dr. Smoothie, watching folks clamber for a place in the line snaking out of the bright and shiny damn Dunkin’ that just opened across the street.

I’d been working this corner for the last three years, slinging bootleg donuts to all my regulars, every flipping morning, cruising into town with crates of crullers and fritters.

Then hitting campus, posting up outside Pemberton or Powell-Norton, moving on to MLK Union, and whenever there were leftovers, I knew I could always dump them at the DEN office.

The scurrilous scribes at DEN have pretty much hit rock bottom and would take whatever I had off my hands, no matter the quality. I muled donut holes in places I wouldn’t tell my mother about just so Luke could take the edge off his rainbow sprinkle jones.

I’m not gonna name names, but a certain columnist offered me $20 to let him lick the Boston crème off a piece of wax paper stuck to the bottom of the sack. He hadn’t slept in 96 hours, his face was clammy, shiny with sweat.

Lips dry and cracked, he licked them nervously, eyes darting between the empty bag in my hand and the bill in his shaking fingers. I’m not heartless, I gave it to him for $10 and let him keep the bag, to boot.

But I also have a reputation to maintain. I can’t be handing out that kind of crap, or word’ll get around and my customers will just start buying from the Krispy Kreme lady who works Lawson and Lincoln.

Do you know what I had to do to keep this town rolling in donuts?

I’d get up in the dark and by dawn, be pounding my palm on plate glass in Effingham or, worse, Champaign if I needed to make a big score, dancing from Dunkin’ to Dunkin’ to load up my trunk, stuffing duffels with donuts.

I screamed up and down the I-57 corridor, buzzing with paranoia—hitting the backroads if I thought a cop was onto me. That happened once, you know.

I had a pallet of powdered and baker’s dozen of jelly sticks under my back seat, and as I cruised into Mattoon, I knew I was in the clear. Cranking “Mr. Brightside” on the Sirius, I rolled down the window, pressed the gas and shot across on 16.

She was taking off her dress outside Loxa, when two troopers came out of nowhere and dropped a PIT maneuver on me, blowing the front tire on my juiced-up Neon. One pulled me out of the car and slammed me over the hood.

I told him I was clean, but it was too late. His partner had already ripped out my back seat and thrown it in the ditch. Standing, a white and orange box in his hand, he smiled and held up a finger, an ooze of red jelly festooning its tip.

The pig holding me down smashed my nose into my hood, and then brought a knee up—hard—between my legs. I crumpled to the ground, face to face with what was left of my tire, listened to the cops laughing, yelling to one another, mouths full, as they returned to their cars and sped off.

The got everything, didn’t even leave a stray donut hole—and you know as well as I, that product will never see the inside of an evidence room. Those cops are dirty as a finger in a chocolate donut.

But you know what. I came back from that. I found a used Ford Focus and kept the product flowing. I kept my customers happy—you. I did this for you people.

So this is what it’s come to, eh? A Dunkin’ right here in Charleston. Y’all don’t need me any more? Well, I’ll show you!

I kick a cruller into the street and head home to bury my face in a pyramid of powdered donuts, drop cat pics on the DEN Discord, and shout, “Say Hello to my little fren’!!”

Trent Jonas is an English graduate student. He can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.