Piece of Work

by L. D. Victory © 2001

Everything went wrong at work. They kept hassling me, especially Glitch.

That's the kid. There's always a kid like that on my ass, it may as well be the same person. Things went all wrong.

I thought I was done with the shipping, I had even punched out, but then another stack appeared. The girl, Tamara, said to just punch back in. I was about to say something nasty but kept quiet. Already I'd insulted her that night and she had never done me any harm. In fact she was sort of in love with me.

So finally it was all done. I gathered up my things. Then Glitch took my jacket. He ran with it. I'd have to fight him for it, that's what he wanted. "Keep it, you little shit," I said, even though my pills were in there. I went through the break room where they were all sleeping or smoking or drinking coffee. None of them said anything. They never say anything in there, not even hello or good-bye.

I went on through to the elevator banks. Tamara was waiting for me. Then the wall phone rang.

"For you," she said, handing it over.

It was my wife. Before she even spoke I knew it was to tell me she would be late.

She said, "It's me." Regret in her voice. Fear, maybe.

"OK. What is it this time?" I said.

She put her lips up tight against the mouthpiece so it muffled what she said.

"There's a tang frowering cowdown," she whispered. I could hear the urgency now.

I said, "What? What?"

"There's a TANG frowering cowdown!" She was breathing hard.

"I didn't get it," I told her. "Say again."

I just heard breathing. Then the line went dead. I hung up the phone.

There were stacks and stacks of shipping. The sun was coming up, burning along the loading docks. Glitch was out there. He was looking at me with his arms folded across his caved in chest. He was eating my pills. I knew they'd kill him but I wasn't telling. All he had to do was read the warning on the label.

"Come on," the girl said. She dragged me by the hand over to the time clocks. She punched out.

"I'll go home with you," she said. "We can just touch each other all over. That'll be OK, won't it?"

"I guess so," I said. "It'll have to be."

We left.

x x x

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