Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Lost Shoe Anthologies 004: Timberland Work Boot

 Another day, another back ache. And finger ache from smashing it yesterday with a rubber mallet. Oh, and an eye ache from getting metal shavings thrown in it like glitter on stripper tits. The list goes on and on. Mike was exhausted. Worn out. Mike had very little will to get in his truck and drive forty-five minutes to another sweltering construction site off Rt. 66. Who were they kidding?! Rt. 66 would NEVER be completed… nothing was ever good enough or WIDE enough for those entitled, rushed mongoloids inhabiting Northern Virginia. Everybody had to pile down the roads, back and forth, in their electric vehicles at the exact same times. Which really was all day every day. No matter what time of day. There was always traffic, even at 03:30AM on a Tuesday. Mike slid into his stinking truck cab, odor reminiscent of yesterday's dismay and today’s trepidation. He never took his lunch scraps out from yesterday so add compost to the myriad of notes assaulting his snout. The only reason he dragged himself through each day was his family at home. If it wasn’t for him, they’d probably be knocking on the door of the nearest Catholic Ministry or raiding every Little Free Pantry this county had to offer. Each day, Mike drew closer and closer to cracking; closer to punching someone, namely his boss, right in his smart-ass-flappin’-lips. If he “forgot” to submit Mike’s punch card one more time, he’d punch his light’s out. Permanently. Yes, murder. This is how tired, burnt, broken, thirsty, sore and addled he felt. Maybe prison would be the reprieve he needed. He inched down the highway, nearing his mile marker exit for his particular construction site. “Just try  me. Just fuckin’ try me, today, CHUCK.” Mike growled under his breath. His rage was present when he woke up this morning; normally it takes a couple hours at the work site to build but, he arose with a will. A will to kill. “Michael? Are you ok? You look… not good” his wife had carefully questioned this morning as she tenderly placed yet another sandwich into his lunch cooler. She always meant well, but this was another straw on the camel’s slowly fracturing back. Mike had been eating sandwiches for 35 years straight. For once, he just wanted to eat leftover Chinese or grab a slice of hot pizza and eat it the same day he bought it. Nope. Not on their budget. So he had silently trudged out the door, grateful to have sustenance of any kind. Mike had a flash of a realization: if anything happens today, and he cracks: he may never see his family again. He should’ve kissed his wife goodbye. The girls? Mike wasn’t a kisser or a hugger so that would’ve set off alarm bells. No. He did right. He’ll just try to hold it together. Mike had several job applications in at various companies; he just had to wait for a nibble and he’d be safe. Benefits, predictable work schedules, maybe a company cell phone and company luncheons. Mike’s heart fluttered at the idea of a decent job environment but his joy was quickly squashed, like a jack-o-lantern on November 1, when he pulled into his entrance. He stepped one steel-toed boot out into the dust and was immediately approached by his boss, Chuck. “Good morning, Chuck” he pushed the words out like a dry, post-Percocet poop. Painful. Soul searing. Chuck grinned, elated at Mike’s defeated appearance. “Hi, Mike! Great news! You and I will be working together on the excavator. I need that pitch re-graded”. Mike nodded slowly and slogged over to the machine indicated by Chuck’s enthusiastic pointing. Once he had climbed up in the cab, the silence was a relief. Chuck walked toward the pile in question and motioned for Mike to bring the bucket around. Mike obeyed, like a trained monkey, mind as numb as his smashed finger. As he lowered and extended the bucket, Chuck gestured, leaning on the bucket to have Mike open the window. He wanted to communicate a more detailed demand but Mike’s monkey brain saw an opportunity. He quickly scooped Chuck into the bucket; Chuck’s eyes shocked and wide. He lifted Chuck higher and higher, planning to drop him from a great height. This murder would be deemed an accident, surely. They were behind a large pile of dirt and nobody could see them. He tipped the bucket down, to deposit Chuck like a small and disappointing turd but Chuck hung on! A dingleberry! Mike panicked and started maneuvering the bucket back and forth, trying to shake Chuck off but Chuck was gripping hard. All those late and lonely Friday nights had inadvertently prepared him for his day. Mike resorted to spinning the entire excavator, like a top, around and around. Centrifuging Chuck’s blood down into his feet, swelling each clopper until his work boots popped off and flew across the construction sight. Finally, Chuck couldn’t hold on anymore and he, too, soared away into the morning sun, swiftly following one of his Timberland work boots towards Rt. 66. Mike breathed a sigh of relief but his glee was quickly replaced by anxiety as he heard the screaming arise from the other side of the dirt mountain. Mike sat, slowly opening his lunch box, and started chewing on his likely last sandwich he’d ever have to endure. 

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