Sunday, June 16, 2013

1. "Blue Collar"

Thinking was an escape. Richard tried to pretend that he was doing something profound in his head, but with a tedious job that required constant motion, there really was little else that he could do. An arbitrary part to a machine of long forgotten purpose had to be placed in a furnace. It was always the same part. There was a scale to the side and a bin for if the part was the wrong weight. After eight years working in the factory, he no longer needed to use the scale and simply tossed the flawed pieces into the bin.

His place was set into stone just as those around him. Philo was to pull the piece out of the furnace’s other side and John was the last in a line of men who manned a machine that placed many bends into the part before it needed to be heat treated in Richard’s furnace. Across the aisle, a new employee was welding that same part to the rest of the machine being carried on a conveyor belt. He had been introduced, but he could not remember this man’s name. As Richard looking back to place the next part into the inferno, he heard a large hydraulic system start up and his thoughts began to drift.

Only this time the thoughts were not an escape. They were instead directed at home to his wife. The years of this living had also taken their toll on her. She was stressed, he was apathetic. This stressed her more. She had to stay in a decaying apartment raising their two young children. But she didn’t need him to clean and she didn’t need him to make repairs. If he would only play with the children over the weekend, she would stop nagging. They needed their father and he had ignored them for far too long.

He tried to explain how his line of work was too tiring for much activity and he needed to rest during that time. Was not the money he was taking home enough to deserve that. He only remembered that she became exceedingly emotional at this point. He did remember a time when she would give him a chance to take back such statements, but that was a long time ago. After some word sparring only intelligible to the two participants, he then left early for a Friday.

The request wasn’t unreasonable. Unlike some, he would not have to force himself upon the children, the older one had asked him on several occasions to be taught how to play baseball. Though that too may have been a few months into the past. With that uncomfortable thought he attempted to turn his mind to something more pleasurable. It was at this moment that something unexpected began to happen.

Given the mechanical movements of not only the machines, but also the workers, something out of place was not difficult to spot. It blazed like a flashing light. The new employee was no longer welding, but simply slumped over the machine. To some extent, this may not have been much of an issue, Richard had seen people electrocuted by the welder before. They usually escaped with some burns and minor memory loss.

However, the man was riding the machine and next in line two more workers were directing a hydraulic system to place another large part onto the machine. Their view was unfortunately obstructed and the noise coming from the hydraulics made communication impossible. In less than a few moments, the new employee would almost certainly be crushed.

In moments like this, time can be either a friend or an enemy. If, for example, Richard had thought about the chances of being able to reach the man in time, he most certainly would not have had enough to do so. But for some reason he did not pause for his customary musing, he simply jumped. Philo would later swear that Richard had flown, but however he made the distance, the unconscious man was in his hands as the large addition clanged on top of the machine.

Word spread quickly, the assembly line grinded to a stop. After the intense clarity of purpose that Richard experienced the rest of the day was a blur. The other workers began to congregate around the scene with a low mumble of words, contrasting with the volume of the assembly line from moments ago. Medics came, taking the potential victim and, to the relief of all, declared that he would be fine. Richard was a hero, at least that was what the others were calling him. The hydraulic operators were terribly embarrassed. He had no response, but to smile weakly.

In a slow factory town, everyone quickly learns of such events and Richard’s wife was anxiously waiting to hear from him. As she worried over his appearance, he brushed her off saying that he was fine and just needed some sleep.

The next morning while eating breakfast, he was not tired and couldn’t distract himself as he was accustomed to do. The previous days events had driven all thoughts from his mind except those that he was trying to hide from for so many years. Indeed, that short moment of clear purpose had awakened him to an old fear. The terror of a meaningless life spent working at a mundane job. After all, what had he given to that unfortunate soul at the factory? A long life welding two pieces of metal together. That was really no different than dying anyway.

As he sat there sulking in a renewed depression, his wife knew well enough to stay away. But his son was oblivious to his fathers fallen mood. Thinking that the man would be happy after his success and would be in the perfect state to remake a request that was over a month old. The man looked to his young son with a face completely empty of emotion.

At first his son’s cheery request for baseball made him angry. Does he not sense how I feel. But then a thought started hereto impossible to find since he began working at the factory. Small as a whisper, then so large it filled his entire being. It banished his myopic worldview, freeing him from the bonds of his growing self centeredness. He no longer needed a distraction for he had finally found his purpose after being blind for so long. It was standing right before him.

“Yes Son, I’d like to do that very much.”

Thank you for actually reading to this point. I hope you enjoyed it, my editor apparently did or maybe he was just shocked that I actually wrote something.

Already working on the next story, so hopefully it will be ready by next week. The actual writing only takes a few hours, the real task is to just get started.


Fun Stats:
Count:    1085 words
Style:     3rd Person Omniscient
Conflict:  vs. Self

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