Secret Lives of my Coworkers-4Submitted by monkeyswithguns at 2008-09-30 13:53:46 EDT
Rating: 1.75 on 37 ratings (37 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
What I know: Rick has been here as long as I have, which is to say, he was working for our company before our company was a company. I’ve worked with him on the road, delivering products, and in the warehouse, bending large quantities of steel to precise specifications. To say he’s a workaholic would be a vast understatement. The guy practically lives here.
Rick is from the same area around the VA/NC border that I’m from, though he’s a good 10 years older than me. However, he’s almost entirely illiterate. Whenever we had to deliver products, I always had to read out directions, and tell him which street to turn on to. I’m pretty certain that he’s got a firm grasp of numbers, and can make out the vital words necessary for work, such as colors, and specifications, but to ask him to read something like “The Cat in the Hat” would be a stretch.
Rick is also a HUGE black guy. Six foot five and weighing in at around 350 pounds of pure muscle mass, and having a criminal record for serving jail time for assault, nobody fucks with him, but knowing him as long as I have, he’s harmless. The only reason he assaulted the guy was that he found him screwing his previous baby-mama. He didn’t kill him, but the guy is probably much more careful about the women he screws now.
Rick loves rap music almost as much as country music, and he’s devoted to the sport of hunting rabbits. Redneck to the bone, and NASCAR is his life when hunting season is off and it’s too cold to fish. This isn’t said to diminish his “black-ness” however, as he has a weakness for the black man’s kryptonite, trashy young white girls. He recently had a baby with one who worked for us.
As he’s been with the family business for so long, and been so devoted, he’s as much a member of the family now as I am, and treats me like a kid brother, and shows up at every family function, funeral, birthday, or Thanksgiving. It’s not that he doesn’t have a family of his own, as I’ve met (and been subsequently hit on) by his older “Aunt Lulu,” who wanted to introduce me to some brown sugar. I didn’t take her up on it, not because of race, but because she’s 50, and lacking some key teeth. She also taught me how to suck the marrow out of a chicken bone, to use as a blunt holder when it gets too short. (Has anyone else ever seen this?)
That being said however, he doesn’t talk about his family often, only occasionally mentioning his father, who worked for a railroad company that’s long been out of business, and how he was never around, always on the rails, fathering children up and down the east coast.
The only thing I don’t like about Rick is his limitless hatred of cats. For some reason, he just hates them entirely. I’ve seen him pull his .22 out and pick them off of fence railings for fun. Jack McCallum may not want to read this story.
Now for speculation:
Rick carries the bundle of rebar in one hand, the sledgehammer in the other. He’s off to pin down some railings before going back to his warehouse and making Saul the Mexican jump to work, which doesn’t take much. Rick likes Saul because of this, but distrusts him because he’s an immigrant. Bend after bend, they produce the day’s quota, and Saul heads home while Rick finishes up and pulls around back to feed his beagles before going home.
The light of the setting sun causes him to squint, but he loves the colors, the shades of cantaloupe flesh and wisteria, blending into the cool blue sky. It’s the same as in the morning, only in reverse.
He hops in the ragged, battered diesel truck, fires it up, and lets it run while he lights his cigarette. A movement catches his eye, a scraggly cat perched atop a fencepost, and while he wants to take a quick shot, there’s a house in the background, so he steps out and throws a rock instead. His shot misses the cat and post entirely, but hits the fence, and the cat jumps down and scampers away into the waist high grass behind the fence. Disgruntled, he gets back in the truck, and drives out of the gate, locking up, another day done.
Arriving home, his girlfriend Sara is sitting on the front steps with the newborn baby in her lap. She’s smoking a cigarette, and fanning the wisps of white upward and away, and gives him a kiss before telling him that his dinner is in the microwave. He walks in, takes off his boots, causing a loud thump when they hit the floor, and his first born daughter, Nikayla runs in and jumps on his back, ready to wrestle. Picking her up, he carries her into the kitchen over his shoulder, and sets her down at the table, telling her to get her book out and read to him while he eats before she goes to her room to finish her arithmetic lessons.
He begins to eat the roast beef and potatoes while she reads about an anthromorphic cat causing chaos in a house while it’s raining and their mother is out. At the mention of the cat, the hairs on the back of his neck stand up like bristles on a razorback, but he just laughs and says “I hope that cat don’t come here and wreck our place!” She continues to read while he eats, and he occasionally glances over at the squiggly lines on the pages, and wonders which ones mean cat, or if she’s even reading the book correctly or just making it up.
She occasionally asks him how to say a word, and he tells her to try like her teacher taught her, and once she gets halfway through, he tells her “That’s right” and helps her finish. He’s hoping she’ll never know about his inability, but he knows that day will come all too soon. Maybe he’ll try to learn before that day comes, if he can find the time.
Finishing up, she runs off to study, and he puts the dishes in the sink. Sitting down in the living room, and taking his baby from her mother while she goes to finish up in the kitchen, he clicks on the television, and channel surfs until he sees Larry the Cable Guy, then reclines back, baby quite safe in his massive arms, and begins to doze off.
He sleeps restlessly, dreaming the same nightmare he always does, huge cats chasing him and his dogs through the forest.
He runs as fast as he can, but he’s too big to fit through the brambles, and his dogs leave him behind.
He’s panicking, because he hears the wailing coming nearer and nearer, and hears the rustle of leaves all around him, and finally he breaks free of the forest and comes to a clearing.
Running to the center, disoriented, he finally sees his opponents emerging, encircling him, and he picks up the thickest branch he can find and starts swinging.
He awakes in a cold sweat, in the dark. The baby is gone, the television is off. Looking up in the darkness, he makes out the time on the bright green digital clock as 2:30, and he makes his way back to the bedroom, undresses, and climbs into the bed, waking Sara in the process. She curls up next to him, half-awake, and he lays there for some time, thinking how lucky he is, before falling back to sleep.
When he wakes up again, the sun is spilling through the open window, and the smell of bacon wafts down the hallway like some magical spell, making him instantly alert.
Normally he’d have been up at the crack of dawn on a bright Saturday morning like this, preparing to finish up the work-week, but today he’s planned on going fishing with Walt on the bass boat. No sooner does he think of this, that there’s the knocking on the door, and Walt’s voice yelling out “Get the fuck up slick Rick! It’s time to hit the water!”
He jumps out of bed, pulling on some pants and a shirt, while walking into the kitchen, only to find Walt sitting at the table contentedly chewing on a piece of bacon, Sara at the stove cooking eggs with the baby in her arm. They eat quickly, hop in the truck, and off to the lake.
The day passes by quickly, and those same dream-like colors appear on the horizon as Walt’s truck pulls out of the driveway. Rick takes a moment to absorb it, his little daily dose of heaven, and walks into the empty house. There’s a note on the table saying Sara and the kids have gone grocery shopping, so he walks out to the back yard, and opens up a beer before beginning to tinker with the lawnmower.
Removing the blade, he walks into the shed, and starts up the grinder. The sparks flying off mesmerize him, but he stays focused on the task at hand, and in minutes, the blade is gleaming with a razors edge.
He walks back to the lawnmower, but before he can sit down, he hears the call of his nemesis. A kitten is mewling under his porch. He doesn’t even think for a moment about what to do, best just to nip this one in the bud before it starts spraying around his house or scratching up the truck.
He looks around, and then realizes he already has a fitting tool in his hand.
Walking over slowly, he raises his hand, and bringing the blade down with full force, eviscerates the kitten, but it’s not dead yet, so he stomps on its head to finish it off. He scoops it up on the end of the blade, walks to the edge of his property, and tossing it up, takes a swing, and knocks it far out into the field.
He gets the blade put back on, and pushes the mower into the shed, and walks back inside as Sara and the girls pull up in the dilapidated grey Buick.
Nikayla rushes past him, into the house, and he gets all the groceries from the trunk while Sara walks inside with the baby. Turning back to him, she says “We’ve got a surprise for you when you put the groceries in the kitchen, and heads for the back porch.
Rick places the bags of groceries on the floor, and walks through the back door, and the first thing he sees is his eldest looking under the steps, and around the corner of the house, under the Forsythia bush, and in the shed. Sara opens her mouth “My grandma brought us a kitten today for Nikayla, and we left it back here. Have you seen it yet?”
He just shakes his head, and replies “Must’ve run off already. I’ll get her one of the beagle pups tomorrow.”
A single tear wells up in his eye, but he's not crying for the cat. He's crying for his daughter.