Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Something You Just Learn to Live With

A bit of fiction because I have nothing much to write about right now.

Chet was reading the paper in the breakroom sipping the last of his coffee when someone walked in and went over to the vending machines. It was the guy coming to fill them and empty the money out, but not Rocky, the usual vendor. He looked a bit familiar to Chet and when the man stood up, looked at him and said "Hey Chet, how ya doin?", he recognized him as a manager from a store where he used to work. Dick was his name, and he remembered him as someone no one liked, and - he'd never forget - a suspect in the Tom Morris incident. They talked for a little bit while Dick filled his machines. Dick said he'd just started working for the vending machine company and Chet said he'd been working at the metal shop for six years. That was about the extent of their conversation, but he wished he would have asked him about that time way back then, but that would have been rude. He let his thoughts drift back there now.

The night stock crew of the Stuff-N-Save was a mixture of all sorts of people. Chet was about thirty back then, he and his wife struggling to make ends meet with their two young children, so he had taken this midnight job because it paid a little more. Also on the crew was Allen, a guy in the same situation as he was who'd become his friend. Then there were a couple of older guys who worked together all the time, and about five or six young kids, from eighteen to their early twenties. It was these younger guys who were getting into trouble all the time. With the store empty of most of the management except for Dick, the young guys were always finding ways to slack off and goof around. Tom Morris was their ringleader. The oldest of the bunch, he was cocky and brash and could talk the others into things they wouldn't think of doing on their own. He'd been written up twice, once for sneaking out and screwing his girlfriend in the parking lot and once for hiding in the public restroom and smoking while on the clock. The night Chet recalled now was one where Tom and two of the others were stocking groceries in the cereal aisle, the next one over from Allen and Chet. They heard laughing coming from the end of that aisle, then the three left to empty their cardboard hopper. Dick came by and poked his head into the aisle and asked Allen and he to come over to the cereal aisle. He'd been watching the three on camera and it looked like they were up to something, so they were searching for anything out of the ordinary. It didn't take long to find it. The Quaker Oats guy now had a voice bubble that said "fuck you" on the package. Enraged, Dick called Tom into his office, which was located next to the maintenance room. The entire stock crew just "happened" to be working right across from Dick's office at the time, and listened as the voices coming from that room rose higher and higher. The last thing they heard was Dick yelling "This is the last time", then Tom saying "I'm outta here!". After that came a sort of yelp, a cry of surprise, and Dick opened the door, eyes wide and fearful. The crew looked into the tiny room and saw.... no Tom. Dick was babbling "He vanished. Right before my eyes. He was just gone." Everyone looked at each other, then examined the room. There was only one door and no other way to exit the room, but sure enough, Tom was gone. There was no way Tom could have opened the door and walked out without the whole crew seeing him. A search was made of the store to no avail. Soon the store owner and the police were there, questioning everyone. Dick had to retell his story over and over, maintaining that Tom had just disappeared into thin air. With seven witnesses who had been outside the door, there seemed no other explanation, even though the police searched every inch of that room for blood, signs of a physical struggle, or an unseen way out.

Tom was never found, and no explanation was ever offered for his vanishing. The police investigated the matter for a long time, and Chet heard that they brought Dick in repeatedly to answer questions about that night. Dick never returned to Stuff-N-Save, and rumors circulated about a nervous breakdown. He hadn't seen Dick until today, and Chet found himself feeling relieved somehow. He'd never liked the man much, but was glad that he was out in the world making a living instead of in a mental institute somewhere. He finished his coffee and got up to go back to work, putting that part of his past behind him and wondering if Dick was able to do the same.


Blogger Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Tim,

That's a very cool piece of flash fiction! Hope you're surviving the crappy winter storm -- isn't it spring already?!!!

3:23 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home