|Posted by Jerry McKinney on May 11, 2011 at 10:52 AM|
I'd like to give you a treat. A small tale I call Paperwork. So put your feet up and enjoy. Don't work too hard.
“Yeah, I tell you I found Jake that way,” Chet proudly stated over the phone.
Feet on the desk and swinging the chair to and fro Chet continued. “Mmmm hmmm, yeah, choked to death and a full sized stapler sticking right out of his ass. Must’ve pissed someone off big time.”
He reached for his coffee and downed the last cold few drops. His eyes scanned the room until he found what he was looking for. Chet balled up a piece of paper and tossed it across the room, where it struck a thin, sickly-looking man straightening up a desk. Ernst looked over as Chet tapped his empty coffee mug with a pencil.
“Be a pal and get me some coffee, Ernst … and oh … cream, no sugar.”
Ernst loped over and grabbed the mug and turned toward the coffee station.
“Yeah, PAL … Personal Ass Licker. “ Chet snickered in to the phone. A muffled laughter could be heard through the earpiece that rested against Chet’s ear as he continued swaying in his chair. “You should see this guy, thin as a rail, and about as nerdy as they come.”
Chet unfolded a paperclip and started bending it into a little wire piece of art. “I don’t know, it seems he’s been here forever. Doesn’t do anything but gopher work. I don’t think they pay him much, but he keeps showing up. Must be about fifty and still rides a bicycle to work every day. Not a nice modern bike either. Geez, I think he stole it off of the Flintstones.”
Another round of laughter made Chet move the phone a little from his ear.
“The police have been here interviewing everyone for the last week.” Chet listened intently as his eyes stared at his fingers bending the little wire.
“No, no, nothing at all. They had me in the back office for at least an hour drilling me.” He paused as he listened again. “Yeah, I think it was because I was next in line for his job. Between me and you, I’m glad he’s gone ‘cause it’s a freakin’ sweet job.”
He jumped a little bit as Ernst set the coffee cup down on his desk. Chet looked up at Ernst and gave him a smug grin. “Thanks pal.” Yet another round of laughter could be heard muffled out of the earpiece as Ernst shuffled away.
“Had everyone in that back room for at least half an hour, except Ernst. He had only been in there a couple minutes before he came strolling back out. Jake had been a big guy.”
Another pause. “You know the type, went to the gym every day before work and the smart bastard billed it all to the company, and they paid it! Do you believe that ballsy son of a bitch? Well, the cops figured it took at least two guys to handle ol’ Jake. I know I wouldn’t have wanted to fuck with him.”
Chet looked over at Ernst, who had moved to straightening another desk.
“I’ve got a few more things I need to look into,” Chet said, glancing up at the wall clock, “and damn, it’s already almost six.” Chet put his feet on the floor as he listened. “Mmmm hmmm, I’ll be there in an hour, save me a seat. Later, dude.”
Hanging up the phone, he looked over at Ernst. “Damn, everybody gone?”
Ernst stopped his paper shuffling and looked over to Chet. “Yes Sir, the place clears out at five mostly.”
Up until two days ago, Chet would have been already perched on a bar stool at the sports pub with a cold beer by this time. “ How late you stay?”
“About six, sir. That gives me time to clean up. Mother is coming by to pick me up, we’re going out to dinner.”
“Hey, do you think you could find another place to park your bike? It’s kinda embarrassing chained out front like that. It looks like we are hiring the homeless.”
Chet picked up his cup and took a swig, instantly spewing it back into the cup and getting a few drops onto his shirt.
“Son of a bitch!” Chet howled. “ This is a Forzieri god dammit! Thing cost me about two hundred bucks! It’s Italian!”
Ernst came running over with a paper towel. Snatching it from Ernst’s hands, Chet demanded, “ Gimme that! What the fuck did you put sugar in my coffee for? I told you no sugar. No sugar! Are you fuckin’ stupid? You better hope it doesn’t stain. I’ll make sure it comes out of your check!”
“I’m sorry, sir. I thought you said sugar,” Ernst wheezed.
“Just get away from me, please! Why don’t you get on your Yabba Dabba Doo bike and get the fuck out of here. We’ll discuss if you have a job tomorrow with the higher-ups. Incompetent piece of shit!”
Ernst backed off, his shoulders stooped, and walked away.
Chet went to the water cooler, dampened the paper towel and dabbed the widening coffee spot. Then he decided to leave the stain to a professional. “Old Man Wong should be able to get this out.” He chuckled lightly at the thought of Wong saying, “No ticky, no shirty.”
Settling back at his desk, Chet reached into the basket on the corner and grabbed the short stack of papers. He began separating them into three piles. “What do we need him around here for anyway?” he mumbled to himself. “Get rid of him and make everybody clean their own stations. Hell, they’ll probably show me a little more respect for saving them money.”
Picking up a stack, he tapped the edges until they lined up and he clipped them together. Likewise with the second stack. As he tapped the third stack, he realized he was out of clips and looked over at the small gallery of wire art he had created over the course of the day. Reaching beside the basket for the stapler he found it empty.
“Where the hell’s the stapler?’ Chet muttered.
“Right here,” whispered a voice from behind him.
Ernst reached for the phone and called the police. He was distressed to find Chet this way. He would have to call Mom and tell her to cancel their dinner plans. She would be upset. Second time he had to cancel. He had thought he heard her come in earlier, but that was before he had found … well, it wasn’t his fault she was late again.