One Shot: Rebels Without a Clue
The noonday sun shimmered in the pale, greyish sky over the city, barely warming the 800,000 beings going about their daily business. The streets were clogged with vehicles, and people heading out on their lunch breaks, many already in heavy winter coats. The weather was already beginning to turn to the cooler side as the season rolled from summer to fall.
In the corner of a dingy, concrete floored warehouse, Bill Williams scribbled some numbers on his inventory sheet, then tossed the clipboard to the top of the beer cases stacked on the wheeled dolly in front of him. He leaned the dolly back onto its wheels and rolled it down a long aisle. He grumbled to himself, noticing yet another overhead light was burned out which meant he would have to climb up that shitty aluminium ladder again and change out the bulb with the yellow pole with the claw on the end that was supposed to “help” in these situations. What didn’t help was he would still have to climb to the top of that rickety old ladder that creaked and rattled and was never steady even if someone was around to hold it at the bottom. Bill shuddered, he hated heights and even if it was no more than eight feet up, it was still a hard, unforgiving concrete floor he would be hitting if he fell. Actually, it wasn’t so much the “heights” that he was afraid of, more the whole “falling through the air and hitting the ground” part that he was in no way fond of.
Bill wheeled up and tipped the dolly back onto its base in front of a small stack of Molson Canadian 12 pack bottle cases and began unloading, stacking the cases from his dolly on top of the cases sat on the floor. One after the next, giving the mundane activity about as much attention as he thought it required, which was very little. So little in fact, he failed to notice the third case from the bottom had a torn handle.
“Shit!” he grumbled as the cardboard handle disintegrated in his hand and the case fell three feet to the floor. There was a muffled, liquid smash, and the golden elixer of life began pooling under the shattered box. Bill stood staring for a second, frozen, in shock as the case bled out on the dusty concrete.
He shook his head and tossed the last couple of cases on the stack before commencing the clean up. In ten minutes the glass and cardboard was in the trash and the remaining bottles sat on the table in front of him. He scribbled on his clipboard a note about five broken and seven remaining in the “broken stock” column on his worksheet, clipped the pen to the front of his grubby apron, then tossed the clipboard down in disgust. He felt a grumbling in his gutmeats. It was close to one and he hadn’t had lunch yet. Bill got up from the table, turned around and jammed various coins into the employee snack machine and pulled out a bag of Roast Chicken flavoured Lays potato chips, then sat back down at the small table in the employee lounge area of the warehouse. It was really no more than a cheap wooden IKEA table with a couple equally cheap chairs, a Mr. Coffee maker and a snack machine that was frequently short on snacks. Bill often wondered who the joker was that wrote “employee lounge” on the piece of duct tape and stuck it to the wall, because it was really quite funny.
He tore open his bag of chips and jammed a few into his mouth, crushing them to gooey paste in his teeth before swallowing. Almost without thinking he grabbed one of the beers from the table, and before he knew it, the cap was off and he was pouring it down his neck.
About four blocks west from where Bill sat enjoying his lunch, Joe Cornelious Hunter was standing in the chilly computer and elevator control centre of BVS Towers. Thor “The Hutt” sat in a creaking office chair at the main desk, glowering at him, waiting for Hunter to do something as several red lights blinked on elevator control board, and an emergency phone was annoyingly beeping, begging to be answered. He squeezed his chilly hands into fists, and picked up the handset.
“Control centre, what seems to be the trouble?”
A slightly annoyed voice came over the line, “Uh, I dunno you tell me! We’ve been stuck in this fucking elevator for fifteen minutes!”
Hunter took a breath, “Sir, as I said to you the last time you called we are having trouble with the elevators, a service technician had been notified and is working to resolve the problem. If you could just be patient with us we should have you out of there very soon.”
“Soon? How soon is NOW for you asshole? I got a meeting in five minutes!”
“Sir, we are doing everything we can to fix the situation, but I must ask that you remain calm –“
A rough hand shoved Hunter to the side while another grabbed the emergency handset from him. Thor put the hand set to his ear and spoke, “Hello who is it I’m speaking with? As the guard told jou, everything that can be doon is being doon, so izzat. If jou are a schmoker und think that would help you relax den smoke if you must but do not call back on this line. Ve vill call you, thank you und goodbye.”
Hunter was shocked. He couldn’t believe Thor had just told someone to smoke IN the elevator. It was an enclosed environment, and with the power out the only ventilation was the tiny grill on the ceiling.
“So izzat meester Unter! Zat is ho jou deal wif these people.” The corpulent Dutchman grumbled as he squeezed his massive bulk back into the protesting office chair.
“You really think it was a good idea telling him he could smoke a cigarette in there?”
Thor stared at Hunter for several seconds, with an arrogant look on his face like the kind most politicians get when they can’t believe a “civilian” would dare question them or their policies. When he finally spoke, it was as if to a child, “Look, Meester Unter, I am Day Shift Supervisor und that means I am God, okay? You don’t worry about what I am doing, only about yourself, so Izzat huh?”
Hunter looked at Thor for a moment before waking over to him, picking up the office chair next to him and bringing it down with all his strength over his supervisor’s head. The chair under Thor’s enormous bulk collapsed and he crashed to the floor, crying “noooo!” and “So izzaaaat!”
In Hunter’s mind, this was the best course of action, so instead he just looked back at Thor's fat, greasy, arrogant face and said through gritted teeth, “Yes sir Mr. Bugg.” And turned back to his elevator control board, seething in silence.
Bill sat in the middle of the enormous, black and tan cushioned chesterfield, a bottle of Molson Canadian in one hand, his black rucksack laying on its side, on the black, aluminium grilled coffee table in front of him. He finished the last gulp and dropped the bottle to the floor beside him when the locks to flat 1401 of London House rattled, heralding the arrival of Hunter. Bill shook his left arm and flourished back the sleeve to look at his watch. If it was Hunter he was a number of hours too early, so perhaps it was Paco taking a break from his afternoon studio session at the Alberta College of Art.
The door opened, then slammed shut and in stalked Hunter, face red with rage, “Huh? The fuck are you doing home?” He grumbled.
“And a good afternoon to you too, dickwad!” Bill spat back, a little more than annoyed by the greeting he received.
“Well, you will not fucking BELIEVE what happened at work today!”
Bill interrupted, “Wait. Stop. Calm down. Have a beer.” He motioned towards his bag on the table, inside Hunter could see many brown bottles of beer.
Hunter pulled one out, opened it and sat in the Big Leather Chair.
“Don’t panic, but I just got shit-canned from BeerLand™ today.”
Hunter spat out his first sip of beer, “Shit!”
“I said ‘don’t panic’ there Arthur Dent,” Bill almost smiled.
Hunter shook his head, “It’s not that, it’s just this beer. It’s piss-warm! What happened?”
Bill stood up and grabbed another beer before heading to the kitchen. He put two bottles in the freezer and the rest on one of the empty shelves in the refrigerator. “Lets hit the deck for a smoke.”
Hunter took another swig of warm lager and grimaced as he swallowed. He stood up and wandered into his bedroom and pulled open the topmost drawer of his old boyhood chest of drawers. He rummaged around for a few seconds, pushing aside his Lt. Worf action figure, and a red covered notebook covered in stickers and pictures before finding and pulling out a pack of Old Port Tipped cigarillos and a lighter emblazoned with the flaming “C” of the Calgary Flames NHL Hockey Club.
Bill was already lit up and on the couch when Hunter slid open the patio door and joined him. Hunter snapped the lighter on with his thumb and lit the end of his cigarillo before flopping down beside Bill on the dusty, tattered, grey love seat.
“So what happened?” Hunter asked, blowing the sweet tobacco smoke from his mouth. Hunter enjoyed smoking his cigars and cigarillos, but never inhaled, even when he smoked the occasional cigarette. He just never thought it was necessary for his enjoyment, so he never got into the habit of it.
“Apparently, even though the company lets us take the remainders of the “broken stock” home, they frown upon us indulging at work during out lunch breaks.”
Hunter nodded, “So you got fired for drinking at work?”
“I prefer the term ‘let go’ or ‘released from contract to pursue other endeavours’ to ‘fired’ but the result is much the same.” Bill took a drink of his beer, “Don’t worry though, a cousin of mine said they needed a bouncer over at the Cecil and I could just start working nights over there starting next week.”
“Well, isn’t that special?” Hunter said in the voice of Dana Carvey’s “Church Lady” from Saturday Night Live. “You wanna know what happened to me today?”
“Not particularly,” Bill grinned evilly.
"That fat douche bag of a Dutchman supervisor, Thor The Hutt lied to the Dumfeld Head Office and got me booted from BVS Towers! I’ll get a new site in a couple of days but, it just fucking infuriates me! Those dumbfucks in Head Office believed him! I mean it was HIM that told those people in the elevator they could smoke, not me! Ahhh, whatever!” Hunter choked back some more warm swill.
“So,” Bill said butting out his cigarette, “Let me see if I’ve got this straight; We both got shit-canned, but still ended up with jobs at the end of the day? Gotta love living in King Ralph’s Alberta!”
“Yeah,” Hunter said, “so everything is fine, and no need to sell our bodies to science or anything then?”