Rock Face – 11 September 2014

Posted: September 14, 2014 in Dialog, Prose
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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11 September 2014

“Good morning, Chuck, did you get caught in the rain?”

“No, where I live it stopped at about 4:30. I had to get up to go to the bathroom. I got my pills mixed up last night before bed and the water pills were working overtime. I’d listened to the weather forecast last night, so I had the proper clothes out. I’m wearing my winter socks, my long johns, my heavy coat, a heavy blanket for Goldie. Even if it does rain, I’ll be okay.

“Did you see that guy that just passed and said hello? He was mad at me for a long time, because I didn’t remember his name. I still don’t remember his name. I’ve worked so many places as a waiter in taverns. These people remember me, even from forty years ago. I remember when I worked at the Alex I’d do my regular shift from 3:00 to closing, I also ran the elevator. The cleaner was in an accident, so I covered his shift as well. For over a month I was working eighteen, nineteen hours a day. I didn’t even have time to go home. My wife brought clean clothes and sandwiches for me. The cheapskate of an owner wouldn’t even let me use one of the empty rooms. I had to sleep on the floor and go down to use one the public washrooms to wash myself, then I’d change in one of the stalls. At the end of the month I told the owner, ‘I need a few days off.’ He said, ‘You don’t need time off.’ I said, ‘I’m leaving for a few days and I walked out.’ When I came back he said to me, ‘You don’t work here any more you’re fired. And what’s more I’m not paying you the money I owe you.’ I said, ‘That’s fine, I’ll trash the place. It’s your choice, do I go to work or not.’ He said, ‘Okay you can go to work, but don’t threaten me again.’

“Those were the days when I was still drinking. I had a bottle of wine under my bed. I’d have a couple of drinks when I first woke up. Then I’d meet my friends in the park. I’d usually buy them some sandwiches. We’d have a few drinks. I got to the hotel where I worked, sit down for a quart, then another small one. Then it was an apple cider every hour. I don’t know how I did it, but I was young. It was different then.

“It reminds me of a guy I worked with when I was growing up on the farm. He’d manage his own farm and if one of his neighbors was sick, he’d do his work as well. He also had a night job with the railway. There was a rock face that needed to be monitored for fallen rocks. I took his shift a few times. It ran me ragged. Once, a train came early. I was pressed against the rock face, as tight as could be. The train was racing by trying to suck me into its path. I’ll never forget that.”

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