Help wanted V

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It was well known among the workers that boss’s business was doing poorly. Mail seemed to remain on his desk for months, his red-lettered name visible through the transparent plastic panels, while every day more were added to the pile. Sometimes he would open them.

On the other hand, backdoor business was going from strength to strength. Surprisingly, this was also well known.

When the new cook started out, the back door of the shop was a place for hushed conversations and secret handshakes with the local Friday night wildlife. It wasn’t long before he was packing those potent little plastic bags instore while the juniors were in the shopfront kneading the dough.

One afternoon, boss colluded with a worker to pocket another kind of plastic bag from the unoccupied cabin of a truck parked out back. Brightly overfilled on the bench seat, it was the driver’s cash takings for the day. I was offered a small cut of six yellow notes for inadvertently manning the store.

And every shift there were more stories being told. One of the guys got chased by armed men in hoodies whom he had known by name. Some employees went out egging local car yards whose dealers had sold boss dodgy vehicles at some point.

But there was always that pile of ominous envelopes. Then there were phone calls. Then there was a visit from a sternly suited stranger.

It was like watching a storm cloud form, silently growing bigger and darker. I was both raindrop and weather vane. I should not have been surprised.

When I arrived for what was to be my final shift, boss seemed more sunny than usual. Perhaps his skies were clearing after all? He even asked me about my day but, before I could respond, he interrupted:

“I’m doin’ a runner,” he blurted, violent as a thunderclap. “We’re goin’ intertate tonight. The missus is at home packin’ right now.”

Sensing my confusion, he added, “I don’t really care how your day was. I was just bein’ polite.”

But my shoes were already filling with rain.

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~ by Daniel Townsend on July 10, 2013.

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