Manuel Labour: Short Story from the Series : Tool

photo on pexels by Tiracahuad K




“Where’s that illegitimate son of yours?”  Gerry asked Oddie proving that even though he was the site supervisor – no one at head office even thought of sending Gerry an email.

“Ricky’s time in the trenches of physical labour came to an end on Friday,” said Oddie. “It was stupid that he couldn’t wait until we at least finished the project.”  

“Fuck.  Where we gonna get another guy to replace Ricky?  Not that he was any good,” said Gerry.  Oddie ignored the fact that Gerry was ignorant of the skill level of his own team. 

“What he tell you, eh?” Gerry fished for intel.

“Never said nothing about his next job,” Oddie lied in Gerry’s dialect.  “Thought maybe you would know.  He go to head office?”  

No one was surprised Ricky sped off in his shiny blue Rubicon Jeep to see if his genes resonated with being the heir apparent to Sandoval Developments.  Oddie would stay in his little framing world and go back to taking the bus home after work.

“Who the fuck hires these people? Why can’t HR just bring em onsite for an hour and I can see what they can do.  No resume, no cover letter no fake interview with some fuckin HR pencil pusher who can’t hammer of fuckin nail.  Just skills on display,” said Gerry.  The angry version of Gerry was preferable to the non angry one.  In his non angry mode he would walk around looking for something to be wrong.  It was annoying and got in the way of getting work done.  Angry Gerry would stomp over, yell, lose his train of thought which flustered him so he would kick or throw something and then sign of with his signature insult,

“Quit playin with yourselves and get to work.”

Gerry had trouble distinguishing between getting to work and delivering results.  As long as he heard hammering hammers, sawing saws and guys swearing at each other he felt his job site was a well oiled machine.  

Gerry’s therapy was driving to the lake as it woke to the grind of the city. His coffee would sit slightly tilted on the hood of his pick up and his purple e-cigarette in his hand.  This morning Gerry saw a dead raccoon washing up on the beach this morning – half out of the water on its back.  Probably been rolling in the wee waves dead 2 days.  Gerry thought raccoons had a bad reputation.  Though their urban interface (shitting on people’s roofs, raiding their garbage) made them deserve it.  

But they were fabulous animals he would tell anyone if they would listen.    He heard some people had them as pets.  He admired the dexterity of their nimble black paws. He thinks they would be great on the job site.  If you could train a raccoon, or a pair of them, to bring you materials and tools and hardware they could scale the skeleton of the house so quickly and not drop anything from those clawed mitts.  The crew would laugh at him if he mentioned it.  If Tim would say it, it would be a hilarious lunch time idea. But if Gerry said it, it would be sick, cruel and pathetic.  

Gerry didn’t like the version of Gerry they associated him with.  He wanted a different Gerry.  His wife wanted a different Gerry too.  And that is why she up-and-left-him.  He knew her affair started before the divorce.  But their marriage was dead way before that.  Good thing they didn’t have kids forcing the kid to bounce between parents on weekends.  But Gerry would have loved taking a son or a daughter to Manitoba in the summer to visit grandma and grandpa and to fish.

“You see that guy over there in the orange hard hat – that’s the new guy,” said Oddie.  “He has three years experience in wood and metal framing, he’s done roofing.”  Oddie knew he would have to sell Gerry the idea of Octavo so he just kept talking.  “Just fuckin look at his pouch.  He showed up on time.  It’s all good.”

“Did HR send him over?  Why didn’t I hear about this?” asked Gerry. “What’s his name?  Where’s he from?  Does he speak fuckin English?”  

”He comes recommended,” said Oddie, deflecting Gerry’s undercurrents of racism and pettiness.  

Oddie didn’t tell Gerry that Ricky had told him last Monday that it was his last week.  In case Oddie had a friend he wanted to give a job.  So Oddie asked Manuel if he knew anyone looking for work.  Oddie, Manuel and his buddy Octavo met for beers last Friday.

“I was eight of eight chilren,” said Otcavo. “My mama tol me something was differen when I was born.  The worl after I was 7 years old se transformo,” Octavo looked to Manuel for translation.

“Transformed, I get it” Oddie translated.

“I was a really organize chil, really really. I organize my toys. Then. I don’t play … ya no.

“Anymore,” said Manuel.

 I no play, only organize. Then all eyes turn to grandmama. Grandmama is huesera.”

“What’s a wasibera?” asked Oddie.

“Huesera menso. It’s a healer; of bones.” 

“She tell my mom I need to wash my brain so I drink garlic crudo and fuckin rábano.’

“It’s a small red raice,” said Manuel 

“Radish?” says Oddie.

“Horible, they mix with olive oil. Sometime with miel, honey. “

“Did it help?” asked Oddie.

“HA. I try.  I hide my simptomas so they think it improve so I drink less garlic and rabano,” said Octavo.  “My grandmama say I have sindroma de Tourette.  Everyone now more raro than me.”
“Weirder than me,” clarified Manuel.

”Shit,” said Oddie leaning back, nodding his head.  They all take a drink from their pint of beer.  Manuel’s anxious brown eyes meet Oddie’s pensive brown eyes.

“So what was your thing?” Oddie asks, then simplifies his question. “Your routine?” 

Octavo nodded at the table and gestured like a flight attendant to give Oddie an example.  Octavo’s beer was exactly in the centre of the coaster, the coaster was exactly in the middle of the plank of wood on the picnic table and the coaster was exactly halfway between the umbrella post in the middle and the edge of the picnic table.

“It feel good, you know, to get tal cual.”

“Just right,” said Manuel.

“But then it molest me that your beer,”  Octavo points to Oddie. “And his beer not in the place correct,” Octavo smiles and drinks.

“Physical labour lets him express all the things it makes him need,” said Manuel.  “You know what I mean?”  

“He needs to keep his hands moving so he can hide the … ,” Oddie said, beginning to grasp Octavo’s struggle.

“Tourettes,” helped Manuel.

“Tourettes,” repeated Oddie.

“Quieres más?” asked Octavo, finding Oddie’s comprehension therapeutic. 

“Mas,” said Oddie.

“Como nino I organize todo. Cars, size y color y funcion and speed. My cloth always fold tal cual por color según el arco iris – rainbow. Cantuerraba sin parar.

“He hummed all the time,” said Manuel.

“I had 10 years ol, in school they knew I was differen. Teachers protec me from los matones.”

“From the bullies,” said Manuel.

“Rechine los dientes, apreté los dientes” said Octavo.

“I don’t know.  He grabbed his teeth really hard,” said Manuel. 

“Headache.  I stop school for work,” said Octavo.

“Shit,” Oddie’s admiration of Octavo suspended the moment. “Bro you are brave.”

Octavo froze till Manuel translated.

“Eres valiente.”

“Valiente,” repeated Oddie.

Gerry was happy with what he saw so far from whatshisface.  The crew received Octavo without missing a step. Within 30 minutes they nicknamed him Doc Oc – Spiderman’s arch villain.  Octavo loved it.  It highlighted him and not Tourettes.  Octavo worked constantly to impress his new boss and hide the Tourettes.  He wasn’t quite sure who his actual boss was: Oddie or Gerry.  

His last site supervisor had a roommate in college who had Tourettes.  The roommate took 5 times as long to enter and leave their apartment with all his idiosyncrasies and routines that he had to complete before the door was sufficiently closed, locked, double checked and the key in its proper place.  It was the tidiest and most organized apartment you’d ever seen.  They discovered that chicks loved it so Octavo and his roommate worked it in their favour to invite women over for a few drinks and any extracurriculars they could agree upon.  

These good memories meant the supervisor sponsored Octavo’s presence on the job site.  The crew hammering in studs and installing headers didn’t have the same breadth of humanity.  According to them, a man in their world didn’t suddenly yell for no reason or constantly ‘correct’ the arrangement of their tools.  These were issues the foreman took up with the site supervisor.  The foreman got Octavo booted off.  

Octavo didn’t know or care what the real excuse was, as if excuses were real.  Usually they complain about speaking English or certifications in case the inspector shows up. 

Octavo wasn’t about to justify his chemical torment. It painfully didn’t matter, people’s overbearing ignorance relegated his life to the bargain bin of souls with the schizoids and the otherly afflicted.  For whatever reason the genetic gods graced him with Tourettes.  He was Tourettes and Tourettes was him. No small minded pendejos could corrode his dignity.  

Manuel Labour is a Short Story in the Series: Tool from Kevin McNamara

Guy Wire – A Short Story from the Series: Tool.

Photo by William Wendling on Unsplash

Mondays and Fridays Tim drops the refilled ziplock bag of pistachios onto the lunch table in the jobsite trailer.  Manuel picks at them during their 30 minute lunch.  Oddie prefers them like dessert.  Those hard shells, the dry mauve-coloured skin and the light green flesh: only an idiot would say he couldn’t feel the resonance they shared from the simplest plastic bag. It is the kind of love that is shown not spoken.  It is a need and not passion.  It is reliability.  It is salty healing and $2.75/pound of brotherhood. 

“I was the guy who wore his pyjama bottoms to school with a wad of gum stuck in his pocket,” said Tim.

So..? said Manuel.

“Two weeks in a row,” said Tim.

“That’s commendable and disgusting at the same time,” said Oddie.

“Yo bro just by looking at your low budget face I can tell you were the guy who punctured the principals tires on the last day of school,” said Tim.

“No, that wasn’t me.  I was the guy in high school that put my shoulder pads on backwards at the first football practice.  They fuckin had a fuckin field day with that all season,” said Oddie.

“Bro – how did you not notice your shoulder pads are on backwards?” said Manuel.

“I know.  But I am glad they did because it made me see wanting to be part of the football crowd was fuckin futile.  Once I started making money in the summers driving dump truck and showin up to school in my fuckin steel blue camaro those fuckers could fuck off and die.  Chicks just opened that passenger door and slid in oozing sex and sexy,” said Oddie rekindling his high school status.

“Whoa, big man on campus,” says Manuel. 

“What’s the fuckin difference between sex and sexy?” asked Tim.

“Dude.  That is the whole fuckin point.  It’s like what ice cream is to gelato,” said Oddie, liking how that sounded but not even sure what it meant.

“What the fuck does that mean?” said Manuel.

“Bro.  Despite the fact that Oddie has the poetic tact of a parking ticket he is right,” said Tim

“I am lost,” said Manuel.

“If you don’t know what it means, start asking around for a good divorce lawyer,” said Tim.  

“I’m not even married yet.”

“Not on paper.”

“Everyone shut up. Shut up.  Ok.  Sex. and Sexy.  This is how it works.  XY is a boy and XX Chromosome is a girl. We all know that one right?  Or were you too high in biology class?”

Tim shrugged his shoulders and raised his eyebrows to enter a guilty plea.

“So when a guy, hopped up on hormones, looks at a woman he sees XX – he sees sexx.  With two xx’s.   But she feels what she is offering is sexy.  Ya see what I’m saying? When she goes out lookin for love,  she has on her XY glasses.  She has to inhale bad cologne and swat aside the sleazy pick up lines in the search of the right pickle for her grilled cheese.”

“Even coming from you bro that made no sense,” said Tim.

“Oddie don’t worry, you have a future writing romance novelas,” said Manuel.

“But did you know the whole genetic code is being uncovered so you can live like 150 years.”

“Bro – genes and chromosomes are not the same thing,” said Oddie.

“For our purposes I don’t think it really matters,” said Tim.

“What are you a doctor bro,” said Manuel.

“Actually, I wanted to be a doctor.  But I can’t deal with seeing blood or causing people pain and all that shit ya know,” said Oddie.

“So be a chiropractor or something,” said Manuel.

“Naw.  That is all hourly wage stuff,” said Oddie.

“And framing …?” said Tim.

“Ya but I got plans,” said Oddie lowering his voice even though there was no one else in the trailer.  “I’m not going to stick around with these jokers longer than I have to.”

“But bro – the pay is regular and the work is constant – what’s the issue?” said Manuel.

“Gerry,” said Oddie.

“Forget Gerry,” said Tim. “He’s an idiot whose ambition is to be an assohle.”

“That’s my point.  If Gerry is running one of your job sites, what does that say about your company,” said Oddie.

Out of his peripheral vision Tim saw Manuel look over at him.

“Did you have this conversation with sleek Reek before he left,” asked Manuel. 

“Not in so many words,” said Oddie.

“What does Ricky care – he is set for life,” said Tim tossing a few pistachio shells on the ground.

“Listen,” said Oddie.  “Guys, if we don’t look out for ourselves …” then Gerry opened the door to the trailer and yelled even though the guys were right there,

“We can’t get the skid steer back there behind the house to support those trusses and the neighbour is being a dick.  We are gonna have to do it by hand,” said Gerry, putting an end to their lunch.

“We need to use the guy wire,” said Manuel, trying to offer expertise.

Tim glanced at Oddie.

“Guy wire!  Are you setting up a tent for a wedding reception we don’t know about?” said Oddie.

“Dude – it’s called a come along.  You do know the difference,” said Tim.

“Sure, dude.  It’s a language barrier.  You guys think I understand everything but no,”  said Manuel.

“Let’s get on it.  It’s gonna rain later,” said Gerry holding the door open.

Tim stood up smiling to himself and said to Manuel:

“Yo – wire guy – why don’t ya – come along?”

The World of the Thinking

A little writing that leaves the taste of tequila in your mouth

Brian Cook's Blog

As usual, Carter set a blistering pace. In less than thirty minutes he’d introduced himself to over one hundred patrons of the bar, inviting each one over to the table for a birthday drink. Each bartender got a brief visit and a generous tip. He ascended the bandstand and made the acquaintance of each member of Fleetwood Macaroni. His rapid circumnavigation of the establishment complete, he sat down with a contented sigh. No congressional candidate stumped harder than Carter when a good time was at stake.

The sunburned customers crowding the establishment still irritated Rudy. The tequila trickling through his brain hadn’t done its job yet. He hadn’t stopped thinking. That was what they were all here for. Right? To stop thinking for a while.

So he tried. He tried not to think about the anglers in the photographs on the wall. He tried not to think about the mounted…

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Short Story – Knock It Off

Photo by Francesco Ungaro from Pexels


Sandoval, pointing his tanned index finger from atop the conference room table, told his VP of development Andrea to make sure there was a fresh shitter on site for when the engineer visits.  Andrea emailed Andre the project manager to take care of it.  So Andre texted Gerry the site supervisor to take care of it.  Sitting in his pickup truck in the curving line of the Tim Horton’s drive thru waiting for his large double double coffee Gerry got an idea.  He was going to get Ricky to take care of it.  Ricky has this inborn arrogance that makes it seem when he asks you for something it is more like a fact than a favour.  But Gerry was scared of Sandoval’s son Ricky one on one. 

“Hey I need one of you two geniuses to order a new port-a-potty.”

“What the fuck for?” said Oddie.

“Don’t those guys just show up on schedule every like ten days?” 

“Ya, well it’s potty time,” said Gerry, making Oddie smirk.

“Fuck that farmer Joe, that’s your job and you know it.  You’re trying to pawn that off on us because you don’t have the huevos to do it yourself,” said Oddie.  In mid sentence Oddie remembered that it really annoyed Gerry when someone threw in phrases from their mother tongue.  Spanish wasn’t his mother tongue but it still slid the job. 

“You tell Ricky he has to order the new shitter,” said Oddie, imposing on Gerry the 4 inches taller he was to punctuate his point; then walking off.  

Gerry was fuming because he didn’t have what these assholes did. Oddie had an x-factor.  He had a way to receive a problem and without doing anything crazy; without yelling and droppind f- bombs all over the job site, he got stuff done.  50% Mike Holmes + 50% Macgyver but with better hair than both of them.   Ricky had money. 

“We make that dumbass’s life way too easy,” said Oddie, including Ricky.  “Dude I’m getting tired of Gerry not givin me any recognition.  Does the office even know I exist?  What Gerry should do is tell his superiors that Oddie is a man who can think on his feet and is great with managing people on the job site,” said Oddie with Ricky nodding his head and just trying to stay neutral.

~~~

Oddie didn’t like complaining to Trina but he needed to vent.  Trina was more surprised at the level of pettiness than bothered to have to hear about work drama from her boyfriend.  She told him “Just speak your mind on the job site.  But do it in a way that highlights your  ability and your effort. Especially in front of that Ricky in case he can go over Gerry’s head and say something to his dad.”  

“Just look at how I basically transformed Sandoval’s son into a young man who believes in his ability to do shit.  He is outgrowing that insecure spoiled brat his dad dropped into Gerry’s lap and Gerry passed off to me,” said Oddie to Trina as he cooked dinner.  She looked up from building the app on her laptop and saw his afro grazing the bottom of the stove fan and wondered how a hard hat could actually stay on his head all day without falling off all the time.  

“Gerry is such a weasel.  The least he should do is throw a few gift certificates my way:  $200 for a nice steak dinner,” Oddie talked to himself while seasoning the onions.  He liked how the grains of rock salt gave his finger tips a mini massage.  He loved the sweet fragrance of frying onions but today he couldn’t smell anything because he was stewing in his own thoughts. “Ya know, Gerry is like a house cat: he is afraid of the outside world,” said Oddie.  

The outside world for Gerry is anyone under 30 years old, an assertive woman, anyone whose first language isn’t English, doesn’t approve of his e-cigarette or has creativity and leadership.  

~~~

When Ricky ordered the new port-a-potty he got the day wrong.

“Where’s the fuckin port-a-potty Ricky!” said Gerry inviting cardiac arrest.

“What’s that Gerry?” said Oddie.  “You’re not happy with how someone else did your job for you?  Then instead of sucking on your phallic e-cigarette why don’t you dial Justin Time?”

“Ricky!” yelled Gerry.

“Sup Gerry,”  said Ricky, taking off his orange hard hat and wiping his forearm across his forehead.

“Where’s my fuckin port-a-potty?”

Oddie took a step back and watched as this moron turned purple in the face thinking that we waste so much of our emotions on such silly things. 

“I dunno Gerry, I ordered it so it should be here.  Relax, the engineer doesn’t get here till tomorrow, right?” said Ricky with his moneyed coolness.

“Fuck it,” said Gerry as he pulled his cell out of his pocket and called Justin Time for himself.

“What!” Gerry yelled at his cell phone pacing down the suburban street where they were putting up new 5,000 square foot homes in a cul-de-sac.  “I need that port-a-potty here today.  Now.”

Gerry got to the job site at 6:15 the next morning just in case their port-a-potty was the first delivery of the day.  He leaned on his truck, took a pull off his e-cigarette and a sip of his coffee.  The morning in the cul-de-sac was cool and quiet and the sky was clear.  For some reason he looked over his shoulder in time to glimpse two deer bound down into the ravine.  He thought of just quitting and moving back to Manitoba and taking care of his parents.  He felt guilty everytime he e-transfered money but wasn’t there to help out.

“Gerry looks like shit, how do you think he slept?” said Oddie in a mock conversation with Ricky so Gerry could totally overhear it.

“Fuck you.”

“It’s just a toilet,” said Oddie.

“What’s his problem?” said Ricky, putting on his gloves.

“Last year Gerry phoned Justin Time yelling at them, droppin f-bombs that he needed a new port-a-potty right away because Jean was totally hungover and he puked all over the inside of the port-a-potty.  It was a stinkin hot August day and the shitter smelled like shit.”

“What happened?” said Ricky adjusting his safety glasses.

“Their boss called someone at our office who emailed Andre who yelled at Gerry.  So Gerry is ashamed to talk with them.”

“Did they give you a new port-a-potty?”

“No.  Gerry made Jean clean it up.  After telling me to do it of course. I told him to go to hell.”

The engineer is scheduled to arrive at 9:30 a.m. and the architect should arrive around then too.  Andre the PM was already on site and looking pleased with the progress.  

No one thought to reschedule the lumber delivery so Peter from Access Lumber was walking on site with a purchase order in his hand and trivia in his head. 

“Where do you want me to put it down?  Same place as last time,” said Peter.  His last delivery to this site was about two months ago.

“Who are you?” said Andre.

“Access Lumber bro,” said Peter.  

Oddie started to hum a song that made Ricky giggle but a glare from Gerry shut them down. 

“Why is he here?” asked Andre.

“I need the lumber or my guys are gonna be just sittin around all day playin with themselves,” said Gerry in an attempt to sound like a decision maker.

“What’s your name?” said Andre.

“Pete,” said Peter quickly while taking a step forward.

“Ok Pete,how fast can you get that lumber unloaded?” Andre asked Peter.

“I can be pullin outta here in 90 minutes if nobody gets in my way,” said Peter.

“It’s 8 am.  I need you outta here in 60 minutes.  These guys can help you,” said Andre motioning to Oddie and Ricky.

“That’s right Peter of Access Lumber.  We are at your service.  We got 60 minutes together,” said Oddie with a wry smile.  Andre could tell there was something going on between these guys but he didn’t care.  He wanted the lumber offloaded and this guy off his job site before the engineer arrived. 

“Get it done Oddie,” said Andre.  With that comment Oddie felt that the people in the office might know that he wasn’t a bobblehead like Gerry. 

“Why the fuck is everyone so tense becaue of one fucking engineer?” Ricky whispered to Oddie.  Oddie was directing Peter to back up the truck onto the front lawn, chewing it up a bit more. 

“Ya I know.  It’s complicated,” said Oddie.  Ricky had learned the vocabulary of evasion on site when the guys didn’t want to talk with him about shit the company did or rumours about his dad.  Ricky stood between Oddie and the space to get out from the back of the truck with a stance that declared that he was not his dad.  “Dude.  Now’s not the time,” said Oddie.

“Is this guy a real fuckin hard ass or what,” said Ricky walking with Oddie.

“No.  Not really.  She’s pretty fair from what I understand.  Not being an engineer myself.  She just doesn’t take bullshit – and therein lies the issue,” said Oddie.

“Right,” said Ricky as they walked around the truck.

“Now level out that area where the plywood goes.  And I want the 2 by 4’s over there,” Gerry gave redundant instructions to Oddie and Ricky who already knew what the drill was.

They got the lumber offloaded and Peter pulled onto the street at 9:15 and he sat in his truck doing paperwork or on his phone.

“I just got a message from the engineer.  She can’t make it today” said Andre.

“Fuck me,” said Gerry.

“Not today,” said Oddie.

“So when?” asked Gerry.

“We’ll let you know.  Just keep on schedule and don’t fuck up or we’ll have to tear everything down,” said Andre. 

Gerry was exhausted.  “I’m goin for coffee,” but then he saw he was already holding a large coffee in his hand.

Peter jumped down from the cab of his truck and walked across the street to the job site.  

“Hey guys,” Peter said.

“Is that you Peter?” said Oddie.

Peter loved his job because he would visit different job sites all the time and could use the same trivia on all of them but get a new reaction each time. He ached to overcome his sense of lack of accomplishment as a man by bringing his own Jeopardy show where he is the host and the contestant.  He just kept talking when the guys rolled their eyes or he heard others laugh at him.  He was like a comedian who came to practise his routine on the guys before going on stage. 

“Brother, I think you’ll like this one,” started Peter. “The original Zeppelin, the LZ 127 Graf…” 

Oddie got a kick out of giving Peter a hard time but also admired his spirit to do his thing regardless of what others think.  And he occasionally had a good story to tell.  He  was pretty sure the trivia Peter came up with was determined by his children’s homework assignments.  Ricky now used wrist braces because his wrists weren’t used to the framing.  He pretended he was adjusting his braces so he could listen to Peter.

“Knock it off guys.  Get to work?” said Gerry, breaking up Peter’s seminar on airships.

Oddie laughed to himself and started singing so Peter could hear as he walked to his truck:  

“There’s a skeeter on your Peter knock it off.  There’s a skeeter on your Peter knock it off – there’s a dozen on my cousin I can hear the fuckers buzzin, there’s a skeeter on your Peter knock it off.”

~~~

From the Short Story Series: Tool by Kevin McNamara

IG: kevin_mcnamaraca

My Nocturnal Friend

nice homage to a beautiful animal

My nocturnal friend

How you see what is invisible to me

How you hear what is silent to me

My guide through the dark

To side step the pitfalls that lie in my path

My nocturnal friend

How you see the truth that is hidden from me

How you know that which is unknown to me

My fountain of knowledge

Giving me wisdom to find the correct path

My nocturnal friend

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Short Story – Hector Holding the Bag

Photo by Paul Zoetemeijer on Unsplash


“I can’t believe someone would be so stupid to pay $280 thousand for a freakin NFT,” said Matt.  “It’s a measly pdf.”

“Who paid that much?” said Hector.

“Eminem,” said Matt.

“He’s got too much money,” said Hector.

“They aren’t just payin for a pdf,” said Andy.

“Well that’s what they get,” said Matt.

“They are backed up by the blockchain,” said Andy.

“That does Jack shit,” said Matt.

“You don’t know what you are talking about,” bluffed Andy.

“What the fuck is a NFT?” said Hector squeezed between the other two on the work truck seat.

“It means a non refundable ticket,” said Matt as if that closed the conversation on the topic.

“No it doesn’t,” laughed Andy.  Even though Matt could hear everything Andy spoke in a hushed voice to Hector on his right, “Don’t listen to that kindergarten drop out.  He was so in love with Kristen what’s-her-name from the Twilight movie he quotes the movie whenever he can.  But then she came out as a lesbeen and now numb nuts over there has PTSD.” 

“Good morning can I take your order?” came a cute voice over the drive-thru speaker. 

“Ya, can I get 3 large double doubles.  Do you guys want a breakfast sandwich?”  Then Andy turned back to the outdoor speaker, “I’m gonna get a bacon egger – no cheese.”

“Did you want a hash brown with that?” said the nice voice.

“What the hell,” said Andy.

“So then that makes it a combo,” said the bored voice.

“Sure.”

“Hector, you want some chow?” said Andy.

“Ya gemme a bacon eager too,” said Hector.

“Another eager bacon,” said Andy, playing around with Hector’s accent.

“Was that a second bacon egger?” said the tired voice.

“Yes please,”  said Andy then turned back towards Matt. “Yo, numb nuts, quit holdin up the line.” 

“Ya make it a combo for me too.  I need the grease to take my morning dump,” said Matt.

 “So it’s you stinkin up my truck with beer farts,” said Andy.

“Sorry chump, that’s just your bad breath,” said Matt.

Hector laughed hard at everything.

Hating to be laughed at, Matt elbowed Hector in the ribs.

“Owww.”

“Watch what you say, pipsqueak,” said Matt.

“I didn’t say anything.  I only laughed”

Andy saw that Hector didn’t grasp the meaning of ‘pipsqueak’.”

“Pipsqueak comes from the old Ojibwa phrase meaning ‘ye of large penis’.  Did you know Matt here is part native?” said Andy.

“Hector, did you know that gorgeous Andy over there is 100% dumbass?”

Being the first day of spring work the guys hadn’t been together as a group since early December so their banter was especially vigorous as a way to say ‘I missed you’.  Instead of doing snow removal, for the past three winters Matt surfs in Mexico.  Andy and Hector would bump into each other at the yard when they drove snow plow.  As the winter wound down Andy took March off this year and Hector hung drywall with his cousin.  

They couldn’t slide out the plastic cup holder because Hector’s knees were in the way so the tray with coffees and the bag of food were on his lap.  Over the winter Hector had pretty much cut out coffee but didn’t want to open himself to the circus of ridicule from Andy and Matt if he ordered a green tea so this morning he just let it ride.

“Rub-a-dub-dub, where’s the grub?” said Andy rubbing his hands together as he drove.  The paper bag warmed Hector’s thighs as he listened to the song on the radio.  He had no idea the band was Lowest of The Low and the song was called Salesman, Cheats and Liars but he liked the tune.  He had no idea Andy was asking for his breakfast sandwich.

“Oye guey, reparta la comida,” Matt translated.  As he worked over the years Hector had learned English yet many sayings escaped him.  On purpose Andy would use colloquial sayings in a passive/aggressive way that helped Hector broaden his vocabulary while portraying himself as cultured and wise.

“How was Parco el Escondera bro?  Some big surf and a bevy of hotties?”  said Andy through a mouthful of artificially round sausage.

“Que vergüenza ese pinche guey,” said Matt making Hector laugh.

“It’s Puerto Escondido.  And I’m not telling you anything because then you will want to come down there one winter and you will ruin the vibe and scare off all the bikinis,” said Matt.

Hector took a bite of his breakfast sandwich, then looked to his left in expectation of Andy’s response.

“Las nenas guey, una chulada, te digo,” said Matt.

“Orale,” said Hector.  Hector likes working with Andy.  But Andy has this way of joking with Hector’s English that Hector can’t figure out.  So he likes it when Matt speaks his Spanish to kind of even things out.

Out of nowhere Andy slammed on the horn because some idiot didn’t put on their left turn signal.  He squeezed his coffee so tight with his right hand that the brown plastic top popped off and hot coffee soaked his leg and crotch.

“Asshole!  Learn to drive!  Even better, don’t drive at all,” yelled Andy.

“You really told him.  I don’t think he is ever going to drive again,”  said Matt.

“Gimme your coffee,” said Hector so Andy could dry his pants.

“Great, now it looks like I pissed myself,” said Andy, steaming.

“So what does Eminem get for $280k?” asked Hector.

“A bored monkey,” said Matt.

“Exactly.  That’s what Matt sees when he wakes up in the morning,” said Andy.

“No Seriously,” said Hector.

“Google it,” said Andy.  Hector pulled his phone from his inside pocket.

“Not board you Mexican midget.  Bored,” said Matt watching Hector type.

Matt knew Hector was from El Salvador.  Matt was born in Poland and came to Canada when he was one year old so he had no accent but spoke decent Polish.

Hector’s belief in himself as a man was in flux but his spine was strong.  He loved Canada. He loved that his daughter could walk to school. He loved Matt and Andy because they looked at him with eyes that demanded results from a peer.  Hector was having trouble with his wife because he was having trouble ridding himself of a third world mentality.

“How do you spell NFT,” joked Hector.

“I’ll let Andy tackle that one,” said Matt.

“Bro, it’s a cartoon!” said Hector looking at the picture of the NFT on his phone.

“Hector hermano, but actually you should see some of these NFT’s; they are like a psychedelic trip.  But without the drugs.  They are really cool.  It’s a whole experience.  Not just a static image. 

“What’s the point?” says Hector.

“Money,” said Andy.

“Yes, money.  But the tech behind it can root out forgeries because if you cannot connect your pdf to the blockchain it is a fake,” said Matt.

“Fake what?  It’s right here in front of me,” said Hector.

“That’s what I’m sayin,” said Matt.

Andy had reached his limit of his Google search sound bites and succumbed to the most comfortable defence; “Fake news,” he said.

“Blockheads like him,” Matt motioned towards Andy, “Don’t have the mental bandwidth to grasp blockchain implications.  De hecho hay un guey que me está ayudando con todo eso.  Se puede ganar un chingo de dinero,” Matt confided in Hector about his investment.

Hector’s wife would pummell him and then divorce him if he were to risk their savings on a bored monkey.  

He was impressed with how much Matt’s Spanish had improved.  Matt just got back last week and was all tanned.  He could tell Matt loved tossing around slang and swear words but it resonated as an empty cool.  Plus his gringo accent made him sound like a congested substitute teacher.   

“What the hell, why is Fields calling me?” said Andy looking at his phone and putting it on speaker.

“Ron, what’s up?”

“Kurdak is calling me wondering if you guys are coming today.  What’s going on?” said the boss.

“Nothin.  We’ll be there in like 20 minutes,” said Andy.

“Hey Ron this is Matt. First day of the season ya know.  We had to find where everything was in the sea can,” said Matt.

“Where the fuck is Hector?” asked Fields.

“Right here boss,” said Hector.

“Ok good.  Well, welcome back boys.  And let’s get this Kurdak thing done and get outta there.  He’s drivin me crazy,” said Fields.

“You got it,” said Andy.

“Should be maximum five days work,” Matt said smiling at the other guys as he leaned towards the phone on the dash.

“Five days!?” said Fields.

“Ya the ground is probably still frozen in parts at the side of the house.  If we can wait a few weeks then it will probably only take three days,” said Matt trying to muscle Andy out of being team leader.

“I can’t wait any longer.  I need this done.  Go rent a jackhammer to break up the frozen shit,” said the boss.

“Ok,” said Andy, knowing that he would drop the guys and the tools at Kurdak’s place and spend half the morning going to get the jackhammer. 

“Update me at the end of the day,” said Fields.

“Roger that,” said Andy feeling good about his position in the tug of war with Matt for the team lead.

“Hector bro,  sounds like Fields is grooming you for upper management,” said Matt.

“Fields wouldn’t even recognize me if I ran him over with my car,” said Hector.

“You have a car?” said Andy looking across at Hector.

“Ya bro.  Didn’t you see me all winter pull up in that blue Nissan?”

“What year is it?”

“2015.  Runs pretty good.  Got it off my cousin so I can pay it off by hangin drywall for him on weekends he said,” said Hector.

“Nice,” said Matt.

“Last week Fields told me Kurdak had called him like 5 times to confirm we were going to be there today because he wanted to ‘monitor our work’ is what Kurdak said,” said Andy.

“Kurdak.  That’s the spooky guy that stands behind the curtains all day to watch us work?” said Hector.

“No.  That’s Mrs Moosavi.  She’s a whole nother kettle a fish,” said Andy.

“Do we have to go back there?” asked Hector.

“Nope.  We finished her driveway in October I think,” said Andy.

“Don’t these people ever work!?” said Matt.

“Who knows,” said Hector.

“Man they come here with wads a dough and buy a passport,” said Andy, throwing around his sayings again.

“Not like Hector the Erector here who works for his money and pays his taxes,” said Matt.

“Hector the erector, is that your porn star name?” said Andy.

“Hey, there goes a Pyramid Landscaping truck.  Those guys man, they work fast and dirty.  They have the worst Yelp reviews,” said Matt.

“Those guys offered me a job in January,” said Andy.

“As what?” asked Matt, both jealous and curious.  

“Territory Manager,” said Andy.

“Obviously you turned it down because here you are.  What kind of money did they offer you?” asked Matt.

“More than what Fields pays,” said Andy

“So why didn’t you take it?” asked Hector.

“My wife sat me down and showed me the on-line reviews and she told me there must be a reason they are looking outside the company when they need a territory Manager,” said Andy.

“It must be a real shit show,” said Matt, convincing himself where he worked was alright and his feelings weren’t hurt that he didn’t get a job offer over the winter.  

Shit show;  Hector liked that saying.  He was going to use that.

“Basically it’s sales and customer service,” said Andy.  “Putting out fires and dealing with Kurdaks.  I wanted the money, of course.  To buy a house and stupidly chain myself to a mortgage for 30 years.  But my wife told me I would have become exactly like my father.  And we don’t want that for her or for me.  So now I am stuck with looking at your sad faces everyday.”

“I know, I am getting these bags under my eyes,” said Matt checking out his tanned face in the mirror in the passenger sun visor. 

“You sound like a woman,” said Andy.

“You look like a woman,” said Matt with an instant response.

“No seriously, you remind me of one of those women in her flowing dressing gown,” said Matt as they turned onto Kurdak’s street.  “You know the 1960’s kind who sit at their boudoir with a cigarette and their Martini to put on their makeup to go out for dinner with their aloof husband,” Andy continued. “Their young daughter stares as her mother gets ready, ‘you are so pretty mommy,’ and mommy smiles to hide her sadness.”

Hector typed boodwar into google translate.

“It’s tocador guey,” Matt told Hector then to Andy he said, 

“That’s a whole lot of Disney princesses you got going on in your head bro”.

“I’m an artist,” said Andy.

“You’re an idiot,” said Matt.

“Now Matthew quit teasing your sister,” said Hector in a scolding voice.

Matt turned toward Hector, “If you were a woman Hector, you would be …,” 

“If Andy was a woman …,” interrupted Hector nervously.

“What are you talking about, Andy is a woman!  I mean have you ever seen him take a piss?  Me neither.  You know why, cuz he’s gotta sit down,” said Matt.

“Now who’s got the rabid imagination?” said Andy to Matt as he put the truck in park. 

Mr. Kurdak was waiting for them in his garage with the garage door up.

“Good morning Mr. Kurdak.  How are we today?” 


Also from the Short Story Series: Tool by Kevin McNamara is Jerry Rig



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Short Story – The Honest Cold

Photo by Rick J. Brown on Unsplash

“So you’re telling me you’re angry at your wife because she bought you a pair of work pants,” said Tali.

“That’s right,” said Bruno.

“No, that’s wrong.”

“They’re not the right kind,” whined Bruno.

“So what.”

“I don’t want them.”

“Who cares?” said Tali.

“I do.”

“No you don’t.”

“Fuck you.  You can’t tell me I don’t care,” said Bruno.

“Sorry.  You’re right.  You do care.  You care what the fuckin hammer heads on the job site might think of you if you aren’t wearin Carharts.  Instead of caring that your wife loves you. And wants to buy shit for you.”

Tali put on his hard hat and got up to take a leak then turned back to say,

“Bro, didn’t your dad teach you that whenever you can say yes to your wife just say yes.”

“That makes no sense.  And my dad never taught me anything about women,” said Bruno, screwing the cup back on the red thermos his wife bought him.  

“When?”

“I. Don’t. Know,” said Bruno.

“I do,” said Vanessa.

“When?”

“Never.”

“It’s not never.  It’s just not now,” said Bruno.

“I’m not waiting till I’m forty to have children.”

“Who’s saying you have to wait till you are freakin forty.”

“You’re a fuckin broken record,” said Vanessa.

“I need to feel more stable in my work.”

“Then stop getting fired,” said Vanessa as she turned and walked to the cramped kitchen.

Let go is the proper term.  And it isn’t my fault.” 

I don’t care if it’s your fault or your boss is an asshole.  Deal with it.  Your buddy Tim does.  And Manuel does.  Why can’t you?”

“I don’t work with them anymore.”

“My point exactly,” said Vanessa.

“Why can’t you stop hounding me?”  Bruno’s posture slid from tired to defeated. 

“Hounding you?!  I’m …,” said Vanessa, shocked that Bruno couldn’t see what she wanted.

“Ya.  Where are the children?” said Bruno in a falsetto voice imitating Vanessa.  “Don’t get fired,” he continued, karate chopping his right hand into his left palm.  “Tim is better than you.”  Another karate chop.  “Just say nothing to your stupid supervisor when he wants to cut corners all over the place,” said Bruno out of breath.

“You seriously think I am criticising you?” said Vanessa. 

“All I can hear is how I am not good enough for you,” said Bruno glaring into Vanessa’s back.  Vanessa spins around,

“I am supporting the man I think you are!” 

Bruno grabbed his coat and his phone and slammed the door.

‘I am not going to chase that loser’ thought Vanessa.  As she banged utensils around the kitchen Vanessa heard the pitter patter of little feet from the ceiling above her. 

Bruno and Vanessa were living in the house where he grew up.  They occupied the basement apartment and rented out the bungalow above them.  

“And if that baby isn’t crying all night, it’s running around all day – pumpum pumpum,” said Bruno about the same little footsteps that make Vanessa edgy.  But for a different reason. 

“It’s like the only thing Vanessa and I agree on these days,” he said.

“You know I know the total layout of the upstairs so in my mind when they are walking around I picture it.  I can’t turn it off.  I can’t focus on anything because as soon as they move it’s like I become their tour guide or something.  But only in my mind.”

“Take it easy bro,” said Massimo Bruno’s older brother.

“That’s the point, I wish ….  I take the wrong things easy and make easy things difficult or whatever.  Anyway that’s what Vanessa says.”  

“Ok.  Breathe Bruno.  If I had a beer I would offer you one but I don’t keep any in the house anymore,” said Massimo.

Massimo shoves his hands in his jacket pockets and leans against the frame of the open garage door of his home literally 4 blocks from Bruno’s place.  Bruno had walked here in a huff on a crisp November evening.  He loved the clean fresh air but tonight he was too busy running his revenge movie in his head of the stupid things he would do and say.

Instead of selling their parents house they had all agreed that Bruno and Vanessa would live there and pay his parents rent for the whole house while collecting rent themselves from the tenants upstairs.  Bruno would attend to the tenant’s needs or complaints with the enthusiasm and customer service of a teenage tree sloth.  Bruno and Vanessa lived there almost rent free because the rent from upstairs covered the mortgage payment.  They just had to pay utilities.  Still the mortgage was in Vito’s name, Bruno’s dad.  The plan that Vito and Massimo put together was for Bruno to buy the house in 2 years from the date of moving into the basement. Three years later Bruno was still flailing professionally and financially.  

Vanessa didn’t bring much to the table.   She had learned from her vitriolic parents that, upon their immature version of divorce, she was a commodity that had value even if she did nothing but breathe.  Up to this point she had found sufficient success with this model so that it didn’t occur to her to have initiative.  So for her it didn’t make sense to her to invest in a career if they were going to start a family and then move upstairs. 

“Bro, take her some flowers, kiss her like you love her, go for a tumble in the sack.” 

“Ya, you’re right,” said Bruno.  

Bruno let himself get drawn quickly into an abyss of fear you could see in how his eyes went distant in an instant.  The flowers were a great idea, Bruno thought, but having sex would only reinforce his place as the one guy who can’t get it done.  Massimo had seen this look many a time before;

“And find some fuckin sunshine in your day.  If there aint no sunshine in the vicinity – fuckin make your own.  Dude.  It’s life.  You’re young,”  said Massimo punching Bruno in the shoulder.   

“You have a woman who loves you, bro.  Make any mistake you want but don’t make that mistake – of not loving her.   And being loved by her.  I will slap you so hard if …”

“Ok, I get it,” said Bruno.

“We’ll see if that is true, Romeo.”

Massimo was tired of Bruno’s broken record of woe is me. 

“I really appreciate … I know I just dropped by and you’re probably about to have dinner and,”  Bruno went on.

“Dude,” said Massimo.  “This is getting old.  It’s so old it’s stale.  Ya know. Not stepping up to the plate and then complaining you’re not on base.  Bro …”

“Bro, I came here for a little commiseration,” said Bruno.

“What does commiseration mean?”

“It means, like to be, on the same page.”

“No it doesn’t.” 

“Drink wine from the same bottle?” tried Bruno. 

Massimo didn’t want to be the perfect older brother but he couldn’t help shaking his head.  In a flash he had visions of their dad and childhood; and the stupid teeenage things they did together amazingly all fitting into a few seconds in his mind.  

“Ok, so then what does it mean?” 

“Bruno.  There is no perfect time to have children.  Bro.  Make your wife happy.  Make us all happy.  Fuck – make yourself happy.  It doesn’t fuckin matter what you do!   Just get her pregnant as you do it.  That will answer 90% of your imaginary problems.”

“Ok it’s time for ….”

“You don’t have any issues?”

“Issues?”

Can you get it up?”

“Yes, I can get IT up.”

“Then are you shootin blanks?”

“Fuck if I know.”

“Well, If your Vanessa isn’t pregnant in the next 6 months you gotta get your junk analysed.  

In the cool silence of the dusk the honest cold of the night lovingly takes over.  In that bare moment teasing intimate conversations Lisa, Massimo’s wife opened the door at the back of the garage.

“Hi Bruno, good to see you.”

“Hey Lisa, you too,” said Bruno.

“Are you gonna stay for dinner? I am reheating Massimo’s for him now,”  said Lisa looking at her husband.

“Thanks Lisa, I gotta get goin,” said Bruno.

“Thanks Babe.  I’ll be in in a minute,” said Massimo before Lisa could close the door.

”You see what it is?  It’s the whole package.  It’s a marriage.  It’s a family.  It’s a circus.  Everyday there is a ton of bullshit if you are gonna count the cost.  Bro – the point is to make important things important.  If Vanessa is important to you, make her happy, give her a baby.”

—-

From the Collection of Short Stories: Tool by Kevin McNamara


Short Story – Shorten Up Ricky

Photo by Kevin Jarrett on Unsplash


“Oksana asked me what Haka meant,” said Oddie,  “So I gave her my best version of it.”

On his first day Ricky had seen the word in black marker on the back of Oddie’s hard hat but figured it was his last name or something.  That was when he hadn’t asked questions because he feared it would only have shown how little he knew.

“What is Haka?”  asked Ricky.

“It’s the warrior dance the All Blacks do before each game.”

“Who are the All Blacks?”

“New Zealand’s national rugby team.  Watch this,” says Oddie as he stands right in front of Ricky and starts slapping his forearms as he squats and shouts with his tongue out.  

“What the fuck … are you two love birds talking about now?” asked Gerry the supervisor out of breath.

“Nothin,” said Ricky. 

“What in the world could possibly motivate you to get out of your truck and climb that ladder?” said Oddie.

“Sandoval is coming later today,”  said Gerry, feeling awkward talking about the boss to the boss’s son.  “He hates a messy job site and he will yell at me saying the minister of labour is just around the corner …”

“The Minister?” said Oddie.

“Yes the fn’ Minister of Labour is comin down here to find us,”  said Gerry.

“Fine us,” said Ricky, the boss’s derelict son.

“Fine,” said Gerry.

“Ok we’ll clean up your job site Gerr Bear,” said Oddie.

“Now,” said Gerry.

Sandoval got his start in Quebec 30 years ago renovating apartments when the tenants moved out so the owners could jack up the rent.  To avoid the unions in Quebec he brought his guys to Ontario.  Two of his best men, Rejean and Frederick, were machines 20 years ago.   They had forgotten more about how to build a house than these young guns would ever know.  Frederick became a supervisor years ago but Rejean had framed himself into a corner.  He told himself he couldn’t do anything else. 

“Tabernac, Jerrie.   Kick doze feckin punks inta gear.” said Rejean.

“Relax, Jean.  I got em cleanin up the job site.  Nothin you need to sweat your little French balls about,” said Gerry.  

Gerry found himself squeezed between this wrinkled and weary red seal swearing at him in French and these newbie cowboys knocking in nails as they gabbed about energy.  Oddie could see Gerry stressing because he didn’t have skills to get the team to work together.  Oddie loved sitting back and watching Gerry squirm. 

Strapping on their tool belts after tidying up the job site, Oddie wondered,

‘Why is it that some people are just so easy to make fun of?’ 

“Ok Gerry-atric,’  Oddie yelled down to Gerry, “Looks real cute your job site.”  

“If by cute you mean tidy then get back to building my fuckin house,” said Gerry.

“He’s not coming,” said Ricky.  

It took Oddie a few seconds to realize that Ricky was referring to his dad; the boss, Sandoval.  Ricky obviously had the inside scoop.  Oddie inched a 2 by 4 stud until it was on centre with slow taps of the side of his hammer trying to think of something to ask.

“It’s Tuesday.  We won’t see him till Thursday.  Chill,” said Ricky.  Seeing Gerry leaning on his truck, checking his phone and pulling on his e-cigarette he said “It’s like watching a rat in a lab experiment.”

“Bro, who are you tryin to kid.  Ya gotta shorten up on the handle so it will be easier to get the nail in the middle of the block.  Shorten up,” repeats Oddie.  “You never played baseball as a kid?”

Ricky purses his lips.

“Fuck,” said Oddie. “Gimme that thing.  With all your money you couldn’t get yourself a real hammer.  Who made this thing? Fischer-Price?  Watch me; it’s like this.”  Oddie shows Ricky and Ricky gets the hang of it. 

“That’s better.  Now you only look like a spaztic rookie instead of a complete moron,” said Oddie.  

Oddie does anything complicated and Ricky works around Oddie.  Oddie is the only one who isn’t afraid to whip Ricky into shape:  

“Ricky don’t be picky – grab a couple of those lovely 2 by 4’s and let’s frame the shit outta this wall.” 

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph Ricky.  That’s not how I taught you to put in the blocking.  You’re makin me look bad.”

“Ricky, you don’t have to advertise you’re a rookie.  We already know.”

Ricky was still slick; hair coiffed down to the nanometre.  But now his boots were nicked and scuffed; the leather on his tool belt was softening up and wrinkling.  His posture was strong; his gait potent.

“Who is Oshkania again?” asked Ricky.

“Oksana.   She’s Tali’s girlfriend.  He says she’s his fiance but I haven’t seen any rings yet.  Anyway, Saturday morning she has a Zoom call about intention. with this group of people all over the world who are into well-being.  You know, healthy living.  What they do is they take turns sending each other good vibes.  And apparently it cures people of diseases and other shit,” Oddie loved having an audience.

“Whaddya mean intention?”

“Intention.  It’s something you want.  Something you want to happen.  Something you want to be in the world,” said Oddie.

“What have they cured?”

“I think she said cancer but I find that hard to believe.”

“Cancer?!  What… what’s her group called,” asked Ricky.  Oddie feigned needing to pick up a block and looked over at Ricky who, for the first time, was radiating confidence.  And purpose.

“I don’t know bro.  But I’ll get that for ya,” said Oddie.

Oddie can see Ricky is just here till the waters calm between him and his family and he will move on to whatever project his father’s money can finance.  In the meantime Oddie is a whole golf bag of services to the little prince;  Oddie is the 3 wood of focus; the 7 iron of curiosity; the sand wedge of problem solving; the pitching wedge of nuance; the putter of belief.  

“Where’s Reggie?”  asked Ricky.

“You know you came along just in the nick of time.  Reggie’s knees went a few years ago.  Now his wrists are so shot to shit he really shouldn’t even be working.  He has to take a couple of days off sometimes.  So that would mean I would have to work with Rejean over there.  You saved me from a long slow death.”   

“What’s wrong with working with him?” asked Ricky reeling with the realization that his privileged upbringing was financed on the backs of these guys.

“I dunno.  It’s just that he is so out of touch and out of shape,” said Oddie, hiking up his jeans.  

Oddie could feel he was getting soft because everyday after work he would step up into Ricky’s Rubicon after putting his lunch cooler on the back seat.  Now Ricky gives him a lift home when at first it used to be just to the subway.

At the traffic light a woman in cat eye sunglasses pulled up beside them in a yellow Jeep Wrangler.  Ricky gave a casual three finger Jeep wave; she waved back.  Oddie pushed his sunglasses down his nose to get a better look.  

“Bro ….”  Oddie loved this.

The yellow Jeep sped ahead while Ricky shifted into second on his own time.  

“What kind of name is Oddie anyway?”

Shorten Up Ricky is from the Short Story Series – Tool by Kevin McNamara