I had spent my last miserable work hours tediously sorting piles of paperwork, after spending my first hours sorting out rusty clock parts. I was more than relieved to be home opening the bottle of wine that had been chilling in the refrigerator since my birthday. I poured a generous glass and flopped onto the couch. I reached for the tv remote when my phone rang.
The unfamiliar ten digit number flashed while the phone vibrated in a small circle. I contemplated throwing it across the room, and whether or not my phone would survive.
“Hey, uh, Bobby?” It was Darlene. Her words were spaced with heaving breaths every few syllables, as if she had been running. I knew that was not the case. “They need you. To come in. Now. I couldn’t find you. On Facebook. So, I had to. Call you.”
I looked down at my glass of wine. “Am I getting paid?”
“Overtime?” One could be hopeful.
“No,” she said flatly and ended the call.
I placed my glass in the refrigerator and set out, once again, to this hellish place I now called work.
I arrived before everyone else, again, and decided to park at the end of the block. I waited as the cars descended upon the parking lot like flies on fresh dog shit. After taking her parking spot back, the petite girl exited her car, still streaming profanities, and entered the bank without sparing a glance for anyone.
Blue Tie opened the door and leaned out, motioning everyone inside the buildings. “Bobby! You came back!” he beamed with awe as I approached.
Yeah, I can’t believe it either. I grinned, gritting my teeth.
“Come with me,” Blue Tie instructed to those who had shown up, then jogged away towards the back of the clock shop.
Namer was slumped against the wall, seeming to be asleep.
Then it hit me. The putrid, sulfuric odor assaulted me like a physical force. “What is that smell?”
“The Separator is leaking again,” choked Blue Tie. “We need to find the leak.” He went to a corner and grabbed a cardboard box.
“I don’t know anything about machines,” I said, thinking back on all the appliances I had thrown out when they refused to work.
“Oh, it’s easy! Just take this,” Blue Tie held out the box, which was full of half-used rolls of various tapes, “and follow your nose!” He pinch my nose, like a grandfather does to his helpless infant grandchild.
I pulled the collar of my shirt up over my nose as I and several other people approached the gaseous device. I noticed that no two people had the same kind of tape.
As I rounded the corner to the backside of the machine, I could see far more tape than metal. Duct, masking, electrical, and even scotch were all in abundance.
“Could they not call a repair man?” I asked no one in particular.
“Oh, they did,” said a stocky man to my left, sniffing like a hound. “Pro’lly two years ‘go. He whacked at it a few times with a big ‘ole wrench, then stuck a patch on it. Told management he’d order us a part and come back when it came in.”
“They should call him back,” the smell was beginning to make me light headed.
“They did, but the guy went outta business. We’ve been trying to hold out until he can get that part over to us.” The man reached up to slap a strip of tape onto a random patch of metal.
More from Holloway’s Hideaway!