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Fiction: Unpopular Opinion

Laurel always thought of her workers as her cattle.

She wasn’t mean to them or mistreated them–no far from it, she took care of those employees with only kindness and gentleness. After all, her momma always told her that a stressed cow provided sour milk. Now, Laurel didn’t know enough about farm life to know if that was actually true at all, but she understood the message. Her employees were her cows, and sour milk would not make her any kind of money. So—it only made sense to keep them happy.

But even as she didn’t feel guilty for this thought–she realized that it was not something that she absolutely could not tell anyone about.  All it would take would be for one person to hear her express that opinion, or someone repeating her, to make for an absolute Human Resources and Public Relations nightmare. No matter how nicely she treated her employees–someone hearing that she thinks of them as cattle, and no one would believe that her employees were well treated–but instead that they all had some sort of Stockholm syndrome.

She comforted herself with the knowledge that even if it got out, the people who would be insulting her had no idea how to run a company or what was required to get a successful business off the ground in today’s economy. If you treated every employee like they were your best friend or your big sister–then every company would nose dive so far into the ground that the whole economy would be ruined.

That’s what Laurel believed, anyway. And her company was flourishing…so she was clearly doing something right.  If that meant thinking about employees as cattle, she was gladly going to keep doing that—until everything started to go downhill, then she would revisit her theory.

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Posted by on July 12, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft Project–The Tips are Great (505 words)

The Ninth Circle Club opened at eight, but no one of any consequence arrived before eleven. The women always came in dressed to the nines, wearing heels that made Cecily’s ankles hurt just looking at them. But she greeted them all with a smile, and they were all kind to her. After all, Tammy was quick to toss any woman out on her ass if they weren’t good to Tammy’s employees. No one was going to risk not being able to attend the Ninth Circle Events just for the fun of picking on “the help.”

Around eleven, when the best of the best were starting to show up, Cecily knew the real work began.  Food orders and drink orders and making sure the band had everything they needed and keeping everyone happy as the night dwindled on. It wasn’t until Tammy decided it was time to close and the lights started to come up that Cecily had a second to have an original thought to herself.

That was when Cecily started to notice who exactly showed up on any given night. The women filed out past her, all looking tired but happy with their nights, some now carrying their heels in in their hands, other’s still walking along like their heels were as comfortable as bare feet. Cecily watched in awe with the woman with the still perfect hair after several hours of dancing, or the ones she knew had slipped away to the bathroom not alone, but still had perfectly aligned makeup. She dreamed of one day being the kind of woman who could pull off being a part of the Ninth Circle Club–but it was a fantasy. A waitress here was the closest she would ever get, and Cecily was grateful for every last moment of it.

Then, the doors would shut. Tammy would fall into a chair with a dramatic sigh and insist that Cecily and the other four girls who worked throughout the club sat down and relaxed too. Only after everyone had at least three solid minutes of sitting quietly, then they would all get back up and start the cleaning up process of the night.

And as everything was totaled up, cleaned, and restocked for the night, Tammy came around to each of them to ask how their night went, to make sure there wasn’t anyone who needed to be “spoken to” by the owner and to make sure there was nothing that Tammy could change the policy on to make their lives easier. And Cecily always felt she could be honest to Tammy. It wasn’t the stilted “everything is great” that Cecily would have given to other bosses, but an honest opinion on the night or any troubles that Cecily might have noticed.

And at the end of the night, they all got their cuts of the cover, and said goodnight, seeing each other at seven the next night that the club opened–because doors opened at eight, but no one of consequence showed up until at least eleven.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Fiction: Co-Worker [Part 2/4] (99 words)

Oh. My. God. She didn’t even look sick when she was here the other day, she just looked tired. She’s probably out partying every night, and too hungover to come into work.  Why should have I have to pick up all this extra work just because she’s got to sleep it off? No, Thank you. She can deal with it when she gets back to work. And if she can’t handle it, then perhaps she shouldn’t have called out. We all come when we’re sick to get stuff done. She can just suck it up. Not. My. Problem.

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft Project–Early Bird

Sunrise was an acquired taste. At first it came as bitter, as Rachel pulled herself up out of bed to the blare of an alarm, got dressed in the semi-darkness of the first rays of sun filtering in through her window, eating breakfast as her kitchen got lighter, and sticking to a strict time for leaving to make sure that she was driving to work early enough that the sun was still behind the low buildings or late enough that the sun was high enough that she wasn’t burning her eyes out while she made her grumpy way to work.

But slowly, she started to notice the little things.

The first she noticed was traffic. Heading to work, she would see a car or two, and that’s about it. There was the occasional frustrating stop light that was on a timer instead of a sensor, that drove her mad, but other than that, the drive to work was so much more enjoyable. It took her less time to get to work, and she found herself in a better and a better mood when she got there.

Then she started to notice the stillness.  Since most sane jobs didn’t have start times until later—there were very few people moving around in the morning. She could look out her window while she was eating breakfast, and with the exception of the occasional bird, there was a stillness outside that made the whole view out her window look almost like a painting, one that just slightly changed every morning as the seasons went through their cycle.

Lastly, she noticed the quiet. She’d lived in apartment buildings her entire life, so she was used to hearing pipes and steps and people through walls. Her life was always surrounded by the busy through and through and other lives around her. But—when your alarm went off so god awful early, most people weren’t moving yet. No pipes, no footfalls, no annoying teenagers screaming at each other in the apartment next door. Walking down to her car, there wasn’t anyone banging on doors, or dropping things on the stairs, or any of that nonsense.

 

So, after months—they asked her if she wanted to move back to the normal schedule, the 9-5, and she answered without even thinking about it. She liked being up before sunrise.

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Fiction: Planning (524 words)

It was a rhythmic thump, thump, thump.  Wanda made her way through the house, searching each room to see if she could find the source of it. Finally, she found her way into Clint’s little office and found him hitting his head repeatedly against the desk in front of him. She watched Clint carefully, trying to decide the best course of action here.

“I guess it’s not going well?” she finally asked.

Clint looked up and seemed to look through Wanda.  She began to wonder if he was suffering some kind of brain damage now and if she should insist that he go see a doctor. “It is not going well. It is slow torture. I made a terrible decision to take this job. I should not be allowed to pick my own assignments anymore. Save me from my own folly, Wanda.”

Wanda pulled a chair over next to him at the desk. “Oh, come on, Clin. It can’t be that bad.”

Clint lifted the screen of his laptop, revealing more cascading windows then the computer should be able to run smoothly. “There are almost no online sources. Everything means that I have to go see the research in person. And it’s not like it’s all stored in a central library or a big exhibit that I can visit, but dozens of places in dozens of different locales all over the country. And it’s not like I’ve got plenty of time to do it.  This was a rush job—so they want a full, finalized article in one hundred and twenty days, which means that I have to have a workable draft to them in, probably nine or ten weeks, so I have to travel to enough of these locations for the article to be well informed, but also get the writing done and not get completely burned out over the next couple of months.  This is not going well, and I hate everything.”

Wanda blinked, reading a couple of the screens, before leaning back in her chair, sighing. “This is a rough one, Clint.”

“Don’t let me pick my jobs anymore, Wanda. Save me from my own stupidity,” Clint cried, slamming the laptop closed again and letting his head bang against the desk once more with a sickeningly solid thump.

“We can fix this,” Wanda said with a lot more enthusiasm than she felt. Then her mind kicked into gear and she sat up a little straighter. “Yes. We can fix this.  Get me a list, Clint. Get me a list of the top places you need to go. I will make the most efficient plan you’ve ever seen. We will get all the research done, then, we will make a schedule for writing, and we will get this all in on time. Do you think we can do it?”

Clint looked up skeptically but saw the look of determination on Wanda’s face. It took him a second, but his face was set in grim determinations too. “Yeah. Yeah, we can do this.”

“Alright. Let’s get to it!” Wanda smiled, slapping her hand against the desk. “Get me a list, and let’s go.”

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2017 in Stories

 

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Hard at Work? (99 words)

It’s the beginning of our busy season, so we all really need to buckle down.

I know that fifty-five hours of week isn’t ideal but I promise it will slow down eventually.

Nose to the grindstone everyone! Just think about all the money we’re going to be making soon.

Are you sure you need those two days off? Can’t you drive down to the wedding Friday night and be back in time for Monday morning?

 

Texting: Hey, All! I decided to take a vacation down south for the week. I’ll be out of contact for the week! Have fun.

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Voices (820 words)

<<Part 1>> 

<<Part 2>>
Lily parked behind the coffee house and took a deep breath through her nose.  Her last non-coffee scented air for the next eight hours—until she could get home and wash it out of her hair later that night. But at least it would be a busy day.  A day that could keep her mind off the night that she had, keep her mind off the dream and off “them”, The Man and Woman who occasionally seemed to have conversations inside her head.   Even if this busy day was filled with the whiny teenage girls who worked there on the weeks, earning just enough to fund their spending habits, and doing as little work as they could in the meantime.

“Lily.” She was barely through the door when her boss grabbed her gently by the arm and tugged her to the side.  “I need you to do back room work today.”

“Aw—Rachel, come on.  It gets so dull back there.”  Lily wasn’t above whining like the high school girls if she thought it might get her out of the worst work in the store.

“I know—I know.  But the checker is probably coming tomorrow, and the place needs to be spotless and above and beyond coed.  You’re the only one I can trust to go back there and actually do your job.”

“Remind me to be half-hearted and lazy from now on.” Lily griped, reaching for the cleaning apron off the hook.

“Ah, ah, Lily. We just know that wouldn’t be you. Not a lazy bone in your body.” Rachel grinned.

“You’ve clearly never spoken to my father.” Lily responded, but headed back to the back room regardless, and got to work.

Luckily, Lily had been the one roped into doing the cleaning for last quarter’s check as well, so the back room wasn’t anything as bad as it could have been. Unluckily, it was time consuming, but mind numbingly dull work that would take most of the shift without any mental stimulation.  It was going to take such a long time.

This was normally the time when she’d listen into the voices, just to see if they had anything fun going on, something for her to focus on that would help pass the time.

Normally, she would have done it without hesitation.  Anything would be better than sitting back here, scrubbing drains, plumbing fixtures, floors, and walls in silence.  But should she today? After those dreams she’d had?  Something about her helping them?  Should she encourage it by listening again? Was it worth it?

Finally, Lily had a “screw it” moment.  The scrubbing was so boring, and if she heard something that she didn’t like, she could always just blame it on cleaning fluid fumes.  Those things could get pretty nasty, so she had a ready-made excuse right there.

She tuned into them—the man and the woman she’d heard since she was a child.  It was kind of like adjusting a radio dial in her head.  If she put it at one setting, it was soft and static-y, something she could listen to but not something she gave her full attention to.

At another setting, they came in loud and clear, high definition sound pumping right into her brain.  And that was the setting she put it on now. Anything to drown out the boredom and silence.

She was worried that they were going to be talking about her again, but really, she needn’t have been.  In the long run, they almost never talked about her, percentage through her life wise.

“Ah-ha!” That makes seven points for me!” I’m kicking your ass, little man!” The woman crowed. They were playing rocks, which was, as best as Lily could figure, some kind of dice game.  They played it a lot to kill time.

“You know I only let you win because you get very pouty when you lose.”  The man replied calmly.  Lily knew that was true.  She’d heard him make moves that were too stupid to ever make unless he was doing it intentionally, but subtle enough that she wouldn’t call him out on it directly, whenever he started to pull too far into the lead. Lily had also heard the hissy fits that the woman had thrown on the occasions where she had lost.  She was a very competitive creature.

“Yeah, yeah. Whatever you want to tell yourself so you can sleep at night.”  The woman rolled the dice again, “And another nine.  Okay. Your turn.  Unless you just want to go ahead and concede the game to me now.”

“No, no, I think I can hold out for another couple rounds.” Lily smiled to herself.  It was great to listen to them play rocks.  It was one of the best ways to pass time, even though she couldn’t actually play herself.   She settled into her routine, cleaning away as they threw the dice again.

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2017 in Stories

 

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