A crushing response to unbearable irritation.
“There are no mistakes. They are really bridges to perfection.”
With difficulty, Falcon Durridge maintained his deadpan face as he heard the oft-repeated platitude from his area manager’s lips. How he wished he could make the ultimate mistake of strangling the pompous buffoon for his senseless sayings. But a job is a job and Falcon knew that it wouldn’t be easy to find another if he lost this one.
Running a warehouse for a mail order firm was a pretty cushy number. When the area manager was away, and that was most of the time, Falcon could work at his own pace, allowing himself plenty of breaks and coffee times. Which made the times when Dudley Moon, the area manager, was present even more irritating.
The Moon Man, as the staff called him, wasn’t a bad guy really. He pretended to know much more about the business than he did but, essentially, he was harmless since he didn’t try to assert his authority or tell people how to do their jobs. That did make his continual restatement of syrupy sayings the more galling however. Every repetition of “Problems are just opportunities,” made Falcon’s soul cringe and desire some awful ending for the perpetrator of such inanities. Somehow Falcon bit his tongue and managed to keep silent.
Until there came a time when Moonie spent several days at the warehouse, preparing for an expected upsurge in orders. Room would have to be made in what was already a full storage area and the Falcon had his staff working hard, trying to find the extra space that was needed. Moon wandered around, mouthing the platitudes he was so sure encouraged the workers, while tempers grew short and an undercurrent of grumbling became audible.
It was on Friday, near the end of the shift, that Falcon came to the end of his tether. He and his team were trying to put loaded pallets on top of each other, thereby increasing floor space, while the Moon Man circled them, spouting his worthless contributions.
“Those pallets will go a level higher,” he said, signalling the fork lift driver to bring up a few more.
“They’re not stable,” replied Falcon. “There’s a good chance the lowest goods will get crushed under the load and the whole lot will topple over.”
Moon pushed at the nearest pallet to see if it rocked at all. “Seems solid enough to me,” he announced. “Besides, needs must when the devil drives.” He signalled the fork lift again.
Falcon should have continued to argue but his patience came to a sudden end. Mentally he washed his hands over the whole business. “You’re the boss, Mr Moon.” He stepped back, making sure that he was out of the way of any disaster about to happen.
The fork lift edged closer, raising a loaded pallet as it did so. Then, gingerly, as though the driver was well aware of how precarious the pile was becoming, he set one more pallet on the top. It held and the fork lift reversed in relief.
Moon turned to the team watching nervously. “There,” he said, spreading his arms in demonstration of how easily the job had been accomplished. “One more was never going to hurt. Who dares, wins.”
Only Falcon noticed the cans on the lowest pallet beginning to buckle. He should have warned Moon, perhaps even dragged him to safety, but a voice inside persuaded him against it. “He’s been asking for it,” the voice whispered. Falcon crossed his arms and watched.
Several of the cans burst with an explosive hiss and now all could see that the pile was leaning towards Moon. The manager whipped around at the sound but it was too late. The full weight of the pallets and contents leaned over him and then crashed down, burying him in a heap of vomiting cans, broken bottles and bursting boxes.
Falcon sprang into action. Clapping one man on the shoulder, he called out, “Go ring for an ambulance. Quick!” Turning to the others, he ordered them forward to begin lifting the debris off their area manager. It became a scene of chaos as everyone started hauling off the rubble from the collapse, desperate to rescue the man underneath the pile.
They found Moon eventually, bloody, cut and broken, but still alive, much to Falcon’s amazement. He was conscious but was babbling nonsense. Falcon bent at his side, trying to make sense of his words. He could understand nothing.
Bending closer to Moon’s face so that only the injured man could hear him, Falcon said the words that seemed most fitting.
“Not to worry, Moon, old boy. Least said, soonest mended!”
Word Count: 778
For SCREAMS!!! 6/8/2020