Gold Dust Machine

“This is where my depression hits a fever pitch.”
“What are you mumbling about up there, Stretch?”
“Nothing, just keep picking up trash, Tasha. I don’t even like the name stretch. You are taller than me, why aren’t you Stretch?”
“Whatever Brian, no one cares about what you are called, they are just bored, like me because picking up garbage is boring.”
“It helps to think about anything else.” He wore his hair long to one side and it hung off his face in just the way she imagined that he practiced in the mirror.
“What do you think about?”
“How if I was a little more committal, I would have gone through with my suicide by now.” He paused. “It is just sad if you don’t laugh.”
“That shit isn’t funny even when people are uncomfortable enough to laugh at it. The impulse for honesty has shorted a circuit with the positive feelings of wanting to make other people laugh, only with a minimum awareness that they are responding incorrectly to human suffering.” She says, satisfyingly, in his imagination.
“You can use my rope.” She says. Plainly. Just letting the statement out to run over the floors and mold underneath the windows that never see sun.
“You sound like you have been working here too long.” He tried to laugh.
“How long do you think I have worked here?”
“I don’t know, a month, maybe.”
“It has been a year. You have known me for a year.”
“I didn’t realize it has been that long.”
“It has been a little too long, for this place.”
“I don’t want to talk about work. It is almost as boring as doing it. They days don’t get much differences. Everyone seems to be in a hurry, for no reason. It is mostly a distraction until I can go waste time at home.”
“You have worked here longer than anyone. What about this place is so shiny that you don’t see the next step.” He looked at the running lines of filth that mixed with the paint whenever it was wiped on by someone getting too much fumes, probably riddled with drugs and alcohol. Those degenerate painters.
“Did you hear me?” Brian said.
“No, I said did you hear me, and you repeated it?”
“Sorry, I must have drifted off.”
“That is rude. I’m right here being nice to you.” Brian looked up from his broom and saw her face, extra flustered.
“Are you over blowing your outrage to cover your honesty? Is it so hard to be nice to me?”
“No, that is just the kind of honest I am. It is good to be nice to people and sometimes people need to be reminded. Otherwise, they get to walking all over you and acting shocked when you pull yourself from under their feet.”
“That sounds specific.”
“You aren’t the only one with too much time here. It feels like we pick up the same thing every day.”
“Think about how they feel.”
“The day workers. They come in to a clean hallway in the morning and by the end of their day, there is shit everywhere. Wood shavings and dirt.”
“Why wood?”
“Golden pine lines everything. The place was built as an expansion to the original buildings with good foundations. There is just a bunch of sand under this place. The motion of people and the moving machines don’t have anything to walk against. So, it feels pretty solid but under everything there is sand.”
“Squishy sand that lets everything rub against each other. That doesn’t sound safe. I don’t think those kinds of plans can get approved.”
“They weren’t. The contractor had a problem with weather proofing the cement. He said it didn’t need it for an expansion but instead of an weatherproofed foundations, he didn’t put anything in.”
“None of this sounds safe.”
“There was a lawsuit and the contractor settled out of court and asked that it all stay hush-hush. He is suing the city council up the river, now. Claims of slander and damage to his business.”
“So, why are we still in a building that is slowly grinding itself away.”
“Company thinks it is good enough and the inspector didn’t take a step past the drive way to say she was here.”
“I feel like someone else should be cleaning this place up.”
“What’s the difference? You’ve worked here for a year and not noticed. You can barely tell where the wear is happening.”
“That’s because it is somewhere on the inside and everywhere. This isn’t safe.”
“You’ll be out of here soon enough. This job is a stepping stone for most.”
“Why can’t it be a stepping stone for you?”
“Because what I want is impossible. I’ll work for it but if I don’t get it, I’d rather die. This place is my suicide plan and it is shaving it’s way to crushing me.”
“You don’t have to wait for it. Do something about it.”
“I have waited too long but you still have a choice. Go, and do something for the next person like me.”


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