Work Hazards

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Review Chain
Dr. Stein has worked three years at the community theater under the town's rude star. Now, she is hurt and bleeding to death on stage. What will Stein do with this opportunity set before him?

Submitted: April 18, 2017

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Submitted: April 18, 2017



Work Hazards

It was an unmistakable sound that carried the weight of revulsion and panic so heavily, Dr. Stein immediately after hearing its echoed thud on the wood floors, wondered if he should call an ambulance or a hearse, but hearing the thud followed by the a shrill, other wordily scream, did persuade him to have the common idea of checking on the accident scene first. So, that he could determine which department appropriate to call upon. Sure enough, the hard thud and crunching noise, which sounded nearly identical to the soda can cruncher his children used on their front porch, was a sand bag unleashing all hell onto the person directly below it. The famous Laurel Griffin. Well, as famous as any small-town Louisiana community actress could get without ever stepping outside her town's limits.

She, in her search for reciting lines she had recited since her young high school days, found it impending that she opened up the theater, or as she called it, “The thee-ter.” late this Wednesday night, to practice more. She had done this, despite Dr. Stein’s warning time and time again, that he was cleaning and maintaining the ‘thee-ter’, for the upcoming show. These rounds of maintenance checks were essentially his job description as the “Service boy” of this museum of live art, which had been standing since the sixties with all the same issues all old places have; electrical shortages, plumbing issues, unreliable props which the department refuse to rid of despite his many safety concerns. Yet again, something had broken in the wrong way at the wrong time, the only thing special about this incident, was that the shining star of the town was now probably seriously and audibly hurt. Stein could already envision the town's paper headlines.



That anxiety-inducing thought produced sweat droplets on the man’s forehead, which he whipped using the tattered handkerchief his wife insisted he carried on him. He never asked why she did, nor did he protest, so he just assumed that it was some Romanian folklore about blue being a positive color. “Stein!” the shrill voice from the staging area must have remembered his name, and that he was working there, and that he had protested her practicing while he did his rounds. “Stein!” it grew in pitch and octaves, as if someone had stepped on an alley cat’s tail and that the transgressor hadn’t noticed yet.

“Stein!” now the cat was angered.

With a heavy sigh, Stein could feel his hands clenching, but all the same, he knew it was his job to at least check on the woman before he called someone who would bother this late at night to do something for the poor, loud, creature. As he expected though, when he pulled back the red stage curtains, there she was, with the language of a sailor.

“Stein you fucking idiot! How did this happen?” she hissed between white teeth and red lipstick. For a moment, he hadn’t registered what her question was nor that she had even said anything. He was too awestruck at the carnage that lay before him. The sand bag, was still on her left shin, pinning her onto the dirty stage, while her femur bone stuck out of her pale thigh. The blood was splattered all over the stage and the front row chairs. While she was drenched, including her pink skirt and low cut white blouse, he thought it a shame that it had stained the clothing his wife had donated to the salvation army.

“Stein you god damn useless prick!” she shrieked out, her pale complexation fusing into a bright red. Stein noticing all of this, began to wonder if she was turning into a fucking tomato. “Stein I swear to god I will have them fire you! Both of her hands reached out, grasping his jeans and muddy work boots. “I’ll have them can you so fast you fucking useless German!”

Her red nails were digging into his legs like a cat clawing its way up a tree, but Laurel wasn’t going anywhere. No, she was stuck beneath the sand bag, left there with her empty threats and lashing rage. Stein listened to her in silence, observing the mess he would have to clean up tomorrow. “Mrs. Griffin,” His thick throaty voice was the product of three years’ chain smoking just behind the building during his lunch breaks. “I told you not to be here while I did my rounds.”

“I’m going to fucking miss the play tomorrow!” she squealed out. “Because of your props!”

“Yes I know, but I told you not to be here. You did anyway.”

“This is your fucking fault! I’ll have you fired!”

Those words, rung in between Dr. Stein's ears. The word fired stung the most. Three years Stein had been running errands and conducting business not in his job description, just so the hoity Miss Laurel Griffin, the star of the stage, who happened to be the stage owners favorite (for sexual reasons), wouldn’t get him fired. He got her coffee each morning with his own money. He had his daughter babysit her young toddler for nothing, just so he would have enough money during these hard times to feed his family. Images of his wife, crying at his job loss, was unthinkable. His already clinched hands were now white knuckled.

“I have to call an ambulance.” Was all he whispered, before jerking his legs away from her grip and walking towards the front row of chairs.

“I’ll have you fired!” she echoed to him. “Fucking fired!”

The blood on the ground was now making tracks in the carpet, underneath Steins muddy work boots. These tracks followed him, just as he passed the phone hooked on the wall, and came face to face with the left exit door. As he looked back at Laurel, who was silent and paler than she had ever been, her eyes were not full of rage, but instead, shock. That look was the most pleasing thing Stein had ever had happen to him while working at this stupid job.

“What are you doing? I’ll bleed to death! Call the ambulance!” she demanded, all shrillness melting into a soft butter. Stein placed his hand on the doorknob and twisted it.

“Good day Mrs. Griffin.”

As Dr. Stein left the room, the audience, stood from their chairs in cheerful applause.

What a wonderful performance. 

© Copyright 2018 mary j. rodgers. All rights reserved.

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