Call for Obstruction (The Courier #1)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 2 (v.2) - What Did I Do?

Submitted: April 30, 2009

Reads: 274

Comments: 5

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Submitted: April 30, 2009

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The OTG parking lot’s blocked by a couple car carrier semi-trailers. Parked willy-nilly across the lot are a dozen or more new OTG vans. Hopefully a sign that the company’s doing well, and this job will last longer than a month. I park on a side street and jog through the mayhem of vehicles to the entryway.

My phone sounds off near the office door. I clench my teeth. This time it is my mother. It’s like she has a sixth sense about me wasting all the money she spent on my private college education. The fact that I acquired a Computer Science degree by nineteen burns a little more with each unskilled job I take, and lose. How can her smart boy be such a loser?

My finger swipes hard against the surface to ignore her call, but she always tries twice. After counting to ten in my head, the device announces another incoming call from Mom. Only this time the screen blacks out after the first ring. I press the power button. No response despite the half-charged battery. Why argue with good timing? I put the phone in my pocket and step inside the OTG lobby.

The place is deserted even though Margery said she’s always here. Her office is nothing like the typical delivery drop-off site. Reminds me a little of my grandmother’s basement, or a time warp into the nineteen-seventies. Wood paneling, windowless walls, and dark brown cabinets along one wall make the room eerie despite the florescent lighting.

The empty liquor bottles scattered across an olive green countertop and beside the color-coordinated refrigerator could explain her confusion about the accident. The smoke rising from an ashtray on a nearby table tells me she’s prone to bad habits. Who am I to complain? My other bosses this year run stiff competition for worst manager of all time.

“Barry, you made it,” says a now familiar voice that seems to come out of nowhere.

I jump, turn, and look downward. A hunchbacked crone with flaming red and orange streaked hair stands behind me. Either she’s light on her feet or a magician in her spare time. Her hairdo’s combed upwards, like a troll doll, lifting her height to nearly five feet. The woman sure likes orange. It’s also the color of the leggings below her blue oversized Broncos t-shirt.

She holds out her hand. “Margery.” We shake and electricity surges up my arm. When I stumble backward, she lets go. A crooked smile turns up one side of her puckered mouth and she winks. “You find the warehouse okay?” Her breath packs a punch that smells like raw hamburger rotting in an ashtray.

With eyes popped wide from the lingering electricity, I nod my head.

She points toward the table and leaves me standing in the middle of the lobby. I follow, stroking my vibrating knuckles.

At the table, a chair slides out and hits my leg.

I pause.

The last half hour replays in my head: a strange van, an unexplained phone call, and now the furniture moves on its own.

I should have followed my first instinct. I should have gone home.

I peer across the table to tell her I’m leaving.

Margery’s charcoal eyeliner spirals around a bloodshot gaze. She draws me in like a tractor beam. In a slow, hypnotic hum, she says, “Have a seat.”

I flop into the chair, but not of my own free will. Set in front of me is a foot-high stack of paper that wasn’t there a few seconds ago. I open my mouth to ask about it.

Margery shushes me and reaches for the remnant of the still smoldering cigarette in the ashtray. She holds it between her thumb and index finger, places it between pursed lips, and inhales deeply. The cigarette crackles and snaps until it fires against her skin. When there’s no more smoke to draw in, she drops the butt into the ashtray and tamps her thumb down on the red-hot tip. The aroma of tobacco mixed with burning flesh fills the air.

“Before you can work for us”—she pauses to lick ash off her blackened fingertips with a serpent-like tongue—“you must agree to a few employment terms and sign our standard contract. All our drivers sign one.”

Bile rises to the back of my throat. I swallow hard and point at the tall stack of paper. “The contract seems excessive. What’s in it?” Not that I’m going to sign it.

She falls back in her chair, lifts her arm, and a newly lit cigarette appears out of nowhere. “Top copy’s salary, fifty-five an hour plus time-and-a-half overtime. There’s other standard stuff for liability and such.” She flips her hand as if the latter part is unimportant.

My eyes open wide at the thought of making more an hour than any job I’ve ever landed. But I don’t like that this lady can make me sit like a trained dog. I slide my chair back, ready to get up and leave, and at the same time wonder what sort of liabilities require that much documentation.

“Driving for us or any courier service can be dangerous, among other things,” she says, as if she heard my thoughts.

“Are you talking about accidents? Are these like insurance forms?”

“Sure.” She picks up the pen and holds it out. “Like insurance forms.”

I rub the back of my neck and watch her wave the pen like a pendulum. “So if anything happens to me, I’ll be taken care of?”

“Yeah, Honey. We’ll take care of you.” That creepy grin curls up one side of her mouth again.

As much as I’d like to get the hell out of here, this job’s salary will keep me independent, not to mention buy me a new computer. Hell, I would sell my soul rather than move back in with my mother. My chair slides back up to the table with no effort from me.

“Right there at the bottom,” she says. “Sign your name and you’re employed.”

My eyes fix on the nib as it continues to sway left and right. In the background, Margery duplicates into two hovering heads, then three, then four. The more she multiplies, the blurrier my vision, until all the colors turn to blackness.

 

* * *

 

“All done,” Margery’s voice echoes in my head while the room comes back into focus.

“I signed?” Smoke belches out of my mouth. I jump to my feet and the chair screeches across the floor. “What did you do to me?”

She stands and pulls the tall stack of papers to her side of the table. “Be here tomorrow morning at six o’clock sharp.”

“I don’t think so.” More smoke escapes my mouth and clouds my vision. I turn around, full circle, and find I’m wasting my breath. There’s no one left in the room but me.


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