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Under My Skin

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  • Under My Skin

    I have two more left to finish my column series, but all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. I;m a supervisor in manufacturing and wrote a short story imagining a professional wrestler having to go to that environment. There's really no moral to it. Just absurdity. here.

    I walked in with my nerves on edge, like I was in a car crash. I’d say understandably so. A truck darn near slammed into me on the street that led in!

    The driver turned in ahead of me. I purposely didn’t look at them. Because if I saw them, I’d kick their butt across the parking lot. The isle in the warehouse was empty. How would I find my production line? “Hello?” I yelled.

    Coming out an office on the left, a man in a dark polo and pants called himself Howie. Said he was the security guard. Average size guy. Of course, when you’re like I was, a six foot-five ex professional wrestler with that body and perfect hair and skin, everyone looked small.

    I told him my name. Marek Lewandowski. Then, offered my hand. He left me hanging. Right. The pandemic. I apologized.

    “Can you believe this? I was minding my own business, and a chevy truck almost collided into me.”

    “It’s Florida. Trucks crash into us every day.”

    I frowned. If it was going to be that way, I didn’t know if the beaches were worth it or not.

    “Say, haven’t I seen you on TV?” He said.

    “Well, I was a wrestler but got ‘me tooed’ and had to retire. Kind of a bogus charge, man!”

    “Women are to be believed.”

    “Oh, I know, I’m just saying … Hey! Can you help me find my line? I’m starting as a line leader tonight.”

    “Through the roll up door, then on the left. It’s the only one running, but please respect our female associates.”

    “Look, I didn’t do it! Gosh. I shouldn’t have said anything about that.”

    “I’m joshing you.”

    “Really? You seem weirded out.”

    “I was taught to keep a serious face when I josh. Marek, it’s your first day. If anything crazy goes down, I’ll be there to assist.”

    “Wow, thanks!”

    When I got to the line, the machine was stopped, and four people stood at a conveyor that stretched from it. On one side a lady with glasses, and behind her a guy with a mustache. On the other side a younger looking guy but really, I hardly could see any of those three due to the fella furthest back he was a—not weight shaming or anything—but a chubbier guy with pinstriped pants and a matching top hat. I’d never seen anything like it outside the wrestling shows. But I kept it to myself because, you know, the first day and all.

    “Whose training me?” I said.

    “Training yew?” The round guy said under his top hat. “Yew mean, yew don’t knew what you’re dewing? We’ve been waiting for someone to start the machine.”

    He said ‘knew” instead of “know.” I judged a lot of things back then, but his southeastern accent warranted it. He’s one of them who made the long vowel for the letter O with a sound that takes two Os. Instead of COVID-19, those people say COOVID-19. Horrible!

    What’s as bad, I couldn’t believe he expected me to walk right in and start the machine. “Well, it’s my first day.”

    “While yew figure out what you’re dewing, I need to take Richard for a walk.”

    “Wait, where we goin’?” The young guy in front of him— presumably, Richard—said.

    “C’mon, Richard.”

    The round guy went ahead. Richard pulled up his belt and bounced behind him from a distance. And I was left with the girl with glasses and the guy with the mustache, and with a machine where the tubes were stagnant over cartons in pucks. With my hands on my hips, I shook my head. I saw a control panel under the guard doors and was fairly certain it must be the green button that started it, but how could I know! And even when I pressed it, nothing happened!

    I took a walk back to security but stopped when I saw a glass door that said, “supervisor’s office.” Great, I thought. That’s who I needed to see. The glass distorted his or her shadow. But someone was in there and sitting at a desk. I knocked but no answer. “Excuse me!” I yelled. “I need help.” I tried turning the knob, but it was locked.

    Howie came over, while a compactor squealed in the distance. It got under my skin some, but I was sure it was the circumstances surrounding the situation that really bothered me, not the compactor or Howie.

    “The supervisor doesn’t like to be disturbed.”

    “Well, get me a number for a manager, then. I need help!”

    “This is third shift. It’s a necessary evil to keep production going twenty-four hours. The managers despise us for having to exist, while they miss the simpler times when two shifts were enough. It’s best not to interrupt their sleep with our miserable way of life.”

    “Well, what am I supposed to do?”

    “Calm down. You’re starting to get loud.”

    In between us talking, the round guy with that ridiculous pinstriped top hat stopped by. He leaned in at me and said, “don’t be expecting Richard back. He doesn’t work here, anymore!”

    “Wait? What?”

    “I walked him out.” He pushed the button for the roll up door and went through.

    I followed behind. “What’s your job title?”

    “General labor. But you can call me the General.”

    “Wait, I don’t think general labor can walk people out, though.”

    “Yew haven’t seen how the labor laws goo around here. Besides, Spencer woon’t be bothered by the ongooings of the floor, so he has me dew it. Moostly, I walk people out when I think their being racist.” He folded his arms. “Yew still haven’t started the cartoner? We’re suppoosed to be making two hundred of these butt creams an hour!”

    “Help me out!”

    “It’s not my job to knew that. I’m general labor! Jesus! Santiago, I knew it’s not your job, but he needs someone, desperately.” He mumbled, “sew incompetent.”

    “What did you say?” I’d of probably beaten the hell out of him right there, but as I spoke, the guy with the mustache came over and waved his hands into a commotion, saying, “verde, verde.”

    “He’s speaking Spanish. I can’t understand him!” I shouted. The General was far back, standing in his position at the conveyor. “Are yew being racist, Marek?

    “How did you know my name? What’s going on here?”

    “Ver… de.” Santiago gestured his hands at the green button to me.

    When I placed my finger on it, he held my wrist still until the tubes started dropping with the cartons catching them. We were moving. It didn’t matter. I was hot. I walked over to the General, while he, the young lady, and Santiago pulled the tubes from the conveyor. “You’re lucky I need the insurance!”

    “Don’t just stand there and be one of them line leaders whew doon’t help out.” The General said. “You need to get in front of me and pick up five of these at a time. We’re short-handed since I walked Richard out.” He leaned in at Santiago. “Richard doesn’t work here, anymore!”

    Now, a whole lot of tubes past him and piled on the floor.

    “C’mon, Spencer might not like it if yew don’t help and all these butt creams heap up to the ceiling.”

    At this point, I didn’t know what to do except start picking them up from the conveyor. First, I fumbled. Then, I was getting three at a time.

    “You need tew get five. God damn! They’re all on the floor! All on it, Marek! It’s like a fuckin’ mass murder.”

    “I’m doing me best.” I yelled. Amidst my anger, my rhythm came to me. I got it. Five at a time disappeared under my large hands. Then, five more again and again with each stroke. I looked at the girl in glasses. “Hey, look I’m doing it!”

    “He moves the goal post—a lot.” The lady said underneath her parted hair. “There’s no time for celebration here.” Even her forehead wrinkles seemed to be warning me.

    “You need tew pick seven up at a time. Goddamn it. I mean now, Marek! Seven! They’re all on the goddamn floor!”

    When I started getting seven, he screeched, “ten at a time, Marek! Use booth goddamn hands!”

    “No less than twelve! Goddamn, you’re drowning me back here! Dew your part!”

    I picked them up in a flurry. Way more action than I intended getting into; I wasn’t even getting the pop from a crowd for it! Then, in my peripheral, the General chewed on a candy bar.

    “Now wait a minute!”

    Just as I turned at him with my hands on my hips, Howie came over. “Who drives the red chevy truck?”

    “That’s me.” The General said.

    Son of a bitch!

    “You left your lights on.”

    “You’re the one who almost drove right into me!” Under the sound of my yelling, he and Howie left together. And he mumbled something about roid rage. He hadn’t seen the half of it.

    Then, I looked at the girl with glasses, still picking up tubes, and I picked up the ones from my side and threw them in the boxes like I was swinging a chair. She looked at me with the wrinkles in her forehead, this time in worry. “Why do you need the insurance,” she said. “I once knew a man who worked just to pay his dying wife’s hospital bills.”

    “I’m going to get old. Need Botox. Maybe even plastic surgery, at some point. I came to Florida, expecting to be able to lay out in the sun, sit between palm trees, and go to beaches, but I’m not liking it too much right now.”

    She sighed, with eyes sparkling with wander. "I hate Florida more."

    The General came back in a fit of giggles and walked close enough for me to feel his stinking candy bar breath. He was right in my face with his goofy grin and big black eyebrows. “I just got done talking to Howie. Don’t be grabbing Georgette’s bewty, Mr. Me Tewed.”

    “Howie told you I was me tooed?”

    I looked over at the girl with glasses and she laughed. “He can grab me, all he wants!”

    At this point, I lost it and slapped the hat right off his head. He was bald on top. Then, the light above us went out, but the machine kept going.

    Santiago said, “que pasa?” Then, Georgette said, “It’s just a bulb that’s out. The machine’s going, so we must have power.”

    “Where’s the maintenance guy?” I said, still irritated.

    “We don’t have one. C’mon, can’t you get up there and change it,” Georgette said.

    “No, I can't get up there and change that! I’m big, slow, beat up, and polish.”

    Silence. You could hear every tube that hit the floor.

    Now I am polish and thought that it was alright to say that and was just lightening the mood, but they went ballistic!

    “Eyo es racist.”

    “Very observational, Santiago.” The General said.

    A man in a white lab coat with wild white hair and circles under his eyes showed up at the tail end of the line. “He is racist. And he’s letting all our precious butt creams go all over the floor. But he has the perfect skin. Doesn’t he?”

    “He does, Spencer.” The General said.

    Realizing something wasn't right, I pushed the General to the floor and began making my exit, until jolts shot up my body! I lost all control and found myself on the ground, hollering, “oh my God! You’re killing me!”

    Howie stood over me with the taser in hand. Howie said, "Listen to Spencer. He's not just a supervisor. He’s the only scientist on the formulation team crazy enough to work over night.”

    Spencer laughed, along with the General. Then said, “So beautiful on the outside, but self-centered and violent on the inside. You don’t deserve the skin you’re in. But you know what does. Asses!”

    And I look at my disfigured self, now. I mean, look at me! That’s how you go from having it all to being skinned, all in one night. There’s no insurance coverage that could repair me from this. But you know what, I got out before they compacted what’s left of me. Georgette saved me that night. She saw potential in me the others didn’t. And as far as this part of me that survived goes, since then, I’ve focused on it for the first time in many years. I mean my bones. Been laying off the steroids and getting a lot of vitamin D.
    Last edited by Benjamin Button; 02-27-2021, 08:10 PM.
    See the latest of my Ric Flair saga click here. View my story inspired by colorful wrestlers I've come across in my fandom.

  • #2
    I imagine this column from the viewpoint of one of the accusees from #Speakingout movement. With coverage all over social media about their disgusting exploits, the guilty surely cannot expect to not stand out. As for the innocent, well, they're a victim of circumstance and they have to live with the frustration of always having that negative stigma about them.


    • #3
      Man, I was trying to practice writing something of absolute absurdity but I’m constantly thinking while I write and can’t stick to a genre. It’s a flaw of mine and that is absolutely true. The punishment of skinning represents both the main character’s guilt or his innocence. You have a great eye for finding the theme in the writing.

      I guess the worse part is when judgement is left to a bitter public opinion, we never know if their guilty or innocent.
      Last edited by Benjamin Button; 02-28-2021, 04:55 AM.
      See the latest of my Ric Flair saga click here. View my story inspired by colorful wrestlers I've come across in my fandom.


      • #4
        I like how easily you can get us into the situation.

        Winner was the guy who got walked out of that place.


        • #5
          Well, it certainly was absurd. So you delivered on what you were promising. I hope your work situation isn't this deranged!

          Would have loved to see a bit more fleshing out of the protagonist's back story. Maybe a parallel between the mass production leading to homogeneity both in consumerism and in wrestling? But I can certainly appreciate the desire to flex the creative muscle every now and then outside the bounds of a wrestling tie-in.


          • #6
            I popped for the butt cream, in honor of the big signee!

            The '92 Rumble! The Brain's Finest Hour!