Natalie got to work at 7:15 and prepped her soul for another blightful day. Karen’s red PT Cruiser with the faux wood paneling and ridiculous vanity plates, “HAWT1,” was already there. How Karen Akers could justify labeling herself as hawt, was waaaay beyond Natalie. Karen wore a cheap home perm job, red with gray roots, and bright green eye shadow. She wore buckets of foundation trying to cover up her pock marked, pasty face. It was a fat face too. Sort of like Miss Piggy’s.
She walked past the other cars, through the pothole riddled parking lot toward the entrance of her discontent. Bolts-Inc. was a well weathered, single story, brick shit hole in the industrial district of Emmett, Idaho. Most of the mortar between the bricks was gone or falling out and the glass in the door was cracked, just as it was the day that Natalie had started. She pushed the door open, holding her breath and squeezing her coffee mug a bit tighter, though she didn’t realize it.
Onward to the slaughter, my child.
She shivered and swore it was colder inside than out. The leaves were falling off the trees, yet these cheap bastards wouldn’t turn on the heat. The door caught her sharply in the elbow, spilling her coffee when the wind blew it open again, just as it was about to close. The long since, broken hydraulic closer was no match for any breeze, save that of a dying man’s last breath perhaps...
“Good morning, Karen,” she said cautiously. You can’t be too careful around a lunatic.
“Oh Gawd, is it that time already?!”
“What time is that?” Natalie asked.
“Time for you to be here,” she snarled.
Karen was about the nastiest person Natalie had ever met. Cold, incompetent, mean... She tried not to let it get to her, but Karen had a sharp tongue; finely, finely honed. For whatever reason, Natalie was Karen’s favorite target. Maybe she didn’t like her because Natalie was still young and pretty. Women can be so goddam catty sometimes. Maybe she didn’t like her because she was the newest hire, but for Christ’s sake, she’d been with the company for nearly seven months now. She did her job and she did it well; maybe too well? Perhaps Karen was afraid Natalie would move up and replace her? Anna had confided once that she was sure glad that Natalie had been hired because Karen was a lot nicer to her now.
Gee, that’s swell.
Whatever the reason, Nat was sick of it, but powerless to change it. In this economy, she told herself she was lucky to have a job at all, though some days, a cardboard box in an alley didn’t sound all bad...
She walked past the viper’s desk and to her own, press board with a dark, wood patterned laminate that was chipping away. She sat down in that worn out chair that squeaked with every movement or when it rolled. It was bound together with duct tape and screws, and it leaned slightly to the right. She just knew that this chair was going to wind up putting her in a chiropractor’s office one of these days. Flickering, overhead fluorescent fixtures cast light on her workspace which made it feel all the more like a sanitarium.
Hallelujah, another fine day in Hell.
Theirs was the office that supported the northwest division of Bolts-Inc.com, a fastener company and industrial supply.
“Welcome to Bolts-Inc.com, your One Stop Industrial Source! With over 350,000 different products offered, our customers save time and money. You’ll find our products are in stock and ready to be shipped, same day when your order is placed before 3pm PST. From bolts and fasteners of every variety, hand tools, power tools, to safety and shop supplies; we have everything needed for industrial and construction projects! Bolts-Inc.com backs every product we sell with exceptional service from ordering to delivery. We look forward to becoming your One Stop Industrial Source!”
Natalie wrote that blurb, but what she really thought was, “Bolts-Inc.com, a soul sucking shit hole run by malevolent bastards.” It had a much nicer ring to it in her opinion.
“Good morning, Natalie; good morning, Karen,” Anna chimed, walking in through the door.
Karen merely grunted and Natalie returned the salutation, though she did not feel the good morning in any way, shape or form. In fact, it was another horrible morning; APO reports, P&L, check runs, invoicing, and an ungodly heaping of abuse. Sometimes she wished that old bat would just keel over. Maybe one of these days.....
She would be at the coffee pot, ripping on Natalie for this or that and just generally being a nasty witch. All of a sudden, the Good Lord above would just strike her dead with a massive heart attack or something, maybe even something worse... Coffee cup drops from her hands and shatters onto the cold concrete, she clutches her soulless chest, with a seized expression on her wretched face, falls hard and smashes her ugly cake hole on the counter and then it’s finally over... Blood pours and most of her teeth lie scattered on the floor... Maybe her foot goes on twitching for a while... The thought put a smile on her face, but she felt a little guilty wearing it.
Anna interrupted Natalie’s bliss and began her customary babblings about shoes, shopping and her boyfriend or whatever. Natalie had to get out of here. The wicked witch of the Northwest on one side and a bobble headed floozy on the other. “Lord, help me,” went through her mind on a never ending loop most days.
“Natalie! Where is that APO!! NOW!”
...TPS report anyone?...
“Kill me faster,” Natalie murmured...
(c) Rusty Henrichsen 2013