This is the twenty-eighth part of a fiction serial, in 847 words.
My uncle had to make the best of his new situation. I was now firmly in control of things, and had both sets of car keys. As annoyed as he was, he had to comply, and still bought the shopping and did the cooking. He had to go to the supermarket on the bus now though, and struggle home with the bags.
As for commuting to and from work, he went to the local Halfords and bought a basic bicycle. I laughed as I imagined him pedalling along the main road, as he probably hadn’t been on a bike for forty years. I told him he had to buy a safety helmet too. I couldn’t risk him being killed in an accident.
At least not until I was eighteen.
My new job was not quite what I expected it to be. The training programme supposed to direct me into a managerial role started off from ‘the bottom up’, as my boss liked to say. That meant I was doing everything from making tea for the warehouse staff, to stacking the waste cardboard and tying it in bundles ready for collection.
If it was meant to humiliate me, or break me, I didn’t let it. The pay was the same, whatever I did, and I had Brian’s new car, now my new car, to drive to and from my job.
One of the long-serving fork lift drivers started to pick on me though. Derek Fox was a heavily-tattooed man who favoured the wearing of sleeveless vests under his hi-vis waistcoat. That meant his voluminous chest hair protruded through the gap like a huge bunch of salt and pepper grey broccoli. He thought it was funny to send me on pointless tasks, like going to the equipment stores and asking for a Long Weight. I was naive enough not to realise that meant a long wait.
And I stood there for thirty minutes before it dawned on me.
Another day, he was fiddling around at the back of his fork lift, and called me over. “This isn’t working, you need to go to the stores and get me a bucket of steam”. I didn’t fall for that one of course, but I went to the stores anyway. I could hear Derek and his mates laughing behind my back.
He was on borrowed time.
The second part of my induction was learning how to drive a fork lift, and working with the regular mechanic to service them, and do basic repairs. He was a nice bloke, and complimented me on how well I drove the awkward vehicle. “You’re a natural, Danny. Some of the new starters take weeks to get the hang of it”.
He called me Danny, so Tom became my friend.
Now I was in a real job, with only four weeks holiday a year, my regular women could no longer come to the house until much later. Sandy stayed regular though, and her forty quid a week paid for my lunches, and petrol for the car. I had grown to like her a lot, and one day she had news for me. “My old man died in prison. They said it was Angina. I’m going to move back down south and live with me sister. Gonna miss you, darlin'”.
I let her off paying that day, for old time’s sake. Maybe it was time to look for a real girlfriend.
Before that, Derek had to pay for his ridicule.
The company got a new contract, delivering electrical goods to a big chain of high street shops. There were all sorts of things like fridges, washing machines, freezers, and televisions. When they came in from the manufacturers, they were stacked really high in the warehouse, until the individual orders from the shops came in. I was on my last week working alongside the mechanic, when I heard the warehouse manager talking to Derek.
“There will be some overtime for you tonight, if you want it. I need forty washing machines brought down from the stacks, and put on pallets for tomorrow’s distribution loading.” Derek jumped at the chance to earn the extra money, and I carried on working, as if I had heard nothing.
As people started to leave at the end of the day, Derek went into the staff canteen to make something to eat before he started his overtime. The night team were due in later, and he would work with them for the couple of hours it took. It was easy enough for me to hang around, telling the mechanic I would put away the tools, and clean up.
Onece nobody was around, I walked over to where Derek’s fork lift was parked. He had fitted a whip aerial onto the back, with a fake fox’s tail attached. Everyone called him Foxy, because of his surname, and he had seen fit to personalise his truck.
All that was needed was to loosen the main hydraulic fitting. Just a little bit, enough for a tiny leak that wouldn’t be noticed at first.
Two turns with a big spanner.