THE LITTLE BLACK ROCK 1

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I got a job... Really?

His gaze broke as he handed me the lighter back, the coil again cooled off, as I stuck it back in the round hole, pushing it in. Again we waited... and ‘pop’.

I pulled it and lit my cigarette as Joe, the vehicle running this whole time, pulled it into reverse and backing out of the parking spot. Placing it in drive we slowly edged forward, Joe still amazed at the fact his car lighter had lit his cigarette.

“This car’s been sliding down hill ever since I got it two years ago. I think I’ve replaced about everything on it.” Joe stated, “Battery, starter, master cylinder, both front brake lines... three tires, and that lighter...”

“Seems to work now. How about some music, does the radio work?” I asked, reaching out to click it on,

“DON’T!” Joe’s voice boomed, which froze my hand mere inches from the control knob. “You click that knob and music plays... I’ll brown out my shorts!”

He was completely freaking out. I almost laughed, but quickly realized to keep a straight face as he’d meant ever word. The radio didn’t work.. and god only knows who would have freaked out the worst, if I had turned the knob and music would have entered this car. Both hands on the wheel, he stared straight ahead, not even wanting to look in my direction. I too just sat as still as I could, not wanting to do anything else. This day had already gone way past ‘freaky’ for myself. Tempting ‘fate’ wasn’t my strong point anyway and sat back, puffing on the cigarette.

Pulling up the driveway, this house was huge! Maybe a million dollar estate, I felt like garbage about to enter a mansion. I didn’t even want to get out of this shabby car... Hell, this car shouldn’t even be allowed here!

“Wow... We’re working here?” I asked, seeing a white van already in the driveway.

“Yeah, you’ll have to be careful not to ‘touch anything’... and no cussing either,” Joe began.

“...Don’t engage any talk with the owner either. Refer any questions to the boss.” Joe spat out the basic rules here.

“Okay, got it.” I said looking over the logo on the van. ‘Teddy’s tiles’.. “And what’s the bosses name?”

“Uh, Ted... You ready? You can leave your back-pack and the cigarettes out here.” Joe stated.

“Yeah, got it.” I said, removing everything out of my coat pocket’s and placing the small black stone in the front lighter pocket of my jeans. Set to go, we stepped out.

The boss came out of the van, wasn’t sure if he was in a good mood or bad. But as we approached, Joe introduced me, and a hardy handshake ensued with a smile towards me.

“Has Joe informed you as to what you’ll be doing?” Ted stated.

“Yes. He’s also gave me a run down of all the ‘do not do’s’ as well.” I spoke strongly.

“Good. This client is slightly particular about his belongings, so, don’t touch anything and refer any questions to me, got that?”

“Yes sir, I understand.”

“He shouldn’t even bother with you, but if he asked you do do something for him,”

“...I’ll refer him to you ‘first’.” I ended the sentence

“Good, you seemed to understand, Okay, glad to have you aboard.” Ted said, nodding in approval.

Joe let out a sigh, as we all walked over to the van. Ted opened up the twin side doors showing boxes and boxes of ceramic tile inside. I watched as he actually had to slide out a three by three table ‘tile cutter’ and handing it to Joe and pointing to where he wanted it set up... Ted handed me a tarp, as told me to place it under the table saw, as I followed Joe with it.

“A lot of tile,” I said.

“Yeah, a lot.” Joe said, at the spot to set it up.

The tarp spread out over the whited out grass as Ted had placed a thick haired rug just on the edge of the driveway. I realized it was too wipe off the snow or mud.

“Place that at the front door.” Ted said as I picked it up.

“Sure, hey, is the owner home?” I asked, concerned that he might see me entering his doorway.

“No, he said he’d be right back... He should be coming in any minute now,” Ted stated as I walked away with the large rug. “Place it long ways,” I nodded ‘yes’ that I understood him. And walked it up to the very large entry way, placing down the rug in the manner he described, making sure it covered the proper area and covering the ’welcome mat as well. Going back to Ted, he was looking over the many tiles of boxes.

“Oh, this is just crap.” He looked over the boxes, realizing the boxes he’d required first were at the back and on the bottom.

“Okay, what’s next?” I asked, already realizing he was going to ask the impossible of me,

“Alright... guess you get to do this,” Ted backed out of the van scratching his head as to how this could have happened.

“Do what?” I asked.

“Ready for this? ‘Carefully’, you’ll have to take out about every box in here. You need to set them along the edge of the driveway. Now, there’s three different sets of tiles in here,” He pointed to a label showing the difference of them.

Every box looked exactly the same, and could only be distinguished by the label given to it. There was about sixty boxes in here, maybe more. And watching him handle just one box, I realized that each box weighed fifty pounds or better.

“Okay,” I said, realizing this was going to be real hard manual labor.

“Whatever you do, do not drop a ‘single’ box... One box costs what your getting paid today, and there’s only one box ‘extra’ per set. So set them down lightly, pick them up lightly, and carry them lightly... got it?” Ted stated, almost wondering if he should entrust me with this task.

“Loud and clear. If I drop a box, equal’s ten lashes with a cat-o-nine tails,” I offered.

“Yeah, that would be about what I’m saying,” Ted stated, realizing I was on board with his thinking.

“Okay, I’m pretty sure I can do this.” I said, realizing I was going to be very sore tonight.
“Sure? Oh, and when your pulling them out, make sure you don’t drag the whole pile down. If you start getting a ‘landslide’, you hold it back and you holler for me.” Ted stated.

“Yeah, got it.” I said, as he allowed me to reach in and pick up a box.

I can’t say he just let me go at it. He kept a close eye on the way I was pulling them out, carrying them and ‘lightly’ placing them on the solid cement driveway. The snow had now stopped, yet, the day cast a gray shadow on everything. And the temperature seem to be dropping, as I’d placed out most of one set and ten or twelve of the second set, and I wondered if I could actually do all of the boxes... I’d just got the first of the third set in my hand as a car pulled up the driveway.

I barely took notice of the car, making sure not to botch any of this up. Carrying each box as if it were an unpardonable burden I’d have to carry through life, these boxes were getting heavier with every placement. My back was already killing me. These were muscles I hadn’t used in a very long time.

The man got out of the car, as I tried not to acknowledge him as Ted walked directly up to him, telling him where they were going to start and what he should expect,

They talked back and forth, until in mid sentence, the house owner took notice of me. He asked Ted in a silent voice of if he’d knew me. I ignored the conversation (probably my shabbiness) while keeping busy at the task I was assigned too.

They walked towards the house, still talking... but as my ears burned, I realized ‘I’ was the topic at hand. I glanced at the back of both of them walking away, reaching in too grab yet another box. I was going to get fired before we had ever even started the job.

I saw twenty plus boxes still remained, and already my back felt ‘stiff’. This was going to be a hard day’s work, ‘if’ it lasted that long. One by one I had sorted and set each box squarely on top of each other, not stacking any higher than five. Joe came over, smiling at me, seeing that I had taken care to do this properly... there was about four boxes left on the truck, as he grabbed one and helped with the last few,

“After this, we’ll take a small cigarette break, cool?” Joe offered.

“Yeah, I need that, but this might be the last thing I help you all with.” I stated, about out of stamina, carrying yet another box out of the van.

“What makes you say that?”

“The owner was talking about me.” I added, “probably thinks I’m a bum.”

“Oh. Well, you do look pretty rough around the edges.”

“That probably what their talking about, I think I’m going to be ‘let go’.” I said the gloom was in my voice.

We were on that small break as Ted came out seeing all the boxes sorted and properly stacked, each to their own set. He seemed highly pleased, coming over to Joe’s car with a bright smile.

“Everything alright?” Joe asked, recalling what I’d told him, but puzzled by his smile.

“Fine... actually, ‘better’ than fine.” Ted stated with a smile, which drew a scrunched brow from Joe.

“Really? This guy seemed concerned he was about to be let go.” Joe said with a smirk.

“No way! Seems this guy here,” Pointing to me “is known by the owner.”

“Really?” Joe looked at me. I was clueless and shocked.
“He knows me?” I asked, not thinking I’d known anyone ‘this rich’.

“You go to church with him. He did nothing but talk about you the whole time we were inside.” Ted stated, almost smiling.

“I know him?” I asked, confused.

“Yeah, it was your apartment that just burnt down? You lost all your stuff?”

“Um. Yeah, that’s me..” I said wondering if this was a good thing or a bad thing.

“The man had nothing but ‘praise’ about you, the way he talked, you can literally walked on water.” Ted stated smiling almost too loudly.

“Walk on water, Ha, you don’t know the half of it.” Joe spoke directly to Ted losing his smile rather suddenly.

Ted actually questioned him,

“Excuse me? What brought that on?” Ted asked, seeing Joe ‘miffed’ about something.

“Oh saint Jesus, where do I begin, this guy’s been freaking me out ever since I met him, I don’t as of yet know if the mans a god, or a demon.”

“Joe what the hell you babbling on about?” Ted asked, seeing the look’s towards me.

“Okay... ya want to know? You know my door, the passengers side,”

“Yeah, so, you finally fixed it?” Ted assumed.

“No... But it works fine.. For him!” Joe pointed to me. “Know my cigarette lighter? The one you’ve tried to light your cigarette with, about ‘a thousand times’?,”

“Yeah, finally bought you a new one.. and that didn’t work either.”

“...even though it has current to it? Well, it ‘Work’s now’!” Joe said, showing the odds of either of these thing’s happening.

“Really?” Ted looked over at me weirdly.

“Hey, that’s his car, I’ve never seen it before in my life. I have nothing to do with any of this.” I defended myself.

“...I’m afraid to let him touch the radio.” Joe said, as Ted seemed to know about that too.

“Really?” Ted looked oddly at me.

“again... I have no idea about any of this. Guy’s... I’m not crapping with ya, everything I own is currently in the back seat of Joe’s car there. I’m at the worst point in my life, I’m homeless, lost my car, my girl, my house.. all my belonging... Hell my X-box was flooded with water. My TV literally exploded! If that don’t tell you how bad I got it, I don’t know what will!” I pointed to the bag in the back seat, and conveying my misery to them.

“Wow, so what the owner told me is true,” Ted stated almost impressed I’d gone through so much.

“I have ‘no idea’ who the ‘owner’ is, if I went to church with him, heck I don’t even recall the man’s name.” I openly said to the both of them.

“Well, he sure knows and likes you. In fact, after these cigarettes, if we get this house done today, he’ll add a bonus of a grand. That’s three hundred and thirty a-piece. So, as Christmas is coming up, were going to get this done, today!” Ted said, needing the extra cash.

“Ted, really? Damn, I could sure use that cash too.” Joe admitted, willing not to look this gift horse in the mouth, and allowed the last few puff to hit the ground.

“We ready for this, we’ll be moving ‘quick’. You ready?” Ted asked me, as I about done with my own cigarette.

“Sure,” I said, wore out with lifting all those boxes.

I just wanted to get this work day done. I had a lot of problems to work out, like where was I going to stay tonight. And ‘needing too’ get in contact with my girlfriend, who I hadn’t told any of the ‘bad breaks’ I’d had over the last week.

“Okay, Joe... you got the saw, you,(pointing to me) follow me and listen closely.” Ted spoke as Joe seemed to just walk away. I watched as he looked over the stacks. Finding the right pile, and picking up a box he handed it to me. More lifting... great!

“Take this to Joe, then come back, grab another box and follow me in.” Ted said, checking his clip board, and grabbing a few tools and a bucket full of stuff from the back of the van.

Then he pulled out a long handled scrapper, rag’s, another bucket and broom. About the time I returned from Joe, the tools already to be hauled in, he said,

“Remember, wipe your feet every time your about to walk in his house, regardless.”I did as I was told, walking past the owner who just smiled at me, carrying the heavy box of tiles.

The room wasn’t as large as I would have expected and knowing we had two other sets, with less boxes in them, the other rooms would be smaller. I set down the box where he pointed and was requested to go out and get the large wet vacuum, warning me not to mark up any of the walls on the way in.

He came out with me handing me the vac and a joining hose. In a clumsy walk, I carried it into the house, carefully not getting near anything, setting down in the middle of the bare cement floor.

Ted had been right behind me, not saying a word, but watching how careful I was being, sliding around past me, he stated with a smile,

“Okay, now go out and bring the rest of the tool’s out there in, and when your done, close the doors to the van.”

“Got’cha,” I said, feeling weird he was smiling at me.

All the tool’s in, and ready to work, he explained how we we’re to go about all this. It wasn’t ten minutes of talk and I’d pretty well figured out what all he was looking for out of me. Unless I cleaning the floor of any and all bump’s dirt or gravel, I’d be either bringing in more tiles or sent out to Joe who would be ‘cutting tile’ off Ted’s slips of paper, which I would bring back into him.

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