Tag Archives: Factory

The Lobster Guy (Two)

The Lobster Guy. Two women on a beach. One woman is trying to pull a lobster from the other woman's bathing suit.

In the mechanical cacophony beneath bright lights and with the scent of poultry death in the air, Truman Humboldt reluctantly worked.

“You know, I really wish we were shelling lobsters instead of breaking chicken necks!” Truman Humboldt said loudly to the stout Mexican woman working across from him.

“Huh?” she said, with a puzzled look on her face, the noise of the factory floor making it hard to hear him.

“Lobsters!” Truman repeated with frustration. “I wish these were lobsters!”

“Lobsters? These aren’t lobsters, fool. You el pollo loco,” the Mexican woman said to him, waving her blue rubber-gloved hand at him in a dismissive gesture, and she went back to work, completely ignoring him.

Truman didn’t fully understand what she had said. “Thanks a lot!” he yelled back, and he smiled his awkward, yucky teeth smile, a smile that did nothing to improve his burning red complexion.

At lunch break, Truman sat by himself at a long table in the cafeteria looking down at the plastic tray in disgust. He spoke aloud to himself. “Chicken sandwiches. I hate chicken sandwiches. How many times do I have to tell you people I HATE chicken sandwiches!”

The chatter in the cafeteria died down and people stared at Truman and whispered.

One of the supervisors noticed Truman’s outburst and went over to him. “Everything okay there Truman? You seem a little tense.”

“Yes, Mr. Munich, everything is fine. I just wish we had some better menu choices.”

“Well, you know, it’s a free lunch. The company wants to be sure you are well fed because we care about our employees. But, you get what we give you. If you don’t like it, why don’t you bring your own lunch?”

“You know Mr. Munich, thank you, I think I may start doing that,” Truman said, the answer being tainted with a hint of sarcasm. “The only problem is, Mr. Munich, I couldn’t get a decent lobster in this God-awful town if it came right up to me on the sidewalk and bit me on the ass!”

Mr. Munich laughed and patted Truman on his bony shoulder to help soothe the situation. “Don’t you mean claw you on the ass, Truman,” he laughed. His loud, annoying chuckle was plainly insincere. “You know… Because lobsters have claws.”

Truman was unimpressed and somewhat insulted by Mr. Munich’s lighthearted joke. He feigned a snicker and rolled his red, swollen eyes.

“Oh, come on, Truman. It’s funny. Laugh a little once in a while,” Mr. Munich told him. “You’re much too tense about all this lobster stuff. We just want you to be happy here. You are happy working here, aren’t you?”

“Well, I guess so, it’s a job,” Truman answered. “You know how it is these days.”

Mr. Munich sat down next to Truman. He retrieved a white handkerchief from a pocket and dabbed at his sweaty brow. It was always too hot in the factory.

“You know, Truman, we do very important work here,” Mr. Munich began. “We process chickens for people all over the country. Why, just this morning, you may have broken the neck of a chicken that will be enjoyed by a thankful family in… Florida, for example.”

“Florida is hot and muggy and there are too many bugs and alligators and old people there. I hate Florida,” Truman snipped.

“Well, okay, wherever then. How about Maine? You always talk about going to Maine.”

Truman grew angry. “How dare you Mr. Munich! People in Maine only eat lobster! Lobster god damn it!”

“Hey, hold on Truman, settle down. There’s no need to get your tailfeathers in a ruffle. I’m sure some people in Maine eat chicken. They must. I mean, people in Maine can’t eat lobster every single day.”

“I could, and I would if I lived there instead of this shithole. I would eat lobster every damn day, and you know what, if you came to visit me, I wouldn’t let you have any lobster at all. I’d say to you, ‘No lobster roll for you, Mr. Munich,’ and then I’d tell you to get the hell out of my restaurant.”

Mr. Munich stood up and just shook his head.

“Okay Truman, you win. If you’re going to be like this, I’d rather not talk to you right now. You’re a good worker, Truman, but I think you’re losing your marbles. I would like for you to report to the company counselor this afternoon before you leave for the day. I think you need to talk to someone. A professional. I’ll let her know you’re coming.”

Truman Humboldt lightly knocked on the half-opened door of the counselor’s office in an upper part of the chicken plant where he had never been to before.

A soft female voice answered. “Come in.”

“Hello,” Truman shyly said, his heart thumping, as he looked at the well-dressed woman sitting behind a cluttered desk.

“You must be Truman, right? I’m Maggie Barrymore,” and she stood and extended her hand.

Truman grasped her hand with his and he got nervous in his gut, for her skin was very soft and warm to the touch. His was cold and damp.

“Please, sit down,” she said to him, and she subtly wiped her hand on her skirt.

Truman took a seat across from her. He became even more nervous when he saw how attractive she was, how perfectly professional and pompous and pouty and precious she was. How completely unlike himself she was. He wanted to taste her despite how distasteful she was to him. Just because she would never have anyone like him.

“So,” she began, adjusting the smart glasses on her flawless face and readying a pen to take notes. “Mr. Munich told me you had some trouble in the cafeteria today. Do you want to tell me about that?”

Truman looked down when he spoke. “Oh, I wouldn’t call it trouble. I was just a bit upset about having to eat a chicken sandwich again.”

“Truman, you can look at me, I won’t bite.”

“Unless you want me to,” Truman heard her soft voice inside his head say, like a radio in another room.

“Oh, I’m sorry, mam, I’m not always good around people, especially nice looking and put together people such as yourself. You have a fantastic vibe, sort of.”

“Well, thank you Truman, but we’re here to talk about you and what happened today.”

Truman heard her sensual voice in his head again, the radio turned a bit louder. “Do you want to take me to bed? I’ll let you do anything.”

“Well, like I said,” Truman nervously stammered. “I was mad about having to eat a chicken sandwich again. I just wish they had other things for us to eat. But then Mr. Munich suggested I should bring my own lunch from my own home if I wanted to, and I think I may just do that, mam. That’s about it.”

“You can call me Maggie; you don’t have to call me mam. That makes me feel old.”

Truman once again heard her mystical voice in his head, and he began to shake and scratch at his face. “I want you inside me Truman, right here, right now. Give it to me on my desk.”

“All right then… Maggie.” Then Truman brightened when he suddenly felt he had something meaningful to say, to a woman. “Do you happen to like Seinfeld?” he asked her.

“You mean the TV show?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“Yeah, it’s pretty funny I guess, but let’s talk more about…”

“Would you like to come over to my house and watch it with me some night?” Truman nervously blurted out. “I could fix us dinner and maybe you would let me kiss you at some point in the evening. It could be like a hot date.”

Maggie Barrymore was a bit stunned and cleared her throat before she spoke again. “Now Truman, that would be highly inappropriate, and I would appreciate you not ever saying anything like that again. We work together. We are to act professional. Is that understood?”

Her imaginary voice penetrated Truman’s mind again. “You can kiss me anywhere you would like to, Truman. And I mean anywhere.”

“I’m sorry Miss Maggie, it’s just that you are… So beautiful. Like a perfect lobster just pulled from the chilly waters of the Atlantic.” Truman let his eyes close as he paused to imagine a life with someone special and beautiful beside him. “I would love to butter you up and eat you.”

Maggie Barrymore pretended to ignore his odd remark and nervously shuffled through some things on her desk in hopes of ending the meeting as quickly as possible.

“I was going through your file, and it looks like you’ve been with us for about four years?” she said.

“That’s right,” Truman answered, returned to reality.

“So, what brought you to Neptune, Nebraska? Seems like an odd choice for someone who’s so into lobster.”

“My grandfather owned a house here, and he left it to me when he died, and I had nowhere else to go after my folks kicked me out of their house in Lincoln, so I came here to live.”

“Why did your parents kick you out?”

“They were tired of me being weird and living in the basement and always talking about lobster and wanting to go live my dream life in Maine. My dad wasn’t my real dad though, he was just a step, and he was mean to me sometimes. He would tell me that I wasn’t a real man, but that I was just a scared little pussy in a man’s body. He just wanted it to be him and my mother by themselves. I never had a real dad, I mean, not that I know of.”

“That’s awful. I’m so sorry to hear that,” Maggie said, feigning empathy. “Do you ever talk to your mother anymore?”

“No, she died not too long ago. She had cancer in her brain, and of course my stepdad doesn’t want anything to do with me. So, here I am Miss Maggie, in Neptune, Nebraska, just trying to survive life while I chase my dream.”

“I’m awfully sad to hear that about your mother, Truman. It sounds like you’ve been through a lot.”

“Hadn’t we all Miss Maggie? Hadn’t we all.” 


You can read the first part of this story HERE.

Refrigerated Dreams (Act 10)

A Conundrum on a Bridge

Adam Longo stood on the edge of a high railroad bridge that cut through the thick woods on the outer edge of Grainer Falls. He looked over the side and down into the deep cut of the rocky gorge, dense with gray trunks and limbs and the tethered leaflets sprouting bright colors. Water crawled along the bottom, briskly rushed over smooth stones on its journey to the horizon and beyond. Some of the stones had been spit out by the river and formed uneven, stumble-prone clusters along the shoreline on each side.

The boy wanted to end it all right then and there, he thought to himself. He wanted to fall away into the misty ether and be gone forever. The thoughts hurt his mind, his still pulse, his limbo soul. But then he thought, what good would it even do if he jumped? He would just float down like a blossomed parachute and slip into the cold, rushing water as if he were simply lying down to sleep. And even if he floated downstream and over the falls, the ones Grainer Falls is named for, he wouldn’t drown. He would still be alive because he was already dead. He could breathe through anything.

Adam Longo realized he was trapped in a life he didn’t want, and he didn’t think it was possible to go back to the life he once had. But why would he want that? What a conundrum. Conundrum. A new word he had just learned in his English class. It meant a confusing and difficult problem. That’s what his life was all the time now, so he believed.

He didn’t know what to do, and that made him angry. The anger grew and he wanted to be cruel to Rude Rudy like he had been cruel to him. He hated Rudy for pitting the entire school against him like he did in the lunchroom, for turning him into nothing but a target for everyone to pierce with their hate-minded arrows. He wanted to be cruel to all of them. He wanted to bring that school down and make them hurt for hurting him. And as his visions grew harder and deeper in scope, something soft came upon the air and touched him like maybe the tip of a wayward branch would during a walk in some far away forest. Like some tree gently reaching out and tapping you on the shoulder.

Then the sound came again, stronger along the span of the bridge, the air grabbing it and carrying it to him. A voice. “Adam!?”

He turned to look and there at the far end of the bridge stood the girl, his girl, at least the girl he hoped would be his. Veronica Genesis was there, his beacon in a glossy blue jacket over her clean school clothes, and she was waving an arm in the air and pulling the wind-tossed hair away from her face with the other hand. “Adam!” she called out again, and then she came running toward him.

She came upon him breathless and wet with the leafy autumn air full of tender chills and fire smoke spewing from leaning red brick chimneys poking out from the old homesteads nearby. Those rickety shacks in the hills were still clutching to life somehow, still sheltering another branch of a generational tree with deep roots knotted in the damp, wormy ground below. Self-appointed saviors preached away from the frames of crooked windows and the women cooked in fire-stained dented pots and the people who often had cold bellies were warmed for mere moments under the mystified gray light of day. And those people there sit upon faded and bowed porches rocking and talking and crying and deeply dreaming and even damning the whole of the world that swirled around them at times.

The girl reached out and gripped his arm from the veranda of it all. With his senses so heightened now, Veronica smelled like candied school to him. She smelled like the hallways, the wax on the floors, and the books and the paper and the glue and the paint they used in art class. She smelled like the chalk, the pencils, the erasers, the plastic lunch pails. She smelled like the bananas in the wicker basket on the cafeteria line, the cold rolls, the orange gelatin, the chocolate pudding, the green beans, the buttered corn, the mystery meat. She smelled like the whole of life and he wanted to wrap his damaged sooty wings around her and drop off the side of that bridge and together they would fall to wherever she wanted to go, and they wouldn’t crash, and they wouldn’t burn, and they wouldn’t break. Not ever.

She shook him out of the daze. “What are you doing here? What were you planning to do? Were you going to jump?”

His eyes fluttered open, and they were a different color now, a crisp golden hue, like an apple that wasn’t fully red. He looked at her with those newly baptized eyes. “How did you find me?” he asked in nearly a whisper that could have been so easily lost in the place where they were, snatched up by a screaming cloud on its way to Heaven or space. “Why did you find me?” he asked with more punch.

Veronica looked around at the vapor, the yawning blue sky, those clouds slipping through the atmosphere, the trees with their leaves crayoned golden, green, orange, and red, on the precipice of shedding the season completely. “I followed you the whole way. I wanted to see if you were okay.”

He roughly pulled away from her and he didn’t know why. Everything in him, around him, was turning inside out. “You should just go back to school. I’m nothing but a freak. Why would you want to be around a freak?”

“You’re not a freak.”

“Yes, I am. The whole school thinks so. I’m never going back there ever again. No one can make me.”

“Then what are you going to do? You can’t just hide out in the woods for the rest of your life. Someone will notice. Someone will come find you, I’m afraid. Because of the boy in the old factory.”

“They’ll never know it was me. I leave no trace of myself… Anywhere, anymore. And nobody cares enough to find me.”

“That’s not true.”

He suddenly turned to her, his simmering anger starting to rattle the lid off the pot. “Why do you do that?”

Sensing his rage notching skyward, Veronica stepped back away from him. “Do what?” she struggled to say.

“You always have an answer for everything. I’m not this, I’m not that, that’s not going to happen… Why are you so damn sure about everything! You don’t get it at all. Not me, not my life. Why don’t you do both of us a favor and just leave me alone!”

Veronica wasn’t sure what to say. She just looked at him and he was changing before her very eyes somehow, not in any distinct way, but subtly, like a slow evolution. She bit into and swallowed that moment, like taking a photo, that burning look on his face, and she felt it crawl down her insides and into her warm guts and it scared her far too much. All she could do was turn and run away from him, even as hard as that was.


Refrigerated Dreams (Act 3)

They meandered along the less known paths on the edge of Grainer Falls, beyond the industry, beyond the neighborhoods scrunched up against the low hills. She trailed behind him and stared at his back.

“Where are we going?” Veronica Genesis wanted to know, somewhat excited, somewhat apprehensive.

“The old shoe factory,” Andy answered, his voice going up and trailing behind him like smoke from an Old West locomotive.

She pedaled her bike a bit harder to get side-by-side with him. “The old shoe factory?”

“Yeah. It’s cool. I like to hang out there. No one ever goes there. We’ll be alone.”

“I didn’t know there was an old shoe factory. I haven’t lived here my entire life like a lot of people have.”

“That’s because it’s real old. Now all our shoes are made somewhere else, by penniless kids in other countries. That really pissed off my grandfather… When he was alive. He was in the war and always wondered what the hell he had fought for.”

“He used to work in there?”

“Yep. Now it’s just a bunch of ghosts and the lingering scent of leather and rubber.” He turned to look at her. “Are you afraid of ghosts?”

“No,” she quickly answered. “I’m not afraid of no ghosts.” But inside her guts, she really was.

The old factory soon came into view in the distance, and it was a foreboding stack of rust-colored bricks and crumbling mortar stuck to rebar and snake-like pipes and a couple of industrial spires and tall rectangular windows made of glass you couldn’t see through, many of the individual panels now busted out, the broken pieces gathered in heaps at the bottom like jagged snow.

They went down a hill and to the perimeter of the old factory where there was a molested chain-link fence that bowed and bent all along its crooked setting. NO TRESSPASSING signs were haphazardly attached to it every 25 feet or so. The two dropped their bikes in the overgrown weeds there and she followed him to a place where the fencing was peeled back, like a can lid that hadn’t been completely undone by an opener and someone had to push it back with a thumb or the backside of a sturdy metal spoon to get to the contents inside.

Veronica hesitated as Andy ducked down to make his way through the opening. He looked back at her. “Are you coming?” he wondered.

She bit at her bottom lip and looked up at the old facility and the blue sky littered with white fluffy clouds that slowly churned like an acid trip above it. “You sure it’s, okay?”

“Of course, it is. I do it all the time,” Andy said. “I told you; no one ever comes out here anymore. It’s fine. Besides, we’re young and strong and can take on anything the world throws our way.”

He went through the hole, and she looked at him from the other side and smiled. He was smart, witty, and brave, and she suddenly didn’t care about anything but being beside him and so she quickly crawled through. He reached out a hand to help her up and she grasped it. His skin was warm, soft, yet strong. She blew some wisps of raw almond-colored hair out of her face after she stood. “Thanks,” she said, and she tried to catch his scent as he tried to catch hers. He didn’t release her hand.

“Come on,” he said, and he pulled her along as they walked toward the back end of the factory and the place where the old loading doors and docks sat dormant and quiet like long forgotten time portals and landing pads.

They climbed a set of old iron stairs, now rusting away, and the sounds of their footfalls floated up and scraped against the large loneliness of the towering building. He led her to the top and a metal door where another NO TRESSPASSING sign was attached. Someone had written “Fuck Off” in red spray paint below it. Andy tugged on the crooked old door until it opened with a scrape and a creak. Veronica followed him inside and they stopped, and she looked around at the factory’s guts — dark, gloomy, and ancient like a still photograph, remnants of life and work delicately, nearly invisibly, floating in the air like cemetery ash.

Andy cupped his hands around his mouth and cried out, “Hello!… Anyone here!?”

Veronica panicked as his voice echoed and bounced through the quiet yet menacing spaces all around them. She playfully slapped at him. “Don’t do that,” she teased. “It freaks me out. What if someone answers? I’d probably pee myself.”

She was suddenly embarrassed, but Andy just smiled because he thought she was being cute. He was still holding her hand and now he squeezed it and then without any warning he moved in and kissed her. She was somewhat shocked at the same time she melted. Veronica never wanted him to pull away, but when he did his taste lingered on her mouth and she wanted to hold it there forever, to brace it from any wind that might wipe it from her lips and send it off into oblivion.

“Was that, okay?” Andy asked her. “I’ve been wanting to do that… Like, forever.”

“You have?”

“Yes… But I know you’re with Rudy.”

Veronica shook her head. “It’s never been anything serious. I’ve decided to end it with him.”

“You have?” Andy hoped.

“I think so. He just doesn’t know it yet. Or maybe he does.”

“Oh,” Andy said softly, and she could tell he was the sensitive type when he looked away toward the loneliness in those industrial catacombs monstrously arranged all around them.

“But I’ll be sure to let him know… That boy has really been getting under my skin lately. Do you know what him and a few of his friends did?”

Andy swallowed and looked at her. “Are you talking about Adam Longo?”

“Yeah. How did you know?”

“I was there when they did it.”


Read the previous part of this story HERE.

Darkness Cries a Winter

Darkness cries a winter’s tongue, cold as ice amongst my remnants as I am digging it at the shore, cold water blue slapping indigo hate marks against all the stone faces staring out all bewildered and dumb. I arc across the region of big love, a sparkler of flight, all fucking ignited and in love with some red, bloody brick.

Heartbeats bounce off the asunder, like maniac puppets digging for lust, with wooden fingers, deep down in the wet grass of northern summer… There are factory explosions and deep, buttered potatoes at the dinner table, the clock strikes 17, and butter is brain, all rearranged, and the black spots are merely gravy in the grave…

I stare at cream wall, heart attack in pocket all jazzed up and ready to go, glow, blow, across thy universe of the intrepid, broken bones and skin all up in there and wandering, prayer hands all busted before the juke joint bourbon night all sprayed across the land, GOD using EARTH as urinal trans cornucopia, that shattered, blissful kiss left wheezing in green tenement bungalow on fire to the gods of love, the tick tock broken boned Merry-Go-Round little rumpus kiss on the MIDWAY, all mad swirling and twirling and shoving face forward into red menu on white — some alabaster, indigo babe…

Cigarette Sally in a coffin, riding to the grave and I’m sucking mango at midnight and thinking of mad LA, that Hollywood bomb all across thy morning window of thread and dread, a refrigerator in my living room, a tender turnpike of her spit, all splayed across the cement laundry room, deep down in the sun, waiting for the machine to click and be done, the tall forest is calling with green trumpets and guns. I am in red suit now, bleeding dead Russia, a shoebox for a soul, dead maniac Bricker Brack, an antique store, small town Misery, Missouri — apple-scented schools, time lost in a fist, a kiss, a memory all blonde and on fire, tears come for the Mum, all dead and locked away, like a fire sprayed, life knocked out like that, makes me sad and all fighting the willows for the fire hot love that still burns all cold sky and clouds, winter’s tender beating, slapping my heart to thy dirty street, roll in the wind dearest madman, roll down the world ‘till all is beautiful again and bones do not twist, break, and sway.