Thursday, September 5, 2019

Therapeutic Skin Jobs #4

Chapter Four
We Don’t Talk About Love

“To be perfectly honest,” said Max thoughtfully, “I think that you are talking the biggest load of complete shit I’ve ever heard in my entire fucking life.”

“Well,” said Farrar, sulking as he drove the delivery truck around the busy city streets. “There is no need for language like that. You asked for my opinion, I gave it to you.”

“I didn’t ask for shit,” snarled Max. “You just never shut up.”

She was pleased to see her traditional method of keeping Farrar quiet was still as effective as ever. With little in common between the two, Max had only to accuse Farrar of being unable to stop talking and he would instantly go quiet, just to prove her wrong.

Right now, that suited Max just fine. She had nothing in common with her co-worker and any serious discussion between the two quickly degenerated into name-calling. Considering they spent much of the day working together, it made life just a little bit harder for Max, but it was something she was getting better at handling.

She had been working at the distribution center for nearly five years now and it was a job that suited her. Much of it involved deliveries, which meant all she had to do was sit in the small truck as they roared around the city, occasionally getting out for a quick burst of activity before moving on again. It was good exercise, and Max was a lot stronger than she looked. She could lift a fridge as well as anybody.

Farrar had been working there long before Max had arrived and although they were technically on the same level, he always tried to act as Max’s boss. Max paid little attention to Farrar’s commands, much to the man’s annoyance. Farrar drove the truck on all of their jobs, but that didn’t bother Max at all. She hated driving in the city.

They pulled into the rear entrance of one of the appliance stores on the east side of town and after a brief conversation with the store manager, Max and Farrar unloaded their stock of microwave ovens without another word before leaving again.

As they headed off to their next destination, Max stared out the window and started to daydream as she stared at the people on the crowded pavement. It was another gray, overcast day in the city and Max could not actually remember the last time she had seen the sun on the streets. The dull weather heightened the feeling that nothing was changing, that nothing was ever going to happen.

“But you see my point, don’t you?” asked Farrar suddenly.

“Huh?” said Max, shaken out of her fugue. “What are you talking about?”

“My point about welfare. You see what I’m getting at, don’t you?”

“Oh Jesus,” moaned Max. “You’re not still going on about that? Don’t you get it? I. Just. Don’t. Care.”

“No, this is important,” said Farrar firmly.

Max rolled her eyes as she recognized the tone in Farrar’s voice. There would be no way to keep him quiet now. “Okay, what was your point again?”

Farrar smiled. Although it was a grin that she saw often, Max still thought he looked like an old shark that had just spotted the slowest seal in the pack.

“Welfare, especially unemployment benefits, they just don’t work, that’s my main point.”

“Yeah. I’ve heard you mention that before. Once or twice.”

“Look, it’s just one big whole dependency issue. People can’t commit to jobs because they know they can just get money from the government if it doesn’t work out. Work isn’t supposed to be like that, that’s why they call it work.”

Max tried to get a word in, but was cut off by Farrar again. “Scrap all benefit schemes and people will think a little harder about their options before taking off from hard work like a little girl. I’ve had a few different jobs and I’ve never had any trouble finding something new before quitting one that didn’t agree with me. Is that so hard?”

“Maybe-“ said Max, getting a single word in as Farrar paused for breath.

“But no, at the slightest hint of something uncomfortable, all these lazy loafers head for the hills, secure in the knowledge there will always be that safety net, that the government will step in and protect me. And you know what the worst thing is?”

“That you’re a di-“

“That it’s my money they’re giving to these hippies and stoners. I’ve worked my whole life and it’s my taxes that go to these people. I didn’t sign up for that.”

A woman in a bright green convertible cut them off and Farrar had to concentrate on the road for a moment. Max finally saw her chance to offer her view.

“Maybe I just think people need some help once in a while.”

“No way,” sneered Farrar. “You could only think that way if you believe everything the MSM tell you.”

“Oh no you didn’t,” said Max.


“You didn’t just really say MSM out loud, did you? I thought that was something done by assholes on the internet.”

Farrar sniffed haughtily. “I see no reason to give these… these... media institutions any respect for their lies.”

“God. You are such a dork.”

“Why? Just because I have my own point of view untainted by others?”

“No, because you’re just a fucking dork who doesn’t know how to shut the fuck up.”

It worked again and Farrar again lapsed into silence. This suited Max even more than usual as they pulled into the store where Claire worked. Max grabbed the paperwork for the delivery off the seat beside her and was out the door of the truck the instant it stopped.

She bounded up the steps to the store warehouse, hoping that Claire might be up there getting stock. But only Leanne, the store receiver, was there.

“Oh. Hello, Leanne.”

“Nice to see you too, Maxine.” Leanne was the only person Max knew who ever used her full first name.

“Sorry, it’s just one of those days.”

Leanne smiled in sympathy as Farrar entered the dock. “It’s always one of those days.”

“Tell me about it,” said Max. With Farrar and Leanne’s help she unloaded the three refrigerators off the truck and got ready to leave.

Just as she was getting back in the truck, Max caught a glimpse of blond hair coming up the back stairs into the warehouse and hesitated. “Hang on a minute…”

“No,” said Farrar firmly as he got behind the wheel. “Come on, Max. We’ve got three more stops to make and I do not want to be running late today.”


“Come on,” said Farrar as he started the engine. Max reluctantly got into the truck. As she did, she glanced backwards, but Claire was already talking to Leanne and hadn’t even noticed her.

“Fuck it,” she whispered.

“I heard that,” said Farrar.

“Go fuck yourself.”

“No need for that. Come on, we’ve still got a lot of work to do. Or are you going to be acting like the typical leftie socialist you are?”

“For Christ’s sake,” groaned Max. “I’m not a left-winger.”

“Well, you’re not right. What are you then?”

“I don’t know,” said Max honestly. “As far as I’m concerned, there ain’t no left or right wing. There’s just wankers.”

Farrar had nothing to offer in reply and settled for a derisive snorting noise.

The rest of the afternoon’s deliveries went smoothly enough and they were back at the distribution center an hour before the end of the day. Leaving Farrar to do the paperwork, Max wandered off down the back of the warehouse looking for Kubrick, the third man in their crew.

Unlike Farrar, Max genuinely liked Kubrick. The older man had been involved in the business for many years and knew it backwards, but best of all he knew the best ways of getting out of any work. It hadn’t surprised Max that Kubrick had disappeared while they were out and she had a good idea of where to find him.

Right down the back of the warehouse, a large collection of empty cardboard boxes were piled high. Although the boxes were kept in case they proved useful, most of them had not been touched in years.

Moving aside a particular pile of empty television boxes, Max found Kubrick on the other side, happily sitting down on an old armchair, hidden off from the world as he enjoyed a war novel and worked his way through a six-pack.

Looking up from his book, Kubrick smiled, peeled one of the beers away from the pack and tossed it to Max. “Everything go all right, then?”

“Typical day,” said Max, sitting down on her own seat and cracking open the can. “Nice to get out and about, I suppose. You should head off on a delivery now and again, man.”

“Nah,” said Kubrick, swigging from his beer. “I’m quite happy where I am. Besides, I couldn’t handle spending the whole day with that dickhead.”

“Aw, Farrar ain’t that bad. He’s a pain, but easy enough to block out.”

“He’s a dick,” said Kubrick, just as Farrar appeared at the gap in the boxes and stared at him. Not bothered by his appearance at all, Kubrick drained the last of his beer and burped in Farrar’s direction. “You’re a dick.”

“What have you got against me, Kubrick?” whined Farrar. “I didn’t do anything to you.”

“I don’t like you because you’ve just got too much hate in you, Farrar.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You know, maybe if you stopped hating everything once in a while, you could appreciate how beautiful this world is.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You spend all your time bitching about everyone else, Farrar. Maybe you should stop worrying about everyone else and just get on with your own life.”

Farrar’s face turned a peculiar shade of purple and Max thought his head was about to explode. But when he spoke, it was in a calm, even tone.

“I’m sick of you, Kubrick. Sick of you hiding down the back here trying to get out of work. Sick of you drinking in the workplace.”

Kubrick waved him away. “Oh, get a life, fuckwad.”

“I’m reporting you to Mr Basham,” said Farrar in the same tone. “Don’t think you can get away with this.”

Farrar turned and stormed away. Kubrick shrugged and reached for another beer.

“Shit,” said Max. “Sorry, man. I should have put those boxes back.”

“Don’t worry about it. And don’t worry about that idiot. He never gets it, does he? It’s just the sheer fucking tedium of the working life. Morons like him get the idea in their thick skulls that they need to hate to be better than others.”

This was not the first time that Max didn’t really have a clue what her co-worker was talking about. “But aren’t you worried?”

“About what?”

“About Basham. He’s still the manager and I get the feeling he really doesn’t like you. Farrar could be giving him the excuse he needs.”

“Nah, I caught Basham in the stationery cupboard with that redheaded girl from that store on the north side of town during the last Christmas party. He can’t do fucking anything to me, or I’ll be giving his missus a call.”

“North side?” said Max, her voice barely a whisper.

Kubrick didn’t even hear her. He cracked open his latest beer and raised the frothing can to Max. “But fuck him. What about you, mate?”

“What?” asked Max. “What about me what?

“Why are you still here? You’re smarter than me and a hell of a lot smarter than Farrar. You shouldn’t be working here, you should be off changing the world.”

Max shrugged as she killed her own beer and motioned for Kubrick to throw her a second. “Can’t be arsed.”

“Seriously, this job is one of the lowest of the low,” said Kubrick, giving Max her beer. “You should at least be trying to work your way up the ladder.”

“It’s not so bad staying at the bottom of the ladder,” said Max, smiling sadly as she tapped her finger on the top of her can. “At least you know you can’t fall off."

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