Elliott Cox debuts this week at cavalcadeofstars with a new story Angel in Overalls.
ANGEL IN OVERALLS
Thomas punched his card in the time clock as close to eight A.M. as possible so that Mr. Sands would stay off of his back. Mr. Sands has had it out for Thomas since the day he hired him because Thomas was the first person in Typeset Inc. history to negotiate a higher than minimum wage salary for a janitorial position, and Sands was the person that hired him. When the other managers saw ten dollars an hour in the wage box of Thomas’ tax forms, they leapt on Sands and wouldn’t let up.
Thomas put his time card into the slot and whistled his way to the custodial office to see what was on today’s docket. “Hey, morning Tommy. You got number three today.” Thomas chuckled and said, “Jeez, Chuck. You put me on the third almost every day. You just like standing back and seeing if Sandsy’s gonna catch me doing something so he can fire me, don’t you?” Chuck put his earnest face on and said, “Now mister Rafferty, what would make you think something like that? We are all professionals here, are we not?”
Thomas returned Chuck’s serious tone and said, “Well, Mister Brown, we are indeed professionals here, my associates and I. However, good sir, the fact that you have a spreadsheet tacked to the wall behind your head entitled ‘Tommy Boy’s Last Day,’ on which dates and dollar amounts are inscribed, leads me to believe that you may have some sort of monetary stake in my termination.”
“Aww, come on Tommy. I’ll split it with ya. Just let me know the day. You know Sands is going to get to you sooner or later.”
“Sorry, Chuck, I have to make a living.”
As soon as Thomas wheeled his mop bucket over the threshold of the third floor, Sands was on him. Sands said, “Rafferty! The windows in my office are atrocious! You were supposed to have cleaned them yesterday, but I guess you have better things to do around here than what I hired you for, don’t you?”
“I apologize for that, sir, but Johnson had this floor yesterday. I’ll take care of it right away. By the way, did you ever get that scratch on your door fixed?”
Mr. Sands looked puzzled for a moment and then regained his composure. “No…no. As a matter of fact, I gave that work order to you about a week and a half ago, and nothing has been done about it. Not one…”
Thomas reached into his pocket and Sands started backing away from him. Thomas pulled a small glass jar from his pocket and said, “Here. I bet this will do just the trick. I was working on some projects at home and I came across the box that holds all of my wood stain.” Mr. Sands stopped back-pedaling and held his ground now. “See, the problem is that your door was finished with oil-based stain and we only use water-based stain now, you see. Water-based stain is much easier to work with and a hell of a lot easier to clean, but we don’t keep it around anymore. Like I was saying, I was working on some stuff at home and I found my box of stain. I flicked off a small chip from your door, from under the hinge so it wouldn’t be noticeable, and took it home to match it up. Turns out, your door was stained in ‘Burnt Oak Delight’ which is funny, because this stain doesn’t penetrate oak nearly as well as it does pine or poplar and your door is oak. That’s why the scratch is so noticeable; the stain is only skin deep, as they say. I’ll have it fixed up for you in no time.”
Sands just stood and looked at Thomas’ smiling face for a few seconds, then said as he was turning to leave, “See that you do, that door is an abomination.”
“You got it, boss. That door’ll be right as rain before I step out for lunch. Thank you for your patience.”
Thomas threw his keys on the counter and gave Ellie a peck on the cheek when he got home from work. After the dinner dishes were done, Ellie said, “Oh, I almost forgot. Your manuscript revisions came today.”
Thomas laughed and said, “Yeah, Richard is notorious for doing that. He waits until a week before deadline to get me the revisions and then gets on my case about barely meeting the deadline. I’ll give him a call tonight.”
“Why don’t you just quit your day job? You’re going to be burning the candle at both ends for the next week. That’s not good for you, you know.”
“Are you kidding me? I go stir crazy sitting around the house all day. Remember when I first retired from the grind to write full time? Remember how I used to stare out of the window for seven and a half hours and only actually write for half an hour?”
Ellie laughed and said, “Not to mention all of those duct tape balls that you left all over the place in your office; and the pencil shavings. You must have ground down an entire cedar forest.”
“See what I mean? Pushing a broom around all day gives me something to busy my body with while I let my brain off its leash. I always do my best writing while driving that broom around. You know where I’ll be if you need me.”
About a month after he found an excuse to fire Thomas, Mr. Sands was sorting through his mail and paused when he saw a hand-addressed envelope. He put everything else aside and opened the letter. He read:
Dear Mr. Sands,
I would like to personally thank you for your generous weekly contributions to the Pancreatic Cancer Foundation over the
past six months. While I am sorry to see your contributions stop, the $8479.34 that you have graciously donated will go a long
way in helping us to find a cure for pancreatic cancer.
I am pleased to inform you that we will be placing a plaque on our donor’s wall in your wife’s memory as a small token of our
He read the letter twice more before picking up the phone and dialing Hubert Knight’s number.
“Ahh, Mr. Sands. What a pleasure to hear from you. I assume that you received my letter?”
“Yes, Mr. Knight, I.”
“Please call me Hubert.”
“Oh, of course. Hubert, you must have made a mistake. I haven’t donated any money to your foundation.”
After a short pause, Hubert said, “I beg to differ, sir. Every Friday morning, we got an envelope in our drop box with around three hundred-fifty dollars in cash and a note that said, ‘A donation from Chris Sands in memory of Mallory Sands.’ I suppose that it is possible that we contacted the wrong Christopher Sands.”
They compared information and Hubert convinced Sands that yes, they were indeed donations in Mallory’s name. Before hanging up, Hubert said, “Well, it’s apparent that you weren’t the person making the contributions. It seems to me that you have a Secret Santa, Mr. Sands.”
Sands sat back and read the letter several more times while turning over everything that Hubert told him. Sands dropped the letter, inhaled deeply and pulled Thomas’ pay records up on his computer. Rafferty got a paycheck every Thursday for about three hundr… “Oh my God.”
Elliott Cox is an aircraft mechanic, writer, musician, father, and son. Not always in that order, and never all at the same time.