Truth, As Strange As Fiction: Man With A Gun
Back in the mid 70’s, I was the sole provider for my family. It was me and three year daughter named Jennifer while my husband, Angelo, interned in a hospital for a job in the Nuclear Medicine field.
Up until this time I was a cashier in a supermarket but I could not make enough money to pay the bills. Not knowing what else to do to find a job where I would make enough, (I knew at the time, your months rent should be the same as your weekly salary,) I bought the newspaper every day.
Looking back it seemed it wasn’t long, and only about five job interviews, until the right job came along that I thought could make what I needed to make ends meet. It was $40 short of the rent but I would get a raise after a trail point to make this happen.
My new job was as a sample girl for a cosmetic factory. My jpb would be making samples for the customers and taking bacteria samples and sending them for quality control. I haven’t a clue how I was to be a success as a sample girl, but they wanted me and I went for it. Part of my job was to get to know all the likes and dislikes, and the dos and don’ts of make-up for each and every one of their customers, which included many cosmetic companies world wide. You would have been surprise to know which ones, especially when one very famous company was suppose to have its make-up made in France and not in a rural town in New Jersey.
I joined the chemical lab techs (a place ripe for stories and some I will pass along here as well!) and soon, I must say proudly, I had all the customers products down to memory. Mind you, I was not to deal with the customers directly but make the two bosses, who were also brothers and had inherited half of the cosmetic factory, look like they care for each and every one of these moguls of the make-up industry. It wasn’t long before I stepped into a position equal to that of the lab manager, a pill popping woman named Bromilda, where I bypassed her and making any conversation with her exposive, and dealt only with the two bosses.
The lab itself was really just cheap kitchen cabinets along the four walls of the room with two rows of the same cabinets occuping the center back to back. My station in the lab was in the far corner against a wall and behind the make-up formulas filing cabinet that hid me from sight and blocked anyone from seeing me from the company office door on the other side of the filing cabinet.
About four months into the job a young man about my own age was hired to join the other lab techs and was given the station next to me. He was tall and attractive and seemed sociable. He laughed alot. And he found he could find something funny in everything. I did not like him. To me not everything is funny or amusing. I have found people who do, just might lack empathy and even sympathy for others.
On his third day he came in and stood at my station looking down at me. He stated, “I want your station.”
Not even hello or a smile. He placed his coat on the back of my chair. “I need my back to the wall,” he added and reached to his coat pulling open one side still staring at me.
My stare went from his face following his arm to the inside of his coat to see an extremely large gun. At the time I had no knowledge of guns other than they are used to kill.
Without a word, I opened my stations drawers and cabinets and removed everything. We silencely moved together as in a strange dance of sorts to changed stations, my thoughts in a turmoiI. What was to happen with this strange and dangerous guy. I had to work this job everyday with him right next to me, were my thoughts.
I found the whole thing surreal. A nightmare really. And stranger still that no one ever ask me way the change! Afraid, I never said. The only time I knew someone notice was the first time one of the bosses came in, looked at my station with a startled look. I put up my hand, his smiled and stepping toward me without a word about it.
For two months I wondered what others thought about this man.Did he seem normal to the others? I guess he was not theatening to anyone else. Could that be? The only thing he did wrong that was noticeable, in my opinion, was to be late almost every day. And then one day the factory manager, Manny, who I did all the bacteria sample for and I knew well, came running through the lab and straight into the office. Later, he was to tell me the ‘man with the gun’ was selling drugs in the parking lot to factory personal.
The next day, we were all told the those who are late three time within a two weeks would be fired.
You can guess what happened. And two weeks later, I moved back to my station.
J.D. Holiday is the author and illustrator of the children's picture books- JANOOSE THE GOOSE, its sequel- Janoose And the Fall Feather Fair, and THE SPY GAME, the chapter book for 6 to 9 year olds, THE GREAT SNOWBALL ESCAPADE and an eclectic collections of short stories for adults in Stories & Imaginings For The Reading Spot.