Friday, 26 February 2010

Working Class Heroes

She is sitting on her throne. Proud, arrogant queen, overseeing people bringing her stuff into the new place.

"It's a good day, isn't it." there is a weak reflection of smile on her face when she talks to one of the removal guys, who is sweating and looks angry. The sun is rising rapidly over the old walls of city of York as the job goes on and it's really a very good day in terms of weather, despite that it's winter.

"Not too bad," answers the guy bringing the box inside, and there is something similar to smile on his face also. Honestly he never really understood or enjoyed all this English weather talk. All he wants is to go home sooner, but there is still a lot of work to do. If something, he would be more interested in her Portuguese maid, but in the given circumstances he is not. He is just playing his role of the working animal, a mule, and she is playing her role of a maid and the woman on the throne is playing her role of the queen. Nobody seems to be very comfortable in their roles today and somehow they all seem to be too aware of the temporary character of their relationship, and too concerned each with their own problems to really enjoy playing any of the games they are supposed to.

“Careful, careful!” Her voice is trembling in the air like a crystal chandelier touched by the wind. She leans forward, her tired gaze becomes somewhat hawkish.

“It's alright!”

“OK.” She sighs. “It's OK.” She settles back in her throne. It's tiresome to deal with the commons and sometimes with people at all.

It's not a castle she is moving in, just a tiny flat in the recently build block of apartments. Boxes and boxes with candles, with scents and porcelain dolls. Not too much of them and not the most expensive ones. But what do they know and what do they care those guys from somewhere, from nowhere. What does anybody cares about me those days, she thinks to herself.

Removal guy is watching the delicate curves of the back pockets of blue jeans covering Portuguese girls buttocks and he imagines the flesh under them, then he looks at his own dirty hands and then he goes out to pick up another box. A daily routine. What the fuck I'm doing on this planet, he thinks in such moments. He sees other his colleagues smoking and takes a cigarette out of his pocket, lits it up and exhales a thick cloud of smoke in the cool winter air.

Women remain inside. There is great sadness in queens eyes. All this stuff it doesn't matter if it's cheap or real, porcelain or plastic. It's history, of her great lost kingdom. Memories of great hopes and expectations, titanic struggle and sad downfall.

OK let's go and have a lunch she says to her maid and switches on the engine of her throne. Her throne can do 20 miles per hour on good asphalt. It's a substitute for her legs since she was born.

Before they are gone girl brings them cups of warm tea and biscuits. She asks if they can finish the job as soon as possible, because she's got a train back to London at six o'clock in the evening. They say, yes sure, or they can give her a lift. No thanks, she answers, she'll be alright.

Just when they are gone, colleagues are keen to tell the guy the background of this job. The woman on the wheelchair, she was evicted from her nice house in London by the police and bailiffs, because council refused to pay for it anymore. She is completely broke, disabled and apparently mad because she wants to live far over her possibilities. She is crazy.

“Crazy bitch,” says one of the colleagues childishly with a smile in his wrinkled face of middle aged man. The guy frowns, but chooses not to answer anything. Apparently poverty and hard labor doesn't make people better he thinks. How does it comes that people who doesn't have much, very often are so arrogant and rude to others who have even less. Of course it's more of a joke, and “bitch” is just the expression, but it clearly bears the attitude. They rarely say “bitch” about the customer when they are working for rich people. Or if they say, they say it in a different tone.

The flat the woman is moving in is so small that all the stuff she is taking with her barely fits inside. The piles of cardboard boxes in the rooms are growing so rapidly that at the end of the day there is just a small corridor connecting her bed with a kitchen sink and a cooker left for the woman to move in her wheelchair. Portuguese girl is looking at the clock from time to time. Another couple of hours and she'll be free. She has spent last two years taking care of this woman. What next?

“I'll have a couple of weeks off, and then they'll find another job for me.” She explains to removal men. “There is plenty of people around who need care.”

“Do you like your job?”

“Well. They pay not bad. But sometimes you have to have the nerves to do it.”

“Who's gonna help her with all this stuff?”

“They'll send somebody else. The local council, I mean. It's not our jurisdiction anymore.”

“Don't you feel attached to her after such a long time?”

“Well,” she says. “It really doesn't matter. Can you guys please finish, so everybody can be at home before the midnight. It's ridiculously far from here to London.”

The guy brings in big open box with pictures and photos and one printed old page from a magazine which is framed and under the glass. He quickly runs through the text on the page. It features the life story of the woman. She was about to become a successful actress, or that's what they wrote in the magazine some 15 years ago. The first person with such a severe inborn disability who will do it to fame as an actress. There is a couple of photo of her together with supposedly important people. She looks happy, enthusiastic and proud. There is a lot of talk about her hard work and that sort of thing.

He doesn't have much time to read the article and he is checking with one eye if the woman sees him reading it. It's not clear. She probably does. But she is not giving away any signals about it. There is just sadness and resignation on her face and her gaze is wandering around the room randomly stopping at the objects and people. She is lost and it's like she is not there really.

The guy is going outside to pick up the next piece of her stuff. His mobile phone is ringing and he says: “Yeah.. yeah.. yeah.. can we do it tomorrow? I'll be at home rather late tonight. Yeah.. the weather is fine.. yeah.. everything else is fine also.. no.. nothing is wrong... Just a bit nervous. I don't know why. It happens, you know... No I'm definitely not going out tonight.. OK, I have to finish my job.. it's depressing. The job I mean... Yeah like always. Well it's a bit more depressing today... Yeah I need money I know. Yeah that's why I'm working... Listen, I really need to finish my job, I can't talk anymore. I'll call you tomorrow. OK? See you.” He takes another cigarette from his pocket and sits down by the van. It's a 20th cigarette today he counts throwing out the empty packet.

“We need to stop by the shop on our way back. OK?” He says to his colleagues.

He buys a can of beer and another pack of cigarettes. He sits in the cabin of the van next to the driver and watches the empty English landscape passing by as they advance towards home. He drinks the beer and smokes and thinks about the disabled woman they left in her new flat surrounded just by a huge pile of cardboard boxes full of mostly useless stuff.

Some dreams come true and some not, he thinks.

Then he tries not to think about her anymore. He finishes his beer and tries to sleep instead.

Cuddled by the warmth of the cabin, soft vibrations and monotonous buzz of the engine he nearly falls asleep, but is waken up by a sudden rush of blood to his penis. It grow bigger and bigger and it's a little bit painful and completely meaningless and mechanical as there is nothing in his thoughts. Absolutely nothing.

Just that awkward empty unwanted feeling in his trousers.

Leading nowhere.

As the life itself.

And the buzz of the engine.

And the vast empty fields on both sides of the motorway.

And his empty gaze wandering around in this landscape, trying to find something to stick to.

There is still miles and miles of the road ahead.

He takes another cigarette to kill some more time.

(PS. All characters and places in this story are purely fictional. Any similarities between them and real individuals are purely coincidental.)


nothingprofound said...

Enjoyed the story. Lots of concrete detail and pathos. Felt I really knew the people in a way, their struggles and plight, their fatigue and alienation.

MG said...

many thanx

Dave King said...

Good story with good pace and characterisation.

MG said...


Bartel said...

Good job MG, he (the guy moving boxes around) looks like someone I knew many years ago. Guess who?
Thanks a lot

Post a Comment