Hey everyone! I’ve just started a new post category on my blog. Friday Fiction will be a place to share short pieces of my writing in the form of short stories, flash fiction, poetry and vignettes. These posts may not occur every week but whenever the mood arises.
Here is a short story I wrote years ago for a writing course assignment.
A Job Worth Doing
The young man sighed with satisfaction as he wiped the sweat from his brow in the sleeve of his dusty green coveralls. His gaze swept up the gleaming corridor floor for a final check. Whistling softly, he bent to pick up the mop and the pail of grey water at his feet. At eight p.m., it was time to clear out and head home.
“Hey buddy, you missed a spot,” a voice boomed and echoed from the other end of the long hallway. The young janitor looked up quickly to see two tall executive types in expensive suits, smiling at him from an office doorway. One of them pointed at the floor in front of him. “Don’t forget – a job worth doing is worth doing well,” he quipped, nudging his colleague in the ribs. Chuckling, they strolled down the hall and out the front entrance.
Gripping the mop handle with a white-knuckled fist, the young man swore under his breath. He didn’t have to take this. He didn’t have to lower himself to do this demeaning job if he didn’t want to. Hey, in a couple of years when he finally got his degree, he consoled himself, he could say goodbye to part-time jobs like this one. And then he could hold his head high for a reason.
He still wished, though, as he hung his coveralls on a nail in the supply room, that he could get something with better pay. He wished he could hang up those grimy coveralls forever and walk out of this office building and never look back. But part-time jobs for guys like him were not easy to come by, so what other option did he have? He shook his head in despair as he locked the front entrance and turned to walk the mile that would take him home.
He was glad tomorrow was Saturday. The frenetic hustle of the past weeks was getting to him; he felt dead on his feet. He’d been up at seven every morning, out walking to the university by eight, in class by nine, rushing to his janitor’s job when classes were over, then finally getting home by eight-thirty at night to study or finish up an assignment. But, he reasoned, he had to keep up those grades; high marks could mean a much-needed scholarship. After studying, he would grab a bite to eat and fall into bed. And then, come Monday morning, it would all start again.
One day it would be over. One day, as his father often told him, his hard work and diligent study would reward him. He would have it all. But hold on here a minute, that was the future. This was the here-and-now. Could he keep it up? Was he able to stick to this pace until his goals had reached fruition? Did he have it in him?
Maybe he should quit this job and find a better one. The few dollars he did earn, along with his student loan, were just keeping his head above water. Maybe he should march into that big shiny office complex on Monday and just tell them what they could do with their job. He would have time then to find a decent one.
Where would he look? Prospects were bleak. His buddies at school told him he was lucky when he nabbed the janitor’s job. He let out a self-deprecating laugh. Some lucky.
A sigh of fatigue escaped his lips as he shuffled up the driveway of his father’s house. Shoulders slumped, he walked down the steps to the side entrance of the basement apartment, pushed open the door and went inside.
His eyes, longing to close in sleep, blinked at the cheery brightness of the small apartment kitchen. His tired gaze fell at last on the woman sitting in the rocking chair, a baby in her arms. His face visibly softened as he looked into the woman’s eyes, as weary as his own, and he smiled back as her lips curved with pleasure at the sight of him.
“Hard day?” he asked, tossing his jacket over the back of a chair.
The woman shrugged. “This little guy finally went to sleep just now. Boy, is he a handful! But I’m not complaining,” she said quickly. “How about you – that job working out?”
“Piece of cake,” he replied, bending to kiss her and to smile at his sleeping baby son.
Thanks for reading!