by Miles Rost
Blood trickled down the man’s face, mixing with dirt and grime. The flick of the tongue grabbed onto the liquid and brought it into his mouth.
The taste of it was satisfaction for Stan Bernal.
For 23 years, he worked for a large manufacturing firm in the big city across the river from his hometown. It was a good living, making cardboard and paper boxes for a variety of companies and firms. The job was perfect for the man with only a high school education, with one exception:
Blaine was a co-worker, who took an instant dislike to Stan. Every single day, for 23 years, Stan had to deal with at least one insult coming out of the mechanic. For 22 years and 364.25 days, it was business as usual. Stan would walk in, he’d get hit with two insults from Blaine, and he would go to his post like nothing happened.
July 15th, 2011 was a day that would go down in history at the company.
Stan arrived at work like clockwork. Old habits died hard, as they say. He walked in and awaited the first two barrages of insults from Blaine.
They never came.
Stan, shook by the lack of insults, looked around and walked into the lunchroom. Putting away his lunchbucket in his refrigerated locker, he got his safety equipment on and started moving out to the floor for the start of his day. He asked one of the other boys if Blaine was around. Getting past their remarks about him wanting to be insulted, they indicated that they didn’t see him that morning
The first part of his shift passed with no trouble. He fed the machines the new sheets of rough paperboard, which later became cardboard. The tedium nearly got to him, until he walked over to turn his machine off. As he pressed the button to turn it off, a sudden ka-THUNK brought him back to reality. As did the searing pain in his arm.
His machine had pinched his arm in between two metal plates, and the pain was intensifying with each set of seconds. As he screamed out in pain, others came around to pull his arm out of the jam. He sat down and the medic looked at his arm, declaring that he was lucky and that it was only flesh wounds. He would be going home for the first time in 23 years.
Stan walked to the lunchroom, and was just about to walk in, when he heard a cackling sound around the side of the modular lunchroom. He walked around to investigate, and looked in shock.
Jack Blaine was cackling.
And holding two bolts that were from his machine.
Stan’s face suddenly started boiling red, his eyes went white, and with a mighty cry reminiscent of Adam Sandler’s “waterboy”, he leaped upon the laughing gentleman.
Stan’s leap made his arm go into a pain spasm, but with the amount of adrenalin going through his system, he didn’t feel any of it. He pulled Jack down onto the floor and started raining blows with his good arm.
It looked like it would be a one-way fight until Jack flipped Stan over and into a water cooler. As the machine spilled it’s contents over Stan, Jack rushed over to pick him up. Jack lined up for a punch, and connected with Stan’s face.
Yet, Jack suddenly felt a pressure upon his nether regions, and started screeching in pain.
At the same time as Jack connected with Stan’s face, Stan’s foot crunched Jack’s nuts.
Both men went down, Jack howling in pain and Stan lolling about. The fight was now about time, and how much time it would take for either man to get the initiative.
For a moment, it looked as though Jack would be able to get up and take the lead. However, Stan stumbled over to Jack and smashed his foot into Jack’s face. Repeating his blow a few times, Stan lowered himself down and grabbed Jack’s work shirt. He pulled him up and spat in his face.
He then threw two punches. One connected with Jack’s nose and made a sickening crunch. The other blow landed on the side of Jack’s head. The last punch was the last thing Jack would see for two whole days. His body became limp, and fell out of Stan’s hands.
“WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON OVER HERE?!?!” a bellowing sound echoed throughout the warehouse.
Nobody moved, while Stan turned to look at the incoming foreman.
“Stan! What the hell are you doing?”
Stan looked up at the foreman, and gave him the two bolts that were in Jack’s hand.
“Jack tried to kill me. I was about to leave for home, and I heard him laughing about it. I wanted to make sure that I was the last one standing.”
The foreman looked at the unconscious form of Jack Blaine and sighed.
“It took 23 years to finally get you two to get your differences ironed out.”
“I’m still standing, boss. Better than I ever did. I feel like a true survivor, though no longer like a little kid.”
“Well, I can guarantee one of you two will not be here on Monday morning. And more than likely, it’ll be him. It all depends on you.”
Stan smiled, looking down at Jack’s still body.
“We’ll do the paperwork now. I’m still standing. I just may need the next couple of days off to recover from the near death I got today.”