T-Cut by Zack Wilson

I could tell that something bad was going to happen almost as soon as I pulled up outside the open warehouse door. There was just such a look of idiocy about them all in there, the over-bright yellow lights far too yellow in an October blue evening.

There were a couple of balloons floating around amongst the vast metal shelving units that the three lass in royal blue boilersuits kept tapping around to each other. They looked like they were meant to be otherwise engaged in tasks around the place, tidying the place up at that time most likely, but they kept moving around to tap these pink balloons to each other, grinning like wanking gorillas and whooping and yelping.

I stopped the engine of the truck and got out, asking the bloke who looked oldest what was going on. I’d waited for two minutes in the cab, watching the three of them, but no one had shown any curiosity towards me at all. Now, they stood watching me in a little line, vacant smiles in place.

“I’ve come for the pallets,” I told the oldest, baldest one out of the three, the one who was standing in the middle.

“Oh, in the corner,” he grinned, and waved his left arm like a drunk on a bike trying to tell me where he was going. Then he turned and disco danced towards some pallets which were untidily heaped behind one of the shelving units, in a grimy corner of the warehouse just out of the thick yellow light.

One of his mates lopped up alongside him, clapping as they both began to sing a version of Heatwave’s ‘Boogie Nights’, with some Bee Gees style high notes thrown in. The third stood laughing, his man breasts quaking above his flabby belly. He was a short man with a long torso, and his face shook nearly as much as his chest, his short spiky hair, stuck with gel, sitting strangely still.

“Could you get them over to the truck on a forklift for me then, please lads?” I asked, concerned. At least the question stopped the singing and dancing and that.

“Yeah, no problemo, your dudeness,” the oldest one says, giggling. There was a party going on here for which I hadn’t turned up in time.

“Good,” I replied, “I’ll go and back the truck up a bit to make things easier.” I went outside and reversed the vehicle so it was right up against the open door. When I came back inside the oldest idiot pointed with a flourish to the back of the building, where the third man, a little scrawny fella with short brown fuzz for hair and a heavily freckled face, was hand lifting the pallets into a stack on the forks of a forklift truck.

I headed back there to help but I soon realised I wasn’t needed. The kid wanted to do all the work himself. A thin lad with not much to his physique, he seemed quite strong as he hefted the pallets with some abandon onto the stack. I watched him for a little while.

“That stack’s too high now,” I told him, “it’s big enough. Take them over and we’ll make two trips.”

“No. It isn’t,” he replied, and threw another two pallets on top, whistling ostentatiously. “Now I will drive them to your truck,” he announced, making the sound of a farty trumpet fanfare with vibrating lips. He got the forklift going and I followed him wordlessly, back towards the door and my truck.

I noticed a black Audi sports car pull up outside and park by my truck. No one else seemed to have seen it. By now, they were all singing a Bee Gees song and clapping the forklift driver along on his way. He started swerving it around in little S bends, as though he was driving through a chicane, the wheels squeaking.

“You see!” he interrupted his singing, “no problem with this stack matey!”

I heard the door on the Audi crunch and open and then slam shut. I saw a middle-aged chap in casual suit climb out, the smile on his face switching to a look of anguish. I followed his eyes and then backed quickly away as the forklift swerved in front of the Audi and came to a jarring stop. The stack of pallets swayed in disaster film slow-motion, then the top one fell onto the bonnet of the Audi, denting it, then sliding down its length, leaving long white scratches in the black paint. Then another fell slowly, creating another dent, more scratches. Then a third, but that just hit the gravel of the yard and broke at its corner.

The owner of the car barked, “What are you doing, Stoat!”

I gulped back a laugh at the kid’s nickname.

“It’s alright gaffer,” Stoat stuttered, “a bit of T-Cut’ll sort that out.”

The gaffer rubbed his bald head in anger. His mouth opened and closed, and then he marched into the warehouse, pointing at the oldest of the three and making an emphatic gesture which suggested they both move to the back of the building quickly.

I shook my head and rubbed both my eyes with my flat, dirty palm, rubbing downwards until I could feel the edges of my eye sockets redden. I sighed and resigned myself to a long wait. Someone else needed those pallets.

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