Hello there, I hope that this, the final bank holiday weekend before Christmas, finds you all in good health and high spirits. Once again we sieve through the cerebral silt at the bottom of the barrel and see what we can dredge up for an all-new SoCS story, today inspired by Linda G Hill and this prompt;
” “your/you’re/yore.” Use one, use them all. ”
A Hot Spell.
Gary was getting fed up with all the mickey taking. It had started about a week after he began working on the site, as soon as the other steel erectors and scaffolders discovered his trouble with words. Now, nearly three months later, it was really starting to piss him off.
It wasn’t as if he was stupid, far from it, he spent most of his free time with his head buried in a book of some sort. It was just that sometimes when it came to writing things down, his eyes played tricks on his brain; he’d be about to write a perfectly ordinary, common or garden word, when all of a sudden, there was another, subtly different set of letters clamouring for his attention, from some dark, treacherous corner in the back of his head. This subconscious little voice was so insistent and persuasive that Gary (unless he was paying particularly close attention) rarely noticed the malicious autocorrect until later, usually when it was too late.
Not that it posed much of a problem in normal social situations, where verbal communication made occasional spelling glitches irrelevant, but whenever he had to use texts, e-mail or social media, Gary tended to make everything as short and simple as possible, reducing the risk of a grammatical faux-pas making it past his rigorous screening process, before he finally hit Send.
So it had come as a bit of a blow when he was asked to provide his mobile phone number to all his co-workers, apparently to enable the crew to keep in touch whilst spread around the huge construction site. He had been told that as the new boy, he would be at the beck and call of anyone who needed tools, equipment and most importantly, tea, so he should be contactable by text at all times. The foreman told him that if he filled in a form, he could claim back phone bills from the company, but that didn’t make Gary feel any better when he started getting shit from the rest of the crew about his spelling.
The most annoying thing about his condition, (apart from having the piss taken by the type of bloke whose idea of an intelligent conversation began with “Bloody immigrants, coming over here, living on benefits and stealing our jobs…”) was the apparent inability of his brain to spot the kind of stupid errors that were always picked up by the grammar Nazis on his Facebook feed; “their”, “there” and “they’re” were prime examples, along with “your”, “you’re” and even “yore” if he was really careless.
So when his phone beeped and he glanced down at the scratched and scuffed screen, he wasn’t surprised when he saw the message; * “your” followed by one of those bloody emoji things with its tongue sticking out.
Sighing, Gary scrolled up the message thread to see what he’d missed. And sure enough there it was, in the message above; Bringing you’re clamps over now, are you up top?
“Oh for fuck’s sake, give me a break,” he fumed, “I’ve got better things to do than take shit from you, you smug twat.”
He slowly and carefully typed his reply; Go fuck YOURself. then climbed into one of the small motorised buggies they used to get around the site and set off to deliver a load of clamps to Derek, the literary genius on the fifth floor of the steel frame.
An hour later Gary was sitting in the small prefabricated hut which his employers generously provided for a break room, reading the latest copy of New Scientist magazine which he’d bought on his way to work, when Derek walked in with a tray loaded with filthy mugs and plates from the crew who had been eating lunch in the sunshine and threw his hard hat on the table.
“Looking at all the pretty pictures, Gary?” asked construction’s answer to Noam Chomsky, “You ain’t fooling nobody, you know, pretending you understand all that nerdy bollocks,” he snorted scornfully, “in fact I’m impressed you’re holding it the right way up, hahaha.”
Gary looked up at the smugly grinning face, the irony of Derek’s double negative not lost on him, and calmly replied “Oh, well, I’m glad you think I have everyone fooled.”
“Fuck you talking about?” demanded Derek, his brows furrowed in a dangerous scowl, “I just told you, didn’t I? Nobody falls for your bullshit. And that’s Y.O.U.R, in case you were wondering.” He sniggered and walked over to the cheap kitchen units, where he noisily filled the kettle and dumped the tray into the grimy sink, “Wash that lot up and bring us out the teas when the kettle boils.” And, with that, Derek crammed the hard hat back onto his Mr Potato head and stomped out of the hut, leaving Gary in peace.
He washed the mugs and filled a battered teapot with the harsh, orange brew drunk by builders the world over, then carried it out to his buggy. He placed the large metal pot in a crate that was screwed to the rear bed of the vehicle, wedging it securely into a pile of scaffold clamps, then stacked the mugs in a bucket, to prevent them from rolling all over the place, and set off across the uneven, muddy ground to the opposite side of the towering, half-finished office block.
When Gary arrived at the foot of the tower, the site foreman, the leader of the construction crew and the main electrical contractor were gathered round the building plans, which were spread out on the bonnet of a Land Rover and it seemed as though there had been some sort of disagreement. The contractor was pointing up at a damaged electrical transformer on a temporary pole, which had been knocked loose when a section of scaffold had collapsed. The black metal box had a hole in one side, from where it crackled and sparked occasionally and a thick length of cable hung from the bottom, ending some twenty feet above the ground in a scorched metal terminal block.
Gary maneuvered the buggy round the base of a crane and continued his journey, driving carefully over to the construction crew, who were waiting round the corner, sitting out of sight of the bosses in the shade of a concrete mixer, smoking and discussing whether they would be going back to work today or if they would be able to knock off early and head off to the pub.
“Teas up.” Gary said, pulling up next to the nearest of the men and lifting the pot from the back of the buggy. He took the mugs out of the bucket and handed them out, only then realising that he had one left over. He looked around and somebody said, “Oh yeah, Derek wants his brought round the front, he’s craning in those big steels.”
Bloody typical, thought Gary, remembering the crane he’d just passed, Derek the grammar Nazi had him running about like a bloody waiter, as usual.
Irritated, he took out his phone and punched keys angrily, only catching a glimpse of the message as he hit the dreaded Send button; Where are you, yore tea is ready?
Swearing to himself, Gary gunned the little buggy’s motor and bumped over the mud, back round to the front of the tower block, arriving in time to see the foreman and the rest of the bickering contractors disappear out of sight inside the building. He approached the crane, looking up to see Derek, casually seated on a gently swaying steel beam that hung from the crane’s cable, at the same time as his phone beeped.
He took the phone out of his pocket and felt his jaw muscles clench as he read the inevitable text message; *”your”, then looked back up at Derek, who was waving his phone at Gary and laughing.
He couldn’t say exactly, when he thought about it later, why it was that this had been the final straw, but something inside Gary snapped as he saw the odious Derek smirking patronisingly down at him from his steel perch.
His gaze travelled from the steel beam, barely moving in the sweltering, muggy air, a few metres over to the left, where he saw the dangling electrical cable, still hanging from the fizzing, sparking transformer. Then he noticed the guide rope that hung from the beam, used to make small adjustments to it as it was craned into position and, as if in a dream he walked over and took hold of it.
Gary took out his phone and typed a very short message, thinking it nicely poetic that the word was one he’d seen in a New Scientist article about aeronautics at lunchtime, then he gave the rope a sharp tug and pressed Send.
Derek looked down from his lofty viewpoint in puzzlement, as that bloody illiterate gopher strolled over, grabbed the guide rope and gave it a yank.
“Ha!” Derek, scoffed, “As if that’s gonna put the shits up an old pro like me.” He raised his voice to shout down at Gary, “You’ll have to do better than that, you fucking retard!”
Which was when he realised the beam was swinging lazily around, the far end heading for the sizzling end of the high voltage cable and he suddenly had a very nasty feeling indeed.
Just as the beam completed its inexorable arc, he yelled in panic, “You better grab that fucking rope, or you’re gonna be in deep shit.”
Then his phone beeped and he looked at the screen; * “yaw”
There was a loud bang, a bright flash, then silence.