Things between Marcy and him had been bad and getting worse by the day as far as Hank Roman could see. The troubles began a week after the company Christmas party. Three years married and they still acted like every day was the first day of their honeymoon. Then came the annual pre Christmas company party.
When the bonuses were handed out and the promotions had been announced, Hank already knew he was on the short end of the stick yet one more time. Although he was in no way qualified to fill the job, Jim Horton, the owner's nephew got the foreman's job. Hank saw Jim as a know it all, mouthy little prick.
Just before the party began, Robert Waters called Hank into his office and explained the problem in private. "Hank, I know you should get the promotion. The problem is my sister, Jim's mother, went to my father and asked him to intervene. And well, I can't fight family."
"So, where does that leave me, Mister Waters? Should I start job hunting?" Hank started to lose his temper. The promise of foreman's job had been the only reason Hank still worked for Wat-Plastic Inc.
Robert Waters drew back in alarm. "Good god no. You are the only person working for me who can do every job in the plant and usually better than the person who now holds it."
Hank did not answer. He turned and walked away from his boss. He shook his head and muttered, "Bullshit."
Waters called after Hank, "You must understand, family pressure is hard to resist."
Hank rejoined Marcy and the other partiers and told her what transpired. "Hon, Jim Horton gets the promotion and I get screwed. Want to go home?"
Marcy looked at her husband with contempt. "You go if you want. I'm staying. I'll get a ride home with someone." She looked him up and down. "You aren't even able to get a promotion."
Hank walked away from her, grabbed three cans of beer from the ice tub and found an out of the way place on the shipping dock to sit alone and brood. The next trip inside for more beer made his bad mood worse. Marcy stood face to face, talking to Jim Horton. She had an excited look on her face. Her hand gripped Horton's left bicep. His right hand rested on her hip. She did not seem to mind the familiarity.
"Hell." Hank grabbed a bottle of vodka from the wet bar. He put the vodka into a parts tray, added six cans of beer and returned to his hideaway on the shipping dock.
The party began the Saturday before Christmas and ended that midnight. The next morning, early Sunday, Hank woke up to a world of misery. He was cold, his joints ached and his head ached worse. His tongue was dry and he was still drunk. He fumbled in his pocket for the door keys to the plant.
Once inside, he staggered to the women's showers and stripped down. The women's showers were furnished with large towels. The male employees were expected to furnish their own. Besides, the female employees had a better quality of soap in the dispensers.
Hank stood under the hot water and soaped up. After he rinsed, he switched to cold and tried to shock himself into wakefulness. From the shower, he went into the foreman's office and brewed a pot of coffee. After the coffee recycled through him, Hank left the plant and drove home.
"Where the hell have you been?" Marcy asked when he came through the front door. "Which one of those tramps you have working under you was you in bed with?"
"Give it a rest, I don't want to listen to your crap this morning. My pickup was still in the parking lot this morning. How did you get home?"
"Jimmy brought me." Hank saw something in her eyes, a sort of evasiveness.
"Who is Jimmy? We don't have anybody named Jimmy working for us." Again, there was a hint of evasiveness about her. Hank was certain he know who "Jimmy" was.
"I'm talking about Jimmy Horton, your new boss. He was at least gentleman enough to make certain I got home safely."
Hank felt a slithering thrill in his already weakened stomach. "Oh hell!" he exclaimed and made a dash for the toilet. Dry heaves wracked his empty stomach.
She yelled, "God, you are disgusting." He heard the front door slam and was alone in his misery.
Monday morning, Hank still felt the ravages of his hangover. He felt barely able to perform his tasks, so long as no fast movement was involved.
"Well, I see you are still among the living." Robert Waters stared at hank with disapproval.
"I can go back home, if that's what you want." This was one time Hank refused to take any crap from anyone. He felt too miserable.
"Come into my office, we need to clear the air." As soon as they were alone, Waters told Hank, "Sit."
"Mister Waters, whatever you say had better be quick. I have to get the ovens up and on line." From anyone else, this would be considered extreme disrespect. It was also a part of what made Hank such a valued employee. The job always came first.
"Get things set up and then come back. We need to iron out a few problems."
Jim Horton had already come in and started the oven startup. He did it all wrong. Circuit breakers opened and two of the four "cool down" ovens refused to turn on. Horton saw Hank approach and yelled at him, "Get your ass over here and straighten your mess out."
Hank didn't answer. He closed the two open circuit breakers and began the startup sequence. Then he returned to Robert Waters' office. "Now what do you want?"
The plant owner all at once realized he was close to losing his best employee. "Calm down, Hank. First, let me give you your Christmas bonus check. You weren't around to get it at the party. I refused to give it to your wife or discuss the amount." He handed Hank a sealed envelope.
After he looked at the check inside, Hank's face became red. "Where's the rest of it? My production bonuses are not there. Twenty-five hundred dollars is all I'm worth? Keep it." He ripped the check into shreds and dropped them on the floor.
"Look, as the new plant foreman, Jim decided the amount of the bonuses. That's his job now."
Hank turned heel and walked out. "Wait," Robert Waters called. Hank kept going toward his locker. He carried his toolbox out to his truck and placed it in the back. He drove out the gate and away from the plant.
Robert Water's day got worse. "Uncle Bob, he did something to the extruders. The operator can't get them to heat up." Jim Horton stood by the operator's station and stared at the inoperable pipe extruder.
The operator interrupted. "He didn't do anything to the machines. Hank always inspects the equipment before he lets it go online. These machines are so old he has to baby them to get the daily production runs out of them."
"Do your damned job or you're fired." Jim Horton was scared. He realized he was in over his head. He watched the machine operator walk away.
"Go home," Robert Waters told his nephew. He decided to try to entice Hank to come back.
"Send everyone home," he told the lead man. "Here's the keys to the back gate. Lock it when everyone is out."
"Sure thing, Mister Waters." Hector Gomez accepted the keys and started to plan a way to steal everything in the tool room he and his brothers could carry out.
"Drop the keys in the mail slot in the front door." Robert Waters made his way to the front office. He sent everyone home and switched the phones over to his own home.
Hank stopped off at the peanut shells on the floor bar he frequented and got drunk. By nine o'clock in the evening, he realized he was too drunk to drive. He thought hard for a solution where he did not have to leave his truck behind. After much drunken thought, finally got a brainstorm. "Call me a tow truck."
"You're a tow truck," the bartender yelled at him.
"Hey, I'm serious. I'm too drunk to drive. I want my truck with me so I'll just get it towed back to the house. Then I can ride in the two truck okay?" This seemed a perfectly logical solution.
Hank rode home with the tow truck driver and paid him. He walked in the front door and saw Robert Waters sitting in Hank's recliner. Jim and Marcy sat next to each other on the couch. He gave the three a dirty look and staggered into the bedroom.
"Hank!" Marcy yelled at his back. "You get back out here and help straighten out the mess you caused Jimmy. Mister Waters has been nice enough to come over here in person to get it all straightened out."
First, Hank looked hard at Robert Waters. He shifted his gaze to Jim Horton who still sat too close to Marcy. "Hey, Stupid, what are you doing in my house?"
Finally, Hank looked back at Robert Waters. "What do you want?" I don't work for you any more." He turned toward the kitchen and started a pot of coffee.
Marcy stormed into the kitchen. "What do you mean, treating my guests like that?"
"What do you mean calling them guests? Mister Waters let that little punk nephew cheat me out of my production bonuses and short me on my regular annual bonus check."
Then he understood Marcy's problem. "You want to associate with those clowns and get invited to their parties all the time."
"Well, not exactly like that. It's more we need to associate with people of a better class."
The look on her face told Hank he was right. "Damn, Marcy, get your head out of your butt. Those people use people like you and me and then cut us loose when they have no more use for us."
"You'll never understand the longings in my heart." She touched her left boob as she made her dramatic statement. To Hank, it looked like she was playing with her nipple.
Hank had begun to sober up by then. He walked back out into the living room. "What do you want, exactly?"
Jim opened his mouth first. "What I want is for you to stop this nonsense and get back to work while I still have patience to let you keep your job."
"Both of you get out. Mister Waters, you come back tomorrow. But you better leave this moron and your bullshit at home. Tomorrow you come back alone and tell me what you really want. If you can't be upfront with me, don't come back." Hank held the door open and the two men left.
Hank slept on the couch that evening. Among other things, Marcy informed him he was too crude to sleep with. "Who gives a damn?" he muttered to himself. "I have about had it with her crap."
The next morning, Robert Waters knocked on the front door just as Hank's coffee was ready to drink. "Come in," he said, when he answered the door. He was still in his briefs. Waters looked at the hard, muscular body in front of him and was envious.
"Want a cup of coffee?" Hank took a cup from the cupboard and filled it.
"Thank you," Waters told him and sat down next to the coffee Hank placed on the kitchen table.
"Okay, say your piece."
Marcy came into the kitchen in her night gown. "Oh, Mister Waters, I didn't know you were here. Hank knew right then that his wife would never get a good actress award. She paused long enough for their guest to see her in the near transparent garment. Once he was looking, she turned and began a slow walk out of the kitchen. This gave Waters time enough to admire her fine butt.
"Did you come over here to examine my wife's butt or what?" Marcy's flirting began to irritate him.
"I, well..." Waters collected his wits. "I came over to tell you your job is still there waiting for you to come back."
"If that's all you have to say, go home."
"Now that is no way to treat Mister Waters." Marcy had been eavesdropping.
"Fine, you treat him how you think he ought to be treated. I'm out of here." Hank started toward the bedroom.
"Hank, please. What will it take to get you to come back?" Robert waters finally realized he could not bully, intimidate or impress Hank. Then he understood, Hank just did not give a damn.