Shouts from men working on the wall, the blast of the crane’s diesel engine and staccato bursts from a jackhammer pounded his eardrums as he slogged uphill, work boots slipping and sliding in the mud. He looked forward to taking refuge in one of the portable privies strategically placed around the site.
Inside, the pungent chemical smell caught in his throat. He latched the door, pulled down his tool belt and jeans and sat down, gasping as his skin stuck to the freezing seat. Pulling off his hard hat, his long hair fell down around his shoulders. He pulled a magazine from his work vest and plopped it open on the floor in front of him.
He heard the sound of someone trudging through the mire toward the outhouse. Footsteps stopped outside the door. A hand grabbed the handle, yanked on the door and wrenched it completely off the hinges. The open doorway flooded with daylight leaving him as vulnerable as a beetle under a rock that had been turned over. He sat there, pants down around his ankles, squinting up at Pete, the carpenters’ foreman, the door swinging in his brawny hand.
Pete was a no-nonsense, old school construction foreman who knew everything there was to know about building big walls. A big, burly redneck, Pete didn’t tolerate long hair or slackers and ran two long-haired workers off the job after he caught them smoking pot during lunch-break. And there were stories of him pummeling the shit out of two bikers with a pool cue, and firing off his pistol in a bar.
Pete’s ruddy face flushed as he stood in the doorway holding the door in his hand. He looked down at the worker, who looked back, wide-eyed. They stared at each other until Pete finally blurted out,
“Whoa! Sorry amigo, I didn’t know anyone was in here.”
Pete looked at the door in his hand, then gently leaned it against a corner of the outhouse like he was returning a baby bird to its nest, and walked away, boots squishing in the muck.
He sat there, staring at the magazine on the floor, in full view through the open doorway as two guys from his crew walked past through the mud. So far, it had not been a very good morning.
published 13 June 2013