Notice to Employees:
Layoffs imminent, The factory is due for restructure.
You will be posted with further details.
Among the hushed whispers that swept through the factory that day were those of James and Harry. They were certain they would not be spared from the coming hardship. Since that portentious night at the bar many years ago they’d resigned to their fate and had become fully dependent on the factory. Not just the income, but the hours themselves spent working the machines and the narrow set of skills they now possessed because of it. The thought of being let loose was unbearable, as were the next few months.
After awaiting word from management for what seemed like a lifetime, they finally got the dreaded news one rainy Friday morning:
Begining the first of October, the factory
will be closing down indefinitely. See your supervisor
for unemployement details. We regret the decision, and
wish you all the best in these hard times.Sincerely,
The rain never ceased that September. Harry, James and everyone else were devastated, but no one attempted to do anything about it. To the blue collared, the managment were like spirits that floated around, but withwhom no one could (or should, for that matter) communicate. Everyone stayed to the bitter end, waiting for the hammer to fall. And it did fall. On the last day of September, there was an eerie emptiness about the factory, as if the spirits had vanished. When the last box had been sealed and the last worker had gone home, the doors were barricaded and none of them ever entered again.
The Fate of Harry and James
October was the month of their undoing. The two friends had spent two straight weeks at Marley’s Tavern and had all but wasted their respective incomes for the entire last month at the factory, along with countless brain cells. In those weeks, a sinister issue that used to plague the men had resurfaced: the suicide agreement from years before. It’s unclear whether alcohol or abandonment was the culprit, but their old agreement had a new twist, and was taking hold of them.
One night the two of them left the bar in particularly wretched frame of mind. They decided to head to the factory instead of going home, as maybe it would bring them some closure, but the sight of it just made things even worse.
“Piss on them, Piss on the whole thing!” Harry picked up a brick from a near-by scrap heap and threw it at the factory wall. It made no dent.
“Right idea!” James shouted and went to urinate on the side of the building.
“I can’t take this, James, I’m not well.. There’s nothing here for us but some trash. Worthless..” He kicked at the ground, tears on his face. He felt like a teenager again, like the world was closing in, whatever that might mean.
He’d been suicidal at that age, and in fact it was through mutual mental distress that the two of them bonded. Both had a history of life-long illness.
On this night in Mid-October, the depressive flood gates had burst forth. The two friends shared a feedback loop of misery. After a half hour of lamenting the state of their lives and of the world, the decision was made.
In a final twist of irony, it was Harry who initiated the act. He produced from the scrap heap about 20 feet of thick industrial rope and proceeded to lead James half a mile away to the train tracks – to the train that had always reminded them what time it was when they were still employed.
“It’s dramatic we wanted, right?” he grabbed James by the arm.
“What are you doing?” James slurred.
Harry wound the rope tight around both of the James’ wrists and fastened it with the best knot he could remember.
“What is this!?” James asked. But with all the alcohol in his blood he couldn’t have determined that he was in any danger. He couldn’t have determined much of anything. He laid down on the ground in a depressive stupor. Harry brought out the slack of the rope with him across the tracks and proceeded to bind his own wrists to the best of his ability. Despite his severe inebriation, he managed to succeed in tying himself. He then laid down opposite james and waited. His mind had gone entirely blank; blankly he stared at the stars in the clear sky, shivering and listening.
When the train finally appeared n the horizon, both of them had passed out. It was a tiny dot at first, so harmless from a distance. But with grave quickness it came, blissfully unaware of the impending damage it was about to incur.
Harry’s eyes opened just as the train was about to hit. He stared in horror as the train connected with the rope that spanned the middle of the tracks, attaching the two friends at either end.
If luck had been on their side that night the train might have cut the rope and spared their lives. Then again, if luck were on their side they probably wouldn’t have even ended up in such a predicament to begin with. The rope hooked onto a metal bar in the front of the train engine and dragged poor Harry and James hundreds of feet, leaving tandem trails of blood and bone fragment along the track ballast. Eventually, the rope gave and what was left of the two friends came quite literally to a dead stop, side by side, hugging the rocky ground.
In the distance the sun was peaking ever so slightly over the horizon; the train, smoke pluming from its chimney, disappeared into it, making a picturesque scene against the brilliant backdrop of fall colors.