Thin Gloves

Please be aware that this story contains harsh language.

            The drill bit slipped and dove into Joey’s hand. He screamed as an eruption of blood sprung from the mangled flesh. He grabbed his hand and cringed, and looked around for help.

He turned toward the rest of the work site. It was a large site—dozens of contractors and construction workers, all grinding the hours of the day to a fine shred. He yelled again. But no one answered. They’d all gone to lunch, or something.

He turned back to his hand and his eyes scanned for something that could delay the bleeding.

“Why didn’t you have thicker gloves, Joey? Hm?”

Joey turned.

“Paxton! Help me out, I—”

“I see that. Why didn’t you have thicker gloves?”

“I…”

Paxton’s words wove the beginning of a twisted conversation that only a Site Manager could produce. Joey felt his hand grow numb. A pool of blood collected on the plywood below him. It dripped onto his boots.

“Why, Joey? Can you tell me why?”

“Damn. No. Paxton, help me!”

“Thick gloves. Not that hard. Why didn’t you have them?”

“Because. Damn it, Paxton, why can’t you get something to help?”

“Why didn’t you get thicker gloves?”

Blood soaked the plywood flooring.

“It doesn’t matter! Just get something to help me, damn it!”

Paxton leapt forward and violently grabbed Joey’s hand. He twisted together a tourniquet with scrap cloth and rubber bands, until the bleeding started to subside. Joey whimpered in pain. Their eyes met.

“Why didn’t you wear thicker gloves, Joey?”

Joey didn’t answer. His pain grew into fear.

“I… I don’t know.”

“Do you want to know why?”

“Yes.”

Paxton smiled, grabbed Joey’s two shoulders, and sent a creeping chill down Joey’s nerves as he stared him in the eyes.

“Maybe you weren’t wearing a thicker pair of gloves because your father learned from his father to always buy the thin ones. And his father bought the thin gloves because he had bad circulation, and wasn’t meant to be a construction worker in the first place. But of course, he took up all that fucking construction work because that was what everyone was doing in the 50’s, weren’t they?”

Shock began to set in, and Joey shook and quivered. But Paxton ignored him.

“Your father had bad circulation in his hands, didn’t he? Yes, he did.”

Paxton looked up. The rest of the workers started toward the site, finished with lunch. Paxton turned back to Joey.

“And now, all because of some government construction policy in the 40’s, you’ll have bad circulation in your hands, too.”

He turned and walked away. Before he stepped out of the framing, he turned back and yelled:

“Just don’t let your fucking grandson buy thin gloves, damn it!”