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'That' Story [2/11]

That Story, or Ten Reasons Why Priestly Doesn't Like Chicago

1. The Little Old Lady | 2. The Weather | 3. The Computer Genius | 4. The Bars | 5. The Crazed Psycho | 6. The Women | 7. The Tripper | 8. The Lost Boy | 9. The Skateboard | 10. The Little Old Lady (Again) | 11. Epilogue
The next day wasn't any better for Boaz. He woke up to the dreary onslaught of rain patpatpating his window and an ache in his back from sleeping on an unfamiliar and painfully unused couch. He roused himself to his feet and stretched, his mind trying to kick into gear plans for what he could do today. The television was already out; he'd discovered last night that the only channels it had connected were news and weather. He sighed. At least I can eat something, if I go real slow it could pass the time until lunch.

As he was eating the only cereal in the house, he spotted a note for him on the counter.

Bo, it read,

Delera said you needed work. Phil needs hands packing at his warehouse. Start at 9.

Underneath was a rushed set of lines supposedly indicating a map that he could neither make heads nor tails out of. And a quick glance at the clock told him that it was five past ten.

His eyes wandered back to the couch with longing.

Some unmeasurable amount of duty restrained him though, and he quickly changed and headed out into the rain, which was now a light drizzle.

Halfway down the street, he was so busy trying to decipher his uncle's scribble that he didn't notice the skateboard in his path until he was lying face-first on the pavement with a sprained wrist.

Today sucks, his mind accurately informed him and he struggled to his feet. It was raining, he was late and now out of nowhere a skateboard had shown up and tripped him. Oh, and the temperature seemed to have dropped so now he was wet, hurt and freezing.

He quickly looked around for the possible owner of his misfortune and, unable to see anyone, stamped his foot down on it in ownership. With one last glance at the map, he pushed off and rode down the street, slippery surface be damned. (Well, on the outside at least. On the inside he was careful not to go too fast that he'd have trouble stopping.)

After twenty minutes he managed to locate the warehouse. He jumped off the skateboard, leaned it against the wall and headed in out of the cold.

Phil was an older sort of man with a slight belly and a permanent frown. He also smelled strongly of cigar smoke, which kind of made sense as he was smoking one when Boaz approached.

"You Jasper's kid?" He grunted.

"His nephew," Boaz corrected, but Phil didn't seem to care about the details.

"You were s'posed to be here an hour and a half ago."

"Yeah, the directions weren't exactly easy." He held up the paper as evidence. Phil's frown deepened as he tried to make sense of the lines. When he couldn't he instead asked,

"What happened to your face, you get in a fight?"

When Boaz checked, he realised he was bleeding just above his left eyebrow. "No, I... uhh..."

"Got no time for fighting, boy. You come here and you work, that's all."

"Yeah, sure, uhh, sir."

With one last grunt, Phil foistered him off to a stocky blond named Jake, who aside from showing him the ropes, was much more easy-going.

"Dun't worry about Phil, 'ee's not as bad as'ee seems.” He led him down to the back. “So, wha’ brings ya to Chicago?”

“Boaz,” his mother sighed as she appeared in the room. “Why don’t you do something productive?”

“I am,” He replied, slouched in front of the couch. He flicked through the channels with a precision that only came from years of experience. “I’m… Preparing myself.”

Delera sighed and started picking up the rubbish he was currently ensconced in. “Ally McBeal isn’t on for another two hours; you have plenty of time to go and get a job before then. Or do the washing. Or even put your clothes in one pile for washing.”

He didn’t bother to move as she yanked out the empty chip packet behind his back “No, I’m preparing myself for life. It’s a delicate…”
Stop there, Simpsons is on. No wait, it’s the elephant episode. Come back if nothing else is on. Flick. “…process that requires a lot of…” Stargate? Eh, the movie was kinda lame. Flick. “…focus, or I’ll…” Skinflick? “…fail…” Wait, that’s not right… “at… life…” Oh, it’s Species II. Flick.

“That doesn’t make any sense, Boaz. Boaz?”

“I’m sorry, what?”

Delera snatched the remote. “Pack a bag. You’re going to Chicago.”

“Since when?”

“Since right now.”

He reached for the remote. “That’s a little short notice, don’t you think?”

She raised it out of his reach. “I’m giving you a day to prepare.”

"The wind," he replied. "I hear you guys are famous for it."

Jake let out a bark of laughter. "Yell fit in ‘ere alright, that’s fer sure."

Jake then taught him how to operate the forklift, to which Boaz spent the rest of the day on. "Yer s'posed te 'ave a licence fer it, but considerin' ya can't do much on account of yer wrist, how's about we just keep it t'ween us, yeah?"

Which suited Boaz just fine. By the end of the day, things were looking up. He'd made some new friends; A tall lanky college student named Tom, a short excitable guy that seemed to work three part-time jobs nicknamed "Buzzer" by Jake ("'Cos 'ee's always buzzin' round like a bee, see?"), and Delia, a disinterested brunette who worked out the front in sales and only came in when the customers started to annoy her.

After Phil returned to pay everyone, Jake clapped him on the back and said, " 'Ow's about we go out for a drink, yeah? Welcome ya in the traditional sense."

Not wanting to decline, but also not being twenty-one yet, Boaz hesitated. Tom seemed to pick up on the reason and said. "Don't worry, I'm not legal yet either. Jake has a friend who can fix you up; shouldn't be a problem."

When Jake agreed ("S'gonna cost ya, o'course,"), Boaz feigned consternation. "Alright, I'll go on one condition:

"You tell me where the hell you're from."

Jake just laughed, slapped him on the back one last time and headed out the door.

Delia walked up next to him and said, "We've all tried, he just won't answer. Tom thinks he's English, Buzzer thinks he's Australian. Phil doesn't care so long as he works."

"What do you think?"

"I think he's faking it." Delia replied. "Wouldn't be the only thing he's faking, either." She walked off to join the others, leaving Boaz to catch up.

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