“Gossip is never fatal until it is denied.” ― Booth Tarkington
I hope you’re all having a brilliant day. Here’s my second blog post of the evening.
I wrote this short story at university, for my second creative writing portfolio. In all honesty, it’s not one of my favourite pieces I’ve written because it’s so different to how I usually write. Everyone that read it, including my tutor seemed to really enjoy it though, so I thought I’d share it with you all too. I suppose changing your writing style can be a good thing sometimes. 🙂
It does include some swearing throughout, so bear that in mind before you read it. As for the quote I’ve chosen today, you’ll see why it’s relevant soon!
I hope you enjoy it. As always, I appreciate all of your feedback good and bad, so feel free to leave a comment below. Also give my blog a follow to be notified when I publish new posts.
It was Saturday morning, mid-August, a scorcher of a day and I was stuck in work… again. This was the sixth Saturday in a row that I’d worked, even though we were only obliged to work three a month. It was fucking bullshit. I wanted nothing more than to leave this crappy job but living on the dole had never appealed to me, so there I was sweating my balls off in the stale air of the canteen. My life, being scraped away with the contents of the leftover cooked breakfast, splattering into the food bin and equally on to my arm. Heaving slightly as a small piece of someone’s half chewed toast landed on my wrist, the contents of my stomach, poached egg and beans, threatened to make another appearance. This shitty job was the bane of my life. Finishing up the scraping, I carried the plates into the humid, clammy kitchen and the muddle of voices from the factory canteen followed me.
“Peter, have you asked Michael what he wants to eat today?” Chef Gordon barked from across the kitchen, careful not to avert his gaze from the cauldron sized pot of goulash that was bubbling away on the stove. I grasped the plates in my hand tightly to stop myself from lobbing them at his head.
“No.,” I replied curtly.
He turned around to face me and replied in a cool, collected manner. Whenever he spoke in this way you knew he was about to boil over in rage.
“Well, get on it, boy. I need to know so I can prepare whatever it is that he wants today. I don’t have all day, there’s a schedule on the wall for a reason.”
“Yes, Chef Gordon,” I retorted, in an ever so slightly mocking manner; in the same way a class full of children replies to their teacher’s ‘Good morning’. Smugly I started towards the sink, thinking I’d got away with the sly response. Peter – 1, Gordon – 0.
“You better reach your cleaning target within the next hour, I can’t have you holding us all back again. Oh, and Peter?” he paused deliberately. “Watch that tongue of yours, or next time I’ll rip it out of your mouth” There was something in the way he said it that made me believe that he would too. “Fry it with a dash of garlic oil, sit you down, and force you to eat the entire thing.” He turned away from me and focused on the food again. Peter – 1, Gordon – 1, dammit. Him and his bloody schedules. You’d swear we were bound by oath to stick to them. Everything was written down, even how many dishes should be washed by the hour. The week before I was one plate off my target and he nearly hit me for it. I swear he’s not right in the head…
He always made such a big deal over Michael and his fucking food order too. No one else was asked what they wanted to eat, they had to deal with his watery soups and overcooked chicken – but not Michael; he got the special treatment. He didn’t have to line up with everyone else, being herded around like cattle while they waited. He got his food served up to him on the table like a bloody royal. Chef Gordon acted as though this wasn’t the case, as if Michael didn’t get treated in any such way, he actually believed no one had noticed too, but obviously they had. What a knob. You’d think Michael gets treated differently because he’s the assistant manager of JP’s factory, and I bet that’s what Chef Gordon would have had you think too.
He didn’t know that I knew their scandalous secret.
I dropped the stack of plates I was juggling a little bit too carelessly into the sink and the bottom one shattered.
“For fuck’s sake” I muttered, just as Chef Gordon swiftly turned around. All calmness he’d originally gathered now escaped.
“That’s it! I’ve had it with you! Get out of my kitchen! I don’t need a low life like you smashing my plates and ruining my perfectly run kitchen.” His voice bounced around the kitchen. “Don’t bother coming back. You’re easily replaceable, you waste of space. Waltzing around here like you’re actually doing your job sufficiently. Ha, don’t make me laugh!” he spat, his face burning up.
The murmurs around us had come to a halt, everyone was clearly shocked by the vehemence Gordon displayed. Sure, he had an inconceivable temper, but no one had ever seen him this angry before.
“Whatever,” I simply replied. That was it. I didn’t lose my temper, I didn’t even bother to respond to his threats. Eager to hear my reply, my co-workers were clearly disappointed. They’d expected a royal rumble, but instead they were greeted with my noiselessness. I calmly hung up my apron on the back of the door next to the microwave, and slowly walked into the canteen.
If you’ve ever had a room full of people all stare at you in complete silence then you’ll know how weird and self-conscious I felt at this moment. I unhurriedly glanced around at Paul and a few other faces I’d got to know during my two years of working here. They all looked at me with pitying eyes. I didn’t understand why, because from the moment I’d finished my first shift at J.P’s I hated it, and had made no effort to hide this. I was only biding my time, putting up with Chef Gordon’s shit until I found a better paid job. Sure I’d have to be on the dreaded dole for a couple of months now, struggling until I found a better job… but what I was about to do would so make up for that.
Rather than walking out of the canteen I veered to the left, towards the fire exit. There were slight whispers of confusion as people wondered what the hell I was doing. I picked up the telephone on the wall in front of me, punching in the numbers on the crumpled paper I had snatched on my way out of the kitchen I waited for it to ring. Smirking at everyone watching me, my gaze found the person I was looking for, Chef Gordon.
The vibrations of the dial tone echoed around my ears until the voice at the end of the phone answered hello. I took a moment to refrain myself from bursting into laughter. And mostly, I confess, to build up the suspense in the room.
“Oh hello there, is this Mrs Gordon? That’s great. Oh sorry, my name is Liam. You don’t know me. I used to work in JP’s factory kitchen with your husband. Yes, that’s right.” The suspense in the room was unbelievable.
“There’s something very interesting that I’d like to tell you about him and Michael the assistant manager.” The timid voice at the end of the phone mumbled through the receiver, but I was too busy in my own thoughts to hear what she had said. A wave of hesitation had swept through my body, and I shook nervously. Could I really do this, break up a family home and a marriage? It would break her heart hearing the truth, and I would be the cause of it. I glanced with regret towards Chef Gordon, who was now standing behind the seated Michael, resting a hand on the back of his chair. The guilt I felt quickly swept away when Chef Gordon’s hand grazed the top of his lover’s shoulder. No, it wasn’t me who was breaking up a marriage it was him. He was the one who was ruthlessly cheating on his wife not me – Mrs Gordon deserved to know the truth, she’d been made a mockery of for long enough. Justified in my decision, I inhaled deeply and voiced the truth which had been concealed from her, for the past two years.
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Booth Tarkington quote – https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/850845-gossip-is-never-fatal-until-it-is-denied