Zombie Romance Pt. 1

JUMP TO: PT. 2  PT. 3  PT. 4  PT. 5  PT. 6  PT. 7  PT. 8  PT. 9  PT.10  PT. 11 

The day you die is usually a day that didn’t go according to plan. Of course, you never think about things like this on a normal day.
Instead, today I’m thinking about work as I get out of my truck and put my hard hat on. I’m thinking of my wife, who I miss already.
There’s still a bitter chill to the edge of the wind. It’s spring, but in name only. It seems like winter is kicking us in the shins on the way out, and it’s supposed to snow again tonight. In April. I just shake my head at the gray sky, because what can you do? At least the ground finally thawed out enough for us to break ground on the condo project.
I tip my hat at Ms. Josephine, the homeless woman, as I walk by.
“Ms. Josephine, good morning.”
She sits out here on the last piece of sidewalk of the city and talks to herself. How she’s made it through winter so far, I’m not sure, because her coat looks threadbare. That makes me pause, and dig some cash out of my wallet.
She looks up at me and nods, her frizzy salt and pepper hair bobbing. She reaches up to shake my hand, so I return the gesture, but then I slip the bills into her cold fingers and curl them around them.
“Go get out of the cold awhile, and get yourself something warm to eat. They say it’s going to snow tonight.”
She flashes me a clear look and nods again. “I will. Bless you.”
She doesn’t get up to spend her money, and she doesn’t say anything more. Sighing, I tip my hat and walk on. “Good day, Ms. Josephine.”
I jog up the steps of the foreman’s trailer and open the door. “Morning, Boss.”
“Shut the door, Grady, you’re letting the cold in,” he grouses in way of greeting. “And I saw that,” he adds, pointing a sharp finger at me. “That homeless woman out there? She’d move on if your bleeding heart didn’t keep giving her money. Some of us have to actually work for our money,” he huffs.
“Well, I do work for my money. So it’s my business what I do with it.” I say it as cheerfully as I can even though his attitude sets my teeth on edge.
After all, in the last few years, the majority of us in this city had been one bad decision, one family emergency, one bad illness or injury away from being homeless ourselves.
How quickly Biff forgets.
When he’d hired me, I’d been just as desperate for a job as he had been for decent workers to keep his business from going under.
He’s not usually this grumpy. I’d say we’re pretty good friends, as far as co-workers go. But like everybody, he has days he wants to be left alone, and I get the message loud and clear. And not I’m not about to let his sour mood ruin my day, either.
I clock in and tip my hat at him on the way out. He nods back, so at least I know it’s not really me aggravating him.
I make way around to the back, passing the huge wooden sign that shows a color picture of what the condominiums are going to look like. It seems impossible that this giant flat field of brown dirt will someday be that shiny new housing, with a park-like lawn out front for families to enjoy, but it’s our hard work that makes it happen.
I greet the crew and I’m ready to get started when I see something that makes me pause.
Stomping over to Travis in the excavator, I climb up on the step and make the sign for him to cut the engine.
He does and says, “What’s up, Grady?”
I tap my plastic-covered, protected head. “Hard hats required.”
Sheepish, he says, “Oh yeah. Sorry. I’ll go get it on.”
“You do that. Safety first.” I pat him on the shoulder, because he’s forgetful, but he’s a good guy.
And then I go about my day, working hard, and definitely not thinking of how people could fool you when it comes to their true nature.