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Truth, As Strange As Fiction: Desperate Mind

perfume-labTruth, As Strange As Fiction:

Desperate Mind
by
J.D. Holiday*

I have come crossed a few people in my life who for one reason or another have found something or other about themselves that they were afraid would be found out and to cover it they made up an unbelievable story to hide their secret.
This person is the first I came across to come up with such an elaborate lie to hide they’re desperate secret.
It was the man who hired me at my lab job in a cosmetic factory where I was a a sample girl at the time back in the early 1970s. My job was making samples for the customers and taking bacteria samples and sending them for quality control. The man’s name was Mark* and he was intelligent, and probably attended a ivy leaque school, attractive, well dressed with brown hair and long sideburns always neatly trimmed. But he was also insufferable to deal with. He had to habit it of making everyone feel they were stupid because he knew so much more than they did about the cosmetic business and his reprimands would be sharp, loud and everyone would hear when he told you with attitude, ‘go back and think some more about what you were doing and do it correctly’ eye roll and all. I, myself, was afraid to disappoint him for fear of being reprimanded. But in retrospect I think that made me do my very best. As for Mark, new looking back with what I learn about him, if that was his only flaw I would have to say it wasn’t much at all.
I never look at people and see them through their religion, their color, gender, their looks or anything else, and never dared to assumed their sexual preference. As a child I remember learning for myself that if I smiled and was nice to people they would do the same to me. Well, you know how that turned out, but I’m a dreamer and really liked being liked so I kept that up through most my life. Simply, I treat people as I want to be treated and if that’s one basis flaw, if it is a flaw, I have.
As the boss of this lab Mark’s main skill was to make sure that the samples were exactly what the customer ordered. And boy, was he good at it! He could take any mistake a lab techs made whether it be the eyeshadow, face makeup, creams of all kinds, mascara, you name it and he could name what was missing or had too much of in it to made it right. Nothing left the lab to be sent to a customer unless Mark approving it. And he was rarely wrong.
Mark was friends with one of the owners’ son, Harry* who was the supervisor in the factory making sure that production ran well. Harry was a skawny guy, with drooping shoulders, losing his short whitish blond hair and wearing gray overalls daily.
Very different from Mark in every way.
The lab itself was made up of cheap kitchen cabinets along four walls of the lab with two rows of cabinets occuping the center back to back. My station in the lab was in the far dark corner, against a wall and pretty much hidden from sight by a make-up formulas filing cabinet, and far away from the long glass picture windows. Mark and Harry’s desks were side by side right in front of my station.
The two of them spent many an hour just sitting at their desks which happened to be right in front of me and they did nothing but talk as their jobs required just to monitor things on occasion, but most of the time, with little to do there they sat. If they weren’t friends they certainly spent a lot of time together in the lab.
As part of my job I not only made samples but I had to take care of the sample room where samples of every product ever made in the company’s 40 years or so was housed and I was in charge of it. The only other key was in Mark’s desk. I had to add a sample of everything made daily by all the lab technicians. So I spent part of my time away from my desk and when I was at my desk I didn’t pay any attention to what Mark and Harry talked about so I have no insight into how close they really were.
But all hell broke loose one day after I was there about 6 months.
Backing up a little, the company bosses hired the pill popper, Bromilda* (see: Truth, As Strange As Fiction: Man With A Gun for more) to be Mark’s assistant three months earlier to this event. She had a mediterranean look, was medium built, nice wavy brown hair that I admired but not a smart dresser. Why he needed an assistant I have no idea but management had known her years ago when she was a young lab tech in their lab but left to join another company and was now returning. Though way after this all happened, I wondered if the bosses had a ulterior motive.
There were eight other lab techs and most of them are pretty boisterous all day long, laughing and joking with a few of them constantly maligning others behind their backs when anyone left the room. I felt Bromilda fit right in with the latter group. Once she join that team, as it were, she mainly sat at her desk all day too, though located at the far end of the room away from Mark and Harry.
Now others may have known more about this than I did before hand but I only learned about it the morning it happened. And I was so surprised I can’t even say that I ever had an inkling that this event was going to happen.
As I remember it I believe it was a Friday in October and the days are just starting to get cold when on arriving at work and was about to take off my coat when Bromilda approached me and taking my arm, said, “I have something to tell everybody, come with me,” as she dragged me along with her to the front of the lab. Talking loudly to be heard she took the others to listen and said that Mark’s fiance had been killed in a car accident overnight. I had never heard that Mark had a fiance and was very shocked. I felt so bad for him and I could tell the others did to as the whole day was a solemn one.
Now Bromilda and I did not get along from the start. But she came to my desk and asked me what I knew. But there was nothing I could tell her as this news about Mark was new to me. For the life of me I can’t remember what I did that weekend it was pretty much uneventful but Monday morning once again there was a crisis at work and it about Mark. The place was in a hush. And you could feel the tension in the room as Bromilda (in Harry’s chair,) and Mark sat at the desks in front of mine. There was no sign of Harry.
Bromilda and Mark whispered their shouts at each other. And I couldn’t describe it as anything but. What could possibly have been the matter especially with Mark just losing his fiance what could this be about? Mark was in distress. You couldn’t help feeling bad for him. The two of them did a lot of hands flinging out, heads bobbing and animated gestures. Once in a while I would turn and look that them. It was mind-boggling without knowing what could possibly be the matter other than the obvious.
At some point they got up and left the lab. Once they were gone though the rest of us seem to settle down and able to concentrate on our work. After some time had past I had to go to the sample room in the back of the factory and as I made my way there I looked around for both Bromilda and Mark and findng no sign of them. It was at the door to the sample room that I saw the door was ajar and I I heard Bromilda’s voice. “But why lie about it,” she was saying, “it’s just you don’t need to. You need to talk to someone.” I seemed frozen in place, and at that point they turned and saw me. Mark’s head went down. Looking away from me, too, Bromilda said, “can you come back later?”
“Sure,” I croaked out and left more bewildered than I was before.
Mark never came back to the lab! The next day, Bromilda set in his place. And while I was at the Bunsen burner preparing lipstick samples with a glossy shine, someone whispered to me, “Mark never had a fiance, he made it up. The company sent flowers to a funeral home and the funeral home says there was no such funeral going on there.”
I remember saying something like,”that doesn’t make any sense.”
Someone else added, “Mark’s gay and he was trying to cover it up.”
Another said the boss called him and he had to admit it.
Others piped-in and the discussion was about how Mark wanted Harry and Harry said no but in was much more colorful description than I will use here. We never saw Mark again. He called someone in the company to say he had a job in California and was going there, that’s what he wanted to do.
Bromilda slid into Mark’s job. A few days later Harry was back and he was sitting in the chair he used to occupy when it was Mark’s desk.
I have known desperation in my life, but I never had to hide who I was nor absorb or deal with denying it. What happened to Mark has probably played out one too many times. ~ JD Holiday

My other lab story: Truth, As Strange As Fiction: Man With A Gun
https://cerealauthors.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/truth-as-strange-as-fiction-man-with-a-gun/

* Names have be changed to protect the innocence. 😀

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 Truth, As Strange As Fiction: Man With A Gun    

   Truth, As Strange As Fiction: Man With A Gun496515016

    by JD Holiday*

              Back in the mid 70’s, I was the sole provider for my family. It was me and three year daughter named Jennifer while my husband, Angelo, interned in a hospital for a job in the Nuclear Medicine field.

              Up until this time I was a cashier in a supermarket but I could not make enough money to pay the bills. Not knowing what else to do to find a job where I would make enough, (I knew at the time, your months rent should be the same as your weekly salary,) I bought the newspaper every day.

              Looking back it seemed it wasn’t long, and only about five job interviews, until the right job came along that I thought could make what I needed to make ends meet. It was $40 short of the rent but I would get a raise after a trail point to make this happen.

              My new job was as a sample girl for a cosmetic factory. I would have to make samples for the customers and taking bacteria samples and sending them for quality control. I haven’t a clue how I was to be a success as a sample girl, but they wanted me and I went for it. Part of my job was to get to know all the likes and dislikes, and the dos and don’ts of make-up for each and every one of their customers, which included many cosmetic companies world wide. You would have been surprise to know which ones, especially when one very famous company was suppose to have its make-up made in France and not in a rural town in New Jersey.

              I joined the chemical lab techs (a place ripe for stories and some I will pass along here as well!) and soon, I must say proudly, I had all the customers products down to memory. Mind you, I was not to deal with the customers directly but make the two bosses, who were also brothers and had inherited half of the cosmetic factory, look like they care for each and every one of these moguls of the make-up industry. It wasn’t long before I stepped into a position equal to that of the lab manager, a pill popping woman named Bromilda*, where I bypassed her and making any conversation with her exposive, and dealt only with the two bosses.

              The lab itself was really just cheap kitchen cabinets along the four walls of the room with two rows of the same cabinets occuping the center back to back. My station in the lab was in the far corner against a wall and behind the make-up formulas filing cabinet that hid me from sight and blocked anyone from seeing me from the company office door on the other side of the filing cabinet.

              About four months into the job a young man about my own age was hired to join the other lab techs and was given the station next to me. He was tall and attractive and seemed sociable. He laughed alot. And he found he could find something funny in everything. I did not like him. To me not everything is funny or amusing. I have found people who do, just might lack empathy and even sympathy for others.

              On his third day he came in and stood at my station looking down at me. He stated, “I want your station.”

              Not even hello or a smile. He placed his coat on the back of my chair. “I need my back to the wall,” he added and reached to his coat pulling open one side still staring at me.

              My stare went from his face following his arm to the inside of his coat to see an extremely large gun. At the time I had no knowledge of guns other than they are used to kill.

              Without a word, I opened my stations drawers and cabinets and removed everything. We silencely moved together as in a strange dance of sorts to changed stations, my thoughts in a turmoiI. What was to happen with this strange and dangerous guy. I had to work this job everyday with him right next to me, were my thoughts.

              I found the whole thing surreal. A nightmare really. And stranger still that no one ever ask me way the change! Afraid, I never said. The only time I knew someone notice was the first time one of the bosses came in, looked at my station with a startled look. I put up my hand, his smiled and stepping toward me without a word about it.

              For two months I wondered what others thought about this man.Did he seem normal to the others? I guess he was not theatening to anyone else. Could that be? The only thing he did wrong that was noticeable, in my opinion, was to be late almost every day. And then one day the factory manager, Manny, who I did all the bacteria sample for and I knew well, came running through the lab and straight into the office. Later, he was to tell me the ‘man with the gun’ was selling drugs in the parking lot to factory personal.

              The next day, we were all told the those who are late three time within a two weeks would be fired.

              You can guess what happened. And two weeks later, I moved back to my

station   ~JD Holiday

* Names have be changed to protect the innocence.  😀

You can find out more about me on Cereal Authors at:

https://cerealauthors.wordpress.com/category/jd-holiday-2/

My site: http://JDHoliday.blogspot.com