Graveyard Shift

Jane shifted her feet. Six hours with nothing but a rubber mat between her and the concrete floor and they were starting to bark. Two more hours to go, then she could go home. Then after sixteen hours, she'd have to come back.

She stretched. There was nothing to see outside the window but the pumps, the road, and the stores across the road. No trees, no stars, no handsome men on white chargers come to rescue her. She picked up her coffee cup and sipped the bitter crap with a wince. Even cream and sugar wouldn't help this mess.

She wondered where her co-worker had gone. Evelyn had been there for years, she knew all the dodges, and she especially knew all the dodges a newbie might try and was quite joyous in nipping them in the bud. She wished the old hag would show up so she could finish her floor work before the morining crew and Mr. Fescew got there. Especially that bastard, Jimmy Fescew.

She winced as she watched the big semi pull into the lot, disappear to the left, then reappear to the right. Pull through the pumps, she willed it, pull throught the pumps. Dammit!

The Trendar began beeping, followed by the intercom. She clicked on the intercom and typed "14" into the Trendar. "Name of company, truck number, and how are you paying?" She said.

"Hell, it's written on the door!"

"The pump is between me and the door, sir, I can't see it."

"Well, hell! Maybe you need glasses. Boston Transport, number 667, and I'm payin' with a Comdata. You do take Comdata, don't you?"

No, thought Jane, we just have that big Comdata sign by the entrance because it looks so gol-dang purty. "Yes sir," she said, "your pump is ready."

Quickly she finished entering the information so the damned contraption would quit bleating at her.

Then she heard a thump in the office, then a muffled, "S***!" Evelyn had been in the office taking a nap.

Jane briefly thought about nailing the office door shut, but then Evelyn came around the corner.

"S***, girl, you better get your finger out of your butt and get on your floor work if you want to get it done before Jimmy gets here! He's already mad at you!"

Yeah, jeez, wouldn't want him to have a hissy, thought Jane. A few rounds with DeMartino would show that wimp who was an alpha male. Problem was, he had the power to fire her, which gave him the edge.

"You know I've got a customer out there?" said Jane.


"You said that you couldn't do any diesel transactions when you were on the grocery register."

"Alright, when he's finished I'll holler for you."

"You know, Rena took two diesel transactions last night?"

"Did she? Well, Jimmy's fixin' to fire her anyway. Quit sassin' me and get to work!" ________

It was when Jane was halfway between the gas island and the dumpster, carrying two heavily laden garbage sacks in her hand, that Evelyn leaned out the door and yelled for her to "Get your finger out of your butt and come take care of this customer! And don't leave those bags in the middle of the lot!"

Jane tried to get the sacks to the dumpster faster, then heaved them over the top. The second one caught on the side of the dumpster and burst, showereing her with garbage and a mixture of flat cola, cold coffee with cream, and motor oil. Jane stood trembling with supressed rage.

"Come on, woman! The customer has to be in Burlington in an hour!"

Jane came in, whiping her feet on the door mat, then went to the diesel desk, ignoring Evelyn's obvious schadenfreude. "Yes sir, can I help you?"

"Reckon you can, li'l lady, unless you guys are giving fuel away f'r free," he said with a wink at Evelyn.

"No, I don't think we've adopted that policy quite yet. Your card, please."

He winked at Evelyn again. "Already gave it to you."

Jane lowered her head and sighed. "No, sir, you haven't."

"Just funnin' with you," he said, "can't take a little joke?"

"Mmmmm, heh, heh," she laughed feebly, "are you getting anything else on the card?" She ran the card through the striper.

"Well, you'll need my truck, trip, and hub."

"To purchase, sir, like oil, antifreeze, etc?"

"Gimme a million dollars." He leered at her.

"Just the fuel then."

And truck, trip and hub."

Jane smiled wanly and keyed the Trendar to the information page.




"Hub's 148287."


"Aready give it to you."

Jane paused, confused. "You're saying '667' is the truck number?"


Jane tried not to grind her teeth noisely as she keyed back up to the trip. "Trip?" she asked, emphasizing the "p."

"Wait a minute, I gotta go look at the invoice," he said, leaving.

Jane cut Evelyn a dangerous look. Evelyn gave her a dull, "I didn't say nothing" look.


"Huh?" said Jane, not wanting to believe the man had to go back to his truck to find that his trip number was "two."

"Trip number's two."

Jane entered the number, then reentered the other two numbers as she scrolled past them so the Trendar wouldn't erase them, then she sent the transmission.

A minute later the printer rattled out the receipt. She tore it off and took the store's copy from the back of the sheet, handing the man his copies.

"Don't I need to sign that'n too?"

Jane blanched. She could feel the predatory grin crossing Evelyn's face. She put the three sheets back together and let the man sign. After he left, she started.

"You know there's plenty of drivers out there that would think nothing of just walking off without signing that invoice, and we'd be out $200, and Jimmy'd be so mad! He'd take it out of your paycheck and maybe suspend you for three days..."

God, thought Jane, I miss Quinn. _______

Jane drug herself into the apartment she shared with Daria. Daria was sitting at the kitchen table, eating a bowl of cereal and looking at a biology text book. She sniffed the air and looked at Jane.

"It's a looong story, Morgandorffer. I'm going to take a shower and hit the hay," she said, giving the rising sun a baleful look through the kitchen window.

Daria put her textbook down. "You and Trent just aren't morning people, are you?" she asked one time too many.

She stared in shock at Jane stomping to the bathroom, cereal and milk dribbling from the bowl on her head down to her pajamas. _______