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TRUE TALES FROM THE SIDE SHOW: His Own Boss - Trickle of Consciousness — LiveJournal
From the work journal of ranch hand DW Walker, the story of a man obsessed with the very oddities our series explores...

For a guy so tall, that cook never seemed scary. For one thing, he was awful young. For another, his nose was always in a book. And when it wasn't, he was spouting off about one weird fact or another: men with claws for hands, who had scales 'stead of skin, or drank animal blood 'stead of cooking meat like normal folks. And the twins. Lord, how he went on 'bout the twins.

"Born from the same life germ." I can't ever remember the whole rigmarole, but I remember that part, since I never understood how a germ grew into people. But he kept talking about how his parents had them a pair of those Siam-ite twins and that's how they made their living, and he figured if he could find a whole buncha folks like that, why, that'd be easy money, wouldn't it?

Probably would have done better to talk less and work harder, I always thought. The boss was always up in his face about mucking up the food not paying attention. And you didn't want to mess with the boss. He was a big guy who was scary. All broad shoulders under that leather longcoat, cracking that whip like it weren't harder than waving a bit of string. Nobody liked him, but since we'd seen him turn that whip on a ranch hand or two when they got too big for their britches, weren't none of us going to tell him that.

So anyways, there was cookie, all books and cowering and barely keeping his job with the stale bread and slop he was serving. But I worked lots of ranches, and ain't never been much better anywhere else, so never seemed worth all the fuss the boss made.

I expect maybe it was about something else. But if cookie wandered off some nights with one or two of the other ranch hands, I always thought: to each his own. Ranch can be a lonely place. You find yourself some companionship you enjoy, ain't no never mind to me, I say.

Then he got that letter. Started caterwauling like wasn't no tomorrow when he read it. One of his buddies let on cookie'd just found out his folks had died. I felt bad for the guy, I did, but when dinner came and weren't even all the potatoes peeled with all his blubbering, the boss wasn't nearly so nice.

Started on a tirade, screaming and yelling, and odd thing was, instead of cowering like he always had before, that cook looked down at the wad of paper in his hands, nodded like he'd just had a talk with it, then stood up tall and proud. And boy, but those eyes, red from crying, got cold and dark and oh so mean.

Shook the boss for a minute, but you don't get to be a foreman by having no spine. Stood nose to nose with cookie and told him dinner better be ready lickety split or he'd take the whip to him just like he did the cattle.

Cookie just let out a laugh cold as his eyes were. So the boss backed up a few steps, and he swung that whip. I almost couldn't look, but boy am I glad I did. 'Cause there wasn't a whip crack, not like normal, on account of that mewly bookworm cook snatched that whip end right out the air and yanked it out of the boss's hand.

His own Boss now...

Oh, but that was a sight mighta sent a man blind from surprise all on its own, but it didn't end there. One, two, three steps, then a hell of a haymaker, and the boss crumpled to the ground like he was nothing more than a scarecrow.

Cookie took that fancy leather coat off the boss, and hell if it didn't fit like it was made for him. Stood tall and proud, and we all for a minute sent up a whooping cheer to see someone teach that bully a lesson, but then the cook bellowed, twice as loud and nasty as the boss, and we all stood still.

"All you big, strong, normal men," our bookworm said, glaring at us all. "Can wrangle a steer in a minute, but you don't have the decency to stand up for anyone else, or listen when somebody wants to educate you.

"I've had it with your little show," he growled, holding up that letter he'd been weeping over all morning. "I've got my own to attend to now. I think it's time I was my own boss."

Struck his tent right then and there, and by the time the boss woke up, wasn't nothing left of that cook but raw potatoes seasoned with a pinch of our own shame.

But what kind of man will this new Boss be? And what of the show he'll be running? Discover his Side Show now through May 5 at The Players Theatre!

Previous entries in the series:
The Fortune Teller
The Cannibal King
In the Blood
If Witches Worked Curses

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