Factory Tails — Short Story Seven
by Barbara Anne Helberg
Loose Lips, a grand mixed shepherd of great paws and a large head with big, unusually erect, pointy ears, hailed the Shift Supervisor.
The Super sighed with his shoulders in a gesture of unwillingness familiar to those in Operator’s Row.
Craning their necks and pricking their ears, the other press operators leaned into various angles, ready to catch the gist of a trouble call. At Loose Lips’ press, the red call light had been blipping for several minutes. Red lights alerted the Shift Super that he was needed to check out an operational malfunction. A yellow call light signaled for a Quality Control Inspector.
A very tall, thin St. Bernard, the Shift Super dragged on his Marlboro, then said, “What’cha got, Melvin?” using Loose Lips’ given name.
Loose Lips responded with a guttural rash of explanatory complaints on the current run of bad parts at his press, “Blah, blah. Blah…” he indicated. “Blah…blah.”
The Super sighed, nodding.
“Blah…blah,” Loose Lips continued.
The Super nodded.
“Blah, blah,” Loose Lips continued. “Blah…blah…blah…blah…blah…blah–”
“Yeah,” the Super said, cutting Melvin off. His ears twitched forward. He lifted one part from the drop tray beneath the press and inspected it nonchalantly.
Loose Lips wiggled on his press chair, which, essentially, was a metal stool with a metal back supported only by two thin, short poles. “Blah, blah,” he said as the Super continued his inspection. “Blah, blah, blah. Blah…blah…blah…blah…blah.”
The Super’s ears dropped half way. He nodded, letting the part he’d looked at trickle off his paw nails back into the tray.
“Blah, blah, blah,” Loose Lips told him. “Blah…blah…blah…blah…blah…blah.”
The Super’s ears reached full droop. “Yeah,” he replied to Melvin.
Loose Lips changed his low position on the press chair. “Blah, blah, blah,” he pointed out. “Blah, blah, blah! Blah, blah! Blah…blah…blah…blah…blah!” He stared at the Super.
The Super’s eyes glazed over. He nodded droopily. “Yeah. Okay. Just keep running.” He turned away and padded off.
Loose Lips’ eyes stabbed the Super’s back as the St. Bernard shuffled away. “Blah, blah, blah!” he said under his breath. “Blah!”
Story and Photo from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg