Factory Tails — Short Story Eight
by Barbara Anne Helberg
***Whisper or Scream
“It’s all in your attitude, kid,” Harold said in his rough, scraping teaching voice. “You can make that machine whisper or you can make it scream.”
The look on the kid’s face didn’t display understanding.
Harold, a Big Blackie Lifer (over the age of fifteen — well over: he was nineteen, as a matter of fact) tried again. “Well, kid, you can fight that machine, or you can become one with it.”
A light appeared in the back of the young Black Lab’s dark eyes.
He nodded almost before Harold scratched out his explanation: “Ever take a motorcycle at death’s angle around a curve?” Harold winked. “Obviously, you lived to tell about it.”
“Because…” the young Lab began.
“You became one with the machine for those few seconds in that lay down position that can wipe you out if you don’t have the right grip mentally or the right touch physically.”
The young Lab’s jaws hung open; his tongue lolled out the side of his smiley, white-toothed mouth.
“You savvy, kid?” Harold asked.
The youngster nodded his head. His ears flopped forward. “Yeah, yeah, got’cha!”
Harold smiled. “Got a name, kid?”
Young Lab nodded, informed his teacher, “Mick.”
Nodding back, Harold thought: He doesn’t have a clue. But he might some day. Anyway, the kid’s got possibilities. He pointed a paw at the T-Boner press at the top of the wide, sturdy staircase. The T-Bone Express was a towering mass of iron, huge gears and air and water pipes, gigantic wheels and pulleys. “Come on, kid. I can show you a trick or two about the T-Boner. A delicate touch on her makes great biscuits.”
The lop-eared Lab spun around with the agility enjoyed by youth. “Yes, sir,” he said.
“You’ll do fine, kid,” Harold said. Any pup that could remember the words “yes” and “sir” in the same sentence when addressing his elders could prove to be teachable.
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