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Paul J Hamm

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   Recent stories by Paul J Hamm
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           >> View all 10


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All in a Days Work
By Paul J Hamm
Friday, March 24, 2006

Rated "PG13" by the Author.

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Charley Meek is just your average, everyday working guy - over weight, works long hours, and ignores his body
Working for UPS, Charley is on his way home after a long, hard day - or so he thinks. After relizing he has missed a delivery, Charley must head into downtown Miami for one final stop. Ignoring the signs of stress and fatigue, the terror Charley encounters upon reaching his destination gives new meaning to the old cliche' "All in a day's work."

                           All in a Day’s Work


     “Damn potholes,” Charley growled, the rear end of the UPS delivery truck he was driving bouncing violently.
  Charley Meeks was a large man…well, okay, an obese man, in his middle forties, and the delivery truck always seemed to jump off the pavement when it was empty, causing the springs inside the worn out seat to protest against Charley’s weight by biting him in the ass like little harpoons.  At least the sun was starting to set on the western horizon, the brown, sweat stained shirt that Charley wore beginning to dry out.  
  In South West Florida, August is always the worst month for heat and humidity, but Charley also knew being seventy pounds overweight didn’t help matters, and neither the potholes nor the heat had been an issue that morning when Charley had damn near given himself a heart attack while loaded the truck.  UPS supervisors always insisted there was room for one more delivery, and by the time Charley secured the latch on the back of his truck, having to force the door closed to do so, his chest was heaving, and the tips of his figures were numb.  He presumed the numbness to be from running the bar code reader over the labels attached to each and every delivery – at least that’s what he hoped. 
  Now, at 7pm on Friday evening, with a Twinkie in one hand and his half-empty thermos of lukewarm coffee in his lap, Charley headed back to shipping docks.  It was a good thing too, because Charley was hungry, and, like a lost lover, the generic frozen pizza in his freezer was calling his name. 
  “This will just have to tide you over for another hour or so,” Charley said to his grumbling stomach, and then stuffed the remaining piece of the yellow cake wonder into his mouth.
  As he took a swig from the thermos and swallowed, his company Nextel phone chirped.
  “904, this is dispatch.  Are you in route?”
  Charley set his thermos down, and snatched up the phone.  “Dispatch, this is 904.  Yep, all done for the day and headed back to the corral.  Good thing, too - the heat today was a bitch, and I’m whipped.”
  “Negative 904.”
  Charley gave the phone a puzzled looked, and then depressed the little button.  “Negative to what?  That it was hot today, or that I’m whipped?” 
  There was a pause, then, “Negative to returning to the warehouse.  According to the scanning records, you still have one more delivery aboard.”
  Charley stared at the radio, working his jaw.  He could feel his blood pressure going up a notch as he mentally tried to picture the cargo bay of his truck. 
  The radio chirped again.  “Did you copy, 904?”
  Asshole!, Charley thought, and said, “Copy, dispatch.  I’ll pull over, take a look, and get back to you in five.”
  “Copy 904.”
 
     After pulling into a 7/11 parking lot, Charley climbed out of the truck with a grunt and flexed his left hand.  The numbing sensation had returned, and the tingling aftermath ran a course over his palm up to his elbow. 
  “Stress,” Charley mumbled to his hand.  “Stress and hunger - probably should run in the store real quick and get a cup of hot coffee to calm my nerves.  But first…” 
  He walked to the back of the delivery truck and threw the latch, the bright, overhead light coming on.  Charley scanned the cavernous cargo area, noted it was empty, and grabbed the bar code reader from the wall mount.  Just as he pushed the on button, his head snapped back to the cargo area.  A large, rubber mat protected the delivery truck’s floor against unnecessary damage, and up by the driver’s seat, under the mat, Charley spotted the corner of an envelope.   
  “Ahhh, man…you’ve gotta be shittin' me,” Charley said, put the scanner in his belt holder, and began the laborious crawl through the cargo bay to retrieve the wayward delivery. 
  Upon reaching his destination, panting and wheezing like a worn out vacuum cleaner, Charley pulled back the mat, drew out his scanner like a gunslinger, and said, “Go ahead, punk…make my day,” as he scanned the bar code. 
  When he tried to raise the scanner to read the display, he noticed the device seemed gradually to gain weight.  Then his fingers began to tremble, and a pain stabbed into Charley’s shoulder like hot glass. 
  “Oh man, that hurts,” Charley said, letting the scanner fall to floor and sitting down with a heavy thud.  He rested his head against the interior wall of the delivery truck, sweating profusely, closed his eyes, and thought, Just take it easy, ole’ buddy.  Just take some deep breaths, and relax a little.  It’ll pass in a minute or two…just give it time. 
 
And to Charley’s relief, it did. 
  After about five minutes, Charley collected his scanner and the envelope while beginning the slow process of exiting the truck.  He sat on the heavy steel bumper for a few more minutes, flexing his hand and starting to feel a little better. 
  Maybe I should go to the doctor tomorrow and tell him what happened, Charley thought as he reset the scanner to check the lost delivery’s destination.  Probably nothing but stress, or muscle spasm, or both - kind of a waste of money only to have a doctor tell you… There was a small, electronic ping as the scanner completed its task.  Charley looked at the display window, dropped his mouth open, and moaned in disgust. 
  Ah, come on, not downtown!  
  Charley hated downtown deliveries, and his fifteen years of UPS employment gave him enough seniority to stay out of the downtown Miami area – most of the time.  However, the downtown issue was only part of the problem.  Charley had started his route this morning just outside the downtown area, steadily heading west as he made his deliveries, and was now standing in the 7/11 parking lot on Dolphin Pkwy across the street from Miami International airport.  Charley estimated it would take a little over an hour to make his last delivery. 
  “All in a days work, I guess” Charley said, and wandered into the 7/11 for a cup of coffee and a package of doughnuts.

     The traffic on I95 was a nightmare do to an accident, and Charley didn’t reach the downtown exit until 8:30.  NW 5th Street was one-way, so required a trip through downtown Miami, a right on Biscayne Blvd. across from Bay Front Park, and then another right on NE 1st Street, the street on the delivery. 
  The downtown area made Charley very nervous at night; the streets were all but deserted, and the skyscrapers looming overhead made him feel claustrophobic. 
  It reminded him of a movie he had seen, set in the 1970’s during the cold war.  In the movie, the Russians had used a neutron bomb to vaporize all the people in a U.S. city, but left the inert structures standing unscathed.  Then, the Russians invaded the city, and began broadcasting a radio message over the airwaves telling American citizens to come into the city, where they ended up getting lobotomies, and used as slaves.  Charley couldn’t remember how the movie had ended, but did remember how the Russians had positioned themselves inside the skyscrapers, and then had dropped gigantic nets on the groups of American citizens as they wondered the streets below.  
  “Damn Russians.  Be just like them, too,” Charley grumbled as he drove at walking speed down N.E. 1st Street.  The few cars parked at the curb were empty, and as Charley went through the last intersection before the address on the delivery, he noticed a single Bob’s barricade set askew between the street and sidewalk; the yellow caution light mounted on top flashing ominously, casting mirrored reflections off the glass panes of the surrounding buildings. 
  City workers at their finest, Charley thought as he pulled over half a block later, and killed the motor.  Can’t remember weather they’re supposed to work on the sidewalk or the street, so took an educated guess.  Of course, you don’t see them out here at 9’oclock at night either, do you, Charley boy?  So who’s the smart one?
 
Picking up the delivery envelope, Charley squinted at the address printed in small block letters on the shipping label, and then looked to the eight-story condominium building matching the address.  A good many of the buildings in the downtown area had undergone remodeling over the past two decades, (a result of the skyrocketing property values and the booming tourisms industry), but not this building.  Surly attractive in its time, the structures grey-brick surface seemed lost between hues, and in need of a good pressure washing.   Arched windows with old fashion, crank style, glass peered down onto the street like malevolent eyes, and Charley noted that two of the windows wore sheets of plywood affixed to the inside with X’s of duck tape slashed across the glass. 
  “Figures,” he said, and then studied the shipping label more closely.  Written inside the box intended for suite or apartment numbers was A-10, and Charley groaned at what he saw printed below - Rear delivery entrance, please.  
  The front entry of a building is the customary way most residents of condominiums received their visitors (or deliveries).  But occasionally, caretakers and building supers want delivery of their mail and packages by way of a side, or back door in an attempt for more privacy.
  
“Well, gotta do what cha you gotta do,” Charley said, opened the door, and stepped out to do the day’s last delivery.

     The narrow alley between Charley’s building and the building next door was lit, but not very well; a small street lamp attached the building provided the only lighting besides the arithmetic yellow flash of the Bob’s barricade.  Charley walked to alley entrance, and stopped. 
  Looking towards the intersection where the barricade sat, he noticed that instead of sitting askew on the sidewalk, the barricade now stood positioned dead in the middle of the street.
  “Wha,” said Charley, cocking his head to the side, looking up and down the street. 
  Still deserted. 
  Well, maybe while I was contemplating the address inside the truck, they finally figured out where it was they were supposed to work, he pondered, and then headed down the alley.
  A fire escape zigzagging like a lighting bolt shot down from the rooftop; the ladder near the bottom extended to within reaching distance, but Charley questioned its safety in case of an emergency.  Two dumpster, one on each side sitting about twenty feet apart with their lid open, secreted a reek of discarded leftovers and dirty diapers.  Several wooden pallets and empty cardboard boxes lay along the walls of both buildings as if someone had made at least a half effort in keeping the alley organized until trash day.
  Slowly walking forward, Charley heard a rustling noise, and froze.  The tingling sensation had returned in his fingertips, and as he eyed the dumpster on the right where he thought the noise had come from, Charley began flexing his hand. 
  He took another step forward, and a cat jumped from the dumpster, balanced on the edge, and began to lick its paws clean of its evening feast. 
  “Stupid cat,” Charley said, and continued forward again, still flexing his hand. 
  The tom, noticing he had company, laid his ears back and hissed, his yellow eyes glowing in the dim light.
  “Believe me, buddy, I have no interest in what ever the hell it is you’re eating…and I mean that,” Charley said, giving the satanic looking cat a wide berth as he passed. 
  As if hearing the sincerity in Charley’s voice, the cat jumped down from the dumpster, and hurried up three steps leading to a side door.  He turned, giving his adversary a final go-to-hell look, and disappeared into the building.
  The doors cracked open?  Charley didn’t remember the door being open, but of course, he hadn’t really looked, and it really didn’t matter.  All he wanted do was drop off this final delivery, and go home.  He passed a second side door, but didn’t worry about this one being open.  Three two-by-fours nailed across the doors entry, with four pallets and a couple of cardboard boxes stacked in front for good measure, made the door look barricaded for a reason. 
  It also looks done recently.  Charley’s mind wondered as he began to flex his fist again. 
  Stop it!  Just stop it!   Nobody gives a shit about an overweight UPS guy, and most people know we barely have a pot to piss in anyway, Charley scolded himself, and hurried to the end of the alley. 
  The note sticking out of the door jam on the door marked Deliveries explained Charley’s whole career.  Delivery dude – Had shit to do.  Come back tomorrow.  Do not leave delivery with anyone else. Thanks.
 
“Dammit!” Charley screamed, slamming a meaty fist against the recipient’s door, a sharp pain stabbing into his abdomen.  He sat down on the stoop, rubbed his sternum, and wished for a bottle of Mylanta. 
  “All right, ole’ buddy, just gather your pride, and go home, he reasoned after a few more thought clearing breaths, got up, and headed up the alley towards his truck.


     Probably some kiddy porn magazine the guy’s having delivered
, Charley grudgingly thought.  Doesn’t wanna risk his neighbors finding out they have a pervert living next door.  Then he heard a noise. 
  One of the boxes stacked by the boarded up door had fell over, but no cat came running out this time.
  “Somebody there?”  Charley asked, a slight shake in his voice.  He was ready to be out of this alley and back on his truck.  Then, while driving back to the distribution center, he might just throw this person’s delivery out the window as payback for putting him here in the first place. 
  He inched forward, eyeing the door and getting as close to the far wall as possible.  Another box tumbled, and a man sized figure emerged from behind the stacked pallets – at least he thought it was a man, but there was something wrong with his face. 
  “Look buddy, I don’t want any trouble.  But if…”
  Dim light from the streetlight above caught the man’s profile, and sent a bolt of terror down Charley’s spine.  The skin on one side of the man’s face looked like someone had shredded it with a serrated knife, leaving only ribbons of rotting flesh attached to the jawbone and exposing the teeth inside.  Yellow pus mixed with congealed blood oozed from the socket where the things left eye should have been.  Part of the scalp hung to one side like an unfitted toupee, giving the misbegotten creature a really-bad-hair-day look. 
  Charley uttered a soft cry of horror, and slapped a hand over his mouth as if he had said a naughty word in a church.  The man creature that should have been dead stepped towards Charley, dragging its right leg and knocking over the rest of the stacked boxes, and began to groan out words Charley couldn’t understand.
  “Oows…eevvv…oooo!”
  It’s a zombie!, Charley’s mind barked.  Right out of a George Ramero flick!  But that can’t be!  There’s no such thing! 
  Charley pressed his back against the opposite wall, began shutter stepping like a man on a tight rope, and screamed, “Just get the hell away from me!” while trying to make a crucifix by crossing two fingers.  The living dead creature advanced, waving an arm at Charley with no hand attached at the end - and the closer the thing got, the more Charley saw the creature’s resemblance to Brad Pitt, the actor.  Not a twins resemblance, but more like an uncle or first cousin.  Oh great, he thought through the terror, I’m going to be eaten by a brat-pack wannabee, and barked a horrible laugh at the approaching zombie.
  The creature stopped, almost as if it hadn’t expected to be laughed at, and worked its shredded mouth into a horrible grin.  “Yoowww, Yoowww.  Aakkup,” it croaked from it’s twisted mouth.
  “Oh, God!”  Charley screamed, and thought, I pissed it off!  It thinks I’m laughing at it, and now it’s pissed at me!
 
The zombie raised its good hand to its face and pulled at the loose flesh hanging from the jaw.  There was a wet tearing sound as the flesh came free, and to Charley’s horror, the creature held out the bloody mess to him.
  “Eerrwww.”
  It wants me to eat it – wants me to consume its flesh and become one of them, Charley’s mind roared.  Do something Charley!  Move your ass and do something!” 
  There was a piece of broken create resting against the wall.  Charley picked it up, drew his arm back, and threw it.  It was a short flight because of the close distance, but an accurate one.  The piece of flying debris caught the zombie in the middle of the chest, and Charley heard air exploded from the things mouth as it flailed, and fell to a knee.
  Not as tough as the movies make ‘um out to be, he thought, and that’s when the worst pain Charley had ever experience in life crashed into his chest. 
  It felt like someone had just sucker punched him with a sledgehammer - and as Charley grabbed his chest and screamed in pain, the zombie creature got back to its feet, and came forward. 
  “Waaaat…isss…saarr…,” the thing spat out, and pain or no pain, Charley had had enough.  He staggered a few feet, using the wall as a crutch.  With the hand that wasn’t holding his chest, Charley pushed away, and headed up the alley at a slow jog.  The pain was excruciating, blasting out of his chest and through his extremities like volts of electricity, but Charley hung his head and endured it as he kept up the fast pace.  
  From behind him, he heard the creature groan.  “Aaaii, aaaii, ooocck!”
  To Charley, it almost sounded as if the creature were going to miss him, and thought, Not me, but my flesh!  He glanced up and saw how close he was to the mouth of the alley.  Almost there, just a little further! 
  But it wasn’t in the cards for Charley.  Ten feet from the alley entrance, Charley’s heart seized up like the pistons in a worn out engine.  He stopped in his tracks with a pondering look on his face that said So much for the doctor’s appointment, and Charley Meeks fell dead like a rotting oak, no longer able to balance its weight. 

     The zombie wondered up the where Charley lay, still rubbing his mid section from the vicious blow taken by the two-by-four.  It looked down at the fallen man, put its hand on its hips, and sighed. 
  “Cut, cut, cut, dammit…cut!” 
  The zombie that looked like Brad Pitt glanced down the alley, and recognized the man shouting the order – after all, he was the director of the little B-rated film. 
  “What the hell happened, Steve…and who’s this guy laying on the ground of my set?”
  The zombie actor named Steve reached up, and tore the special effects apparatus away from his face; part of the apparatus was attached to the inside of the jaw line and took some time to get out. 
  “I don’t know…I mean the guy on the ground.  As far as what happened, I was waiting behind the prop door, and heard voices.  I peeked out, and saw this guy banging on the door at the end…so when he started walking back my way, I thought that was my queue.  I came out of the door, and tip over the box, just as the script says to do.   The guy saw me…and with the way he reacted I thought, Man, they picked a good one here, and then the guy started flipping out.”
  Steve paused, and looked down at Charley.  “Then I realized he wasn’t supposed to be here, and tried telling him so…but with this damn contraption in my mouth, all I got out was garble.  Then the goofy bastard picked up a two-by-four and tried to brain me with it. I think he might have broken one of my ribs.  After I got my wind back, I tried to follow him up the alley, but then he just stopped, looked confused, and fell - probably fainted from the excursion.”
  One of the crewmembers joined the party next to Charley’s body, and flipped him over; Charley’s mouth hanging open and his eyes staring off into the vastness of the universe as his head came around.
  “Oh shit,” the crewman said.  “This guys dead!”
  Steve and the director looked down at Charley’s body in slacked jawed horror.
  “Well congratulations, Zack,” Steve said, looking back to the director.  “You finally scared somebody to death.”

                         


 
 
 

       Web Site: All in a Day's Work

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Reviewed by Patricia Smith 3/7/2008
Boy, I needed this laugh. The entire time I was reading this I could not help but picture the guy on T.V. . He plays Doug the ups man in the show King Of Queens. This made the story even more vivid to me because I had placed a character in my mind for poor ole Charley.
I really enjoyed this from beginning to end. Thank you for sharing.
It was a 5 star.
Patricia Smith
Reviewed by P-M Terry Lamar 3/15/2007
I laughed out loud, but then I felt sorry for poor (?) Charley. Despite his failings, I had gotten to kind of like the guy.

Terry
Reviewed by Missy Cross 3/26/2006
Wow is right - great one! Ask not what Brown can do for you...
Reviewed by John-Paul Hamm 3/25/2006
Fantastic. I had no idea how it was going to end. Also, sounds like my UPS guy!. Good story. Keep them coming!!
Reviewed by Charles O'Connor III 3/25/2006
WOw, excellent description of charley, a fat ups twinkie guy, lol. I loved the ending with it being just a script. You drew me in and I was wondering what was going to happen to Charley. Very tongue in cheek and excellently shown. I loved it.

Charles O'Connor





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