By Amber Robbin
Georgia was tough as nails, a woman with the skin of a buffalo and the constitution of a rattlesnake. She was always looking for her chance to strike, hiding her ruthlessness behind shifty eyes. She kept the office in line with the threat of her slow rattle, always prepared to save her skin by sinking her fangs into someone else’s. She had fought her way up to be the biggest toad in the puddle, and it damn sure hadn’t taught her to deal in favors. She was so crooked, she could swallow nails and spit out corkscrews.
Sitting in her office, she glared at me from behind her stiff, straw bangs. I reckoned I’d won the squabble, still she’d only fork over fifteen minutes a day of overtime (not the full hour and fifteen I toiled longer than all the rest). I decided to pull in my horns and take what I could get. I took to my feet slowly, holding her stare, then pivoted deliberately on my heel and swaggered down the hall back to my desk to claim my winnings. It would take much more than one slippery, superintending shrew to make me back down.
I got a wiggle on. It was half past eleven on a Friday, and overtime was due mighty soon. I’d never filled out the overtime form before, but I did a bang-up job tossing it together and sent it off with a lick and a promise. Before I could even refresh my doggone screen, Nancy was sending my form straight back to me on account of a difficulty she said there was with my reporting. Something about the way I typed my numbers had got her in a tizzy. I set right in correcting my errors, but Nancy was set on kicking up a row. There was no denying it, Nancy was ornery as a mama bear with a sore teat. Unlucky for her, I wasn’t in the mood to be rip-snorted. No highfalutin heffers were gonna bulldoze me anymore. What bosh was the old biddy going on about this time, I wondered as I read her message. Well if that don’t take the rag off the bush! I reckon, I’m gonna have to fight like Kilkenny cats to get my pay!! She was making me rewrite the whole damn thing cause I’d used an old form. I was dragged out, but I refused to throw up the sponge. I found the right form, praise the Lord, and shot it back to her without a pause. But by hook or crook, that old croaker was set on making my life a living hell.
I’d had enough of her hogwash. I got up off my rump and walked myself straight back to Nancy’s stall. I knew I couldn’t leave the front unattended, but I didn’t give a hoot. She wanted the paper in her office? Oh, I’d shove the ever-lovin form right into her boot-licking, bellyaching bazoo. I stepped real slow up to her doorframe and assumed a wide-legged stance. She heard the clank of my boots and turned slowly around in her rolly chair. Her face looked like a dime’s worth of dog meat. We locked eyes, waiting to see who’d reach for their holster first. It was hot as a whorehouse on nickel night, and sweat beaded up on my brow. Still, I kept on with a stare that said, I’m gonna bury you alive in a bone orchard. She fired first: “Is that the right version?” “Yeah.” “It best be approved by Georgia.” “It is.” “Don’t put that thing down yet. You got in the middle of me doing my filing. Gimme a minute.” I stood gritting my teeth for half a day. “Ok, put it here, right here, but just know, I’m doing you a favor. You’re supposed to submit forms by…” I shinned out before she could finish her sentence, to add fuel to the fire, but also to book it back to my desk. I made it back in time and all seemed fine as cream gravy. Then, the phone: “As I was saying, you’re supposed to submit forms by high noon. And I hope you didn’t just leave the front unattended.” Leaving my desk was like leaving the gate open to a bullpen, but I wanted the whole operation to go down in blazes.
I spent the afternoon practicing my rope tricks, dreaming of being put out to pasture. At half past five, I closed up shop, hogtied the office doors, and vamoosed. I was hankering for a snort of oh-be-joyful. I found myself an ace-high establishment around the corner and bellied-up to the bar for a cowboy cocktail. Way I saw it, I had only two options for dealing with these book-learning blue bellies. I could either cut and run, forgetting the whole kit and caboodle, or buckle to and beat them at their own game. I paid the bar dog for my gut warmer and headed out to the cow-path. I wasn’t gonna let those lowdown, dirty sneaking polecats raise my bristles. I untied Trusty Ol’ Four-Speed and got back in the saddle. I wasn’t afeared of no Yankees. As pawpaw always said, “The man that straddles the fence usually has a sore crotch.”
To be continued…
Amber Robbin is the creator of Tumbleweed Diaries. She is passionate about languages, world travel, and currently working on a book about her adventures in Italy.