Thursday, February 6, 2014

Chapter One

This story begins in Indianapolis in 1970.

Rusty and Her Big Ideas
Rusty was going to Colorado in the spring, soon as she had seven hundred dollars. She had five hundred already and she would of had six, but her rotten tooth started hurting her. She ended up dropping two hundred at the dentist in November, and she'd been wanting to leave that next March. I know she hated to take the money out of the bank after she said she'd never touch it, no matter what. She was going to pull her tooth out with needle-nose pliers, but I told her she'd just get infection down in that hole and they'd put her in the hospital and nobody comes out of the hospital with money in their pocket. And anyway needle-nose wouldn't work. They'd slip right off.
 So that put her behind about two months while she got the two hundred again, which with her making one seventy-five an hour, wasn't too easy. Even if we kept the trailer heat down to sixty, which we did. And the gas the dentist gave Rusty made her sick, so she missed two days' work. Redskin Brooms didn't pay sick time. But Rusty wouldn't have wanted to go to Colorado with a bad tooth hurting her, and what's two months? It's eight weeks, is all, eight weeks and four paychecks, I told her, and she'd be back where she was, plus that tooth wouldn't be hurting her either.
Here's how I found out about Rusty wanting to go to Colorado: I was home reading the Sunday paper on the couch, and I couldn't find the funnies to read Apt. 3-G. Me and Rusty used to say the girls in 3-G must be in love with each other, else why didn't they get married and move out? So I was running my hand underneath of the sofa to see if the funnies was under there, and my hand come on something and I scooted it out.
What I’d got hold of was a yellow folder like we used to have in school, and there was COLERADO wrote on the front, real neat in magic marker. Inside was a card with a chart on it, where you look up how much it costs to fly to different cities. On the back of the card was all kinds of numbers multiplied times one point seven five. Rusty had been figuring how many hours she'd have to work for a plane ticket. I knew Rusty done it because the numbers was all wrong. There was picture postcards in the folder too, and pages tore out of National Geographic,and a square picture that somebody took with a Brownie box camera. The picture had blue mountains and no houses or people or telephone poles.
Rusty'd been talking Colorado for a while, but then I'd talked a red MG or getting my own double-wide trailer on two or three acres. So I looked at all the stuff, then I put it back like it was and stuck the folder underneath of the couch again. But after that, I'd slip it out every once in a while and see had she put anything else in. One time there was a vocational school thing that told where you could get your G.E.D. in four months. Getting her high school equivalence was just about as high-flying as Colorado, really, because Rusty couldn't read for shit, or write either.
I seen other stuff in the Colorado folder too, like catalogs for hiking clothes. Rusty was too lazy to hike but she would of looked good in the clothes. People thought she worked out all the time, but she didn't. She didn't do push-ups or anything, it all just come natural. She always said it was her German stock.
But what ruined her was two big scars on her face where she wrecked her motorcycle. In the movies there's princes that have a scar where they fought a duel, but hers didn't look cool like that. It just looked like she'd been in a wreck.
Even before she got scarred up, Rusty wasn't very pretty. Neither was I, which really was kind of good because when we was going to Arsenal Technical High School we didn't have to go out much. If we went out, we always doubled, with like the Easterday twins or somebody like that, and we made them take us to the Twin Aire drive-in. The boys had to sit in the front seat together, and me and Rusty sat in back and ate footlongs and caramel corn and if they didn't like it, well tuff stuff—they could take us home. We seen some good movies.
On Friday nights we was climbing in and out of a Pontiac back seat, trying to keep our skirts down where they ought to be. We wore dresses all the time then, which, look at us now. Then you had to wear a dress to school, and church, and dates. We looked like hell. There's this one picture I still got of Rusty that her old lady took when we was in tenth grade. In the picture Rusty is dressed up because her cousin Melba got married to Randy Oakes. She has on a white sheath dress and white heels, and she's standing on the sidewalk in front of the Oakes's house. She's got her heel turned so if s pressing on the inside of her other foot to make her shoes into a V which was how a lady was supposed to stand. Only on one side of the picture you can see about half of an old wrecked Plymouth, because the Oakeses had a body shop right next to their house. So every once in a while I used to get that picture out from where it was hid and say I was going to run it in the classifieds of the newspaper and underneath of it make them write RUSTY STONE IS A SECRET FEMME.
Back when we went to Tech we used to act pretty wild. Me and her used to get in trouble all the time, and not just for smoking and cutting, either. Smoking and cutting school was just regular for Arsenal Technical. If you didn't kill nobody from eight-thirty till three they would pass you, and they might pass you anyway if who you killed wasn't anybody important like the vice-principal.
We didn't learn too much. Rusty never figured out how to read, and she wasn't the only one like that at Tech. If you could read good enough to copy off somebody, you could get by. Especially if you was in Remedial. Where Rusty made her mistake was, she'd copy off anybody. Me, I'd always sit next to a brain. So I did pretty good, almost all C's and only two F's, but Rusty always had to fix her report card. She could take an ink pen and make an F into a B so you couldn't tell unless you looked hard, and Rusty's mother didn't care enough to look.
But her mother, Vivian her name was, took an interest when Old Lady Hutchinson called from school and started in about Rusty's grades. Vivian was already just waiting to get Rusty loose from school so she could put her to work at G.E. Then Rusty'd bring home the paycheck while Vivian sat on her butt. Vivian told Old Lady Hutchinson that Rusty had always been a problem child. Rusty wasn't learning nothing anyway, and she was seventeen, old enough to start contributing to her family. Vivian would be down to Tech on Monday to take Rusty out of school.
So, the day Old Lady Hutchinson called Vivian, me and Rusty was going over to Rusty's house to watch Dark Shadows, which we cut school just enough to keep up with. Here come Vivian down the driveway to meet us. She was little and fat and didn't wash herself. If she had more than one pair of slacks, I never seen them. Always the same blue slacks and usually some ugly shell top, and nothing pleased her, nothing. So then she started in. Rusty had gone about far enough and it was time for her to get a job and be helpful to her family. For a change.
Right in the middle of this big speech Rusty poked me in the back and said "Come on" and I said "Where?" She didn't tell me until we was already off the 8th Street bus and down the sidewalk to the Army Recruitment Office.
That was Rusty for you. She always had a big plan for fixing problems. She would get this look on her face like Madame Curie discovering some science thing. Rusty looked forward to having a good life, just cause everything was crappy now wasn't any reason to doubt. When we was at Tech, in study hall she'd whis- per at me and get me in trouble. "I'm going to get me some money saved and buy me a trailer and move out of Viv's," she'd say, or "I'm going to learn Spanish and go down to Mexico." The next day she'd buy a newspaper and look in the classifieds for "Mobile Homes for Sale" and price the cheapest ones. Or she'd go to the library and get a book like Spanish Made Easy. Then Spanish Made Easy would get left under the bed and the project come out to be a four-dollar library fine.
Now Rusty's big plan was to leave her old lady behind and join the army. When I was mad at my old lady, I just went to see a movie. But Rusty was going to join the army and see the world.
The Army Recruitment Office was in an old beat-up building that used to be insurance but now it was Ziggy's Bar and Grill. The army office was around the side, just one little room. There was Venetian slat things in the window so I couldn't see in, but a sign said COME IN so we did. Rusty opened up the door and went right in like she was Mrs. Jesus Christ, and I went in behind her. I figured who we'd see was some guy with a flat-top who said stuff like Roger Over and Out. There wasn't anybody like that, there was only La Vonne Williams.
"Look, Rusty," I said. "It's La Vonne Williams."
La Vonne looked pretty cool. Her uniform had a bunch of buttons and patches and even two things that looked like medals. The last time I seen her, her hair was still bleached yellowy white and she was in Remedial English with me (which was extra bad for her because she was two years older than me). Then one day at lunch I heard she was knocked up, and pretty soon she started coming to school wearing her boyfriend's old jacket all the time. I guess she hoped everybody would think they was engaged or something, but it was to hide where she was showing, and sure enough, she stopped coming to school.
Now here she was, wearing army clothes. I wanted to say "What did you do with your baby?" but I knew better, even back then. Besides, I didn't want to open my mouth till I found out why me and Rusty was at the army office.
I found out pretty quick because Rusty walked right up to La Vonne and went, "Hey, La Vonne, Vivian is acting like a female dog and I ain't putting up with it. Me and my friend Carol, you know Carol, we're joining the army."
"A female dog?" I said. "Oh, I get it. Anyway, I ain't joining the army. They make you march and all that shit. No offense, La Vonne."
"How old are you girls?" La Vonne asked us. She got a pack of Bel Airs off her desk and got one out for herself and held out the pack. Rusty took one and I took one. It seemed funny that the army let her smoke. I didn't think they let you do anything you liked. And anyway, I'd heard it cut your wind.
I didn't like La Vonne calling us "girls" and acting like she didn't know how old we was. I didn't say nothing to her about it. Who wanted to argue with a woman in army clothes? She could put us under citizen's arrest or something. Rusty didn't seem like she cared how weird La Vonne was acting. Rusty was probably thinking how the army was going to send her behind enemy lines with a parachute.
"I'm eighteen," I said.
Rusty said, "I turn eighteen in August.”
"So we talk now," said La Vonne in a cool person voice, which worked cause she was wearing her Ray-Bans indoors. "We fill out your forms now, and we sign your forms when everything's squared away, right? Cause you're not twenty-one and your parents has to sign if s okay, right?"
"Twenty-one?" Rusty said. "My brother signed for himself, he was only eighteen."
"That's men," said La Vonne. "Men only have to be eighteen, girls have to be twenty-one to sign themself in.”
"What if my old lady won't sign it?" Rusty said.
"You can get your old lady's name on there, can't you, some way?" said La Vonne. "We don't discuss this with everybody that's our neighbor, right? Then if your old lady makes a stink, everything's already fixed and she'll give up, right?" La Vonne opened up her file cabinet and got out some color army brochures with smiley army people on them. I wondered how could she see with sunglasses on. The recruiting office was getting to me already, but I knew Rusty was picturing us doing the old hup-two-three-four together. I tried to think of some real good reason why I couldn't join the army even if I wanted to. But I didn't know what had to be wrong with you that they wouldn't take you.
That reminded me of the only other thing I knew about La Vonne besides her leaving school under pregnant circumstances, and that was her miracle fingernail. She showed it to me once, so the story was for real. See, her father didn't have any boys so LaVonne had to cut the grass. Well, her old man could of, but he was a bastard and made La Vonne do it. So when La Vonne was in seventh grade the mower blade cut off the end of her ring finger, just chopped it off down to the joint. She used to love nail polish, right, and wearing tons of junky rings, but now she had this finger that didn't have any nail. A couple years later La Vonne went Jesus crazy and she got it in her mind to pray for a new nail. So every night when she went to bed she said, "Please, Jesus, make me grow a new fingernail." Everybody told her La Vonne, forget it, there ain't no cuticle. But La Vonne kept praying, and one morning when she got up, she had the start of a miracle fingernail growing on the end of her chopped-off finger. And after while she had a little baby nail that she could put polish on.
If the army would take La Vonne with part of her finger gone, then I had to think up something real awful to be wrong with me. I thought about saying I had six months to live, but what if I seen La Vonne someplace six months and one day from then? The only excuse I could think of was my old lady, Marlene, might not sign my enlistment papers. Here was my excuse. Except Marlene usually didn't try to tell me what to do, she was scared I would get mad and move out. Or if she did try and boss me, I just never listened and what could she do about it? She couldn't hit me, I was too big.
"Carol, you got to come too," said Rusty. "It'd be a hell of a lot more fun than Tech."
"I doubt they have fun in the army," I said. "They pay you to be in it."
Rusty ignored me and leaned on La Vonne's desk. "Now, part of the deal is, me and Carol go to the same place," she said, ice cool. "Or no go." Oh yeah, she knew all about it—joined the army once, twice a week regular.
"Sure, hon," said La Vonne. ""Except if there's atomic alert, or something like that, the army has first say who goes where, right?"
“Well, I can understand that," said Rusty. She turned around and give me the eye. "You'd look good in uniform," she said. "You got the shoulders for it."
"Nah," I said. "Really?"
"Let's find out," said La Vonne. She started unbuttoning, and then slipped off her army coat. She had a shirt on underneath of it. La Vonne held out her coat, and I was polite and took it. (I have got in more trouble from being polite, I tell you.) '"Here," she said, "slip this on and let's see you."
Well, I put on that coat and that was it. I looked cool as hell, and anybody that's been young and cared about being cool can understand why I said I would come back with Rusty and sign the enlistment papers. I wanted to sign up the same time as Rusty, to make sure her and me got sent to the same place.
I got off the bus at Grant Avenue, and walked home. I had to get Marlene to sign the army papers. I wanted to get it over with quick, Marlene wasn't going to take it good.
When I got home, her car wasn't there. I come in and went in the bathroom to pee. Usually when I come home from school or someplace, I'd go in, look in the kitchen and see was she dead on the floor yet. Two or three days after our check came every month, she'd have enough in her purse to drink herself to death if she wanted. After that she was pretty broke so I didn't worry too much. I'd stick my head in the kitchen and look to make sure.
But since her car wasn't there, I just went straight into the bathroom. There was two wet towels laying on the floor and the Ivory soap bar was melting away in the sink. I put the towels on top of the dirty-clothes hamper, there wasn't no room inside it. I picked the soap up and put it on the sink edge so it would dry out. Then I peed. No toilet paper, I had to drip dry. My clean pants felt nasty now.  I come out of the bathroom, and went in toward the living room to see what was on teevee. When I went by Marlene's room, there was a pile of twisted-up covers on the bed, and Marlene too.
"Hey, you here?" I said. "Where's your car at?"
She never answered. If she was in bed at four-thirty in the afternoon, she was passed out. If she was passed out, she wouldn't wake up the rest of the night. If the army would of took me right then, I would of packed up and gone. I took the army paper in the kitchen and I got a ink pen and wrote "Marlene Frehardt" on the line that said Parent's Signature. When Marlene woke up, maybe I could just tell her she signed the paper.
* * *
In two weeks it would be summer and I would be done at Tech. Rusty wasn't going to graduate, she was a year behind me. They had already held her back once. She was going to quit anyway, when we joined the army. The eleventh grade didn't do her no good the second time either. She knew she was never going to be a senior.
Like she had to do a book report, she done Cherry Ames, School Nurse. She showed me what she handed in. It was supposed to be two pages long, but she wrote on every third line to stretch it out. It was a mess. She wrote worse than a six-year-old. I was in Remedial Reading too, but Rusty was beyond remedial. I remem- ber one time, she went to Kentucky to visit her Aunt Shirley and she sent me a letter. After the Dear Carol Frehart I couldn't read a word. Besides you didn't put the first and the last name after Dear and it wasn't Frehart it was Frehardt with a d, which when you've known somebody since grade school you'd think they'd know.
On graduation day, Marlene was supposed to come take a picture of me in my cap and gown. Later on she was going to make me a special supper, all that stuff. Tech let the seniors go home at lunchtime so we could get ready for commencement at four o'clock. Rusty had a regular school day so I didn't have anybody to hang around with. It was raining anyway, I didn't want to go anyplace. I come back home and turned on the teevee to see what was on “Matinee Double Feature." It was just starting, 'Topper," with Constance Bennett and Cary Grant. I watched the whole thing.
When it was almost over, I heard a car pull in the driveway. The engine sounded like it was about to blow up, it had to be Marlene's. I got up and let her in, she had two big sacks of groceries. "Hi, graduation girl," she said. "Guess what? I'm going to fry us up a big chicken and we'll go have a picnic at Garfield Park."
"What?" I said. "It's raining." She was drunk, had to be.
"You want to ask Rusty to come eat with us?" she said. "Whoops, there it goes." She dropped one of her grocery bags, and a quart of milk fell out. The carton wasn't sealed good, so the milk started soaking into the rug. I picked the carton up and give it to her.
"I ought to take it back," Marlene said. "Sold me bad milk." She had vodka breath.
I must of made a face cause she said, "First one I had today. I just needed something for my nerves, getting ready for your big day."
She knelt down and stuffed all the groceries back in the bag. When she tried to pick it up, the brown paper was wet with milk. The whole thing tore out of her hand and landed on the floor. "Shoot," she said.
By three-thirty, Marlene had started a grease fire in the kitchen, trying to fry some chicken legs. There was enough old grease soaked into the floor and the walls to keep a fire going for a week. I poured baking soda on Marlene's fried chicken fire. In home economics, they told us never put water on a grease fire. Then I got Marlene calmed down, she was sitting on the linoleum saying, "Whoops, I burned down the house. Whoops, I burned down the house." I made her go in the living room and lay down on the couch and I put a bedspread on her.  I took her cigarettes and lighter away. I went back in the kitchen, where the groceries was still sitting out, going bad. I just left everything. "Hell with you," I thought, "clean up your own mess." I got my cap and gown and put them in a A & P sack and I went out the door.
When me and the rest of the seniors marched into the gym, I seen Rusty up in the bleachers. She waved and I waved back. I sat down in my folding chair, third row back, second seat over. There was two speeches, the principal and a city councilman that had gone to Tech, class of '49. They called us by name, one at a time, and everybody clapped when I went to get my diploma. Nothing personal, we all clapped whether it was anybody we knew or not.
I went over to Rusty's for supper, both her brothers was there. Andy was on leave and Jack's wife had kicked him out. Vivian was there, of course, she cooked the supper. We had mashed potatoes and green beans and fried chicken. It was good. While we was passing around the bowl of green beans, Rusty said, "Hey, Vivian, do you care if I join the army? I don't want to work at G.E. Besides, G.E. could lay me off. But if I go in the army, that'd have security."
"Yeah," Andy said. "There's always a war. In the army you got a job for life."
"How much do they pay you?" said Viv. "Not as good as G.E., I bet."
Rusty said, "Well, the money ain't all of it. They take care of you. No rent to pay, they feed you, uniforms so you don't buy clothes."
"That sounds good," said Viv. "No bills to pay, so you could send quite a bit of your check home, couldn't you?"
"I guess," said Rusty. She put some mashed potatoes on her plate and give me the bowl.
Viv was holding the chicken platter, she didn't hand it to Rusty. "Couldn't you?"
"Yeah," said Rusty. Vivian give her the chicken platter.
The rest of suppertime Vivian acted pretty nice, for her. She didn't make fun of anybody. Rusty was the baby, so when she went in the army, things was going to be quiet at Vivian's. Not that Viv was that crazy about Rusty, she just wanted somebody to bring in money and wait on her.
I was jealous cause Rusty had told Vivian about the army but I still hadn't told Marlene about me forging her name. For one thing, I wanted to tell her when she was sober, so she wouldn't cry. She always cried when she got looped, I thought a grown-up person that cried looked awful. It made me sick.
* * *
The day after Rusty turned eighteen, Rusty and me went back to the recruiter office in August. She signed all the papers first, with big old sprawling letters like John Hancock. One thing you can say for Rusty, for somebody that had no style she could kind of fool you for a second into thinking she did. It was awful in the army without her.
That's right, without her. We was at Rusty's house when we found out the army wouldn't take her. I heard Vivian griping about something while I was using the restroom. When I come out, Rusty was walking back from the mailbox with a pile of letters and junk mail.
"Give it here," said Vivian. "You're gonna drop it all over the floor."
"I ain't going to drop it," said Rusty. "One of these is for me."
"Who's it from, Elvis Presley?" said Vivian. "Ha ha."
"You're not funny," said Rusty. "It's from the army. Maybe they changed our assignments and we got Hawaii, like we wanted in the first place."
"Probably not," I said. "Your brother said navy is what they need in Hawaii, not army. We'll probably get Germany. He told me every- body gets Germany, practically."
But of course Rusty was figuring the four-leaf clover she kept in her billfold was turning our luck good. All of a sudden the army absolutely had to have us in Hawaii so, like, they could teach us Mata Hari code.
Rusty opened the letter and looked it over like she was reading it, then she said, "Well, what do you know about that." She didn't have no idea what it said. She handed it to me.
The letter was from somebody named John Wiffle or something—John Wimple Jr., that was his name, and he was writing to inform Miss Monica Stone that she had failed the literacy test. Rusty was too remedial to be in the army The army wouldn't take her if she couldn't read and write. She didn't have to read and write good, but she had to be able to do her alphabet to where people could read it.
"They can't do this shit," said Rusty. "We signed everything already."
'They're the army," I said. "The army does what it wants, far as I know."
Rusty tried to make me read the letter over again, in case I missed an important part like “Just kidding, you're really going to Hawaii." I folded up the letter and handed it to Rusty.
"Told you," Viv said. "Told you to get up and open your school books instead of laying on the couch watching that trashy teevee."
"Shut up," said Rusty. "You don't know nothing." She crunched the letter up in a wad and pitched it over toward the kitchen wall, but the fan over the stove blew it back.
"Pick that up," said Vivian. She turned her eyes on me and grinned. "How're you going to like Germany?"
"They can't send me without Rusty," I said. "We got the whole deal signed."
"The army does what it wants," Rusty said. "Far as I know."
* * *
What the army wanted was to send me off all by my lonesome. I argued with La Vonne but she had her Ray-Bans on. No matter what I said, she just said army things I couldn't understand. Except that I better report for boot camp in eight weeks.
"Nobody made you sign," La Vonne. "It's legal now. You and your old lady consented. There's your names on the line."
"That ain't her—" I started to say.
"Oh, that's got to be your legal signatures," said LaVonne. "I seen you sign yours, and you wouldn't put a forged name on a legal government document. You ain't dumb enough to lie to Uncle Sam and get sent to prison. We know you're a smart girl, right?"
"Yeah," I said. "Real smart."
"Thought so," La Vonne said.
* * *
Rusty's brother Jack got her hired on at Redskin Broom Company. Vivian threw her out of the house anyway after Rusty said she was keeping half her paycheck to get herself a car. Vivian acted like it was the money bothering her, but it couldn't be. Viv didn't get no money at all after she heaved Rusty out. Rusty rented a trailer way out on Hunter Pike, she had to ride the bus half an hour to work. It was a pretty junky trailer, but the rent was only thirty dollars a month. She didn't pay nothing for her lights and water.
I put off telling Marlene about the army till a couple weeks before I had to report for duty. I decided I would tell her she signed me up while she was drunk.
That night I made us some supper, navy beans and cabbage and fried potatoes. Marlene come home about six o'clock with liquor on her breath. I dished up our plates, and we took our supper in the living room and switched on the teevee. I couldn't hardly eat anything.
"Uh," I said.
"What?" Marlene said. "You got something caught in your throat?"
"I joined the army," I said. "I forged your name on the papers. In two weeks I have to go to Germany. They won't let me out of it."
"What?" said Marlene.
"I forged your name and enlisted in the army," I said.
"Well, that ain't legal," Marlene said. "That's illegal as hell. They can't hold you to it, you're a minor. Don't worry, we'll get you out of it some way."
"I better just—•" I had to take a swig of Pepsi so I could talk. "I better just go. I mean, I could get in trouble, LaVonne said. And...I kind of want to go. I've got used to it, it ain't such a bad idea. I would make some money. It's only a couple years."
"I want my girl home with me." Marlene started crying. I got up and took my plate to the trash. Marlene followed me in the kitchen. "Carol, what if you wanted to get married? How are you going to meet anybody in the army?"
I raked cold greasy potatoes off into the trash can. "I don't want to meet anybody," I said. "I want to go. Let me go, Marlene."
"I'll be all by myself." Marlene was really crying now. Her eyes was getting all big and puffy, her lipstick was spread all over her face, I felt like I was going to throw up.
"Quit it," I said. "You carry on, and I'll go stay someplace else. You can't stop me."
Marlene went and got her vodka bottle. She took a coffee cup off the counter and rinsed it out in the sink. She poured some poison in her cup and drunk all of it in one swallow. "All right," she said. She'd quit crying. "I'll not stop you. You do what you want. You always do."
The first of October, I got on a airplane and I didn't come back again for a year and a half.


Chapter Two

I Visit the Army

Rusty always wanted to hear army stories, but I never liked to tell them. I used to say, "Rusty, the army is a drag. Period." But one time she was on me and on me, tell her about boot camp, what was boot camp like.
So I said, you want a story, here's a story: This girl named Celia that I knew pretty good, she didn't fold her under- wear right one time. Well, she folded it right, just exactly in thirds like they showed us, but the top pair got screwed up when she was putting it in her duffel. You had to pack your duffel this certain way—socks, underwear, personal items, whatever, each thing had to be in order. So Celia's duffel got inspected, and that scrunched-up underwear got found. There was a sergeant and an officer both doing the inspecting. First they asked her a bunch of stupid questions about underwear, duffels, everything they could think of. Then they made her put her underwear on her head like a shower cap. She had to walk around the barracks saying, “l am a bad recruit, I am a bad recruit."

Everybody else got to go back to doing their regular shit, but Celia had to keep on walking back and forth saying she was a bad recruit. She tried saying it quiet, but the sergeant sneaked back and caught her and made her drop and do twenty. That's what happened if you screwed up, or they thought you screwed up, or somebody said you screwed up. They'd tell you "Give me two-oh" and you better do twenty perfect push-ups or they would make it really bad for you.
That's what the service was about, wearing drawers on your head. And blanket parties, where they threw a blanket over you and everybody did something to you, kicked you or hit you. Your friends did. At first I figured I'd get adjusted, you know, but I never did. The army, you didn't get adjusted to it, not even if you were career. The only thing that kept my mind sane was letters from Rusty. I couldn't read her scribbles but she sent me a letter every week. Usually just half a page of notebook paper, maybe a page, but when you're lonely a page a week means a lot.

I wanted out of the service but I was scared to try and quit. Because if I didn't make it out, it was going to be Shit City for the rest of my enlistment, and I mean Shit City.
I think Celia wanted out too, that's why she kept screwing up. Celia got hassled about those scrunched-up drawers, and that showed how easy she could be hassled. So Celia was in trouble, no matter what went wrong, Celia got it. Then her old lady really messed Celia up. She sent candy to Celia in boot camp, can you believe it? Like it was cookies-and-milk camp, Girl Scout camp. It was boot camp and Celia's old lady sent her a Whitman sampler for her birthday. Nobody had time to throw Celia a pretty little party, cause we was all standing in the barracks, watching a sergeant push candy in Celia's mouth. They made her eat the whole box, two and a half pounds, in front of everybody.

“You still want more?" the sergeant said, laughing. None of us better laugh, cry, anything. "Not full yet?"
And Celia, every bite, she'd try to say, "Give me some more, sergeant, please" with her mouth crammed. Big hunks of chocolate falling out of her mouth, white sticky insides of candy was mixed with spit dripping and running all down her uniform in front. She'd about strangle every time she had to answer the sergeant. Then she'd open up her mouth, candy all chewed up and falling out, and the sergeant stuck in a chocolate-covered cherry, a caramel cluster.

I told the army I was queer. Not right then in the barracks, but later on. It took me months and months to get it worked out, I worried how could they get me if I said this or that. Finally I decided I would say I was a dyke. I wasn't then, that was the funny part. I wasn't anything then. But I'd heard what to do—saying you were a queer always got people out. But I had to go slow and careful, plan out what to say. I couldn't say I was born like that, cause back at the recruiter office La Vonne had made me sign a paper saying I was not a deviant.

So I said I turned queer while I was asleep. I was fine when I went to sleep, something happened. I went to take my shower, I got overcome by unnatural desires when I seen the other recruits naked in the shower. I was very sorry, I didn't want to screw up, please let me out goodbye.

They said okay. "Sure," they said, every time I had to tell what happened, I'd go see someone to get some paper signed, and they'd say "sure." I thought they meant "Sure you did, have a nice time in prison,' don't write." But it was real easy to get out. They meant "Sure, fine, happens all the time, we understand, sign down at the bottom, been nice knowing you, you're a civilian." After I turned myself in, some officer turned me in. It was politics, she got caught in a queer bar and the only way she kept from getting her butt cooked was turning me in. Because they would just let you out, honorable discharge, if you told on somebody.

Everybody wanted to turn me in, since I already told the army I was funny. They could get credit for me and then they wouldn't have to turn in their best friend. Nobody wanted to turn their best friends in, the army made them. I might have turned somebody in. I can say I wouldn't ever do it in a million billion years but I'm glad I didn't have to stay in and find out. The army wanted to get every dyke out they could, because somebody made a report that that there was a bunch of lesbians in the army. There was a bunch. Some people was mean to them, but I left them alone. They never bothered me, really some of the lesbians was better people than the mean women that had boyfriends.

Eight people had turned me in, but it wasn't held against me. I guess this shit happened all the time. Every year or two somebody made a report, then everybody turned in everybody else, four or five recruits got thrown out, every- body shut up. When I went in for my hearing, the army said since you came in on your own first to discuss your problem, we will let you go. Seek psychiatric care.

So the officer that told on me first, her name was Dotty Bascomb, she got out. The other ones that turned me in, the seven besides Dotty, they got out, and I got out. I only had six months left in my enlistment anyway, I could of stayed and got a regular discharge, and the benefits and all. But I wouldn't chance it, it was better for me to go early. A lot of bad things can happen in six months. I flew in an airplane home, and went to stay with my old lady, till I could get someplace else to live.

* * *

Marlene's house was the same junky, broke down, paint-peeling crummy ugly place. Marlene was the same junky, broke down, paint-peeling crummy drunk old lady. But she didn't worry me, cause I never seen her much. Marlene wasn't even there when I got home from the army. I walked in the door and put my suitcase in my old room. There was a bunch of junk all over my bed, a tangled-up wad of clothes hangers and a box full of old books. I moved it all down on the floor, and unpacked my suitcase.

The first couple days I was glad to be home, away from the stupid army. Marlene was always at a tavern or visiting one of her drunk friends, Nancy Rickens or Patsy from across the road. But at least all my movie magazines was still stacked up in my bedroom, Marlene didn't throw them out while I was in the service. So if the movie on "Matinee Double Feature" was too stupid to watch, Montgomery Clift or somebody like that, then I could look at my Photoplays and put them in order. Sometimes I put them in order by the date. I had three years, every issue, even in the army I got them all. Hell, it was easier in the army, I had money in the army. Sometimes I sorted out the Photoplays different, by the movie star that was on the cover, like Liz Taylor or Mia Farrow. Marlene made fun of me for keeping all of them, but once in a while she liked to look at a Photoplay too. She thought Eddie Fisher was cute. That was Marlene for you, no sense.

It took me three days to get crazy sick of hanging around the house. I missed Rusty, but I hadn't went over to see her yet. I never even wrote and told her I was getting discharged from the army. At first I wouldn't write cause I was scared the army would steal my letter and use it against me. Then later on, when I was safe, I don't know why I didn't write. I shouldn't of been shy, we was friends and all, but I didn't send her a birthday card or nothing. Here I was home three days and Rusty thought I was still in the army.

I figured I'd see what she was up to, and maybe see if she knew if the broom factory needed anybody. I called her trailer but I couldn't get her, I called three or four times a day, two days in a row, no answer.

So the third day I got in the old lady's crummy Chevy, and drove over to Rusty's place on Hunter Pike. Somebody else lived in her trailer, I could tell by the new Buick in the driveway. And there was a yellow plastic daisy that spun around in the wind. Rusty would never bother putting one of those in the yard. Whoever had the daisy and the Buick had a pet duck too, a real live duck, it come up and quacked at me when I got out of the car. A watch duck. I thought I might get a beak in the butt, but the duck stayed pretty well back. I went up to the trailer door and knocked. A guy answered the door in his baggy undershirt with a big hole over the gut. He didn't know where Rusty was, who was Rusty.

So I drove across town to where Rusty's old lady Vivian lived at. I pulled into Vivian's driveway, and brought her mail up to her from the mailbox. Which maybe would improve her disposition enough to tell me where Rusty was, if she knew.

When Vivian opened up the door, she was real thrilled to see me, I could tell. She let cigarette smoke roll out her nose and said, "Got throwed out of the army, I see."
She didn't open up the screen door and invite me in. I held her mail out and she opened the screen door up enough to take it. Her nails was dirty.

"Honorable," I told her. "I got a honorable." It wasn't none of her business what happened. "Where's Rusty at?"
"Either work or jail," said Viv. "You figure it out."

"Where's her house at?" I said, stepping down off the porch so I'd be ready to go.
Vivian opened up the screen door and held out one of the letters I had give her. I stepped back on the porch and took it out of her hand.

"Her address is on there," Vivian said.

Up in the corner of the envelope it said "R. Stone, 645 N. Rural Avenue." It was addressed to Vivian, and it didn't weigh much, maybe one sheet of paper inside it.

"Don't you want the letter?" I asked her, and I started tearing the corner open where the stamp was.
"I couldn't read that chicken scratch," she said. "She's on night shift, they go in at five."

"Okay," I said. "Maybe I can catch her at home, then."
"Not today," said somebody. I turned my head and seen Rusty's brother Jack, the married one that was always getting thrown out. He was coming through the front yard, with no shirt on and a bottle of Schlitz in his hand. "Rusty took off to go get Shirley at the Greyhound." He squeezed past Viv and went in the house.

"Shirley? Who's that?" I stepped back off of the porch.

"Shirley Temple, who do you think?" Vivian got her big laugh out after all. If she was in the movies, she'd of gave herself the academy award.

* * *

I went over to 645 North Rural Avenue, the address on Rusty's envelope. It was a silver forty-foot trailer. Nobody was home. I turned over the envelope and wrote on the back, "I'm back in town. Give me a call over at Marlene's. Carol." I put the envelope inside the screen door and went down the street to buy cigarettes at the Rexall Drugs. On my way home, I passed by Rusty's trailer again and seen a car in the driveway.  A red Ford, in pretty good shape, but old.
I went to the front door, and the envelope was gone. A woman I didn't know opened the door.

She said, "Hi, you want Rusty?" and she held the door open. She turned around and yelled, "Rusty! Your friend's here!"
"Who is it?" yelled Rusty.

The woman looked at me.
"Carol," I said. "I know Rusty."

"Carol!" yelled the woman. "Her name's Carol! She says she knows you!"
"Carol?" Rusty come into the living room with her toothbrush in her hand, white foamy toothpaste all over her chin. "Frehardt, what’re you doing here?"

"I went AWOL," I said.
Rusty about swallowed her toothpaste.

"No, I'm lying," I said. "They let me out."

"How come?" said Rusty. "Shit, wait here a sec, I got to spit." She went in the restroom and started the water in the sink. She called out, "That's Aunt Shirley—did you get introduced?"
I looked at Aunt Shirley, and she smiled at me. "We are now, I guess," I yelled.

When Rusty come back in the living room, she was wiping her face off with a white towel. "How come they let you go?"

I looked at Shirley, then I said, "It'll take too long to explain. Your aunt don't want to hear all this."
"You can talk in front of her," said Rusty "She ain't like Vivian."

Even if Shirley was ten times nicer than Viv, you don't talk about certain things in front of an aunt. I wanted to tell Rusty how the army thought I was a lesbian, but right then it just wouldn't seem all that funny.
Rusty went and got her coat out of the living room closet. Her hair was a lot shorter than I remembered. "Come on, go with us, Shirley and me are going to the armory to see All-Star Wrestling."

"I can't," I said. "I have to get the car back to Marlene, she has someplace important to go. Riley's Carry-Out Liquors, probably."
"We'll follow you," Rusty said. '"Back to Marlene's. Then you can ride with us. Come on!"

"All right," I said.
Dick the Bruiser and the Mighty Atom beat the Turk and the Hangman, tag team. The Turk had a piece of metal hid in the waist of his shorts, but the Bruiser and the Mighty Atom won anyway.

We had to push through the crowd to get out of the armory, but we made it to Rusty's car. We dropped Shirley off at Rusty's trailer, and then we went to the Dairy Queen and got Spanish dogs with extra onions, like we used to. We both liked extra onions.

Rusty was better-looking than she used to be. Her hair was cut shorter, sort of like a pixie but shorter than that even. It looked good on her. She had on a nice sweater (real wool not the cheap stretchy kind), and a silver ring on her little finger.
"I never seen you wear jewelry before," I said.
Rusty looked at her little ring and then she went red, just absolutely red. I guess she was embarrassed for doing something so girly. So I changed the subject.

"You'll never believe the shit I handed them in the army," I said. "You know why they let me out? I told them I was a lez."
Chewed-up chili dog splattered all over the car dashboard. "You think you're smart, don't you?" said Rusty. She took a paper napkin and wiped her chin off. Her face was paler than white ice cream.

I couldn't believe it. Me and Rusty had never got in a fight, never, since fifth grade.

"Well, it don't hurt nobody," she said. "It don't hurt you. So if you're going to go around calling names, well, I guess I can drive you home just as easy." She started up the car, but I put my hand on the shift lever so she couldn't put it in reverse.

"What's the matter?" I asked. "What’d I say? God, Rusty, quit it."

"I seen you looking at my hair," she said. "And my ring. And then calling names. Your own friend. I thought you was better."

"Calling names?" I said. "Calling names? I didn't call you any name. I was just saying, all I said, I was just saying how I told the army I was—" The whole picture came in my mind, clear as teevee. "Oh damn, oh hell, I never thought. I don't care, there was lots that way in the army, it didn't bother me. I just thought it was funny, because, well, shit. You want another Spanish dog? Here, I'll get it."

I jumped out and went for the end of the line at the Dairy Queen order window. The line was long so I had time to think. I decided to just act normal when I got back in the car. It was up to her to say anything else about it.

It seemed like I should of been more surprised, but it all seemed so regular and normal. Rusty never was boy-crazy, that I could tell. When we went out with the Easterday twins, she never giggled or acted like she was going to hit Randy Easterday on the arm. Course you'd have to be pretty hard up to feel passionate about an Easterday. But still.

The woman pushed up the little glass window and I said, "A Spanish dog. Extra onions." She slid the window down and went to get it.

"Aw, aren't you sweet?" said somebody behind me. "A hot dog for your girl friend." He laughed.

I turned around. It was Billy Ortgrave standing there with his stupid friend Tim Rogers. Billy had on his fake football jacket with leather sleeves. It didn't have any felt letter T on the front, cause Billy got kicked off the squad for fighting.

I didn't give him the satisfaction. I played like I was ignoring him and I got ready to pay for the Spanish dog.
My hand was shaky and so I couldn't get the money out.

"Extra onions?" said Billy Ortgrave. "Why is she getting her date extra onions? That won't be nice when they're kissing."
Tim Rogers thought Billy was real funny. He had a big fat laugh to go with his big fat head.

Billy wasn't done yet. "But maybe it ain't kissing they're gonna do. What do you reckon she wants that hot dog for?"
Tim Rogers was about to pee on himself laughing.

"Why don't you get her a foot long, Carol?" said Billy.
Now about eight people in line behind me were laughing. "Your girl friend would love a foot—"

I grabbed the napkin dispenser off the counter and hit him on the forehead with it. "Ow," he said. "Shit."
"I'll hit you again," I said. I held that metal box up, ready to go. "I will. You too, Tim, you retard. Leave me the fuck alone. You retards."

About then I saw the front end of a Ford Falcon come up over the sidewalk, with Rusty behind the steering wheel. She chased Billy Ortgrave all across the parking lot with that car. She would of run him over, too, but he climbed on top of the trash cans next to the back fence, and jumped over into the back lot of Certified Transmission Repair.
Rusty backed the Falcon up, and I got in. The girl at the Dairy Queen window was still holding out the Spanish dog. That stupid Tim Rogers didn't even run when Billy did, and I stuck my head out to tell him off. But I couldn't think of nothing, so I put my head back in. Besides, Tim's car was faster than the Falcon, if he wanted to get shitty about the whole thing.

* * *

The next day I was in the kitchen fixing me something to eat, and the phone rang. "I'll get it," I said. Course I'd get it, my old lady was passed out. It was Rusty calling me up. "Hey, Carol, do you want to go with me and Shirley over to the Wigwam for supper?"
"I don't know. Hang on," I said. I went over to the closet and looked in my coat pocket. The old lady hadn't found the ten I was keeping in there. I came back and picked the phone up. "Sure," I said. "I'll go. We don't got to dress up, do we?"

"Nah, you can wear pants," Rusty said.
I got in the old lady's bomb about seven-thirty and went over to Rusty's trailer. Her and Shirley was ready to go, so when I pulled in the driveway they shut the front door behind them and got in the car. But as soon as Shirley got in she had to jump right back out and go get her cigarettes. Once she got out it was real quiet in the car, me and Rusty just sat there breathing. We was embar- rassed. It wasn't her liking girls that was embarrassing, it was being so personal. If I’d of found out she was in love with a boy, I'd of felt the same. We was best friends, but not the tell-everything kind.

"How come Shirley's got on that brown wig?" I said. When Shirley had first got in the car, I didn't even recognize her. Yesterday, she was blonde-headed, blonder than Tammy Wynette.
"She put it on to go see Vivian," said Rusty. "She puts peroxide on her hair but she can't let Viv find out cause Shirley's a Holy Roller, they're against peroxide."

"She's a Pentecostal?" I said. "It figures, I guess. She talks real country, and they're all Pentecostals in thecountry. Where's she from again, West Virginia?"

"Yeah," said Rusty. "Skeet, West Virginia. All Vivian's family's from there. That's what Skeet is, Vivian's people. Shirley has sixty acres of tobacco. Ever since her mother and daddy passed away, she lives on their farm and takes care of it."

"Remind me to forget to go down there," I told her. "A whole town of Vivians. That guy on Twilight Zone—"
"Rod Sterling?"

"Yeah, why don't he make that show there?" I said. 'The Town of Doom."
"They're not all like Vivian," said Rusty, while Shirley was coming back out of the trailer. "Besides, Viv's not that bad."

"Well, she's your old lady," I said.
"She ain't either," said Rusty. "She's just my stepmother."

"Oh yeah?" I said. That was Rusty. When she told you shit it was blam, right out there, the six o'clock news. Special bulletin, Vivian was not her mother. "Well, who's your old lady, then?" I asked her, but Shirley opened up the car door so we couldn't say nothing else about it.
The Wigwam was pretty fancy. One end looked just like a big teepee, with Indian signs all over it, like zigzags and lightnings and suns with sun-rays sticking out all around. Then there was a straight regular part of the building that stuck out sideways from the teepee, and that was where you went in at. There was Indian stripe blankets on the walls, hung up like curtains, and I Visit the rattles and beads and Indian things all over. There was a little Wigwam boy on the menu, he had on his father's war bonnet, way too big for him. They didn't make the waitresses dress up like squaws, though.

So Shirley had a Big Chief, and me and Rusty had cheeseburger platters. With extra onions. When the waitress went away, Shirley asked me did extra onions cost extra wampum.
"Huh?" I said.

"She's kidding around," said Rusty. 'Indian money is called—"
"I knew that," I said. "I knew what wampum was. God, what do you think I am, a retard? God."

"So, Vivian ever get her car fixed, Rustoleum?" said Shirley, which showed she was a lot different than Viv.
Vivian would never change the subject to make you feel better.
"Shit, no," said Rusty. "I guess Earl or somebody was
 supposed to come look at it, but he ain't been over yet."

"What's he going to do?" said Shirley, right when the waitress come back with our supper. "Change the earl?"
I laughed while I was trying to take a big drink of ice water. So the ice water, I kind of snorted it up my nose which hurt a little bit but it was funny too. The waitress was watching me and I put my napkin up over my face because the water started to run out my nose. Then directly my eyes got clear and I looked over and Rusty was dark red in the face, white teeth all showing, shelooked like a laughing tomato.

Shirley looked at the waitress, real sad. "I can't take her noplace," she said, nodding her head over towards me. "Snuffs water up her nose, everybody in her family does it."
The waitress said, "You have the Big Chief, hun?" She

took a big bottle of Heinz catsup out of her apron pocket and whumped it on our table and then she was gone.
Shirley was so nice she didn't even seem like a relative. She was a lot smarter than Vivian, too. Like even though Shirley and Vivian both didn't go past 8th grade, you would of thought Shirley finished high school, maybe even college. Well, high school, anyway. Vivian, she got to 8th grade cause the teachers didn't want to hold her back and have her in their class another whole year.

Shirley's accent was real strong. I couldn't understand half of what she said. Rusty acted like I was too dumb to get jokes or something. I wasn't as dumb as some people thought, I just didn't understand country talking. All my family was from Kentucky, which was sort of country, but at least you could understand them.
Shirley had a nice sweet face, but that brown wig didn't do nothing for her. She had dimples and chubby cheeks like a cute little baby and she had real good teeth. She told good stories and she'd laugh in the middle. It's okay to laugh at your own jokes, if it's in the middle. She never had got married but with a good laugh like that, I wondered why.

While we finished our burgers and started on coffee, Shirley told about when her and Vivian was kids. She called Vivian "Vee Vee." The best story was about a big jug of vinegar they had in their kitchen. "We was in the kitchen one time with our brother Doran," said Shirley. "Doran was the oldest one, he was twelve. Vee Vee dared Doran to take a big drink of cider vinegar out of the jug. Doran did it, but he didn't swallow, he just opened up his mouth and let it run back in the jug. But then he did Vee Vee a good one. He acted like he was drinking it again, and then he said, "There, I've took two drinks, now you take one" So Vee Vee had to. And she didn't know enough to spit it out like Doran done." Shirley had a big laughing fit. "And it took her breath, and she went a-running up to where Mommy was in the barn and she fell down, and that knocked her breath loose and then didn't she holler. And she looked foolish to everybody so she wouldn't come back, or feed chickens, or nothing."
After we finished up our coffee, she got hold of the check and wouldn't let me or Rusty even see it. "I got money," I said, and took my ten out, but she wouldn't listen.

"Put your money in your pocket," Shirley said. "I got good money off my tobacco this year."
I had to be glad to keep my money. That ten and a little change on top of my dresser was all I had left. I had got some money off of the army, but I had to pay my plane fare to come home, and the old lady drank up some, and we ate up some, and when I first got back the phone was about to get shut off so I paid some on it. So I was hoping Rusty could get me on at Redskin Brooms, but I didn't want to ask till Shirley was gone. I could get myself a job, don't get me wrong, but still it might look like Rusty had to help me.

I dropped Rusty and Shirley off at Rusty's trailer. I said bye to Shirley, cause she was taking the morning bus back to West Virginia.
"Got to get home," said Shirley. "The chickens miss me."

Rusty said, "Call me later, if you want to do something."
The next morning I called her about ten-thirty. I wouldof called earlier, but I spent half an hour arguing withthe old lady. A waste, a total waste. Her brain was ateup from hanging around in taverns all these years.

About ten o'clock she was tearing around, all over thehouse, saying where was her car keys at, why did I take her keys? They was jingling right there in her damn coat pocket, but she was running her mouth and couldn't hear.
I couldn't take it, so I finally just screamed so loud she had to pay attention. "In your pocket, you dumb-ass! In your pocket, you ate-up dumb-ass!"

 "What did you call your mother?" she said. For a second, she seemed like she was sober. "You can't call your mother names like that. You can't talk to your mother like—"
 "Bullshit, my mother!" I said. "Bullshit. You ain't my mother. I never came out of that messed-up body, I never did! I never did!" I pulled out my crunched-up ten dollar bill and I stuffed it in her coat pocket. "Here!" I run in my room and scraped the change off my dresser top into my hand. About half of it fell on the floor. I run back in the living room and poured a handful of nickels on the dirty carpet, nickels and dimes and pennies. "Here, take it!  Drink it up! Drink it up! Drink till you fall down and die!"

 Then I was calm. I went in the kitchen and got me a cold can of pop out of the Frigidaire. I put my head back around the corner and looked at her. She was just standing there, stupid and dead like she was a wax dummy. “Your keys are in your coat pocket," I told her. I went in my room and shut the door.
I still felt pretty bad when I called Rusty, but I acted pretty normal.

Rusty could tell, though. "Old lady's acting up, huh?" she said. "She is ate up."

"I know," I said. "I told her."
"Go with me, out for a burger or something?" Rusty said.  "Can't—gave her all my goddamned money," I said. "I must be ate up too. Runs in the family."

"It's okay," she said. "You can give it back to me when you get paid."
"That'll be a while, looks like," I said.

"Two weeks from Friday, if you come down to the factory with me tomorrow, they're hiring. If you want."
"You don't got to help me," I said. "I could find something."

 "Help you?" said Rusty. "Shit, help me. They're about to work me to death. I already said I was giving my notice if they didn't get me some help in there. You don't want me to quit my job, do you, and lose my trailer and all?" 

 "Don't get your drawers twisted," I said. "I'll go whenever you say."
"All right then," said Rusty. "I'll take you out for a cheese- burger, for helping me out. Extra onions."

 "That's okay," I said. 'That's what friends are for."

Chapter Three

 I Get in the Broom Business

My first day at Redskin Brooms, I was going to take the bus, but I didn't know what the building looked like. Rusty kept trying to describe it to me, but I didn't understand where it was. "Across from the gasket company," she kept saying. "Right across the street from the gasket place." But I couldn't picture it in my mind, so she drove me in the first night, even though she didn't have to be there until five.
I had to be at Redskin at four to get trained. After we got there I said, "Oh, this place." I didn't notice it at first. What I noticed was American Gasket Company, because it was made of concrete blocks painted bright yellow. Like Imperial margarine, that yellow, and a big sign about as big as the building that said GASKETS ARE OUR ONLY BUSINESS. The O's in the sign was round black things that must of been gaskets.
That's what I seen, the gasket place, and at first I didn't even notice Redskin Brooms. edskin was just about all parking lot, with just a little building stuck down at one end. "Big lot, little building," I said.

"Even during day shift, when the most people are here," said Rusty, "there's always ten times more places to park than there is cars."
We got out of the car and grabbed our lunch sacks off the back seat. When we walked up to the building, I seen metal bars on all the windows, with big old padlocks hanging off them.
"Somebody running a ring of broom-stealers around here?" I asked.

"Looks like it, don't it?" Rusty said. "No, the bars is from when this used to be some kind of a F.B.I. place."
"The F.B.I. worked out of a broom factory?" I said. "You're shittin' me."

"It wasn't a factory then, it was a F.B.I. place," said Rusty. "Don't be in there talking F.B.I. or you'll be clocking out before you clock in."
The women that worked at Redskin—it was all women except for the bosses—said the window bars was on there to keep the workers from jumping out. Five minutes after they clocked in they started thinking about working there until retirement. They would of done a bellyflop out a window but the whole building was only two stories.

The boss was named Vernon True. There was other bosses but Vernon was the only one that talked to workers. He had to, it was his job. That first day Rusty walked me in, and Vernon was waiting by the time clock for me. He punched my card and showed me which slot to put it in, Number 16. After he dropped my card in the slot he started walking so I guess I was supposed to follow him. He looked like a porcupine, little and round with a gray crewcut. He walked like a porcupine, too, kind of flat-footed and his toes turned out.

I followed Vernon through the factory. Some factory, the whole thing was four offices and three work rooms. All the walls was cement blocks, real gray and real dirty. The first room was the biggest one, where they put the broom bristles on the handle and all that. There was maybe twenty women in there, but none of them looked up when me and Vernon come through. There was seven or eight big heavy work tables, made of splintery wood painted gray, with three women working at each one. At a couple of the tables, the women was talking quiet while they worked on brooms and mop handles. The rest of the women was acting like they was all alone with their work.

For a porcupine, Vernon walked fast. I had to hurry up so I didn't lose him when he went down the hall to the middle room. That's where Rusty worked. Her and two other women was dipping handles down in big sinks full of paint. The air had so much paint and chemical smell, I got choked up. Rusty and the other two women was breathing okay, I guess you got used to it. Somebody had painted NO SMOKING on the wall, great big brushy letters as big as my head.

Vernon flat-footed off into the last room and I followed him. The walls of the finish room was full of wooden bins. The bins was full of gray lumpy stuff, I finally figured out the gray stuff was mop heads. There was only three walls in the finish room, and the other side was just a little partition. I could see over the partition, across into the middle room, where Rusty was working. The finish room had two big flat plywood tables in it, and a woman with curly hair was working at one of them. Me and Vernon was standing next to the other table. Nobody was at this one, stacked up on it was some paper labels, and jars of glue, and razor blades, and other junk.
"Now, here, look here," said Vernon. He picked up one of the labels and started explaining all what I was supposed to do. My job was doing paper, that's what they called it, doing paper. He talked about ten minutes, I didn't get any of it except "Got it?" Every couple minutes he said, "Got it?" and I said yeah, so he wouldn't think I was dumb or something. After a little bit I figured out he could talk all day without me understanding a word, so I started watching the middle room out of the comer of my eye. Rusty was the only cheerful worker at Redskin, looked like. The other two women working over the paint tanks was quiet and frowning, all bent over stiff-backed. Rusty was singing while she put paint on the broom handles. There was two dip tanks, green paint for the regular brooms and red paint for the heavy-duty industrials. Rusty's dip rack was getting full of green and red handles. I could hear her singing, "It's be-gin- ning to look a LOT like Chriss-muss."

Vernon was still blabbing. He said "Got it?" one more time, and I said "yeah," and he left. I was standing there at my work table, thinking "maybe I'll figure it out somehow or other," but I couldn't even get started. At the other table in the finish room, the curly-headed woman was putting clear plastic bags on mop heads. She kept looking at me, so I knew I ought to get busy. The pile of paper labels was laying in front of me, they went on the brooms some way. There was lots of brooms standing up in racks next to my table, each broom got a label on it. I wished I knew how.

I decided to peel one of the labels off a broom that was already done. Maybe I could tell how they fastened it on. The curly- headed woman put down her mop head and come over. "Here, hon," she said, and she started labeling broom handles.
"Oh," I said. "I get it." She went back to her mop heads. Doing paper was easy once you got it. First you put a white paper sleeve around the bristles, slopped a little glue to hold it. Then you took a Redskin Brooms label, put it around the handle, and slopped on glue to hold that. The label was kind of pretty—it had an Indian chief with a war bonnet, paint stripes on his cheek, and behind him there was six different totem poles. But if you looked close you could tell it was the same totem pole, they painted the heads on it different colors. I guess Redskin didn't want them wasting time drawing all different totem poles.
When I started doing paper, I was way slower than the other woman. Every once in a while I put a heavy-duty sleeve on a regular, and I had to tear it off unless I caught myself before I glued it. If I did that more than once or twice, I had to fold the tore-up sleeve and put it in my pocket or they would write me up for Inattention To Duty and dock me. I couldn't put a regular sleeve on a heavy-duty, because it wasn't big enough to go around. That was good because any more mistakes and I couldn't of hid what I done wrong. Two or three of them babies folded up in my pockets and I'd of been kind of bulgy-looking.

Elsie Pelton was the name of the woman that worked in the finish room with me. She did plastic, putting a plastic sleeve on the mop heads. Redskin made Glad Maid mops, too. After she asked me what my name was, I asked Elsie, "How come the factory ain't called Redskin Brooms and Glad Maid Mops?"
She said, “They’d need a hell of a big sign, they’re waiting on American Gasket to go out of business, to get their sign.”

Most of the other women wouldn’t talk to Elsie because she was married to an Arab man.  She treated everybody else good anyway.  She brought in her old National Geographics for everybody to look at in the break room.  Every week on her Friday afternoon break, she cleaned the big coffeepot while everybody else smoked cigarettes and talked quiet about how having a dark-skinned father was ruining Elsie’s kids and how the Lord made us speak different languages at the Tower of Babel to keep the races separate.
Elsie was nice to me, too Nobody else was very talky because I was friends with Rusty. The only thing worse than a foreign person was a lesbian, which they didn’t know for sure, but she had awful short hair and no wedding ring.

The other workers complained all the time about working at Redskin, but Elsie never did. She’d been putting plastic on Glad Maid mops for years and years. And years. She was only forty-nine, but she’d been working at Redskin ever since she was twenty-two. She told me about both her husbands, and how her folks fed the family on squirrel and cornbread when she was little. After she grew up and got married, her first husband didn’t want her working but he drank and that took money.
“He wouldn’t even let me go in the backyard to hang up clothes unless he was there,” said Elsie, “cause he was afraid that some other man would look at me. Then he came home one time extra drunk, and fell down. He yanked the tablecloth with him, and then he tried to take a gun to the kids for making him break all the dishes. So I got a divorce for mental cruelty.”

Then Elsie met Ralph, he was the Arab man that was her neighbor. She started talking to him while they was both hanging out clothes, Ralph had to hang out his own laundry cause he wasn’t married.  Elsie was mostly friends with Arab people after that, because most of the white neighbors wouldn’t speak. Every once in a while somebody got their unlisted phone number and said they were going to firebomb Elsie and Ralph’s house.

Elsie was one of the skinniest women I ever seen, and real nervous. She had thin eyebrows and dark hair, dark and curly. Or it was supposed to be curly, sometimes it was half curly and half straight, cause most of the time Elsie would give her kids the money she was saving for a permanent wave. Elsie paid for their orchestra uniforms and their yearbooks and their prom dresses, they had everything that the other kids had. Elsie was always worried about work, about getting her quota. She al­ways got her quota, usually she finished ahead, really, but she worried about it every day.
I liked talking to her. Elsie and me was the only ones in our work room and there wasn't anything to think about but the radio, and that was in the dip room where we couldn't hear it very good.

* * *

After I saved up a few dollars, I started thinking about get­ting me a car of my own. Me and Rusty was sharing her car and it was getting to be a drag. If one of us had the car, the other one had to stay home with no way to go except the bus. So I started looking in the paper every day, trying to find me some­thing to drive. I went and looked at a couple cars, but the bod­ies looked too good. If a car cost $150 and it didn't have rust or a smashed-in front end, I knew not to buy it. I wanted to see why it was so cheap. Rusty kept telling me "wait and look when I can go with you," but I said I could handle it. Shit, I was in the army and all, I could take care of stuff. The third day I went looking, I dropped Rusty off at Redskin and drove out about four miles to look at a '62 Plymouth. It was the second most crummy car I ever saw. (Marlene's keys was in the first.) It was the second most crummy car I ever saw. (Marlene's keys was in the first.) The guy that was selling the Plymouth was fat like Santa Claus, and gray-headed. One of his legs that was shorter than the other one, so he walked up-down, up-down.
He had a nice-looking house, though, white aluminum siding and green awnings. The Plymouth for sale was parked on the grass in front, a red sedan with no front grill, a broke-off antenna, no right wind­shield wiper. When I walked around it, I saw the rest. Only two hubcaps out of four. A rough deep old scratch went all down the passenger side, where somebody had run it too close to a post. The trunk lid was wired shut with a coat hanger. A rock must of flew up and hit the left rear window, it had all these spider-web cracks in it. All the window edges had rust rings around them. “It looks horrible," I told the man. "Til take it."

I picked up Rusty after she got off work, and brought her out to the man's house to drive the Plymouth home for me. When we got out there, Rusty laughed at my new car. "1 don't want to be seen in this thing," she said. "How about you drive yours and I drive mine?"
"No," I said. "I want you to listen, see how it sounds. You're the mechanical one.”

"What’re you going to do about it now?" Rusty said. "It's yours. He's got your money." But she drove it home for me.
When we got back to her trailer, she had to admit the Plymouth run good. "Not bad for three hundred years old," she said. "If the guy would of just quit running it into stuff."

"Hush," I said. "If he'd of been a careful driver, this car would of cost $500."
"Just don't park it near mine," said Rusty. "I don't want the rust to rub off."

* * *

On our nights off, me and Rusty usually went to pick up a couple cans of pop at the store, and then we'd go over to her trailer and watch teevee or play euchre if we could get a couple other people to come over. I didn't really know anybody to ask. I had mostly just gone around with Rusty, and what people I used to know had probably forgot me while I was in the service. I know I forgot them. So it was friends of Rusty that come over, if anybody did. They was all women, and all of them had real short hair.

I was always at Rusty's trailer, except for going to work or over to my old lady's to sleep. After a while Rusty said, "Why are you going to Marlene's to sleep when you hate her, and besides we're burning up gas driving back and forth to each other's house?" So she moved her junk out of the spare bed­room and I brought over my bed and my duffel bag full of socks and movie magazines. I started giving Rusty fifteen dol­lars a month and going half on the groceries.
Marlene probably didn't even notice I was gone except if she needed to borrow money off me. After a couple days, I called her up to make sure she was all right and she said, "Nobody don't care when you're an old woman, not your kids nor any­body."

"I do too," I said.
"You don't act like it," she said. "Run off and not even tell your poor old mother where you're at."

"My poor old mother was passed out," I said. "I guess I could of wrote a note and taped it to the vodka bottle."
She hung up on me. I didn't call her back.

* * *

About a week after I moved in, Rusty stayed out all night. She had done that every once in a while, ever since I got back from the service. She'd come to work wearing the same clothes as yesterday. Then there'd be some woman she'd run around with for a little while, two or three weeks. At first she acted nervous, if she had the woman over to the trailer for supper or something, but it never bothered me. I'd seen plenty of girls together in the army, it just looked regular to me.

So one night Rusty stayed out, and the next evening when I come back from the grocery store there was four or five women over visiting Rusty. I didn't know none of them. We all watched Dick Van Dyke and after that an old movie, "Marie Antoinette," with Norma Shearer. It was about this French lady whose hus­band was John Barrymore, he was a king but his wife was run­ning around with Tyrone Power. I could see big trouble was coming, but I went to bed.

In the morning I got the rest of the story from Rusty and one of the short-haired women, who was still there. When I came in the kitchen to start coffee, the woman was sitting at the table looking at the Daily News and smoking. She said John Barry­more and Norma Shearer had both got their head cut off. Her hair was a little bit mashed down in back where she'd been sleeping on it.
"Carol," Rusty said, "I don't think you ever got introduced, did you? This is my girlfriend, Mary Gold." She was getting bacon out of the refrigerator.

"Oh," I said. "How you doing?" I didn't say "Since when" cause I knew that already. Once Rusty stayed overnight with a woman, it was like they was married.
I just said, "Mary, you want some coffee? We got milk for it, don't we, Rusty?"

I went and did a couple loads of laundry, and when. I come home Mary was gone and Rusty was out on the porch steps hitting a paddle ball. Whamma, whamma, whamma, she was really good. She could shoot the little red ball out and in, every direction, and still lay the paddle to it.
"Let me try," I said. I never did one before, maybe it was pretty easy. She give it to me. I couldn't even get the ball to hit the paddle once, it jumped crazy all over, or it just flopped loose on the stretchy cord. "Shit," I said. "What's the matter with this thing?"

"Hold your wrist straight," Rusty said. She tried to bend my arm right. "Just move from here, your elbow." She took the paddle back. "Like this, see?"
She held it out to me. "No," I said. "I've had enough. How'd you learn to do it so good?"

"Aunt Shirley showed me,” she said. "She is the paddle ball queen of Skeet."
"Shirley is a lot of fun," I said. "For an aunt."

"Yeah, she thinks the world is funny,”' said Rusty. "Viv thinks the world is really bad, but Shirley just has one big laugh all the time."

"You're more like her than Viv," I said. "I mean, you and her are glad to be alive."

"Viv's a worrier," Rusty said. She got the paddle ball going, whamma whamma whamma. "She don't understand, you get sick and die just the same. You lose your job just the same, if you worry or not. You can't help what happens, but shit, why not try to get over it? If your car quits on you, it quits."
I reached out and knocked on the wood porch rail. "Watch it," I said.

"That Plymouth," said Rusty, laughing. "What a car." Whamma whamma whamma.

* * *

Mary Gold was around the trailer quite a bit, once her and Rusty got close. She was okay, I guess, kind of pretty when she had got rested up a little. She was real thin, olive skin, brown eyes but the circles underneath was awful dark. She didn't say a whole lot but those little dark eyes would be watching me sometimes, I'd turn my head quick and catch Mary looking at me.
She was trying to get something on me, so she could cover up her drinking. From Marlene I knew all the tricks. At first, I was glad that Mary would go out and pick up a case of beer for us every once in a while. There was always beer in the fridge when I lived with Marlene, but I was lacking two months of twenty-one so I couldn't buy any. Me and Rusty both liked to have a couple beers and watch teevee. At the end of a night, we might each have three, four beer bottles on the coffee table in front of us. Mary, she'd never have more than one bottle on the table. Mary took her empty beer bottle back when she went for a new beer. She didn't want Rusty to see how many empties there was.
Mary tried to get us both to drink more, she'd bring us back extra beers from the kitchen. I wouldn't have hardly started one and there'd be a cold bottle waiting for me. On my way to the restroom, I would take the extra beer with me and stick it back in the refrigerator.

So Mary had to cover up, and she was digging for something to use on me. She started asking me questions. I'd be trying to watch a good Rosalind Russell movie and Mary would say, "Carol, you ought to get out a little bit, meet people."
"Probably got a point there, Mary," I would say, and I would just keep looking at Rosalind Russell. Mary wouldn't quit, she'd put her hand on my arm, like buddy-buddy, she'd go, "Carol, why don't you go see a new movie? You could ask somebody to go with you. Or I could ask for you, I've got lots of friends, I'm sure I could find somebody for you. To go to the movies with."

I knew Mary was trying to make it look like I had a problem or something. So Rusty would listen to her and not me. Seemed like it might be working, too. Rusty started asking me questions, she never did before. She wasn't as fake as Mary, she just asked what she wanted to know. "You got a boyfriend? Or anything?" Which she saw me at work, and she saw me at home, so she knew whether I did or not.
"Me?" I said, and that was all I said.

Rusty had started up this romance shit and now she was getting personal and nosy and bugging me when she ought to know you're not supposed to bug your best friend. The big expert on love was getting led around by the nose. Nobody, not drunks or nobody, had ever led me around.

* * *

When I come in to work one Wednesday morning, all four of the Redskin bosses was standing in the hall talking. That wasn't no big shock, but there was four strange men with them. All the men had their hands down in their pants pockets, rattling change. Sounded like all the Santa reindeers was visiting the office, jingle jingle jingle.
"Wonder what's up," said Rusty while we was clocking in.

"Don't know," I said. "Can't be good, all them neckties in one place."
"I bet Rhea Dailey knows," said Rusty. "She notices everything."

"Yeah," I said. "Like she'll notice us down here visiting the time clock instead of working. Let's get going."
On morning break, I usually played euchre with Rusty and Elsie Pelton and Mildred Hatch. Mildred didn't care for Rusty's haircut or Elsie's husband, but she still got the euchre deck out when we all come down for our coffee. Mildred was a fool for euchre, she would of played euchre with a cow if she could of taught it how to hold the cards.

Rhea Dailey come in while Rusty was dealing. Rhea was usually the first one down for break, but she had been in Vernon True's office. Rhea was a good worker, she didn't have to be Vernon's spy but some people buy all the insurance they can get.
Everybody knew Rhea carried tales, nobody told her good secrets. And she was a double agent, she told us office secrets.

"Your hair looks cute," said Mildred, when Rhea come in the break room. Rhea had her ponytail tied back with a blue scarf. She kept her eyebrows shaved off and put them on with pencil. Sometimes the right one had a jump on the left one, but today they was even.

Rhea didn't say nothing yet, she was keeping Mildred in sus­pense. Rusty and me both wanted to know what those office guys was going to do, but not enough to chase Rhea's tail.
"You get your mop handles done early, Rhea?" said Mildred. She picked up her cards and looked them over. "I make it hearts." She put down the ace. "I noticed you was gone when I come down." She took the trick, and picked up all our cards.

"I had some business with Vernon," said Rhea. She poured her coffee cup full and put in three sugars.
"What are all them guys here for?" said Mildred.

"Mildred, if you're gonna play, play," said Elsie. "What did you put the right down for? I already had the trick."

"They got a different way to put the paint on or something," said Rhea. "Supposed to be faster."
"Yeah, I'll bet," said Elsie. "The last time they speeded us up, we got three days behind." She put down the jack of diamonds.

I put the right bower on top and slid the cards over to my pile.
"Why didn't you get that?" Mildred asked Elsie.

"I thought you had it," said Elsie. "You're the one that called trumps."
Vernon True come in the break room, and we all jumped up.

When Vernon showed up, usually it meant break time had run over a minute and a half.
"You don't have to go yet," said Vernon. "You still got a min­ute or two yet." He was right, by the break room clock we still had four minutes. "I just come in to let you all know that we'll be improving the system for running our, ah, system. Our new system will be an improvement, it'll improve the, ah, system we use—the one we were using."

Rhea and Mildred was looking happy, Vernon meant a lot to them, I guess. Elsie just looked regular, she was still playing euchre but she had one eye on Vernon. Rusty looked disgusted, she never raised her eyes up from the hand I dealt her. I tried to look like Elsie did, not happy, not disgusted. I turned up the nine of spades. We all passed once, the second time around I made it clubs. Rusty put down the ace first, and then the left.
Vernon was still talking. "So you all should notice an im­provement in our system, once we get it improved. So that's it, I guess, we'll be coming around the floor with the individual im­provements. When we get the new system running." He looked around at all of us. "Everybody got it?"

Rhea smiled, Mildred smiled.
Vernon smiled. "Is there any questions?"

"How many tricks was that?" said Rusty.
"Pardon?" said Vernon.

"Nothing," said Rusty.
"All right, then," said Vernon. "Let's get back on it."

We scooted our chairs back, while Rusty put down the nine of diamonds. Elsie put down the ten of clubs. I put down the queen of clubs, but Mildred tossed the other jack on top.
Shit, euchred again," said Rusty. We all started crowding out the break room door.

"Pardon?" said Vernon, turning around to look at Rusty.
"Nothing," Rusty said.

Two paint experts, two industrial management experts, two regular old office guys and Vernon True was watching Rusty and Betty Lamb put paint on broom handles. The necktie men had stood and jingled their change while two maintenance men moved the dip tanks against the back wall in the paint room, and moved the dip racks up against the other wall. So now Rusty and Betty had to walk across the whole room to get a set of handles, walk back, dip them, carry them back. And do it again for the heavy-duties, they got two coats. The Chiefs, I mean. Vernon had told us that the Redskin bosses wanted new names for the brooms. The regulars was supposed to be called Squaws, and the heavy-duties was supposed to be called Chiefs. If the factory made whisk brooms, they probably would of called them Papooses.
"This'll work out all right," said Vernon to the neckties. "You think?"

"Oh, yeah, it's quite a bit of an improvement," one of the managers said.
"This system runs a lot smoother than the old system," said a paint expert.

The routine had got two hours behind cause of moving the tanks and all that, and then it got later and later cause Rusty and Betty was nervous and messing up from being stared at by necktie men. And having to walk to the racks and walk back took way longer than the old way, at 11:15 there was only three sets each done of regulars and heavy-duties. The night shift was supposed to get fifteen sets of each kind done. I was surprised Vernon looked so easy-natured, the paint room being twelve sets behind. All the necktie men looked like they felt pretty good, in a couple minutes they was all going down the street for a beer and to tell each other how smart it was to move the dip tanks back against the wall.
You, uh," said Vernon, looking at me. "Doing paper, ah—"

"Carol," said Betty.
"Of course," said Vernon. "I knew that. Carol, why don't you come on in here and help these girls get caught up?"

"Caught up?" I said. It was only a couple hours till clock-out time, and there was five hours of work left to do.
"We don't want these girls here all night, do we?" said Ver­non. "You can stay a little bit, can't you?"

At 2:30 in the morning, Rusty and me was still going strong. The rest of Redskin was shut down and dark, we had two more sets of heavy-duties to go. Betty Lamb had went home at the regular time, two o'clock, she had to get up super early to get her kids off to school.
"If they keep improving us," Rusty said, "they are going to improve my butt right into the grave."

"No shit," I said. "No, wait, here's my improvement." I took a heavy-duty handle out of the set-up box and held it in my hand, sideways, like it was a javelin. I heaved that broom handle out into the air, I never knew I was going to till I did it. It curved and flew, and plop! it slid right into the green paint tank.

"Whew, look at that," I said. "Did I do good or what?"
"Would of been perfect if it was a regular handle," said Rusty. "A Squaw, I mean."

"Well, watch then," I said. I got a regular handle out and threw it, but it went short and hit the front of the tank and bounced over under a work table. "Them smaller ones don't have as much heft," I said. "I'll get it now. Fire number two!" Direct hit, the handle slid right down under the surface, not hardly a splash.
Rusty threw a Chief, it went into the right tank, but it splashed pretty hard.

"Put more curve on it," I said. "Then it slides right in."
She done better on her second one. Then she said, "We better quit and finish working."

"I am working," I said. "This is my improved system of ap­plying paint. It improves the handles, this system of paint." I almost missed with a heavy-duty, but it just barely made it in.
"No, I'm serious, though," said Rusty. "Let"s get back on it, I want to get out of here."

"Okay," I said. "Just one more." I threw a regular handle. It zoomed over the top of the dip tanks and through the doorway of the back room. I waited to hear glass break, but I didn't hear no smashing noises. But after about three or four seconds, something went WHUMP.
"Whoa, shit, what was that?" said Rusty.

"I don't know," I said. "Guess we better look, huh?"
When I looked in the paper room, I couldn't believe it. There was mop heads on the floor, every inch of the whole floor, mop heads a foot thick. Two feet thick some places. Heads for big wet mops, little wet mops, dust mops, all kinds.

"What the hell?" I said. "What—"
"The mop bins," said Rusty. "Look, it hit the side support thing and knocked it loose." There was rows of wood bins that used to stand up by the wall, each row had a different size mop head in it. The whole thing had got tilted down on one side, and all the mop heads had slid out, almost every single one. The support arm was just hanging loose on one side of the bins.

"Can you put it back?" said Rusty.
That part was pretty easy. The loose piece was supposed to be fastened onto two metal pieces that made an X on one side. That was what held the bins up. I pushed it back in place. One of the bolts was gone but I hunted in a junk drawer till I found one that would fit. But there was three or four hundred mop heads laying on the floor, different sizes all mixed up together. I picked up a couple of them. "Shit, Rusty, how can I put them back? I don't know what’s size ten and what's size eight."

"It’ s on there," said Rusty. She took one of the mop heads out of my hand. "See, on the flat part, stamped on there in blue ink? See? That's a ten, it's a size ten."
"Okay, good," I said. I started picking them up.

"Huh-uh," said Rusty. She touched me on the shoulder. "First we got to finish up our handles, then we can come back and do this."
"Oh, man," I said. "We're gonna be here all night."

We got the handles done about four, four-fifteen, something like that. We clocked out, then Rusty stayed in the building and I went to B & E Sweet Shop and got us bear claws and choco­late-icing long johns and enough coffee to fill up the heavy-duty dip tank. I come back and we run around like crazy women, picking up mop heads and putting them in little piles, wet mops size 8, dust mops size 4. We put the last one away at 6:45 a.m., and we got out before the seven-to-four shift started com­ing in. The three cups of B & E coffee never affected me at all, when we got back I took off my shoes and laid down and it was Snore City till Rusty woke me up and it was time to go back to work.