When we ended our story last time, I was committed to perform the job of cleaning the property belonging to this preying couple.During the next three days, I went to that plot, walking the two miles between my house and that place and had to put in it nearly five hours of backbreaking work daily into it. Normally, I just put two hours each day on other people’s lands (one in the early morning and another in the late afternoon, stretched during an entire week), but this case was extra especial; I just wanted to cash in on the end and forget all about it.Yeah, they were nice with me during the first day, they even offered some refreshment in the form of freshly squeezed orange juice, but that didn’t ameliorate the invisible pressure they were silently exerting on me. And if there’s something I don’t really like is unwarranted pressure placed on my back. My goal then was to finish and get paid. I just wanted to get back to my writing and do the cover for the paperback version of “The Karaoke Duo”, which is still pending even after a year from releasing the e-book.
The flat area of the yard was nice and smooth work as I suspected, though it’s still a lot of work when all the tools you have is a machete and a garabato. You must know what a machete is: it’s a short sword designed to hack through tropical greenery, mostly used to harvest sugar cane. A garabato is simply an elongated wooden or metal hook with a handle, and you use it to reach at the roots of any brambles or grass tufts you want to hack through, forcing them into a solid bunch. This improves your leverage while cutting by holding the resulting bunch of wild plants in a more stable arrangement against the sharp edge of your machete.
It works like a charm; took me a couple of years to learn the proper technique.
As I said earlier, this is arduous work and by the end of my daily session in that yard I was practically walking back home in a sleepy, tumbling walk. In fact, after working for three days in that fashion, I think I overexerted myself and then I developed a case of very high fever as a consequence.
Now, the hill…. Oh, the hill. That hellish area of the yard was so steep that in places I had to use the garabato more like a mountaneer’s pickaxe than its originally intended use. I mean, I practically had to use that hook as a means to gain an extra hold on that treacherous hillside, burying its end deeply into the soil as another point of support. Not that it helped much; There were two or three times when my feet failed to find enough purchase on that slippery precipice and I found myself rolling down hill, even with that extra hold (I have a couple of nasty bruises to prove it, but you may want to hurry in examining the evidence; my ass really heals fast),
Well, to make this tale short, let’s say I did the work I usually perform in a week in three days, I was tired, bruised and ready to send to Hell anyone, whoever made me the slightest observation about my job. Of course, the day I was done… the couple wasn’t around to pay me. I had to return the next day to get my money. The assholes wouldn’t even drop by my house to square the deal!
So I went to that $#&! place on the fourth day after I met these %&%%!!! Idiots just to get paid. I was limping all the way, my butt certainly reshaped into new and original forms Nature hadn’t intended it to take, and with a very mean state of mind.
I knocked at the door and thankfully (thankfully!) the guy was home with my money. He paid me squarely; no Christmas bonus for making the days from the 22nd to the 24th a veritable hell for me; no more freshly squeezed orange juice; nothing.
And then this guy looked me into the eye while I was counting my money (thrice) and… guess what he said to me? That I should drop by next week, so I could give the already growing grass (we grow them fast down here) another pass.
Oh, my! The creep was already planning all my future ahead as your average Venezuelan is bound to do when they pay you to perform a task for them. I mean, these idiots think they own you for just 80 bucks!
But I was calm, even in spite of my mean temper. I looked him back into the eye and I spoke my mind, without being snarky or using the foul language he deserved. I simply said to him:
“Count me out… I won’t go near to that damned hillside of yours anymore. I simply don’t like it and won’t do the job.”
So I turned around and left him with that. I will always recall the dumbfounded expression on his face; the face of someone who had stumbled upon something beyond their understanding. Remember that guy who got his chest completely vaporized with a particle cannon in Fortress, that lousy movie with Christopher Lambert? Remember those scared, unbelieving eyes? This guy had that same look in his.
I think I walked away from a bad situation with class and style, at least once in my lifetime…