1
min

Swing Shift

22 readings

7 votes

In competition

Peace, quiet, glorious peace, quiet, solitude, and so much time. Growing up with four older brothers had made the experience of working nights as a rentacop a welcoming and comforting change of pace-for some of the time. It was also the greatest job for those who loved to read, but this night like many others, dragged on as Cole gazed at the downfall of snow that he would soon have to shovel. But the job did have that abundance of time that gave him some comfort, took away a small portion of his worries. There was time to think, to philosophize, to read, and to mull over all the details of his colourful past. He thought mostly about elationships that were never meant to be and the myriad types of interactions, good and bad, caring and hostile that had brought Cole to this point in his life. He wasn’t broke but had to make his meals and coffee last so as not to not go without.. So much time and so much hunger for more tuna sandwiches or video games for his phone. It was around 1:00 am that the job started getting difficult. At this point, coffee-the security guard’s drug of choice was battling the natural night time paranoia that every effective guard had in healthy or unhealthy quantities, and it was also the time when temptation to sleep (which would mean instant termination) was the worst. Cole was a tall, light blond haired young man, slim and fit with angled Nordic features that did him little good on a job where he rarely interacted with females. Lamenting the circumstances (education, mobility) that basically bonded him to this job, Coles’ hands trembled as he sipped his tenth strong coffee. Anyone who guarded long enough knew isolation gets to you. As the clock ticked, shift change was imminent. It was agonizing to think of being home, of sleeping while wracked and disoriented with exhaustion. Risking job loss, he shut his eyes for a second. Waking with a start, the clock read 0100. Six more hours! No! Shaking, confused, he poured more coffee. Somehow this seemed to have happened before. Impossible! If he didn’t know better, this would be the perfect personal hell.

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Image of Roger
Roger · ago
Years ago I was made redundant and took a job as a night watchman on a construction site. I found it very difficult to work night and sleep days l wouldn't like to have to do it again. This story captured the experience and also offered a metaphor for the afterlife. I enjoyed reading it. You might like my story 'Dia de los Muertos' if you can take a minute to read it.
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Image of Leif Gregersen
Leif Gregersen · ago
Thanks so much, I will was your story. I had been working night shifts since I was a teenager at a donut shop where my brother taught me how to turn sacks of flour into a bed. Thanks for your kind words.
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Image of Leif Gregersen
Leif Gregersen · ago
I will read I should say
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Image of Operamom
Operamom · ago
It's interesting to see how you start with his attitude being positive about his job - free time, etc., then twist it almost imperceptibly to it being hell. It works as a short piece of one-minute fiction but could also be an intro to a much longer work. Good luck! I would like to invite you to read my entry in the competition and give me your opinion. It's called The Toaster. Thanks in advance.
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