Vox Populi

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Jon Tribble: Ball and Pivot


Jerry looked better than any hog-faced man should,

a Porky Pig grin always on his face, happy to meet

us each time he came around to fix what had broken.


He knew torque and the mechanisms of heat

that kept our kitchens working, the assistant to

the ex-Merchant Marine who was the high priest


to the mysteries Jerry studied, these two heavy men

ministered across the central Arkansas chicken

franchise empire, putting us all back to work when


again and again a pressure valve blew and rained

scorching grease across the exhaust vents and ceiling,

when choking smoke or bubbling sewage stench


filled the kitchen’s air and drove us out, when what

was cold was too hot or what demanded heat was

too cold, their gruff grunting bitching voices called


forth whatever metal secrets they both knew and we

were fully ignorant of and they healed the sad sick

store so we could return to our yoke of business.


But Jerry needed more than his assistant’s salary

provided, a wedding and honeymoon approaching,

so he joined me on Friday and Saturday nights,


some extra hours for him helping me cook and clean.

I met his fiancé, a perfect Petunia to his Porky,

and his smile grew even brighter reflecting hers,


so I minded much less after meeting her that he

was paid three times what I made for following

my lead, his maintenance rate eleven dollars


an hour while I saw only three fifty at my best pay.

He hated washing dishes, the trays and wire racks

plastered with dried flour or slick with an evening’s


layer of grease, so I took the sink while he sprayed

the red brick tile with the steam hose, pushing

before him all the grime and soapy bleach water


toward the drain mouths at the back of the store.

He yelled out to me, something I don’t remember,

and I turned to see him spill forward, his left knee


leading the full weight of his body to the floor

and the point exploded with a shotgun blast, his

knee shattered and his screams following as he


rolled over in a heap of tears and pain. I called out

for help and the two girls working that night and

the assistant manager came running as I took


every clean towel I could find, piled most of them

under his head as a pillow and then began gently

wrapping the others around his blood-soaked jeans


where I could feel some sharp points of bone trying

to poke through the fabric. No matter how we pleaded,

we couldn’t convince the panicked assistant manager


to call for an ambulance, so he pulled his truck to

the back of the store and the two of us lifted Jerry up,

carried him to the bed of the truck where the girls


had spread clean aprons and towels to make a soft

pallet for Jerry to lie on. One of the girls got in back

with Jerry and the assistant manager drove them all


to the nearest hospital, leaving the other girl and me

with the keys to the store so we could finish closing,

so I could wash Jerry’s blood down the waiting drain.

copyright 2015 Jon Tribble

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