“The Doom Statues” — Chapter 9

Jason McGathey
7 min readAug 2, 2022
The Doom Statues chapter 9 by Jason McGathey

“Lenny! Get over here!” the foreman, Bob Griffin, barks at him from across the muddy expanse of their work site.

Rivet gun in hand, Lenny was en route to the makeshift elevator, which would take him to the upper, skeletal reaches of this high rise in progress. Had only sort of halfway slowed down to horse around with a couple of coworkers, discuss some random woman they’d spotted walking down the sidewalk during lunch. But must now reverse course and jog over to see what it is his boss wants.

“Yes, sir?”

“What’s this?” Griffin asks, bringing one hand around from behind his back to reveal a tall green metal thermos.

“What do you mean?” Lenny shrugs, though already aware where this surely headed, and attempting to keep his face from dropping into the mud as a result, “it’s what I keep my coffee in.”

Grimacing, Griffin unscrews the lid and shoves the thermos under Lenny’s nose. “Hmm. Well, I’d say you’ve been keeping a little bit more than coffee in here, wouldn’t you? What would you say this smells like? Go ahead, give ‘er a good whiff.”

Lenny does as instructed, although there’s no real reason to. Already, he’s begun enacting his defense, stammering, “yeah, but today, uh…”

And what he’s starting to say is that he hasn’t been drinking on the job today, as it turns out, which is true. Yet he stumbles over the realization of how a) how ridiculous this sounds, b) how it doesn’t matter anyway, and c) almost adding that he hasn’t been drinking on the job at all this week, but knowing this is untrue, and thinking about a course correction at the last minute by naming the specific number of days, except he’s not 100% sure about this, either, whether it was Monday or Tuesday, and also realizing that this too would sound ridiculous and not make a difference regardless.

Griffin now sticks the thermos under his own nose and wiggles it back and forth, inhaling deeply. “I’d say this smells like rum, wouldn’t you? And not especially expensive rum at that. Can we agree that this smells like cheap rum?”

Lenny half nods and half shrugs all at once, as his foreman barges onward with this inevitable series of points. “Okay, now let’s suppose, you’re about, oh, I don’t know, four of five stories high,” Griffin suggests, pointing at a section of exposed beam towering above them, casting his eyes skyward for a second. Lenny’s reflexively drift up there as well, before returning to stare one another down again.

“Now, let’s suppose you have an — oh, I don’t know — let’s suppose you have a giant fucking drill up there with you. So there you are, cruising along with your rum and your giant fucking drill, and everything’s going just fine. You with me so far?”

Lenny just slowly nods, now, fighting off an urge to simply walk off this job site and spare himself the embarrassment. But these boss figures don’t end up commanding large swaths of men by chance, and there’s an intimidation factor, as well as some measure of mesmerization, to keep him rooted right here.

“Good,” Griffin nods once himself, satisfied. “Now let’s suppose you happen to let go of that giant fucking drill. Understand I’ve got — what — two dozen men running around down here on this site, yours truly included. Now what do you suppose is gonna happen if you accidentally let go of that drill from four or five stories high?”

Lenny only shrugs, feeling yet again like a high schooler rather than the 32 year old, up to this second gainfully employed adult that he is. Which wouldn’t be the first time, true, and is surely an outcome of his own creation. Yet it’s kind of getting old, all the same. He hasn’t even technically been fired yet, but is already kicking himself in the pants.

“You don’t know? Well, I’ve got a pretty good mental picture!” Griffin barks, “but I’d rather not see a real life reenactment of it! Now get the fuck out of here!” He hands Lenny the empty thermos and adds, “you can pick up your final paycheck next Thursday.”

With this, Griffin turns and stomps off to another corner of the site. Lenny stands staring after him for a second, dumbfounded, thermos in hand. He glances around and observes almost nobody is paying any attention to this spectacle, as they all continue about their business, and this fills him with an even greater despair, somehow, than a bunch of jeering leers. Having no other choice or say in the matter, he turns in the opposite direction and trudges reluctantly off the grounds.

“I need this!” Kay screams, hands out and fingers raised as if about to claw her mother. “I fucking NEED this, and YOU already agreed to it!”

Emily and Denise are on their way over right now, this morning of their scheduled departure. Everything came together with shocking swiftness, finally gelling in a matter of hours last night. While Emily is generally perceived as the more gifted, popular socialite of the two sisters, and in most respects this is true, there are occasional situations where Denise’s bluntness is more effective. Emily is almost too nice to pull some things off. When those two and Jeremy returned from their visit to the artist’s retreat last weekend, they stopped in here at the house that Sunday night, with some elaborate plan they’d already concocted. Denise went to work convincing Kay’s mother that this was basically the best idea, ever. Meanwhile with an insistence that threatened to and then did actually move Kay to tears — giant, sobbing ones — Jeremy insisted that he had enough money saved to theoretically enroll himself, but had no plans to do so, and therefore would be willing to spot Kay in this venture.

“You can pay me back whenever. I know you’re good for it,” he told her, when she attempted weakly protesting this offer.

The only real sticking point concerned her mother, Pamela, a morbidly obese, chain smoking, foul mouthed blonde whom she both loves like nobody else this side of Noah, yet also fights with more than everyone else on the planet combined. While Kay is not exactly skinny herself, she is not nearly as foul mouthed, either — most would probably describe her, essentially accurately, as sweet — and yet during their more vicious, extended shouting matches, if provoked she can occasionally be found calling her mother a fat bitch. To the woman’s face, sure, but also in weary recaps, shaking her head as she explains it to friends later.

So Pamela sat on the fence all week, hemming and hawing about this proposal, of letting Kay attend the retreat for three months. Kay brought it up at least once every night from Monday through Wednesday, yet these efforts seemed to have little impact and may have damaged the situation. It wasn’t until a series of morose, bleary eyed phone calls last night, Friday, and the eventual appearance of the Garverick sisters back over here, and Denise once again working her magic — because, for whatever reason, Pamela has always sort of bonded uniquely with her sassiness — that the entire concept was not just salvaged, but given the green light.

“We’re only talking three months, and how many people around town do we all know? We know half of Jenson,” Denise rationalized, “so everyone can kinda pitch in watching Noah, even Jeremy has said he doesn’t mind watching Noah. In fact his parents also kinda suddenly have a bunch of free time on their hands, heh heh heh…”

“Yeah, plus, you can always bring him up there to visit me,” Kay added, though judging from Pamela’s facial expression, this wasn’t helping any, “and actually I think they plan on having tours.”

Still, her mother did finally nod and say okay, without a whole lot of additional effort. Only to erupt this morning and claim she has a full slate already, just considering today alone, and really can’t deal with Noah right now. Furthermore insisting this is a stupid idea, rolling her eyes and scoffing, “pottery,” under her breath when Kay mentioned what she’d hope to work on, not just up at the retreat but possibly as a business venture moving ahead. And that therefore Kay should call her friends back to cancel.

But she is having none of it. As Emily and Denise pull into the driveway, honking their horn because they know better than to risk compromising this by coming indoors, Kay gives Noah a hug and kneels down to explain that she’ll miss him very much, but that this is something she needs to do for their future. She grabs her bags, shoots a dirty look back at Pamela, who’s smoking a cigarette and leering from the kitchen doorway, before slamming the door behind her. Yet all this anger is instantly forgotten, as she sees her friends and they squeal in unison, as Kay slides her bags and her body into the back seat.

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