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The Wrought Iron Fence
Perhaps it was the pain fumes
Toby sat on the ground with a narrow paint brush in his hand, slapping black paint on a tall wrought iron fence. He had just spent two full days wire-brushing and sanding the fence to prep it for the paint.
He wasn’t looking forward to the next few days because he knew the messy attraction paint had to clothing. If he had any clean spots remaining when he was finished, it’d be a miracle. His mom already told him to wear his oldest clothing, clothes he wouldn’t mind tossing when he was finished. No way was any of the painted clothing going to go in her washer.
His summer was not flying by. Sure, he had a job until school started again, but he wasn’t fond of the endless cycle of waking, working, eating, sleeping, and doing it all over again the next day. Toby didn’t know how grownups did it day after day, and most of them had to drive to work for the privilege.
Today’s job was tedious, but it didn’t require concentration. Up and down, back and forth, dip the brush again, and pray that the hours would pass by quickly. The sun poked its head out at about nine and was in and out of the clouds all morning.
“How ya coming along there, young man?” Mr. Sanders, his boss, asked as he walked past.
“I’m good. Trying to do a good job.”
“That’s what I like to hear, Toby. Keep up the great work. Fine job. Fine job.”
“Thanks,” Toby said as he watched Mr. Sanders disappear into the library where he was Head Librarian.
Toby rose and stretched his back, admiring his paint job up to this point.
“Missed quite a few spots there, Bub,” a voice called out. Toby turned around but saw no one nearby.
Sitting down with his legs crossed, he again heard a voice, “Missed a lot. Over here. Are you deaf? The post, dummy, the post. Hee hee.”
Toby rose and took a few steps in the direction of the voice. The voice seemed to be coming from one of the wide posts the separated the thin rails.
“What’s the matter? Haven’t you heard a post talking before?”
“Uh, no. Posts don’t talk.”
“Hear that, Rails? The boy says ‘posts don’t talk’. What world are you living in, Toby?”
After he said that, a chorus of chuckles coming from the rails filled the silence.
“Well,” the Talking Post said. “Are you just going to stand there and gawk? Look me over. See where you missed?”
“No, not really. And hey, how do you know my name?”
“We’ve got ways, Toby. The back side. All of our back sides are still unfinished and ready for some of that glossy black goodness. You sanded us yesterday, remember? And I might add, you were a little too rough if I recall.”
“You mean you want to be painted?”
“Uh, yeah! Paint and wrought iron goes together like Adam and Eve, Bonnie and Clyde, Abbott and Costello, Sonny and Cher, Captain & Tennille, Tom and Jerry, you know, we just go together.”
“Tom and Jerry? Captain & Tennille?”
“Work with us here, kid. You say you’re trying to do a great job to the boss, but you don’t finish the back side. You’re trying to cut corners, aren’t you?”
“No. Not at all.”
“Paint us and we’ll all be happy. We won’t even bother you anymore.”
“And why should I believe a promise from a fence post?” Toby asked.
“I said, ‘why should I believe a promise from a fence post?’ Maybe you’re the one’s that’s deaf.”
“You okay, Toby?” Mr. Sanders said. He came out the back door.
“Uh, yes sir,” Toby said, startled at seeing his boss so close without him realizing it. “Just a little bit of self talk is all, you know, to keep myself motivated. I saw the back of the rails needs some attention.”
“Like it. Like it a lot. Attention to detail. Toby, I think you’re going to do well. Very well. Why don’t you go grab some lunch? It’s about that time,” he said as he checked his watch.
“I was thinking about that myself, sir. I think I needed a breather anyhow. Paint fumes and all. Let me just put away some of this stuff so the paint doesn’t dry up on me.”
After Mr. Sanders left, the Talking Post said, “See, Toby? We told you, didn’t we? The boss notices things like that. No cutting corners.”
Toby finished putting everything away and walked past The Talking Post, ignoring his last comment and pretending that fence posts didn’t actually talk.
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