Besides writing novels I also like to come up with (very) short stories, designed to intrigue people and make them think. This is my latest story – The Unknown. I hope you enjoy it.
I only took the job because I needed the money. I mean, it should have been easy enough work, just a bit of painting and decorating. Mike said he needed a few assistants for this big job so I rounded up a few mates and we turned up the next morning. It certainly was big. I was shocked by the scale of it all, but Mike reckoned we’d have it done in no time at all. That’s when all the trouble started. The pressure was really on. Mike started giving orders left, right and centre, and some of my mates started grumbling. It was always – ‘Mix that paint, make that plaster, take that up the ladder’ – it went on and on. Pete was the first to get fired. He made up some plaster and it was too wet or something. Mike just shouted at him and told him to get out; no second chances, just go. Frances tried to calm him down. “Hey man, just chill out” he said. “It’ll all be okay.” Mike stared at him and said he either toed the line or followed Pete. Frances decided to shut up but secretly grumbled under his breath. Then Louie fell off the ladder and hurt his back, so we were another man down. Of course Mike got someone else easy enough. There was always someone needing work and not too fussy about what they do.
Those ladders were shocking – a health and safety nightmare and so high up! We were working right up by the ceiling and the scaffolding platform was a disaster as well! It’s a wonder no-one was killed. Mike was up there all the time, it’s true, but he expected us to go up and down regularly with supplies for him. It was back breaking work. Then one day he asked me to paint a large patch of blue up there on the ceiling with him. I enjoyed this as I felt I was doing something important. Mike didn’t say much as I worked alongside him but I could tell he was impressed. We had to lie on our backs to do it which was really uncomfortable. Then he asked me to do some of the more difficult stuff and I did my best. Of course, he then criticised most of it and went over it himself. That’s just the way he was. He was a perfectionist, but he used people for his own ends. We got paid a pittance and yet produced some great work, if I do say it myself! Of course, Mike took the credit for it all and became very famous because of it. We felt this was really unfair but that’s what happens when you’re just an assistant. The boss gets all the glory and the assistants get ignored. They couldn’t do it without us, but their names are remembered and ours are unknown. All I can say is that I was there, with Michelangelo, when he painted the Sistine Chapel.