Substandard.

via Daily Prompt: Substandard

The work he completed was below par. Not up to what it should have being. He knew it. They knew it. Everybody on the site knew. But nobody really cared. It was after all, more money for all of them. Even when the lowly paid government inspectors came to check out the work, many were open to the large brown envelopes which everyone knew would help smooth the way of the project. Help to avoid any awkward questions or very close inspections of the work completed.
‘Get it done, and get it done fast, and get it done cheap’. That was the order from the top. Another rushed job, another contract completed at speed. Everybody making money, everybody happy. In the Arabian peninsula, the heat sapping, draining weather was always the same. No let up. Life was good here in these foreign lands, with good money to be made in quick time. The only few drawbacks as he saw it were the the lack of available alcohol, unless smuggled in surreptitiously, and the lack of a pretty woman to catch a man’s eye.
The Arabs, as determined by their governments, were forbidden to drink alcohol, which to him seemed a nonsensical and cruel law. Secondly the women were forced to cover up everything except for their eyes. Another crazy law in his view. He had being in the country for close to six months , and was looking forward to his return to normality, back to America. Looking forward to seeing his wife and newly born child whom he had yet to meet.
He didn’t want to leave them, but with the lack of employment in ‘The States’, and the subsequent continual arguments that the lack of money, and boredom were causing with his long term sweetheart, and now wife. It just seemed like the best solution to a bad situation, at the time.
In Arabia, it was good to be working once again. His happiness and joy for the occupation, replacing the depression, that had dogged him for many months, in the past. The feelings of worthlessness and failure he felt as a man. Unable to provide for his wife, and family. The thoughts of ending it all. How different it was now. Those bad times behind him, a happily distant memory. But money making was very high on his agenda, after so many, many months of being without. He had a lot of catching up to do, financially, and he was determined to catch up, in whichever way he could. Regardless of the consequences.
The management back home in America, were well impressed how he was able to move the job along with such speed. While keeping costs way down. Congratulating themselves on choosing some a competent man to oversee the work. It was of course his decision to purchases supplies and materials from the unlisted, unlicensed companies. His choice not to question the low cost of such purchases. Again his choice to pay the immigrant workers just slightly above the national rate they were paid. An incentive to work harder, and faster, which they happily adhered to. Of course, the wage they received, a pittance, in comparison to the wage paid to the workers from the west.

He didn’t like him, when he first met him. Something about him. That upright posture, and purposeful stride. The dark business suit. The tanned face, and the neatly trimmed black hair. He exuded an inner strength, an inner belief in his own abilities, in his own worth, for such a young man. No more than early thirties, Jim guessed. A man not easily pushed around, or persuaded. Jim tried the friendly route first. When that was having little impact. He went for the brutish, loud, angry path. But the schools building inspector, remained quietly solid, strong and unmoved. He demanded to see the schedule of work. Demanded to know how the work was progressing at such speed. He further demanded free access to inspect any of the materials used, and see the records and details of the current suppliers to the school building project. Of course he could not be allowed to have his demands met. So as the young inspector was leaving the building project, Jim approached him.
As he was stepping into his shiny black cadillac, he placed a hand on the inspectors arm. The inspector looked down at the hand, and then at Jim , with a look of disdain.

‘Here, take this package. You’ll enjoy it. Will make life easier ‘, offering him the stout envelope.
‘My life is fine, I don’t need nor want anything from you’, and he pushed the envelope away.

Early the following morning just as the sun broke the horizon, and work began again on the construction project, the young inspector returned accompanied by two further car loads, of similarly diligent civil servants. They enforced an immediate cessation of the work, and went about examining the materials used, and the contracts signed. It did not take them long to come across anomalies. Materials not up to standards, and regulations. Works completed in a haphazard and unsafe manner. It was enough evidence to enforce immediate cessation of the project.
Jim watched from the portacabin office, where he liked to oversee the progress on the site. With his favourite coffee cup in hand, he watched the young inspector accompanied by two policemen approach his office.

Bursting through the door in the blazing mid day heat, disturbing the dust and paperwork in the office.

‘ I am closing down this project’, with immediate effect’. He spoke slowly, with much assurance and calm authority. ‘You, as the project co-ordinator here, bearing full responsibility for all that goes on in this project, are to be prosecuted for using substandard and dangerous materials, and engaging in unsafe  and haphazard working practices. Endangering the lives the the employees currently working here, and the further employees and children who would have attended this school in the future. Also you are further to be prosecuted for attempting to bribe a government official’.

With that the two policeman stood either side of Jim, and escorted him down from his office. The next few weeks passed quickly, and before he knew it, he was enduring the sweltering heat and blazing sunshine from the confines of an overcrowded Arabian prison cell. He was slowly coming to terms with the violent prison guards, who delighted in tormenting and torturing their prisoners, especially foreign prisoners. Coming to terms with his violent prison cell mates, none of whom he could dare to trust. Forced to stand for up to twelve hours a day, it was an impossible torture. The stench of urine, of continual perspiration. The sense of claustrophobia, of being unable to move freely, of being trapped, with no space of his own. With unfriendly people he did not know, using a language he could not understand. The continual pushing and shoving. The sense of violence waiting to explode at any moment. His very real fear of homosexual rape. The lack of sleep, his anxiety. Wishing now, had he being given his time over, perhaps he may have being a more honourable, honest man. Not racing headlong chasing money and wealth at any cost.

His only contact with another english speaker, was the weekly visit from the middle aged man from the American council. His job to keep Jim informed of the likely date of his court case. It could take years, he had being informed. Arabia was in no rush to release the inmates of their prisons. Jim in a strange way looked forward to these weekly visits. At least it was some human contact, without the fear of violence. A short sense of freedom. A brief thirty minutes out of the stinking , overcrowded cell, that had being his home for the last three months. With someone he felt he could trust.
He walked into the light grey plastered room, with the open windows, accompanied as ever by two severe looking prison guards. He noted the brightly colored  bird sitting on the tree branch outside the window, chirping away  happily. Jim looked at the bird, and smiled, envied his freedom. The ability to do what he wanted, when he wanted. To have his own space. To fly away and be free, anytime he choose. The man from the American council entered the room. Jim immediately noted his more than usual serious demeanor. His grey and  drawn face. The deadness in his eyes. He sat at the table, slowly, and opened his black briefcase. Hids movements were slow, as was his speech.
Quietly he began. ‘Jim, I have some news from home, and I’ll come straight to it. I’m very sorry, but there has being a fire  back home, and their have been fatalities. Jim held his breath, and began to perspire slightly. The veins tightened in his arms and shoulders, and he clenched his fists. ‘It’s your wife’, then he stopped, to steady himself,and catch his breath, and after a moment, ‘and your newborn child. I’m so sorry’. Jim listened, but didn’t really hear, and asked for him to repeat what he had said. He sat back in the soft chair trying to comprehend what had being said, his body feeling weak. ‘ The initial outcome of the investigation are, the fire was the result of the substandard materials been used, when the house was first built’. ‘If there’s anything I can do’, his voice trailed off.
Jim sat back in the chair, and quietly muttered to himself, ‘Substandard materials, substandard materials’, over and over. Precisely when the thirty minutes were up, the two prion severe, angry prison guards , roughy lifted Jim from the chair. Pulled and dragged him back towards the overcrowded, sweltering, stinking, violent prison cell. The man from The American council watched for a moment, as he stood underneath the ceiling fan, enjoying its cooling air, before taking his briefcase, and making his way towards the exit.

Advertisements

Radiate.

Radiate

Radiant

           She used to be radiant,effervescent,bubbly,call it what you will. That was before. Her self esteem was high,she was enjoying life. Happy just to be alive.
                                         It was a lot more serious here,behind the barbed wire,the uniformed guards,the high walls,the vicious attack dogs. One day slowly dragging into another. Bored beyond belief. Nothing to do,and all day to do it in. Sitting alone in her prison cell,staring at the freshly painted white walls,knowing full well it would not take long for them to become covered in less than polite graffiti once again.

She looked about her cell,that had been her home for quite some time,and may be for quite some time to come. The stainless steel open toilet,no privacy,of course. Two bunks and a sink. The two foot square window,with the toughened glass,high up the rear wall. Too high and out of reach to see out of. This was home,for the time being.
                  She lay on the top bunk,grateful at least that her prison cell mate and she got along,reasonably well,at least most of the time. But she like everyone here,who wasn’t in for life was just counting down the days,to freedom. Whether she may end up back in a place such as this again,was certainly up for question. What would life hold for her on the outside.would it be any better,she often wondered. She often contemplated the crimes the other inmates she came across had committed to have landed them in such a place. But she had learned the hard way,and had the scars to prove it.
                                    Best not to ask inquisitive questions,here,of others. If they wish to share aspects of their lives they will,and if not,well……..Grateful at least the battleship grey heavy cell doors were left open throughout the day,so the guards could keep an eye on the inmates. Prisons are surprisingly busy places throughout the day. With inmates coming and going,new arrivals and departures. Some attending court,a chance of freedom. Others attending hospital for illness,or as a result of an overdose,or a violent assault. Mealtimes. A lot of movement. Prison guards rushing at times to various incidents to be dealt with. But come night time,eight pm,in prison terms,the doors were banged shut with a resounding clank. Half an hour later,lights out. This was human brutality to her. No television,no internet. No privacy. Then the screaming,of the many others trapped,the mentally unstable,the swearing begins. A nightly ritual. The feelings of being trapped,unable to escape. Her freedom in the hands of others. These were the times when her breathing became rapid,fast. Her fists clenched as she twisted and turned on the top bunk. Trapped like an animal,she so wanted to break free.

Not surprising so many others had turned to illicit drugs and medications to escape,at least in their minds. A relief for some,for sure. She had turned to religion,at least it was a chance to interact with people from outside the prison population. It was a change from the ongoing boredom to attend the weekly meetings of the Jehovah Witnesses who came every Sunday. They seemed quiet pleasant,decent people,and she certainly did enjoy asking them the hard questions,on God,on life,injustice,redemption and retribution,which they at times struggled to answer.
                       At times,in the semi darkness of her cell,out of fear,loneliness and fragility,she had softly approached her cell mates bunk,and sat and watched her as she slept. She had a deep beauty,it was evident beneath the brutal harsh exterior she wore like a mask throughout the day. A mask of protection,as was needed in such a place. Signs of weakness,jumped upon instantly,and for the duration of the prison term,making prison life a lot more uncomfortable than it had to be.

It was the fear,it was the seeking of human comfort. It was that emptiness in the soul,that finally brought them together. That first soft touch,so welcoming,so soothing,for both. She did not fully trust her,as she knew little of the reasons she was in this place,so she was always weary of her. But the desire,the need for human comfort. To be held,to be loved,had over ridden such concerns.
                Together they planned his downfall,as they held each other softly,in the darkness of that brutal locked cell. They laughed as they imagined how it would play out. He had stolen her effervesce,her radiance,the brightness that once shone within her.
                           But slowly she could feel her radiance,her joy,at living life,even in a place such at this,returning. She had from time to time found herself actually laughing,and smiling. Gestures which had long being absent from her life,when she was involved with him. Maybe she had concluded,life has a funny way of working out in the end. Out of some chaotic situations,some good can come. She had found,if not love,at least comfort with another. There joint plans of revenge,and his proposed forthcoming glorious downfall,giving a reason for living,to continue to press on for freedom.
                       Whether their future plans would lead to be imprisoned again,was yet to be seen. What was needed for now was much patience. Some say revenge is a fool’s game,but to her,nothing tasted sweeter.

 

Written in response to : Daily Prompt.

Sincere.

Sincere

Are you sincere,my dear,or just a pain in the ass
A woman,who’s mad,possibly sad,and just a total mess
It can’t be right,it’s well out of sight
That you and I got together,even when I first meet you,you looked a bit of a fright

Now we are together,will it stay this way
Will we hold on forever,like they say in that song
Is what we are doing so very wrong
It’s only love we are after,that and nothing more

Well maybe human companionship also,to keep loneliness from the door
As the journey through this world alone,that’s enough to break your soul in two
Who wants to live like that,no one to share with,no one to care
Struggling with an empty life,same old story night after night

It’s got to be better than this,that has to be an ocean of bliss,out there somewhere
Is it with you,I will discover this,or will I have to let you go
How will we ever know,what’s right and what is wrong
I hope we don’t have to wait so very long,for an answer to that.

Via Daily prompt/Wordpress.