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July 19, 2017 Fiction

Sock Factory

Greg Chandler

Sock Factory photo

Dear Ivonne,

First of all I want to thank you for accepting my friend request.  Out of all our graduating class of 1992, you were the only one to do so.  I’m assuming you accepted based on that string of three days in senior year when we ate lunch together.  It seemed at the time that a real friendship was forming.  We quickly lost touch, but thanks to the wonders of technology, here we are again.  I have enjoyed reading your page going all the way back to your third wedding in 2010.  Congratulations!  It appears from all those happy pictures that three times is the charm.  Good for you.  The reason I’m writing to you, Ivonne, is because I need some life advice.  Do you remember the pickle I was in during our three day friendship?  My mother had swung a pan at me and chipped my two front teeth.  I was so angry I was considering tattling on her to our guidance counselor.  You told me I should.  But I didn’t.  In retrospect, I realize I should’ve followed your sage advice.  Which is why I’m hoping you can advise me today.  I’m in another pickle.  You see, I’ve been Junior Factory Manager at the Crimwalt Sock and Hosiery Factory for over five years.  Yesterday I was called into a meeting with all the big shots.  I was shaking in my booties, expecting to be fired.  Not that I’ve ever done anything wrong, but that’s just the kind of person I am.  By the way, I do wish we could meet for lunch someday!  Wouldn’t that be fun!  I see you like to try exotic restaurants.  I would too if I had someone to go with.  Anyway, they didn’t fire me at all, in fact, they offered me the promotion of a lifetime.  You see, they’ve decided to close the factory here in town, and open a new one in a country called Honduras.  That seemed doubly tragic until they said they want ME to move down there to be the Senior Factory Manager!  I was shocked and confused.  I didn’t even know where Honduras was.  Larry, the CFO, pulled up a map on the internet to show me.  It’s a poor, tropical country south of Mexico.  In fact, they tell me, Mexicans look down on Hondurans, which made me a bit uneasy, though I’m not sure why.  Larry painted a picture that was almost too good to be true.  Honestly, it sounded like I’d won the lottery.  If I accept the job, I’ll get a big house with bulletproof windows, a cook, a housekeeper, a car with a chauffeur and bulletproof windows, and a significant raise.  Ivonne, I hope this doesn’t sound like bragging—I assure you it isn’t.  Anyway, they wanted an answer right away, but I was too stunned to speak.  You see, I have a home situation I have to deal with, a situation no one at my job is aware of.  Yes, I do keep things bottled up.  Do you remember that about me?  Larry took me aside after the meeting and said he was disappointed that I didn’t jump up and down.  That’s what they all wanted to see, vivacious jumping, but I just couldn’t.  All I could think about was Joshy and Mother.  So, bright and early tomorrow, I must give them an answer.  If I say yes, I’ll be moving to Honduras in two weeks.  If I say no, I’ll soon be out of a job, just like everyone else.  That’s the other rub—they told me not to say a word to anyone, that the factory’s closure needed to be kept secret till the very last minute.  If I say no, I’ll be at home all day with Joshy and Mother until I find a new job, and that could take months!  Joshy and Mother are dependent on me.  They can’t live without me, well, without my paycheck.  Neither of them is what you’d call socialized, so jobs and college and trips to the senior center are entirely out of the question.  But if I say yes, and move to the tropics, well, I think my coworkers will see me as a traitor, but on the other hand, none of them are what you’d call friends.  None of them are as nice as you, Ivonne, letting me sit with you for three lunches in a row!!  If I move to Honduras, what will happen to Joshy and Mother?  Sure, I can send them money, but I’m the one who keeps them from killing each other.  See, they are so much alike.  In our household I’m like a huge cow, calm and sensible, with simple needs, happy with grilled cheese and fruit cups, content with word search puzzles and repeats of Matlock…and yet here I am, this cow who keeps two mean lions from ripping each other to shreds.  Joshy and his grammy do not get along.  And they just barely tolerate me, but that’s because I’m the only breadwinner.  Like I said, they are so much alike.  You’re lucky, Ivonne, having a homosexual son.  All those pictures you post of the nice things he does for you…I’m envious.  But old women can be just as nasty as young men.  Trust me, I know.  Do you know how my Joshy spends his day?  If you guessed feeding live mice to piranhas, then you’re a gosh darn psychic.  Joshy wakes up at noon, walks to the pet shop, buys the mice, comes home, drops them in the aquarium, and films the carnage, which he proudly posts on the internet.  That’s his life.  I put up with it.  I tried to put my foot down when he brought home squirrels, kittens, and lizards, but it didn’t work, and they too got fed to those godawful fish.  Mother, on the other hand, has tried to poison Joshy and me on several occasions.  Not with arsenic, but with laxatives, so I’ll have the runs at work, with emetics like ipecac syrup so I’ll vomit, and even with LSD brownies.  She stole the LSD from Joshy and sent me off to work with the brownies.  Thank God I didn’t offer anyone a bite!  But of course I always eat lunch alone.  That’s all I can say about the incident at this time as I’m still dealing with the PTSD.  Anyway, Mother still tries to hit me with pans, though my current size makes it’s harder for her to get close.  And in case you are curious, yes, I did put a lock on my bedroom door.  I wonder what would have happened if I’d taken your advice back in high school and reported Mother’s abuse?  Would I be in this pickle today?  Is that pickle somehow related to this pickle?  So hard to say.  Mother’s abuse…  I’ve never said that before, or written it, or even called it that in my head.  I’ve always thought of mother as a lion and me as a cow, and just accepted nature as it is.  But that’s where you come in, Ivonne.  What should I do?  Move to Honduras and let Joshy and Mother battle it out?  Move to Honduras and let all my coworkers lose their jobs while I zip around the jungle in my bulletproof car?  Or do I stay here, go on unemployment, and keep pretending I have a family that loves and needs me.  Am I pretending?  That sounds so harsh, pretending, as if I had a lick of imagination, as if I thought of myself as somehow creative.  Oh, Ivonne, I wish I had a son like you, a son who serves me French toast in bed on my birthday.  You are one lucky lady!  I just checked your page and see that you’re spending the day waterskiing with your husband.  How nice!!  I’ll be sitting here in my room, doors locked of course, eagerly awaiting your response.  As I said, Larry needs my answer in the morning.  Thank you very much for your help, and for being such a dear friend.

Much love,

image: Tara Wray