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Authors: A.J. Thomas

The Way Things Are

BOOK: The Way Things Are
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A.J. T
HOMAS

A Casual Weekend Thing

“This was a fantastic book! The writing was amazing, the plot was amazing and I loved all of the characters.”

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Sex & Sourdough

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By
A.J. T
HOMAS

Sex & Sourdough

The Way Things Are

L
EAST
L
IKELY
P
ARTNERSHIP

A Casual Weekend Thing

Holding Out for a Fairy Tale

Published By
D
REAMSPINNER
P
RESS

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com

Copyright

Published by

DREAMSPINNER
PRESS

5032 Capital Circle SW, Suite 2, PMB# 279, Tallahassee, FL 32305-7886  USA

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of author imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

The Way Things Are

© 2015 A.J. Thomas.

Cover Art

© 2015 Bree Archer.

http://www.breearcher.com

Cover content is for illustrative purposes only and any person depicted on the cover is a model.

All rights reserved. This book is licensed to the original purchaser only. Duplication or distribution via any means is illegal and a violation of international copyright law, subject to criminal prosecution and upon conviction, fines, and/or imprisonment. Any eBook format cannot be legally loaned or given to others. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law. To request permission and all other inquiries, contact Dreamspinner Press, 5032 Capital Circle SW, Suite 2, PMB# 279, Tallahassee, FL 32305-7886, USA, or http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/.

ISBN: 978-1-63216-554-1

Digital ISBN: 978-1-63216-555-8

Library of Congress Control Number: 2014952118

First Edition January 2015

Printed in the United States of America

This paper meets the requirements of

ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992 (Permanence of Paper).

Chapter 1

 

P
ATRICK
C
ONNELLY
felt his phone vibrating against his ass, but he had to ignore it. His cell phone had gone off six times tonight, and he’d ignored it each time, loading the last fifty containers as the floodlights on the wharf lit up the ship far below him brighter than any football stadium. Whatever it was, it was probably important, but he couldn’t answer. Any delay on his part would throw off the rhythm for all of the longshoremen who were positioning the cargo and lashing it down below. It would throw off the timing from the straddle carriers, the small tractors the port used to haul each container from storage to the crane. Since so much of the system was automated, stopping even for a minute to check the caller ID would leave everything backed up.

He hunched forward, watching the longshoremen a hundred and sixty feet below him through the glass floor of the crane operator’s cabin. They locked the shipping container into the crane spreaders and waved to the tower. Over the speaker behind him, Ethan, the terminal manager, relayed instructions for placing it on the ship. Patrick had a copy of the cargo plan on the monitor above him, but he didn’t mind if his new boss wanted to micromanage things. It was the end of his first week on the job, and despite the certifications he maintained and the thousands of hours he’d logged operating identical machinery in New York City, Patrick knew he’d have to prove himself.

With the joystick on his right, he activated the winch and watched the forty-foot shipping container rise toward him. When it was high enough to clear the tiers of containers he’d already loaded onto the deck of the ship, he inched the left joystick forward. The cabin vibrated as the dangling container slid forward along the trolley system of the enormous gantry crane. He stopped it in place, waited a few seconds for the terminal manager’s signal, and then lowered the container onto the top of the three tiers already in position.

Patrick had never been that good with people, but since he’d first taken apart his mom’s radio when he was six years old, he’d always loved machines. For the last eight hours, he’d been carefully maneuvering one container after another into the open hatch of the ship, and then onto the deck. It was tedious, repetitive work that required constant focus and attention to detail, but Patrick enjoyed it. He loved being in control of the enormous crane, knowing each component like he knew his own limbs and shifting the roughly thirty-ton cargo containers with a practiced ease. He’d loaded over three hundred containers and he knew without even looking at the loading plan on the monitor that he was on schedule to finish the entire cargo by the time his shift ended. Since it would have taken most operators two full shifts to finish what he’d accomplished, he figured he wouldn’t have any trouble making a good impression on his new boss.

Even if he didn’t need the money, he was also determined to keep this job for the view alone. The operator’s cabin dangled below the long boom of the crane, suspending him above the wharf far below. The front, sides, and floor were made of clear safety glass so he could see out from virtually every angle. From up here, he could see the first rays of sunlight creep over Elliott Bay and watch the ships moving in and out of Puget Sound. It was beautiful, even if he only had time to steal a glance while he worked.

Fifteen years ago, he’d left Seattle for New York, where his pregnant girlfriend’s family was located. He’d been nineteen and eager to get away from home, but he never imagined he’d miss Seattle so much. When he first climbed into the cabin just after six o’clock the night before, he’d gotten more choked up than he’d ever admit out loud. Seeing the downtown skyline behind him and the waterfront stretching out below made him finally feel like he was really home.

If it was a real emergency, whoever kept calling would call the port offices directly and they’d get a message to him on the radio. He’d made damn sure his son had the number, and he’d given it to the new school too. It was possible the kid had locked himself out of the apartment or gotten hurt, or even gotten lost somewhere on his way to school this morning. But deep down, Patrick knew things with his kid were never that easy.

As the last flatbed rolled two final containers beneath him, he glanced up at the monitor. He was five minutes over his twelve-hour shift, and the radioed directions had dropped to single-word signals telling him when the spreaders were secured, and when to release them again. He smiled a bit, knowing that his supervisor was starting to relax and trust him. He had a decade of experience, and he knew exactly what these cranes were capable of. He didn’t second-guess the machine or himself, and he had an intuitive understanding of the forces and momentum involved in shifting each container, so he didn’t end up overcorrecting a dozen times like most guys in his job.

As he released the spreaders to seat the last container on the ship, he heard the speaker behind him crackle again. “Damn. Shut down Crane 7 and come to the control room.” Ethan sounded exhausted but impressed.

Patrick shut everything down, drained the last of the coffee from the Styrofoam cup he’d snagged from below, and rode the elevator down to the large control tower that overlooked the port terminal. Inside, the terminal manager and two assistants were halfheartedly watching as the cargo was fully secured, hundreds of feet below.

Ethan had a huge grin on his face. “Do you have any idea how badly you fucked up my schedule? They’re going to be able to get underway this morning instead of tomorrow, and we’re not splitting credit for that with the next shift. You know our year-end bonus is based on how many containers the crew moves for the year, right?”

BOOK: The Way Things Are
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