Tuesday, August 26, 2008


My first job was in the t-shirt factory. The thesis to my textilian studies was on the fine art of t-shirt removal, so I was immediately placed in charge of the testing department. The cotton garments, newly seamed, must be worn once, then removed, to assure proper function. This was the process I oversaw. The models, men in the morning, women the afternoons, paraded single file past my station. Each took a shirt from a fresh pile, tucked it on, turning and pausing before me, awaiting delivery of my contribution. I certified the tautness of the cotton coverings on bodies not much younger than mine. When satisfied, it remained for me to remove the shirt and, if no complications ensued, add a sticker - "inspected by 1." Then the slightest lull - my voyeuristic limbo: before waving the model on I stole a glance going from navel to neck, admiring the disclosed magnificence of bodily form. Men by morning. Women the afternoons. By lunchtime the flesh had me stimulated. After an industrious day, I walked home aroused into breathless gasps. It was fine while it lasted.

The cutthroat world of t-shirt manufacture left its scars on this paradise. Layoffs ensued, to ensure competitiveness. Beautiful models, no more than twenty years old, took early retirement. It was demoralizing. Now my workdays were spent at an assembly line. The shirts came by, flung onto showroom dummies, my job to undress in the measured seconds they wobbled into reach. I pulled the garments from plaster torsos scarred and scuffed from industrial use. It was a steady, repetitive rhythm, like an eight hour copulation that fails to arouse.

Soon the dummies were gone, too expensive to clean and maintain. Costs cut everywhere. Lights dimmed because of bulbs so costly. I stood alone in the factory, like a visual soliloquy, testing the shirts, pulling them on, peeling them off, a work that tires the arms, but the quota required my constant motion. After a few hours I could no longer stand, arched myself onto the floor. Dressed. Bared. Dressed. Bared. And on and off and on. Dazed from a day of this, and oblivious to anything touching my numbed skin, I walked home, my bare-breasted physique greeting the evening breeze.

Story #426

This photo appears by kind courtesy of Jonas Skerra. In the next weeks you may enjoy more of his photography at his new site: Photorama of Jonas.

28 comments:

Banno said...

Reminded me of Fritz Lang's film 'Metropolis'. The mechanical repetition of movements. The gradual killing of all pleasure in work. Chilling. And of course, more so because it is tagged on to the humble T-shirt.

Indeterminacy said...

Did I say all that? Wow. Thank you for sharing your impressions. It's even more astonishing, because I never even thought of Metropolis while writing this. Fritz Lang's M, by the way, is one of my favorite films.

Doug said...

Very, very funny although it kind of explains the photo in the way a drunken husband explains where he's been.

weirsdo said...

Wow, Indie, I think you just keep getting better and better. I agree with Banno--the economic realities behind the story make its absurdity work.

Indeterminacy said...

Doug: You have experience with that sort of thing? Or maybe you've been listening to the Bickersons lately.

Mrs Weirsdo: Thank you very much. Just wait how good the stories will be when I post just one a year. Seriously, I have to get back into this regularly, otherwise it gets impossible to keep up. I didn't think this was so much better.

ian in hamburg said...

Well, the wait was worth it, Indie.

Mandy said...

Wow. I like your narrative style. Refreshing. :-)

Indeterminacy said...

Ian: I think you left this comment at the wrong post! Didn't you mean the previous post? "Waiting for Ian"? ;-) It _was_ worth it. That was a great lunch.

Mandy: Thank you very much for visiting and the compliment!

Hobbes said...

Btw, this shirt appears to be defective. Look at that tangle. I hope it was reported to quality control.

The Lady said...

I can see what the others were saying about Metropolis, but my mind went elsewhere.

It reminded me of the stages of a sexual relationship. Anyone married for more than a couple of years should get it. All hot and bothered, then a mechanical habit, finally with even the pretense of a blush worn and tattered self-serve can seem better.

Happy LOL Day said...

Hello! No brain power left to write anything worthwhile 'cept Hello!! :)

Indeterminacy said...

Lady: Yes, that happens sometimes. I suppose it's the way of life with almost anything. Except I always look forward to your comments.

Happy LOL: You must run bare-breasted in the wind, then you will feel all right again.

Doug said...

A little of both, yeah.

Indeterminacy said...

Hobbes: Yes, you are right. That t-shirt will be shredded and used to stuff teddy bears.

Doug: I was drinking Malz - it has no alcohol.

cooper said...

I see you are back in fine form Inde.
I can only agree with the others as I'm a little late to the party.

Indeterminacy said...

Hey Cooper! You are fashionably late. I'm going to start playing softball on fridays, so hopefully the exercise will improve my form.

The Mushroom said...

Like any good movie, the picture stops too soon.

master mistery said...

Once upon a time there was a lazy man, the laziest man in history. His name was Henry Peter Gaines. He was born lazy and he died lazy. In his youth he spent most of his time on the sofa watching TV or outside in the yard lying on his back dozing contentedly in between counting the clouds.

By the time he reached adulthood, he was so lazy that he couldn’t even bother to do the things he enjoyed doing like eating and watching television because it was just too much effort. He was so lazy that he found it an ordeal to do nothing but mooch around the house all day long in his dirty underpants munching pistachio nuts and quaffing fizzy drinks.

As well as being lazy (some would say because of being lazy) he was also very bored. So bored that on weekends and holidays he could think of nothing better to do than to sleep.

Every Friday night, for instance, Henry would go to bed around nine, nine thirty. He would wake up around eight on Saturday morning, doze in bed for an hour or two, then get up and shuffle to the toilet. After that, he would either go back to bed, or make himself a cup of tea then try and decide how to spend the day.

“What do you feel like doing?” He would ask himself. “Play with the dog? Nah, he’s got his own stuff to do. Read a book? Nah, nothing worth reading. Listen to some music. Nah, heard it all before.”

Most times he would get back into bed, pull the covers over his head, and lose himself in slumberous repose. He slept most of the time---it was easier that way. On the odd occasion if he was feeling particularly energetic he would sit on the sofa and doze in front of the television for a couple of hours, then get back into bed for an afternoon nap.

During the week, he would turn up late for work, spend most of the time goofing off, leave early, contribute the bare minimum. Mondays were the worst. Colleagues would ask, “did you have a nice weekend Henry, what did you get up to?” And he, embarrassed and furtive, would fumble a reply, “ah you know, the usual…” (ie nothing).

On really bad days when sleep would not come, he would stumble from room to room of the crappy little apartment, trying to think of something to do, something to occupy the long slow hours stretching to eternity. (Something to eat? Nah… too hard to get it together. Watch a bit of TV? Nah… don’t feel like it. Walk up to the shop and buy something? Nah… too hot, too tired.)

It might have been manageable if he hadn’t been such a whingeing loudmouth about it: “I’m so bored…” he would moan, “…so depressed …nothing to do…” .

Over the years things progressed from bad to worse. Eventually Henry wouldn’t or couldn’t get out of bed at all. He actually lived in his bed---eat, drank, slept, crapped and pissed in that godforsaken bed. You can imagine what state the sheets were in.

By that stage he was married, which was lucky for him. For very peculiar if not unfathomable reasons his wife, Darla, loved him to bits and looked after his every need---dotingly, obsessively, unceasingly---including his ‘personal needs’ shall we say. She made it her mission in life to satisfy Henry’s every whim, (not that he had many whims, it took too much effort).

Anyway, over the long years they ended up manufacturing two kids, Boris and Doris, who grew up hardly ever seeing their father, because he was always sleeping, or dozing, or resting: in his bedroom, the lounge, the TV room, or wherever he happened to be. Aside from dragging himself into work on at least two out of five weekday mornings, he hardly ever left the house. He never took a stroll in his own backyard, for instance.

Towards the end, when he was living 24/7 in bed, every Sunday morning Darla would insert the vacuum cleaner hose extension between the sheets to suck out all the accumulated rubbish of the week. Basically, dried shit and piss and bits and pieces of food, to be blunt. Not to mention the odd crushed cockroach.

What killed him? You could say a whole range of things, including heart, lungs, liver and kidney failure. But the root cause, the prime causal factor, the efficient cause if you like, was stress-inducing boredom brought on by extreme laziness.

When he died they erected a statue in his honour in the middle of the octagonal pond at the northern end of the Plaza facing a seedy entrance to premises habitually frequented by those preferring to remain unidentified.

On a plinth in the base of the statue were inscribed these words:

“Nothing much remains of Henry Peter Gaines,
a man of little worth and even less of brains.
Now he’s dead it can be said
the linen on his double-bed
where once he lay both night and day
is almost free of stains.”

from cosmic rapture

Copyright © S R Schwarz 2007. All rights reserved.

DeLi said...

im with what happy lol said. im just (as always) amaze on how interstingly langurous your narrtive is

Indeterminacy said...

Mushroom: Alas, the story of so many images.

Master of Mistery: That was an engrossing read from beginning to end. And a great cure for laziness!

DeLi: Thank you

kruidje said...

Thanks on your commant at kruidje..
You may come again if you please!!

kruidje said...

Your story amuse me.
It is zo much better when you can communicate with boddy language.
I can see you wearing all those shirts!

MindFul MiMi said...

Indie,
This one did not inspire me - sorry :-) but keep them coming.
Another site for you to check out...
http://www.1000wordsmeme.com/

{illyria} said...

there were some days when that shirt stuck to my flesh like the scent of an old lover. or like a thorn of a memory in my side. i lay here when we undressed that very first time, a time so long ago it became a myth, where touches were forgotten and where love was forever extinguished. it was cold when the cat came in, and she was shivering. she curled herself up on that shirt. it was her nature to work only at sleeping and seeing love at love's end.

the end, i guess. :)

Indeterminacy said...

Kruidje: happy you enjoyed the story! I have a lot of t-shirts, actually. Most of them are black, and I got them in Holland!

Mimi: We must find a photo to inspire you! Very nice site - I will add a link to it.

{illyria}: you are so good at creating a mood with such few words. Maybe it's that your ideas link into old memories we have or wish we had. It's lovely, what you do.

Live@theGrouchoClub said...

Hey, thanks for commenting on my blog. It's nice to know you're still reading it, since you're so badass. I must admit, I'd stopped frequenting this one, but now that I'm reminded of it, I'll try to pop in and write wild stories now and again.

Colored clouds said...

Hey indie :) it's been awhile! It's great to read your writings.. You do know you're amazing at this right? :) Well have a wonderful weekend!

Heather

Indeterminacy said...

Heather! I'm so happy you stopped by - your compliment is good enough for a month of weekends. Thank you.