That night, the crowd at their usual club was tame. Even in the early hours of the morning, not many patrons had filtered through the doors. Throughout the evening Wayne had been less then enthusiastic. He simply accompanied Shane when asked, if there was going to be an attempt at introduction or a scheme to flirt. He was obviously distracted. He couldn't help but think about what the next day would hold.
"Shane." He said, yelling over the music.
"I'm going to have to go. I need to be up in four hours to get to work."
"Right, yeah no problem." Shane smiled, turning back to a red head he'd been working on for half the night. "Oh hey." He said, taking Wayne's arm. "Don't keep the light on." He winked and passed him the key.
Wayne smiled uncomfortably.
When he came to a stop at the corner of the street, Wayne paid the fare and stepped out on to the wet concrete.
The cab pulled away, leaving Wayne staring down the dark expanse of road. He had enough to make it all the way to Shane's house but the pounding in his head started early, and reminded him that he'd need change in the morning for coffee to fend off the hangover. Fumbling with the keys at the doorstep gave way to tripping over shoes in the entrance; culminating with the struggle of undressing and collapsing on the couch. He sighed, frustration pounding through his mind as rhythmically as the headache that drummed against his brain. Sleep came slowly.
The alarm blared at six thirty and Wayne rose from the couch dizzy and parched. He felt his way to the washroom, not able to bear the suns rays that crept over the horizon and stabbed at his retinas through closed eyelids.
"Wayne." Came Shane's muffled voice from the bedroom.
Wayne grunted, walking back to the living room, braving the east facing picture window once more to silence the alarm. "Happy?" The lack of a response was as close as he'd get to a yes.
The line at the coffee shop was treacherous, but could not deter his body's overwhelming need for caffeine. Besides, there was no way in hell he'd settle for the poison brewed on the factory floor. He shuffled like a zombie through the queue; through the gates of the factory and through the doorway of his office.
Jerry knocked on the smoked glass of the door. On it was stencilled "Line C Manager" in a thick industrial font. "Hey Wayne?"
"There's a jam on belt six. We have to lock down the breakers and Arnold left the shop for lunch."
"I'll be right there."
"Tough weekend huh?" Jerry's tone was consolatory, he knew about the recent break up.
"Hey if you want, I'll just take the keys and lock up the breakers for you. What do you think?"
"No, that's just breaking regulation and more likely to get me and floor staff in trouble. I'll be there in a few."
"Alright." Jerry hesitated to leave. "Hey I'll get you a coffee ok?"
Wayne immediately imagined the ghostly sounds of the factory floor's coffee machine pouring black ooze into thin cups that got soggy and leaked on your lap before you had the time to take a first sip. Strangely, however, he accepted the offer with a quiet nod. Perhaps the stiff syrup was what his brain needed.
The day trudged on endlessly. After the first jam was cleared, two more occurred; one on the same belt and another at a junction between six and the sorting unit. Wayne had to skip lunch as well due to a drainage issue in the secondary emulsifier vat, affectionately called the "sludge cauldron" by factory workers.
Wayne looked at his watch. It was three thirty. He smiled. "Hey Jerry, I have something important I need to take care of. I'm going to head out a half hour early. Got my back?"
Jerry returned the smile. "Sure thing Wayne. I'll let Arnold know."
"Thanks Jerry, I'll see you tomorrow."
Jerry nodded and gave him a salute.
When Wayne climbed into his car, his heart began to race. It continued to race for the entirety of the ride to the carnival. When he pulled into the parking lot, it was at a crescendo.