Notes from the 3rd Shift: White Toad
Sitting here at the security desk on third shift at the apartment complex. The elevator dings, the doors open, and out into the lobby rides Marine Bob on his motorized scooter. He takes a turn around the lobby, and pulls up next to the security desk.
“I’ve got cabin fever,” he says.
I don’t. I just got here an hour ago. “Those were good times,” he says, continuing a conversation nobody started. He looks at me.“This was down in Texas, back in the late 50s. The ranch foreman had me supervising this black work crew. He told me to make sure they called me Mr. Bob, and for me not to talk to them. You wouldn’t believe how they talked to their black workers down there. So one day I go to the store, and he sees me coming out with five sodas. He says, ‘I knew it! You’re talking to the blacks!’ Only he didn’t say blacks. You wouldn’t believe what he called them. And this was like 1958, 1960. So he says, ‘You’re staying here.’ Meaning right here at the ranch house. He puts me to work painting the ranch house.
“Now they have all these toads down there. I got bored painting the house so I started painting toads white. Pretty soon there’s all these white toads hopping around.“That night the ranch foreman says, ‘You got to get out of here!’ Turns out the family that owns the ranch is from Texas, but they originally came from New Orleans. All these white toads hopping around are giving them a fit. Something to do with Voodoo. They believe in black magic and all that stuff. They’re really superstitious...So between that,” Marine Bob concluded, “and me taking advantage of the Sheriff’s 15-year-old daughter, it seemed best to get out of town.” He waited for me to ask about the Sheriff’s daughter. I didn’t. Eventually he said goodnight, and piloted his motorized scooter back onto the elevator. Don’t worry. It doesn't matter that I didn’t ask. I’m sure I’ll be hearing the story of Marine Bob and the Sheriff’s daughter very soon.
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