Shawn Before Dawn, A Story

I rolled over and looked at the alarm clock – it was 4:58 AM. “Today is an important day,” I remembered. I turned off the alarm before it sounded and slammed the four fluid ounces of coffee I sat by it the night before. I went to the restroom, shaved, showered, got ready as quickly as possible making sure I did not forget anything I considered the previous day. Today is important. My boss is buying me lunch and may even further explain why his daughter left me.

The sun was not yet up and the traffic still sparse. I pulled into the gravel drive, as always, and parked in a familiar place. In only fourteen short months I had moved up in the construction company my boss owns and runs from Laborman to Crew Leader Assistant to Crew Leader. My crews always operated in an efficient and timely manner. They ate my egg burritos like Pavlovian study dogs. Recently I was given the responsibility of an entire project and am currently over three crews in the process of demolition and reconstruction of an entire wing of a colossal warehouse facility.

I am minutes early and I know it. I make a habit of it and no one complains or is ever surprised. For this reason I have the key to the trailer office, our companies temporary onsite headquarters. Today would not be so bad. My crew knows how to do what they do well, and we have our goals to meet by the end of the day. I turn the key to open the trailer and it breaks off inside the keyhole. Just what I need. Closed to half an hour until I see a living human and I am stranded with a sack of egg burritos.

I sat on the wooden steps and watched the dark blueish purple misty sky fade into the orange of dawn behind scattered clouds of thin fog. I thought back. Not too long ago I decided to give college a rest for a while and move back in with parents until I found work. I found work and met Mallen. She and I worked for a small restaurant which sold pizza and tacos; she mentioned her dad owned a construction company.

“Damn,” I thought, “Just when there was no chance of moving out.” I enquired of the difficulty or chances of my working for her father and she said I could probably hire in as labor with no experience, that he was hiring about a dozen workers during the next four weeks.

I am not the kind of guy that ignores the chance of love. This time it did not work out, yet I at least gave the woman no cold shoulder. Mallen mentioned she was in nearly my same situation as she was living with her parents and wanted to find a place. She would starve and die before working for her dad, even though he was probably the single most powerful contractor in our city of over 4,000,000 people.

I got a newspaper and road around with Mallen a few afternoons in a row and we found an inexpensive flat and signed a 3-month form. I went to work for her dad and ‘kicked as much ass as possible,’ so to speak, always being on time and getting as much physical labor accomplished as humanly conceivable. I thought she and I got along fine. I never really noticed how intelligent Mallen really was, nor did I notice that she did not speak her thoughts very often.

Our place was fine and included two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a study room, four closets, and a small television room with two couches. She moved plenty of stuff in there including kitchenware and plenty of personal belongings. I kept my work clothes, an old radio, an alarm clock, and a few changes of clothes, only. We were never more than companions, if that.

Still on the wooden steps, I cannot help but remember the night Mallen changed the locks. After work I went to a local bookstore and got a coffee and a best seller. Gotta love that John Grisham. It was late in the evening and I went to a bar. I don’t drink, but the sandwiches there are great and only cost a few dollars a piece. The bartender had no problem telling me of his life’s career, and I had no problem eating five sandwiches and enjoying four complimentary iced apple sodas.

It was 1Am by the time I headed back to the flat. I knew Mallen had been looking for a new job and was interviewing with the airport. When I got back, the locks were changed and there was a note on the door: “Got the job – Mallen.” I was confused.

Sleeping in my truck that night to go to work on Saturday morning was no big deal for me. It was the surprise. Was she okay? Did we not even have a chance at this thing called love? Surely there could have been a spark. If nothing else, I could have grown to like her more.

It did not take me but a few days to find a new place. My crew leader at the time helped me find a one-bedroom flat and I signed another form. Then I had no distractions. I could work, work, work, then sleep, eat, and work some more. As happy as I was, I was still confused with Mallen. Again, I just thought we may have been able to grow closer together, somehow.

Only seconds had gone by and I saw my boss pulling up in the glowing dawn of the morning. Before, he simply said, “Like she said, Shawn, she got the job.” Knowing that is all he would probably say again, today, at least I’ll get a nice lunch and a chance to thank the man.

“Good morning Shawn!” hollered Mr. Bruno, “Sleeping on the job?” “I am sorry, sir. I broke my key in the lock.” I stood and removed the broken piece from the lock and he unlocked it. “Just there for a second I bet you thought my daughter got another job,” chuckled Mr. Bruno, and it was hard not to laugh.

We went about our normal routine and my crew got a great deal of work done that day. Noon was approaching. I gave them the burritos and went to find Mr. Bruno. We made our way to a Deli and he got us both a couple of roast beef sandwiches with smoked parmesan and sautéed peppers. Good stuff.

“My apologies for my confusion, Mr. Bruno. Thank you for buying me lunch and, as always, I know you know I am grateful to be able to work for you.”

“I understand your confusion. Mallen wrote a letter for me to read to you when I mentioned you showed concern.”

Mr. Bruno read the letter to me and it was mostly about being career oriented, human dominance and all. She said I was a nice, hard-working fellow and was sure I would find the right woman, eventually. She would be working two jobs for a few weeks and then for the airport on a longterm basis if all went well, that plenty of people seek leaders in the world, and we both are surely ‘doyens of our herds.’

“So she did not think I was moving to fast or not fast enough or that I was cheating on her or anything. This abrupt separation was solely career oriented and had mostly to do with us both being headstrong.”

“I think that about sums it up,” said Mr. Bruno, “And I see you shaking in your boots there, fearless ‘doyen.'”

“How so?”

“Are you not concerned of your performance at work?”

“I planned to enquire nonchalantly.”

“Well, I want you to know that you are one of my best. Keep up the good work and you will have less and less to worry of. I gave you the promotion because of your good work and ability to lead others, to get the job done right and make our customers happy when the situation presented itself. Three weeks from now we are signing a new contract. You will be a part of it, just below the head foreman. As for Mallen I think she will be fine and appreciate your understanding. Everything okay?”

“Yes sir, Mr. Bruno and thank you.”

“No problem.”

We went back to work and all went well. A few weeks flew by and I was on the new jobsite in no time and we all did great. Two years went by and I moved up to foreman, and was responsible for over two hundred workers. I had put Mallen out of mind, completely, bought a small house not too far from the city, and all was well.

Then, I happened to see Mr. Bruno and his wife at the grocery store one evening when I went to get a frozen pizza. A world of words could have come from my mouth… the weather, work, anything, and I heard myself say, “So, how is Mallen?” I felt about as brilliant as a broken lightbulb at midnight. Mr. Bruno’s wife grinned and looked to Mr. Bruno. He said, “She worked six and seven days a week for 22 months for the airport and started her own business in our neighboring state. She would not even let me introduce her to anyone.”

Somehow relieved, I asked, “What kind of business did she start?”

Mr. Bruno said, “A construction firm.”

··· Post Story Relations ···

The story above is one I enjoyed writing. When reading about writing, we always hear, “Write what you know.” For me, I like to consider what I do not really know much about, research the topic, and go from there with character, setting, and plot development. This time, though, I went with something I am more familiar with. I may not have included very much fancy description and totally refrained from the absence of the passive voice and broke plenty of grammatical rules (hidden verbs included), however I thought the story was fun and hope you enjoyed reading it. I have always found it a difficult thing to write a story in the present while speaking about the past without the infamous passive voice. At least, I hope, it was fun.

I must mention, though, that I wrote this story from an idea from a writing prompt. The real story I submitted to here, was for the Your Story competition held every eight weeks or so by Writer’s Digest. I always check out the contest and read the winners, yet hardly ever make the time to enter. After all, I am working on another book. It is my first full-blown novel. It has been exciting so far, and I hope it will be fun to read for all ages, fantasy. The Your Story prompt this time really sent my thoughts into other universes. It was almost hard to believe that so few words could inspire so much possibility.

My first thought was to go with a discussion between lawyers, then a receptionist speaking with a disgruntled man, then many others. In the story I submitted, which was to be under 700 words, I stuck with dialogue only. After about 550 words I was done, even though I figured I would really have to trim down a first draft to enter. Surprise surprise. I probably could have been more eloquent with the use of our wonderful language – at least I sent them something. In case you have never heard of the word ‘doyen,’ I found it with a thesaurus. I knew it was a rare word for some, the next best thing to a neologism (like jobsite or colloquialisuhm).

As I am not as refined with dialogue stories as many and surely am not the leading master of this planet’s prose, I wanted to write out the story in a fun and rewarding way for my readers and myself as well. I like to use ‘he said’ and ‘she said;’ call me a third grader, but I dislike nothing more than dialogue which confuses the speakers only seven lines into a thirty some-odd line script we commonly see in best-selling novels.

So, I hope you read and enjoyed “Shawn Before Dawn”, and I also hope you take part in Writer’s Digest competitions such as their annual writing competitions and Your Story, no matter your skill level. I plan to become more involved in the world of literary appreciation/presentation, eventually, will die trying if I never meet my goals. I do appreciate you for reading and please, let me know if you entered the Your Story Competition or others. I love feedback and am always happy to hear of others’ attempts in regards to their efforts. 🙂

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