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VI

The Other Assistant


It was the two’s second day working for Tom in his business of the printing press, and operating the printing machine. Gillen and Jarvis kept to the same routine, and they continued throughout their day at work to switch off with every page. They gradually became faster and were completing more pages as the morning went on. It was not until mid-afternoon that Tom came in claiming he had a special surprise for them.
“What is it?” Jarvis asked.
“I have hired another assistant!”
A man of colossal size and rather broad shoulders that nearly filled the doorway came walking into the room, a smile on his smug face.
“Cornelius,” Gillen whispered under his breath.
“Who?” Jarvis whispered back.
“The man at the bank.”
Jarvis’ eyes widened.
“Yeah, that’s right.”
“Well, I’m sure you two can show Cornelius what to do. If you need anything, I’ll be out purchasing more ink. I should be back around two.”
Gillen nodded and waved as the man turned and walked out the backroom.
“Hello,” Cornelius said. “So what is it I’m supposed to do?”
“The money from the bank wasn’t enough for ya, eh?” Gillen said.
Cornelius frowned, and then quickly smiled.
“Ah yes! How could I forget about that? I’ve decided to store the money away for now and begin working here.”
“Why?” Jarvis asked, the whole idea sounding a little ridiculous and pointless too. “If I were you I would go buy a house and then open my own business. That was a lot of money!” He added a little heatedly and irritated; that money could have been theirs!
Cornelius sighed, a little vexed himself. He waved his hand away as if to drop the whole subject.
“Why don’t you just show me what it is I need to do? I haven’t spent that money yet, and I can’t help but feel somewhat guilty about what I did to you two. How long did you get in prison anyways?”
“Three months,” Gillen muttered with his gaze fixed on the wooden floorboards.
“Three months; that’s not too bad.”
“I got sick and nearly died,” Jarvis said. “It was hell! But I knew that before I was put in there for the seventh time of my life.”
“That’s right. And if we are put in prison one more time, there will be no way out,” Gillen said with his index finger pointed accusingly at Cornelius. “We’ll be in there for the rest of our unsuccessful lives.”
“All the same, your tale of little sadness has not improved my knowledge of how to operate this machine,” he said observing his hand and showing little interest to what the two had been saying. “So I was hoping that you might get on with explaining its functions and how I can compensate with them.”
Gillen looked back at Jarvis who scratched his head, and then smiled for no apparent reason. Gillen shook his head and looked back at Cornelius who stood with his arms crossed, and his muscular form stood ready to kill with one swipe of those tree trunk-like arms.
“Well…Jarvis and I have established a bit of a routine, which I’m sure you can easily fit into. We don’t really have a third job, so that means that one of us will always be on break.”
“Okay. What’s the routine?”
“Well, one arranges the stamps on this machine here,” Gillen set his hand down on the printing press to show that he was referring to it,” while the other awaits for a page to be complete. When the page is done, it is handed to the awaiting man to take it and arrange it on the desk by order of page number. Does that make sense so far?”
“Sort of,” he said with a shrug. “I still don’t know how to work the machine though.”
“Right. Well, you can be the first one on break, I’ll do the next page, Jarvis; and you wait for my completion.”
Jarvis nodded, and Cornelius moved his back up against the wall to get out of the way.
“Don’t be shy now, you’ll have to be close enough to see what I’m doing, you know?” Gillen said as he grabbed Cornelius by the arm to bring him back over to the printing press.
Quickly, Gillen began to arrange the stamps in their proper order to match the page that had been set out in front of him. Once they were laid down perfectly, a sheet of paper was placed on top of the stamps, and by the pull of the lever came down the compressor of the machine. The paper was pressed up against the stamps, and when the lever was released and the paper pulled loose it showed an exact replica of the other page, used as an example.
“See?” Gillen said with a grin.
“I guess,” Cornelius replied. “I think perhaps I will just try it myself.”
Cornelius did his best to do exactly as Gillen had done, and he successfully completed his first page. So for the rest of the day, the routine was set and the three carried on with ease having this third addition to help them.



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The following comments are for "The Companions: 6"
by ArturHawking





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