You can come back then."
"Oh come on, Mr. Kaplan. Give me a break."
His voice was hard as the sidewalk. "Take your lunch, you can even take your coffee, if you want. But go."
"Henry." Jerry spun toward him in desperation. "You can't let this happen. He'll make you do both our jobs, Henry. Tell him you need help."
Henry was certain that if he opened his mouth the monster would leap out and strangle them all. Jerry plucked a vest from the basket and shook it at Henry. "Who do you think is going to clean this? Miss Dumpty Humpty?"
"He already does most of your work," said Celeste. "Asshole."
"Celeste," said Kaplan. "Enough."
"No." Jerry threw the vest to the floor. "I'm not going anywhere unless you ask Henry. He runs this place but you're all afraid of him. I'm the only one he ever talks to."
A sound like the squealing of brakes filled Henry's head. He knew it wasn't real but held his breath, waiting for the crash.
"Celeste," said Kaplan, "I think
Henry is edging closer and closer to losing it and killing someone. Celeste the hunchback works with him in the cleaners and is in love with him. They're a couple of monsters.
Nice characterization, especially of Henry. The ending is odd, but the story holds together. Interesting.
2013 SFR GALAXY AWARD WINNER
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