He let the second bag land on top of the cart and looked around for the next. It was afternoon, the sun was full in the door, and the building was starting to heat up. There wouldn’t be any breaks today, though. Not when the Johnson kid had passed out the day before.
His back cracked as he straightened up, sharp popping sounds that were better suited to pain. All he felt were tiny bursts of relief as his body remembered how to walk upright. They’d been pushing, this morning, trying to make up for lost ground and more. By the end of the day he’d probably be struggling to take a step. They weren’t going to let the pace get to them, though. They couldn’t.
The Johnson kid had been trying to fill in for his father. The boy wasn’t old enough, or strong enough, to be working here, but Johnson was laid up with some fierce illness. There’d been noise that he would lose his job, would have the day before if the kid hadn’t shown up in his stead.
The boy was fiercely determined, but he pushed himself as far as his body could go, and then a bit farther. In the end, it gave out on him. All that effort, and the owners were going to fire Johnson anyway.
They hadn’t been able to stand by and let that happened, not when the kid was being loaded into thee family wagon. Not when Mrs. Johnson was taking her eldest home unconscious, top tend to both him and her sick husband.
It had been a simple bargain: they make p the loss, keep on schedule even being a man short, and Johnsons keeps his place while the management saves the cost of a man’s wages. It wasn’t much, but it was what they’d been able to do.
When you offered all you could give, in the end, it was enough.