Henry clocked in a couple of minutes before nine, as usual, and right away it was obvious that something was off. There was usually collegial ribbing or general banter, especially on Fridays. There were usually at least a dozen men preparing to man their positions on the factory floors. This morning it was so quiet Henry thought he might have accidentally reported to work on a holiday. There were just a few people getting dressed, and when Henry spotted Marty at his locker, he approached him.

“What’s going on this morning? Somebody die?”

Marty, Henry now realized, had his locker open and a cardboard box at his feet. In the box were his steel-toed boots and some other clothing.

“Just got laid the fuck off,” Marty gruffed, shoveling the few remaining items into the box.

“What?” Henry recoiled. “What do you mean, laid off?”

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