Beauty is Only Skin Deep

Prompt Day #81 Imagine that a factory line worker has fallen into a large processing machine of some kind. Describe the carnage from a co-worker’s viewpoint.

This one comes a day late. I suspected this might happen once or twice as my job occasionally keeps me busy for 24 hours straight. Babies don’t care about anyone else’s schedule or plans. They come when they want and take as long as they like getting here. I spent yesterday bringing two beautiful babies into the world and that isn’t too bad for a “day job”. So, if I had to miss out on writing my prompt for the day it was for good reason. I slept late this morning and then ran my errands. So I am quite late getting to yesterday’s and today’s stories. Hope you enjoy this one. I’m off to the crematorium for today’s prompt.


Beauty is Only Skin Deep


I’m going to jail soon. I’m sure the pieces will fall together eventually, maybe my fiancé—I mean my EX-fiancé—will go to the police. You know what though, I don’t think I would take any of it back. She was a disrespectful whore. I just wish I had thought to tell her that before, but it’s done now.

Exactly one week ago, my fiancé Ethan and I went out to dinner for his birthday at this great little Thai food place. Ethan ordered his a little too spicy and it hit him about halfway through. He got up quickly and took off for the bathroom. I laughed at him. It would be fun to pick on him for getting older and I sat there coming up with all sorts of jabs I could make. His phone beeped and I glanced down at it, seeing an unfamiliar woman’s pic light up on the screen. Underneath it said “New video message from Miranda”. Admittedly, I had no business opening the message but I think every woman out there in my shoes would have done the same. When I opened it, the video started playing and my stomach dropped to the floor. I literally could not breathe as I watched a very curvy blond do a strip tease while singing Marilyn Monroe’s breathy version of Happy Birthday. At the end of the video she blew a kiss at the screen and said “see you later, Lover.”

Of course I went through his phone after that and found multiple pics, videos and texts from Miranda to my soon-to-be-husband. I was livid. I didn’t want to make a scene in the restaurant though and honestly, I did not want to cry when I did confront him. I marked the video message as unread and put the phone back down. I would fake it through the rest of the night and plan my attack later. I needed to come to terms and know exactly what I was going to do about it. When Ethan got back to the table, red faced and sweaty, I feigned illness too and asked him to take me home.  I pretended I was still sick the following day too and I was—heartsick.

I trudged to work the following Monday ignoring everyone and took my place on the line. I work at a potato chip factory. It is the largest employer in our county and half of the people I graduated with work there with me. I’ve worked my way up to shift manager and am the go-to person anytime real management needs anything done right. I wasn’t at work for even an hour when Randy, my immediate boss called me up to his office.

“There’s a local journalist coming today, wants to do a piece on the factory and how it employs so many residents, blah, blah, blah. You know, same old shit.” I nodded waiting to find out what exactly this had to do with me. “She wants a tour of the plant, can you show her around? I got too much going on to humor some dumb ass reporter.”

“And I don’t?” I asked with more attitude than Randy deserved. This was not really a big deal, I just wasn’t in the mood for it either.

“I see” he said staring me down.

“Sorry, Randy, yeah, I’ll take her on the tour. No big deal. I just had a bad weekend and it followed me to work today. I’ll put on a big fake smile and show her how happy we all are here.” I said, resigned.

“Thanks, Hinkley” he said, calling me by my last name as he always did “I appreciate it. You’re a good egg. You’ll make upper management before you know it.” I turned around so he wouldn’t see me roll my eyes and opened the door. I turned around “give me a holler when she gets here.” And went back to the line.

The reporter arrived at ten, and I was paged to meet her. I walked into the lobby area. She was looking at old black and white photos from the building of the factory. I cleared my throat to get her attention realizing that stupid Randy had neglected to give me her name. She turned around to me. It was her. The girl from the video. I worked hard to maintain a poker face.

“Hello” she said smiling and holding out her hand “I’m Miranda Lockley, reporter for The Daily Review.” I had no choice. I shook her hand and decided in that split second to make up a name, just in case Ethan had told her anything about me. She obviously didn’t recognize me, so he hadn’t shown her any pictures.

“Tammy Dixon.” I said “My boss asked me to give you a tour. Is there anything in particular you wanted to see?”

“Nothing in particular” she said still looking around “maybe if you could give me the potato’s eye view of the place” she said and laughed at her own joke. “You know, pretend I’m a potato and walk me through from start to chip.” She smiled again—oh so clever—sexy and funny, no wonder Ethan was smitten.

“Sure, that would make sense” I said numbly “follow me” I took her to the loading docks where the potatoes come in. She followed me, asking basic questions about the plant, when it opened, how long I have worked here, did anyone in my family work here before me, etc. I answered her as politely as I could but what I really wanted to do was turn around and back hand her a few times; mess up all that pretty lipstick. We walked along the conveyer where the potatoes are shaken to loosen up any dirt and then sprayed with high-powered water jets to give them an initial cleanse. She stopped and watched, taking notes. I watched her, imagining Ethan kissing her, touching her, maybe even fucking her. I couldn’t control my anger anymore.

“Miranda” I said. The taste of her name in my mouth was like bile. “If you’ll follow me, I’ll show you the most exciting machine in the plant.”

“Ooh, you have an exciting machine here?” she said with just enough sarcasm to prove to me she was indeed the evil bitch I thought she was. Good, because of a sudden, I had an evil bitch idea of my own. I walked her up the ramp to the cat walk above the peeling machine where we could watch the potatoes be dropped. Only I knew that the potatoes would not be dropped for another hour at least because they were currently undergoing a steaming hot shower.

“So what’s this medieval torture device?” she asked in her snotty voice. She leaned over the railing to look down into it.

“Well, as you will see shortly” I began through clenched teeth “the potatoes are dropped from up there into this machine. These faucets up here around the rim spray hot water down on them and those rollers that you refer to as torture devices roll around and the potatoes are bounced about while their peels are rubbed off by all those spikes and knobs.”

“Now that is exciting” She said “When will the potatoes be dropped, so I can see it in action?”

I thought for a moment before answering. It was my last chance to change my mind. She whipped her head around to me, her perfectly coifed hair flowing around her head like a cape. She raised her eyebrow. And my decision was made.

“Any second now” I lied. She turned back around and leaned over the railing. I walked up behind her and shoved. The machine had a weight sensor so when her body hit the rollers, it turned on. The scalding hot water soaked her as the rollers began to turn. She screamed first in anger.

“Hey! Get me out of here” and then as the rollers picked up speed “Oh my God, help me, please!” I looked down at her and smiled.

“Isn’t it exciting now?” I yelled. “Your clothes will be ripped off in seconds!” I took out my cell phone and set it on video record mode. I focused in on her body bouncing off the spikes. Her clothes bloomed red with blood and then were gone. Her screams were now barely audible over the rumbling of the machine and the thuds of her body as it broke over and over on the stainless steel. After her clothes were gone and her some of her skin, her screams stopped. Now she looked like an anatomy school mannequin for the study of the muscles because that was all you could see. Her hair had caught in all the moving parts and she’d been scalped. She wore a perpetual look of surprise as her lids had been torn off her eyes.  I tried to zoom in on her face but she was tumbling too fast now. Some of her fingers and toes had gotten pulled down in between the rollers and the appendages they attached to were twisted over and over until she’d essentially been drawn and quartered.

I decided that was enough for Ethan. I turned the video on myself.

“She’s pretty, Ethan. I know you like receiving her videos. I thought I’d take one of her for you. Hope you like it.” I stopped the recording and hit the send button. Then I calmly walked over to the emergency off button and hit it. Beside that was an alarm which I set off next. I ran for help.

I let all my emotions come to the surface as emergency personal carted her pieces away in a body bag. Sobbing for the loss of my cheating fiancé, I told them how I was giving a tour and she’d asked to stop a moment so she could make an important and private call. I of course agreed. It was her tour after all. She walked away from me, back the way we came. It wasn’t long after that that I heard the machine start on, but I arrived too late. It was very sad.

I was given the rest of the week off work. The plant was shut down anyways so the machine could undergo a thorough cleaning. I haven’t heard back from Ethan. I suspect I won’t. I’ll never know why it happened or for how long. The only thing I know for sure is that beauty is truly only skin deep.