Céilí music jigs on outside, but I’m confined to the toilet. It’s barely 6pm and already my intestines feel like rusted chains, grinding against each other like pill-heads at a rave. I glare down at my swollen, disfigured hallux. I pop another, but am getting nothing off these over-the-counter analgesics. Unfortunately they don’t prescribe morphine…
Rodney, the building’s facilities manager and maintenance technician, arrived at 8.50am along with all the other humans. While most hurried through automatic electric doors to their offices or cubicles to check in at their computers, Rodney retrieved his data tablet from the lobby janitorial equipment room and joined the back of the queue for the G-12 coffee machine.
There were five or so people ahead of him. All wore slim-fitting blue, black and brown business suits, except for the man at the front; he wore a jacket, shirt and tie and, below the waist, casual flowery shorts and sandals. The others probably assumed he would be on video calls while sitting at his desk all day, so he wouldn’t need to be seen from the waist down. Rodney wore grey overalls and old runners. He wouldn’t need to be seen at all.
I have neglected to date the enclosed account, for I am no longer certain what year it is.
Although I hate to leave a work unfinished, its completion has been denigrated to a formality by circumstances beyond my control. To any who would doubt, my sanity remains intact, however, augmented by the tenure of betrayal.
I initially took this job as a matter of personal interest for the subject matter was local to me.
I grew up in Philadelphia, not far from the shipyard. Though my family was not of the class to be employed on the docks, I was aware of its existence, and am certain it has always been there, for I have also seen it on maps, and such things are incredibly difficult and impractical to fake when the area is publicly accessible and documented so thoroughly by convergent historical accounts.
It was the first naval shipyard in the United States and remained, throughout the 1800’s, one of the largest of its kind in the world. The site of construction for many of the navy’s greatest military vessels, it produced over its lifetime dozens of battleships, aircraft-carriers, destroyers and destroyer-escorts. The focus of my investigation was one ship in particular: the USS Elderidge.