“So,” James continued. “When do you need to start this time off?”

“Well,” Wilson found it even more difficult to continue. The man had gone from not knowing him to a fountain of praise for his work ethic and now he was going to ruin it. “I’m afraid I need the time right away. Something has come up that requires my immediate attention.” The perfect worker in the back of Wilson’s head argued with him that technically the Read it and Weep could wait, he could give the gigantic man behind the desk a few days at least to find people to cover his shift, but his heart said that he needed this to happen as soon as possible. If he waited and went back on his route he was afraid he would lose his resolve and the shop would remain closed until it was foreclosed on, and he would continue to be the perfect sanitation worker until his inevitable and lonely death.

James looked less pleased at this news, his night had just gotten longer if he allowed it. “I see”, he said, slowly. “And how long will you need?”

Wilson hesitated here again. How long would he need? On his walk over to the office he had just had the vague idea that he would try the shop out for a while. But a while is hardly the type of hard number that managers like to hear. “I’m really not sure” he conceded, “a few weeks at the very least, a month, maybe two?”

“That’s an awfully long vacation, Wilson.” James muttered. “Look, under normal circumstances it would be impossible, just couldn’t be done. But considering what I’m seeing in this file, it looks like we owe you quite a bit of time. You’ve been working yourself way too hard. How would you feel about a solid three months?”

“Excellent, I can hire a temp for a three month stint to cover your shift. Regulations and all. There are so many refugees in the city that I could probably temp it out by day if they’d let me, but this will have to do. I don’t have the budget to pay you your full salary for that long of a leave though, not if I’m paying the temp too, I’ll have to cut it down to seventy five percent after the first month. Not ideal, but it’s the best I can do. Does that sound workable?”

Wilson thought for a moment. He was barely getting by, and he didn’t know what extra expenses he was going to be incurring with the book shop yet, but at the same time he realized that he would be getting additional income from the shop, and that it was supposedly enough to cover expenses. Maybe he would be fine? There was only one way to find out for sure.

“That sounds like a plan, Mr. Hersh. Thank you.”

“No, thank you, Mr. Pool.” Hersh beamed. “Keep up the good work. I hope to see you again in three months.”


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