- Unwanted Dog-32by Brett Matthew West
This work has reached the exceptional level
From Viet Nam War Protests To Mill Work
Novella - Unwanted Dog
: Unwanted Dog-32 by Brett Matthew West
Artwork by lynnkah at

Within the context of Coordinated Universal Time, 1972 was the longest year on record because two leap seconds were added to the 366-day calendar. This event has never been duplicated.

Sandwiched between the April 22nd mass anti-Viet Nam War demonstrations sponsored by the National Peace Action Coalition, the People's Coalition for Peace and Justice, and other organizations that attracted about 100,000 demonstrators in New York City, 12,000 in Los Angeles, another 25,000 in San Fransisco, and the October 14th Peace March to End the Viet Nam War, a "silent-march" demonstration from the San Fransisco City Hall to the Golden Gate Bridge, that drew some 2,000 attendees, Dusty took a temporary job at the Griffin Hill Mill.

The reason he gave me was because he had a growing extra mouth to nourish, and his work as a lighting and sound engineer did not afford him what he felt was sufficient enough cash to comfortably care for his added expenditure. Therefore, for the interim he would labor for two employers.

Unfortunately, the position Dusty accepted was the worst in the mill.

While I listened to what he told me, Dusty explained, "Wherever there is a problem or trouble is where I am sent. That is the role of the utility worker."

A short time later, he was transferred to the recovery area of the plant. Although a step up the rung on the ladder, I was not real happy about this move either. All I could see was something go tragically wrong, and Dusty get injured.

He told me, "Part of my job is to work with caustic chemicals."

"What's that mean?"

"They're dangerous chemicals that can burn your eyes, your skin, your nose, your mouth, and your lungs if you aren't careful how you use them. They dissolve wood chips."

"I don't like you being around them!"

Noticing my worry, Dusty quickly assured me, "I'm cautious when I handle them. I've already told you the chips go in silos."

"Like the one we put corn in out beside the barn."

"After the wood chips go in the silos, I put the chemicals in and steam them, which mushes them."

"I found the shirt you threw away when you came home the other night."

"I had to trash that shirt. I got some chemicals on it and they burned holes in the front of it. But, I did not get hurt."

"What about that smelled stuff?"

Dusty corrected me, "You mean the smelt."

"Yea, that stuff."

"I pour smelt into big empty drums full of liquid hotter than it is. I also have to keep them from getting clogged up. Because, if you get that stuff on your skin the lime, sodium hydroxide, and sodium sulfide will burn you. I realize these are big terms for you to understand, however, if you want to know what these products are, I'll be glad to explain them to you."

I knew Dusty worked as hard as he could to reach his goals. It would have been wrong of me to fault him for doing so. Though I did not like him working at the mill, and constantly worried about him getting hurt, the lesson Dusty taught me by working there was a parent makes whatever sacrifices are required to ensure the needs of their offspring are met. Mine were.

Ten months later, I was well pleased when Dusty told me his temporary job at the mill ended. Fewer monsters invaded my nighttime slumber. I much preferred Dusty's other gig, the one where he worked the sound equipment, speakers, sound board, microphones, and lighting. Sometimes, I even helped him pack as many as 5,000 record albums in the belly of some performer's tour bus.


Author Notes
Strange Planet, by lynnkah, selected to complement this chapter of my autobiography.


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