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A Tantrum
By Tayvis Dunnahoe

“Goddamn it!”

Clang! Bang! Bling!

Nip, as he was known in the trade, had lost his shit again. His hardhat spun at his feet while he rubbed his head with one hand and beat his hammer against a scaffold rod with the other.

A young helper walked by to check on him.

“You a’right Nip?”

“This G-D, blankety blank, son-of-a-bitchin’ scaffold rod just damn near knocked me out!”

He was steadily beating on the rod with his hammer as if it were not an inanimate object. The helper tried to stifle his laugh at Nip’s odd tantrum. The funniest part of this exchange was Nip’s replacement words for the profanity he had professed to cut down on. Known for the blue streaks that were apt to fly out of his mouth at the smallest infractions, Nip had resolved to stop cursing after an episode at his credit union nearly got him arrested. Even now, he only did the drive thru and that was just as embarrassing.

“Boy, ol’ Nip sure is an angry sumbitch!”

The helper had gone down the line to check on the next pair of carpenters.

“Yeah, Nip is quite a character,” the older carpenter said.

“Hell, I saw him go to town on a water jug one time just ‘cause it’d gone dry.” The old man smiled.

Pushing Nip’s buttons was a well-known pastime among the carpenters in Local 49. He was a notorious rage-aholic. Not violent, just erratic. He could fly off the handle at pretty much anything and often did.

The helper wanted to get in on the action and walked back down to rib Nip some more.

“You pissed at that pipe aint’ya?”

“This goddamned scaffold gonna pay if it’s the last thing I do!”

Nip wandered off to find a sledgehammer.

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