The IAA Department of Safety

16488758929_1383f8e5ea_oLloyd swept his hand over the limp corner of the poster, pressing the paste to the barn wall. He took a step back, lit the pipe dangling from his mouth and shook out the match.

Raymond clicked his tongue. “Death sure does look happy ’bout all them dead farmers.”

“Year after year, plenty to be happy about,” said Lloyd.

“They tell you why we gotta hang these?” said Raymond.

Lloyd still had paste on his hands. He rubbed his palms up and down his red flannel shirt.

“Now your hands and your shirt are sticky. You want some thinner? Break that up in a jiffy,” said Raymond. “I can ask Joe where he keeps it. He’s up in the fields today, I think.”

“Still got what? Fifteen, sixteen properties to visit?” said Lloyd. “Not much point now. Paste will come again.”

Raymond nodded. He hefted the roll of posters under his arm and picked up the glue pail. “You didn’t answer me,” he said. “Why we hangin’ these anyways?”

“You don’t pay attention in the meetings, Ray.”

“Here and there. But Helemund Barker drones on so. Meetin’ room is all warm and cozy.”

Lloyd pulled from his pipe. Smoke fumed from his nose and mouth as he spoke. “It’s a workplace warning is all. Gets their attention with those numbers. What we do can be dangerous.”

“True enough,” said Ray. “So the left wheel…”

“Left wheel is forty-five. Right wheel is forty-nine. Change over five years.”

“Huh,” said Raymond. “Lot more killed from Falling Objects. More shelves up high and more things on shelves up high. Wonder how many?”

“Seven percent more.”

“Not nearly as many trampled, so that’s good,” said Raymond. “Ten percent less? Lloyd, ten percent of what?”

“Hmm?”

“How many we talkin’ here?”

“Cheese and crackers, Ray. Numbers are right up there.”

“They are, but they ain’t, if you catch my meaning,” said Raymond. “Who drew these up?”

“Desmond.”

Raymond smiled. “Another napper. Sits right behind me. He forgot the big numbers, the All Told’s. You can’t have a quarter of somethin’ without knowing the something itself.”

“Damned if you ain’t right,” said Lloyd. He beat the cherry from his pipe and ground the cinders into the dirt. “Damn, damn, damn.”

“Yep,” said Raymond.

Lloyd tore at the poster one shred at a time. Bits of paper and paste still stuck to the wall in a big, ugly rectangle.

“Want me to find Joe now? Get that thinner?”

“Yeah,” said Lloyd. He spit. “How many of these did we put up today already?”

Raymond counted on his fingers. “Eleven. Including this one.” He grinned. “I’d say about forty-one percent of all of ’em so far.”

“Cute, Raymond. Real cute. Now go ask Joe about the thinner. Looks like we’re gonna need a whole damned can.”

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