Issue One


A Day in the Life
of Molar Dent

There’s a blinding flash of light and a glass of cold water thrown in my face. It’s morning. Time to get ready to work. The night’s rest has been poor, thirty of us crammed in this cell, well twenty nine and a half, that decaying old wreck at the back won’t last much longer. Last in first out is my motto, there wasn’t room for him when he came. He won’t be missed. We’re packed so tight in here that if your neighbour breathes in you have to breathe out.

He’s up now, and I can feel the blood rushing back into my roots. Outside we can hear him fumbling around for his lighter. Then another flash of light and the chamber filling with smoke, a single ray of light illuminating the greasy yellow cloud that envelops us. There’ll be plenty more of that in store for the day ahead.

It won’t be long before work begins. A late night chewing on cheap steak and stale fries and most of the guys are exhausted. A neighbour of mine, more filling than tooth, is praying for cereal soaked in milk. It’s not what he gets, but it’s the next best thing, porridge with stewed fruit. Doesn’t sound like hard work, I know, but don’t be too sure. Rule #1, never relax at meal times and I mean never. Whatever comes through that gate: gazpacho soup, apple compote, potato purée, however soft it looks, you stay sharp. Some lead shot in a pheasant breast, a cufflink dropped in the mash and your number could be up. Sure enough the zub to my right cops it. There’s a stone left in one of the prunes, hard as granite it is. I felt the impact from here. He’ll be whining for the rest of the day now. God help the poor bastard if there’s crab on the menu later.

No sooner is the first shift done when the usual wave of coffee hits us, bitter, cheap, and scalding hot. A few of the sensitive guys start whingeing. Not me. I learnt my lesson long ago. Rule #2: Shut it. Get on with it. Start complaining and before you know it some medic’s drilled your brains out and filled them with tin. Which brings me to Rule #3: Keep away from the sickbay at all costs. If they tell you it’s for your own good, don’t believe them. I’ve seen a full size molar, young fellow, strong and white as a polar bear, ripped out with a pair of pliers and thrown into the trash. More space for the rest of us, some might say, sure, but more work for the rest of us too.

A few of the guys are complaining there was no scrub down last night. Personally I can do without it. Having a filthy brush shoved in my face when it’s just been used to clean the greasy back of my neighbour, is not my idea of hygiene. The moaning stops and for a while things are quiet. He’s on the tube now. No one talks, we just sit here, day dreaming in the darkness. What the other zubs are dreaming of I can’t imagine.

Don’t get me wrong, a tooth can survive in here, but it’s not much of a life. No sick leave, no holidays, no time off. Rule # 4. You work or you’re out. End of story. After thirty years you’d think the gaffer would go easy on us, but not a bit of it. Since his promotion we’re working longer hours than ever. Steak twice a week, roast beef on Sundays, not to mention the cakes, the biscuits, the salted caramels, the biltong strips, the wasabi peas, He’s a greedy bastard and he knows it. Where does he get it?

Once in a while the boss has one of his rare bouts of guilt and shoves an apple in here. God the noise then is unbearable. To be honest the noise during most shifts is pretty unbearable. It’s like the inside of some steam engine, wet and hot as a bath house, up to your crowns in grease and filth, you work on oblivious, hoping the guy above you will do his fair share of the work.

Chew it over. He’s arrived at the office. We should get abit of peace and quiet now before the sandwich round. But hello what’s this? A photographer? Here to take his picture? We won’t be in it, you can bet on that. Smile he says. No chance of that mate. You’ll not get a smile out of him. He’s too ashamed of the squalid little sweat shop he runs in here to let anyone see it. Keep us in the dark, that’s the manager’s way. It’s no good frettingover it. We didn’t see the sun rise and we won’t see it set. No, our job is to chew not smile, however much he bites off. Take my advice, work your time, and, if we’re still around when the gaffer goes to his grave, we’ll count ourselves lucky.
Words; Mark crick
Artwork: Bert Gilbert