A Rebellious Giant is…Nice?
“You are in so much trouble,” Botag said in a sing-song voice as I passed her at the frying station.
“Called to the bosses office. So busted,” Fokus said as he pounded out meat patties.
“Maybe the boss is going to tell us what a good job we’ve been doing,” I said.
My entire crew let out a scoff.
“When was the last time any of us got a compliment?”
I path the air with my massive hands. “Come on, guys, you are doing a great job.”
I chuckled as I emerged from the smoke-ridden kitchen and into the hallway in the back. I figured I shouldn’t go and see the boss with my greasy apron on, so I dropped it by my locker, smoothed my red shirt and walked to the bosses door.
Black letters on a shiny plaque read, “Manager.” I raised my knuckles and gently knocked.
A voice shot through the door. “My grandmother knocks louder than that!”
That meant enter, so I turned the knob and went inside.
Like all things giant, the space held only the essentials—one chair for the manager and one chair for the employee—both could be jammed under the doorknob to keep invaders out, one desk with a metal top that could deflect crossbow bolts, magic spells and grease fires, a set sharpened weapons along the wall behind the desk, a barred window and a filing cabinet in the corner that probably held extra arrows, rope and a sharpener.
My boss, Kutius, glared at me from under his bushy, red eyebrows. He’d trimmed his beard to accentuate the frown. “Sit!” His voice boomed like a war drum.
Kutius continued to glower. That’s what giants did. There were levels of glowering and glaring that you learned from infancy. The look my boss was giving me said something akin to, “I will disembowel you.”
This caused the glower to turn into a glare.
“What can I do for you, boss?” I asked.
Smiling at a giant was bad for your health. Some considered it a direct threat—like animals bearing their teeth—while others took it as an insult. If you could smile in their presence they weren’t mean enough.
Kutius made fists with his meaty hands, took a deep breath and then straightened in his chair.
That’s right. My father was the king, and I had a head on my boss. If it came down to a fight, I would win. Not to mention harming me would bring the king’s wrath.
Let’s not forget that my father thinks I’m crazy, but whatever. His problem.
After a dizzying array of frowns and grinding teeth, Kutius grunted. “Your shift has been the most productive this month.”
“That’s great!” Another smile. I pretended that I’d realized I’d done something wrong, and forced my lips down. “I mean, that’s great for business.”
My boss nodded.
I knew this, of course, and I was interested in what Kutius would do about it.
“Good for business, but your workers are…” he eyed me. “Happy.”
“Happy?” I asked with a stupid, confused expression on my face.
My boss leveraged his massive bulk out of his chair. “Yes. I caught two of them talking and smiling yesterday.”
“Did it slow down production?” I asked.
“No.” He came around to stare down at me. A classic giant intimidation trick. Didn’t this guy remember that I grew up with six older brothers, three sisters and the king? Not to mention my mother. “But it concerns me.”
“Good numbers concern you?” I probably shouldn’t have said that.
Kutius’ eyes narrowed, and he came to stand in front of me. He put his hands on the armrests of my chair and leaned down until we were eye to eye. “What have you done to them?”
I blinked. “Done to them?”
“Giants don’t go around smiling. They don’t talk to one another for fun.”
“Huh. I’ve never noticed.”
My boss’ hands tightened on the armrests, and the wood groaned under the stress. “Did you use a spell on them?” His breath smelled like one of our burgers with extra garlic.
“Magic? Me? Of course not. You’ve seen what happens when our family uses magic.”
I had him there. He continued to stare into my eyes hoping to catch me in a lie, but the part about magic was all too real. Let’s just say my brothers and I destroyed a whole wing of the palace with a single fairy spell that was only supposed to give our sisters warts.
“You’re doing something to them.”
I let a grin play on my lips. “Perhaps they like being complimented and told they’re doing a good job.”
“Giants don’t need words of affirmation.”
“How can you be so sure?” I asked.
His voice turned into a growl. “It’s not our way.”
“It seems to be working.”
More glowering. More arm rest groaning. More teeth grinding.
I raised my eyebrows. “If that’s all, the lunch rush is coming. I should get back.”
Kutius leaned closer. “I’ll figure out what you’re doing.”
“Just trying to make you some money.”
Now he really looked like he wanted to punch me, but he stood up and pointed at the door. “Go.”
I did. I even gave him a little wave as I left. My apron was still in my locker. As I pulled it out I caught a silver glimmer tucked in my jacket pocket. I pushed the unicorn horn back in.
No, I wasn’t using a magic spell, but it was amazing what just a few specs of unicorn horn dust would do for a giant’s mood.
“Are you fired?” Fokus asked when I got back to the kitchen.
“Naw.” I shrugged. “The boss just wanted to thank us for doing such a good job.”
My crew snorted, but I caught them exchanging excited glances.