Ian Wilkinson leaned on the chain link fence, waiting to start the day’s work. His head had a shock of grey hair, bordering on white. With ocean blue eyes on his broad unshaven face, he looked his fifty five years. At the same time, he had a wide, athletic frame few men in their prime could rival, thus earning him the name, “Silverback.”
Out of boredom, he read the sign on the fence again, Decklin constructions, new medical units to open on 4th of April, 2716.
Earth moving machinery parked inside the site had cleared away the old factory units and graded the concrete base away. It left behind a tan layer of soil; ready to lay the foundations. Just before finishing work yesterday, the drill encountered rock mixed with broken concrete. He had worked mines all over the country and knew how to make controlled detonations. Today, he would have to blast away the obstruction to properly lay the foundations.
His attention shifted to the concrete highway, rising as a ribbon above the ground, and leading a route into Canberra. Predawn traffic, dense but flowing, motored into the city. He could relate to the drivers of the older and sometimes battered vehicles. Cities seemed the same to him anywhere in the world. These people represented the true workers. Half of them had bad backs and rough hands from heavy labour. Others worked as cleaners or sanitation. All had one thing in common; they worked the longest hours in the hardest jobs for the least pay.
Another ten minutes or so, the traffic would thin out and disappear as quickly as it came. Two to three hours later, more traffic would flow on the highway. Prestigious cars imported from Europe would run the same route, going to the same city. New cars with drivers wearing suits or women in dresses more suited for a nightclub than the office would sit in air conditioned comfort, enjoying hour long lunches in restaurants. They returned to large houses, wondering where to spend their two day weekends with pay packets anywhere up to four times larger than their labouer counterparts.
Headlights illumined the chain link fence. He wheeled to see Deklin’s car coming to a stop. He always arrived first, partly out of worrying about getting the job completed on time, and also because he had the keys. Ian watched his employer get out of his car. Wearing the thick padded jacket, made Deklin look as if he had an average frame. As the sun warmed the day later, he would strip off the jacket, revealing his gaunt body. At the same time, he’d remove his black beanie, exposing his severely balding scalp. Ian attributed both of these traits to worry alone.
Deklin nodded in greeting as other cars braked; the rest of the work crew. He placed a key in the massive padlock and turned. With a click, the thick chain fell away as a car door opened. Ian dragged aside one of the gates as Peter; a huge young Maori, dragged aside the other. He liked Peter as he had a smile permanently welded to his face, always putting Ian in a better mood.