The New Flagstaff Orphanage Ammunition Company technically does have actual staff. For tax reasons, however, the orphans didn't count.
Officially, they are on an extended work experience programme for which they earn points which are then turned into cash donations for the orphanage.
In turn, the orphanage buys its supplies from Spivey's Independent Trading Company so everything works out nicely.
The overseers are classed as casual labour and are, in the main, made up from the less thuggish Union guards moonlighting from their main job.
Occasionally, Joe will also employ drinking buddies in this role to make sure that they can afford to stand their round come Friday night.
Other employees on the books are Joe's secretary, Kirsten and his bookkeeper, Anneka. The pest control officer is Mittens, a stray cat that sometimes gets in if the back door is left open.
The only real employee Joe has, therefore, is Taiyoko, Tuki's partner and the father of their infant child, Ichiro.
On the same wage as the other overseers, Taiyoko fills the roles of foreman, overseer, assistant manager and welfare officer. Joe sees him as good value for money, despite his frequent absences.
So then, it was Kidsmas day and Joe was sitting in his office happily humming while reading the latest production figures.
At this rate, the order would be finished by lunchtime and he could go home to see if the caterers had lived up to their advertising.
Just then, the pleasing sound of bullets, and hence money, being made was replaced by the less pleasing sound of raised voices.
This was rapidly followed by the familiar playground chant of 'Fight! Fight! Fight!' Joe swore under his breath as he got up from his desk.
Squabbles amongst the kids were not too uncommon but, fortunately, rarely ended up in bloodshed.
The overseers were always quick to respond and a few well-placed strokes of their canes soon ended whatever it was that had kicked off this time and production could continue.
More serious for the perpetrators than a stinging derriere was the loss of any points they would have earned that day.
In turn, this loss in donation would lead to even further retribution from the orphanage itself. All in all, then, being involved in a fight when you should be working was not a good idea.
Joe was about to fulfil his part in the process by taking the names of the miscreants. He opened the office door and stepped onto the balcony. Below was the typical scene.
Two kids rolling around on the floor intent on causing harm to each other. All the others forming a chanting circle around them.
Finally, the overseer on duty forcing his way through the reluctant ring to break up the fight with his cane. Then the scene became less typical as Joe identified the combatants.
On his back on the floor and trying to protect his face with his arms was Worms from Joe's reading group. That was surprising enough.
Worms was a strange little kid, happy in his own company and seemingly immune to germs. Which was good news, considering some of the things the boy often had in his pockets.
More surprising, though, was the dervish of flailing arms and hair sitting astride him and seemingly determined to pound the life out him.
For a moment Joe was left dumbfounded and could only watch as the overseer, an overweight bully of a union guard called Bumble,
reached the centre of the disappointed crowd and hauled the hissing, cursing Finny off her erstwhile friend and reading companion.
But it was only when Bumble had flung Finny face down over a bench and was raising his cane that Joe snapped himself out of his shocked paralysis.
"Fucking. Hold. EVERYTHING!"
The scene below froze instantly. The crowd backing away from the overseer's line of vision, sheepishly no longer willing to be associated with the proceedings.
Worms, lifting himself onto his elbows and looking both scared and astonished in equal parts.
The overseer, Bumble, cane still held high, his expression of frustrated annoyance at the intervention.
And finally Finny, red-faced with anger and squirming not so much to escape the overseer as to once again get at Worms. All these faces looked up towards the balcony.
Joe put both hands on the balcony rail and leaned forward.
"You lot, back to work! Bumble," Joe was talking to the overseer but his stare was focussed firmly on Finny. "Bring those two to my office.
" Finny seemed to deflate as her anger withered under Joe's gaze. Joe turned and disappeared back into his office.
The door closed behind Bumble and Joe was left looking at the tops of two bowed heads.
"What happened?" Finny's shoulders rose and fell in a shrug and a second later Worms followed suit. Joe sighed. "You know, this is going to go a lot better if I can see your faces."
This time it was Worms who responded first and looked up. He glanced sideways at Finny and a couple of seconds later Finny, too, lifted her head. Joe looked from one to the other.
"Good. Now, perhaps you'd like to explain what all that was about down there." The two kids looked at each other but neither spoke. Joe understood. You didn't tattle.
But it was Kidsmas and he didn't have time for this. "Fine then. I'll let Bumble whip your backsides and then you can get back to work. Get out."
Finny started to turn to leave, which is when Worms cracked.
"I din't do nothing! She just started hitting me! 'Snot fair!"
Finny groaned. She turned back to see Joe looking at her, eyebrows raised expectantly.
Finny folded her arms.
"Did you attack Worms?"
"I'll take that as a yes. Why did you attack Worms?"
Another shrug of the shoulders.
Joe was used to this. In fact, it was par for the course when half your workforce was under hadn't even reached their teens.
It was just a matter of deciphering the shrugs and wordless utterances.
"There must have been a reason. Did he take something of yours?"
This time Finny gave Worms a long sideways glance. Then she shrugged again."
Joe got it. He stood up and opened the door.
"Worms. Bugger off. Tell Bumble I said you can have an extra ten minutes break."
The seven-year-old gave Finny a last look of mixed resentment and disappointment then turned and left the office. Joe closed the door behind him.
He folded his arms and leaned back against the door.
"Okay. So, what's it all about Finn?"