The Coldhouse Prank

Position and Context

This appears in the section The President. Weer tells this story to Dan French, after Dan has told a reporter the version of the story that was sanitized for the public.

The Story

On a Friday some workers at the plant, as a prank, lock a boy in the coldhouse that is used for storing frozen juice. After he is locked in, he starts piling juice crates into towers and and then knocking them over in an attempt to break down the door. While this is not successful, it does jam the lock. The worker who was left behind to let him out gets scared and leaves, not knowing what is making all the noise and thinking that the door will soon break down. It doesn't. The boy who was locked lives in a rooming house, and has no family around to notice that he is missing. He is discovered the following Monday, after he has frozen to death. The boy's ghost still haunts the coldhouse; you can sometimes hear him in the distance knocking down the towers of crates.


Weer may have been the worker who was scared and left the boy locked in. This could be the reason that he was never promoted beyond engineer, and was paid very poorly—elsewhere in the book it says that middle management detested practical jokes, and that Weer was "a poor man at forty and a very rich one at fifty".


Unresolved Question

Is the boy who was killed somebody who is mentioned elsewhere in the book?

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