Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Working Man IV

I had it all planned out. I would get canned and go on unemployment and write all summer. Maybe Forever. I just went in to the meetings and to get my check. My suit began to get dust on the shoulders. Then they hired Bob.
I believe in you.
Yes. I think you have potential. I am putting you on a Performance Improvement Program.
Bob looked like Herman Munster. Or maybe Fred Flintstone. He had a big dumb smile that I knew would get him canned one day in corporate world. Nobody survives in Corporate American who smiles like Yogi Bear.
I don't think I would do that Bob.
Why not? I'm not going to just fire you.
My plan had been foiled. So I kept going into meetings, to get my check, and to talk to Bob about my performance improvement program. The dust blew off my suit. After three months Bob pulled me into his office.
I don't see any new sales.
I don't have them Bob.
I still believe in you.
Are you sure?
This went on for another three months. The writing was going pretty well but the meetings were murder. Bobs boss wanted him to can me. Bob saw me as a cause.
Not going to do it he said.
The next week I went into get my check. Bobs office was empty. I found out they had canned him after production failed to improve. When I got home the phone rang. It was Lou Tazzles the Vice President who had canned Bob.
Your terminated he said.
Thank you I said.



Monday, July 28, 2014

Working Man III

Alright. The most important thing is to go to all the Detex Stations. You don't go to all the stations then I'm going to know it and I'll fire your ass.
Another thing. A lot of guys think they can get away without going to the Detex station behind the clock. I always check that one.
Frank was a fat guy who didn't look like he could climb any stairs  but in his Security uniform he looked very official.
Alright. Good luck.
I was back in the Wrigley building. I waited until midnight and started my rounds. I had a key I inserted into each little Detex box. This made sure I didn't just sit at the security desk and read all night which I did anyway. I went up all the way to the top in the elevator then got out and went to a door that said. NO TRESPASSING. I opened it and started to climb.
The Wrigley Clock looks down on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. It is very impressive and lit up at night. I walked up behind the clock on a long circular stairwell that was pretty narrow. Below me was a long drop to a cement death.
 I kept climbing and was breathing hard when I reached the Detex Station behind the clock. I could hear a buzzing and I could see out a hole the giant clock hands. I put the key in and set the Detex then paused. This was the Wrigley Clock Tower.
I went back down. Frank checked in with me every week. I never went back up to the clock tower again after the guys laughed their ass off when I told them I went all the way up to the Detex. Frank died of a heart attack in the spring.


Working Man II

Angelo hurts his balls by picking up the shipping crates in the shipping office. That's why they hired me. Nobody spoke English at the bakery.
How come you have all them fucking books?
I'm a writer.
What kind of a job is that Jack? That aint no job.
The bread orders came in all night long and I answered the phone. The Italians came in and argued with flour all over their arms and cheeks. They screamed and cursed then went back to work. About two AM the bread orders died and I could start  reading. I started with Fitzgerald, then Hemingway, then Kerouac. The bread fell off the conveyors all night with a steady plop.
About the third week a big Polish guy came in and started yelling at another Polish guy.
You are a stinking drunk. What kind of man would do what you do?
The other Polish guy had his head down and Big John kept on him
You are a disgrace to the family. You are going to lose your job.
The drunk Polish guy kept his head down on the shipping desk. The Italians came in and shook their heads and swore.
Big John lowered the boom
Go home. I'm done with you .
The drunk Polish guy staggered out and I never saw him again.
Angelo's balls healed up and they canned me just before Christmas.



Working Man

All you gotta do is sit here and keep the log.
Got it.
Just don't fall asleep.
I wont
Jack sat behind the security desk in the Wrigley Building in Chicago. Nothing happened all night long. His boss Rico came back and stared at his log in the morning.
You didn't write nothing.
Nothing happened.
Listen...you gotta write something. Shit I don't care what you write. But use Military time.
Military time?
Yeah. You know 0100 0200 hours. That gives my boss a real hard on. Thinks we are working then.
Oh ok.
The next night Jack sat all night at the security desk. At 01100 hours he saw a bug crossing the lobby and noted it in his log. At 01200 hours Jack smashed the bug with his shoe. He noted that in the log. In the morning Rico came back and looked at the log.
Say...this is real good. You're pretty good at security.
Jack had the job for six months and read fifty some novels. It was the best job he ever had.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Archiving Your Life

Went down to the University the other day and dropped off ten computers and my son for a weekend at college. I got to stay in a dorm room and the Archives of the University added ten old computers to my earlier manuscripts. The Archivist looked at the coffee stained behemoths and shook his head. "What kind of operating system are these?" I told him they were Windows...maybe the first one.

And then I shipped off the son and walked around the University. Ok. Seven novels later and I am back where I started. So this is what I did after I graduated. I wrote novels that ended up back at the University in ancient computers. And what does it mean that there is up in the library a room with all my manuscripts and ten old computers that in theory will give up my efforts from the last fifteen years. And will give some scholar a glimpse of my life. I don't know.

I go to the English building and it is locked. Of course. Summer. Duh. I stare in the window and look for the guy who sat in those classes. So I just walk around campus aimlessly like that Undergraduate did so many years before. That night I go get a drink then come back to my dorm room. Laying in the bunk bed I can see the campus from my window and the library. In the other part of the dorm my son sleeps.

Everything is truly a circle.

The Pitcher

Friday, July 11, 2014

Girl Scout Camp

The track wound out of the trees around the bend in the morning sun. Bob saw the girl scout camp then. There were girls in blue shirts in groups around flags. He walked up to a woman who seemed to be running the camp with a bandanna in her hair.
I'm looking for my daughter.
The woman had brown hair and glasses.
What is her name?
Julie Riden
The woman frowned and looked around.
That doesn't ring a bell. She called to two other women who checked a clipboard. They had not heard of her. Bob shook his head.
I know she is here. She always went to girl scout camp in the summer.
The women started talking on their phones. They looked panicked. Bob waited.
Are you sure it is this girl scout camp?
Bob stared down the railroad tracks.
Maybe it is another one.
We could call around for you.
No. Bob shook his head.
I'll just keep on walking.
The three women watched him walk down the railroad track that ran along the river.
I saw him come out of the trees this morning and almost called the sherriff, the assistant camp counselor said. He didn't look right to me.
The woman with the bandanna pulled up her phone and Googled Julie Riden.
They kept their eyes on the man growing smaller. The woman with the glasses gasped.
Julie Riden died in a car crash last year! She stared at her phone. She was survived by her father...Bob Riden.
Oh my God.
You mean he is looking....
The three women  looked down the sun lit tracks passing into the trees.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014


C'mon. I got something to show you.
They walked across the white gravel in their bare feet. They walked with their toes grabbing the rocks. It was almost twilight.
Nobody is home Jimmy said.
They walked into the darkened house and Tim followed Jimmy all the way though the house. They walked into a den and Jimmy looked back.
It's in here.
How long has your dad been dead.
About a year Jimmy answered.
The Virginia night was outside the windows now but they could still see. Jimmy opened another door and they walked into a den. There was a large desk. Jimmy turned on a lamp.
Its up there.
Tim stared up at the white ceiling.
I don't see anything.
Up there in the corner...Jimmy said pointing. You see it?
Tim squinted and saw a small dark hole towards the corner
That's where the bullet went.
You mean...
Jimmy nodded.
Yeah...when my dad shot himself in the head.
They left then and walked back across the sharp gravel.
It hurt like hell.