A Writer is a Writer…
It was a crisp fall afternoon in
Across from the Seven Eleven, in the dusty front office of the Town Tooter, Donna Glotz peeked from behind a set of dirty Venetian blinds, out to the curb, where she had bravely parked her “vintage” grey Chevy Impala that morning, not bothering to drop coins into the designated parking meter. Earlier, she had struggled to move her oversized, over weighted avocado green IBM Selectric typewriter from the its usual spot in the break room to the front window.
“What I have to do to save a buck.” she thought to herself, glancing up at the newspaper offices only wall clock. In three hours, she would be out the front door, behind the wheel heading home, where she would head to her tiny dirty kitchen, grab an icy cold bottle of Meisterbrau from the icebox and, finally, onto the couch, where she could forget her troubles and watch the final hour of Merv!, with co-host, Totie Fields!
And what troubles Donna had! She had recently been rehired as society columnist for the Town Tooter, by her editor, the ancient, chain smoking, foul mouthed, overly perfumed Edna Mueller, on the conditions that she attend and pay for herself, writing classes at the local Duck County Community College, that the above editor was teaching, as well as take orders for any classified ads that may be telephoned in. In addition, she was behind in her rent, the Impala parked outside was on the verge of breaking down, and her soon to be ex-husband, Larry Pinkel was being released from the Duck County Jail the next day.
Staring at the typewriter, Donna pushed a lock of poorly colored stray hair from her face with one hand, dug deeper into a nearby bag of Cheetos with the other and read the beginning of her first column in six months, which was smeared with oily yellow fingerprints.
“Tylertown Tidbits” by Donna Glotz
Readers, it seems like only yesterday that I was behind my typewriter, hammering out page after page of thrilling tidbits of information about our lovely town, entertaining you all with good news and goings on from here and there.
Well, truth be told, it’s been six months, since I wrote about this uninteresting lackluster, hick town and the uninteresting people that take up space here. I wish I could be the first to tell you all that a fleet of bulldozers will be arriving tomorrow, ready to demolish every house, store, bar, beauty barn and newspaper office listed in our zip code, then whisk me back to Columbus, where a high paying job as spokesperson for the Ohio State Lottery was waiting, but I can’t.
That un-granted wish behind me, let me begin my column by boring you with what I did during my six months of unemployment-
Donna was startled by the ringing of the tiny bell
attached to the offices flimsy glass and aluminum front door. Looking up from
her typewritten page, she was unpleasantly surprised to see a classmate from
Glotz, some traffic out there, huh?” Jimmy mumbled, sweating profusely, quickly
yanking the hearing aid cord away from the closing door. :”I come here ‘cause
you said you had some-“, his left nostril twitched involuntarily, “…writing for
me to do for ya.” Jimmy had been waiting for this moment, his first assignment
as a newspaper writer, since he enrolled at the
“What? I never said anything about-“, Donna stopped mid-sentence.. She glanced around her messy work area, tossed a folded index card at Jimmy, leaving yellow Cheetos fingerprints on it, as well. “Here. Mrs. Stella Knox at the library wants to get rid of her dog. Old bags’ too old to take care of it any more. I don’t know how much she’s asking for it. You have to call her. Write a three line classified ad and run it down to the printer tonight, so it can get int0 the paper tomorrow morning.” Donna returned to her typing, as Jimmy stood frozen, the card at his feet. “Go! They close at ten!” she barked, not looking back up.
Jimmy tapped at the hearing aid in his pocket and mumbled, each word from his mouth a little louder than the
one before. “
A moment he was standing on that same noisy sidewalk, the door behind him slamming loudly shut. He glanced at the index card in his hand, and caught his breath. “Public Library. Mrs. Knox. TYlertown2-8900. Old. Dog.” the shaky handwriting read. Jimmy grinned goofily, exposing a crooked overbite and unattended gums. “My first assignment!”
Later that day, Jimmy slumped in the corner of the dusty Fish Wish Pet Store at the Hilltop Mall, where painted turtles were, as always, two for a dollar. He was employed as after noon assistant manager and cashier, and responsible for the caring and upkeep of the smelly tank of turtles, assorted cages of nasty hermit crabs and bowls of lethargic goldfish, which were sold more frequently as bait and less frequently as pets.
In front of him was a half eaten pack of NOW AND LATERS. He had greedily eaten all the NOWS, and planned on eating the LATERS towards the end of his uneventful shift.
With the battery on his hearing aid running low, he
did not hear the shuffling of feet on the grey concrete floor until his first
customer of the afternoon was at the register. It was none other than dimwitted
Harley Butler, son of the host of Bargain Bill Butler and his all New
Classifieds on WBTC Radio. Harley and Jimmy were the same age, but because
Harley was held back in school several grades several times, he was still a
10th grader at
Now the two faced each other across the register, briefly, then Harley looked down at the half empty pack of candy, and struggled to form a sentence. “If you save the LATERS for later, they turn into NOWS,” he attempted to theorize, “I can’t eat old NOWS…the dog needs stuff for his bowl…we tried to see if you was here on the dialing thing, but there is no number in the book that holds up the corner of my bed, and…”
Jimmy rolled his eyes, as the hermit crabs ticked away in their cages. “Harley, I tell ya every month, we don’t got a telephone, or sell the dog food. Go to the IGA for the dog food.”
Harley turned and headed out of the small store, mumbling. ”I’ll go later, but the dog needs stuff for his bowl now, but by then it’ll be now, not later…” He rubbed his temple and disappeared around the corner, narrowly missing a stray painted turtle on the concrete.
Jimmy shook his head. “He knows we don’t sell dog food…dog!” He dug a bony finger into his shirt pocket behind his hearing aid and fished out the index card Donna Glotz had tossed at him earlier. “Public Library. Mrs. Knox. TYlertown2-8900. Old. Dog.” Nearby, another goldfish floated to the top of its tank.
Since there was no telephone in the pet store, and the pay phone by the mall’s restroom was out of order, Jimmy had to find another option. Since he could not call Mrs. Knox at the library, he would have to use his experience as journalist to write the classified ad! His face flushed with excitement as he unzipped his ever present vinyl briefcase, and produced a grimy notebook, a chipped Bic pen stuck in its spiral binding, as the stray painted turtle lumbered out of the store, and into the terrazzo floored mall.
It was 9:59 PM when a sweating, heart-racing, clothing soaked with sweat, eyeglasses slipping, hearing aid unplugged Jimmy Sweeney crashed his bony frame into the main entrance of the Town Tooters printing office. The noise from his body-to-door collision caused the night pressmen, nicknamed Heckle and Jeckle, to look up from their Super Jumble word games and out the door into the cool evening air.
“Well lookee, Heck,” said Jeckle, pointing with his pencil, “It’s that Sweeney kid. Interruption’ my Super Jumble.”
“Why, yes, it is, Jeck,” replied Heckle, “N’ I almost got mine figured out. What’s he got in his hand?”
Jimmy struggled to lift his hand in the air, in which waved a few sheets of damp paper. “…classified…Glotz…dogs…deadline…” he gasped.
Heckle bent over and glanced at the waving paper. “Must be them classifieds from that Glotz woman, Jeck. Just in time.”
Jeckle snatched up the sheets and examined them more closely. “This ain’t no classifieds, Heck! This is fer the front page!”
Jimmy struggled to stand, but collapsed into a nearby shrub, still out of breath. “No, I, she…dog…library…”
Jeckle turned back inside. “Ferget the Super Jumble, Heck! Pull the Glotz column outta the front page and stick this in!”
Heckle stepped over Jimmy, and followed Jeckle into the pressroom. “Good work, kid. You’ll make a heckuva delivery boy one a these days.”
The next morning, Donna, in an unusually cheerful
mood, strolled down
Although she didn’t look forward to the release from prison of her soon to be ex husband, she realized that, after watching a very special Merv! the evening before, with wheelchair-bound guest Totie Fields, life can only get better once your life hits hit rock bottom, as her life was about to do.
Switching off her black and white Philco Ford
television, she then proceeded to enjoy a relaxing dinner of IGA tuna fish and
sweet pickles, and cherry tomatoes, as well as her second Reingold.
After taking her paper plates out to the trash, Donna, in anticipation of her
soon to be ex husbands arrival, she attempted to
straighten up her tiny house, or bungalow, as she described it to others. She
went through the dingy three room sagging wood frame structure located on the
outskirts of Tylertown, underneath the busy off ramp of truck heavy Route 800,
picking up newspapers, unwashed clothing, beer flip tops, Plenty Pak gum
wrappers and overdue bills, before finding her yearbook from Gumpy Lake High
School, class of 1968. Glancing through the pages, Donna was unpleasantly
unsurprised at how infrequently was she referred to in the glossy paged hand
stitched publication. Aside from her graduation photograph, the only other
reference to her was written inside the back cover; a handwritten note from Mrs Knox, who at that time was
"To Donna Glotz...thanks for your help these past four years in the library, I could not have reshelved all those books after the flood from the basement cafeteria without you. Good Luck...Stella Knox."
Ednas tobacco ravaged voice exploded from her nearby office, snapping Donna back to the present. "That had better NOT be my society editor, Donna Pinkel, using the newspapers telephone for personal use...Donna, get in here! I just received a telephone call ...from the Public Library!"
Donna quickly replaced the heavy receiver, slid out of her folding chair, and slunk into the back office.
That afternoon, Jimmy paused underneath the outdoor clock of the Tylertown Public Library, straightened his too wide necktie and took a deep breath. Apologizing to Mrs. Knox was going to be harder than he thought. It was a simple mistake, an error in journalism, assuming that she wanted to get rid of her dog because IT was too old to take care of, rather than that SHE was too old to care for her dog any longer.
He really didn't know why he was being held responsible for the mix up, as it was Donna Glotz who gave him the assignment in the first place. And it was HER column that the offending article, appeared in.
If this ever got out to the rest of
the students in his writing class at the
Across town, Donna, hot Rexall curling iron in hand, opened her front door and peered out. This was the moment she had been dreading for the past two years...the release from the Duck County Jail of her soon to be ex husband, Larry Pinkel.
The moment had arrived. Donna glanced down the cracked sidewalk and moaned. Approaching her was Larry, a large brown paper bag in each hand, and his cell mate, Carl, a stacks of records under his bony arms!
Larry noticed his wife peering out the door and dropped his bags on the sidewalk. "Donna, sweetcakes, I'm home!" Carl quickly stepped in his way. "Oooh, Larry, be careful. She's got something in her hand," he hissed, "She may want to hit us or something. Remember last Christmas!" The two had visited Donna last Christmas and were subject to another one of her unpredictable moody moments, narrowly missing being hit by a flying table radio.
"Nonsense, Carl," Larry replied. "Thats just her curling iron, the one I got for her last Christmas at the Rexall-"
Carl interrupted. "Larry, you are sooo wrong. Remember, we went to the Rexall on our free day, and I bought that alarm clock, the one that you said was sooo loud and then you went with me to return it, and we couldn't find anything else to buy, and Officer O' Malley was honking his horn in the parking lot and you grabbed the curling iron by the register and said "Let's just get this" and we left?" Carl took a deep breath and adjusted the records under his arms. "And we only used it once when we did the Duck County Jail's version of... The Pajama Game-" He shivered with excitement, as the duo headed to the rickety porch.
Back at the front door, Donna yanked the curling iron cord form the overhead socket and took a deep breath. "Life can only get better."