Furlough Blues, Part One


This is yet another short story that originates in one of my songs.

When Jerry Lowndes checked his email, he discovered that his book on the heroes of the Atlantic Coast Conference wasn’t quite the blockbuster he had hoped. He had hoped the book would provide some aid in fulfilling his daughter’s wish to transfer from a state school to a private one that cost fifty grand a year. It was part of a vast array of responsibilities Jerry had acquired as a result of his divorce settlement. He was satisfied the former and once again Penelope Livermore had played a crucial role in convincing their daughter, Leona, that Randolph-Macon was the place for her.

Leona played the cornet. There was money in that. Her mother hated him. Why else would anyone go back to being named Livermore?

When a man gets in a bind, the solutions get more and more drastic, not to mention more and more unlikely to succeed. Jerry was betting. Hell, he was taking bets. He was quite a bit better at taking them than making them.

The phone rang. The office. Oh, great. One of those “mandatory” meetings. What a shame Jerry wasn’t at the ACC Tournament or some NCAA first round. He got out of a lot of “mandatory” meetings. When he got to the office, the sports editor, ostensibly an ally, informed him with suitable solemnity that it looked like there were going to be “furloughs.”

Jerry had heard of them. He just didn’t really know what they were. In old war movies, sailors went on furloughs – for some reason, the Army didn’t seem to get them – and generally wore Hawaiian leis, chased women, drove Jeeps drunk and were rounded up by MPs.

It didn’t seem so bad. It was, though. Every employee, at least those in the newsroom, had to take two weeks off. Not vacation. Off, as in, no money. For Jerry, this was, in fact, a crushing blow. He tried to schedule his furlough at the end, the seventh and eighth weeks, but of course, that had been done for his convenience and, as a matter of fact, Jerry was off the payroll right now.

Oh, and by the way, don’t use your company email during your furlough. It will be temporarily disabled.

For my convenience.

Jerry imagined himself sitting in a room full of sheep. If it was possible for people to be happy while being told they won’t be earning a dime for two weeks, these were. A few almost panted with excitement.

This is what’s going to save us!

Thing is, Jerry needed money for more than the usual reasons. Tax time was approaching. He wasn’t going to be getting a refund. Au contraire.

On the positive side, he now had plenty of time to consider his plight.

 

TO BE CONTINUED

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