Furlough Blues, Part Two


This continuing short story originated in a song of mine:

Jerry Lowndes could have been doing many things had he immediately rolled up his sleeves and gone to work, making proposals of free-lance stories he could write, or arranging for some sort of loan to get him by, but any comprehensive plan for relief required a great deal of consideration, so Jerry headed for a place where he knew he could get good advice.

He decided to shoot for a double shift at the Lovable Loser Sports Bar, which was coincidentally a place where betting had been known to take place. Jerry had taken some losses, having laid a hundred on Connecticut and Kentucky to lose when in fact they hadn’t. That took care of his cash on hand – he’d won big with Clemson in the NIT – but he still had an airlines VISA with $5,000 on it but $15,000 available. Jerry was pretty sure he’d made a minimum payment recently, but if he hadn’t, he’d know soon enough. A gal he had his eyes on was known to hang out there in the afternoons, too, and she was about as fetching as a drunk gal could be. She wore it well, the alcoholism, and was a heap of fun. Jerry had every reason to be in that “nothing to lose” mood. That “everything to gain” mood was good, too, but, at present, totally absurd.

The best mistakes were always comedies of error.

Laurie was there with an open stool next to her. Their eyes met significantly when Jerry walked in the door. He ordered a beer, but she said “fuck that” and told Adam the young and wary bartender that Jerry needed “a drink of liquor,” and, by God, so he did. Laurie was still reeling from the loss of her job, which was unjust because she’d been peeling off a piece of the action from the cashbox for years and it was always just fine as long as her and the boss were “seeing each other.” He broke up with her, and next thing you know, tucking her usual “commission” turned out to be against the law.

“Aw, well, fuck it,” Laurie said. “How the hell has your day been?”

“Peachy,” Jerry said. “Let’s you and me get a fucking room.”

If they had decided to hang around the bar a while, and if Laurie’s ex-boss and lover, Nash Tarbert, hadn’t spotted Jerry and Laurie leaving the Loser, and if Jerry hadn’t covered the game where Nash’s son John Lee dropped the game-winning pass in overtime, and if Nash hadn’t called the police and told them a lie about what Jerry and Laurie were doing, and if, by sheer coincidence, they hadn’t been doing that very thing, which was smoking marijuana, when the police came a-knocking, then Jerry wouldn’t have wound up spending the night in jail and wondering at some point why Laurie wasn’t there, too. Jerry wouldn’t have had to hear that “Oh, Jerry, you couldn’t have” routine from Penelope, and he wouldn’t have had to hear Penelope say that Leona was going to be crushed at not having her father to help celebrate her birthday, and that was going to happen because it would be a cold day in hell before she, Penelope Livermore, was going to bail his sorry ass out.

That was his one phone call.

Jerry decided just to rot there, for two whole weeks if he had to, because they had to feed him, so maybe they’d just let him go after a while. Stranger things had happened. Jerry wasn’t going to hang himself or try to find something to slit his wrists. No, he was going to do what God intended and just rot.

TO BE CONTINUED

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