The Short Story

Entry by: percypop

18th May 2015

" Get me the sub editor" James irritated tone was just what I needed that Friday morning. He was bad on Monday but by Friday he was unbearable.
"What's wrong now?" I queried
"Where is the weekly short story? It should be on my desk by Thursday PM"
"I expect it is on his desk and .."
He broke in "Not asking you to expect anything I'm asking you to get the sub and do it quickly"
This was the nature of the job I did at Weekly News, interceding between reporters, sub editors and the boss. I only took it because I was writing a first novel and needed some cash to keep me alive. I began to think it would be better washing dishes rather than being barked at most of the day.
A quick call to Tony the sub warned him of the impending tornado.
" Christ, I forgot! say I'm out, say I'm unwell, do something." I liked him and wanted to do a favour if possible, but what could I usefully do?
" I'll cover for you as long as I can but by this evening it's got to be on his desk" I said
One minute later I got on the phone to James;
" Sorry James he's just gone out to interview someone"
"Someone who can take over his job I hope" growled the crusty old misery and he slammed the phone down.
Down to the basement where most of us met to smoke and complain about the senior managers,Tony Walters was there smoking a roll up and looking desperate.
"Did you manage to palm the old bull off?" he stared nervously at me, his brown stained fingers gripping his cigarette.
" You've got till tonight" I told him "but don't ask me to lie any more" This was the third time I'd covered for him, his drinking had become a real problem.
" Look, Pat you're a good writer, you can knock out a short one in two minutes. I'll make it worth your while"
"With what?"I asked "a P45?.
" No chance of that" he took on a soothing tone of voice "You churn it out and make up a name so no one knows who wrote it and bingo we're home and dry. I'll get you an intro to that girl in Sales"
Looking at his unshaven face, dishevelled suit and his grubby shirt, one could see what thirty years of journalism had done to him. However mad the idea of becoming a writer, it was better than turning myself into a drudge, grinding out weekly pulp.
I felt a faint twinge of pity for him and said " I'll write something but it will be short and to the point"
"Lovely boy" he purred "write what you want but get it done by 5 pm"
He walked unsteadily up the stairs and into the street. It was 1 pm by this time and I decided to have a drink myself. Upstairs in the staff hall I treated myself to a pint of draught Guinness and sat near the door so that I could make a swift getaway to get down to work.
"Hello, Patrick isn't it?"
There before me was the one girl I dreamed of, the blonde from Sales. She brought a tray of food and sat down beside me. Her long fair hair was swept back in a pony-tail and as she leant forward to move into the seat next to mine her blouse revealed just enough of her to excite a lively imagination.
My response was limited by the fact I was mute with surprise. I sat there goggle-eyed and maybe drooling just a bit.
"What do you want?" were the words that came to my mouth. I cursed myself and if a cup of poison had been to hand I would gladly have drained it.
"I just saw Tony outside and he said you had a message for me. I'm Carol by the way"
Two questions rose in my mind "Are you a writer or a mouse? And “Can you get a grip on yourself and speak to her?"
Clearing my throat I said "Yes I have" I said " can you help me dig poor Tony out of a hole?"
"What do you mean? What's he done?"
I put the whole thing in front of her.
"So you see, I've got a deadline and no idea what to write"
She gave me a sly look and whispered "Tony said you were a new boy but I hadn't realized how fresh you were. He said I could help you and I think I can."
She moved closer to me and her silky thigh brushed my leg.
" I've fancied you but you never looked my way and all the time you've waited for me to come to you"
She smiled in a knowing way. I saw myself at last as a smooth type with an irresistible charm so I played the part.
"Well" I replied in a husky Colin Firth voice "I've waited till the right moment."
"Too right" she said " I've got the afternoon off and there are quite a lot of ideas I want to try out on you."
So she did.
By 4 o'clock I had a completely different look on life
And Tony was right. I polished off a short story in half an hour.
I signed it Casanova.