Bruce Ferguson, Then, There's This Published 9:30 p.m. CT Jan. 17, 2020
Bruce Ferguson(Photo: Submitted Photo)
So, there I was, in a place called Clarendon Hills, Illinois. I was out of school working and worrying about the flat tire on the Maxwell, that growing crack in the foundation of my heavily mortgaged new house, and the possibility of World War III.
Nobody special, I was just another married and harried taxpayer living in a suburban sea of terribly tan, plastic-covered houses, each resident serving a mortgage that would have tested the means of a Trump, or King Midas himself.
I was living in unaffordable and undeserved mosquito-free luxury. We had plastic screens on every widow. A weekly garbage pickup kept the place neat and free of transient odors, and such luxury a portrait of Trigger and a friend name of Roy Rogers smiled down on us from their home above the fireplace.
Lest our delicate feet touch unvarnished wood or cold tile or soil the heirloom braided rug fashioned by Grandma Brooks, the floor of our mansion was covered, indeed, drowned in shimmering chartreuse shag, a color and texture believed to have been developed for use in dungeons during the French Revolution.
Our new neighbor, Clyde, an independent businessman who owned and operated a knife-sharpening stand mounted on a bicycle a Schwinn, I think stopped by to share a secret, telling me with a wink and a knowing nod,
I know where Jimmy Hoffa is buried, is what he said while delivering a welcoming Bundt cake with raisins dancing in the orange icing.
After inspecting the sumptuous layout of our suburban palace, Clyde managed a frown and said, You need to have this place painted, friend. My brother, Leonardo, is a painter. Hes experienced, been doing it for years. Leonardo learned to paint when he did six years on a Leavenworth paint crew for tattooing without a license.
My neighbor, Clyde was up at six each morning to walk his woofer, an Austrian Ankle Biter, name of GRRRR. who saw and used our front yard as a vast and grassy restroom.
Troublesome neighbors aside, I was on a career path to riches. I was in my 30s, out of college, had a wife, a couple of kids, a near-new car and a size 12 mortgage on a plastic sided, termite free, suburban house on a street called Golf Avenue.
The place was identical to the house across the street and the one down the block., each one equipped with an illuminated address on the mailbox, and a doorbell that played the national anthem.
And I was working. I had a new job as Sales Manager of a company famed for its three-speed, back massagers, one of those rarely-used Christmas gifts that clutter closets and hide golf shoes.
My new house boasted two toilets right inside the place. The one on the main floor played a European waltz and filled the air with the barely bearable fragrance of eau de skonk when the doorknob was touched.
Having been on the job a couple of months, and having done a fair amount of new business, I was summoned into the presidents office and directed by his secretary, a person he addressed as Honey, to sit in a folding chair marked EMPLOYEE. Fine job youre doing, Johnson,, he said, holding out a hand.
My name isnt Johnson, sir.
Whatever it is, my honey . er, ah Miss Snodgrass, tells me you are good at it and deserve some acknowledgement. So, tomorrow you can join me for lunch in the Executive Dining Room at the Burger Barn for a Gut Buster Burger, If you can eat a whole one, its free. Those guys know how to sell sandwiches.
A sort-of friendship developed between boss and employee and I was encouraged at home to invite the president and his wife to dinner Saturday evening.
All went well until Mrs. President went into the restroom. Unknown to anyone but our oldest boy, who was expert at operating a tape recorder, his birthday gift and the same one one he had hidden behind the toilet. Sensing a weight on the seat, the recorder declared, Hey, were working down here and youre blocking the light.
I lost the job that same evening. But, my neighbor, Clyde made me a partner in the knife sharpening business. I dont make a lot of money, but our grass looks great when cut with a sharp pair of shears.
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On the job in Illinois - The Baxter Bulletin
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