Friday, July 14, 2006

"Great Times," Chapter 14

Copyright 2006, Terry F. Phillips Sr.

All rights reserved.

Chapter 14

Ted was surprised over dinner by the number of people seated around Mrs. Davis' dining room table and by their backgrounds.

He quickly learned Mrs. Davis’s house was a Mecca for vaudevillians who played the various small theaters around town.

As he began asking questions, he learned that decades earlier, before they made it big, both Jack Benny and George Burns had sat at Mrs. Davis table. So had the Marx brothers.

“I remember Jackie sitting in your chair, Mr. Lane,” Mrs. Davis said with pride, thinking about Benny. “And Harpo used to sit next to me, where Connie is sitting.

“Lands, what times those were! I never got used to all his shenanigans. He had the quickest hands I ever saw.”

The landlady reddened when she realized what she had implied, but was a gracious soul as well as the very picture of propriety, so dinner continued as if nothing happened.

Ted was bothered that Connie had scarcely said a word to him after he returned from the railroad depot with his bag. Then, at dinner, she sat next to Mrs. Davis.

He couldn’t help but notice a tall, well-dressed man with dark hair and moustache was seated to Connie’s right. She seemed to enjoy his company very much and Ted thought, perhaps, he had misread some of her signs over lunch that afternoon.

Perhaps he was so interested in his own feelings that he had missed her signals altogether.

This bothered him a great deal.

He found her exciting, ravishing, even. Now, he was living across the hall from Connie. If he was smitten - as he knew he was - how on earth would he be able to concentrate on work or anything as he ought?

“What is your line, Lane?” asked the young fellow to Ted’s right. “Get it, line - Lane?”

Another fellow, sitting on Ted’s other side, found the joke amusing and guffawed mashed potatoes onto his sleeve.

“I’m a new announcer on WXBR,” Ted said, rather disdainfully. He didn't mind being around these show business people.

After all, if he were to work The Beer Hour, he would have to get used to them, but their table manners left much to be desired.

Being a WXBR announcer didn’t seem all it had been the night before. He suddenly wished he hadn’t met Connie, hadn’t taken a room here and hadn’t applied for the WXBR job in the first place.

He could have been content in South Bend. Why hadn’t he realized it before now? Maybe this was all a big mistake.

A wave of homesickness threatened to drown him as it passed overhead.

“Excuse me,” Ted said to those at the table. “It’s been a long day and I have a long day tomorrow.”

He groaned inwardly as he glanced Connie’s way. That sounded an awful lot like he was whining, something that would score him no extra points with the blonde lady at the other end of the table, a table that might as well be as big as a football field. He felt that distanced from Connie, someone he had hoped to get to know better, just a few hours earlier.

A few minutes later, Ted lay on the bed in his room with his clothes on and the light glaring down from the table lamp..

While it had been such a cold room earlier, he felt hot and embarrassed now.

He listened for her voice, but it didn’t come.

There was no knock on the door; no “Mrs. Davis sent me to see if you were all right,” or “I was hoping you were all right” or “Please let me in so we can talk and discuss our future together, Ted.”

The last imaginary plea from Connie made him nearly laugh aloud.

He was being ridiculous.