By Richard N. Anderson
Alan stood in the doorway of Tom Hartley’s office. Tom was throwing small magnetic darts at a metal bullseye on his wall.
“What a fucking business,” Tom said without turning around. He already had scored two of the magnetic darts within the second best circle on the target.
“What’s the matter?”
“Same old shit. Fucking client doesn’t like the new radio stuff we did.”
“I thought everybody liked it. I’ve gotten calls from friends of mine all over town who’ve heard it and they think it’s terrific.”
“Well they’ve got a new son of a bitch over there who claims he knows a lot about music. He’s close to the executive vice president and he doesn’t like the fucking music.”
“So, I need a favor.”
“Of course.” Tom threw his last dart, scoring again. He turned to face Alan, gesturing for him to sit down. He knew when to return to business. He was a creative supervisor like Alan, a writer like him, and a loyal friend.
“What can I do for you?”
“I need a writer for the Trans US Airlines account. Everyone is booked and Leo handed me some extra business and the go ahead to bring somebody on. Holly Gelb’s looking for us…”
Alan ignored the comment and continued.
“Personnel doesn’t have anybody. So of course I turn to you. Any names come to mind?”
“Not off the bat. But I can canvas later at PJ’s and see what I come up with.”
“Someone with style. We need one of your young ivy friends. But someone who knows the meaning of work. No poets.”
“No poets. No problem.”
“Don’t jerk me around, I am getting desperate.”
Tom smiled his wide toothy smile.
“I guess you just needed to think about someone else’s problems to stop feeling sorry for yourself.” Alan said as he pulled himself up from Tom’s low black leather couch. “By the way will you be judging this year?”
“Nope, I wasn’t asked. It was a load of work last year, but overall it was fun. Could be, as they say, that I can’t recall the pain.”
“Thanks for the help with the writer.” Alan looked at his watch.
“You got it.”
He headed for his office. Five thirty on a Wednesday night and no plans for dinner.
Alan climbed up from the subway at 86th street and turned into the breeze. He couldn’t face an evening in the apartment. Kiki was in Spain. He didn’t want to go home and heat up one of the beef stews-in-a-pouch. It was too hot to cook.
The burning late June sun was just slipping out of view behind the twin towers to the west across Central Park. He turned the other way and joined the colorful assortment of young and old who crowded the sidewalks of the neighborhood called Yorkville. Families were out promenading looking into the windows of the German-American food stores, travel agencies and bierstubens (ale houses) that still lined 86th street.
Yorkville, New York’s Little Germany, had changed. It took years for the community to reemerge after the war. Today it was splashy. Neon signs lit up the first story of reclaimed brownstones and the commerce was spreading beyond the wide cross-town street.
Other nationalities had slipped into the commercial scene. Little Finland, Joe’s Spaghetti House, and Barney Google’s now shared equal space with the Old Vienna, the Brauhaus, and the Lorelei. But strolling along 86th Street this evening, German was the only other language Alan had heard people speaking.
At Third Avenue he stopped at a corner beer joint that served five or six different brands of German beer on draught and chomped down three hot dogs with mustard and sauerkraut. Dinner lasted six minutes.
“Now what do I do?” He thought.
At the corner he lingered looking at an electronics store display. The designs of the German TV sets and radios looked funny compared to Zeniths and RCA’s. He wondered if his boys were watching TV tonight. It was almost seven, Liddie was probably putting Ryan to bed.
It occurred to him that he could see a movie and beat the heat. He had seen an ad in the Sunday New York Times about some big theater opening.
He crossed Second Avenue. Where the hell is the new theater? Maybe he’d misread the location.
“Where is the Cine East?” He asked a cop leaning against the bus stop pole on the north east corner of Second and 86th Street.
“Down one and down one.”
Alan smiled. Can you imagine if I were from Toledo? Down one and down one. Down one what?
Of course, he knew exactly what the cop meant.
© Lisa Anderson 2015