Hello, my brother and sister bloggers and writers. It’s the Old Soldier here doing what the Old Soldier does: blogging and writing. It’s another lovely day in Pittsburgh. I’ve already gone for my early morning walk and now after putting in a few hours at the computer I’m ready for my afternoon walk. There’s hardly a cloud in the sky.
But before I go out I’d like to leave you with another post. I have another story from the archives for you. Let me give you some background on this story.
I took early retirement because I wasn’t working steady enough to pay my rent and I was afraid of losing my apartment. I knew that my social security check would at least pay my rent.
Just before I took early retirement, I took the state civil service test for the State of Pennsylvania. Of all the people who took the test for Allegheny County, the county I live in, I scored in the top 3%. Yes, indeed. I went for the interview and they loved me. Ladies and gentlemen, the job paid $36,000 with benefits.
A woman from the county called me and asked which office did I prefer to work in. There were three offices and all three were on the bus line. I told her the one in the State Office Building downtown. She said she would get back to me within two weeks and then I would be asked to come downtown to sign the contract of employment.
Finally, at the age of 61 I had the best job of my life.
A few days later the governor put an indefinite freeze on all state hiring because of the deepening recession. That was the end of my budding career as a state employee.
I wrote the following flash fiction story before the governor announced the hiring freeze. Before the freeze I was a happy man.
Before we get to the story let me remind you that you can have every issue of The Gazette delivered to your inbox every morning by taking out a free subscription. Just click on the subscription tab at the top of the page and follow the instructions. Now for the story.
He was now an Income Maintenance Caseworker for the State of Pennsylvania. It would be the best job he’d ever had. At the age of forty-seven, he finally had his feet on solid ground. He could even start paying back his student loans.
He left the bar with a twelve pack of beer in a plastic sack. He didn’t have an umbrella. He turned up the collar of his coat against the windy, rainy Pittsburgh night and walked the three blocks to his very modest North Oakland apartment.
Without putting on any lights he clicked on the small radio/CD player that sat on the two, stacked speakers from his youth and days as a frontman for several local basement rock bands. The radio was always tuned to the local public classical music station. The opening bars of “Ode to Joy” began. He took off his coat and hung it up and sat on the sofa in the semi darkness and smoked a cigarette and drank a can of beer and watched the night rain beat against his window pane.
He put out the cigarette in the ashtray on the low table and reached for the telephone that sat on the computer stand next to the sofa. The face of the receiver glowed and he punched in a number.
On the other end a woman’s cultured voice said, “Richard, hello.”
“I got the position.”
“Can you come over?”
“To spend the night?”
“Let me think.” She was a hostess at a local upscale restaurant. Her two children were away at college and her ex-husband had left years ago. “All right. I can manage that. I’ll have to pack a few things.”
“Oh,” he said.
“Bring the black nightie?”
“Gloria, we can start making plans now. We can have a life together.”
“I’ll bring something special.”
“I have beer and everything for sandwiches.”
“I’ll pick up a bottle of wine. Good wine. We’ll celebrate. Just give me an hour.”
He sat in the dark waiting. He had a decent job now and a good woman who slept with him. He got up and took a shower.
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