F. Patrick Butler

Book I - New York

Book I - New York

"When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him."

Jonathan Swift

Capter 1: Texas

Capter 1: Texas

The affection of young girls for stallions is well known and rarely in dispute. The reverse is suspect and debatable. This situation was present in a small town in Texas some years ago when a spiteful stallion, the pride of his mistress, leaned close to her one day and unpredictably bit her. The bite went through her T-shirt and for all practical purposes severed her right nipple. Cosmetic surgery was only able to close the wound, not replace the nipple. She was, thereafter, destined like Rousseau's whore to destroy the ardor of sensitive men.

Chapter 2: New York

Chapter 2: New York



"Paris lost its bid for the Olympics," Roland said excitedly. The cubicle wall didn't conceal the fact he was surfing the net instead of working.

"Do you care?" She asked absentmindedly.

He hesitated, "well, the Brits won it, and Paris was at least closer to Munich than London. French must be shocked."

She looked up at the little stuffed porcupine perching on the top ledge of the divider and spoke to its owner on the other side, "Roland, it's a two-week track meet six years from now. Like, the future of one of the world's most beautiful cities is supposed to hang on the deliberations of a bunch of bureaucrats from some village in Switzerland?"

"Everyone thought Chirac had a lock on the games." He replied.

"Gee, Chirac. Go figure. Roland...?" She called from her cubicle.


"You speak German, right?"

A muffled "Ja, naturlich" sounded through her wall.

"What does 'Ich weiss nicht, was soll es bedeuten', mean?"

A pause, "...what?"

Her tongue clambered back over the words fracturing them worse than before.

"Ja, well, it's Ok," another pause. Then, "I don't know what it means."

"Roland, you're German."

"I am."


"And, what?" He said irritably.

"What's it stand for, Roland?"

"Jesus, Charly, it means 'I don't know', like 'I know not what it means, this thought so full of woe,'" he replied, "it is the first line from Heine's famous poem, Die Lorelei."

"Oh yeah, Heine... 'woe'...terrific." She rolled her eyes. "Die Lorelei," she muttered and went back to her monitor. "Roland," she purred, "are you busy after work?"

A leer masquerading as a smile appeared around the divider, tousled hair neatly gelled. "Busy? No."

He was ten years her junior, but like most German males in the New York office, he prized the sophistication and sexuality of 'older' American women versus their own thick-ankle counterparts from the villages of Bavaria. Since a large publishing house had purchased Charly's company, and Roland was a junior editor recently transferred to New York from its Munich headquarters, she was intelligence gathering. Downsizing was inevitable if not already underway and the German employees had the best contacts back home.

She turned and smiled at him, "Aquarius at 6?"

"Sure." He ducked his head back into the cubicle savoring his good luck, a fist pump, then hesitating, popped it back out again: "You're serious, right? You are going to be there?" His voice was an octave higher. He tried to cover his insecurities by faking a meeting with their boss, "Silverstein and I are...."

"Six, Roland." She said dryly.

"Right." And he retreated back into his shell.

A moment later, the senior VP's secretary, a short thin woman with leathery tan and gaudy gold came from the hallway and peered around Charly's divider. "Silverstein wants to see you," she said coldly.

"It is already 11, editors' meeting is at 2 o'clock, can't it wait?" Charly said wearily, staring ahead at her screen.

"Ah...I don't think so." Came the surly response. Silverstein's girl Friday, not a favorite in the office, had the disconcerting habit of confidentiality and cynicism, a predilection acquired through untold hours of personal phone calls steeped in banality.

"That important?"

"Yeah. That important."

Charly, a senior editor, swiveled in her chair poised to confront the insolence, but the passageway was empty. Only the receding click of heels in the half-finished corridor and cheap perfume gave evidence of their messenger.

The publishing company was located in one of the newest skyscrapers in New York befitting a large textbook enterprise of the third millennium. Unfortunately, the move-in had required considerable shifting around and Charly's Higher Education division ended up four floors below Silverstein's in temporary quarters, which meant an aggravating trip to the executive suite on busy elevators. "When?" Charly called after her.

"Now," echoed from somewhere down the hall.

An involuntary shiver went through her, as though hearing rats in the wall, late at night, above her head.


The reality of one's firing has been described by survivors as similar to being shot: first shock and disbelief, then numbness, then escalating pain, hopelessness and finally smoldering rage. Charly had met with Aaron Silverstein, her senior operating V.P. who made patronizing statements about her years with the company, advised her of the reduction in force, followed by a briefing of the company's termination policies and divested her of keys and security card. She wanted to cry, but held back. Yet it was always those who have the power that insisted being emotional was being weak. She was unceremoniously escorted from his suite by a black security officer, first to her office, then down to the lobby and out to the street - company policy in all such matters. Personal effects would be mailed home; employee reprisals were taken seriously. The guard offered a shy salute and left her standing on the sidewalk amidst the flow of pedestrians, his 'sorry ma'm' still ringing in her ears. She hesitated staring vacantly at the building, her quarters only this morning, at once a home and refuge from the city's relentless hustle. Dazed she turned away, a coterie of friends, memories and status now dispossessed.

Teary-eyed and aimless, she wandered the avenue toward the Municipal Library, still disoriented from the wound. Her mind was collapsing in a confusion of clutter, cacophonic debris of sharp worries and bitter anger churned within; yet like hundreds of others sharing that busy street and passing around her, Charlene Brook's dissolute presence appeared --to any urbanite that cared to notice -- normal.

It was May in Manhattan when thousands of lunching minions left their cubicles for short walks in the sun before scurrying back to fulfill countless duties of mundane matters from desks and counters. She sat high up on the front steps of the library, anonymous in a crowd of sunglasses, looking wistfully at the passing strangers below who had jobs...with one aching thought, well two really: the end of financial security - American's ultimate peace of mind - and swift, certain revenge.

Some sage once said that timing was everything; the firing couldn't have come at a worse time. Charly had envisioned a promotion by December and the first Christmas in her soon to be new apartment. Also, despite venturing onto the thin ice of working motherhood, if all went well in court Charly was prepared to assume full-time responsibility for her daughter, Jodie, pleading to be rescued from Ernestville, Texas away from the Billy-bob that helped produce her. The confident anticipation of their summer vacation in New Hampshire and Jodie's autumn enrollment at Exeter evaporated that morning like meaningless puddles from a shower sometime between bagels and lunch. She had lacked the presence of mind, as with the untimely death of a loved one, to note the final moments of her publishing career.

One other old saw, not so readily apparent to Charlene "Charly" Brooks on that fateful morning, was that if you wanted to see God laugh, tell Him your plans.

Silverstein had given Charly a couple of weeks at a job search organization to "reposition" herself as he so adroitly put it, a subtle reference to the utility of his recent MBA. And perhaps she could, New York was after all the publishing capital of America. On the other hand the industry was extremely competitive and contemplating any future "repositioning" phenomena from the Connecticut Mafia - those who had their lawns manicured in Greenwich and nails filed in Manhattan - was out of the question. She glanced at the newspaper recently pillowing the svelte cheeks of the ingénue beside her. The horoscopes caught her eye:

Taurus (April 20 - May 20)
Your communication skills are superb today. You could negotiate your way into or out of anything. This is a great time to express your feelings to that Special someone..

She flipped over the pages and began something not done since college, to scan the classifieds. Help wanted: daycare, dental assistants, she read further down, tailors...no; teachers...good god no; travel agents. She put the paper down. It was gut-wrenching, those skanky bastards! Already, the news would be all over the office that Silverstein had canned her, probably with enough other employees to cover payments for top management's new benefits package and certainly enough to pay for that little weasel's SUV and hide-away in the Catskills. She picked up the newspaper again and one ad caught her eye.

Travel Guide. Immediate opening.
Bilingual English-French speaker.
French-European experience necessary, Classics oriented person, familiarity with European Union a plus, Call...




copyright © 2006-2010 | order | media kit | related pages | site map | contact