The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 117

Demoted

Rich handed his essay to Sam at his desk in the morning. Rich stood expecting Sam to compliment the effort. He read it quickly, wadded it up and tossed it in the waste basket. "If I wanted forth grade work I'd gone to the grade school. It is prattle."
Rich walked out of the office angered and threw himself into the chair behind his desk in the newsroom.
Sam followed Rich and leaned into the newsroom, "This isn't the Weekly Reader ya know." Sam walked back to his office.
Rich ignored him and rolled a sheet of paper in the typewriter and began sifting through a stack of papers on his desk.
Rudy walked in and asked. "What was that all about? Has the halo tilted on our angel."
Rich banged away at the typewriter. He tried every excuse to get out of the office, but he spent the entire day there.
Rich went home that night and rewrote the essay and handed it to Sam in the morning. This time Rich didn't stick around. He walked into the newsroom and started to work. Sam came in fifteen minutes later and said, "The depths of the water were only matched by the depths of my soul," Sam quoted mockingly from Rich’s essay. "What does that mean? Did you find that on a nickel greeting card. Sounds like a love sick sophomore."
"I've improved," Rich said sarcastically, "yesterday I was a fourth grader."
Sam scowled and walked back to his office.
"What's with him," Gordy said. "Katie and looming fatherhood getting to him?"
"I think owning four papers is getting to him," Rich speculated.
By mid day Rich was swamped with work. He had to run out to cover a fire at a local bar and then a water safety meeting sponsored by the Coast Guard. He ran back to the newsroom and began typing the stories.
Rudy tossed a wadded sheet of paper that hit Rich in the head.
Rich looked up, "What?"
"The summer pavement project," Gordy said. "You got your copy?"
"Crap!" Rich said.
"It was supposed to be done now," Gordy said.
"I got two stories to do," Rich said. "They got to be done by three."
"Look, give me your notes and I'll pound out your part of the story," Gordy said.
"Hey, thanks, Gordy," Rich said. "I owe ya."
"Don‘t sweat it," Gordy said. “I’ll snitch it to Sam.”
Gordy completed it with the use of Riches notes in half hour.
Rich finished his stories and delivered them to the pressroom. Rich worked the rest of the day on a few items that were to appear later in the week. At five he ran down the steps and out the door. He got a couple of hamburgers from the Lighthouse Inn and ate them at the apartment in front of the typewriter. He finished all the work that had fallen behind.
Rich leaned back in the chair at his typewriter and relaxed. He began the think about Sam. “Sam has taken on a new persona. The once friendly face has now turned sour and demanding beyond belief. I wonder if he really wants to back away from the idea of me writing the column about sailing around the world. His attitude perplexes me. I know he is bitterly disappointed that I don’t hold the same view as he does on politics and social reform. It is strange, not so long ago he seemed like a man neutral and objective. There is something terribly wrong. There is something about the ledger kept by Mrs. Gaffee. There has been plenty of time to investigate it and report it. Sam is holding on to something. He’s acting like a high school coach. I know he is, I can see it. He’s trying to manipulate me. If he treats my cruelly he thinks I will do anything thing to please him. If you show disapproval toward a dog he will tuck his tail and cower back eager to please.”
Rich was the first at the paper the next morning. He laid the essay again on Sam's desk and went to his own desk and began working. Sam drug himself up the steps in typical morning fashion. Rudy and Gordy walked in together. Rudy quickly went over assignments and Rich and Gordy informed him of their status. That lasted about fifteen minutes.
From Sam's office they heard him slam something against the desk and an angered, "What the hell!" The door to his office flung open. His rage looked comedic. He was not a man given to rage. He stomped into the newsroom with a crumbled paper in each hand. "What's this?" he said with hands and crumbled papers held above his head.
“A humorously angry man,” Rich thought, but said nothing.
He held his right hand out with the crumbled paper in his fist. "This was a piece to be written by two men and only one did it. It has two bylines. Credit where credit is due."
"I just got two stories yesterday afternoon that I had to do,” Rich said, “and Gordy said he would finish the one we were working on to help me out. We do that sort of thing all the time."
"Not without Rudy's okay or mine," Sam said. He hurled the paper on Rich’s desk and said, "You accepted an assignment and said your work would not slip. It has. Gordy, you and Rich exchange desks." He looked at Gordy and said, "Your second desk now and Rich you’re third."
Sam walked out of the newsroom. Gordy and I immediately began moving their desks around. Gordy whispered, "Always wanted your job."
Rich whispered back, "Now I have the view."
As soon as the desks were reset they sat at them. Sam walked back in the newsroom and to Rich’s desk. He leaned on it with one hand and in the other hand there was still crumpled paper. He released his grip on it and it began to un-crumple. It was Rich’s essay. "Here is another reason why you’re third desk now. It's writing like this. You should go back to school where they will grade you. See how good you do there." Sam walked away.
Rich felt the urge to jump him. The anger was so compelling he nearly felt himself raising from the chair. He eased back into the chair, whirled around to the type writer and began working. The newsroom was business only. The tension was pervasive. Rich struggled through the rest of the day and when Friday five o'clock arrived he was the first out the door.
At the apartment he began writing. Rich was determined that another week like this one and he would leave on the Sea Odyssey immediately and forget the column. His attitude reminded him of his Father's. “I walked away from it once, I can do it again.”
Rich wrote until he heard the birds singing at the gathering for another day. He showered and flopped down into bed until ten.
He awoke with a thought of only writing.
He stopped at noon, long enough to open a Moxie and a can of sardines. The first sardines he had since moving to Maine. He was still hungry and heated a can of tomato soup. After that he was still not quite satisfied, so Rich dished some ice cream with strawberry topping. He had never been so hungry since the bicycle trip to Maine. The thought hit him he had nothing to eat for twenty-four hours. He finished the ice cream and removed the milky feel from his mouth with a swallow of Moxie.
Rich settled behind the typewriter and started pecking away. Suddenly his stomach and bowels began to churn and gurgle. He became nauseous. He laid on the bed in agony and suddenly sprung up and rushed to the bathroom. He cursed the sardines, he cursed the tomato soup, he cursed the ice cream, he cursed the strawberry topping, and he cursed the Moxie. He mentally formed them into a ball and stirred them up and cursed their hideous appearance. He cursed Sam and finally he cursed his own gluttonous rampage.
After his system was purified he slept for an hour, awoke and began writing again. He was satisfied little with what was on the page. He read it later and tossed it away. “If it did not please me than how could it possibly please Sam. Who is Sam anyway?” Rich mused.
Rich’s disdain for Sam grew like a malignant cancer. It enveloped everything until it consumed the entire Rockland experience. “I could sail immediately, but the Sea Odyssey was only a reminder of Sam and everything else. My only escape is good writing.” He carried that thought and motive into Saturday evening and to bed with him that night.

Sunday morning he started anew. He ate more intelligently at noon and continued writing into the evening. At 1:00 AM he was exhausted. He had five essay’s that had little to do with sailing and more to do with struggle and the joys and exhilaration of hard work and achievement.