Nine Days Behind the Hollywood Sign

{NOTE: this is a draft page as I work through some ideas...}


Words of praise for Nine Days Behind the Hollywood Sign:

Nine Days is excellent. I loved it. One of the weirdest, darkest, funniest books I've read in a long while, published or not.
                             -- Pushcart Prize winner and novelist Bill C

I read the whole thing in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down. It’s totally and completely accurate.
                             -- Network TV executive John L

After having recently reread The Great Gatsby, my opinion is the following: Fitzgerald’s book is about the same length as yours, and yours is much better.  His is extremely dated and very contrived, with characters that have very little life to them, and yours teems with vitality and is psychologically much more interesting
                             -- San Francisco Arts Critic

Nine Days is a fine novel, with everything that readers of good fiction demand—quick pace, accelerating conflict, cinematic visuals, original characters, and the delectable sense that something surprising, yet ultimately inevitable, will be the literary reward.
                             -- Excerpt from Yellow Bird Editors

Nine Days is a very strong novel, harrowing in a new way, with a signally distinctive voice. I loved it. Dark, offbeat, cacklingly funny. I have not encountered a protagonist quite like Daniel Auburn before, and certainly no one like Vincent Blakely. Even the minor characters stand out—Tricia, in her haughty, sexy subjugation; Sandy, in her bondage to both Blakely and her own son; Krista, in her peculiar Girl-Friday fearlessness. I was reminded variously of Martin Amis's most entertainingly grotesque characters, of Elmore Leonard's spare and devastating seesaw dialogue, and even, weirdly, of Melville's Billy Budd.
                             -- Yellow Bird


Following is an excerpt from the novel. For context, it is the first 5,000 words...

***

You probably won’t believe me when I tell you all this, but I’m going to do it anyway.

When it all took place, I was six months out of high school, holding a few part-time jobs here and there and taking classes at Pasadena City College on the weekends. My parents wanted me to go to a four-year institution – and I planned to apply, just not right away. I wanted a year to try to make it first. As in Make It. As in MAKE IT.

I was living just outside Pasadena in a town called San Marino. Mostly, I was a waiter at a downtown café and an assistant editor for a small ad agency. I worked about twenty hours a week at the restaurant and ten hours at the agency. I barely made enough to pay my share of the rent and eat.

On one of my more productive dream-following days, I stopped in at the counseling office at Pasadena City College. They knew me pretty well because I went there all the time and had been talking about wanting to get into the entertainment business. Normally they encouraged me to get my degree first, but eventually they backed off and gave me advice about doing research on TV and movie studios, reading the right books, etc. I thanked them as always, went home, and casually figured I’d look into it more in a week or two.

The next morning, as I was stepping into my waiter garb, the phone rang. It was Tina Mitchell, one of the counselors at PCC. She said she’d just found out about a position that was available immediately as a production assistant in Hollywood. “The Hollywood?” my voice quavered.

It turned out that a semi-celebrity needed someone fast. And I, not one to let an opportunity like this pass me by, was on the phone in a flash.

That’s where my story begins. What follows is the account of exactly what happened in that star-studded city of gold-paved streets, and what it was that caused me, a pretty good kid from a pretty good home, to see the murder of Hollywood pseudo-personality Byron Blakely as my only viable option.

***

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 12th

I get a call from Tina Mitchell at ten o’clock this morning. She says she’s just gotten off the phone with Byron Blakely’s assistant and that they’re looking for someone to help them as a production assistant. And they need this person ASAP. Since I talked to Tina just yesterday about such hopeful pursuits in the industry, she called me first. She says the position is full time, that it’s temporary for the next week or two, but that it might lead to something permanent. A permanent position in the entertainment capital of the world. The World, mind you. She gives me the number of the assistant, someone named Monica Greeb or Gleed or something.

I call her up immediately, trying to keep my voice from shaking too noticeably. She tells me she’ll call me back in a minute and can I please give her my number.

I give her what she wants and she hangs up in a hurry. A dubious beginning but I am dealing with big Hollywood people. They’re making million dollar deals over lunch and I’m eating mac ‘n’ cheese out of a box with a plastic fork.

Okay. So by this time it’s a quarter past ten and I’ve got to leave for work in a half hour. Now the gears in my head start spinning. Hollywood. That’s easily thirty minutes away by car. And I don’t have a car. But that’s okay. I’ve got friends who do, don’t I? And what about my other jobs? If Mr. Blakely really needs someone ASAP I’m going to have to do some quick quitting. It might put some people in bad positions, but you gotta do what you gotta do. This could be my big chance and I can’t afford to let it slip from my grasping claws.

Five minutes go by and the phone doesn’t ring. Then another five minutes. Then another and another and another. If she doesn’t call soon I’m going to end up being late for work.

Another ten or fifteen minutes go by without a peep from the phone. I decide to make a bold move. I call the café where I work and tell them I’m going to be late, that I have some important personal business to take care of.
No problem, they tell me. Good. Then I make an even bolder move. I call back Monica Gleed or Greeb or whoever.

She tells me she’s sorry for not calling me back but that it’s real hectic out there.

“Sure,” I say to her, “I understand.” Like I have any idea how hectic it actually is.

She tells me yet again how utterly desperate they are for help. Also, that the job isn’t on a movie set or anything glamorous like that. It’s just doing a lot of running around, typing, assorted errands. It’s not high-profile, but there are a lot of people coming in and out and you never know, it could lead to other things.

Other things. Sure, I understand.

Then she asks me if I can come out for an interview. “You got it,” I tell her confidently. “You name the time.”

“Okay. How’s four o’clock?”

Four’s awful. It’s right in the middle of my advertising gig.

“Four o’clock? I’ll be there.”

“Great. See you then, Daniel.”

God, what have I done. How the hell am I going to 1) get out of work and 2) get a car?

Fortunately for me, all it takes is two little phone calls. The agency says it can live without me for the day, and an ex-girlfriend, Jessie, lets me borrow her car. Okay fine, she’s not really an ex-girlfriend, more like someone I went out with a few times, hooked up with once or twice, and let crash at my place occasionally. But we’re tight. Anyway, everything’s going as smoothly as it can. I figure it must be fate telling me everything’s A-okay.

I make haste riding my bent-framed dirt bike over to Aux Delices where I go in and set up for the incoming lunch crowd. On the outside I’m performing my usual role as cool, calm, and collected food server, but my insides are jumping around like mad. I can’t concentrate on anything or anyone. I’ve still got so much to figure out. What to wear? What time to leave? What to bring?

I go to one of the managers and ask if I can leave early. I have a very important job interview, I tell her.

“Sure Daniel,” she says, “I think we can manage without you.”

Great. So I work two thirds of my shift. My mind is racing so fast and in so many directions I bring the wrong order to the wrong table twice. But who cares, right? I’ll be a big star in no time and what’ll all this waiter garbage matter?

Once work ends I ride back home, take off my black-and-whites, and find the most appropriate things to wear. A pair of khaki pants, some dressy black sneakers, a swampy green (though elegantly swampy) shirt, and a thin red tie (the only one I own).

By this time it’s already a little after two. I figure I better give myself at least an hour to get there, seeing how it’s Friday and traffic could be blocked up for miles.

I get back on my bike and cruise over to get the keys to Jessie’s car. The unseasonable eighty-five degree heat coupled with my unbridled excitement cause sweat to soak the rear of my shirt. “Just don’t let your back touch the seat of the car when you’re driving,” Jessie advises before handing me the keys to her cramped air-conditionerless import. She looks cuter than usual with her brown curly hair in pigtails and a bright white skirt on. I almost want to ask her if she has a date or something, but I don’t have the time.

By now it’s a little past two-thirty, the gas tank’s flirting with emptiness, and I still don’t know exactly where I’m going. I stop by the counseling center where Monica G. claims she sent specific directions.

It turns out that Mr. Blakely works out of his house. His house! His house in the Hollywood Hills! I imagine a big white mansion with thirty-foot high marble ceilings, maybe with a moat and a herd of killer dogs kept in a barbed wire cage, all slightly underfed.

By now it’s pushing three o’clock and I really oughtta be on the road. I walk to the bathroom, check my appearance, and grab a few paper towels to sponge off my damp back. Everything’s gotta be just right. Everything.

Finally, with my movie star shades placed properly over my eyeballs and my window cranked fully open, I begin the journey.

The traffic’s not too bad and I make good time. Fortunately, whatever gas is left in the car propels me the full distance. I do, however, hit an unforeseen problem. My bladder is ready to explode! I can’t just walk into Mr. Blakely’s house and ask right off the bat to use his restroom. How un-glamorous would that be. Instead, as I’m winding my way up the sloping streets to his hilltop home, I search desperately for a place at the side of the road where I can relieve myself. There are a few spots here and there which might do, but nothing that’s as ideally inconspicuous as I’d like.

I come to the end of a street, a cul-de-sac where he lives. There are no monstrous mansions, just pleasant little suburban homes with great views of distant downtown L.A. Not exactly what I imagined but not really anything to scoff at either. Besides, this is only Byron Blakely we’re talking about. It’s not like it’s his mother Laura, the sixty-five-year-old Legend of stage and screen. It’s not even his older sister Cindy, the one who had the ten-page Playboy spread way back when and can be seen regularly on any number of daytime soaps. It’s not even Greg, the “rebel” of the family who changed his last name to Ivanov and was voted one of People’s ten sexiest men after seducing Brittany Doyle in one of last year’s highest grossing and least-compelling films. That’s right. This is only Byron, the one who stars in occasional throwaway TV thrillers and struggles regularly as a stand-up comedian. Struggles not only for recognition in the field but also for good material and talent, something I noticed after seeing him on one of those late-night comedy showcases on an obscure cable channel several months ago.

So there it is. His modest-looking home sitting right at the edge of a sheer cliff. It can’t possibly be worth more than five million and I’ve really got to go to the bathroom. Just then I hear the roar of an engine behind me. A sparkling Mercedes Benz tears down the road, swerves inches from careening into me, and pulls up to the driveway ahead. The driver, apparently curious as to who would dare be in his way, stops, glances in his rear-view mirror to check me out, then peels into his garage, the door closing automatically behind him.

My heart is pounding. In just those few moments I had a brush with fame. I saw whose eyes those were peering at me above his designer sunglasses. That was Byron Blakely who almost rear-ended me.

But no time to dwell. I’ve really got to take care of my bladder. There are still ten minutes to spare so I turn the car back around and look for a pitstop. The best place to go happens to be at the side of a heavily sloping road about a quarter mile from Byron’s house. I pull over, undo my belt, my pants, and hike up my shirt to avoid any mess. There I am. Some of the classiest autos in the world whizzing by with who knows who inside, and I’m relieving myself into a baby pine with more than half my body exposed. What a rush!

So now I gotta get back up to the man’s house. After checking my appearance in the tint of one of the side windows, I drive luxuriously up to his abode. It all seems so familiar the second time. It’s now four o’clock, I've got my best duds on, and I’m about to come face to face with a real live Somebody.

I take in a deep breath of So Cal air, walk up to the door, and ring the bell. To my disappointment, no classical sonata or sixties pop tune blares out, just a simple ding-dong.

No answer. Maybe no one’s home. Except I just saw the car drive in minutes ago. Then where is he? It’s not that big a house... He is a star, though. I have to remember that. He’s allowed to take his time.

Then, suddenly, the doorknob turns, the door opens and there he is. Byron Blakely. Standing there face to face with me... Well, sort of. He’s actually facing Jessie’s subcompact, sizing it up, with one hand outstretched and the other holding a smoldering cigarette.

“Daniel,” he says, his fierce blue eyes squinting in the afternoon sun.

“Yeah,” I shake his hand, remembering to keep my grip firm like they taught me in mock-interviews... but not too firm.

“Thanks for coming. I’m going to ask you to wait out here a couple minutes.”

“Okay. No prob-”

The door quickly closes.

Hmm. The guy doesn’t even look at me and then he asks me to wait outside for him. That can’t be good, can it? Maybe I'm being too sensitive. He’s got to finish doing whatever he’s doing first without the hindrance of some wide-eyed little brat. Fine. So I sit down on this little bench he’s got conveniently placed out front. Just sitting there as the seconds tick by with nothing to do. Sitting right outside a celebrity’s home. My heart starts to beat faster. I’ve seen this guy on TV, after all. But so what. A person’s a person, right? But this guy’s not just a person. He’s famous. It's a different breed altogether. The ego, the mystique, the intrigue. I can barely breathe.

I try to calm myself back down. Think normal thoughts, Dan, normal thoughts… I go to the grocery store on a fairly regular basis to buy fruit. Oranges and apples mostly. I like to eat fruit for breakfast. That’s why I get it. It’s good, and good for me, too... I wish this guy would hurry up and open the door so I wouldn’t have to keep on putting myself through this!

I look around. It's really a lovely day. The sun is shining and there's a great view of the surrounding hills and downtown LA. The smog isn’t too bad. The birds are singing. The flowers are pretty. Nice. Real nice...

I hear footsteps approaching the door and my heart skips around, bouncing off my rib cage till it hurts. The door opens again. This time he looks right at me. He’s wearing a tight black golf shirt with the initials BB stitched onto the chest.

“Sorry to keep you waiting. Come on in.”

“Okay,” I say, forcefully shoving my nerves down my throat.

The living space is pleasant, roomy. He gestures for me to take a seat on the couch. “You want anything to drink?” he asks. “Juice? Water?”

What, no champagne?

“Water’d be great,” I tell him.

He goes to the kitchen to get me some. You get that? He went to the kitchen to get water for me.

The couch is very soft and while he’s gone I try sitting in as many positions as I can think of. Legs crossed. Legs sprawled. Back bent forward. Arms on knees. Arms spread out.

I finally go with one leg casually bent at a right angle so the foot rests on my left knee. It gives off the best vibes of comfortable hipness.

He puts the glass in front of me, pulls out another Camel, and lights it. Tiny beads of sweat line the top of his forehead where the ends of his highlighted hair meet his tanned skin.

“I gotta tell you, Daniel, I’m at a real bad emotional level right now.”

Tension pours from this guy like water from a cracked dam. At least he’s being honest.

An early-middle-aged woman walks in from the kitchen. She moves like a timid animal, her shoulders raised, her back slightly bent. She’s wearing brown corduroy pants and a checkered long-sleeve that covers half her hands. “Is everything okay?” she asks.

Byron looks up at her like she walked in on him in the bathroom. “Yes, Sandy,” he seethes, “everything... is... okay.”

Sandy raises her bony hands and the sleeves fall back to reveal thin, pale wrists. “Just wanted to make sure everything was all right.”

“It follows that if everything is okay, everything is also all right, doesn’t it, Sandy?” he growls.

“You’re right, Byron. You’re absolutely right.” She cowers back whence she came.

“Ditzbag,” Mr. Blakely scowls once she’s gone. He takes a long drag. “You see, Daniel. The problem is, my help’s no good. Nobody knows what they’re doing.”

“Uh-huh,” I try and nod sympathetically.

As we’re sitting there, just me and him, me and the semi-big star, he rambles about how nobody uses their head, how everybody is pretty much useless.

“Nobody knows anything about efficiency,” he tells me. “Take Monica, for example. She’s supposed to be here now interviewing you. But you know what she did? When she went out to lunch, she just went out and ate when what she should have been doing was picking up invitations to a party I’m throwing next week. So what does she do? She goes to lunch, comes back, and has to go back out again to get the invitations. Fuckin’ inefficient. Fuckin’ goddamn inefficient. You hear what I’m saying?”

Sort of.

“Uh-huh.”

“You got a resumé or something?”

I pull out my hastily prepared list of hyped-up jobs and inflated experiences, and he scans it quickly. Then grills me intensely.

Who’s your boss here? Why’d you stop doing this? What are the details? What’s his phone number? What’s her address? Did they like you at this one?

I answer each and every one of his questions with superficially relaxed ease. He’s so aggressive with his questions, so pushy that I have to really fight my body from shaking. I think I come off pretty well. He seems relatively satisfied, though when I can’t remember the address to one job off the top of my head, he criticizes my lack of organizational skills. He tells me he absolutely does not stand for mistakes. I guess I’ll try not to make any.

Eventually, as he’s taking another of his constant drags, he says he’s really strapped and that he’ll give me a shot.

“When can you start?” he asks me.

“Whenever,” I tell him.

“How about now?”

“Now?”

“You said whenever, Daniel. That includes now. You weren’t lying to me, were you?”

“No. I guess I can start now.”

“You guess or you can?”

“I can. I can.”

Who would've thought it? Here it is, just another Friday evening, a Friday evening I thought I’d be spending at a party or seeing a movie, but no, instead I’m going to be working for a celebrity.

“I’ve got a guest bedroom here, Daniel. Things may get pretty hectic the next week or so. We’ll be working late and you might want to spend the night here just to make things easier.”

Wait a second now. I’ve heard rumors about Hollywood people and the kinky things that go on in that sleazy little town. Do I really want to sleep in the same house as some guy who has who-knows-what kinds of hobbies and psychotic tendencies?

He senses my trepidation and adds, “unless you have a problem with that. If you’re uncomfortable or feel strange about it, I completely understand. Daniel, if this thing works out with you and me, you’ll be involved at every level of my life except for sex. Sex and emotions.”

Hmm.

“Okay,” I tell him.

“Also,” he continues, “if I get mad or yell at you, it’s not you I’m yelling at. It’s just my anger speaking.”

Uh...

“Okay.”

“Unless, of course, you do something really stupid. Then it will be you I’m yelling at.”

Great.

“Okay.”

He inhales the remaining half of his cigarette, gets up, and leads me into his kitchen. “Let’s go meet Sandy,” he says. “I’m gonna can her soon. She’s so fucking incompetent.”

He leads me outside and down a set of wooden steps to a small office that overlooks the giant cliff below his home. He opens the office door and I see Sandy jump a little bit.

“Hi, Byron. Hi. Everything okay?”

He doesn’t look at her. “Sandy,” he says, “this is Daniel. He’ll be helping you for a while.”

“Great,” she smiles at me. “Glad to meet you.”

“Daniel,” he turns to me, “will you wait out here for a minute?”

“Sure thing,” I tell him.

For the second time in less than an hour I have to wait outside. Outside in the cold evening breeze atop a sheer cliff. My body is trembling a little. Probably a mixture of nerves and temperature. The view is tremendous. And relaxing. Nothing but green trees and an occasional brown shingled roof in the distance. It looks like some secluded spot in the Northwest.

I wonder what he’s talking to her about in there. Me, probably. Either that or he’s telling her what a ditzbag she is.

I feel like I’m in another world out here. I wonder if everyone else under those brown shingled roofs is a stressed-out wannabe star, too?

It suddenly strikes me that I’ve got to get the car back before too late and I’m supposed to meet a friend of mine by seven.

Byron Blakely comes out of the office, his face tensed up probably from temporary nicotine withdrawal. “Daniel, you go in there and talk to Sandy. When you’re done, come upstairs and we’ll start.”

“Okay. I, uh, I can only really stay for a couple hours. I’ve got another—”

“No problem. Just stay as long as you can.” He turns and races back up the stairs.

I go into the office where Sandy is leafing through a couple of well-used folders.

“Hi,” she says with mechanical sweetness. “I’ve just gotta get some information from you. You know, formalities. Then you can be on your way.”

“Sure,” I tell her.

“I’m sorry. Your name is what again?” She fumbles around clumsily for another file.

“It’s Daniel. Daniel Auburn.”

“Darn folders. This place is so disorganized.” She all of a sudden halts her frantic search, looks up at me, and smiles. “I am so glad you’re here.” She speaks with a fake tinge in her voice but her eyes exude a kind of sad sincerity.

“Glad to be here,” I smile back.

“Okay,” she continues her search, “I just need your social security number, that kind of thing... This place is so disorganized!”

The office is indeed disorganized. Folders and papers are scattered on the floor and desk, while little yellow Post-its stick out from the walls like peeling skin from a third-degree sunburn.

She eventually finds the folder she’s been searching for. Or so it seems.

“Aha!” she cries out. “I’ve got it!” She turns and smiles weakly at me. “This place is some mess, huh?”

“It’s not so bad,” I tell her. “I’ve seen worse.”

“Okay, John, what’s your last name again?”

John?

“Oh shoot!” she cries before I can correct her mistake, “this is the wrong folder. If I can’t find the right one, Byron’s gonna kill me. Oh shoot. Oh shoot. Oh shooooot.”

I really want to help calm this woman down. “Hey, it’s okay,” I tell her, “I’m sure it’s around here somewhere.”

“Not with my luck.” She bites her fingernails. “It probably ran away or something.”

We look around the office and finally come up with the folder. It was wedged underneath the leg of her chair.

“Oh God,” she says once it’s found. “I am so stupid. I am so damn stupid. I just wasted a bunch of time looking for that. Talk about stupid.”

“It’s not a big deal.”

“Thanks, Darryl.”

This woman needs a vacation.

She gives me another forced smile and tells me I should go up to see Byron.

“Should I call him Mr. Blakely or Byron?” I ask.

“I call him Byron or even BB when he’s in a good mood,” she says. “But if I were you I’d call him Mr. Blakely. You’re male and you might threaten him otherwise.”

Um… Okay.

I go back upstairs and Mr. Blakely’s on the phone. So I just stand there waiting for him to get off. A couple times during his conversation he glances at me, then at the floor, then back to me.

Whoever’s on the other end of the phone is obviously important. Mr. Blakely keeps asking questions like Why can’t we do that? and Who the fuck does she think she is? and What the hell gives him the right to do that to me?

When he finally hangs the thing up he takes a few steps to his right and picks up a loose piece of paper that’s been on the ground. He crumples it up fast, the veins in his hand swelling in the act. “This,” he holds the thing up to my face. “This is garbage. It goes in the garbage can.” He slams it down into a nearby receptacle. “It’s your job to pick this up and throw it away. I don’t want trash on my floor. I don’t need trash on my floor. You got that? It’s part of your job.” He stares at me. “Am I talking too fast for you?”

“No.”

“Good. If you’re just going to stand around, well, then I don’t need you, either. You’re no better than that piece of garbage. That clear, Daniel? Is it?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Good.”

The sound of a car pulling up the driveway makes its way inside.

“That must be Monica,” he says as he briskly walks toward the front door. “That better be Monica.” There’s something about the way he walks. He’s short and I think he has a complex about it. His shoes seem hit the ground harder than they need to.

I follow him to the front door and watch as an attractive woman emerges from a shiny blue station wagon. She’s casually dressed in an open-collared shirt that matches her car, but her cheeks are a rosy brown and her eyes glint in the shade. Mr. Blakely sidles up to her and briefly berates her for being so late. She apologizes profusely and he eases up. “That’s okay,” he says. “That’s okay. By the way, Daniel’s here.”

It's Monica G. She comes in carrying a small bag and shakes my hand. “Hey Daniel,” she says with a trace of Georgia in her voice. “I am so sorry I’m late. I am so so sorry. I did the dumbest thing. I am so incredibly sorry. I really apologize.”

So much apologizing. What has Mr. Blakely done to these people?

“It’s fine,” I tell her. “It’s absolutely no problem.” Please relax, I’d like to say.

“Thanks for coming, Daniel,” she winks.

Mr. Blakely smiles. “He’s our new slave. I like having young people around. They can do more. They’re not so worn out yet. We’ll just have to see how much he can take.”

“Yep,” Monica concurs. “I hope you can take a lot.”

How much I can take? Is that supposed to be a joke?

It occurs to me that everyone in this house has some kind of insanity bug, and my gut feeling is that they all caught it from Mr. Blakely. I wonder, if I work here, how long it’ll be till I catch it.

“Do you have the invitations?” Mr. Blakely asks eagerly.

“Right here.” Monica opens the bag.

“Let me see them.”

She pulls out several small boxes full of stacks of light blue invitations. They all advertise a big party Mr. Blakely’s holding at his house next week.

Then she pulls out the accompanying envelopes, holds them up next to the invitations, and frowns. “Oh, they’re too big to fit. Guess we’ll have to fold ‘em.”

“That’s okay,” Mr. Blakely says supportively. “People can unfold them later.” He goes to a nearby coffee machine and pours himself the remainder of the pot. There’s only enough for half a cup. “Jesus,” he groans, “I don’t have time for this. I don’t have time.” He turns to me. “Here’s another one of your jobs, Dan. Making coffee. I want to see this pot full at all times. All times. You got that?”

I got it.

“Which way shall we fold them, Vince? With the words on the outside or inside?”

“Mmm. Show me,” he tells her.

Monica proceeds to fold an invitation one way and then another. “Hmm, I like them both,” she says.

“Which do you like, Daniel?” he asks.

“I, uh, they’re both nice.”

“Listen, Daniel, I want someone who’s going to be able to make decisions on his own. You got that?”

“All right,” I say. “I like the words on the outside, then.”

“Nice try, but I can tell you don’t mean it. Monica, we’re going with the words on the inside.”

“Sounds good.”

He tells me I’m going to be folding invitations for the next hour or so and then stuffing them into the envelopes. He asks me if I can handle that. I tell him that, though my education doesn’t cover it, it is something I indeed can handle. He tells me he doesn’t like smart asses. I tell him I’m sorry. But I only say it once.

***

{to be continued...}

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