by Dennis Daniels
Blanz Valentine is an average guy who works on an assembly line of Ford Manufacturing Company. He fancies himself as the companies counselor who has all the answers for everyone’s problems. Many see him as the man behind the bar that they bring their troubles to for advice, and then let go in a bottle of Vodka. Blanz has been divorced for two years and lives in Edgewater, Texas, where he drives four miles to work each morning. His desire to pick up hitchhikers substitutes his loneliness which gives him a sense of being needed. But most of the hitchhikes often gets out around about the second mile because of his endless conversations going on and on. He doesn’t seem to realize why they would get out of his car on an empty stretch of road with absolutely no buildings in sight. His mind is incapable of recognizing the obvious with his selfish need to unload small conversations about nothing.
When Blanz arrives at work, it’s like a sea of fresh people who value his opinion and encourage his long winded conversations. This is his home, at least the one with no bed or bath tub, but the comfort zone of a small fireplace. Blanz’s shift is over at 5:00 pm. He sees Technical Pete who works on the machines they use to make cars when they break down. Technical Pete approaches Blanz and tells him the guys are going out for a round of drinks, then invites him to come along. Blanz is all in and they meet at a bar called #7, that looks more like a saloon from old cowboy movies.
At #7, the bar’s electricity for studio lights, jukebox, and restrooms are literally the few aesthetics of modern day life. As they arrive, everyone parks their cars where horses should be, but now it’s just horsepower. They all bump into each other as they try to squeeze through the small saloon doors, and rally at the bar. Blanz, Technical Pete, Spirio, George, and Pam. Yes, Pam is one of the guys who’s sort of a tomboy that could make some guys look weak. The group takes a couple shots out of a dirty glass like cowboys do, then grab four pitchers of beer to slow the paste down.
They found a table to enjoy a private conversation about a rumor that has been spreading on the job. Technical Pete says “I heard they was talking about laying off some employees.” Blanz becomes speechless for the first time, and loses all thought patterns in the left side of his brain. Pam thinks it’s funny, and Spirio, and George do too. Blanz gets up and walks to the bar then Technical Pete follows him.
“Hey Blanz, are you alright?”
“I don’t know yet. That job is my life.”
“You gotta be kidding? It’s just a job.”
“Maybe for you it is, but not for me.”
“Hey Blanz, what are you saying here?”
“I’m saying after my divorce the job is what kept me from going crazy.”
“So what you are saying, that another job can’t do the same for you as this one. Come on, Blanz, really?”
“Pete, it’s the people, they need me.”
“It sounds more like you need them, or better yet, a wife.”
Blanz looks at Pete as if he has pushed a button, and became the new counselor for the job.
“Listen, Blanz, why don’t you come over to a little get together at my house tomorrow. I want you to meet my sister. I think you two should talk. I’m not saying that you have to marry her, just talk, that’s all, just talk.”
“I’ll think about it.”
“Great, now come over here and join the fellows with Pam.”
The next day, Ford’s Manufacturing Company sent flyers around explaining about the budget cuts, and layoffs soon to come. Blanz’s conversations are disturbed by his constant worrying about being fired. When his shift is over, Blanz picks up a hitchhiker who looks at him and knows there’s something up with this guy. Blanz immediately started talking about how he might get fired, and as soon as the guy gets in, he gets out, and starts walking. He never asked the hitchhiker where he was going, or what his name was, Blanz just started talking. At about 8:00 pm that night, Technical Pete calls Blanz and asked if he was coming over. Blanz turned him down, telling Pete that he will see him tomorrow at work.
The next day, Blanz arrived at work and waited for the hammer to drop, but nothing happened. His curiosity is worse than his patience when goes into the boss’ office for small talk.
“Hey Blanz, how is it going?”
“Great, great, how’s the wife?”
“Good, but my mother in law is still a, well, you know how it is.”
“Yeah, I do, I do. Hey, Jeff, I know this is kind of odd, but I need to know if I’m getting the boot or not.”
“To be honest, Blanz, no one knows, you will have to wait and see. Everything comes out in the wash, buddy.”
“I understand, hey, tell the wife I said hey.”
“Will do, Blanz, will do.”
On the way back to his station he sees Technical Pete filling in for him.
“Hey, Blanz, these cars are not going to build themselves.”
“I know, I told George to fill in for me.”
“Like hell you did, George is not here today. Listen, Blanz, you’re coming to my house tonight whether you like or not.”
“Yes, okay, Pete, I’ll be there.”
“You better be.”
That evening Blanz wanders over to Pete’s house like a tourist who finally found his way back to his hotel. He rings the doorbell, and Pete opens the door with a big smile.
“Blanz, you made it.”
Pete’s house has that woman’s touch, “clean.” The windows are covered with linen drapes which flowed to the floor like a Roman Palace. The Italian furniture brings class and a certain type of robust to the atmosphere. Suddenly Pete’s wife pops out of nowhere and welcomes Blanz to come in. Pete leads him to the living room where there are two giant chandelier floor lamps that are posted at each side of a large linen couch. There is also a love seat that compliments the three Italian chairs carved out of cherry wood with lion feet.
Pete starts to talk before they take their seat on the large linen sofa.
“Listen, Blanz, if you do not stop worrying, you’re going to lose your job before you get fired.”
“I know, but.”
Pete’s sister, Savannah, walks into the living room while Blanz loses the power of speech, and Pete starts to laugh.”
“Blanz, this is my sister Savannah.”
“Hello, Blanz, I’ve heard good things about you.”
Blanz somehow breaks the chains of childlike innocence and stands up to greet Savannah.
“Thank you, I’ve heard great things about you as well.”
Neither one of them have heard great things about each other, it just seemed fitting for the occasion. Blanz is love struck by Savannah’s presence. Her long dark hair lifts and falls to one side as she walks by an open window. The breeze blows, making her long linen dress caress her curves just so. She goes into the kitchen and immediately comes back and sits on the loveseat in the living room. Pete gets up and leaves Blanz with Savannah so that they may enjoy each other’s company. And that’s exactly what happened, the magic between them filled the room so much, that they invented a new language.
They next day on the way to work, Blanz drove right past a hitchhiker and didn’t realize it. He arrived at work and totally forgot about the layoffs. Blanz was himself again without acknowledging his need to be wanted by everyone is not there anymore. He sees Pete handing out papers with a list of people’s names who were going to be fired. Pete finds his way to Blanz, then hands him an envelope, and continues walking. Blanz takes the envelopes and puts it in his pocket. After his shift was over, he calls Savannah and asks if she would like to take a ride with him. She gives him the green light, and he rushes over to her house.
As Savannah comes out to approach the car, Blanz hops out and opens the car door for her.
“And I thought chivalry was dead.”
“Not for women like you, my love.”
“I think I just got goosebumps.”
They drive off and Blanz hands her the envelope. Savannah looks at him and asks what the envelope is for. He tells her it’s a list of all the people to be fired, and to look for his name. She opens the envelope and tells him it’s not a list, it’s a letter. Blanz is confused and asks Savannah to read it to him.
“It says, “congratulations, because of recent cuts we were able to promote you to a technical maintenance position. Please report to Jeffrey Anderson tomorrow morning at 6:00 AM. Good Luck, CEO Timothy Waters.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes, I’m serious.”
Seconds later Blanz, gets a phone call from Pete.
“Hey Blanz, can you believe they demoted me to the assembly line? It looks like I’m going to be working with you now, buddy.”
“Pete, I’m, I’m, I’m.”
“What, I’m what?”
“I’m going to have to call you back.”
Category: Fiction, Short Story, SNHU Creative Writing, SNHU online creative writing