Chapter 2

by Peter C. Conrad

“How did you ever become the editor of the school newspaper?” asked Jennifer Webster. She tossed her straight brunette hair back and stared at Larry. She had just moved to the city before Christmas and joined the newspaper because she wanted to be a writer or journalist.

“Who do you think should be the editor?” asked Larry.

“No offence but, where I come from, the editor would always be the person who was in honours English and History. Not someone who was into the sciences, and computers.”

“Like who?”

“You mean from the people around the newspaper now?”

“Sure,” replied Larry.

“Well, I guess Cecil fits the description.”

Larry laughed. “And he was the editor last year.”

“Why wasn’t he voted in as editor this year?”

“I guess it was the computer that gave me this job,” replied Larry.

“How can a computer make you the editor?”

“Well, Cecil still needs help turning the computer on.”

“Oh come on, I don’t believe that.”

“No, he can do that but, he tries to get other people to key board his articles into the computer.”

“He writes out his work?”

“You’ll find out,” said Larry.

“That doesn’t explain how you became editor.”

“I do all the layouts on the computer, check the grammar, and spelling. Basically, by the mid-point of the first term everyone who had something to put into the newspaper was told to ask me if there was room. Cecil didn’t even make decisions about the line up of the stories, the photographs, or the content.”

“Didn’t he edit the material for punctuation?” asked Jennifer.

“No. If Mel didn’t get the photographs in, and I didn’t put in the time to pull it all together, there was no newspaper.”
“I guess that makes sense,” said Jennifer. “But, did that ever happen?”

“What?”

“The newspaper didn’t come out until you guys pulled it together.”

“First two issues last year were two weeks late. Cecil needed a lot of help and I didn’t mind. I joined the paper only to do that but, the amount of work grew fast.”

“What else did you do?”

“When article weren’t done, I just wrote them up.”

“Now that is the part I don’t understand. You’re a—a science nerd,” said Jennifer. She felt relieved to see Larry’s smile. “Well, I mean you guys are in sciences for a reason: you usually can’t write.”

“I just wanted to know if I could do it at first. Once I had it figured out, article writing was easy.”

Jennifer shook her head. “Don’t you wish you had taken more English and History classes now that you know you can do it?”

“Not really. I like sciences.”

“I guess,” she said.

* * *

At the end of the school day Larry had to go to KXOL-TV where he was a youth volunteer. It was one of the things he wanted to try the year before but, now he wandered if he should put so much time into it. His work on the school paper and at Alvin’s was making it difficult.

As he walked to the bus stop Larry thought about what he was doing. He had been telling himself for a long time that he would try this or that just to see if he could do it. But, when should he leave something he had set out to do?

He stepped back from the curb as the bus pulled up. The air was heavy with the smell of exhaust. He paid the fair and made his way to the seats near the back of the bus.

He didn’t like going to the station anymore. When he started he felt important. It wasn’t that he was bored: it was the way he was being treated when he went there that he didn’t like.

Larry remembered when he began as a cameraman. He was carrying a camera on the mobile unit. It wasn’t a position usually given to such a light person. Often he would end up hooking power and television cords while the regular cameramen took over.

He had hung around the television-editing studio, perhaps doing a little more than he should have considering that he was a volunteer. But, if he could do it, they usually let him have some freedom. That’s how he produced the station’s new Promo.

It was used constantly. The production staff knew he had produced it but, Larry wanted to do less work on the mobile and more work in production so he went to see the day producer the last time he had been in. Larry walked into Mr. Baits’ office.

“I am Larry,” he said to the tall red haired man at the desk. “I was the one who produced the station Promo.”

Baits nodded his head as he continued to read the forms in front of him.

“I’m one of the volunteers,” continued Larry. “I’d be glad to do more video work.”

Baits did not nod.

“June! June, where are you?” called Baits. A brunette woman rushed into the office. “Would you get these typed and send these forms off,” he said as he handed the woman the bundle of paper. Larry stepped back into the hall as she walked out. Mr. Baits continued his work and ignored Larry. He felt foolish and small as she stared at him.

He walked down the hall. When he was asked to do the Promo he felt excited and important. Soon he felt uneasy when he walked into the Mixing Studio and asked for a videotape. No one responded. He asked again. He explained to those in the room that he was going to do the Promo.

He knew where to get the tapes so he walked over to the rack and took one. Larry picked up the camera he needed and began shooting scenes of the studios and the other crewmen on the mobile.

Larry wanted to show everyone there what the cameramen were doing. He wanted to show everyone how important that work was.

Larry walked into the mixing studio when no one was scheduled to use it and put the Promo together. He handed in the tape in with Station Promo and his name written on it as producer. It appeared on the air that afternoon. No one thanked Larry for his work. The Promo did not show how important his work was. It was just a typical station Promo and now he knew he could do it.

Larry got off the bus in front of the television station and looked at the building for a minute. He wandered why he had bothered to get off because he had made his mind up: he wasn’t going in. He was finished with his experiment to see if he could do it.

Larry crossed to the other side of the street to catch the bus that would take him back home.

“Would you get that?” asked Alvin when they both heard the electric beep that indicated someone had entered the shop. Larry looked over at Alvin and saw that he was sliding a circuit board into a stereo.

“Sure,” he replied.

“Larry?” said Jennifer, surprised.

“Hi Jen what can I do for you?”

“You never told me you work here,” she said.

“No, I guess I didn’t.”

“Does you father own the place or something?”

Larry laughed, “No, my father wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a circuit board and a speaker.”

“That’s great, you have a job that isn’t just serving burgers.”

“What can I do for you?”

“I brought in a ghetto-blaster.”

“Just a minute,” he said as he turned around and looked at the tags on the radios behind him. “Oh, this one,” he said as pulled the ghetto blaster off the shelf that he had repaired a few days before.

“Did you fix this one, or something?”

“That’s right. The motor was burned out on it. I also cleaned the components and the heads were really dirty. You must use it a lot.”

“Yes I do.”

Alvin walked in from the back room and stood beside Larry.

“Hi Alvin, this is Jennifer Webster. We go to the same school.”

“Hello, Jennifer,” said Alvin. “You can go if you want: I’ll close the place up.”

“I haven’t finished putting in all the screws on the casing for the radio I’m doing,” said Larry.

“Well, you should finish that,” said Alvin. “You can show Jennifer around if you like.”

“Jennifer, do you want to see the shop?”

“Sure,” she replied with a smile.

The two walked to the back room. Larry pointed to Alvin’s chair: “Make yourself comfortable, this will only take a minute.”

“Thanks,” she said as she pulled the chair forward.

Larry placed the screws in their holes and screwed them tight.

“So you’re a techno-geek too,” said Jennifer.

“I guess I am,” said Larry. “So are you a musician, dancer, or some kind of groupie?”

“I’m into drama. I dance some but I don’t know if I’m good enough to do anything with it.”

“Just give it a good honest try,” replied Larry.

“I suppose,” she said.

“I’m nearly done here; do you want to go for a burger or something?”

“Sure.”

Larry tagged the radio he had just finished and carried it to the shelves behind the counter. He pulled his coat on and the two stepped out of the door.

“Let me carry that for you,” said Larry as he took the ghetto blaster from Jennifer. “Where should we go?” asked Larry.

“Nothing too fancy,” replied Jennifer.

Soon they were in the food court at the shopping mall.

“What do you feel like?” asked Larry.

“A cappuccino,” said Jennifer with a smile.

“What’s that?” asked Larry.

“It is like coffee, but much better.”

“I don’t know—”

“Don’t you think that everyone should try different things,” Jennifer asked. Larry shrugged.

“You’ll like it, it’s like hot chocolate.”

“Why not?” replied Larry.

They stepped up to the counter. Jennifer looked at Larry and gave him a little push.

“I’ll order for both of us. We’ll have a chocolate mint cappuccino and a cinnamon.”

“It’s on me,” said Larry. “Lets have something with it.”

“Sure, how about two raspberry almond muffins?” asked Jennifer.

“I’ll try anything,” said Larry.

They sat down and Larry looked at the cappuccino in front of him. He picked up a plastic spoon from the try. He dipped it into the white topping and tasted it. He frowned.

“It’s not whip cream, its whipped milk. That’s not the good part anyway. Drink some.”

Larry picked up the cup and tasted it. When he put his cup down Jennifer’s smile broadened and she laughed. Larry felt the smear of whipped milk on his lip. He quickly whipped it off, turning red.

“I love it when people do that for the first time.”

“You were just waiting for that, weren’t you?” said Larry, now smiling.

“Maybe. So what do you think?”

“It’s just hot chocolate,” replied Larry.

“I told you, you would like it,” said Jennifer as she picked up a plastic spoon and began removing the wiped milk from her cup and putting it on the tray.

“No way,” said Larry. “I won’t let you get away with that.”

Jennifer smiled at him and picked up her cup and had a drink leaving the whip on her lip for a moment. Larry laughed.

“Why are you working at Alvin’s repair, you don’t look like the type that needs the money. You have your own truck and even though you don’t wear designer clothes like Limi, you dress all right.” They called Cecil; Limi because he always wore limited edition clothes and made sure everyone knew it.

“I just went in once to ask for some components for my remote control unit. Alvin sold me the parts and said that if I could get it running, to bring it back for him to see. So I did.”

“What did he say about that?”

“He wanted to find out how a kid knew so much.”

“And how did you know how to fix it?”

“I had been using electronic hobby kits for years and had bought some books with circuit plans. I made a lot of messes but, by the time I got to high school, I wasn’t doing too badly.”

“So Alvin hired up for that reason.”

“No. I think he was just curious about what I could do so when he suggested that I drop by and he would be able to show me how to do some things I did. I doubt that he thought I would be there just about every day with questions or plans.”

“He should have wanted to kick you out for wasting so much of his time.”

“He always answered my questions. One day he asked me to check a circuit. I found the trouble. Then he asked me how I would fix it. Once I explained what I would do he said ‘do it and I’ll pay you.’”

“And that was it?”

“Well, he did know what I could do. That’s probably more than he would get from others who were just off the street.”

“It sounds like it was personal too.”

“What do you mean?”

“He liked you, I guess.”

“Maybe. What about you? Why did your parents move here?”

Jennifer adjust herself uncomfortably.

“Well, my Mom is an Illustrator,” said Jennifer softly.

“Illustrator?”

“She draws and paints pictures for publications. You know graphics, like on your computer.”

“Sure.”

“Well she got a half-time position here at the university medical college to draw anatomical things for their publications. She also is doing the free-lance work from back east that she used to do.”

“Like what?”

“Whatever they ask for. She has done book covers, ink drawings for magazines, and some work that has been used for web-sites on the Internet.”

“What does your Dad do?”

“He’s still back east. He’s a teacher but he was told that he was not going to have a job next year because of cutbacks. He has only been teaching for a few years. Before that he was a radio producer, and a freelance writer,” said Jennifer.

“That’s interesting. Are your parents separated?”

“Sure he’s back where we came from and we are here.”

“No, I mean, are they officially separated?”

“What?”

“Before people get divorced, they have to be separated for a year or two.”

Jennifer’s eyes widened with surprise. “Is that what happened to your parents?”

“Yes.”

“That’s terrible,” replied Jennifer.

“It wasn’t that bad. We were older when it came to that and now it feels normal. Well, at least to me it feels like it should be.”

“Who doesn’t it feel normal to?” asked Jennifer.

“I’m not sure about my Mom but, it certainly always got to Derrick, my older brother. Everything seemed to effect him badly.”

“What’s he doing now?”

“Just skiing and snow boarding full time.”

“How can he do that?”

“He was living with Dad but when the snow came he headed off to the mountains Dad feels guilty, I guess, because he tried to get Derrick a job at the bank he worked at. But, Derrick was fired, or should I say, just asked to leave. Ever since then he has skied all winter and wandered around camping in summer.”

“That’s sad,” said Jennifer.

“I have always wanted to avoid being like him. That’s probably why I keep working and kept looking for different things to do.”

“I guess that is good,” said Jennifer quietly. “What does your mother do now?”

“She’s a secretary in law firm.”

“That’s good.”

“I can give you a ride home. I have my truck here.”

“Oh yes, thank you,” said Jennifer. k.”

Baits did not nod.

“June! June, where are you?” called Baits. A brunette woman rushed into the office. “Would you get these typed and send these forms off,” he said as he handed the woman the bundle of paper. Larry stepped back into the hall as she walked out. Mr. Baits continued his work and ignored Larry. He felt foolish and small as she stared at him.

He walked down the hall. When he was asked to do the Promo he felt excited and important. Soon he felt uneasy when he walked into the Mixing Studio and asked for a videotape. No one responded. He asked again. He explained to those in the room that he was going to do the Promo.

He knew where to get the tapes so he walked over to the rack and took one. Larry picked up the camera he needed and began shooting scenes of the studios and the other crewmen on the mobile.

Larry wanted to show everyone there what the cameramen were doing. He wanted to show everyone how important that work was.

Larry walked into the mixing studio when no one was scheduled to use it and put the Promo together. He handed in the tape in with Station Promo and his name written on it as producer. It appeared on the air that afternoon. No one thanked Larry for his work. The Promo did not show how important his work was. It was just a typical station Promo and now he knew he could do it.

Larry got off the bus in front of the television station and looked at the building for a minute. He wandered why he had bothered to get off because he had made his mind up: he wasn’t going in. He was finished with his experiment to see if he could do it.

Larry crossed to the other side of the street to catch the bus that would take him back home.

* * *

“Would you get that?” asked Alvin when they both heard the electric beep that indicated someone had entered the shop. Larry looked over at Alvin and saw that he was sliding a circuit board into a stereo.

“Sure,” he replied.

“Larry?” said Jennifer, surprised.

“Hi Jen what can I do for you?”

“You never told me you work here,” she said.

“No, I guess I didn’t.”

“Does you father own the place or something?”

Larry laughed, “No, my father wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a circuit board and a speaker.”

“That’s great, you have a job that isn’t just serving burgers.”

“What can I do for you?”

“I brought in a ghetto-blaster.”

“Just a minute,” he said as he turned around and looked at the tags on the radios behind him. “Oh, this one,” he said as pulled the ghetto blaster off the shelf that he had repaired a few days before.

“Did you fix this one, or something?”

“That’s right. The motor was burned out on it. I also cleaned the components and the heads were really dirty. You must use it a lot.”

“Yes I do.”

Alvin walked in from the back room and stood beside Larry.

“Hi Alvin, this is Jennifer Webster. We go to the same school.”

“Hello, Jennifer,” said Alvin. “You can go if you want: I’ll close the place up.”

“I haven’t finished putting in all the screws on the casing for the radio I’m doing,” said Larry.

“Well, you should finish that,” said Alvin. “You can show Jennifer around if you like.”

“Jennifer, do you want to see the shop?”

“Sure,” she replied with a smile.

The two walked to the back room. Larry pointed to Alvin’s chair: “Make yourself comfortable, this will only take a minute.”

“Thanks,” she said as she pulled the chair forward.

Larry placed the screws in their holes and screwed them tight.

“So you’re a techno-geek too,” said Jennifer.

“I guess I am,” said Larry. “So are you a musician, dancer, or some kind of groupie?”

“I’m into drama. I dance some but I don’t know if I’m good enough to do anything with it.”

“Just give it a good honest try,” replied Larry.

“I suppose,” she said.

“I’m nearly done here; do you want to go for a burger or something?”

“Sure.”

Larry tagged the radio he had just finished and carried it to the shelves behind the counter. He pulled his coat on and the two stepped out of the door.

“Let me carry that for you,” said Larry as he took the ghetto blaster from Jennifer. “Where should we go?” asked Larry.

“Nothing too fancy,” replied Jennifer.

Soon they were in the food court at the shopping mall.

“What do you feel like?” asked Larry.

“A cappuccino,” said Jennifer with a smile.

“What’s that?” asked Larry.

“It is like coffee, but much better.”

“I don’t know—”

“Don’t you think that everyone should try different things,” Jennifer asked. Larry shrugged.

“You’ll like it, it’s like hot chocolate.”

“Why not?” replied Larry.

They stepped up to the counter. Jennifer looked at Larry and gave him a little push.

“I’ll order for both of us. We’ll have a chocolate mint cappuccino and a cinnamon.”

“It’s on me,” said Larry. “Lets have something with it.”

“Sure, how about two raspberry almond muffins?” asked Jennifer.

“I’ll try anything,” said Larry.

They sat down and Larry looked at the cappuccino in front of him. He picked up a plastic spoon from the try. He dipped it into the white topping and tasted it. He frowned.

“It’s not whip cream, its whipped milk. That’s not the good part anyway. Drink some.”

Larry picked up the cup and tasted it. When he put his cup down Jennifer’s smile broadened and she laughed. Larry felt the smear of whipped milk on his lip. He quickly whipped it off, turning red.

“I love it when people do that for the first time.”

“You were just waiting for that, weren’t you?” said Larry, now smiling.

“Maybe. So what do you think?”

“It’s just hot chocolate,” replied Larry.

“I told you, you would like it,” said Jennifer as she picked up a plastic spoon and began removing the wiped milk from her cup and putting it on the tray.

“No way,” said Larry. “I won’t let you get away with that.”

Jennifer smiled at him and picked up her cup and had a drink leaving the whip on her lip for a moment. Larry laughed.

“Why are you working at Alvin’s repair, you don’t look like the type that needs the money. You have your own truck and even though you don’t wear designer clothes like Limi, you dress all right.” They called Cecil; Limi because he always wore limited edition clothes and made sure everyone knew it.

“I just went in once to ask for some components for my remote control unit. Alvin sold me the parts and said that if I could get it running, to bring it back for him to see. So I did.”

“What did he say about that?”

“He wanted to find out how a kid knew so much.”

“And how did you know how to fix it?”

“I had been using electronic hobby kits for years and had bought some books with circuit plans. I made a lot of messes but, by the time I got to high school, I wasn’t doing too badly.”

“So Alvin hired up for that reason.”

“No. I think he was just curious about what I could do so when he suggested that I drop by and he would be able to show me how to do some things I did. I doubt that he thought I would be there just about every day with questions or plans.”

“He should have wanted to kick you out for wasting so much of his time.”

“He always answered my questions. One day he asked me to check a circuit. I found the trouble. Then he asked me how I would fix it. Once I explained what I would do he said ‘do it and I’ll pay you.’”

“And that was it?”

“Well, he did know what I could do. That’s probably more than he would get from others who were just off the street.”

“It sounds like it was personal too.”

“What do you mean?”

“He liked you, I guess.”

“Maybe. What about you? Why did your parents move here?”

Jennifer adjust herself uncomfortably.

“Well, my Mom is an Illustrator,” said Jennifer softly.

“Illustrator?”

“She draws and paints pictures for publications. You know graphics, like on your computer.”

“Sure.”

“Well she got a half-time position here at the university medical college to draw anatomical things for their publications. She also is doing the free-lance work from back east that she used to do.”

“Like what?”

“Whatever they ask for. She has done book covers, ink drawings for magazines, and some work that has been used for web-sites on the Internet.”

“What does your Dad do?”

“He’s still back east. He’s a teacher but he was told that he was not going to have a job next year because of cutbacks. He has only been teaching for a few years. Before that he was a radio producer, and a freelance writer,” said Jennifer.

“That’s interesting. Are your parents separated?”

“Sure he’s back where we came from and we are here.”

“No, I mean, are they officially separated?”

“What?”

“Before people get divorced, they have to be separated for a year or two.”

Jennifer’s eyes widened with surprise. “Is that what happened to your parents?”

“Yes.”

“That’s terrible,” replied Jennifer.

“It wasn’t that bad. We were older when it came to that and now it feels normal. Well, at least to me it feels like it should be.”

“Who doesn’t it feel normal to?” asked Jennifer.

“I’m not sure about my Mom but, it certainly always got to Derrick, my older brother. Everything seemed to effect him badly.”

“What’s he doing now?”

“Just skiing and snow boarding full time.”

“How can he do that?”

“He was living with Dad but when the snow came he headed off to the mountains Dad feels guilty, I guess, because he tried to get Derrick a job at the bank he worked at. But, Derrick was fired, or should I say, just asked to leave. Ever since then he has skied all winter and wandered around camping in summer.”

“That’s sad,” said Jennifer.

“I have always wanted to avoid being like him. That’s probably why I keep working and kept looking for different things to do.”

“I guess that is good,” said Jennifer quietly. “What does your mother do now?”

“She’s a secretary in law firm.”

“That’s good.”

“I can give you a ride home. I have my truck here.”

“Oh yes, thank you,” said Jennifer.

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About peterconrad2014

I am a writer with experience in writing short stories, articles, non-fiction books, the novel, on line course content, journalism, and encyclopaedia articles. Never accepting limitations, I have had successes in diverse writing approaches. I am a storyteller, teacher, and artist.
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