jailhouse-door-2Bill had already borrowed rent money from his brother for three months. His brother said he could not afford another month’s help, so on October 1st, when the rent was due, Sue went down to the landlady, an old woman who occupied the first floor, and explained the situation. She gave Sue an extra two weeks to pay. Sue attempted to borrow the money from her parents, but her father declined a loan. With no place else to turn, Bill asked his own father. He picked up the eighty dollars that evening at the Western Union window in Campus Drugs, the pharmacy catty-corner to where Bill had been arrested.

Bill had never told his father he was arrested. He never told him he was in trouble, that he was going to jail. Totally broke, he had borrowed his final trimester’s tuition from his father who made him promise to stay away from demonstrations. He needed the money; he made the promise. He simply could not find a way to tell him what had happened and he wouldn’t now. He promised he’d pay his father back as soon as he could.

After that third meeting, Bailey changed Bill’s visits to monthly. Bill kept pounding the streets relentlessly, but he had no job prospects. No one called back but several prospective employers sent him copies of the positive police report.

It was hopeless. Pounding the streets was useless. Getting a professional job was impossible. It would be some twenty years until Bill could get a professional job. Most of his colleagues the same age already had almost enough years of service to retire and were near maximum salary. Bill, just starting, made minimum salary and could never reach maximum. Bill was totally distraught and in a moment of extreme anxiety and near uncontrollable anger, he called Bailey and begged him to help him get a job. Bailey told him to keep looking and to call in every Monday.

Bill called Bailey a week later. Bailey told him to be at his office on Wednesday at ten in the morning. He had a job for him.

***********************************

Bill arrived before ten. He and Bailey had a few minutes to talk. Bailey assured him it was no big job, just day labor at minimum wage that he could stay at until he got a regular job. Bill said he didn’t care,  anything would do.

He was already figuring in his head. Forty hours at a dollar-sixty made about fifty-five dollars clean. A week and a half and he could pay the rent. Two weeks and he could buy food. Three weeks and he could start to get ahead on the next month and begin paying his brother and father back. Whatever it was, it couldn’t be worse than working at the bullet factory sorting the copper from the lead in the old phone cable. And, he thought, it would keep him busy, keep his mind preoccupied and off his problems.

He sat impatiently waiting. Ten-fifteen, ten-thirty. Bailey and he had finished their conversation awhile ago. Bill was wondering if the job was happening. Bailey was busy with paperwork.

Then there was a knock on the door, the door opened and a big, black teddy bear of a man stepped into the office. The heels of his feet hung over the ends of his shoes and he actually shuffled in. Bill saw he wore cranberry-colored pants, a pink shirt and a cranberry, velvet hat with a brim. He also wore a blue jean jacket that was open.

The moment he saw Bill, he remembered him. The moment Bill saw him, he remembered him. The man broke out in a broad grin.

“C’mon baby, let’s go,” he said.

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