By Jan Mears Cooper
Shirley wanted to slam the door behind her but Jerry was right on her heels and ruined her dramatic exit from the studio executive’s office. Neither of them said a word as they headed for their production bungalow. This time she vented her frustration, rattling the framed picture of the two of them holding their Emmy.
“They can’t split us up!” she fumed. Jerry still hadn’t said a word as he headed for his desk and sat down on his chair. Shirley paced the small confines of the office and righted the picture.
“Look at us!” She gestured to the smiling pair. “We’re the ‘Dynamic Duo’. We’re the ones who make ‘My Neighbor Madge’ a hit. Stan just sits in his comfy office, while we do the real work!” When Jerry didn’t respond she turned in time to see him take the flask out of his pocket and take a swig.
She sighed. “Jerry…” he held his hand up to stop her.
“Not now. I get it enough at home, I don’t need it from you.”
Shaking her head Shirley went to her desk and sat down. She eyed the typewriter and wondered, not for the first time, why SHE had the typewriter on her desk, and not Jerry. She knew the studio heads just saw her as a glorified typist to Jerry’s creative genius. The reality of Stan’s ultimatum hit her. The meeting had just been a formality. The Studios were a boys club and she was not a boy. SHE would be the one to go, not Jerry. Somehow, she needed to prove that she was the better writer of the two. Jerry took another drink and a small insidious thought wormed its way through her mind. If she told someone about his drinking on the job, Jerry would be fired. All she would need to do is tell Veronica, Stan’s secretary and the rest would be up to fate.
“Well, be best get writing, while we both have a job. There’s still a deadline to meet.” She slipped the paper into the typewriter and started work on the next episode. Jerry continued to damage his liver. Shirley knew that things were bad for him and losing his job would just make it worse. She tried to drown out her thoughts of betraying her friend.
Shirley looked at the script. The writing was awful. Yanking the paper out of the typewriter, she crumpled it, tossing it to the trash can. It reminded her of the first time they sat down to write the pilot. The two of them literally finished each other’s sentences. It was fun and exciting and they laughed a lot. They made a game of “trashcan shots”. They were good together.
“Come on Jerry, let’s get those ratings up and show Stan that he needs BOTH of us.”
She made them each a cup of coffee, took Jerry’s flask and together they worked far into the night. They were a team and they would stay that way.
Jan Cooper, a frequent Modern Retro Woman short story contributor, lives in an imaginary world where she interacts daily with her characters. Sometimes reality breaks through so she also works as an elementary school teacher.
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