Ted Slipped A Cassette Into the Recorder (Chapter 24, Lou Grant)

3 09 2009


Ted Slipped a Cassette Into the Recorder

Ted Baxter slipped a cassette into the recorder, the back of his hand casually rubbing against the side of Mary Richard’s leg. Mary moved her leg closer to Ted’s hand. Sue Ann Nivens sat in the back seat, chattering away. Neither Ted nor Mary paid much attention to her. Sinatra’s voice seeped out of the speakers. Ted’s free hand caressed Mary’s dress. Mary swallowed, glancing down at Ted’s hand.

“I love Sinatra,” Sue Ann sighed. “Mother used to tell me about what a big star he was. Scrawny little fellow. The bobby-sockers would swoon over him. What a reputation he had with the ladies? Maybe that was part of his attraction. I saw him on television a couple of weeks ago. Still in good voice though he doesn’t walk so well. Didn’t exactly take it easy in his time. Supposed to have been involved with gangsters. I can’t imagine why. What would they have to talk about?”

Ted looked in the rear view mirror.

“What do you see?” Mary asked.

“A yellow cab,” Ted responded. “I could swear it’s been following us.”

“Oh, how exciting!” Sue Ann squealed remembering her late husband Frank and his BMW. The two of them flying along the expressway. And her mother sitting at home, biting her nails. And her sister stewing in their bedroom, blaming Sue Ann for the new curfew inflicted on both sisters because Sue Ann was still out carousing when she should have been home. And her and Frank parking in lover’s lane. And Sue Ann laughing and her hair thrown back, her arms and legs wrapped around Frank as she wrote poems in her head about how fast love seems to pass through us.

“I hope someone is following us. Mystery is life’s greatest spice.”

MURRAY: What’s going on between Mary and Ted?

LOU GRANT: What do you mean?

MURRAY: You know what I mean, Lou.

LOU GRANT: Okay. I don’t have as much control over this thing as I should.

MURRAY: Ted put you up to that, didn’t he?

LOU GRANT: Don’t be ridiculous. It just popped into my head. It’s the scotch.

MURRAY: What ever he gave you, Lou, I’ll double it.


Follow That Car (Chapter 23, Lou Grant)

3 09 2009


Follow That Car

It had rained out. Streetlights splattered on the sweating asphalt. It looked like one of those tacky paintings of a Paris street. I stood in my overcoat underneath the awning outside the bar. Waiting. For what, I had no idea.

It was still raining. A streetcar rang its bell. And thundered by. Newspapers that had been blowing about on the street now, wet, wallpapered the sidewalks. Teenage girls in football jackets over their heads, giggled as they raced down the avenue. I wish I owned a gun.

Mary Richards and her friends came out of the Blue Lagoon. Huddled under two umbrellas. Laughing. Sue Ann screeched as the group made a mad dash across Church Street to the parking lot next to Gatsby’s Steak House.

I pulled my collar up. Rain dripped off my hair, and the tip of my nose and chin. From the bar, you could hear music playing. Billy Joel’s Piano Man. A white van raced up the street. I lost sight of the WTM crowd. The van passed. They were piling two cars. Doors slammed. Mary had climbed into the silver Mercedes with Sue Ann and Ted. Lou and Rhoda continued on through the lot until they reached Rhoda’s red Rabbit. The Mercedes moved slowly across the lot, beeped its horn once and then stopped in front of the attendant’s booth. Windshield wipers kept slapping. The muted siren from a window lowering. Voices. A ticket receipt.

I stepped out to the curb and haled a cab. I don’t know why. Maybe I was bored. I haled a cab. One passed me. A second. The Mercedes had already moved up the street. Stopped at a traffic light. A cab pulled over to the curb.

“Follow that Mercedes,” I said to the driver.

MURRAY:  Wait a minute, Lou.

LOU GRANT: I was on a roll here, Murray.

MURRAY: There were two Lou Grants in the bar.


MURRAY: Isn’t there some kind of rule about that? Some kind of temporal disruption. That changes everything in the future.

LOU GRANT: Like hair loss?


MURRAY: Okay. So there’s a big storm. Lightning and thunder. Why would you do that in your own dream? Why not have a warm pleasant evening. Shirt sleeve weather.

LOU GRANT: You might be right about that. I didn’t have an umbrella. Could have caught a cold.

MURRAY: You can catch a cold in a dream?

LOU GRANT: Maybe.  Do you know how you catch a cold?