Sunday, April 3, 2011

Laughing in the Sun (A short story about: The Volunteers of America)

Laughing in the Sun (A short story about: The Volunteers of America) (2001) After several years at the VOA, Chick Evens, he had become less accommodating—well, better put, taking no part in the long gossiping sessions of Ben’s, the Senior Case Manager, of the Halfway House, brought to life in his office everyday, several times a day. Because he did not join the group of Case Managers, or go from office to office gossiping with them through the long seasonal days, they thought him something abnormal, and told Sara, Sara being a Case Manager, and licensed social worker, and Sara told Evens, who was the only licensed counselor at the business. Sara had told Evens in so many words, “A storm is coming. Ben is really jealous and envious of you.” For all this inter office teasing of the Counselor, Evens had the genius to adopt a different attitude when they were alone together talking about him. He talked openly and freely as to let the cronies ponder on what he felt were the needs of his clients, being more important than to be gossiping with them the staff, who felt they were appointed gods over the inmates that came out of prison to seek for employment. In all the VOA (on Lake Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota) he was the only staff member who knew books and psychology, and who took his job seriously. Ben, and Sheryl, Sheryl being the supervisor, sometimes found his attitude toward them puzzling and would stand with open mouth listening as he talked to his clients, and Ben doing the same would cackle. He had fine pictures of his travels in his office, told his clientele, they could travel like him, giving them a better taste in their mouths for life: a sweetened one, trying valiantly to arouse in the quiet thief, and non industrious soul, the beauty of work and money. And Ben would say, grinning, “You old fraud!” The director, a farmer by nature, did not understand the staff, and the staff never understood him, or perhaps misunderstood and distrusted him, as they did Sheryl. Sheryl taking no part in their lives, but mostly on the telephone calling her daughter long distance—taking days off to visit them, calling them sick days, as Ben’s gossip groups continued daily, and the Director’s goats produced milk he’d sell at the VOA, to customers that randomly came by. Consequently, Ben’s friendship with Evens was a determining influence upon what he was to do. Assuming his worth was more than Evens’ and the growing realization of his hardness and hatred toward the Counselor, as everyone knew, and now everyone was telling Evens of Ben’s vindictiveness. Hence, he created a stir in the staff members, and told those who mattered “It is me or Evens, one of us will have to go.” And so it was the traveling man who had to leave. Several months had passed, when one of the staff members bumped into Evens, asked “Are you angry at Ben?” “Not really,” said Evens, although he was hurt by all the staff members, “every man like him instinctively tries to justify himself before others, for his actions, I’m sure he was busy doing that. My revenge is success; by him doing what he did, allowed me more time to invest into Real Estate, and writing books, I’m making $200,000-dollars a year, that’s about an eighty percent increase in wages compared to the VOA.” No: 791 (4-4-2011) Dedicated to Ben and Sheryl