ALL IN THE GAME...by b. Malin
JUST ANOTHER SHORT STORY...
"Many a Tear has to fall, but it's all in the Game", Tommy Edwards was singing that song as Jessica and her father rode along silently in her father's car. Each of them absorbed in their own thoughts. She 14, going on 20...and he just shy of 50. He was a nice looking man, with a gentle smile and soft gray-green eyes. She, so self conscious of her small frame, and Padded, 32A Bra size. Even though she was considered cute with her head full of Blonde curls and Hazel eyes, along with bright, beautiful smile. She had no mother to reassure her that one day she would not be so thin, and would also develop some curves.
Her mother, Ann, was not dead...just divorced from her father and living in another state. Ann was "Finding Herself" and needed Jessica to understand...and most of the time she did.
Jessica also had a married Sister, Gail, who was 10 years older, and in Jessica's mind was Everything Jessica was not. Gail had curves in all the Right places, and was considered the "Beauty" of the family. After Grad. School she had married a Banker, and they had moved to New York City and were now expecting their first child. Jessica hardly knew Gail, they were not close. She always told herself it was because of their age difference. So Jessica hoped after the baby came that she would be called upon to babysit weekends. She felt if her sister got to know her as a person, that she'd like her.
"Hey Jess, her father was saying, you hear that song"? Jessica nodded. "Well, he sighed that was Popular when I was younger...Now if I could just remember who sang it then...You know I think it was this same guy...How bout that" he said smiling.
Her Father was a Pharmaceutical Rep. for a Middle size Drug Company..."L. B. Cohen Drug Company". He'd been with them for as long as Jessica could remember. It was the late 1950's, and he was making the rounds of his territory which ran from the Bronx to parts of Manhattan. Today they would just be covering the Bronx.
It was Spring Break for Jessica and he had asked her the night before if she wanted to ride with him. She'd said yes right away. Most of the kids she knew were vacationing with their parents in Florida, or some other warm climate. She was the only "Divorced Kid" in the group. Almost a novelty to the other kids. Sometimes it bothered her, but most of the time she was "ok" with living alone with her father. He on the other hand, never asked if she was Lonely, or where her friends were. She sensed some things were best left unsaid.
They arrived at the first destination, a small Drug Store in the Bronx. Her father parked and then they went in together. She felt proud of him as he made his way to the back of the store to the Pharmacy Dept. A Big man waved to them, and soon she was being introduced to Ben Shaw. "Well Lou, and whom do I have the pleasure of meeting, who is this pretty charmer"? Dad beamed, "this is my youngest daughter Jessica, who's hanging out with her old man today...you know making the rounds with me."
Ben cleared his throat, "Listen Lou, I really don't need anything today, he said as he looked down at his watch, I've got no time to talk...there's a Big Super Drug Store opening down the block...they're going to kill us...probably put me out of Business". Having said that, he turned, no goodbye and went into his office closing the door behind him. Jessica and her father just stood there silently. Finally her father spoke, "Come on Jess, let's go. He looked so hurt.
Once back in the car, he turned to her and said softly, "Times are changing.. he said aloud and then almost softly to himself, times are changing". They made a few more stops, some were sales, and some were the same story as Ben had told...Discount Drug Chain coming in, and Everyone was scared. And on this particular day, Jessica would witness the anger and frustration of these good people, whom had no one to take it out on except for her poor father. By the time 4:30 had rolled around he was ashen looking.
"Dad, are you alright"? she asked nervously as they got back into the car. "Jess, let's pick a nice place to eat tonight...How about Italian"? he said. "Sure, sure, Dad whatever you think", she said breathing a sigh of relief. He seemed to be ok. "How about that one on Shore Road, yes, that's where we'll go" He said smiling in her direction. "Oh Giovanni's, Mmm, I can smell the Italian Garlic Bread now". Jessica said trying to match the gaiety of the moment.
They arrive, and are led to a nice booth with a lovely view overlooking the water. The waitress hands them their menus. Someone has just put some money in the music box and once again Tommy Edwards is singing..."Many a tear has to fall, but it's all in the game." Jessica looks up from her menu to see her father wipe away a tear from his eye.