Creative Writing – The Big Dog

The Big Dog

W. James Jonas III

January 2006

From my desk, all I could hear was his side of the phone conversation, but he was full of energy and clearly in his own kingdom.

Hello James, can you hear me?  This is Mike Epstein publisher of The Southwestern, I have you on speaker phone because I have tons of things to get done, but you are a friend of Beth’s, so I did want to ring you back … What can I do for you?

Yes, I did tell my friend Beth to have you call me.  She told me you do writing or some such thing.  And you know, Beth is the only reason why we are talking right now.  You know I am very busy and most folks do not get a chance to talk to me.  I founded The Southwestern thirty years ago, and we have enjoyed great success from the very start.  In fact, I know of no one else who has enjoyed the strength and growth my team has had.

Well, you know there are thousands of individuals dying to have their work published and only a few publications that publish submitted works.  So, what you are seeking to accomplish has little chance of success and is likely to fail.  However, I do believe that what you are doing is a very good thing; it will make you a better person, and that will make our society better.  You must understand that there are few people who understand, like I do, what it takes to improve society.

There is not really anything I can do to help you.  Perhaps you should go to the internet and see if there are some journals that cover the topics in your writing.  I do not know any names and could not even guess where to start.

You know, we consider The Southwestern a monthly news magazine, so works of fiction are of no interest to us.  Yes, we have accidentally published a piece that was fiction, but when that has happened, you must know, it was a total surprise to us.

For instance, our internal research team was entirely satisfied that the feature story on a Republican funded foster care colony in West Texas that was operated by second generation aliens from Roswell was on the level.  Yes, the supporting photography looked a bit staged, and the San Francisco Bay in the background did give some reason to doubt that the photo was taken in Marfa, but our committee stands by their initial decision and regrets that subsequently determined facts suggest that the story was not completely accurate.

But you must understand, this story was one more way to market hate against the right wing idiots of this country.  If the citizens are going to continue to elect those mindless Republicans in numbers that allow them to function as the majority, it is our obligation to try to convince them that they are wrong.  The story on the alien foster care colony was an ideal vehicle for our efforts; it would have been irresponsible to miss such an opportunity.

You see, as a monthly news magazine, we would be totally out of place without a political agenda.  That is the same reason we superimposed the photo of a Texas Governor, in his business suit, in a group photo of all male cattle.  We are out to make sure readers understand that the establishment is doing weird things with aliens, animals, not to mention social services.  That is just one more reason that thoughtful fiction is of no interest to us; we have an axe to grind, a mission to accomplish, and an enemy to stop.

We have published a couple of other things that I would not consider news, but they were first person accounts by people involved with major disasters or crises.  While these articles did nothing to further our political message, we understand our readers are people too; they deserve a good cry every so often.  Besides, those topics were simply too complicated for anyone on my editorial team to understand.  Why learn something when some poor sap has lived it and will be writing a personal account, for his or her own healing?  You can always buy such stories for pennies, but we always send them a T-shirt too.

As I have mentioned, there really is not anything I can do for you.  I am very busy and am getting ready for a trip.  Ah yes, it is New York City again.  For me, that is just another work day; it is what I do as an important publisher.  Yes, I will need to see a show each evening and there is the shopping, haircut, and just some down time for fun, but the pace is endless; you have no way of understanding how hard it is to get everything done.

But, you know I am more than just a publisher.  35 years ago, I graduated from law school.  My law license is still current, and I am a member of the State Bar and the American Bar Association.  This is important so that people will understand that my crude and self important ways have been developed based on years of great success, not because of a lack of formal education.

Yes, I went to one of the best law schools in the country, and I try to make sure everyone knows that.  Actually, some might suggest that the law school has gotten a great deal better since I, and all the other students who had no interest in law but less interest in serving in the military, stopped filling up graduate spaces that might go to minority students who went off to fight that stupid war.

Well, I really cannot spend anymore time on this visit; New York calls.  I really have to go.

I hope you understand how I have gone out of my way to be of help.  Not everyone gets this chance, but you are important to a friend of mine.

Please let me know, how things turn out for you.  I am sincerely interested.  While there is nothing I can or am going to do to help you, I hope our conversation has been helpful as very few people, and none like you, get this much time with me.  It is only because Beth is my friend, and you are a friend of hers, that I am doing all of this.

I do want you to keep me posted.  I am interested.  Good luck.  Good bye.

As he was hanging up the phone, I heard his grandson say, “Pops, you need to take your nap.  Playing with the phone time is before lunch and after supper.  Let’s put the phone back in the toy chest at the foot of your bed, tuck you in, and have a little rest.”

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