“Settle down,” Raymond urged his closest ally. “What in the world has you so upset?”
Marvin paused to catch his breath.
“‘Upset’ isn’t the word!” he roared while trying to get some air. “We’ve got trouble. We’ve got big trouble!”
“What are you talking about?” asked Raymond, who was the calm one for a change.
“Did you notice all the callers on today’s show?” Marvin bellowed. “Did you notice anything different about them?”
“I noticed it was mighty quiet for a Friday show,” Raymond answered. “We didn’t have many callers at all. I had to listen to that barber go on for what seemed like forever about haircuts. I guess my regular audience was as bored as I was.”
“Oh, it wasn’t the barber keeping them away,” Walsh exclaimed, finally beginning to catch his breath. “It was those women!”
“What women?” asked Raymond, obviously confused.
“That woman preacher and that lady politician. Oh, and that newspaper editor!” Marvin barked. “They’re the ones who kept your callers away.”
“You’re going to have to calm down and explain what you’re talking about,” instructed Cooper.
“They’ve got half the women in town signed up to attend their breakfast tomorrow,” Marvin explained. “And to hear people tell it, there may not be enough women to cook breakfast before the turkey shoot tomorrow morning.”
“What does that have to do with folks not calling my show?” Raymond asked.
“It has everything to do with it!” Marvin shouted, obviously exasperated at his friend’s lack of understanding. “Nobody wanted to call you and have to explain that their wives weren’t going to be cooking breakfast tomorrow.”
“Hmm,” Raymond rubbed his chin as he thought aloud, “so that’s why I couldn’t get hold of Farley or Elbert Lee to be on my show today.”
“Now you’re getting it,” Marvin said knowingly. “They didn’t want to explain to the entire Valley that they can’t control their wives.”
“That is peculiar,” Raymond responded, then continued, “I’m glad there’s at least one man who wears the pants in his house,” obviously referring to Marvin.
Walsh stood there, looking like a little boy with his hands in his pockets and his face turned down as he stared intently at nothing in particular on the floor.
“Please tell me,” Cooper beseeched his friend, “your wife will be cooking tomorrow morning.”
Marvin stood almost frozen. The moment was eerily reminiscent of a recent Sunday when Brother Jacob interrupted the contemporary service at the Lutheran church to ask Walsh if he was okay.
After what seemed like an eternity, Marvin stuttered, “Yes, Ima Jean is going to cook breakfast tomorrow.”
“What aren’t you telling me?” Raymond asked.
“It’s those women!” Marvin shouted. “It’s their fault. They’ve got all the wives in town worked up, and now they’re all saying if they’re going to cook breakfast, they’ll be eating it, too!”
“Are you trying to tell me,” Raymond said in an accusatory tone, “that your wife and the wives of Farley and Elbert Lee are going to be at the Methodist church, not the Baptist church, having breakfast tomorrow morning?”
“Well, I wasn’t really trying to tell you that,” Walsh answered softly. “But I guess that’s about the long and short of it.”
Both men were quiet for a moment, but their silence was quickly interrupted by a frantic voice just outside the radio station office on Main Street. When they looked out the window, both men recognized Bascomb Finch, shouting to anyone within earshot.
“What is it, Bascomb?” Raymond hollered as he rushed out the door. “What has you so riled up?”
“I saw him,” Bascomb rambled, trying to catch his breath. “I saw him.”
“You saw who?” asked Walsh, caught up in the sudden drama. “Who did you see?”
“A.J.!” Finch shouted. “I saw A.J. Fryerson walking through the playground behind the Methodist church!”
Raymond attempted to take control of the situation. “You were probably just seeing things, Bascomb. No one has seen A.J. in months.”
“Don’t be telling me what I saw and didn’t see,” Finch responded angrily. “I know what I saw and who I saw, and it was A.J. Fryerson.”
At that moment, Iris Long stepped out the door of the Hometown News office.
“I told you we had trouble,” Marvin mumbled to Raymond.
Read the Lennox Valley story from the beginning, with more detail and inside information about the goold folks who live there in “Lennox Valley: the Book.” Available at Amazon.com and www.LennoxValley.com. Writer Kevin Slimp is a Johnson City native known for his expertise in publishing technology. “Lennox Valley” is fictionally based on people he has met in years of travel. Contact him at email@example.com.