New Name, Same Old Story
By Mike Stevens
A Charles Placard Tale
“Al Blank held the welder in his left hand, but his mind was already at the party. He was going to drink like a fish, and crash on his friend’s couch. Before he could go to the party, he had to finish this welding job. NASA had commissioned his boss’s company to weld their spaceship. But, since it was only a mock-up, and would never go into space, he didn’t have to check his welds for strength. He quickly welded around the window, and called it good. After all, he had a party to go to…
“Ahhh!” screamed the beautiful blond astronaut as she was being sucked out of the airlock. Her shriek of terror was cut off in mid-scream as her lungs drew nothing but the vacuum of space. Astronaut Zachary Taylor Kershaw, better known in the bars around Houston as ‘Zeke’, knew that if he didn’t plug the hole near the window, he too would suffer the same fate. Zeke was thinking for a moment of how he’d miss having a hot girl sharing the canned air of the spacecraft. Man, had she ever had…he wrenched his mind from pleasurable thoughts back to less-pleasurable thoughts, such as stopping the oxygen that was rushing out the hole in the ship with incredible speed. He desperately looked around, until his eyes came to rest on Jolene’s seat cushion. It was as tall as she was, cushioning her gorgeous bod…now was not the time for daydreams. He shook his head to clear it, grabbed the cushion, and stuffed it in the hole. There, it was working. Just a little bit further, and…suddenly, the cushion made a loud sucking sound, as it too was pulled through the hole into nothingness. Great! His watering eyes resumed their frantic search, but to no avail. He had removed his seat cushion from the spacecraft because it felt uncomfortable. There was nothing else to stop the air, he realized with a sinking feeling.”
Jasper Winger reread what he'd written, and kept up his furious writing until he reached the end. Using his new name, Charles Placard would send in his new book to Behemoth Press, and they’d grant Jasper Winger a book deal, and not have the preconceived notions that had kept him from reaching dramatic success under his real name.
Behemoth Press was going crazy, crazy with laughter. A book manuscript was making the rounds. It was at least as funny as anything Charles Placard had written, and Charles had mysteriously vanished. So without Charles, Behemoth was looking for a new comedy writer.
“Hello?” Charles breathed into the phone. He had just answered the ringing telephone, and heard,
“Yes, is Mr. Jasper Winger there?”
“No, this is the home of…”, what was he saying? Anyone calling for that name had to be from Behemoth Press. “Ah, that is to say, speaking.”
“Yes, Mr. Winger, my bosses here at Behemoth Press would like to offer you a book deal. They loved what they read.”
Charles was vindicated! Because they thought his name was Justin Winger, and not Charles Placard, they had read what he wrote with no preconceptions. “That’s great,” he replied.
“Wonderful! We’d like to set up a time where we can meet you and work out the particulars.”
“I’m free to come in at any time.” He’d keep the meeting, and enjoy the moment they realized he was Charles Placard.
“How about tomorrow morning at 10.00?”
“10.00am sounds great, I’ll be there.”
“Great; we all are looking forward to meeting a man with such comic writing ability.”
After Charles slammed the receiver down in disgust, he tried to figure out what he should do next. He loathed the idea of finding another blue-collar job. They were fine for regular people, but he was irregular! He was sick and tired of everyone else telling him he should give up on his dream of being a successful dramatic writer. He knew deep in his heart he would someday be considered great. He just had to figure out a way to showcase his talent. Then, he had it, the perfect way to showcase it. If a regular book publisher wouldn’t publish his dramatic work, he would publish it himself!