Luck & Fame Are Four Letter Words by Paddy Kelly

No. words: 18900

Style: Humour - US History, Mainstream

Published: 5 / 2017

Available Formats to Download: MOBI EPUB PDF 

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Luck & Fame Are Four Letter Words

by Paddy Kelly


A new president has taken the reins, the Space Race is in full swing and the economy is at its peak since the end of WWII. It’s 1961 and the future looks bright. However, the entire country is not running on greased groves. Rank Publishing Ltd., in New York City, is hanging on by a thread.

With the advent of electronic printing, a television in nearly every house, and newspaper circulation up almost tenfold since the end of the war, news stories are cheaper and more readily available. Magazine circulation is plummeting and the new sensation is supermarket tabloids.

Kate Kennedy is a young reporter with promise, if she can stop tripping over herself. Two years out of college, with a degree in journalism, Kate has landed a desk at one of the most prestigious Broadway publishing houses in the country, Rank Publishing. But young Kate is quickly learning the difference between the ideals of journalism and the reality of the work place.

One of her college heroes was the mysterious John Lawrence Singer who, with the right PR machine behind him, flaunting his poor spelling, terrible grammar and weak descriptive abilities as a new revolutionary writing style, became an overnight sensation with his post war, existentialist novel War Is Bad.

The problem is John Lawrence Singer hasn’t been seen nor heard from since 1947. A year after his phenomenal financial success, JLS appears to have fallen off the face of the earth.

A great man once said that fame and success is the result of a complex combination of factors which interplay off one another all in convergence coming together in exactly the right place at precisely the right time. In other words it’s just dumb ass luck because, no matter how much talent you have… Luck & Fame Are Four Letter Words!


Luck & Fame Are Four Letter Words

(Paddy Kelly)

Luck & Fame


It's common knowledge that people are the heart of any good newspaper story. The drama, the excitement. The humanity! And there are some who feel that newspapers are the heart of society. Heck, the world. Some like J.J. Hobson fer instance.

Guess I better introduce myself so you folks don’t go gettin’ suspicious and wonderin’ why a sanitation engineer is tellinya’ll this little story. I was hired on here as a janitor ‘bout ten years ago but was promoted to Sanitation Engineer last March. It don’t pay much more but Mrs. Reeves in Human Resources said folks would respect me more. They don’t.

Not like my uncle Rusty, Rusty Fender. He’s a English Teacher at the university in Birmingham. He’s real smart with words. Some folks call him a cunning linguist. Not sure why people laugh when I tell them that. They do.

My name’s Eugene Amos Corn, from Tuscaloosa County, Alabama and I been keeping this here notebook ever since I came to the big city ten years ago casin’ I ever wanna go back to Tuscaloosa and open my own big magazine.

J.J. Hobson is the owner and man in charge with controlling interest in Rank Publishing, Ltd. The ‘Ltd’ ain’t really an American thing but J.J. figured it sounded more sophisticated then ‘Co.’ and would corral the educated crowd.

This magnificent edifice of man located at 1016 Broadway, right here in the heart of the Big Apple is the J.J. Hobson Building. (That's New York City to you country folk!)

I know what you're probably thinking; What kind’a egotistical, maniacal, maniac goes and gets a 57 story building named after himself? Well, it was a smart man that’s who! A smart man like J.J. Hobson.

Heck, it was J.J. himself what got them fine, college educated architects together to draw up all them detailed plans. Then hired all them skilled builders with their welders and masons and highly trained carpenters after he went and borrowed all that money from them banks and then employed all them genius accountants to manage all that cash, pay all them highly trained manager people and then got them there lawyer folks with years and years of university to put the deal together. And he got them to do it all with other people's money!

And the best part is, if'n the business fails, J.J. don't lose a penny! Now that's smart business. OPM! That's the American Way!

Men like J.J. could see the future even before it happened and the future was newspapers, newspapers and magazines! In short, print is the wave of the future. Radio is dead. Forget T.V., he'd preach. Electronics is over rated and had absolutely no future in it. Just something the Yankees dreamed up to win the war against them Nazi fellas twenty years ago. A passing fad, nothing more.

J.J. set up the company just after the war and The Rank company now publishes mainly magazines but we have one of the biggest newspapers in these here United States.

Forget pubs like The L.A. Times, The Chicago Sun or the San Francisco Examiner. All rags in comparison. There's only one New York Time!

The original name was supposed to be The New York Times but apparently when J.J. come up from Arkansas the name was already taken.

Our story begins up on the 47th Floor, in office #4707, row E, desk number 52A, the Literary Review desk.  

At this desk sits a pretty, slight little girl, with long auburn hair of about twenty-five years old. I don't mean she's slightly a girl, or slightly like a girl! I just mean she's a bit thin, which worries her father sometimes because it makes her seem a little fragile. Daddy's always think their little girls are fragile.

'Course it don't worry her mom none. She's slight too. So slight in fact that her father took her mom to a Halloween dress up party one time and when folks asked what she was supposed to be, her father would get her to stand sideways and stick out her tongue.

“She's a zipper! Get it?!” Her mom didn't laugh but folks would. Of course they didn't laugh so much the next year when her dad went naked wearin' nuthin' but a pair of roller skates.

Said he was a pull toy.

They didn't get to many more invites after that.




Reminiscent of a thousand chickens all pecking in syncopated unison the din of dozens of typewriters dominated the expansive room with rows of desks and whose back office seemed to be indiscernibly hidden somewhere along the back wall.

The office was once visited by Woody Allen for an interview. He stepped off the elevators and just stood there. The receptionist asked if he was alright.

“Yes. Just wondering what time the next bus stops here.” He answered.

This morning at desk number 52A in Row E of office #4707 Kate advanced the carriage roller on her Underwood-Olivetti and perused the story which was due fifteen minutes ago.

No typos, as usual.

No spelling errors as usual and no grammatical faux pas, as usual.

“He'll hate it. As usual.” She mumbled.

She pushed away from her desk and dutifully trudged up the long aisle towards the slaughtering room of the abattoir. To the gas chamber at Leavenworth, to the ovens at Auschwitz. To the office of Harry S. Steinkopf, Editor-in-Chief of the New York Time Magazine Group.

The young attractive secretary, a temp sent over by the agency because Mrs. Dumbarton was out sick that day, sat at the desk outside his office nervously typing away as Kate approached. A quick glance to the side of the oak desk revealed the small, wire waste basket nearly half full of damp Kleenex. Further evidence of recently struck tragedy was revealed by the young blonde’s slightly smeared make-up. Kate pointed at the door and the secretary sniffled a nod.

And another temp permanently scarred in battle! Kate mused.

Kennedy's knock on the door elicited a Neanderthal-like grunt. In her year at the publishing house she had become fluent in Steinkopf-ese and knew to interpret the grunt as 'enter' in human language.

Steinkopf sat behind his desk, a giant red marker in his fist bleeding all over another first draft of someone else's story.

Kate, as did most of the staff, reckoned that Steinkopf was a frustrated high school English teacher in another life. But because he psychologically scared so many enthusiastic young minds, forever stunting their academic growth, to balance the Ying and Yang of spiritual karma and restore the natural order of the universe he was reincarnated to torture those most educated of know-it-all egotists, writers.

She also did not need to consult her Steinkopf-to-English pocket dictionary to understand “Ah huh.” So she took a seat in front of his Brobdingnagian desk, in the seat which had purposely had its original plush seat cushion replaced with a one inch soft foam pad in order to enable the unfortunate victim of the hot seat to sit six inches lower than the Master Inquisitor Himself.

Eyes still glued to the mutilated story in front of him Steinkopf's left hand shot out like the oversized limb of a midget Nazi saluting Hitler as he passed on parade. Kate passed him her pages and, in one smooth motion the exsanguinated, sheets in front him were thrust into the D.O.A. basket on the right side of his desk and replaced by new meat.

In her seat she did rock while the tick tock of the large black clock in her head did knock as it grew louder.

And still he read.

Still she waited.