Music Box Dreamer

Alexander Foster looked through the thick cloud of swirling cigar smoke at the two dancing daughters, “Will you keep your chattering down to a dull roar please. Bertie and I are trying to talk business.” He knocked a half inch of thick ash off his fat Cuban stooge, took a sip of twenty-year-old brandy before speaking. “Now Bertie, where was I, oh yes, getting more factory workers. With this damnable war going on all the men are going overseas. Damn inconvenient if you ask me, Just when we have all these orders coming in for uniforms, big ones too. Why if we had the help my boy, in a year or two we’d all be rolling in clover.”   Bertie Jones gulped down half a glass of brandy, girded up his lions and gathered his courage. “Sir, couldn’t we get women to run the looms.”   Foster laughed so hard that the ash fell off of his cigar and landed on the thick blue carpet. “Women,” he said as soon as he gained his composure, “Women to run the machines. Where did you ever come up with that scatterbrained idea?”   Bertie mumbled, “It was Annie’s sir,” into his near empty tumbler. The thought, “In for a penny, in for a pound,” seemed to come out of nowhere. “Just think about it sir. After all it’s not that complicated. They just have to push a few buttons and make certain nothing jams. Besides, we still have old Joe to straighten things out if they get into a pickle.”   “Why Bertie my boy, you just might be onto something. Tell you what, let’s give it a try. By the way I would like you to come in as a partner. I was going to wait until after the wedding to tell you but now is as good a time as any.”   “Thank you sir, I’m overwhelmed by your kindness.”   Alexander stretched out his limp, white right hand, “Nonsense my boy, after all you’ll soon be part of this family and stop calling me sir. Father or dad will do nicely.   “Yes sir,” Bertie grinned, “I mean dad.”   “Annie, why are you fiddling around with Bertha instead of getting ready to go to the Mason’s hall for the party.” The conversation and the dancing came to a dead halt as the shrill female voice filled the room and bounced off the walls.   “I’m going out later with Bertie to The Golden Lilly jazz club mother. The Nat “King” Cole Trio is only going to be playing there for one night. All our friends will be there. Why if I don’t go Bertie will be so disappointed. Won’t you Bertie?” Annie gave him one of her famous don’t cross me glares.


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