Jack always struck me as a good guy. He was definitely a good employee. He was someone I had been able to trust during the years he worked for me. His duties were not complex, but his position required him to solve on-the-job problems and he did that well. I guess you could say his future at Cosgrove Metal was never in jeopardy.
Jack was a talker. Yes, he was. He could entertain the lunch table crowd without interruption for the full hour if he was of a mind to do so. Christine did tell me that there had been lunch sessions where she would ring the back-to-work bell and nobody moved. They were listening—to Jack. The few times I passed through the lunch room, I was aware that the guy was holding court with the whole table in rapt attention.
I did wonder what Jack was all about but, as long as he did his job well, I found nothing to complain about; I did, however, confide these curiosities to my wife Judy once in a while. But, what the hell, no big deal, huh?
Well, now, I’m taking stock of what I’ve heard over the years, either directly or indirectly. People would discuss his varying stories amongst themselves. It was funny, but seemed harmless enough. Philosophically speaking, everyone is full of foibles.
I’m now recalling Jack telling the story of how he had lost both parents in an apartment house fire. He talked in some detail how his wife had health problems and told him that she would be leaving him since she considered herself a burden. Bill Fonton told me the other day that Jack told this story for a whole week in some form or another. Bill said that Jack’s stories helped him forget his own problems. How bad could that be, Judy asked.
If he made a little mistake with the color dye on the assembly line he would make sure everyone knew that he was suffering from last night’s dream about his time in Vietnam. Jack was an open book.
It seemed that my employees would rush to cover his tracks whenever necessary. Let’s face it, my employees are of the kind and gentle variety; Judy suggested I look for signs that Jack might be a closet drinker but nothing ever pointed in that direction. If it had, I wonder if someone would have squealed on him? Jack was well liked and never caused problems. In fact, he’d go out of his way to solve sticky situations that occurred amongst the rest of the gang. Jack—oh, boy. I liked the guy too.
One day I went home and repeated what I thought had been a real whopper: Bill Fonton told me about Jack’s new girl friend—now that his wife had left him he was dating again—and Jack said his new gal looked just like Marilyn Monroe. Judy was sticking with her story that Jack drank, but because she has never been too judgmental- well, talkative as hell, that’s for sure- but not the type to incriminate someone until she had first-hand experience. But then watch out.
Judy wanted to invite both Jack and his new lady-friend for dinner. Judy was one helluva Italian cook- what’s to complain? Judy was enthused about Saturday night, ready to tie her apron on, and got right on the horn to extend her invitation.
She began phoning on Friday when I got home and she never gave up. Her last attempt to reach him came at eleven o’clock (past my bedtime), at which time she threw in the towel. She tried again up until eleven on Saturday morning to no avail, saying that the sauce needed six hours to bubble and she wasn’t going to go to all that mess if they couldn’t confirm. Nothing! – and I was gonna miss out on a great Italian dinner.
So I come into the office the following Monday morning. On my desk, I could see Christine’s imprint in the precise placement of a letter front and center. It was an overnight letter and it was from Jack.
He had sold some pulp novel he had written and moved to Las Vegas.