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Doors Will Fly Open
by J.C. Frampton



"Look who's here! My all-time favorite protégé."

"Jack! -- I can't believe it . . . you . . . back in Lexusland?"

"Like Hamlet's ghost, without the mist . . . Kiss, kiss and all that, Webb, ol' bud. Lousy grapevine around here, damn sure. 'Ballard's Back,' oughta be railroad type in the Register . . . Got a little place at Balboa, three doors from the soft caress of the Pacific."

"Really! Is Patricia here?"

"No. That's another thing."


"Still in Des Moines. Little old lady now. But she can't afford the New Yorker."

"The kids?"

"Only J. B. still in the house. A druggie at eighteen, and in Des Moines yet. Maybe here later, who knows? I’m a family man, you know that."

"Lou didn't mention . . . "

"Heard he was having his annual elbow-bend . . . and I called -- couple times actually -- and jammed my size fourteens in that solid oak, hand-carved front door. Lou can't forget he wouldn't have that sweet Kortext account, among goddam others, if -- well, you know. Webb, I'm looking . . . I miss Orange County -- the credit-card sailboats, the bikinis cum silicone, the adoration of the bonus option . . . Wonder Bread culture and all. Learned the secret to floating cash and staying alive around here. I even learned how to drink seriously without barfing, though I occasionally slip. So many veddy dear friends. Sick of wiping the manure off my shoes, not to mention the smugness, in the great state of I Owe Way too much."

"You never were careful who you put your feet on, Jack."

"Still a fucking card. And that's 'whom,' Shakespeare. Kiss, kiss. Well, my little chickadee, you've made it. Another Jack Ballard advertising success story."

"Twenty-five mill billings. Nothing."

"More'n I had, chum."


"Talent . . . I guess. But, look, I want to get back into it, Blue Eyes. Put the arthritic old shoulder to the wheel."

"Well, you've got a name, that's for sure, Jack."

"Can't start my own shop again. I got self-knowledge So-Crates would envy. Burned too many britches. You know that. Could never get any credit. You wanna invest, Don Rickles? I mean, two bankruptcies, even if they were bus-fare level, an IRS suit that made the Wall Street Journal. You know how the media get together -- illegally, I might add -- and decide to pull the plug on a guy who's just had a run of bad luck. And that fucking art director of mine going public with that shit about phony billing and stripping assets. You know how you gotta rob Peter to pay Paul -- temporarily -- in this bidness. Christ, you're constantly bankrolling companies fifty times your size!"

"Start small. Show it's a new Jack Ballard."

"Same old Jack Ballard, Webb. A little older, a little dumber, couple new spears in the chest. I wanna do the work now, what I'm good at, forget the selling. I can't lie to clients anymore, you know. I did for so long."

"That sounds like a new Jack Ballard to me."

"Yeah. Ha. How do you know I'm not still lying?"

"It's that sincere look in your eye."

"That's my glass eye. I ordered the sincere model . . . One thing, I'm in AA -- seriously so. Dry damn near five months now. Really, I -- "


"This? Oh this is a Pepsi. Or a Coke or some shit."

"Looks like whiskey to me, Mr. B. Not that I give a damn."

"One goddam drink. Call the morals police, for Chrissake!"

"Jack, you're a true original."

"Look, Webb, seriously. I understand you're doing real well."

"Getting by."

"I gave you your start in this bidness."

"That you did."

"You learned advertising in, what? two night-school classes at Orange Coast College. Taught by a guy who was unemployable. You were afraid to talk to a receptionist, for Chrissake. I brought you along."

"Slight exaggeration, Jack, but, yes, you did."

"I got you in with top client management right from the start. No secrets from my little Webbie, the wordsmith. Took you drinking with me at the Bay Club. Fat car allowance. Credit card. Took you to Tijuana to lose your cherry, which weighed five pounds."

"All true."

"I promoted you. VP at what? twenty-six?"

"I produced."

"Sure. You were the best print copywriter in O.C. after a couple months of Jack's editing, shortening those Dickensian sentences. I could take you into some gobbledygook computer-peripherals company as we used to call them and two weeks later you'd have a campaign that doubled their market share in six months . . . and kept up my payments on the 450SL. We were a team, me to make the rain, you to deliver the buckets, with a little oversight from time to time."

"I dug in. I focused."

"You had the fucking grasp, Webb. The raw talent. No Brando, mind you. I was the Brando. You were maybe the Monty Clift -- the Johnny Depp, that's it!"

"Now that's real praise, Jack.

"And then I decided I'd taught you enough so I fucked off and let you run the show."

"You said that."

"I was a drunk, Webb."

"Not in the mornings."

"And I didn't realize how valuable you were."

"True. You paid me just a little more than Lisa."

"She was a first-class executive secretary, Webb."

"And a little more than that."

"Supply and demand, pal. Come on over into Lou's office so we can talk."

"I like it here close to the shrimp."

"I got a proposal."

"'Chaffee and Ballard,' I'll bet."

"We were a great team, I'm trying to tell you."

"While you were paying yourself, salary-alone, five times what I got. Promising me fifteen percent equity and tap-dancing whenever I asked for it on paper. Celestial irony is, I once suggested 'Ballard and Chaffee' and you laughed in my face. Then I took off."

"And stole half my bidness when you went."

"That all happened later. When they heard I had gone. Not stealing -- you know the rules; I think you made them."

"I didn't sue."

"Wouldn't have done any good. Why waste your money on lawyers."

"And I was IRS-padlocked and out of bidness six months later."

"I was awfully sorry to hear that, Jack."

"I believe you, pal."

"Why Des Moines?"

"Trisha's roots. She owns -- owned -- thirty percent of her Dad's corn-processing company and we knew we could take them on as a first client."


"I used the stock to leverage a general-partner position in this sweet franchise junk-yard and used-parts bidness -- dr.junk.com -- that proved to be ahead of its time."

"So many were. Look at Dr. Koop, a swell guy."

"Every penny of Trisha's money."

"Easy come, easy go. Right?"

"I still got one of our Dobermans as a companion for my golden years. What the shit; I broke my ass on that bidness. I created a great continuing TV infomercial hosted by some half-ass Corn Belt disc jockey we dubbed Rambling Rex. Then I decided, why pay talent fees? I became the host, Dr. Junk himself, looking like a hemorrhoid specialist on the Dave Garroway Show."

"Junkyards and doctors. A great combination."

"Right. Concept was, it used to be junk. But Dr. Junk has restored it to radiant health."

"You got the touch, Jack."

"Trouble was, times were booming. People wanted new things, not a reconditioned Frigidaire."

"If anybody needs a junk-yard dog, you'll quote rates, I know."

"Great when the bill collectors are expected."

"I gotta see you with your poopie scooper."

"You know, there's gotta be a business possibility in those. Discreet, self-deodorizing."

"Disposable. And suitable for the whole gamut of beloved creatures. Only one click away."

"Sorry, Webbster. Had enough of that in Iowa. I got shoes the Salvation Army won't take."

"You get yourself a John Deere cap?"

"The works. Fucking plaid flannel shirts. But I was always a West Coast slicker to those people. I refused to drive a goddam pickup and go to prayer breakfasts."

"Class always surfaces."

"So now it'll be different. Fifty-fifty, chum. You know I'll bring in the bidness. I know the boob tube like nobody this side of L.A."

"I got a great TV guy, Jack. Look, I'm overstaffed right now, with things still going downhill. I just lost Biogenentech when they got an FDA setback and a de-listing by NASDAQ the same week. My one home builder -- I used to have three -- is getting soft and may go in-house."

"I'll bring you the biz -- you know that, Webb. Ain't many guys around here can sell like old Jack."

"I don't doubt that, Jack, but -- "

"Okay, okay. I hear you. Look, put me on as a copywriter. Senior VP, ten grand, no, nine grand a month. Nine lousy grand and you're getting Jack Ballard. Guaranteed twenty-game winner. Doors will fly open. SoCal Edison will be salivating to get me back. The Angels too. You remember. And all those award trophies I got. In your lobby. Front page Ad Age with the Oroweat campaign in ninety-one -- I got it mounted like one of Ted Turner's caribou heads. It'll be Webb Chaffee starring, with Jack Ballard. Look. Seven grand a month until I've got the biz to show, then a small percentage. I can get by on that. I've got to send some to Trish. She's in bad shape, Webb. Cervical, caught too late."

"No -- Jesus. Patricia's a class act. The way she used to make the bar run along the beach trying to find you at one a.m. And then lovingly drag you home."

"I know, I know."

"I won't ask why you're back in Newport."

"She threw me out. You know how high-strung she is."

"And the way you put it down -- neat. Was it only drink?"

"She's a moralist. You know. She walks in on me and this new production artist in the cabana at our Christmas open house, flagrante goddam delicto."


"Would have been worse if it had been a woman."

"Come on, Jack! You are a changed man."

"It was a gay kid we hired. The tight labor market, you know. But a sweet kid. He was dying to go down on me. So, for laughs, I let him. I mean, if POTUS could. What the hell. We'd barely started. Ruined the whole thing."

"I'll bet."

"And his goddam head was too round to hold my Scotch. Of course this horrendous scene. After the guests had left, of course. Trish is a lady, after all. Oh, the injured dignity -- hers, of course. At least no fag jokes from her. But she got a restraining order and tossed my lascivious ass. Then I get a letter from Des Moines' cleanup-hitter domestic-affairs attorney. I threw in the chips. I hate to fight, especially the woman I love."

"I believe that."

"Week-long benders. And not long afterward, another forced belly-up."

"Good things come in threes."

"Damn, the kid had such soft hands and he was so enthusiastic. I felt like I was eleven or something in the park bushes. Of course, I was shit-face."

"Well, it was past noon, right?"

"Webb, sweets. You're a big man in the biz now. A cabron, as they say in East L.A. I started you out. Give me a fucking break. I'll be sixty in a few more months. Who else in O.C. will hire me?"

"You came here on your own, Jack. As the old Yiddish joke goes, 'Being a horse was your idea.'"

"I thought of you. You make the national pubs now and then."

"So you pick up and move back here?"

"I did think of Lisa too."

"She saw nothing but genius, Jack. And that wonderful pub-crawling joie de vivre."

"Not any more. She's divorced again, too. Hung up on me twice and now her phone's always off the hook. I went by her office at the County Building where's she's working and she had Security throw me out."

"Jack. You treated her like dirt -- like you treated everybody. I remember when you had her go and help Patricia set up the house for a Las Patronas meeting. And then gave her hell for showing up in jeans. And the way you'd pat her ass and describe her girlish attributes at client meetings."

"You ever see that fucking tennis bracelet I gave her?"

"Jack. I got a full shop."

"Bullshit, Webb. This is Jack Ballard here. I was an Orange County legend in the Eighties. I practically helped you piss when you came out from hiding behind your newspaper typewriter and wanted a real job. I told you damn near everything I knew on those long drives to the Valley to Peradyne and J and L. Fucking-A, Webb, now I need some goddam help. You're the only person's spoken to me since I walked in the door. I wouldn't even be here but Lou knows I gave him his first real job. And now he wouldn't have Kortext and Veridon if I hadn't put him onto them when they fired us. Plus who was the guy shoehorned him onto the Ad Club board when he was still hustling used-car dealers and mattress stores?"

"Jack, a lot of the big tech companies, like Qualcomm, have first-class in-house operations. With your resume, you ought to -- "

"You think I'm going to go and fucking apply for a job? Wait in some thirty-year-old marketing director's lobby till he calls for me? I'd rather take a flying fuck at the moon. Jesus Christ, pal. Look, gimme a beaten-up desk and a phone and half-time with a girl and I'll get some biz. And a junior account executive's expense account. But I gotta have an art director to work with and accounting and that crap. I don't know none of the horseshit side, you know that."

"Don’t I. Look, Jack, Willa is expecting me at home for something at school tonight. I'll make some calls and look around town for a couple of days and see what I can dig up. Gimme your phone number."

"I want a desk and a phone, Webb. Not even on your fucking payroll. Someplace to put one goddam foot on the ground."

"Come on, write your phone number on my card here."

"A fucking desk! What are you, goddam David Ogilvy or something? This is the guy gave you fucking lessons how to pitch new biz so they couldn't say no. I taught you how to close, man. How to ask for the fucking order and get it. And you goddam learned well, I can see."

"Jack . . . "

"I taught you how to fucking be a man and not a goddam wussy in the ad game, Webb, and you're -- "

"Jack, calm down. You got people watching -- "

"I taught you how to wipe your ass and not get your hands dirty, Webb Chaffee, and you ain't got some government-surplus desk for me to sit at? For Christ's fucking sake, you tinhorn -- "


"Get away from here, Lou. This is between Webb and me."

"Jack Ballard. For Christ's sake, this is a party, man."

"Fuck you, Lou McPussy. You were writing Thursday market ads for Vons when I put you on. You didn't know dick. And you ain't got a desk for me either."

"Jack, face it. Your name is shit in this town. You fucked all your employees. You fucked all your clients. You fucked the vendors and the media by cutting out and making them eat a couple million in bills. Including the little guys selling radio time -- no commissions, no rent money, no school shoes. Any agency putting you on would be getting the kiss of death. You're an asshole, Jack. And the whole world knows it. Face it. Now get the fuck out of here. No, Webb, I've had enough of this bastard. Gimme that drink, Jack."

"Take your damn hands offa me, McPussy. Take your . . . goddam you -- "

"Let's go, Jack . . . Let's go. Don't make me break your face. Hey, lend me a hand, Phil, Tom. Keep moving, keep moving, Jack, old boy. Attaboy, attaboy."

"Mr. Chaffee. You had a rough go there."

"Oh, hi, Donna. Sad, that's all. Never thought I'd see him again."

"He's been after Lou for two weeks. Promised he'd behave tonight."

"Redeeming virtue is that he doesn't even tell himself the truth. But you know something -- ain't a writer alive, New York or L.A., can create a better thirty-second spot."

"I hope somebody gives him a job. But Lou and I don't want him around here."

"Patricia has cervical cancer."

"Not any more . . . She committed suicide. Drove her car into a river with the windows down. Somebody sent Lou a clip."

"Oh, my God!"

"He's been lying about her to everybody."

"Oh, no! Poor bastard. Poor pathetic bastard."

"Can say that again."


About the Author

J. C. Frampton lives and writes in Southern California. His stories can be found online at Eclectica, Comrades, Sweet Fancy Moses, Paumanok Review, Aileron and Sidewalk's End and in upcoming print editions of Sweet Fancy Moses and Pindeldyboz. This story is his second in Pig Iron Malt. He can be reached at this email address.