FRANCINE'S JOB HUNTING
Francine Boyers trudged down Fifth Avenue after stepping off the New
York City bus at the Metropolitan Museum, close to Central Park, and
called her friend Nancy on her cell phone. Frustrated that Nancy didn't
pick up, she left her a message, "Finding a job on Wall Street is harder
than cracking a bank." Then she called her dad, "Wall Street is what it
is, climbing walls."
"You shouldn't be looking at the financials only. Why not join my
company? You like Beckley."
"Beckley is great, Dad, but I told you before, I don't want to start in
West Virginia. I love the state, but New York is the way to go. I'll try
She folded her cell phone back in her tote. The balmy July breeze
inspired her to take a walk in Central Park. Lost in thought, she was
crossing the park's ring road when a wobbling biker knocked her to the
asphalt. Her faux Louis Vuitton tote flew off her shoulder, and her cell
phone and papers fell out. A dog-walker with his day-charge of ten
pulling and panting pooches, varying from terriers to bulldogs, trampled
her belongings. He stopped, holding his doggies back with one hand and
stretching out his other, saying, “Sorry, are you okay?”
Seizing the hand of the helpful dog-walker, she scrambled up, examining
her bloodied elbow. "Jerk!" she screamed at the young biker. She wiped
off her skirt, then retrieved her torn tote and smudged possessions.
The biker, in shiny black shorts designed to display male potency, had
crashed head-on into a beech tree and sat on the ground, dazed. He
glanced at her, embarrassed, got up, and limped over. "My apologies. I
lost control because of that swerving bunch of dogs and saw you too
late." He sent a reproachful glance at the dog-walker, who’d walked
"Why don't you guys go bike somewhere else?" Francine said in a
high-pitched voice, clutching her elbow.
"Yeah," a bystander said. "This park should be for pedestrians only.
It's bad enough with them horses shitting everywhere."
"I'll pay to repair your bag," the biker said, shifting his
red-and-blue-striped helmet, his dark blond hair sticking out. His sharp
lavender-blue eyes seemed sincere.
"Repair?" Francine protested. "Are you kidding? You almost killed me.
The least you could do is buy me a new one. And what about my phone? But
I bet you don't have a job. Only dopes like you ride during the day when
everybody's at work."
"No problem. I can send you a check. My name’s Ron. I'm in public..."
"Oh, drop it," she scoffed. "Stay off your bike and go home."
The biker slouched back and tried to straighten his handlebar, twisting
it left and right, jostled with the front wheel, but was unsuccessful.
Annoyed, he walked away, carting his bike on his shoulders.
Francine watched the onlookers moving on. Had she been lying on the
ground, squirming, they would've been staring at her like vultures. She
staggered down East 79th street to where she stayed with Nancy Smith,
her roommate and sorority sister from William & Mary. Nancy had
found a job in New York and invited her to her rent-controlled two-room
efficiency, about ten minutes from the park, to do her interviews.
Francine sat down on the red faux-leather sleeper-sofa, looking at her
painful elbow. She tried her cell phone and fortunately it still worked.
To forget her depressing interviews, she turned on the stereo. The music
cheered her up. She felt at ease in Nancy’s place. A few colored glass
lamps and flamboyant Caribbean posters gave the living room a homey
atmosphere. The sleeper-sofa worked out fine.
She took a shower and treated her elbow with antibiotic cream from
Nancy's medicine cabinet. Refreshed, she mixed a martini with the
Absolute Vodka that was permanently cooled in the fridge. Hardly had she
taken the first sip when the door lock clicked and Nancy, a vivacious
blonde, came in. "Hi," she said, puffing from the heat. She put her
computer bag down, kicked off her shoes, and plopped into a recliner,
blowing the hair out of her face. "No luck you said?"
"None. They're still not hiring after the Wall Street crash. If nothing
works out I can always go back to modeling. At least I got some money
showing off in JcPenny catalogs."
Nancy chuckled. "Great idea. I could even promote you in my company."
"Look at my elbow." Francine lifted her left arm. "A biker ran into me
in the park. I used your cream."
"That's so annoying. People complain a lot about these morons."
"What to do? Write a letter to the mayor? You want a martini?" Francine
raised her glass.
"Yes, please. Let’s drink to your better luck tomorrow."
Excerpted from "Francine: Dazzling Daughter of the Mountain State" by John Schwartz. Copyright © 2017 by John Schwartz. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.