Old Billy in the Department of Cast-Offs and Has-Beens

After lunch Rebecca knew that she would have that fateful weekly cup of coffee with old Billy Barnes, the longest tenured staff member of the Protagonize Character Placement Agency.  In fact, Billy had been in the same second floor office in the old days when the Agency was known as the Bouton School for Jugglers, Clowns, and Mimes. 

Each week, Rebecca would have to bring to Billy some washed up character so that he might have something to do.  Miss Delores Dollarworth, the Chief Financial Officer for the Agency kept begging Rebecca to let the old guy go, but she never could muster the courage to give him his walking papers.

The routine never varied, just as old Billy had never varied these past fifty-three years. Rebecca would knock three times on the well-aged, mahogany door using the black cast iron knocker that Billy had once received as a gift from Sir Alec Guiness's less known brother, Irving Guiness.  Then she would hear that high pitched voice of Billy's call out, "Yes.  Whoever doth knocketh at this door of opportunity, enter!"  And she would always think as she opened the door, "O brother!" 

Rebecca was always amazed, if not amused, by Billy's office.  Just as Alan Smithee's office was the product of a mind bent on modern efficiency, Billy's office was the product of a soul bent on lingering in a past that never was.  The walls were wallpapered with the photographs of hundreds of clients that Billy had managed tp manage right into eternal oblivion.  The room was filled with files of a million possibilities that were totally devoid of any probability.  And there was Agammemnon his cat - actually Agammemnon the XII, snoozing in the window next to the spider plant that had multiplied itself all over the room throughout these many years.

"Billy.  Are you ready for a new client?"

"Just so happens Miss Hargreaves that things are a bit slow.  What do you have for me?"

"Billy, a detective."

"Really.  And just who is this latest Poirot to come upon the scene?"

"Billy.  He's a new client with our agency that came across our desk just the other day.  An elegant character by the name of Sir Edward Nigel Blackthorne."

"Ah yes, old Blackie.  Knew him during the war years.  Fallen on hard times has he?"

"Just looking for a new writer.  Here's his number.  How about you give him a call, maybe take him to lunch down at the Protagonist Pub, throw down a pint or two.  See if you can team him up with one of our young writers."

"I'll get right on it, Miss Hargreaves.  I'll keep you updated on our progress."

"You do that, Billy.  You do that.  Do you mind if I have one of your butterscotch candies, Billy?"

"Oh, please do."

As Rebecca left, she heard Billy already at work dialing on that old rotary dial  phone. 




The End

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