The Manchester Review
James Robison
Radio Talkers
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            I’m afraid I was sort of: Die Goldie. I was praying, If there is a god and he is the Father of Mercy, oh mighty lord, change the station. My co-workers were right to mistrust me. I did want to bomb the factory and Arthur Godfrey. I had the square apartment room for 39 dollars a month. Hot.
            A window. Paper cups of coffee. No screen. Ashtray. Books. That was what you could do off work: read books or magazines. True Crime. When big storms blew in I was happy and left open the window. The rain made the linoleum shiny. The wind cooled the room, scattered smoke off my Kents.
            The skyblue walls were thin and I could punch a hole in one; I could pop a hole into those stale cake skyblue walls.
            Through which I could hear the addled man in the next apartment. He was old and alone but on my mornings off he was talking in there, talking to Arthur Godfrey.
            Arthur: How are ya how are ya how are ya?
            Poor old fucker: Humpin’ through, Arthur, thank you for asking.
            Arthur: What is this, Wednesday already?
            P.O.F: It sure is, Arthur. How time flies.
            Then A.G. played a ukulele. A man with adenoidal intonations singing and strumming those plinky tinky sounds. Was this supposed to be cute? You had Oh, Carol by the Rolling Stones or Stop In The Name Of Love by The Supremes or The Beach Boys Surfer Girl or Smokey Robinson The Tracks of my Tears. You had Pablo Casals or Glenn Gould. Who would choose Arthur Godfrey and tinky pinky? Why didn’t a milk truck hit him and kill him? A vicious person my age who I knew from high school came to visit. Ray.
            It was an era of harsh irony, like now, I think. Actually, like always, I think. So I presumed Ray’s contempt for the weak and minorities and dogs was joking. He had the beardy jaws but no beard, just blackened jaws, baggy khakis with butt bagging and unlaced boots and smoked my Kents without asking.