relentlessly. 'If that doesn't do it for you, there's baseball. Lacking
you could always drop your pants and wag your wing-wang atthe audience. Sam, I am not just the head of the Speaker's Committee - that would be bad enough. But since Kenny moved away andCarl quit coming, I
the Speaker's Committee. Now, you've got to help me. I
a speaker tomorrow night. There are about fiveguys in the whole damn club I feel I can trust in a pinch, and you're one of them.''But - ''You're also the only one who hasn't filled in already in a situation like this, so you're elected, buddy-boy.''Frank Stephens pinch-hit for the guy from the trucking union last year when the grand jury indicted him for fraud and he couldn'tshow up. Sam - it's your turn in the barrel. You can't let me down, man. You
me.''I run an
business!' Sam cried. 'When I'm not writing insurance, I sell farms! Mostly to banks! Most people find it
The ones who don't find it boring find it
'None of that matters.' Craig was now moving in for the kill, marching over Sam's puny objections in grim hobnailed boots. 'They'll allbe drunk by the end of dinner and you know it. They won't remember a goddam word you said come Saturday morning, but in themeantime, I
need someone to stand up and talk for half an hour and you're elected!'
Sam continued to object a little longer, but Craig kept coming down on the imperatives, italicizing them mercilessly.
'All right!' he said at last. 'All right, all right! Enough!''My man!' Craig exclaimed. His voice was suddenly full of sunshine and rainbows. 'Remember, it doesn't have to be any longer thanthirty minutes, plus maybe another ten for questions. If anybody
any questions. And you really
wag your wing-wang if youwant to. I doubt that anybody could actually
it, but - ''Craig,' Sam said, 'that's enough.''Oh!
Shet mah mouf!' Craig, perhaps lightheaded with relief, cackled.'Listen, why don't we terminate this discussion?' Sam reached for the roll of Turns he kept in his desk drawer. He suddenly felt hemight need quite a few Turns during the next twenty-eight hours or so. 'It looks as if I've got a speech to write.''You got it,' Craig said. 'Just remember - dinner at six, speech at seventhirty. As they used to say on
be there! Aloha!''Aloha, Craig,' Sam said, and hung up. He stared at the phone. He felt hot gas rising slowly up through his chest and into his throat. Heopened his mouth and uttered a sour burp - the product of a stomach which had been reasonably serene until five minutes ago.He ate the first of what would prove to be a great many Tums indeed.
Instead of going bowling that night as he had planned, Sam Peebles shut himself in his study at home with a yellow legal pad, threesharpened pencils, a package of Kent cigarettes, and a six-pack of Jolt. He unplugged the telephone from the wall, lit a cigarette, andstared at the yellow pad. After five minutes of staring, he wrote this on the top line of the top sheet:SMALL-TOWN BUSINESSES: THE LIFEBLOOD OF AMERICAHe said it out loud and liked the sound of it. Well ... maybe he didn't exactly
it, but he could
with it. He said it louder andliked it better.
better. It actually wasn't
good; in fact, it probably sucked the big hairy one, but it beat the shit out of 'Communism: Threat or Menace.' And Craig was right - most of them would be too hung over on Saturday morning to remember whatthey'd heard on Friday night, anyway.Marginally encouraged, Sam began to write.'When I moved to Junction City from the more or less thriving metropolis of Ames in 1984
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