Front Office Fiction: Seeing the Lighter Side of "Red"!

Sometimes all you can do to survive is to kick up your heels! (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Billy Devaney stared at the screen of his laptop computer. His hand half rested on his chin as he tapped his lips with a finger. He hadn't slept much last night. Hell, now that he thought about it, he hadn't slept much in the last month. His team, the St. Louis Rams weren't just losing games, they were giving them away. His friend and head coach of the Rams, Steve Spagnuolo, was taking heat from press and fans alike. Only a few short years ago when Billy had hired Steve away from the New York Giants, his friend had been heralded as a savior of a sinking franchise. Between the two of them, along with a whole lot of help from ownership and team executives, they had begun the long process of turning a once proud franchise around. Choices made, both good and bad, had conspired to bring about the moment he faced currently. He'd stunned the chanting masses of fans with the acquisition of wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. Not a blink of an eye later, he learned his star quarterback could be sidelined with a high ankle sprain. No sleep, no sleep...

Now he stared at his computer screen, which contained lists of player names, and all he could think was that he wanted it all to just go away. His thoughts were interrupted by a knock on his office door. He knew that knock, and on most days he'd dread hearing it, but today he welcomed the break.

"Come in," he said as he closed his laptop.

"Good mornin' Mr. Devaney! Isn't a fine day? Can I get you a fresh cup of coffee or one of those nummy scone thingy-s you like so much?" Derinda had said every word with her patented beauty pageant smile.

Billy's face changed from a smile to a wary leer. His executive assistant was never this cheery in the morning... Not ever! Which meant she wanted something? He scrolled through his memory for the last time she had acted this way... Then it hit him!

"Oh my God... No, no, no, I am not having breakfast, lunch, dinner... Not so much as a snack with your mother!" He slapped his palm down on his desk to emphasize the point.

She dropped the her smile, then rolled her eyes as she rubbed her cramping cheek muscles, the result of maintaining the wide toothy grin. "You like my mother, so stop your whining." She slid into the chair in front of his desk. Leaning forward, Derinda slapped his desk with her hand, "This has nothing to do with my mother anyway... But I do need the tiniest of favors?"

Billy closed his eyes and groaned, "Why me?"

"Because you owe me Billy Devaney!" She slapped the desk again, then yelped from hitting it too hard. She studied her hand for a second, then slid out of the chair and walked to the office window. "I work my fingers to the bone for this place. All the while being quiet as a church mouse... Never a problem... Answering those damn phones... tellin' people who want to bother you with trades for their old wide receivers to go away..." She put her hands on her hips as she whirled around to look at Billy, "I mean why would you want a "wide" receiver anyway? Even I know they're supposed to be skinny..." She wondered why Billy was shaking his head. "You have no idea what kind of whack-jobs I deal with everyday! One guy wanted to trade you a guy with a name that sounded like a toy," she began to snicker, "Like you would want anyone named "Megatron" to play for you!" She bent over laughing. When she looked up, she stopped laughing. Billy had a curious, almost angry, jaw dropped look on his face that told her he obviously didn't understand her humor.

"What! You're me telling Detroit called about a trade for Calvin Johnson and this is the first I'm hearing about it?" Billy looked at the objects on his desk for something to throw.

"You and coach were busy tradein' for that Lloyd guy and you threatened me with bodily harm if I bothered you.." She looked at her fingernails as she spoke, " besides, the guy callin' said his name was Schmutz or somethin'. I looked the name up and their ain't a coach anywhere with that name."

"His name is Schwartz, not Schmutz.... Please tell me you're kidding?" His knuckles were turning white as he gripped a rather hefty stapler.

Derinda shrugged, "Ok, I'm kidding. Now about the tiny favor I need..."

Billy studied Derinda's face for any sign she really was kidding. He hated that he couldn't read her intentions the way he could read players or agents. Slumping back in his chair, he covered his face with both hands. Then he began to quietly laugh at the thought that he'd rather be at a press conference answering questions right now instead of having to face a Derinda "favor".

"Ok, what's the favor?"

"Well my Uncle Red is in town and he wants to talk to you... Actually he's in the outer office waiting, and of course I told him you'd love to... What?"

Billy covered his face with his hands again and groaned even louder than before, "Not Uncle Red... Come on Derinda", he wanted to run and hide. Her mother was crazy, but her Uncle Red was down right insane! Every sentence that came out of his mouth had one phrase included in it... As if to affirm his thought, the office door flew open, and in stepped Uncle Red.

"How ya doing Billy, you old "Dumb ass?" Uncle Red never smiled. He stood with his hand outstretched waiting for Billy to shake it.

Billy slowly rose from behind his desk and took the offered hand for a quick shake as he glared at Derinda. "How are you Red?"

"Well, waiting for my "Dumb ass" niece to bring me in here wasn't makin' my day. You know you were a "Dumb ass' for hiring her don't you?"

Derinda started to pout when she saw Billy nod his agreement. She rounded on her mother's sibling, "Uncle Red, Billy's aweful busy, so if you don't mind I'll just leave you two alone." Derinda crossed her arms as she spun to leave the office.

"Where are you going?" There was a touch of panic in Billy's voice, "Why not take Red over to the practice field to talk with Steve and a few of the players?" He nodded his head as he spoke, hoping Derinda wouldn't leave him alone with here bonkers uncle.

"Oh I wouldn't dream of interrupting Uncle Red's job interview," She said without turning around. Derinda ran the rest of the way to the door, slamming it as she disappeared from view.

"Job interview?" Billy gulped.

"Why hell yes you "Dumb ass". You can't possibly think I'd come all the way to this "Dumb ass" town just to chat with you?" Red's face never changed from his constant "We're all gonna die" facial expression. "My "Dumb ass employer laid me off, so I need a job."

Billy wanted to both laugh and cry. "Errr...whaaa... Well we really aren't hiring right now. Just out of curiosity, what kind of job were you looking for?" He couldn't help himself. It was like he was drawn to the question, like someone who couldn't look away from a train wreck.

"Oh, I was thinking offensive line coach... My "Dumb ass" niece should have told me you weren't hiring. She's been kind of angry with me since her "Dumb ass" cousin Kenny was murdered. The Bastards shot him because I wouldn't give up "Dumb ass" my wallet." Red shook his head, "That "Dumb ass" Kenny should have known it was my favorite wallet..."

Billy thought about everything he'd gone through over the last few months. The up-s, the downs, the highs, the lows... Then for some reason he began to laugh uncontrollably. When he tried to speak, he'd see the look on Uncle Red's face and dissolve in to laughter so thoroughly that his stomach muscles ached. He slid off his office chair to the floor behind his desk. All he heard was "Dumb Ass!", then the sound of the office door opening and closing.

When his laughter subsided, he reached up and used his desk to help himself up. Though his smile seemed welded to his face, he was suddenly tired. He staggered over to his couch, fell on it and fell fast asleep.

**********************************

I'd like to thank a few friends for the "South Park" and "The 70s Show" challenge to include iconic moments from those shows in a Front Office Fiction post!

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