Butch Teeterman’s life had become a high wire balancing act. Between his growing business that dealt with daily emergencies and his secret trysts that required its own stream of income, he depended on Edith Clancy, his secretary, to make it happen. Edith had been with him since she graduated high school and was a perfect fit for Teeterman Plumbing. She dealt with the whole enchilada: billing, payroll, banking, scheduling, hiring and firing. Edith also handled all of Butch’s personal affairs, so to speak. To maintain his balancing act, he never went anywhere without telling Edith where he was. Edith liked Butch and was well compensated for her various tasks. She sympathized with his philandering and didn’t like Mrs. Teeterman.
The morning Butch hurried into the Holiday Inn, trouble was brewing. Not anything large, just an ordinary problem, the kinds he handled every day. But there was a combination of other factors. Butch had postponed the last two sex appointments with the school teacher, and it took a ton of begging to get her to agree to this one. The teacher had told the school she had a doctor’s appointment and had to return after lunch. She had already checked into the room as Edith had prepaid the charges the evening before and had a key waiting. Butch breezed past the desk and down the hall full of lust and sexual anticipation. He gently knocked on the door and waited. The teacher cracked it open and glanced at Butch. She opened it wider and allowed him enough space to enter. It didn’t take them long to engage in a passionate make out session and be naked. They stripped the covers off the bed and were getting into position when the phone rang.
“Don’t you dare answer it.” She muttered.
It kept ringing.
“I have to. It must be Edith.”
Butch stood nude and answered the phone. It was a problem, a big one.
Teeterman Plumbing had installed all the plumbing for Donna Jean Ramsey’s new house. The foundation (which had nothing to do with Butch) was not cured properly and cracked and shifted regularly, causing severe plumbing issues. Butch was going insane with her demands for repairs at no charge. Donna Jean threatened lawsuits and disconnection of Teeterman’s phones, all of them.
Butch, listened to Edith describe what was going on.
The house had another leak and was being flooded. In the past, Butch would oversee the repairs, so when another leak would occur, she would always call and threaten him personally, never the concrete company. Butch was going insane with her demands and threatening lawsuits. This morning was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
Edith recounted how Mrs. Teeterman’s phone was disconnected and had walked to the pay phone at the drug store and called, very upset. Donna Jean had called even more upset. She had received a call from her neighbor, Old Man Taylor, who was watering his begonia’s, when he heard a pop, and the unmistakable sound of water. A pipe, in the wall of her house had cracked open and a river of water flowed inside her living room and soon cascaded under her front door, across her yard, and into the street. Six inches of water flooded the street. Her newly purchased Italian couches were soaked and ruined along with the exotic rugs they sat upon. Old Man Taylor relayed this to her and was cut off before he told her he had called the city to shut off the water and they were enroute. Her first thought was how she had neglected to call her insurance agent to report the new items getting ruined. Donna had the Teeterman’s home phone disconnected and then called Edith to inform her the lawsuit was on. Before Edith could find the number where Butch was meeting his lover, Mrs. Teeterman called from the drugstore’s pay phone to complain of her lack of service. As Donna Jean Ramsey was burning rubber out of the phone company’s lot, Butch was listening to how many problems he had at the moment. Curses rained down from the woman in the bed as Edith told him to hurry over the Ramsey home.
Butch wore only pants as he ran out of the Holiday Inn barefoot. All the frustration of his life bubbled inside him as he started up the Ford work truck. Donna Jean was doing eighty miles per hour ten minutes later when they met downtown by the Barber Shop. They crashed into each other in a mess of metal and glass,the kind most horrified onlookers had never witnessed, including Uncle Jimmy.
Later on, well into adulthood, Virgil Cherry pondered what could be learned from Butch and Donna?