Fiction

Everybody FALLS For angie

Joe was the sparkplug of the Super Duper, till he fell for Angie. So the boss hired Angie too. Then even the profits fell

STEPHEN MARSHALL September 15 1951
Fiction

Everybody FALLS For angie

Joe was the sparkplug of the Super Duper, till he fell for Angie. So the boss hired Angie too. Then even the profits fell

STEPHEN MARSHALL September 15 1951

Everybody FALLS For angie

Fiction

Joe was the sparkplug of the Super Duper, till he fell for Angie. So the boss hired Angie too. Then even the profits fell

STEPHEN MARSHALL

MR. T. PHILLIPS, owner and manager of the Super Duper Market, dreamed a lot. Most of his dreams had to do with women, in long lines, pushing bright carriages through the maze of shelves in his store, hundreds of arms reaching out and snatching goods from these shelves, and putting them into the carts. He usually saw these heavy-laden carts go to the cashiers, the contents loaded into tremendous bags, and the cash registers singing a merry tune of prosperity. At such times, he would snortle happily in his sleep, and his round face would assume a cherubic smile as he continued his dream.

But tonight was different. Instead of dreaming about long orderly lines of women buying everything they could lay their hands on, he saw utter confusion and bedlam. There were only a few women in the store. They were scrambling here and there, knocking the shelves down, scattering cans of coffee and soup all over the floor. He saw women slipping on these cans, he saw process servers following him, waving their summonses, he saw doctors’ bills staring him in the face, and, to make matters worse, the cash registers weren’t singing a merry tune, they were chanting a dirge, a funeral dirge. He hurried about, distraught. Then, when he sawr a woman with a heavily laden cart bearing down on him, he tried to move out of the way, but couldn’t. The car came lumbering on, and hit him full in the face.

He awoke, and mechanically reached out to pick up the cans and packages, mumbling apologies. Then he realized that it was all just a dream.

Trembling, he arose, put on his robe, and went into the bathroom. Opening the medicine chest he played eenie-meenieminie-moe with the bottles, then settled for two aspirins and two seltzer powders.

He went back to the bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed, trying to figure out the solution to his troubles.

His troubles could be summed up in one word; in one name, that is—Joe; Joe Rivers, his assistant manager. It was Joe who was responsible for the success of the Super Duper Market. It was Joe, who, with his inventions, had made the Super Duper Market the biggest in town. He thought of the time that people were buying the cheapest coffees on the shelves, coffees on which the store made almost no profit.

Joe had solved that problem. He had installed slightly inclined runways in the coffee section, so that when the women stopped pushing their carts and reached out to get the cheap coffee, the carts would roll down the incline and come to a stop directly in front of the more expensive coffees. The harassed women would grab at the expensive coffee and the sale would be made! Coffee sales had jumped seven percent after that brilliant installation! It took talent, no, not talent, but sheer genius to think up such a clever merchandising scheme. True, it didn’t work with the basket carriers, but Joe was working on that problem.

But now, Joe was leaving. It seemed that the B & Q Super Market was opening up across the street, and they had asked Joe to be the manager. Joe had come to Mr. Phillips and told him about it.

“You see, Mr. Phillips, it isn’t that I’m not satisfied here, but I’d like to get married, and, after all, the manager’s job over there is a much higher job than assistant manager here.”

“But Joe, I’m paying you more money than you’ll ever get over there. Why should you want to change?”

“It isn’t the money, Mr. Phillips, it’s the prestige. There’s a lot of difference between manager and assistant manager.”

Nothing Mr. Phillips could say would change Joe’s mind. Joe gave his two weeks’ notice.

Thus, the nightmare. Thus, sleepless nights for Mr. Phillips. Thus the pills and powders.

HE DIDN’T get much sleep that night. After a hasty breakfast he went off to the store. As usual, Joe had gotten there before him, and had organized the army of stockmen. Everybody was industriously stacking bottles, cans, packages, and boxes on the hundreds of shelves. The sight of this concentrated and wellorganized activity pleased Mr. Phillips immensely, but he didn’t remain pleased too long. He remembered that Joe was leaving, and soon this efficiency would be no more. It was Joe, with his training as an army sergeant, who was responsible for it. Nobody could handle the stockmen as could Joe. For Joe had a sort of sixth sense as regards inventories. He could be talking to Mr. Phillips, then a strange look of concentration would appear on his face. His ears would wiggle slightly, and he would call out in his sergeant’s bellow, “Hank! Four dozen cans of chocolate syrup on shelf 83 ! On the double/”

Shelf 83 might be on the other side of the store, and sometimes Mr. Phillips would go over to investigate, the inventory showing him that there would be plenty of chocolate syrup there, but he would always find it empty. It Continued on page 43

Continued from page 22

was uncanny, positively supernatural, the way Joe could spot things like that.

This morning Mr. Phillips looked glumly at Joe, and said good morning. Joe usually gave him a very cheerful answer, but not this morning. Mr. Phillips thought for a moment that Joe’s inventory mind had found an empty shelf somewhere. He looked for the telltale sign of the ears wiggling, but, to his surprise, it didn’t come. He Looked anxiously at Joe and noticed a glazed look on his face.

“Joe, what’s the matter? Aren’t you feeling well?”

Joe apparently didn’t hear him. Then Mr. Phillips noticed that the shelf under Joe’s nose was empty.

“Joe, we need more condensed milk on that shelf.”

“Huh? What shelf?” Joe looked surprised.

“That one, the one right by your hand !”

“Oh, yeah, that’s right,” answered Joe. Mr. Phillips braced himself for the bellow that was supposed to follow.

To his surprise, it didn’t come.

Joe only grinned happily and started moving the packages of lemon Jello from the shelf above and absentmindedly staked them, pyramid fashion on the shelf where the condensed milk belonged.

Mr. Phillips stared at Joe, too puzzled to say anything. Then, to his amazement, he saw a woman bump into Joe with her cart. Joe didn’t even seem to notice it, but continued piling lemon Jello in pyramids.

“Ye gods, Joe! What’s the matter with you? Are you in love or some—

The words drifted off into nothing. He realized the enormity and the truth, of what he had said. Joe was in love!

Mr. Phillips’ mind was racing as he left Joe making pyramids of tabasco sauce on top of the dog food. He rushed into his office and assumed his thinking position; chair tipped ’way back, and his feet on the desk-top. He earnestly hoped his chair would collapse to the floor soon, for that always meant that his problem would be solved.

Lunchtime came and went. Still he remained in the thinking position. Not even the crash of milk bottles disturbed him. And when two women locked fenders of their carts, subsequently knocking over the shelf of ammonia bottles, still he didn’t stir. The neighborhood brat came in and smeared limburger cheese over a case of strawberries, but still he remained, his feet on top of the desk, and the chair tipped at a crazy angle.

Then the chair collapsed. Mr. Phillips got to his feet, grinning and humming happily. He had solved his problem!

Dusting himself off he stepped out into the store, but had to stop to dislodge his foot from the wastebasket into which it had become wedged during his descent from the chair. Then he set off in search of Joe.

He found him in the fruit department, casually mixing the tomatoes with the apples.

“Joe, uh—what’s the name of this girl you’re going to marry?”

Joe’s head inclined to one side, as if he were looking at something very interesting on the ceiling. His eyes revolved loosely in their sockets.

“Angie!” he whispered, throwing his heart into it.

“Angie? Angie what?”

“Angie Davis.”

Mr. Phillips dodged a cart, being pushed by a determined looking woman

coming his way. But Joe was not so lucky. The cart caught him on the left shin, spun him about completely, causing him to drop the basket of tomatoes he was holding. They rolled all over the floor, and two were squashed by the cart, which then sped off into parts unknown.

Mr. Phillips went off to his office, leaving Joe, happily kicking the tomatoes about on the floor. Mr. Phillips had some things to do.

THE NEXT morning, he made it a point to come to the store early. As he was unlocking the door he heard a tinkling voice by his elbow, and turned around.

He was prepared for anything but what he saw. There, standing by him was a girl of such loveliness, that he had to rub his eyes to believe it. The sunlight threw glints of red from the blond hair which nestled in a luxuriant heap about her shoulders. Her skin was creamy, and set off by two specks of deep blue for the eyes, and the warm red of her lips. As he stared, the lips moved, showing white teeth.

“Pm Angie Davis. 1 got your telegram last night.”

“Oh, yes—Angie!” answered Mr. Phillips in a daze, as he fumbled with his keys, “Come on in.”

He finished unlocking the door and led her into the empty store.

She walked past him, and, her shoulder, brushing against his, convinced him that she was real.

He didn’t say anything until they got into his office and he settled down behind his desk.

“Well, here’s the idea,” he said, clearing his throat, “We need another girl on the check-out counters, and I was—well, I wondered if you would like the job?”

“Would I? Boy, I sure would!” Her bell-like voice made the metal shade of the desk lamp tingle. Mr. Phillips had to put his hand out and touch it to stop the vibrations.

“Well then, you’re hired.” He was surprised at himself for the rapid way he had hired her. He usually gave everybody at least a half hour’s interview. But, he suddenly realized, Angie had a way about her, that made business men forget business. Then too, he remembered, he had a reason for wanting her in the store.

He didn’t even think to fill out a personnel card on her, merely led her to the dressing room and got her a smock to wear over her clothes. Then he introduced her to one of the other girls and vaguely assigned her to a check-out counter.

Still in a daze, he went back into his office.

A little while after the store opened, Joe came into the office.

“Mr. Phillips?” he began.

“Yes, Joe?”

“Ah—have you hired anybody for my job yet?”

“No, Joe, I haven’t.”

“Well, then, if it’s all the same to you, I’d like to stay on here.”

Mr. Phillips was delighted.

“Why, certainly, Joe. That’s fine. We’ll just forget all about your wanting to leave.”

This was his boy Joe! With his girl friend in the store, he was going to do bigger and better things. Mr. Phillips was pleased with himself for this little coup d'état. It certainly was a splendid idea of his, to get Angie into the store. Things were working out fine, just fine! He beamed.

Then Angie came in, her blond hair looking even more striking against the dark blue of her smock.

“Oh, Mr. Phillips. I just wanted to —oh, hello, Joe. “She stopped, staring Continued on page 45

Continued from page 43 fondly at Joe. Joe got to his feet, grinning foolishly.

“Yes, Angie?” answered Mr. Phillips.

“What? Oh, yes, Mr. Phillips. I just wanted to tell you, I have no money left.”

“No money left? Oh, I see. You mean you have no small bills left, is that it?” He reached for the safe. But, his hand stopped in midair at Angie’s next words.

“No, I mean I have no money left at all. And there’s a woman down there whose slip reads $4.61 and I have only about a dollar left to change a ten dollar bill.”

“Only a dollar left?” Mr. Phillips thought his mind wasn’t functioning properly. “Surely you must have some other bills in your register?”

“No, I guess not. There must be a mistake somewhere,” answered Angie in a puzzled voice.

Mr. Phillips thought furiously. There was something wrong, but he wasn’t quite sure what it was. He’d better get to the bottom of things right away. The way she was talking, it sounded as if she’d been giving the customers more change than she should have been giving them. How would that be for a laugh!

“You see,” Angie continued, “One woman had a slip for eight dollars, and then there were some others, and, well, somehow or other, I seem to have given back more than I collected!”

“Y-you mean—?” he gasped. Oh, no! It couldn’t be happening to him!

“That’s right. I guess I’ve given it all away. Now I need some more money.”

“Oh, no! It can’t be. I never thought one person could be so—” He stopped. He had to be more careful, for Joe was still in the room, grinning foolishly at Angie.

“Joe, would you mind teaching Angie how to collect and make change?” he managed to gulp out. Then, as Joe and Angie left the office, he buried his head in his hands. Why, oh why, did he ever have to get this featherbrain into his store? Why?

To keep Joe, of course. Then he wondered if Joe was worth it. Why, this girl would give away all his profits!

He sat at his desk for nearly an hour. Then, cautiously, he went into the store and to the check-out section. He glanced at Angie’s cash drawer and was gratified to see it comfortably filled with money. He breathed a sigh of relief. Well, that was certainly a close one. All it cost him was twenty-five dollars. It was surely worth that much to keep Joe.

But, turning away from the checkouts, he saw a woman leaving, loaded down with two huge bags. Angie’s register read only fifty-six cents!

“Angie!” he sputtered, “What did that woman buy that cost only fifty-six cents and had to be put in those two big bags?”

“Oh,” she replied, airily, “She had such a lot of things, but it was so hard to add it all up, what with this big crowd behind her, that I just kind of guessed at what it all should cost and I charged her that.”

“B-b-but—those two big bagfuls —

Answers to Quiz

MACLEAN’S HIDE AND SEEK

(See page 42)

1, LaSalle; 2, Packard; 3, Buick; 4, Rolls Royce; 5, Chevrolet; 6, Mercury; 7, Cord; 8, Studebaker; 9, Willy's; 10, Lincoln Zephyr.

surely they must have cost more than fifty-six cents?”

“Perhaps,” answered Angie, “But,” she continued, very righteously, “Prices are too high these days, much too high, and I’m only doing my little bit to help out!”

He gave himself a hearty pinch. He wasn’t in bed, dreaming. He was still in the store, gazing in horrified fascination as Angie let a man have two sirloin steaks for a dollar.

“Joe!” he called, feebly, as he fumbled his unsteady way toward his office.

HAT wasn’t all.

Wandering through the store, later in the day, he noticed a long line of men at Angie’s counter. A quick glance at the other counters revealed them to be either empty or frequented only by women. Then his ears caught a voice, a woman’s voice.

“Can’t you keep your eyes where they belong? We’ll never shop in this place again!”

He turned around and saw a middleaged woman, dragging her husband away from Angie’s counter. It was Mrs. Fischer, one of Super Duper’s steadiest customers!

He glanced again at Angie—she certainly did stand out like a butterfly in a group of moths.

This must stop, he thought. But how?

At the end of the week, he totalled up the cost of keeping Angie to keep Joe. Approximately a hundred dollars short on the register, due to a lackadaisical method of adding up the slips and making change. Breakage, about seventy-five dollars, including a carton of imported caviar, dropped by one of the stockmen, on the occasion of his first look at Angie.

He noticed that the women shoppers in the store were dropping off. Instead, there were always a number of men around. They would come in, make a minimum purchase, then wait in the long line at Angie’s counter. They would engage her in conversation, or, as a few of them often did, ask her for two ten-dollar bills in exchange for a five. She always gave it to them, with a smile. That is, of course, if Mr. Phillips didn’t get there in time.

He didn’t dare say anything to Angie for fear that she might quit and Joe would leave. Angie’s presence, however expensive, provided the insurance against losing Joe. But, as he looked over the sales slips, he figured it was pretty expensive insurance.

He thought, for a while, of having Angie work in the office. Then, when he looked at all the girls, busily working their bookkeeping machines, and the rows and rows of neat figures they turned out, which always balanced, he shuddered and gave up that idea.

He felt a surge of frustration sweep over him. Take it easy now, he told himself, take it easy, you’re keeping Joe.

THE B & Q Super Market opened across the street. The opening was marked by the display of a huge banner stating, “CROSS THE STREET AND SAVE.”

But Joe was on his toes. He had an even larger banner made, with the inscription, “WHY BOTHER TO CROSS THE STREET TO SAVE? YOU CAN DO IT RIGHT HERE!” That did it! That saved the day! Sales went up four percent!

Well, Mr. Phillips thought, maybe it was worth while. But he’d still have to keep an eye on Angie and try to keep her mistakes down to a minimum. Wearily, he returned to his figures.

But his dream of keeping Joe was

shattered. Joe came into the office, with a worried look on his face.

“Mr. Phillips,” he began, throwing himself down into a chair.

“Yes, Joe?”

“Mr. Phillips, I’ve been thinking it all over, about Angie and me, that is.”

Mr. Phillips’ heart gave a sudden jump. Was this love affair at an end? Anxiously, he awaited Joe’s next words.

“You see, Angie and I are going to be married soon, and I’ve been doing an awful lot of checking up.” He leaned forward impressively. “Mr. Phillips, do you want to know something?”

Mr. Phillips certainly did want to know something.

“Do you realize eighteen percent of all the divorces in the United States are caused by the fact that the man and wife see each other all day long and get tired of each other?”

Mr. Phillips saw his beautiful plan capsizing, like a paper boat in a strong wind. Joe continued.

“So I’ve been thinking, Mr. Phillips, it would be a much better idea if Angie were to remain here and I’d go to work over at the B & Q. They called me this morning and told me the manager’s job was still open and I could have it. I told them I’d think it over.”

This time the paper boat went completely under water.

“Joe,” Mr. Phillips begged, “Don’t do anything until you check with me. Promise?”

Joe promised, and left the office. Mr. Phillips immediately went into his thinking position.

About two hours later the chair collapsed. As he got to his feet, Mr. Phillips’ face wore a beautiful smile, which remained even while he was dislodging his foot from the waste paper basket.

He went over to the front windows of the storê and spent a long time watching people entering and leaving the B & Q. Finally, he saw what he was watching for.

His face still wore the beautiful smile as he went out and crossed the street to the drugstore.

Inside, as he expected, he found Mr. Bridges, the owner of the B & Q sitting at the counter and drinking coffee. Mr. Phillips sat down on the next stool, and jovially slapped him on the back.

“Well, look who’s here! You old son of a gun, you! What’s this I hear about your trying to steal Joe Rivers from me?”

The counterman came over and Mr.

Phillips ordered coffee. Bridges nervously gulped.

“Well, you can’t blame a man for trying, can you?”

“No, I guess not. But you’ll have to try an awful lot harder to beat old man Phillips to the punch. I’ll bet you’re still wondering how I managed to keep him?”

“Well, yes,” admitted Bridges, “I have been wondering.”

“Psychology, that’s all? Psychology and using the old bean, that’s what it was. Here, have a cigar!” He shoved a cigar into Mr. Bridges’ open mouth.

“What do you mean, psychology?” Bridges held the cigar away from himself, daintily.

“Well, I’ll tell you, it’s like this.” Mr. Phillips lowered his voice and Bridges leaned forward to catch the words. “Joe wants to get married to Angie Davis, and, naturally, like all young fellows, he likes to have her around him all the time. So, what do you think I did?” He lighted his cigar with a flourish and blew a smoke ring into Bridges’ eager face.

“What did you do?” coughed Bridges.

“I gave her a job in my store! Yep, that’s what I did, I gave her a job in my store!”

He could see a glint appear in Bridges’ eyes, and continued. “But don’t get your hopes up, Bridges old boy! You see, I’m paying her fifty a week!”

Bridges suddenly became cheerful.

“Boy, that was sure a smart thing to do! Giving her a job like that! Wish I’d thought of it. Any fellow smart enough to think up something like that deserves the breaks! Well, I’ve got some work to do. I’ll see you again, Phillips.”

He hurried out of the drugstore just as the counterman came up to Mr. Phillips.

“Hey, that guy didn’t pay me for his coffee!”

“That’s all right,” said Mr. Phillips, tossing a coin on the counter, “The coffee’s on me. That guy’s going to do me a favor, a very big favor!”

HE LEFT the drugstore and walked back to the Super Duper Market. Through the window he could see Angie making change. He winced as one of the stockmen, his eyes on Angie, walked into a display of jelly, sending countless jars crashing to the floor.

But he remained comparatively . cheerful as he went into his office and sat down to await developments.

They were not long in coming. It

took one hour exactly. Angie came into the office and sat down.

“Mr. Phillips, I’ve got something I want to talk over with you.” Her voice made the lampshade tingle again.

“Certainly, Angie, what is it?”

“Well, it’s like this. Mr. Bridges from the B & Q came in and offered me a job in his store. And he wants to give me almost twice what I’m making here.”

“Hmmm. Have you talked this over with Joe?”

“Yes, I have, and Joe thinks I should take it. He says I won’t make anywhere near that amount here, and it would give us security in case of a depression or something. And we thought, too, it’s not such a good idea for a husband and wife to be working in the same place.”

“Hmmm. Well, you know, we’ll—-” he choke, “—miss you here.”

“I know. That’s why I didn’t want to do anything without talking to you about it first, Mr. Phillips. After all, you were kind enough to hire me in the first place.”

Mr. Phillips sighed deeply. He must be careful not to overplay his hand.

“Well, Angie, we here at Super Duper like to keep our employees, especially when they’re doing as well—” again he choked on the words, but continued bravely, “That is, doing as -—er—efficiently—” and he gave up entirely. “What I mean is, we won’t stand in the way of any of our employees bettering themselves. Yes, you go right ahead and work for Bridges. In fact, I’ll even give you the rest of the week off with full pay so that you’ll be rested and fresh when you start working for B & Q.

He heaved a tremendous sigh of relief as Angie stood up.

“Gee, thanks an awful lot, Mr. Phillips. You don’t know how much I appreciate this.”

They shook hands and Mr. Phillips closed his eyes in anticipation of the whistles he would hear as she walked through the store. They came.

MR. PHILLIPS slept well and late that night. The next morning he got to the store long after it had opened and all the deliveries were made. He checked out in the stock room for a minute, then went out into the store.

A sense of well-being came over him. The women, pushing the carts, were moving with the efficiency of a huge armored division. General Eisenhower couldn’t have done any better. Scurrying back and forth were the stockmen, carrying cartons and packages. From different parts of the store, he could hear Joe’s huge voice, issuing orders to fill up various shelves. The cash registers were singing a merry tune of plenty. He saw the higher priced coffee, being grabbed by frantic hands as the carts rolled, apparently under their own power, in front of it. Good old Joe!

He found Joe and brought him into the stock room. He led him over to a long package, wrapped in canvas. Joe was curious.

“What is it, Mr. Phillips?”

“Go ahead, Joe, open it.”

Joe fumbled with the string and pulled the coverings off. For a moment he stood there and stared at the object. A tear of gratitude welled in his eye.

“Gee, thanks, Mr. Phillips. You don’t know how happy this makes Angie and me. She’ll be able to see it from across the street.”

Together, they stood and gazed at the brilliantly colored electric sign:

SUPER DUPER MARKET, INC. JOE RIVERS, (t. phillips,

GENERAL MANAGER president) *