Chapter 40 Jerk!
Friday was supposed to be an off day for the employees of the MacLeod Organ Restoration and Installation Company. An early morning telephone call from the minister of the Mount Pisgah Methodist Church sent Mr. Mac off on an emergency trip to San Pablo to fix their organ before a six o'clock wedding. Mr. Mac asked if one of the boys would go to the station with Miss Mel to pick up the Schattenborg fellow. Harry volunteered to help Mr. Mac so that Jimmy could meet the famous organist with Miss Mel.
The morning had been cloudy and overcast and it began to rain just as Jimmy drove Miss Mel's Chevrolet up to the big columned porch of the Union Terminal.
As she got out she asked Jimmy; “Do you mind staying with the car while I go find Mr. Schattenborg?”
“No, that's fine! I can't leave it parked here anyway and I'm sure he'll have baggage to load.”
She ran into the station and checked the signs directing her to the track where she was to meet Mr. Schattenborg. She hoped she would recognize him from the pictures she had seen of him. There was a man walking toward her through the crowd. Could it be? Yes, it was Mr. Schattenborg all right.
She approached him extending her hand. “Mr. Schattenborg?”
He gave her a thorough looking over. Too thorough.
He took her hand. “Whom do I have the pleasure of meeting?” he said in an oily voice.
She was very uncomfortable with his manner. His eyes had seemed trace every inch of her body and this made her blush deeply. She felt herself wilting like a flower under the heat of his gaze.
“I'm ...” she started timidly, then regaining her composure, she fixed her eyes on his and said firmly, “I am Melody Page, head organist of the Floridian Theatre. Welcome to Jacksonville, Florida Mr. Schattenborg.”
Surprised at the strength of her business like tone he replied; “I am pleased to meet you. Are you taking me to the theatre or to the hotel first?”
“To the theatre, sir!”
When she addressed him as 'sir' his eyebrows shot up. My, she is a saucy one, just the way I like them, he thought.
“To the theatre, then.” he indicated for her to lead the way.
She attempted no conversation with him while they were still in the terminal. When they stepped out on the porch he said “Nasty weather you're having here. You could have at least arranged sunshine!” sarcasm prickled his voice.
She made no reply, but waved to Jimmy, who had just seen them and was pulling the car up to the porch. Jimmy jumped out of the car and took Mr. Schattenborg's suitcase.
Melody took this as a cue and said “Mr. Schattenborg this is Jimmy . ..” she was going to add “a friend of mine and a fine organist.” but she never got the chance.
Mr. Schattenborg condescendingly interrupted her saying, “Obviously our driver. Let's get to the theatre as soon as we can, will you, boy?”
Having said such he turned and got into the back seat and said, “Driver, will you step on it? It's too hot and sticky in here! Let's go. Chop, chop!”
Jimmy stood for a moment with his mouth open and his un-shook hand still extended as Mr. Schattenborg slammed the door.
Miss Mel looked apologetically Jimmy then, scowling at the roof of the car, said not quite under her breath “Jerk!”
Mr. Schattenborg said “Pardon me?”
“I said work! Let's get to work!”
The trip to the theatre was uneventful except for the brief second Mr. Schattenborg put his kid gloved hand on her knee, which she promptly brushed away on the pretense of straightening her skirt.
Again, in her mind, she said “Jerk!”
When they arrived at the theatre Mr. Schattenborg swept through the lobby as if he was the show, himself, leaving Miss Mel trailing behind like an attendant. Jimmy parked the car and entered through the stage door. One of the artisans Jimmy knew was there putting the finishing touches on some of the gilded decorations on the proscenium near the organ console.
“Man! Hey! Mr. Painter man. You will have to do that later. I am going to practice now!” Schattenborg looked down his nose at the working artist.
With out looking up the painter replied, “Look bub! Don't gitcher panties in a wad.” Looking up he said, “I'm done and you can fly kites in here fer all I keer. But if ya touch the art work I'm on ya like a frog on a June bug. Got it?” The muscular fellow stood up to his full six foot six height, and left the auditorium.
Red faced Schattenborg shouted; “Cretin! I'll have you fired!”
From backstage came a laugh followed by, “In your dreams! I'm self-employed, work's done, and I've already been paid!”
Mr. Schattenborg had nothing to say to this. Still acting as if Miss Mel and Jimmy did not exist, he mounted the bench of the console, which was in the up position, and began to play.
Jimmy and Miss Mel sat together tenth row center. Miss Mel said softly to Jimmy “He may be a jerk but he surely can play!”
Jimmy agreed. On both accounts.