Recently—I think it was 1931—I fell in love. It was my only time. I was a young newspaperman. She was a third-draft copy reader. Her name was Agnes.
Now, many of my cognitive processes have been laid waste by my crippling Parkinson’s Disease and occasional scurvy, so many of the details of my account will be sketchy. Also, as I pause to urinate—as I must do repetitively and without the aid of my sphincter due to my cancerous growth—I may wail in excruciating pain, and thus uncontrollably misconstrue the facts of this touching story.
It was a Monday in June, 1931. The day’s newspaper was rushed to my hospital bed by a young runner for my final approval. It was there I saw my love.
Suddenly, there is a firestorm in my loins! I’m excreting searing needles, I’m certain of it. In 1931 I believe I was urinating without pain. So yes, this is not part of the story. This is happening now.
Nurse! God damn you, rat bag! Where are you?
It was in the pages of that newspaper that I saw my love: an exquisite use of a verb transitive in a parenthetical clause set off by commas. The object was placed just right, two prepositional phrases after the main verb, topped off by the unconventional yet bold use of a shocking gerund. “Who wrote this, boy?” I asked the runner.
The fresh-faced boy was startled at first, his pink cheeks flush with fear and indecision. I finally gleaned that the phrase had been sculpted by a copy reader named Agnes.
I never met Agnes. Never wanted to. I had seen the fruit of her beauty—her words. And that’s all I wanted to see.
I can hear my urine dribbling lightly into the bed pan, now. Not so much of a urine-related odor. It’s mostly blood and liver bile passing through my urethra anyway. The pain is gone, for now.
Where is that nurse? Wench! You dumb animal! See to me!
I never saw Agnes or her work again.
That is why I love journalism. It’s the words business.