Fiction on Odyssey: "Butthole Buddy"
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Fiction on Odyssey: "Butthole Buddy"

A Short Story with a Hilariously Misleading Title

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Henry was not a confrontational man; in fact, he was quite careful to approach his front door with as soft a step as he could manage in his thick-soled work shoes. He turned the key slowly in the lock to muffle the thump of the deadbolt. This served no advantage; he cringed, as he was sure the devastating echo could be heard through his house. He cautiously opened the door.

“Where the hell have you been?”

Marjorie was sitting in the living room chair under the orange glow of the lamp.

“Marge, it’s 10:30,” Henry said patiently.

“And you’re done with work at 6:00,” Marjorie replied curtly.

“Harrison and I went to Broadway for a beer,” Henry said. He was not defensive.

Marjorie was curled into a tight bundle. She was a short, squat woman, and the fullness of her bathrobe gave her a formidable presence. Her thin hair was wrapped in blue curlers, and she wore thick, square, wire-rimmed glasses. Her lips were bunched together in displeasure, making her jowls even more prominent on her round face.

“Harrison’s son has school tomorrow. He shouldn’t be out late,” Marjorie growled.

“He’s just fine,” Henry said, leaning down to kiss her on the forehead.

She watched him walk down the hall into the bathroom and close the door.

“Then why did I get a call from George Anthony?” She shouted after him.

For a few minutes, all she heard was the sink’s running water. She waited; knowing that Henry was about to “get got” made her scowl shift into a slightly more sinister grin. Finally, she heard the sink shut off and the door open. By the time he walked back into the living room, she was fully sneering. Not even Henry, who had all the charms of an easy-going man, could get away with trouble-making while she was around.

“I’m sorry Marge,” Henry said. “I don’t think it’s really that big of a deal.”

He reached into his trouser pocket and pulled out a folded slip of paper. Marjorie snatched it out of his hands. She opened it and read it, and the nearly-permanent scowl returned to her face.

“What happened?” She demanded.

“I guess I just forgot to grab my wallet this morning. Harrison bought my beer, and I didn’t even think about it. I ran into one of those stops, but I didn’t expect that it’d be a problem. I’ve just got to be more careful.”

“And they still wanted to see your license? They know who you are! Everyone is this town knows you!”

“It was a new guy, I’ve never seen him. Pretty young. I tried to explain that I just left it by mistake, but he insisted that he had to ticket me,” Henry said.

“Did you tell him that you left it at home?!” Marge demanded.

“Yes! He’s new, Marge. He’s just trying to do his job right and earn some respect. He’s trying to make a name for himself.”

“What is his damn name?” She spat.

“I don’t know. It’s really not a big deal, I’ll just pay the fine.”

“I want to know his name.”

“It’s probably on the ticket. What did George say about it?”

“I’ll give him a name around here,” she muttered.

“Why did George call?” Henry prompted again.

“He told me that one of his officers found you in some trouble and that he just wanted to let me know himself,” she said. “If I had known he was just letting the school hall monitor go around ticketing people I would have let him know what’s what!”

“Oh, leave him alone. I made a mistake.”

Marge could not be bothered to listen; she had a wrong to right. Henry was not going to answer to some Officer Numbskull with his panties in a wad.

“Look, here on the ticket,” she said, shaking it at Henry. “It says his name is Officer Buddy Johnson. Well, well, he’s no buddy of mine.”

“He’s basically a kid, Marge,” Henry said.

Marjorie finally stood and waddled angrily over to the phone hanging on the wall.

“What are you doing?” Henry asked.

“I’m calling George back!” She said, peeved.

“You are not! What do you have to say to him?”

“I’m going to let him know that this officer, this Butthole Buddy, needs to be fired!” She held the phone to her ear and pounded the numbers on the dial pad.

Henry walked over and pressed down the receiver.

“Let go of that! You’re doing that on purpose!” She yelled, her top lip curling in anger.

“Don’t bother them now, hon. I’ll swing by the station tomorrow after I drop off Sandy at school and see if I can talk to George about it,” Henry said calmly. Marge stared at him, her eyes in full squint. She was unappeased.

“It’s just a ticket. It doesn’t matter.”

“I want him fired,” she said.

The next morning, as soon as Henry left, Marjorie got right to scheming. She unrolled and arranged her hair so that it sat perfectly on her head. She put on a sky-blue dress with a white collar, stockings, and polished white shoes. She even put on a very light coat of pink lipstick. When she looked in the mirror, she almost smiled.

She grabbed her beaded white purse and stepped outside, making sure she locked the front door. Henry had taken the car, so she walked. She took a right and headed down her street.

Marge stewed. How could Henry have forgotten his license? How could he be so thoughtless? And of course, on that very night, Henry had run into the only officer that wouldn’t say, oh, sure Henry, no problem at all. Have a great night, buddy!

Buddy. Butthole Buddy. He was making a joke of her family in this town. What would happen when people heard that Henry got a ticket? She could practically hear the ladies at Hannibal Methodist whispering about her. Did you hear that Henry got a ticket? Yes, Marjorie’s Henry. And for driving without a license! How thoughtless! They would be thinking of ways to get out of inviting her over for dinner next Tuesday. They would think that it wouldn’t be too hard, insisting that Marge must want to stay home since she must surely be dying of shame. They would say to each other, I wouldn’t be surprised if she kept Sandy home from school for the next week just to save her from losing all her dignity because of her good-for-nothing father.

The heels of her white shoes clicked on the sidewalk. A neighbor waved, but Marjorie kept walking.

By the time she reached the bottom of the hill it was pointedly clear to Marjorie that, if she wished to continue to live in this town, had no choice but to incite deliverance. Her fury carried her so swiftly that she was at the door of the police headquarters within the half hour. She strode to the front desk, her heels ticking away on the linoleum floor.

“Hello, Lenny,” she said politely but not kindly. Her nearly-permanent frown made friendliness a challenge. In most cases, she relied on Henry’s jovial nature to offset her grumpiness.

“Hello, Mrs. MacAfee,” Officer Hall replied. “What can I do for you?”

“I want to speak to George Anthony,” she said.

“Yes ma’am. He’s on the phone at the moment but I’m sure he’d be happy to oblige.” He hesitated. “I know he gave you a call last night on account of Officer Johnson stopping Henry, but I don’t think you need to be real worried. Henry called here this morning…”

Marjorie had stopped listening the instant her fears had been confirmed. This could go no further. If Lenny knew, God knows it was on the lips of all of Hannibal by now.

“Excuse me,” she grumbled. She turned briskly and clicked her way down the hall until she got to Captain Anthony’s office.

“George!” she hollered while she rasped on the door. There was no answer. “George Anthony!” She increased the frequency of her knock.

“He mighta taken the call in another office,” Officer Hall shouted. To his irritation, her knocking continued. “Mrs. MacAfee,” he insisted, “he’s working one way or another. Leave him to it. I promise he’ll get to you.” The knocking continued.

Marjorie, who was not about to let the forces of justice and retribution be hindered by such a fragile, mortal construct as an office door, finally resigned to crack it open. The office was discouragingly vacant. This, though, was also a feeble obstacle; with a determined snort, Marjorie asserted herself into the room and set herself in a waiting chair. Officer Hall was so entirely relieved by the return of silence that he cared not how that silence came about.

Marjorie waited, still as a gargoyle. Confined only from looking upwards by the ridge of her eyebrows, which her grimace caused to protrude, her eyes searched the room for any sign of Captain Anthony’s whereabouts. His office was thoroughly uninteresting; piles of papers concealed most of his desk, the black fabric on his desk chair was wearing thin, and the file cabinet in the corner was such a dull shade of gray that it almost avoided notice altogether. Marjorie tapped her foot, each tap marking a second ticking by. What kind of police captain runs off in the middle of the day? Doesn’t he know he has a job to be doing?

But justice and retribution do not stoop to fight with boring offices or late police captains, either. Marjorie stood with conviction and walked over to the desk. She began to look at the papers, though most of them did not make any sense to her. She tapped her foot. She scanned for anything that had his name: Butthole Buddy. Unfortunately, there were none that stood out. What about Henry’s name? Again, nothing. She shifted some of the piles around. Marjorie willed herself to trust that there had to be some order to the universe, some force that allowed the file of Butthole’s concealed murder conviction or lengthy record as a jewel thief to be lying somewhere in that chaos of papers.

Dissuaded but not discouraged by the absence of such incriminating evidence, Marjorie walked around to the back of the desk. On either side of Captain Anthony’s chair were three drawers built into the desk. She tried the top one on the left first; inside were only more papers, a lighter, and a pack of cigarettes. Then she tried the top one on the right.

Aha! Here was providence. Just as Marjorie had predicted.

The following afternoon, Marjorie was back at the police station.

“Mrs. MacAfee,” Officer Hall intercepted before she could say anything. “I know that you’re real frustrated about Henry’s ticket, but you don’t need to come in to complain again. I am sure that everything that can be done has already been done.”

“Thank you, Lenny,” Marjorie said with uncharacteristic lightness. “But I’m not here to complain. I’m here to see Officer Johnson.”

Officer Hall looked at her as if she had just told him that she was here to lead all the officers in a group song and dance.

“He’s eating lunch right about now,” Officer Hall said slowly. “Do you want me to call him out?”

“That would be lovely.”

Officer Hall was distrustful of Marjorie’s complacency, but, preferring this to her discontentment, he obeyed her request. In a moment, Officer Johnson stood behind the front desk holding half of a turkey sandwich.

“Hello there, ma’am,” he said. “I’m Officer Johnson. I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure,” he said, holding out his left hand to shake while his right hand was occupied with the sandwich. Marjorie stared at his hand, then back at his face. Her look was cold but not so entirely grouchy as usual. Officer Johnson awkwardly retracted his hand.

“This is Marjorie MacAfee,” Officer Hall said, by way of introduction.

“I’ve come to file a complaint,” she said. With this statement, the slightest trace of a smirk played at the corners of her lips.

“What about?” Officer Johnson asked genuinely.

What my complaint is shouldn’t matter to you as much as who the complaint is against. I’ve come here for your badge number.”

“What, me?” Officer Johnson was astounded.

“Mrs. MacAfee,” Officer Hall pleaded, “This is unreasonable. You cannot complain against an officer for doing his job.”

“I’ve never seen you before today!” Officer Johnson exclaimed. “What could you possibly have to complain about?”

“That will only be of consequence when I have your badge number. May I see your badge, please?” Marjorie said.

“Look, Mrs. MacAfee,” Officer Johnson began, “If you could just tell me what the problem is, I’m sure we could work it out. I just started working in Hannibal, and I haven’t even been given my badge yet. If you want to complain officially, you’re going to have to wait.”

“Well, then, I would like to complain that you stopped my husband, Henry MacAfee, and issued him a ticket without a badge.”

“Mrs. MacAfee,” Officer Hall said, “Buddy has a badge. He is a legitimate officer.”

“Then I would like to see it.”

“I don’t have it with me,” Officer Johnson said.

“That seems like a reason to get a ticket, then,” Marjorie retorted. She could keep the smirk hidden no longer. “Isn’t it, Lenny?”

“Well, ma’am, I think he has it somewhere around here,” Officer Hall said hesitatingly.

“See here, I’ll get it right now!” Officer Johnson said, getting heated. He dashed down the hallway. Marjorie, feeling almost satisfied, turned and walked out the door, the heels of her shoes clicking on the linoleum floor.

Moments later, Officer Johnson stumbled back into the police station lobby. Visibly angry and unable to find the target of his anger, he looked at Officer Hall. Officer Hall pointed to the door.

Officer Johnson ran out onto the sidewalk just in time to see Marjorie pulling away in her car.

“Hey!” He shouted. “Mrs. MacAfee! Come back!”

She stopped her car in front of him just long enough for him to get a good look at two rather disturbing things in the front seats. First, he noticed a life-sized Raggedy Andy doll that was buckled into the passenger seat. Pinned on the strap of his overalls was a silver police badge. Over the place where Officer Johnson’s name should have been was a paper label that read “Butthole Buddy.” Second, he noticed a wide smile of satisfaction across Marjorie’s face.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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