For those of you who’d rather read without annotation and commentary, here’s a pdf of these pages more or less.
For those of you who’d like to buy the book, well, here’s where you can do that.
Otherwise, click on the “Continue Reading” link to continue reading.
Dr. Hackenbush Gets a Job
PO Box 31513
Los Angeles, CA 90031
Copyright © 2002 and 2010 by Ginger Mayerson
First printing March 2010
All rights reserved. Being a work of fiction, any resemblance herein to persons living or dead is astonishing and purely coincidental. No part of this is publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review written for inclusion in a magazine, newspaper, or broadcast.
06 05 04 03 4 3 2 1
Wapshott Press logo by Molly Kiely
Cover design by Robin Austin
Long ago, in the mid 1980s , I was working a boring temp job at the old Red Cross building on Wilshire in Westlake. Nothing against boring temp jobs, they can be very restful, but this one was so boring, I began to mull over the story that would become Dr. Hackenbush Gets a Job and the other novels about Hackenbush and her milieu. I’d been playing the baritone ukulele  to amuse myself and toying with the idea of starting a band. This never actually happened because writing chamber music was taking up all my spare time and energy. So I was living the Hackenbushian life of losing sleep due to working a day job and making music in every other possible moment, but not in nightclubs or at casual gigs. I had many of the same experiences of meeting people in offices who had been in the arts and were either relieved or regretful that they no longer were, or people who didn’t really understand the life I was living, but were interested and sympathetic. They came to concerts and sometimes became friends. And so while I wasn’t writing the Hackenbush saga, I was certainly thinking about it.
Around 2000, I ran out of things to say as a composer and stopped writing music, thought a few things over, and then segued into writing prose. Thank God for the internet because I was lucky to meet other writers online and learned the basics, wrote very bad things that got useful critiques and found the love and editorial support to write the Hackenbush novels and everything else. After writing the three Hackenbush novels I’d been mulling over for fifteen or so years, I began the long agent query quest. Dr. Hackenbush found a fan in William Reiss at John Hawkins Literary Agency, and bless him, Bill went above and beyond to find a publisher for Dr. Hackenbush Gets a Job. I’ve quoted a few of the editorial responses on the back cover. Having been in music, I thrive on rejection, but I must say that at this level, rejection is damn near self-esteem boosting.
But, if you’re reading this, you know that Dr. Hackenbush Gets a Job has finally been published, and there are many people to thank for that. The endlessly patient Jane Seaton, who’s read and edited my work from the very beginning while offering nothing but good advice and encouragement. Laurel Sutton, who’s read, edited, and was the wind beneath my wings in the agent hunt. Lynn Loper, the strictest, most patient proofreader in the world. More recently, thank you to Robin Austin for the beautiful Hackenbush.org  website and the cover of this book, and Kris Anderson, Molly Kiley , and Kathryn L. Ramage  for three (count ’em, three) more proofreads before publication. And last but certainly not least, Bill Reiss, my wonderful agent, who liked this novel enough to inspire me not to give up on getting it published somewhere, someday, which is here and now. Thank you, everyone, this book would not have seen the light of day without you all.
And if I did dedications, I would dedicate this book to anyone who’s ever had to work a day job when they’d rather be making art.
1. Horrors of the Reagan administration. Yes, I don’t like him.
2. The baritone ukulele suited my voice best and it’s easy to play. If you’ve ever played guitar, the baritone is the top four strings of the guitar. Ukulele Time Ep 1: Intro to the Baritone Ukulele. This guy is kind of cute, too.
3. Dr. Hackenbush and Her Orchestra. For all your Hackenbush needs
4. Molly Kiely, artist extraordinaire.
5. Kathryn Ramage, novelist extraordinaire.
Gets a Job
Yeah, it was a bad night. Ended up that way. Started out a good night. No intonation problems, nobody late or too stoned to play right, Shorty was dancing like an angel, and even Wang the Bartender was in a good mood.
And then Hackenbush watched it all go to hell, even assisted it into hell. But what’s a lady to do when some gorilla in a plaid shirt attacks your dance partner?
“Say, fella, you wouldn’t hit a girl wearing glasses, would you?” Edging between a mountain of drunk and Shorty, Hackenbush pointed at her big, black horn rims. This brought out the buried chivalry in the drunk; he snatched her baritone ukulele and crunched it up instead of her nose.
It’s always such a shame when one must sacrifice one’s baritone ukulele to an enraged bar patron, but there are times when it’s just fucking necessary. Either that or watch Shorty get his jaws busted.
The ensuing brawl was quick and to the point: the drunk, joined by other drunks, tore the Lotus Room bar of the New Hotel Watanabe to bits. Luckily, no lives, instruments, except the baritone, or musicians were lost.
“So, Wang,” Hackenbush began after the police were gone, “see ya tomorrow?” She lit an unfiltered Pall Mall and picked a shred of tobacco off her tongue.
“I think not, Hackenbush.”
Hackenbush followed Wang’s gaze over her left shoulder and was face to face with her favorite club owner, the fabulous Mr. Hikaru Tanaka.
“Oh, Mr. Tanaka!” Hackenbush enthused with more energy than she felt. “How nice to see you.”
Tanaka looked around at the wreckage, the musicians packing up, Shorty Smith and Hackenbush and raised his voice: “This bar is closed until further notice.”
It was bad enough, but then Hackenbush had to take a cab home because her ancient convertible Karmann-Ghia would start and keep running, but not move forward in any gear.
Tow trucks were not Hackenbush’s enemy. The reason for calling a tow truck—that was the enemy. Or maybe just nemesis. Or bad luck. Or simply that the good luck that kept the wrecks Hackenbush drove running just finally did what good luck eventually does, which is pack up, and then you call a tow truck. So, Hackenbush called a tow truck the next morning to tow her car to her mechanic.
She thanked God for Auto Club even though, after the last tow, they had suggested her car problems were more than their organization could help her with. So even Auto Club comes to the end of its good will eventually. Auto Club and Mr. Tanaka had just about had enough Hackenbush.
‘He’ll get over it,’ she thought, climbing out of the tow truck. She waved at Roberto, VW mechanic and sole proprietor. “Hopefully.”
“What?” The tow driver was a stocky, swarthy bear of a man and thought he’d misheard.
“I said hopefully he’ll get over it.” Hackenbush handed him her AAA card.
“Vice President Bush.” Hackenbush signed her trip sheet or whatever the hell it was one signed after a tow. “He seems so angry. Rich angry white guy who wants to be President of the US. Hopefully he’ll get over it. How’d you vote in the last election?” She wrestled a cigarette out of the pack and lit it .
“Communist.” He handed her back her Auto Club card.
“Really? What a shocking waste of time.” She picked a shred of tobacco off her tongue.
“Not in Yerevan.” The driver waved gallantly, speeding off to rescue the next paid-up Auto Club damsel in distress. A dead bug; old VWs were most of his business, so he liked them.
“Making friends, Hackenbush?” Roberto looked up from the back of her Ghia.
1. “BEST SPEECH BY A NON-KEYNOTING TEXAN. Jim Hightower, who called George Bush a ‘toothache of a man’ who takes his privileged upbringing for granted. “George Bush,” he said, ‘was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple.'”
The Democrats: The Best and Brightest, by Margaret B. Carlson, Time Magazine, August 1, 1988 (scroll to the bottom)
Yup, that about sums up the old GHW Bush right there.
I might put more than these three samples up, but for now that’ll be all, folks.
Want to chat about this? See if I’m on Skype at hackenskype.