Willy Parker’s Almost Television Show

Willy Parker was successful. He ran the biggest pool installation business in South Georgia and business was not slowing down. He had started building small subdivisions and he had recently bought a lumber yard and was supplying wood to builders right across the State. He had been married but his wife of fifteen years had grown tired of him spending more time on building his business than on her. When he tried to explain everything he did was for their future, she didn’t buy it and over breakfast one morning she said she wanted more. She wanted to go on vacations and enjoy weekends at their Lakehouse in Alabama. She asked Willy who was a huge Bama Football fan when they last went to Tuscaloosa to watch a game, he couldn’t give an answer. So WandaLee gave him a piece of paper showing what she wanted in a divorce settlement and he agreed to it all. He pleaded for her to stay but he knew it was over. He loved working and he wasn’t interested in changing his lifestyle to accommodate his wife.

As WandaLee was packing her stuff she told Willy he could still come and visit the Lakehouse whenever he wanted, and he thanked her for her generosity. She left that night and Willy decided he was going to work even harder to make up for the loss.

Willy was at the lumber yard when Cliff Pethick showed up. Cliff was a salesman for the local television station, WXGG. He told Willy his advertising contract was up and it was time to renew. Willy bought a ton of time on the station to promote his pool business. The spots ran on a run of schedule basis which meant they got placed wherever there was an opening.

Cliff wanted to know what Willy’s favourite show was on WXGG. Willy took a second before he answered. He said he had watched the ‘’Football King’’ show the week before and was happy to see his commercials were running in it. He said the King was crazy if he thought Georgia had a better football team than the Tide, but besides that, he liked the program a lot. Cliff cleared his throat and told Willy that the Football King had been cancelled. The King had turned into a Joker, he had bought his air time and the check he gave the station had bounced, so they bounced him.

A customer drove into the yard, so Willy had to end the conversation. He asked Cliff how much money he needed and Cliff said the cost for running the commercials for the year was fifty thousand dollars. Willy looked at him and shook his head. ‘’Cliffy, I’ve been doing business with y’all for a long time. My checks are always good, how can you try and jack me like that. You know I pay forty thou for the year. You want to keep my business that’s what I pay, otherwise, have a good day.’’ Willy started heading to the pickup truck his customer was sitting in, so Cliff had to move quickly. The fact that he was extremely over weight made him look like he was rushing in slow motion.

‘’Okay Willy, give me a check for forty thousand, but if you add the extra ten we’ll produce a show for you and you can put your commercials in it. You can have the Football King’s spot and you can talk about anything.’’

Willy pulled out a check, bent down over the hood of the pickup truck, wrote it out for forty-five thousand, smiled and said ‘’Cliff Pethick, we have a deal son.’’ Cliff looked at it and said ‘’Uh, it was fifty thousand’’. Willy looked him up and down ‘’Son, I’m all in at forty five, it is one of those deals, all or nothing.’’ Cliff reluctantly took the check. ‘’ Willy your time spot will be Saturday evening at seven-thirty, just after the college football games, please get to the station at around six-thirty so we can get everything organized. Do you know what kind of show you want to do, it can be about sports, country music, football, home renovation or wrestling.’’

The guy who was in the pickup truck was getting out of his vehicle, so Willy yelled back ‘’Football, We’re going to spend a lot of time talking about the Crimson Tide. See ya around Cliff, I’ve got to try and make some money.’’

At Six Thirty that Saturday evening Willy showed up at WXGG. It was the first time he’d ever been in the building and it was completely different than he had imagined. It was small and in need of serious renovation. He stood in the reception area for about two minutes when a young guy came running over to meet him. ‘’Mr. Parker, I’m Evan, your producer. I know you want to talk about Football so I wrote up some topics for you to discuss with Jumbo.’’

Before Willy could ask who Jumbo was, a tall heavy-set guy walked into the station wearing a Georgia Bulldog’s jersey. He walked over to Willy and extended his hand. Willy was impressed with his firm grip. ‘’I know who you are, I’ve seen your pool commercials. I almost bought a pool from your company. Willy looked at him and smiled ‘’Well, if you decide you want one, let me know and I'll make sure you get a nice discount.’’ Jumbo shook his head ‘’No Thanks, my neighbour bought one and he thought your company did a crappy job on the installation and he was very unhappy.’’ Willy was now aggravated before he had even made it into the studio. ‘’If your neighbour had a problem, he should have called us, we stand behind every pool we put into the ground.’’ Jumbo shook his head. ‘’That’s why I never used your company, he called you guys four times and nobody ever returned his calls.’’ Willy was getting tenser by the minute. ‘’Bullshit, we always return calls, and we have this thing called email. I think your neighbour is an asshole. Customer service is something we’re proud of, we’ve been in business for sixteen years and are the biggest in-ground pool installers in South Georgia, we look after our customers.’’ Jumbo shook his head ‘’I don’t know, he just said y’all sucked.’’

Evan interrupted and asked both men to follow him into the studio which they did. He pointed out a desk in the middle of the floor that had been lit and asked if they could come and sit behind it. Willy was about to take the middle seat but Jumbo jumped into it first. For some reason, the Georgia Bulldog jersey that Jumbo was wearing was now starting to really irritate Willy.

‘’We have twenty four minutes of content, six minutes are dedicated to commercials. The concept for the show is simple. We have highlights from across the country showing key college games and you guys discuss them. Everything is live. Any questions?’’

Jumbo asked Evan what the name of the show was, Evan was almost out o the studio, when he turned around and said ‘’Jumbo and Willy on Football.’’ Jumbo stood up and yelled ‘’I appreciate that name.’’ Willy sat stunned, what the hell was going on, he didn’t take second place to anyone.’’

Willy was thinking about what to do when his new colleague started talking smack to him ,‘’Yes Sir I like that name ‘’Jumbo on Fooball’’, they don't even need your name, you're just my co-host.’’ Before he could say another word, Willy was out of his chair and moving out of the studio. He saw a small room with a couple of people in it and entered. It was Master Control. There was a guy who looked like he was sleeping in a chair and Evan sitting behind a big board. When Evan noticed Willy he swirled around in his seat. ‘’What kind of bullshit is this, the name of the show has to be Willy and Jumbo not Jumbo and Willy, or I’m out the door and all my commercials go with me.’’ Evan shrugged his shoulders. ‘’Uh, Sir, we only have four minutes before we go to air, so if y’all don’t mind, I’ll have them changed for next week. If you wouldn’t mind getting back into the studio, they need to put a mike on you. The guy who had been sleeping in the chair got up and introduced himself. ‘’I’m Cal,the studio camera man.’’

Willy followed Cal back into the studio and headed to his seat. A beautiful woman was applying makeup to Jumbo and they were flirting back and forth. Cal came over and put a mike on Willy’s collar and waited till the makeup artist had finished with Jumbo before miking him up.

‘’Too bad you left the studio man, I would have introduced you to LaVonne. She’s going boating with me tomorrow. She’s some kinda hot. Says she’s been doing makeup here part-time for a couple of years.’’ Willy hardly heard a word Jumbo said, he was concentrating on the teleprompter. Cal started counting them down. when the show went live to air Willy loudly said ‘’Welcome to the Willy and Jumbo Show’’ and from that moment on their hostilities were live for all to see.

‘’My friend Willy here got the name of the show wrong, it’s Jumbo and Willy’’. Willy shook his head and laughed a derisive laugh. ‘’That’s what this Georgia Bulldog thinks, but next week it will officially be the Willy and Jumbo show.’’

Jumbo snarled ‘’Just cause you put some shitty pools into the ground you think you’re the boss, well screw that noise, it’s Jumbo and Willy. There was an uncomfortable pause and then Jumbo ratcheted things up a notch. ‘We’re here to talk Football so let’s get to it, Georgia has always been a better football team than Alabama, at least we were till your great Coach Saban started buying the best players available.’’

Willy wanted to punch this Jumbo jerk in the head but he restrained himself. ‘’Who gave you the name Jumbo, the guys at the circus because you reminded them of Dumbo? We only put in quality pools, but it would be hard for you to know cause we don’t install in trailer parks. The Bulldogs dream of being Bama but they can’t do it, never have, never will. They hired an assistant of Coach Saban to run their team, and Bama is still kicking their ass. The Bullsdogs think their shit don’t stink, but they can't even beat Georgia Tech most of time.’’

That was it, Willy had verbally hit Jumbo in the balls. Putting the Bulldogs and the Yellow Jackets in the same breath regarding their respective Football programs was like declaring war. The Teleprompter was flashing ‘BREAK, BREAK, BREAK’’ but both men were ignoring it.

Cal was showing the wind-up signal, but Willy and Jumbo were both ignoring him, and the idea that a fistfight could break out on the set was real. The last time that had happened was on a wrestling talk show when a guest upset the host by insulting the memory of Macho Man Randy Savage.

In the control room, Evan was trying to figure out what to do. As soon as there was a pause in the action, he threw to commercials. He took off his headphones and ran into the studio. ‘’That was Great, now we have to focus on the games that need discussing, we are back in one minute and twenty seconds. With that, he ran across the studio floor.

Cal counted them down from three and when the camera was on, both men tried to talk at the same time, and neither seemed to want to stop to let the other guy get a word in edgewise. Their voices kept getting louder and louder soon they were talking over each other, it was ridiculous.

Willy heard Jumbo say something negative about legendary Coach Bear Bryant of Alabama and that was it, the gloves were off. ‘’Did I just hear you say something insulting about Coach Bryant?’’ Jumbo laughed, ‘’Hell yeah, you read any books on the guy, you'd find out that he had the personality of a piece of wood. Willy smiled ‘’I own a lumber yard just outside of Macon, it’s called Woodley’s. You know when we have a piece of useless wood that is scrap, we say it is a rejected two by four, kinda reminds me of you. Mind ya, if you are talking about Coach Bryant that way, the all-time greatest Coach in college football, then you aren’t a rejected two by four, you’re from another construction site, you’re a cement head.’’

‘’I’m a Bulldog, your insults don’t bother me. Coach Dooley was a far better Coach and better man that Bryant could ever have been. ‘’ Willy snarled, ‘’That’s Coach Bryant, show some respect Dumbo. Dooley couldn’t have carried his shoes. The only reason he coached at Georgia for so long was nobody else wanted the job.’’ Evan once again went to a break, this time he ran into the studio as fast as he could.

‘’You guys are really entertaining, and I’m sure people at home watching are loving your act, but we need to discuss the college teams that played football today. That’s what this show is supposed to be all about.’’

When the break was over and clips of different teams started running the two men actually began making appropriate comments about the games that were played, they both knew their football. When a team was shown from the SEC, the Southern division that both Alabama and Georgia played in, there was a lot of insulting comments.

Willy and Jumbo did agree on one thing, they both hated Auburn. A lot of their venom was focused on the Auburn War Eagles who they called the Auburn War Turkeys. They spent five minutes insulting the school and the football program. Somehow the last part of the Jumbo and Willy Show ran smoothly.

As the two men were leaving the studio Evan intercepted them. He thanked them for their participation and informed them he had received a call from the station owner. Unfortunately, the show was going to have to be moved to Saturday mornings at four am. They would tape at nine pm, the show would be edited and then shown in the early morning. The name of their new show as suggested by the owner would be ‘’The Football Psychos'' so neither of them would be upset about their billing. Jumbo said he had to think about doing a show that would air when everybody was sleeping. Willy said he didn’t know if he wanted to tape a show at nine on a Saturday night when there were other things he could be doing. They both promised to let Evan know their plans at the beginning of the week and left.

Evan went back to the control room and dialed a number. He waited and then started talking ‘’Hi Mr. Dale, I did what you said. Yes Sir, I told them the show would be broadcast at four in the morning. Nope neither of them committed to coming back to do more shows. Okay, have a good night, oh and Mr. Dale, don’t worry I didn’t tell either of them that you were Auburn alumni.

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.