Larry Johnson Has the Hiccups

Don’t you find Larry’s life fascinating?

Excerpts from the unpublished manuscript by Ms. Beatrice Kerr, which to date has been rejected for publication by; Esquire Magazine, LIFE, Sport, The Boston Phoenix, The Atlantic, Reader’s Digest, The Boston Globe Magazine, TALKERS Magazine, The Improper Bostonian, The Christian Science Monitor, Playboy, Vibe, The Lawrence Eagle Tribune, Art Monthly, Boston Magazine, The Wellsley Townsman, Yankee Magazine, Jet, digboston, Street & Smith’s Pro Football Draft Preview, EXPO Magazine, The Somerville Times, Radio Ink, Southwest: The Magazine, The New England Journal of Medicine, and Parrot World.

18 April 2008 – 11:39 AM
Larry Johnson is excited. It’s a big sports time in Boston. All the local teams are active. The Celtics are about to start the playoffs. The Red Sox are off to a decent start and will always be the number one story. The Bruins are in the playoffs and winning. Even though Larry is enjoying the Bruins, he misses the old NHL and the fighting. No, really. Larry’s just being honest. He could lie and say he likes the finesse game, but that wouldn’t be Christian. So he admits that he enjoys seeing God’s creatures beating the bejesus out of one another. Except Larry pronounces that “be-hay-soos” because he doesn’t like to take the Lord’s name in vain. That’s a sure ticket to eternal damnation where Larry has heard the buffet is a big disappointment.

And the NFL Draft is coming up. Larry likes to think of himself as a bit of a self-styled NFL draftnik. He doesn’t really care much for college football (except for BC, where Jon Meterparel does a great job) and doesn’t really know any of the players but he finds the discussion fascinating and what’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with having a diversion from the vicissitudes of life? A welcome respite from things like plagiarism, lack of self respect and annoyingly persistent weight gain. Larry’s partner, Craig Mustard, doesn’t like the draft and tells Larry not to talk about it. Even though Craig and Larry kid around a lot on the air, Larry thinks Craig is a great guy and he does a great job. Just as all the guys at the station do. And the callers too. Great guys.

And the Boston Marathon is coming up. Larry’s hoping he gets the call to sit in on one of Monday’s shows. He has a hilarious riff on running that he uses every year that really breaks the guys up. “I can’t even drive 26 miles!!” and “hey, Pete, are you sweaty from running the Marathon or walking up the stairs??” and “I run to Shaw’s every weekend!!” and “I have congenital heart failure. Please help me. Guys, I’m serious.” He has a lot of fun with it and the guys at the station really seem to enjoy Larry’s humor. It’s a great place to work.

16 May 2008 – 4:32 PM
Larry Johnson is torn. It’s the Friday before his Saturday morning radio show at WEEI. It’s a great place to work with a great bunch of guys. He and Craig Mustard argue a lot on the air, but it’s all in good fun. Larry prays for Craig, just as he does all of the guys at the station. Craig’s a great guy. He’s settled down and become a family man and Larry couldn’t be happier. Despite the fact that Craig once refused to donate his kidney to Larry when Larry lay near death even though Craig was a perfect match, Larry still thinks Craig is a great guy and he long ago put that ugly business behind him.

The reason Larry is torn about tomorrow’s show is that he doesn’t know how he will handle one of the hot button issues of the Boston sports week. He knows fans will want to talk about the Herald and John Tomase. Larry knows that fans will want to engage in personal attacks on John, who Larry thinks does a great job. Just as all the guys at the Herald do. Larry secretly hopes that the Celtics clinch their series tonight so he can talk about positive things. That’s what Larry likes to do. He thinks there’s far too much negativity in this town. He loves that Rick Pitino quote. He liked Pitino’s press conferences. He likes all press conferences. He finds it fascinating when the media questions people with microphones and cameras around. There’s always the possibility that someone will say something fascinating.

Larry likes to put a lot of issues on the table for the Saturday show. Craig jokes that Larry should be used to a full table. Larry laughs and then sometimes chokes because of his congestive heart failure, which is not funny but the pictures of his heart the doctor showed him are fascinating.

Larry hopes John Tomase can find spiritual guidance to carry him through these dark times. Larry likes to act as a sort of shepherd to his fellow man. But not like Pete Sheppard. That’s one of Larry’s favorite lines and he laughs a lot after it, sometimes without passing out.

In fact, Larry decides he’s going to call John after the show and offer to take him over to Lively Stones church. Not for a sermon, but for some fun. There are a great bunch of guys there who get together in the spirit of fellowship, faith and trans fats. He thinks John will fit right in. John’s a great guy and Larry would like to introduce him to Jesus, the greatest of great guys.

06 Jun 2008 – 2:10 PM
Larry Johnson is depressed. It’s the day before his regular Saturday shift at WEEI with his old partner, Craig Mustard. Craig’s a great guy and a great high school teacher in an exclusive Boston suburb. Larry’s not a teacher but he spends his days drawing Glenn Ordway. The guys at the station have a lot of respect for Larry’s art. They kid him about the fact that he traces everything, but Larry just laughs and winces to hide the pain when they’re not looking. The fact that his life’s work has become a punchline makes Larry sometimes wish he’d followed his first calling: to be an aviator. Sometimes he still pretends he’s a pilot while he’s sitting on the toilet. But his large frame, flat feet, nearsightedness, high blood pressure, uncontrollable sweating, explosive flatulence, high glucose levels, webbed toes, compressed vertebrae, trouble swallowing, vertigo, respiratory problems and irritable bowel syndrome left him just shy of the physical requirements. So he put down his wings and picked up a pencil.

Larry likes who he is and he knows that the other guys at the station like him too. They call him “LJ”, which Larry knows is not a name you would call someone that you did not like. Sometimes Larry likes to drive over to the station just to be around the guys, even if he isn’t working. He sits on the other side of the glass with headphones on and watches Glenn and the guys work their magic. He mouths what he would say if he was on the air. He touches his hand to the glass. His heart flutters but not in a way that he recognizes he needs to hit his Medic Alert button. He sketches another cartoon of Glenn. This time he gives him purple pants. That’s a good one. Glenn will like that. He thinks about how much he wants to be a regular on the station. It hurts sometimes, but then the free food arrives. Larry is right where he wants to be.

02 Sept 2008 – 3:07 PM
Larry Johnson is frightened. When Jason Wolfe asked to meet with him several days ago at TGI Friday’s, Larry figured something was up. He knew that heavenly appetizers and reasonably priced, cheese-covered entrees might not be the only thing on the menu. Before they could get through the third bucket of boneless wings, Wolfe got right to the point. He was relieving Larry and Craig Mustard of their weekend hosting duties. Larry tried to make a joke about the Red Sox and their relievers, and then about Pete relieving himself in the studio, but Wolfe sat stone faced across the family-sized vinyl booth, leaning back in his booster seat and folding his arms. Suddenly, the fancy lighting and welcoming décor that Larry always loved about the Friday’s chain started to spin. Larry felt his heart running faster than normal, his head growing light and his torso starting to sweat. And he hadn’t been near a flight of three stairs in weeks. Larry’s mind raced as he thought about how he might illustrate this moment. How can one trace the death of a dream? Just before he passed out, he saw a Rolling Stone tongue logo on the wall. He never knew Friday’s to be so edgy. And for the 12th time that day, Larry Johnson lost consciousness.

Larry awoke to find all the guys from the station standing over him. He was in the hospital. It turns out the boneless wings…weren’t. No one from the station had ever come to visit him before during his 372 recent stays. He was overcome with emotion. What a great bunch of guys! Who wouldn’t want Chronic Obstructed Pulmonary Disorder if it means the guys are going to come see you?

After that, how could he hold a grudge about getting fired? Just because a short man and great guy named Wolfe has taken away his only connection to humans, his access card to all the great guys at the station and free food, his purpose in life…why should he be upset? God only gives us as much as we can handle, a proverb Larry put to the test repeatedly at the Old Country Buffet. They do a great job over there. Really. Who would have thought you could put cheese right in the meatloaf? Not Larry. But they do. And it’s great.

Later that night, as he lay awake in his hospital bed, the ventilator working overtime hooked up to an auxiliary industrial strength turbine engine, Larry looked out at the night sky. And then it came to him…satellite radio! He picked up the hospital phone and quickly called Craig, who asked how he got his home number. Craig was always kidding. Larry told him about his idea. Craig said “Sirius?” Larry replied, “I’ve nevah been more serious in my whole life!” And the dream was born anew.

We at The Journal are glad to provide an outlet for Ms. Kerr, and hope she can find a publisher due to this publicity. She is welcome to publish other works, if any, here as well. @firegoodell3


Author: scartsybjbsj

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