I was reading something last night when a name leapt out at me – Edward Budd – a name I’d only heard once before in my life. Suddenly I was transported back to the olden days when I was young, barely out of my teens. So full of verve I was back then that I went to school and held down a couple of jobs and was always looking around for more.
One day while sniffing around the local employment centre (called Manpower in those days), I saw a posting for a writer’s assistant…local author wants help typing/cleaning up manuscripts..something like that. Perfect! Right up my ally. I grabbed the notice (this was when everything was on little paper cards, not on computers – yes, I’m that old).
The nice Manpower lady gave me the particulars for the job and I called and was able to get an appointment for the very next day. Meanwhile, being the clever girl I was, I went to one of my profs who was very active in the local writers’ community and asked him if he’d ever heard of this writer – Edward Budd. Yes, he said, he had. He’s not a very good writer, I was told, but has self-published a couple of small books on local history.
The prof warned me only to make sure I get a fair pay arrangement, not some share-of-royalties deal.
Off I went to the pretty upscale town where Edward Budd lived. The house was huge and gorgeous with well-kept grounds and a shiny new car in the driveway. My spirits lifted. A woman answered the door who informed me she was the housekeeper when I mistook her for Mrs. Edward Budd. Cool, I thought. (Or maybe it was “groovy” I can’t remember)
She showed me to a lavish library straight out of Agatha Christie with walls of books, leather armchairs and a big wooden desk. Edward Budd was an older gentleman, perhaps in his 60s, dressed in a jacket and tie. He was well-spoken with the remnants of an English accent. I couldn’t believe my luck and kept my fingers crossed that I would be able to land this job.
We chatted for a bit about his previous work, how he was now retired from his engineering job and wanted to devote more time to writing. He just needed someone a couple days a week to re-type his manuscripts for him. Excellent, I thought.
What he wanted to write about, he went on to say, was the essential differences between men and women. Men, he felt were innate masochists while women were sadists. Uh-oh, I thought.
What he’d like to do, he said, was have me spend some time spanking and whipping him so that we could explore the reality of our baser natures, thereby making his book more real. “Is that the time?” I said pointedly indicating my watch. “Must dash.” (Okay, I probably didn’t say “must dash”, but I got myself out of there really quickly.)
The next day he showed up at my house with a big cardboard grocery store box. He apologized for scaring me and wondered if perhaps I wouldn’t reconsider. He told me we could start out fully dressed if that made me more comfortable and that, indeed, I never had to get undressed at all. He offered me quite a large hourly salary to be his writer’s assistant. Then he gave me the box and told me to have a look at the stuff and think about it and he’d call me in a few days.
The box, as you’ve no doubt guessed, contained a number of flogging and flailing instruments, some shackles, a collection of rubber and latex things, a badly typed manuscript by Edward Budd called Hitler’s Mistresses and a paperback novel entitled, Harriet Marwood, Governess.
I didn’t touch the toys, but I couldn’t resist the written material. The Hitler’s Mistresses thing was awful – barely readable. I could see why he’s need a typist. It was also totally crazy. The novel, on the other hand, was quite interesting.
As promised Edward Budd called me a day or two later. I told him to pick up his stuff. He upped the salary.
He called every day and kept raising the amount of money he was willing to give me. It was almost irresistible and, really it’s funny how quickly the stuff he talked about started to sound not so outrageous. Goes to show how quickly we human beings are able to normalize things. Anwway, I kept saying no thank you and would you please stop calling me. (this was in the frontier days before call display and before most people had answering machines).
After a few days of this I happen to be speaking with an older woman friend of mine, Gail, and told her all about my job interview. She reeled back in horror and told me she was good friends with Mrs. Edward Budd and that Mr. Edward Budd had a history of mental illness (no shit) and that as far as his wife knew he hadn’t left his house for nearly ten years.
Gail insisted we had to call Mrs. Edward Budd right away and tell her about this. She did. Mrs. Edward Budd arranged to meet with me that very evening at Gail’s house.
Mrs. Edward Budd wasn’t very nice. She charged in all pissed off, didn’t believe me at first. Talk to your housekeeper, I said. Talk to Manpower, I said. Come and get your husband’s box of crap, I said. Then she blamed me for everything. Gail told her she was being unreasonable. We didn’t part on good terms.
A week later, a man claiming to be Edward Budd, Junior. came to collect his dad’s box of goodies. He didn’t seem to be very friendly either.