Functional Family

  • 2 Pages

Writers struggle for the right words, the right feeling. It isn’t always easy and often, life is a series of struggles that have to be overcome. For one young writer, his family shares in his downfall.

Wichita Lineman by Glen Campbell is slowly coming to an end in this idyllic setting. The strings and seventies flange slowly settles.

His family is sitting around the dinner table waiting for Glen to wrap up his need of all time. With each punctuation, the writer’s father punched, with meaning, the line, “still on the line.”

Our young writing hero is clearly slightly disturbed.

“What’s wrong dear?” Mildred, his Mother asked.

“I…Nothing.” Billy tried to smile.

“Something has to be wrong…son…you can talk to us about anything,” Bob, his Father smiled.

“We love you, no matter what.”

“I know.”

“You’re the best son a father could have.”

“Thanks,” Billy writhed uneasily.

“You are such a great son.”


“Billy got a letter today,” Sally, his Sister cheerfully added, “from a publisher.”

“Well, that’s great son.”

“What did it say?”


“You can tell us,” his Father chuckled.

“It said that I didn’t have anything to say.” Billy lowered his head.

“Hmmm,” Bob appeared to be in deep thought, “well, you’ll show ’em.”

“I’ve figured out the problem,” Billy said.

“Really? That’s my boy!” Bob sat proudly.

“Yes sir.”

“Well, please…share.”

“I don’t have enough angst,” Billy announced suddenly.

There was an uneasy silence throughout the room, which was interrupted by Glen Campbell, “I am a lineman for the county…”

“Well what can we do to help?”

“Well, first of all…we have to stop getting along so well,” Billy was hopeful that his family would be able to help him find his voice.

“Hmmm,” Bob pondered.

“Would that help?”

“I don’t know. I’m sorry it’s a stupid idea.”

“No, it isn’t, that’s a great idea,” they all offered encouragement.

“What can I do to help?” Sally asked.

“Well, I need you more than want you…” Glen Campbell chimed in.

“Still on the line.” Bob sang it proudly.

“Well, maybe you could get an addiction to something.” Billy answered his sister and tried to ignore Glen Campbell.

“Weight loss pills?”

“I don’t know, that might work”

“What about me son?” Bob asked.

“Well,” Billy paused, “maybe you could start abusing us kids. Maybe, hit mom around once or twice.”

“Sounds like fun, what about me?” Mildred asked.

“Well, you have to stop agreeing with everyone, Mom.”

“Whatever you need,” Mildred smiled.

“Thanks,” Billy smiled.

“Well, let’s give it a try.”

“Okay,” everyone was in agreement.

“Should we start dinner over?” Mildred asked.

“That would be a good idea,” Bob agreed.

Everyone stood up and left the room.

“Dinner.” Mildred made a production out of calling everyone.

“Its about time,” Bob said as if reading lines.

“I’m sorry, was it late?” Mildred reverted to her kindly self.

Billy entered, “No. Mom, you have to be less agreeable.”

“Whatever you need son,” she said.

“No. Listen you have to start saying no”

“How was I?” Bob asked his son as an actor might a director.

“You were fine, Dad.”

Sally entered, “Dinner! Great.”

She sat down at the table. Everyone stopped and looked at her. Billy sighed and threw his hands in the air.

“What was that?”

“Well, I didn’t ask anyone how they were.”

“You have to get it to another level…We need to be a dysfunctional family,” Billy exclaimed.

“This should be fun,” Sally squeaked.

“Okay let’s try it again.”

Everyone exited the room.


Bob entered.

“It is about time.”

Mildred looked at her watch, “Is it too late?”

Billy stormed into the room, “NO! NO! NO!”

“What was wrong with that?”

“I forgot my line,” Mildred smiled and pinched Billy’s cheeks, “I’m soooo sorry.”

“You have to stop doing that.”

“No,” she remembered the line.

“I know I need a small vacation, but it don’t look like rain,” Glen Campbell announced.

“This isn’t working!” Billy screamed.

“Well, we’re knew at this,” Bob said.

Sally entered dressed like a slut, “about time.”

“Are you wearing make-up young lady?” Bob was suddenly really angry.

“What of it?”

“Don’t you talk to your father like that,” Mildred backed up her husband.

“How was that?” Sally beamed.

“Let’s eat,” Billy gave up.

“I ad-libbed the whole makeup thing…what did you think?” Bob smiled like a Cheshire cat.

“You were in character,” Billy mumbled.

“Well, that was fun, let’s eat,” Mildred laughed.

“Still on the line…” Glen Campbell finished off the song.

More Strange Stories…

Clint Gaige

He is a published poet, essayist and novelist. Nominated for 2 Pushcart Prizes, and 5 books. He has also been a script doctor and screenwriter for over 15 years. As a filmmaker, he has directed a number of short films, a full length film and 2 television series. Most recently, he is the head writer/co-creator of Shotgun Mythos and the Co-Creator/Collaborator of Classroom Moments. He has directed nearly 100 episodes of television.

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