Is this the end for Wally and column?

Last night’s carousing among local bars left me severely hung over this morning. I awoke feeling unrested, lethargic and so muddle-headed I couldn’t concentrate on any particular thought for more than 10 seconds.

This accounts for the fact that I forgot I’d moved a wooden chest from one location to another. Upon climbing out of bed, I stumbled over the damn thing, cracking my shin. So, I limped around for a couple of hours, cursing this and that.

Alas, today hasn’t gone right from the get-go – and it’s been downhill ever since.

My Mister Coffee machine has been acting a little strange for the last week and today it chose to quit working all together. Thus, my immediate shot of speed wasn’t available to kick-start the day. It’s a mini-addiction, I suppose, like all my other morning routines, including the newspaper which, fortunately, was in the mailbox, thereby giving my life a brief touch of order. But who can read the newspaper without a cup of coffee?

I crawled into my car and drove to the Krain corner, but the restaurant wasn’t open yet. So I drove all the way to that espresso stand in front of the Masonic Lodge. However, when I pulled up to the window, I discovered I was wearing my “work” jeans and didn’t have any cash with me. For a moment, I considered driving downtown to the Lee, where Jeanie would probably give me a free cup, but decided to go home again and get some money. By the time I got here, my adrenaline rush was so high, I no longer needed any caffeine. I junked the newspaper without reading it.

I had other things to do. I put the final touches on a column I’d been fooling around with yesterday, then ran a four-bladed razor over my face. I seriously nicked the corner of my chin because my hand was unsteady and my vision momentarily and suddenly blurred. It took half a styptic stick to stop the bleeding.

I slipped into my “dress” jeans – that is, jeans with money in the pocket – stumbled back into the car, drove downtown and parked outside that window where the “pie lady” concocts her goodies. Apparently, her day was going much better than mine. She smiled at me. I frowned at her.

I wandered into the Lee coffee shop, where Jeanie took one look at me and nearly lapsed into shock. “What the hell is wrong with you?” she shrieked.

“Not the best of mornings,” I mumbled.

While I sat at the counter with my coffee and shared sparse, but soothing, conversation with her and Al Madden, my jangled nerves finally seemed to settle. Perhaps, I thought, the day wouldn’t be a complete and foggy waste.

But my optimistic turn would prove to be woefully premature.

I left the Lee, walked down to The Courier-Herald and turned my bill in to Jennifer. I was about to leave when Publisher Bill Marcum called me into his office and closed the door behind us. Since he’d never done this before, I immediately sensed something was wrong.

“As you’re surely aware,” he began, “these are very tough economic times. It’s especially difficult for newspapers. The Seattle P. I. and many small, local papers have gone broke. We’ve even felt the budget crunch here at the Herald.”

Well, he rattled on for a time. But the long and the short of his discourse was the need to lay off some personnel.

My friends, I’ve been fired.

That being the case, this will be my last column. I realize this departure is rather abrupt, but what can I do?

And that’s the way it is, April 1, 2009. Cheers!