by Roy Halliday
One of the technical writers who worked on IBM manuals in Kingston, New York, was better at writing pornographic novels. He did this at home and in his office at IBM when he wasn’t otherwise occupied. He used the names of other technical writers at IBM as the basis for the names of the characters in his first porn novel, The Golden Fleece (Dell Publishing Company, New York, 1971). In most cases he took one person’s first name and another person’s last name to form the name of a character. There were three exceptions. He used the unchanged names of three IBM writers for three of the characters: Paul Dunkerly, George Funk, and Roy Halliday. He kept these three characters out of all the sex scenes so we wouldn’t have grounds to sue him for slander. The second main character, who organized the orgies, was my character’s wife Phelisa Halliday. In real life Phelisa was our department secretary and she was single. Our fictional teenage daughter Carla Halliday also plays a significant role in the story.
The book was published as a paperback novel under the pen name of William Shears. It was widely distributed and made Dell’s top-10 list. I bought a copy at a local department store. The book sold so well that Dell commissioned him to write a sequel, Up All the Way (Dell Publishing Company, New York, 1971). The sequel had the same main character, but all the other characters were new, and their names were not based on names of IBM employees, at least none that I knew.
In The Golden Fleece the character with my name is described as a middle-aged architect from New Hampshire who is also an anarchist. While he was writing the book the author knew me as a 25-year-old technical writer from Long Island who was an anarchist. My namesake's appearance in the book is mostly confined to pages 171-173. The conversation he has with the main character is loosely based on a conversation I had with the author in my office at IBM during a coffee break. He asked me who I was going to vote for in the upcoming election, and I said something like, "I don't vote. It only encourages them." The conversation in the novel occurs right after the main character, Ward Bobb, who narrates the story, has just had sex with my namesake's daughter in my home. Here is the relevant portion of the novel:
In the instant before music flooded the room again, I thought I heard a noise downstairs, and I mentioned it to Carla.
“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about it,” she said, “It’s just Mother or Daddy.”
“I thought your father was probably at work,” I stammered.
“Oh, he is,” she said. “But he has his office right here at home. He’s an architect. He’s put up some of the largest erections in New York. That’s just a joke of Mother’s. Daddy doesn’t really care a whole lot about sex. But he’s a dear.”
The window didn’t seem practical. I wondered if I should hide under the bed till everyone had gone to sleep, and then sneak out.
“Let’s go down,” she said. “It might be Mother, and you can take care of your business with her.”
Well, I had a fifty-fifty chance. I excused myself to go to the bathroom, combed out my pubic hair, then dressed and followed Carla down the stairs and into the kitchen, where we were greeted by a middle-aged man stirring artificial cream into a cup of coffee.
Good grief--it was Daddy!
“Hi, Daddy, this is Ward Bobb--he’s a friend of Mother’s. From that club.”
Daddy seemed totally unperturbed--by his daughter’s peek-a-boo serape or by the fact that she’d just come down from her bedroom with me or by the disclosure of my connection with the distaff side of his family.
“Bobb, eh--pleased to meet you,” he said in a noncommittal tone. He was a handsome but sober-looking man, with graying dark hair and a gaunt frame that was beginning to develop a pot belly. He spoke with a strong New Hampshire twang. “What line are ye in?”
“Oh,” I said, still shaking, “right now I’m freelancing.”
“Mr. Bobb’s made some movies with Rod Ranice,” said Carla.
The name didn’t seem to mean anything to her father. “That’s interestin’,” he said. “Must be an interestin’ business, if you like that sort of thing. Eh-yup, young man’s field. Though I guess Clark Gable and Cary Grant ain’t so young any more, at that. They still around?”
“Oh, Daddy, you don’t know anything, do you?” said his daughter affectionately.
“I know what I have to. I know my business, and what’s more to the point, I know what ain’t my business. That’s how come I’ve lived so long without an ulcer. And I can still do twenty chin-ups of a mornin’. With one hand.”
“How about your family, Mr. Halliday?” I asked. “Are they all healthy, too?” It was a leading question, of course. I wanted to find out something about the nature of this old New England Puritan’s old Puritanism.
“Eh-yup, seem to be. Have their own ways of keepin’ fit. Live and let live, that’s what I say.”
My nerves were settling gradually, as it began to seem as if Daddy was not about to reach for his shotgun. But I still felt impelled to make small talk, out of my remaining vestiges of nervousness.
“You’re from New Hampshire, aren’t you?” I asked.
“What do you think of the gentleman from New Hampshire who’s running for President?”
“Don’t like him.”
“You’re for the other party, then?”
“Nope. Don’t like any of ’em. I’m an anarchist.”
“Oh, Daddy, you’re such an old dear,” said his daughter. She turned to me. “He doesn’t believe in anything. That’s why I’m an only child. But he’s still a sweetie pie. I asked him for two years to build a play house up at our country place, and I never even thought he heard me. Then one morning, he just went out and did it. Just the way I wanted it. With a double bed.”
The front door opened and closed, and Phelisa breezed in.
“Ward!” she said, “This is a pleasant surprise. What are you doing here?”
“He came to see you, Mother,” said Carla. “I entertained him while he was waiting.”
“Good girl,” her mother said. “What’s up, Ward?”
“Oh, I just wanted to see you on . . . I guess you’d say on business. Club business. But it can wait.”
“Oh, no, we can take care of it now,” she said. “I have the time, and I’m sure you don’t have anything too pressing to run off to. Come on out in the living room and make yourself comfortable.”
And a few minutes later, Halliday finished his coffee break and went quietly back out to his office.
This page was last updated on October 1, 2012.
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