Citizen Dick by Richard Arneson
About Citizen Dick
Dick Citizen, an unambitious, twenty-five-year-old with an obsessive hatred for his first name, an uncanny ability to hit a golf ball long and straight, and a bizarre skeleton in his closet, stumbles backwards into the last place he should be—Corporate America; more specifically, he stumbles into a PR position at CommGlobalTeleVisa, the 3rd largest telecommunications corporation in the United States, its name synonymous with ineptitude and shoddy, C-level leadership.
For Dick, boredom soon sets in, so he writes farcical press releases—to pass the time and for the enjoyment of his co-workers—about outrageous, bogus product offerings CommGlobalTeleVista has in the works.
But when one of the press releases gets leaked to the press, Wall Street responds favorably to the moribund corporation for the first time in several years. And when Noble Tud, the sleazy, hirsute, golf- and prison-obsessed CEO discovers Dick is uncannily lucky—he’s had fourteen holes-in-one—he decides to carry out the press release’s claims that CommGlobalTeleVista is about to take over a large meat company. And if doing so edges their stock price north of $75/share, Tud will receive a $100M bonus.
About Richard Arneson
Richard Arneson’s thirteen years working in corporate America drove him up a tree—literally. Once he escaped the telecommunications industry after ten years of service, he built a tree house—ostensibly for his two young sons—installed electricity and cable TV, and set out to fix himself, deciding that dealing with the memories of working in the goofy-as-hell world of corporate America could only be accomplished by getting them down on paper. Citizen Dick is the result.
Arneson is currently working on his next novel, The Tree House, which, ironically, is not being written in his tree house but in the cab of his 1950 Chevy pickup truck. He lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife and their two sons. He has plans to build a second story on his tree house in early 2010, one large enough to accommodate a baby grand piano and two dental chairs.
Visit his website at: CitizenDick.com
Read an Excerpt
After his closing prayer, Noble, a devilish grin on his face, sauntered over to Comstock. It was the first night Comstock had attended the meeting, and the first time Noble had worked up his awe-struck nerves to converse with somebody other than Kent, Tony, an effeminate youth minister from the Vacquelvail Bible Church, or the two guards who told each other bawdy, Catholic jokes in the back of the room.
“So…Milo…what are you in here for?” asked Noble with a slight warble in his voice.
Noble scanned Comstock from head to toe and shook his head. “They really wrap you boys up, don’t they? Are the long sleeves for the visitors?”
“No, we always wear— ”
“To cover up the tattoos, I bet,” said Noble, beaming.
“I don’t have any tattoos.”
“You in a gang, Milo?”
“My name’s not—”
“Did you say you don’t have any tattoos?” Noble couldn’t mask his disappointment.
Comstock shook his head.
Noble scratched the bridge of his nose. “But what about the tattoo guns—”
“What about them?”
“How do you get tattoos in here?”
“I wouldn’t know. I don’t have any tattoos,” said Comstock, calmly. “They wouldn’t really…work for me on the outside.”
Noble frowned, but quickly retrieved his diabolical grin. “What kind of weapons you see in here, Milo?”
“Shanks?” queried Noble excitedly.
“Shivs,” offered Noble.
“Excuse me?” said Comstock, offended.
Noble was getting impatient. His eyes widened. “Zip guns?”
“I have a Ph.D. in finance, sir,” snapped Comstock. “I was the president of a bank.”
Noble did a slow burn, then scurried across the room, grabbed Kent’s arm, and yanked him from his conversation with Tony. “What kind of prison is this? There are no shanks, shivs, or zip guns. No tattoo guns. No tattoos, Kent! Hell, Milo over there is the president of a bank!”
“It’s a minimum security prison, Mr. Tud,” said Tony, sheepishly.
Noble fumed. “Is this true, Battdarfen?”
Kent nodded nervously any time Noble called him by his last name.
Noble kicked the leg of an old, pale wood table. “I’ve gotta come to a bank president jail every month? I can find those guys at the club!”
“It’s only temporary,” said Kent, reassuringly. “Only until word gets out that you’re not a, well…”
Tony pointed at a tall, lean, gray-haired, dignified-looking man in his early sixties. “That’s my father, Mr. Tud.”
Noble studied Tony’s father and noticed his white, prison-issue outfit.
“He’s in here?” Noble sounded vaguely encouraged.
“What’s he in for?” asked Noble.
Tony grimaced. “He didn’t file taxes for a stretch there.”
“Taxes, eh?” Noble rocked on his feet. “How much time did he get?”
Noble turned to Kent and pointed at Tony’s father. “I could take him.”
“Damn straight you could,” assured Kent.
What Reviewers Are Saying
Recently I had the opportunity to review an advanced reader copy of “Citizen Dick,” by Richard Arneson, and I have to tell you that this is a seriously funny book! I don’t mean funny as in mildlyamusing or good for a chuckle or two funny. I mean the kind of spontaneous belly laugh evoking funny that caused my wife to banish me from the living room until I was finished reading it.
So what is “Citizen Dick” all about anyway? Well, that’s kind of difficult to explain. One way to describe it is to imagine what would happen if all the characters in Scott Adams’ comic strip “Dilbert” suddenly went on a nonstop alcoholic binge; all the while doing drugs and committing outrageous acts of larceny every chance they got. In other words, the book is about a corporate culture run amok.
The hero of “Citizen Dick,” if you want to call him that, is Dick Citizen, a serial loser who despised his first name for obvious reasons, and has proven over and over again to be unlucky in love, unlucky in the work place, and unlucky in life. In fact, his only redeeming quality was that he could hit a golf ball long and far; a skill that had thus far failed to win him fame and fortune. Meanwhile, he existed in a Bermuda Triangle of failure, wandering around West Texas with his friend Lennie, a perennial hippy, looking for a place to fit in.
When Dick arrived at the doorstep of CommGlobalTeleVista it was almost a sure bet that his job interview would be brief and unsuccessful. After all, he had no marketable skills and this was a tech company steeped in the culture of finance and engineering. But it didn’t turn out that way. The reviewer saw something in him that others did not and finagled him into the corporate communications department. This turned out to be a major mistake because soon thereafter, Dick wrote a phony press release announcing that his company was looking for a meat processing plant to acquire. It was meant to be a practical joke, but somehow the release was distributed to the press.
The next morning the parking lot was jammed with TV trucks and reporters, all wanting to know what CommGlobalTeleVista knew about the meat industry that the rest of the business community did not. Everyone viewed the press release as a fiasco and a major embarrassment; everyone but the CEO, Noble Tud, that is. Tud figured that if the speculative frenzy over the meat company acquisition could be prolonged, perhaps the company stock would rise to a point where he could retire a wealthy man. Accordingly, he promoted Dick to Vice President of Meat and instructed him to go out and find a meat company to acquire. Whether or not a suitable company was actually found, of course, was immaterial.
Richard Arneson develops his characters with a light and humorous touch, reminiscent of Larry McMurty’s Cadillac Jack. All are seriously flawed, yet likable. There is Lima, Dick’s constant source of unrequited love, a zaftig Latina barber who is clearly not the sharpest razor in the shop; Big Rod, a blustery senior exec who was previously aced out of the CEO job by Noble Tud and stands to win big if the meat scam works; the conniving Noble Tud himself, whose character faults are only revealed behind the locked doors of his executive suite; and, of course, Dick’s friend Lennie, who finally persuades the love of his life to marry him, even though she is a welder and he is highly allergic to metal. It’s all good stuff.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading “Citizen Dick” by Richard Arneson and hope it is released soon so that everyone else can enjoy it as well.
—Reviewed by Ron Standerfer for Reader Views