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The First Step (Tommy Boy m)


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I don’t know if anyone remembers the 90s movie Tommy Boy, but anyway for those that don’t, gist is 2 guys that don’t get along have to take a sales trip to save a factory.   It’s my go to movie and this came out of it.   Go watch it, if you’re intrigued.   Chris Farley & David Spade star


anyway, not my characters


Richard woke up feeling with a dry mouth and feeling like a cement block had been placed in his sinus cavity.   He massaged his temples, trying to quell the dull ache in his forehead.   He swallowed, tentatively.   At least, his throat wasn’t sore…yet.   


He sighed.  Day 3 of the sales trip, and he had a cold.   He should have seen this coming.   He always caught colds when he was stressed.   And, well, stressful didn’t begin to cover trying to guide Tommy through the trip.    He looked at his watch: 6:30.    Might as well get up, he thought.    He could at least go over their plans for the day while he waited for Tommy.  


He stood up and groaned as cement block in his sinuses turned to liquid, coupled with an intense tickle that made his eyes water.   Pressing his wrist to his nose, he quickly walked the 5 steps across the small hotel room to the bathroom and closed the door.   He hastily grabbed a couple tissues and squelched a powerful sneeze into them.  “Heh-heh-ixxschishh!”  He blew his nose, reached for more tissues and blew his nose again, repeating the process until his nose was mostly clear.    


He turned on the shower, ducked back into the room to grab his suit and toiletry bag, the jumped in the shower.    He came close to losing his balance only once in the shower from sneezing and made the firm resolution to find some cold medicine at some gas station after breakfast.   


Grabbing the tissues, and leaving the bathroom, he went and woke Tommy.   “Time to get moving.  We’ve got a big day ahead of us.”   Tommy grumbled, but got up grabbed his things and headed to shower while Richard looked over the agenda for the day.   The sneezing seemed done for now, but the runny nose was doomed to plague him while he worked.  Fortunately, by the time Tommy emerged, ready for the day, it had slowed from a faucet to a trickle, and he had the pile of tissues to prove it.    


“Ready to go?” He asked, cringing at the congestion in his voice.  Tommy, fortunately, was oblivious.   


“Sure.  I saw a diner down the street last night when we came in.  Time for a real breakfast?”


Richard nodded.  He wasn’t hungry, but it might be easier to find something appealing there than a gas station.   Plus, orange juice and real coffee.   He picked up his stuff and followed Tommy out.   


They sat across from each other at the diner and he watched while the larger man attacked eggs, bacon, sausage, toast and pancakes.   He picked at his toast and alternated between his coffee and juice, noticing his throat was becoming increasingly sore.    


“You’re not eating much.” Tommy noticed.   


“You’re eating enough for both of us.” He tried to snark but ruined the effect by having to immediately duck his head into his shoulder as the tickle returned with a vengeance.   “IH-ngxt, ngxt…hih-nixxt….hihh-hih-nigxxchht.”   The fourth sneeze left him dizzy, and he sat there for a second before blowing his nose, going through 4 sets of napkins and brushing off his suit, coughing.  


“Bless you.” Tommy said softly and casually, as if this was something Richard did every day at breakfast.  


“Thanks.” Richard mumbled, not looking at him.   He sighed.   Better to tell Tommy now; the man wasn’t overly bright but he would figure this out eventually.   “I woke up with a cold.” He admitted.   


Tommy nodded.   “Great.”


“I get colds when I’m stressed, ok.” He snapped.   “I’m stressed, ok.”


“Look, I get tha-“


“No.  You don’t get it.  I’m being dragged against my will on this crazy plan of yours that we can sell half a million brake pads in a couple weeks.   With you knowing nothing about brake pads and never having sold anything in your life.   So I’m expected to hold your hand through the whole thing.  And 300 people have their jobs riding on this, us included.     So yeah, I’m a little stressed.”  His tirade was punctuated by sniffles which did not give it the intended effect.  When he was finished, he turned away from Tommy and blew his nose, giving the other time to think about what he had said.   


Tommy shut up for awhile after that.  On the way out of town, Richard stopped at a gas station where they had a box of decongestants and a box of tissues.    He swallowed one with more orange juice and started driving to the next town.   He could feel the medication start to dry up his sinuses, but apparently, the itch in his nose wasn’t going to go away.  They were almost there when the sneezes struck.  “Hihh-nggxt,  ih-ngxt, hah…chhxxt.”  He felt Tommy’s hands moving the steering wheel with the last one and groaned.   He’d been so consumed with the sneezes that he’d lost awareness of driving.  


He looked up at Tommy and sniffled.   


“Bless you.  And I’m driving after this.”


“I’m fine, Tommy.   It won’t happen again.”


“You can’t promise that.   You almost took us off the road, Richard.  Just…I’ll drive and you can rest between towns.” Tommy rephrased.  Richard nodded, and requested a tissue.   “Why do you hold back your sneezes anyway?”


Richard shrugged, shoving the tissue into his pocket.   “Always have.”


“I know.  Kinda figured you’d have outgrown that by now.”


“You’re going to hurt yourself doing that, wrench your neck or your back or blow out an ear drum.”


“No one has ever gotten hurt sneezing,” he coughed.   


“I knew a few-“


“Did they also take 7 years to finish college?”  Richard snarked as the pulled up in front of the auto parts store.   


“Shut up Richard.”


They made it through that sales call and the next two.   No sales, but, whether it was nerves or adrenaline, at least Richard saved his sneezing rounds for the car.   200 miles into their day, they stopped for lunch and gas.    Richard watched Tommy devour his lunch while he picked at a cup of soup.   At the end of the meal, Tommy excused himself to go to the bathroom.   It was on his way back that he noticed Richard. 


Richard was sitting there, still stirring his soup, when he brought a napkin to his face and Tommy heard a soft “hiih-chushh.”   Richard blew his nose and crumpled the napkin next to the soup plate.


Tommy came up next to him and slid in the booth across from him.   “Ready to go?”


At the gas station, Tommy filled up the car while Richard leaned against it.    “Need anything?” He asked before heading in to pay.  As he returned to the car, through the open car window, he heard Richard again, with a quiet “Hecht-chishh.”    This time he let Richard know he was caught.   “Bless you.”


Richard looked up, pinkening slightly as Tommy pulled back onto the highway.   “Thanks.” He mumbled.  


“You always sneeze less when you don’t fight them?”


“What?  I don’t know what you’re talking about.”


“Yeah, you do.   At least a half dozen times this morning, I’ve seen you sneeze and hold them back.   You sneezed 3 or 4 time.   But when I’ve caught you just sneezing, you sneezed once.  That the way it usually is?”  He gave Richard a long gaze.  


“Uh, yeah.  It just makes less noise if I stifle them…draws less attention.”


“Does it, really?” Tommy asked, letting Richard’s silence fill the car.   


Richard leaned his head against the cool window glass and coughed roughly into his fist, wishing he’d had Tommy grab cough drops at the gas station.   


His nose didn’t leave him time for wishing.   Huh-ngxxt, ngxxshh, iihhnxxt.”  He plucked a tissue from the box on his lap and blew his nose, shoving the tissue in his pocket when he was done.   


“Seriously, Richard, I knew a guy who messed up his neck holding his sneezes back that way.”   Tommy told him.  


“Just because you went to college for 7 years, it doesn’t make you a doctor.” He snapped, rubbing his temples.   Maybe he wouldn’t mess up his neck, but this stifling was beginning to give him a headache.    


It was the fifth sales call of the day where he finally had a sneezing fit in the middle of it.   6 sneezes this time.   The customer had actually stopped Tommy’s spiel to “make sure the little guy was ok.”    Following that embarrassment, he slipped into the car and stared at his box of tissues, which he swore triggered another round.  “Hhh-nccht, hihh-ngxxt, ihhh-hggxt, ngggxt, hihh-hgggxxtshhh.”   Sighing he leaned back against the seat and rubbed his temples.   His head was starting to hurt.   He felt Tommy looking at him.  “What?” He snapped.


Tommy was either too dumb to realize this was a bad time or simply didn’t care.   “Look, just try it my way.” He said.  At Richard’s blank look, he clarified.  “Not holding them back.    I bet your head won’t hurt so much.” Again at Richard’s look, this time questioning, “you squint when you have a headache.”

Silently impressed at Tommy’s ability to read people – if the man could just harness that in sales visits….

He nodded.   “I’ll try.” He sniffled.  “But if it doesn’t help, I’ll go back to this.”


Tommy nodded.  “Fine by me.   I mean, it’s your misery.”


They rode in silence interrupted by Richard’s sniffles and coughs to the next town.   Hihh-ngxxt”. Richard sneezed as the pulled in front of Harmon’s Auto Parts.   At Tommy’s look, he relaxed. “Huhhhchushhh.”   Sniffling, he blew his nose which was getting quite sore from the cheap tissues the gas station had had.  “Happy?” He snapped.


“Wasn’t that better than 4?” Tommy asked.   “Look, this is our last stop, then you’ve got the weekend to rest…”


“Except I’ll be busy trying to get more on brake pads through your thick skull.”


Tommy sighed.  “Let’s do this.”   He and Richard headed in to see Mr. Harmon.  Richard sneezed twice during the meeting, but to his credit, Tommy noticed, he didn’t stifle them.   Maybe the embarrassment of last time had something to do with it, and Harmon barely seemed to notice the soft sneezes that escaped the man.   Tommy, however noticed that Richard seemed to be sneezing more frequently.    After getting an “I’ll think about it” which probably meant no, he ushered Richard back to the car.   “Dinner or hotel first?”


“Dinder. I’mb not going back out ondce we get to the hotel.”  Richard said.    They found a small café where once again, Tommy watched Richard pick at his soup while Richard watched Tommy devour a huge meal.    As they left, Tommy took note of a drugstore with a grocery store across the street.   Hopefully, they didn’t close at the same time.   He’d get Richard to the hotel, then go out again.   


They checked into the room and Richard immediately flopped down on the bed and sneezed, followed by an extended fit of coughing.   He’d left his box of tissues in the car, so Tommy wrestled the box in the bathroom out of the holder and brought it out of him, noticing it was maybe half full.    


“That cold medicine you got isn’t helping much.”   


“No, really.”  Richard commented sarcastically.   “I didn’t notice.”    He coughed again, reaching for his briefcase.   Heh-chushh.”   At this point, he’d given up on stifling.   He was going to be stuck with Tommy for the duration of this, so he might as well just sneeze.   Tommy was just going to bug him until he did anyway.   “I’m worse at night anyway.”


Tommy sighed.   “Look, I’m gonna go get a few snacks and things for the weekend.  Why don’t you try to rest.”


Richard coughed.  “Gotta go over things for Monday.” He said hoarsely, feeling his nose start to run again.   He wanted another decongestant, but knew they’d keep him up all night.   He should have been watching for a pharmacy.   He blew his nose again, wondering if he should risk it with the decongestant…less of a chance he’d keep Tommy awake all night.   God, he could only imagine the disaster if he gave this to him.   


Tommy shook his head, grabbed the keys and headed out.   He drove straight to the pharmacy, open for another 20 minutes and made his purchases.   NyQuil, DayQuil, cough drops, real Kleenex, and vitamin C.   Then over to the grocery store for snacks and a small bottle of orange juice, before heading back to the hotel.   


Richard was doubled over on the bed when he opened the door.   He heard a soft sneeze, punctuated by coughing, followed by a sneeze, more coughing, a third sneeze and finally more coughing before Richard sat up breathless, took a sip of water and gave his nose a wet blow.   Tommy noticed that there was already a deep layer of tissues in the trash can.    


“Bless you.”   He dug the juice out of the groceries and set the rest on the counter, taking the other bag over to Richard.   “I uh, picked up a few things.”   He set the bag down next to Richard.   


Richard looked at him, opening the bag.  “I didn’t ask for any of this.” He said.  


“I know.  But…”


“But you think I can’t take care of my self.   I’ll take another decongestant before bed and be fine.”


“Those keep you awake.  They haven’t kept you from coughing and sneezing.   And look, I’ll be honest.   I’m stuck in the car or hotel rooms with you coughing and sneezing all over.   I don’t want what you’ve got.”  He started pulling items out of the bag.  “These are for you.” He indicated the medications. “Your nose is red and has to be sore.   Plus you’re almost out of tissues.” He slid the Kleenex at him.   “This” he picked up the vitamins, “is for both of us.   I don’t want this crud, and you can quit acting like you have to suffer and take these.”


Hiiihkisshhh.”   Richard caught the sneeze in one of the hotel tissues and blew his nose.   Tommy was right, his nose was sore and red enough to make him look sick.   “It’s 6:30. I’ll take the NyQuil when I go to bed.” He agreed, reaching for a cough drop.”    


Tommy shook his head, handing him the orange juice and a vitamin C.   “This first.”    He grabbed a glass of water for himself and took one with Richard.   “Take tonight off and rest.” He encouraged.  


Richard sighed, but put the papers away as Tommy switched on the TV.   “Hey Tommy,” he said softly as the other looked his way.  “Thanks.”


Tommy smiled and nodded.   “Get some rest, Richard.”







Edited by aggedy_ann
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  • 5 months later...

this was precious 🥺🥺 I haven't seen this movie yet but I am on SUCH a david spade kick rn and this was just... a joy to find... 

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 12/3/2019 at 8:35 PM, aggedy_ann said:

 The customer had actually stopped Tommy’s spiel to “make sure the little guy was ok.”  

So I finally watched this movie for the first time, and this bit in particular stood out and made my heart burst because TWICE in that movie Richard was called a "little guy" or something similar by a customer. Anyway, just wanted to re-read... it never gets old lol.

Them talking about the sneezes is sooo damn cute and endearing. And him sneezing during the actual meeting is so hot to me omg. And the fact that they're SOFT. I really do think DS's sneezes would be kinda soft 🥺 Tommy being caring to Richard is so sweet... and obviously him deflecting it... It was all very in character. I hope you write more of Spade's characters.

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  • 2 months later...

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