Thursday, March 03, 2005

City Desk Vignette

In the 11th hour, feeling rather desperate (and the cyberpressure of Hereunder clan loyalty through the ether) we reach into the hat and offer . . .

“Grady here!”

The nightside city editor barked his greeting into the phone. As he listened, his bushy eyebrows knit together like two woolly bear caterpillars in a clinch.

“Oh, for the love of Pete!” he said, now arching his eyebrows so they peeked over the top of heavy black-frame glasses. Grady’s spectacles set on his brow like a permanent scowl. He slammed down the phone.

“Jack Carper’s just got himself into a fender bender at 14th and Tambour. Nobody hurt. Go rescue him, would you?” Grady had said this over his shoulder to a lanky young man with blond hair, who had been sitting two desks away reading that day’s paper. The clatter of reporters typing at keyboards quickened in waves. Copy editors called out short directives and exchanged guesses and taunts over that night’s communal crossword puzzle.

Night cops reporter Tom Masland pulled on his camel coat. It was a slow night. Heck, he said to himself, I’ll walk the five blocks to Tambour Avenue.

“And make sure you take that bottle away!” Grady shouted after him.

Only then did the layout editors look up from their work in unison. Their four pairs of owlish eyes locked together for an instant. The page one editor opened his mouth as if to speak, then stopped short. They turned again to slapping down rulers on their page dummies to line up space for the first edition stories.

Masland arrived at the busy commercial street to see the rush-hour traffic routed around a police car, its lights flashing, and Jack’s huge powder blue Lincoln Continental propped askew on a curb. Its hood was only slightly marred by the street lamppost that had snapped at the base and lay across the windshield.

“Tommy! Glad it’s you. I can’t drive. I feel a little shaky,” Jack confided. His eyes were bleary, but a sheepish smile lit his ruddy complexion.

“The police are going to take away my driver’s license, Tommy! Can you believe it. These new cops. They don’t know who I am, do they Tommy?” Jack winked.

“I dunno, Jack. Let’s hope for the best. Got your keys?” Tom smiled and held out his hand. Two city workers with heavy leather gloves had just eased the lamppost off Jack’s car. The police waved off the reporters.In the car, Jack, a small, energetic man when sober, grew melancholic. “You know, Tommy. I’ve been in the newspaper business a long time. But I’m not too sure why. I’ve never had a normal life, regular hours--a happy marriage,” he mused.

“If I were you Tommy," Jack said, leaning closer with a confidential air. "I would go into intelligence--they are first with the news!”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Desparation: the mother of Creativity.

3/04/2005 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

.oO(I just knew this bunch were tied in with the CIA...)

3/04/2005 10:14:00 PM  

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