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Glory In The Golden Apple

Most of my troubles in life come from wanting things my own way. When I was sixteen, I told my high school guidance counselor I wanted to be a journalist, and he said, "Dear, it's very hard to get a job doing that, but my daughter is a secretary and she types the company newsletter." It was impossible to explain to him, sitting satisfied in his government-issue chair, that I specifically wanted to be the exception to everything - the violet in the sand dune, the light out the train window at night, the mink that wanted the coat made of movie stars.

Of course, I did get my own way, and of course it's almost impossible to find a job in journalism. It's been even harder since I turned down an opening at the New York Times. But they wouldn't let me use my byline the way I like it, Glory Unruh. Their policy allows for formal names only, and I hate Gloria, because it sounds like the middle-class Avon lady destiny probably wanted me to become. So I turned them down flat. That was me wanting my own way again.

Which brings me to my current job, working the overnight news beat at the lowest-wattage TV station in New York City. We have only one anchorman, a guy with a toupee so bad it needs a chin strap, and all our commercials are for miraculous household devices sold only by mail, and the most news we really provide is one long show and then updates at the end of every hour. Here I could call myself the Easter Bunny if I wanted, since all I ever do is write words for someone else to say. Clearly, this is not where I want to be in life. But I think what I really want is to be written about, not write about other people.

I was in good company, because nobody working overnights at the station really wants to be doing what they're doing. All the pitifully-paid gofers are aspiring producers; Julian, the golden-haired producer, wants to be an anchorman. Roger Snoble, the anchorman, wants to be a novelist and sits in his office all night acting out characters while the rest of us write his on-air words for him. The night staff has nothing in common except their ambitions for being someplace else.

At about 4:30 one morning, leaning over the fourth rewrite of a story about tainted French fries, it occurred to me that everyone in New York wanted things their own way. That's when I devised my theory of the Golden Apple.

I used to read Greek mythology as a kid - I loved all the enterprising virgin goddesses - and I remember the Golden Apple of Discord, which would be thrown in the middle of a crowd of friends and make them enemies. They'd go running off in a hundred different directions, coming back only to do battle.

New York City is like a giant Golden Apple all on its own. Tossed in the middle of it, everyone runs off in a hundred different directions alone, chasing their private ambitions.

They work alone, they live alone, bit by the viper that ruins every one of us by persuading us to make our dreams come true.

Episode #2

The Virgin Goddess Promise Springs A Leak

I wasn't really thinking about finding a sweetheart when I started working at the station. I'd been unemployed for almost six months, and I was much more interested in getting a paycheck than getting laid.

But that was before I sat next to Julian, our producer.

Julian is a real hot potato. He has green eyes, and golden hair, and the sort of large, strong body that would have been put to work baling hay or something if it hadn't been the last days of the 20th century, when everyone was sentenced to sit at a desk. He always arrived for work in an intoxicating cloud of Zest soap smell.

I had the impression that he might like me, too. But the night crew was small, and we both had a lot of work to do. And there seemed to always be at least a dozen production assistants underfoot, running scripts and video and gossip all over the studio.

I never really talked to him until one night in April, about my fourth week on the job. He seemed distressed, and I asked him why.

"How do you talk to women?" he said.

"All women, or just one woman at a time?" I asked.

"How do you tell just one woman how much you care?" said Julian. "How do you say all the things you want to say and can't? How do you say infinity?"

Roger Snoble, our anchorman, interrupted. He had been to the all-night deli between shows and brought back leftover Easter candy.

"Look," said Roger. "Peeps." He held up a box of two dozen marshmallow chicks. "I love Peeps," Roger said.

He went into his glass office, and through the window I could see him starting to chow down on the chicks. He was eating them two at a time.

When Julian and I were alone again, he leaned over close to me.

"This woman," Julian said. "I'm mad for her. I can't live without her."

"Really?" I said.

"I want to kidnap her, and drive her across country, and make love to her at every stop."

I didn't know what to say. I had thought Julian might like me, but I never thought he would like me this much.

"It's two minutes to air time," I said.

Roger Snoble came out with a Peep in his hand, rushing towards makeup. He tossed the box in the trash on the way.

"He's eaten the whole box," I said. "How does he stand all that sugar?"

We went down to the control room, but I could tell Julian didn't have his mind on the show. When the director rolled the opener, I caught him making a little mark in pen on his wedding finger. The first two stories ran long and he didn't even notice.

I was going to say something to him when we broke for a commercial, but then I looked up and saw Roger adjusting his underwear, on camera.

"My God, he's had too many Peeps!" said the director. "They're shooting right through him!

"Three seconds to air," said the floor man.

"Roll a video!" the director said. "Put on another commercial! Now!"

Episode #3

I Am Wrong About Everything.

When I actually come face to face with someone who wants to go out to me, I get very nervous, like he's going to stuff me in a bag and keep me there. I was a little rattled when I came to work the next day, a little scared about seeing Julian. And that was even though I liked him, or especially because I did.

That's why I didn't really pay much attention to the new girl sitting in Julian's chair. We're always getting new production assistants, as the ones we have keep quitting to lick envelopes or sell hot dogs on street corners for much better money. This girl looked no better or worse than most of them. Her bra strap was showing.

There was a lot of news that day, and a lot of complex news, at that. When I worked in newspapers, it was always good to have a complex story, because you could spin it out for days without bothering to go out and get a new one. But writing for TV, complicated stories are more trouble than they're worth. You have to gather all the facts, tell people what they're looking at in the video, identify everybody in the video, and then boil it all down to 50 words in 20 seconds, which is basically like trying to fit the work of John Dos Passos through the eye of a needle. It's hopeless.

I started on the day's top story, about a prominent local politician who'd been arrested for stealing rings off patients in the hospital coma ward. He was all full of tortuous explanations, but after some work I got the copy down to 25 seconds. We had no fresh video, and I figured that was as long as anyone wanted to look at Roger Snoble.

Julian came in, all pink-cheeked and smiling. He'd been outside . He smiled at me, and I smiled at him, bravely. I was trying to conjure up the composure not to say something stupid.

"Okay, so it's fixed," he told the girl in the chair. "Glory, this is Lana Oceola. She's going to be working with us."

"Hello," I said. I thought it good strategy to be nice to his friend.

I brought in the day's stories to Roger Snoble, who was brooding at his desk. He always had more luck telling us about his novel than actually writing it. Through the glass window of his office, I could see him start to rewrite my work instead.

"When am I going to be on TV?" I heard Lana say as I walked by.

"You're just going to help out until you know your way around. It takes a long time to be on TV," Julian said. "Even I'm not on TV yet."

Lana looked at Roger Snoble, who was emerging from his office.

"If I walk back and forth across the backdrop while that old guy is talking, would I be on TV?" she said.

The tape editor gave her some tapes to run to the playback room, and then walked along with her when she said she couldn't find it. Roger passed by on the way down to the set, dropping a few pages of heavily-marked copy on my desk.

"I'm improved this story about the coma ward," he said. "You left out a lot of things."

I looked at his version. "It's three times as long," I said.

"Just ax that dull story about the earthquake in California," Roger said.

Julian was sitting, adorably forlorn, at his desk, and I thought for a moment about asking him to have a breakfast coffee with me after work. That would be a bold move. I tend to feel better about things when I'm being aggressive.

But then I remembered I had to leave on time that day - I'd browbeaten an early appointment out of the hair salon, where I get my red hair toned down so it doesn't scare people. There'd be hell to pay if I missed it. So I went down to the control room by myself, although Julian followed me in the very next elevator.

Usually production assistants didn't get a chair in the control room, but Julian got one for Lana Oceola. She sat beside him, watching the monitors intensely.

I saw Roger start the story about the politician. "Cue file tape of the coma ward on 63," said the director. "Roll 63!"

While the tape was rolling, I looked over at Julian. He was holding Lana Oceola's index finger, holding it in his fist like a baby holds its mother's finger. I watched them for a long time. He was gazing at her so intently that his lower lip hung loose.

I looked up. Roger was still reading the piece about the politician.

"Do we have just one story on this newscast?" said the director.

I walked out of there before the show was over and took the elevator upstairs, all one inch of me that was left.

At the beauty salon, the colorist was late. The salon owner apologized, and she put me in the hands of the shampoo boy, who was young, handsome and indubitably homosexual. He had no other clients at 9 in the morning. He took his time, massaging my head in a very tender fashion.

I was so tired, and feeling so awful, and frankly, that massage was the closest I'd gotten to a man in a long while. I thought, I'll have to give him a big tip. Then I thought, God! maybe I should just pay for it all the time. Avoid all this heartache.

My God, I thought, the production assistants! They need money. But I lay back and let the shampoo kid soap that disgusting thought right out of my head.

Episode #4

An Ambitious Woman.

I came home from the hair salon exhausted, my head like a melon on top of a drinking straw. Since I work at night, my bedtime is about 10 in the morning, and the stylist's late arrival had put me two hours beyond that.

It was a beautiful sunny day, but I blocked that out with dark windowshades. I put on a white-noise CD, the sound of surf and seagulls, to cover up the traffic, and got out my pyjamas and a special deep-sleep pillow. I put in earplugs, and covered my eyes with an eyeshade. Then, wrapped up like a package set for international mailing, I tried to go to sleep.

That's when the high-pitched steel saw started up outside my window, started sawing right through the seagulls. Two years ago, when I first moved to the apartment, I figured the saw was working on a construction project that would sooner or later be finished. It turned out to belong to an artist who makes giant metal sculptures, who will need to use his steel saw on an indefinite basis.

I lay in bed not sleeping, and trying not to think of Julian and what an idiot I'd made of myself. That was successful only when I started thinking about those giant metal sculptures and how much I hated them. Finally, I fell asleep.

An hour later, the phone rang. Even through a haze of sleep, I knew who it was. Everyone knows not to call me during the day when I sleep, but there's only one person who does it anyway. It was my ex-boyfriend, the man who had nearly been my husband, Fabian Bellwoar.

"Darling?" he said, in the warm-water voice of a man who wears French shirts. "Darling, can I borrow your champagne bucket?"

Unlike me, Fabian had been doing very well in the romance department since our breakup.

"Sure," I said. "I'll never need it. God, Fabian, I've just been blown off again."

He sighed. "Who was it this time?

"A guy at work. I liked him. I thought he liked me, too."

"Don't be ridiculous, " said Fabian. "You know, for a smart girl, you have absolutely nothing between your ears when it comes to men."

Fabian is usually right about things, which is one reason I loved him, but he is also pretty cruel about telling you, which is one reason I left him.

"Well, I went out with you," I said.

"And look at us now," he said. "Arguing on the telephone."

He had a point.

"Look, Glory, you're going to have to change your personality if you ever want a man," Fabian said. "Nobody likes an ambitious woman. It upsets the natural order of things. A man wants a girl who will look up to him."

I though about that for a moment.

"Why can't I just be myself," I said, "and find some kind of brilliant man I can look up to?"

"Sure. I understand the President dates," Fabian said.

Fabian hung up as soon as I promised to drop off the champagne bucket at his office. But it took me a long time to fall asleep again.

I felt a little ashamed of myself. Fabian was right about Julian, I decided. Here he was, crazy about some poor little production assistant who would probably spend the next five years of her life getting a green tan from the Xerox machine. He preferred a girl who couldn't even afford nice clothes, which is why she had to walk around in tiny outfits that were way too tight. If that's what Julian liked her for, her very pathos, then he was pathetic himself.

I smiled at Lana Oceola on the way into work.

She didn't notice, though. She was sitting at Julian's desk, with the scripts she was supposed to be running scattered across the floor, scrolling her way through his line-production software program.

Julian was nowhere in sight, although I found out later she'd convinced him to run some tapes to the playback room for her.

"Glory," Lana said, "where can I find all the really big wigs...the executive producer, and the station manager, and those people?"

"Probably outside in front of the building catching a smoke," I quipped.

"I think I'm going to take up smoking," she said.

Episode #5

I Call On A Friend.

Julian showed Lana how to smoke. Ours is supposed to be a smoke-free office, but when they thought no one was looking, they sat blowing rings into each other's mouths across Julian's desk. After a while, they disappeared into the editing room. Lana wouldn't be hobnobbing with the big wigs today, I thought with satisfaction.

Alone in the office, I started making long-distance phone calls. My friends all move away from me; they have their own ambitions to follow. I can't really expect them to stay. But it means I am always far away from my friends, while my enemies stare me right in the face.

I spoke to a few overnight answering machines before I got my friend Alys, who was up at daybreak because she worked at a paper in Iowa and had farmers to report on.

"We've been working on a killer story," she said. "There's a paramilitary group out here which got its hands on some discarded Soviet nuclear weapons and came really close to overthrowing the U.S. government. Didn't the New York papers pick it up?

"Of course not, Alys. It's Iowa. Nobody cares," I said. "But it sounds like a good story anyway," I said, helpfully.

"What's up with you?" she said.

"Oh, I'm not famous yet," I said. "I don't know, Alys. I want the great things in life, and I just don't know how to make them happen. I don't know how to make anything happen."

"No boyfriend?" said Alys.

"No," I said. "Some people are getting it right here at work, and I'm not getting it at all."

"Well, whatever you do, don't start talking to Fabian again," Alys said. "Anyway, I've got someone to fix you up with. My best friend from job in Atlanta, HER best friend is now working for a paper in Texas, and she knows a guy who just got transferred to New York."

I sighed.

"The last time you set me up, you said the guy worked for CBS, the network," I said. "It turned out he worked for CVS, the drugstore."

A shadow fell across my computer terminal. I looked up and saw the executive producer standing over me.

"Thank you for that report!" I said, and hung up.

"Business call," I said.

"Glory....pictures," said the executive producer. "Segment....food....no."

The executive producer of our show is a very big wheel, too big to be troubled with anything but big concepts and the big picture, too big to make any sense when he talks to people like me.

"Healthy...pictures," he said. "Roger....no."

I looked at him.

"I don't understand," I said.

"Cheese pizza," said the executive producer.

Fortunately, Julian was back from the editing room. As producer, part of his job is translating the executive producer.

"What he wants," said Julian, "is video for the junk food segment. He says we can't have Roger on the air when people are talking about unhealthy eating. People will think he's an example of it."

"We have no video," I said. "We've already looked."

Lana Oceola was back from the editing room, too.

"If you need video," she said, "you can videotape my lunch. It's very unhealthy."

Out of a drawer in Julian's desk, she produced a make-up case full of food.

"Look," she said, "potato chips, candy corn, Velveeta on white bread," she said, showing us. "There's not a vitamin in here."

She unloaded it onto the desk.

"If you want," she said, "you can even videotape me eating it."

"Girl...video," said the executive producer. "Good."

"Is that what you really want?" said Julian, looking back at Lana.

The executive producer nodded, the first thing he'd done all day I could make head or tails of.

"Well, I guess that's all right," said Julian. "If that's what you really want"

Lana smiled.

Episode #6

A Blinding Date.

I live in the center of the world, in New York City, where a young woman can stand in the middle of the long, straight avenues and look down for miles at the opportunity stretching off into the distance. I am young, single, and free. People in TV commercials for luxury goods are designed to look like me. When things look grim, I can turn a corner anywhere in the city and see the Empire State Building, shining and silver, and pointing up, up, up.

Then I watch a nitwit like Lana Oceola speed by me, and I lose all hope again.

I confronted her the day after the unhealthy lunch video ran, pinned her down by the Xerox machine. Julian had suddenly begun to make her do her actual job.

"Why," I said, "is your bra strap always showing?"

"It's nice, isn't it?" said Lana. "Before this job, I used to be a bra model. I have a lot of nice bras. I like to show them off."

Alys had called me that day and the next day and the day after that, trying to get me to agree to her blind date. She called me up and told me scary tales about single women, like a wire story she'd read about a woman whose vibrator, left under a pillow, started her entire apartment block on fire. Finally, I said yes.

"Good, because he's picking you up at 8 on Friday," she said. "I think I let it slip to my friend that you were a little hard up, but I'm sure she won't pass that on."

I'm sure she did. My date - who wore a bow tie, and was only slightly taller than the rose he brought me - tried to greet me at the door with a tongue kiss. I had to wrestle him out of the building by insisting we use the tickets he'd brought for the ballet.

The ticket-takers at Lincoln Center knew him.

"I come here all the time," he explained. "If you want to see women dancing, its much cheaper than a go-go bar, once you add in the cost of drinks. The girls are a little skinny, though."

He looked me over.

"You look great, though," he said. "Plenty of fat on you."

We were ushered to our seats.

"They sell liquor at half-time," he told me. "And there's a couch upstairs, so we can get started right away."

The first number involved dancing colors, shades of pink, each portrayed by a male dancer. The concept sounded absolutely unbearable, but I soon discovered it was very nice to watch. There was a vermilion, a red, a fuschia, all soaring through the sky. They were amazing men. They had lovely muscles. They really were attractive, and something about seeing all them all in unison amplified the effect one would have had alone. I could barely sit still in my chair.

After the lights came on, I sat for a second looking at the program. There were only women in the second dance.

"So I'll meet you upstairs?" I told my date.

"I'll bring the booze," he said.

I figured the long line at the bar would let me get to the subway before he caught on.

It turned out, of course, that the subway was delayed. Some suicide case had thrown himself on the tracks, which is a hell of a way to go, because it makes thousands of strangers curse the day you were born. I sat in the sweltering subway station for nearly 40 minutes.

When the train finally came, the crowd on the platform packed the cars. To my right, a man was hiccuping; to my left, a woman rubbing lotion on herself. Across from me sat a man with blue reflection off a lens of his glasses, so he had one eye and one blue star for an eye.

He looked familiar, but I wasn't sure why. The glasses were throwing me off.

"Say," I said. "Aren't you fuschia?"

"I am crimson," he said. "I would never be fuschia."

Episode #7

I Fall In Love.

I couldn't keep my eyes off Crimson. He was wearing a leather jacket and white jeans and motorcycle boots. but I knew what he looked like without them. I knew, in fact, what he looked like in nothing but a leotard.

He noticed me looking at him, and he looked back, petulant, and tilted up his chin.

I wondered if he was gay. He had beautiful eyelashes. He also had the sort of sensuous mouth that can be a gay warning sign sometimes, those soft, voluptuous lips. Then again, so does Mick Jagger. But then again, Mick Jagger got up to a lot of funny business back in the days when he was good-looking, back when I was still an egg.

When the man sitting next to me started to pull bugs out of his hair, I stood up. Coincidentally, I was standing just inches from Crimson. Then, the woman next to him got out at Times Square, so I sat down. I thought I was being subtle. I hoped he didn't notice.

But he did. He sighed, and he looked at me with a pouty expression.

"I don't want to have dinner at a cheap place," he said.

"What?" I said.

"I won't go any place where there isn't good wine," he told me.

"Are we having dinner?" I said. "It's 11:30 at night."

"I haven't had anything to eat all day," he said "We've been rehearsing since breakfast."

I thought of all those dancers again, all those beautiful guy bodies in all those colors of pink, rehearsing since breakfast. I would have really liked to have been there.

We got off the train near my apartment, and we walked towards an Italian place down the street.

"What's your name?" I asked.

"Actually, it's Stefan, but there's another Stefan with the company, so I started going by my last name, Malley, even though I found out later everyone really called him Stefanie. But by that time I was already known as Malley."

"I'm Glory," I said.

"There's a ballet called that...set to Benjamin Britten's Gloriana Symphonic Suite," he said. "Sir Frederic Ashton premiered it at the Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet, 1948."


"Yes. It was one of his first postwar ballets, and one of the few where he turned his back on pure classicism in favor of the modernism pioneered by Balanchine. The work has a great deal of essence, but not much plot, and that's intentional."

Even though I had to hold the door open for him on the way into the restaurant, I was really impressed. It's not often you meet people this beautiful who are also so learned and bright. And he didn't sound gay.

"I thought you had a really good crowd in there tonight," I said, as we sat down. "It must be important to sell a lot of tickets, what with all the arts funding cutbacks under Clinton." I opened my menu.

"Who's Clinton?" Malley said.

I lowered the menu a little, looking over the top.

"Well, he's the President," I told him.

"Oh, that stuff," Malley said.

I remembered, then, having read somewhere that dancers knew a great deal about ballet, and neither knew nor cared about anything else. While Malley dug into the breadsticks, I started thinking about how when people got hit on the head and are taken to the hospital, doctors check them for brain concussions by asking if they know who's President. If Malley gets hit on the head, they'd better ask him about Sir Frederic Ashton at the Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet. Otherwise, they're going to give him a lot of unnecessary drugs.

But it turned out to be a very nice evening. Malley walked me home, telling me a funny story about a backstage fit recently thrown by Vermilion and Tea Rose. At the door, he gave me a very lovely kiss goodnight.

It was already early in the morning, so I called Alys and told her how the evening had gone, from rose to rose.

"He's a belly dancer? she said.

"A ballet dancer," I told her.

Episode #8

I Am Very Competent.

The next day in the office, I had trouble thinking of anything but Malley. I'd go through a little of the wire copy, looking for stories, and then stop and think about something he'd said. I'd type a couple of notes into the rundown, and then I'd think about the way he ate his breadstick or the way he kissed. It was hard to get much work done, but I was in a great mood.

Roger came out of his office and I handed him a sheaf of news headlines and summaries.

"Glory Unruh, you're a good egg," he said. "If it weren't for people like you, I'd have to think about the news. I couldn't concentrate on my book."

"It's okay," I said.

"It's going to be one hell of a book," he said. "You know, I keep an old World War II Howitzer in my office to inspire me. It reminds me to be aggressive."

I wondered what he had to be aggressive about, but I decided not to ask.

"You know, I'm going on vacation for a couple of weeks in August," he said. "Have you ever considered on-camera work?"

"Being on the air?" I said.

"You should," Roger said. "Competent people like you are hard to find." He went back into his office.

For the next hour, it was really impossible to get anything done, because now I was daydreaming both about Malley and about getting on the air. It would be a pretty fast route to being famous, I decided, even though all you really did was read stories aloud like a kindergarten teacher.

Julian came by on his way to the nightly news meeting. "I heard Roger wants to put you on the air," he said. "What the hell is that?"

"He says I'm competent," I said.

"I've been trying to get on-air for years, and I'm competent!" he said. "And I'm a man!"

The whole incident put Julian in a bad mood for the nightly news meeting, where he and all the associate producers and support staff decided what was going to go on the air. The executive producer is really in charge, but he never comes to the meeting, preferring to change everything around later.

"Okay," said Julian to the assembled group. "What do we have?"

"There's a story out of Staten Island," said one of the assistant producers, "about a divorcee who tossed her wedding ring in the trash and now wants it back. It's somewhere in the Fresh Kills landfill."

"For crying out loud," Julian said.

"It's an election year," said the assistant producer. "The mayor needs Staten Island. He says the city can find it."

Julian sighed. "Do we have any video to go with that?"

"Just the mayor," said the assignment desk chief, a union man who never did anything unless it involved time-and-a-half. "That same tape we always use, with him smiling and nodding. He isn't saying anything, so we can use it over and over."

"We do use it over and over," said Julian. "I saw it last night and the night before. He's wearing a winter coat in it, and its July."

"Well, we didn't have time to get any more tape today," said the desk chief.

Julian sighed again. "What other stories do we have?"

"There was a Nazi rally in Queens," I told him.

"Nazis? In Queens?" Julian said. "Do we have tape of that?"

"Nah, we didn't bother," said the assignment desk editor. "We figure, there's tons of old black and white footage of those Nazis around. Why bother? Besides, we didn't have the time."

"What were the camera crews doing all day?" Julian asked him.

"We had all our people shooting high school volunteers picking up trash in Central Park," he said. "The station manager's nephew was one of them."

"Well, we're not using it," said Julian, irritated. "This is a news show, not his family photo album. Anything else?"

Nobody had anything else.

"Then let's just go with what we have," he said. "And Glory, please make sure Roger ends with a toss to the cooking program that's up next."

With the news conference over, I went back to my desk and searched through Nexus for old articles about Malley. There were 43 matches, and I was just about to read one when the executive producer came over and looked at my rundown.

"Mayor...crooked," he said to Julian. "South America."

"What's he saying?" I asked.

"Oh, there's some nutty fringe candidate who claims that if the Mayor's re-elected he'll take all the city's money and disappear out of the country," Julian said. He cocked his head at the executive producer. "He doesn't like the mayor."

"Park," said the executive producer. "Garbage. Teenagers."

"Do we really have to use that volunteering stuff?" said Julian. "It's ridiculous."

"My boss," said the executive producer.

"Okay, kill the Nazi story and put that one in its place," Julian said, and there was defeat in his voice. "Glory, can you be in charge of these changes?"

I said I would, but I stalled for a while, reading an archive review of Malley dancing in a Christopher Wheeldon ballet. Then I rushed through the changes and went downstairs right as the show went on the air.

The opening music played.

"Good morning, I'm Roger Snoble," he intoned.

"An opposing candidate claims the mayor intends to empty the city's Treasury, and depart to the winter climes of Argentina."

The video came on. The mayor was smiling and nodding, and wearing a parka.

"Wow, he really is corrupt," said the director.

Julian grabbed me by the arm. "Did you double-check the tapes when you made those changes?"

"Most of them," I lied. "Just not this one. I'm very competent."

"Here's a breaking story," one of the P.A.s whispered to me. "Is it too late to get it on the air?"

"Not at all," I said. "We'll run it right at the end of the show. Have someone hand it to Roger when we run this videotape for the park volunteer story."

It was time for the volunteer story, but when I looked up, I saw Nazis marching. I had replaced the Nazi story, but forgotten to change the instructions to the tape room.

"Here are some nice young people, doing something that's needed to be done for a long time," Roger read.

"Who are these men in boots?" asked the director.

"Julian, I'm really sorry," I said.

"Don't look at me. Roger is the one who's going to be upset. It's his face up there."

"This just in," said Roger.

"Well, at least there's no video for this one," I said. "This one will be fine."

"A tragic fire in Midtown, when a block of stores burned in what firemen suspect is arson," Roger read. "No people were hurt in the after-hours blaze, but many animals were trapped in a locked pet store. Up to a dozen puppies and several kittens are believed burned to death."

"How sad," said one of the P.A.s.

Roger turned to the second camera.

"And, coming up....Having trouble deciding what to throw on the grill this summer? We'll have barbecuing tips next, on The Food Show."

I left the control room, left the office, and ran out on the street, knowing full well that Roger had a gun in his office.


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