Roger floated back to the third floor. It had been awhile since he had felt the euphoria of success; the rollercoaster of the past few days was making him drunk on his elation. No more settling for the lowest common denominator in the equation (horrorscope); if this panned out he could turn this into one of the biggest stories of the millennium, perhaps he wouldn’t even find him just keep going and going like the survivor series. He wheeled around a mail cart, then seeing a pretty mail clerk, grabbed her and spun her in a pirouette across the aisle. People looked up, exhilarated for a moment, and then bent back to work. He could use this as a springboard maybe even start a podcast could you explain for the readers how he saved your farm. Still, with that feeling coursing through his veins, he began to understand how Terrasea felt getting that spot on BET and how he should have been more supportive, although it was hard with the new racist attitudes on both sides. He sauntered the labyrinth of cubicles, in the completely opposite way he had left just forty five minutes before until he reached his own, still practically bare of the mementos, family portraits, witty sayings that cluttered almost everyone else’s shared space.
A message from Jose bleated on his messenger, Heard u r getting it from upstairs. He cleared the message, Bend over n kiss it goodbye. Roger laughed twirling his chair in the cramped space. Mac had just walked in, stood perplexed, head shaking.
“Well, have you lost it completely,” he tried a grin, “or did the firing just get to your sanity?” He grabbed a chair and folded into it.
“You won’t believe it,” Roger said contemplatively, “but the big boss just gave me a new assignment, a virtual lynchpin of the prestigious SCAB!.”
“A promotion,” Mac leaned against the cubicle wall. “You’ve got to be shittin me. So what is it and how can I get a piece of the action?”
“I’m to do a series of pieces on my search to interview some rock icon from the 90’s, but check this out, this guy is like Robin Hood saving farms all across this grand country of ours.” Roger couldn’t help but smile, as he unloaded the cardboard box full of emails. “And all we have to do is filter through all these letters and emails until we find the most outrageous stories, so that this rag can make a couple of bucks. Isn’t that a hoot?” He was talking to Mac, but looking past him; a podcast already playing in the backtracks of his mind. He turned his attention once more to Mac.
“I noticed you said we,” Mac grinned a little larger.
“Yeah, he said take Peters for what it is he does and Jose is our point man. So, you ever hear of this guy, Dallas Richards?”
“Yeah, my dad listened to him all the time in the garage, while he was fixing the truck,” Mac seemed to drift off for a second, “I think I have his CD around somewhere; all I remember was the cover—Bush flushing the US map down the toilet. I thought it was funny as hell.”
Roger laughed. “Know anything else about him?”
“Let’s see,” Mac looked down in his lap, “A few albums in the 90’s, guitarist ODed, girlfriend committed suicide, rumors of him and a money train. Hey check this out, his real name was Herman Blappt, shit no wonder he changed his name. He literally went up in flames in 1999. Another CD in 2006 posthumously, that must be the one I have. Didn’t know he had more.”
“Wow, you really are a fan,” Roger couldn’t help but feel mercy whoa alright giddy.
“Naw, I know how to look up shit on my phone,” Mac showed Roger his ipad. “You really should learn how to do some of this stuff. Ya know, it’s not some badge of courage to stay a neophyte after all these years.”
“Well, why don’t you start by gathering all the information you can from the archives; then, if you don’t mind, hit the Times and find out whatever they have.”
“Righto, bossman,” Roger looked a bit pensive.
“It’s the damnedest thing, just yesterday I started…” Roger’s voice trailed off, thinking back to the encounter, “uh, well let’s just say that the world revolves around coincidence and sometimes you have to realize when coincidence turns to fate and then act on it.”
“A little philosophical for this place, don’t you think,” Macs smile returned. “Hey, at least you’re not canned,” Mac turned to leave. “Well, this calls for a celebration. We’ll all meet up whenever you get a handle on what you want to do with this thing.” Mac pantomimed using the quadphone, “You can push those buttons to communicate with Jose, otherwise, we’ll meet for cribbage tonight and talk about what our next steps are,” he turned with a wink. “And we’ll have it at your place.” He strolled out as Roger called for him to bring a few chairs. Danforth strode into the office.
“I thought you were going to come and see me when you got through with your interview,” he looked pissed or perplexed. “In my office, now!” Roger followed; the bounce in his step obvious.
“You know your uncle’s a pretty swell guy,” Roger teased.
“Shut up,” Frank semi-turned, “I don’t want everyone in this office to know about my private life.”
“Calm down,” Roger’s new self-assurance, “everyone already knows. You know how these offices are. Nothing’s sacred.” Roger slapped him on the back, belligerent in his giddiness. “You never told me your uncle was nuts, up there swishing a sword around like he was the very Lancelot himself.”
“Shut up,” Frank leaned over and smiled. “Yeah, he’s always been something of a kook. So everything is alright, still with us I see, anything you need?” Roger noted a tint of sarcasm as they entered the associate editor’s office. Danforth sat down heavily in his chair.
“What happened to the photos?!” Danforth tossed Roger the culprit. “Damnit man, where are the effing photos?”
“Don’t worry, Frank,” Roger checked his messages, none. “They’re safe. I just needed a little insurance.”
“Well, that was a shitty thing to do to me,” He leaned back in his seat. “Called the lab; you made me look like a fool.”
“Yea, sorry Frank,” Roger slipped into the chair opposite. “The old man said we don’t need those photos not after the new extravagant you’re going to bring to me.” Roger threw up his hands like Nixon.
“Okay, exactly what did he say to you?”
“He said,” taking on McNamara’s pompous prose, “what we need here is some new blood to get things going, tired of the old rigmarole, blah, blah blah; then he gave me a rather interesting assignment. You ever hear of a rock star named Dallas Richards.”
“Yeah, but I told him the idea was bat shit crazy,” Frank looked a bit worried.
“Well,” Roger flexed his fingers, cracked his knuckles, “seems he wants me to find this guy for a follow up interview. Apparently, we did a salute to him and the emails have been flooding in out of the woodworks ever since,” Roger couldn’t resist the jab, “He said you were totally onboard.”
“Well, that really pisses me off,” Frank grimaced. “I’m supposed to okay that shit, you know at least pretend like my job means something.” He turned to Roger. “Hey Roger, you wouldn’t mind doing me a favor would you? You know, nothin much; just keep me appraised, run things by me; it might make some points with the old man, and it’ll help you, you know, show your loyalty and all.”
“Sure, Frank old pal,” Roger was magnanimous, “anything to help out.”
“Who’s yer pointman?”
“So, Jose will set up the webpage, twitter account,” Danforth began pumping up his authority. “Has he set you up with a Facebook account to follow your search?”
“Frank, its Flashchat,” Roger leaned back in the chair and gave him a limp wrist, “Facebook is so thirty seconds ago.”
“And a deal for a deal.” Danforth eyed Roger critically, “I am getting those photos, right?”
“I told ya, the old man doesn’t want them, plus,” Roger didn’t want to explain that he didn’t know if he could retrieve them; he would have to ask Jose.
“Lookit, never bullshit a bullshitter,” Frank reached out with a newer version of Roger’s Samsung. “I’ll just keep this one,” he took the phone from Roger’s hand and slapped the new one down. “Congratulations, you’ve just been upgraded to a quadphone; you’ll never be out of range with this.”
“Uh, thanks?” now Roger really needed to get with Jose, hoped there was no way to retrieve the photos, but ce lest vie, if this worked, no one would remember the photos anyway.
“While you guys are working out this itinerary, why don’t you write up that combustion story,” Roger looked through lidded eyes. “This eyewitness account could make it big. It could be front page,” he looked hard at Roger, “if you can write it up the way you used to back in the day.”
“I know Frank, have I forgotten to thank you for the job,” Roger was already working out the first lines. “What do we have so far?”
“See, the local papers are blaming the gangs in Koreatown; the police create scenarios, they never know a damn thing, so they throw it all together then go blame some al’qaida cell or neo-nazi ring, say they’re going around torching them for ethnic cleansing or some shit. The national news will put together some fluff piece, talking to their grandkids, or attribute it to bums and a hot summer; the Trump people will claim that it is liberals or Russian spies or Mueller and scream about how the American Public is in serious danger. But seven in one week, give me a friggin’ break. The angle I’m looking for is the Diamond girl; if you can get in and see her, we’ll be closer than anyone else.” Roger fidgeted. “And you know, I always wanted this paper to have a better reputation. So always remember that you are a newsman and that means you’ll be doing some leg work. What have you got?”
“Weren’t you listening earlier, sheesh,” Roger rose in the chair. “I told you I already have an eye witness,” he patted his chest, “me.” He rolled his shirt sleeve down enough to show what appeared to be a sun burn.
“Oh yeah, so why don’t you go over the details,” Danforth leaned in met him halfway.
“Oh no, Frank, you’ll just have to read it with the rest of them.”
“I appreciate that,” Frank didn’t look it, “why don’t you take the rest of the day off,” he resumed I love to work at nothing all day his normal pout. “You look like shit.”