Sunday, May 9, 2010

WKPD - Where The Action Counts !

"Crap!" Paulson looked over his shoulder. "Can I say crap on the air?"
"You're not supposed to, and remember to smile as much as possible. You have a nice smile."
"DiVinci veneers. These teeth cost me an arm and a leg.”
In his trailer, Paulson read over his lines of copy for the story on the septic tank explosion as the make-up lady dabbed his face with a cotton swab.
In three minutes, Neil Paulson, field reporter, was going live on WKPD Channel 16.
“Well, I can’t say shit,” Paulson took a sip his Diet Coke through a straw. “Poo Poo?”
“Just say waste. Human waste,” said the make-up lady who thought to herself; he should know all about that since he's a total waste product. “What’s this on your neck?”
She was referring to two large red welts.
“Oh, yesterday I was trying to get in nine-holes of golf before the sun went down when a bat bit me. Can you believe that shit?” said Neil as he noisily slurped the last bit of soda from the bottom of the can.
The door of the camper opened and a production assistant wearing a headset leaned in.
“Three minutes Mr. Paulson!”
“I’d wear a gas mask if it didn’t cover my handsome face,” Neil chuckled then drew a deep breath before walking outside.
The make-up lady joined him in a chuckle, however she was thinking I’d like to punch that handsome face of his right in.
Neil hadn't the charisma of an anchorman and was only given a shot as a field reporter because WKPD channel 25, whose motto was; Where the Action Counts! was owned by Neil’s father, Ed.
The news staff at the station routinely joked that WKPD stood for We'll Kill Paulson's Dream, since Neil's father was involved in union disputes over contracts. He was trying to cut overtime rates with his employees. They were not happy about it and subsequently viewed Ed Paulson as a supreme asshole.
To say Neil was a spoiled brat would be an understatement. Truth be told, he did very little in the office except for flirting with the females, sneaking off into the bathroom to gulp down airplane-bottles of booze, or take a nap on the couch in his father’s office.
Today was Neil’s big day, his first live report.
Outside the trailer, Haz Mat crews scrambled to clean up the mess in the center of town.
Neil got a whiff of the pungent air and covered his nose.
The production assistant led Neil over to a sound engineer who had a Nagra tape deck slung over his shoulder and a bandana tied around his nose and mouth.
“You’ve got the right idea,” Neil joked.
“Pretty bad out here,” said the sound man from under the bandana. “And I grew up on a farm.”
Neil’s legs felt wobbly as he stood in front of a reflector board. The shimmering light made him squint. He surely wasn’t nervous about being on-air and the fact that his father was nearby in a limousine watching everything also didn’t bother him in the least yet his stomach churned, his vision became fuzzy.
“Are you ready Mr. Paulson?” asked a producer as he handed Neil a microphone.
“Um... I think the smell is getting to me,” said Neil. “I’m starting to feel lightheaded.”
“We’re live in fifteen seconds. Compose yourself.”
The producer took as step back and a cameraman crouched down aiming the lens at Neil.
“Ten seconds!”
Neil started to twitch. His whole body felt as though it were on fire.
The taste of bile rose up in his throat.
“Five seconds, Mr. Paulson. Get ready,” said the producer. “Nice big smile.”
The make-up lady and the production assistant looked at each other sensing something was definitely wrong with Neil. He looked ill.
“Three... two... and...”
The red light on the video camera flicked on. The producer snapped his finger at Neil.
Beads of sweat dripped off Neil’s forehead as he stared blankly into the camera.
“Neil Paulson here on the scene where moments ago... arrrggguuuh...” Neil clutched his gut. “An underground explosion....ooffffuuugg...”
Neil tried to dismiss the convulsions by smiling for the camera.
The producer’s jaw dropped open when he saw Neil’s incisors elongate into fangs.
Neil’s skin was pallid, it looked as though he were aging before their very eyes. His head started to shrink like a apple dropped in vinegar and bristles of hair sprouted up over every part of exposed skin.
“What the fuck?” said the camera man from behind the bandana.
The make-up lady dropped the cup of coffee she was holding when the thousand dollar suit Neil was wearing seemed to evaporate into a fine dust. His body contracted, getting smaller and smaller. His nose and jowls protruded and the tips of his ears sharpened into points. He was turning into a bat.
“You still rolling?” mumbled the producer.
“Shit yeah.” said the cameraman as he stood up and zoomed in when wings started to emerge.
As Neil, the bat, took flight it dove at the producer’s neck. Reflexively the production assistant grabbed the reflector board and swatted it to the ground.
When the bat righted itself and tilted it’s knobby head upward, both the producer and assistant started to stomp upon it with their shoes.
What was left of Neil was no larger than a furry black pancake on the sidewalk.
The make-up lady watched Ed’s limo drive off.
She knew it would be difficult for Ed Paulson to argue over the contract negotiations much less show his face around WKPD channel 25 - Where The Action Counts! now that his son turned into a bat on live television.
The producer scrapped off some of the gunk on his shoe as he approached the make-up lady and opened the door to the trailer.
“Do you believe that shit?” said the producer. “His first live report and that schmuck probably just landed us a Pulitzer.”

1 comment:

  1. Wonderfully written! Short and sweet but really darlin' that's fantastic quality:)