The call came in at the newspaper reporter’s desk late on a Sunday. Finally, he wanted to meet.
Stanley had been waiting all week for this. He had been relentless in his attempts to secure an interview with this guy, but to no avail. No problem, Stanley thought. When I finally get my day, he won’t know what hit him.
Now was his chance. He was going to get his story (and what a story it would be) independently. The days of being marshaled by the senior reporters were over. This was the story that would prove Stanley’s journalistic mettle.
“I’ll show them,” he thought to himself. “Now they’re gonna see what real reporting looks like.”
Stanley decided not to return the call immediately. He’d waited; now it was the other guy’s turn. Stanley could play this game for a week, longer if he had to. It made him feel powerful. The ball’s in his court. He’s holding all the cards.
Two days after his office received the call, Stanley decided the time had come. He picked up the phone receiver with dampened palms. Don’t blow this one, Stanley-boy.
Stanley dialed carefully so as not to reach a wrong number. He waited less than patiently as the phone rang once. Twice. A third time.
“Good morning,” said the female voice at the end of the line. Her sunny enthusiasm made Stanley cringe.
“Yeah, I’m trying to reach your manager about doing a grand-opening piece for the newspaper. I wanted to see if I could talk to your clown…”
“Uh, his name’s Ronald,” she returned.
“Yeah, whatever, when can I talk to him?”
“Let me check.” Stanley thought he could hear the gum smacking through the phone. His sense of cut-throat confidence wavered.
“Be here tomorrow around three,” she said after a few minutes.
“Three? That’s the soonest? You’ve gotta be kiddin’ me.” Stanley didn’t have time to wait. This story could be crucial to his future here at the paper, and he couldn’t afford to bungle it.
“We’ll see you then at three tomorrow?” she asked. She either didn’t hear his question or, more probably, was choosing to ignore it.
Stanley put the phone in the cradle and sat back in his chair. After the debacle that was the high school talent show story he really needed to redeem himself.
When Stanley arrived the next afternoon, he walked through the door of the shiny new McDonalds, and the smell of French fries slammed into him. Happy meal boxes littered the tables, and children ran amuk with their little plastic toys. Now this was what journalism, real journalism, was meant to feel like.
*This writing is based on a prompt provided by Writers Digest circa February 11, 2011. For more information on Fiction Friday, see the Fiction Friday page.
Text ©2011 Jessica Cocita. All Rights Reserved.