by Rachel Cisto
The exploits of a fictional newsroom based on the exploits of a real newsroom.
I had always known that I wanted to be a reporter – I've been interviewing people for as long as I could talk. And I was well prepared for journalism school. But as I stood in front of the building that would become my home away from home, I had a pang of guilt. I left home for this? I left all of my friends and my steady newspaper beat to pursue a TV career that might not even pan out…and they sent me here? Talk about karma.
Sure, it was a tiny little station, fit for a tiny place like where I was. But, how exactly did I end up here? Maryland was a long, long way from Wyoming. And yet, here I was, the newest resident of Middle-Of-Nowhere, USA.
I proceeded towards the door, etched with a giant white 13. Pushing it open, I said to myself, “Better get a move on. The sooner I get to work, the sooner I can move to a bigger station.”
I was determined to get as far away from Channel 13 and Wyoming as fast as I could.
I had barely pulled the door open when I was tackled by a blonde girl. She looked at least six years younger than me. “HI!” she cried. “I’m Molly! You must be the new reporter! Come with me!”
I didn’t get a chance to protest – she was pulling me by the arm into the building.
“Lovely,” I muttered under my breath. “So,” I began, in an effort to be conversational, “when did you decide you wanted to work at a TV station?”
The young blonde grinned excitedly. “Well, while I was at college, I learned I really wanted to be on TV. I liked it, it was fun. I liked people and liked talking to them, and one of the only jobs I could think of where I got paid to talk to people was a reporter. I lived in Wyoming my whole life, and it just seemed natural that if I was gonna be on TV I would be on Channel 13. And when I got hired as a reporter, it was the best day of my life. They made me do some work and learn weird things like how to ask questions, because apparently I was doing it wrong, but I don’t know why.”
“Uh-huh.” It could be that the sources never got a chance to talk, I thought.
“So I listened and worked my tail off and became pretty darn good at my job, I think. And because I’m so dang friendly and sunny and happy, my boss Michelle told me to go meet the new reporter at the door because she didn’t have a swipe key yet. So here we are!”
“Right.” I chuckled a little. “How lucky I am.”
She completely missed my sarcasm. I felt a little bad for her. Apparently in Wyoming, people don’t have very good sarcasm detectors.
“So, your name’s Imogen? That’s a really pretty name. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that name before.”
“Yeah, I could never find anything with my name on it when I was a kid.”
Molly looked like she wasn’t sure how to respond to that. “So where are you from?”
“I’m from Perry Hall, Maryland. About a half hour outside of Baltimore.”
“Whoa, that’s really far away!” she exclaimed.
We looked at each other. She didn’t seem like she understood my sense of humor, and with that, we continued to the newsroom in silence.
When we made it into the newsroom, I looked around. It felt…homey. Kind of like the paper, except there were high-tech cameras and monitors and lots of other equipment I’d never seen before. As we approached the news desk, an African-American woman with bright red hair stood up and smiled. Molly raced right up to her.
“I found Imogen!”
“I see that.” She smiled to me. “Nice to meet you, Imogen, I’m Michelle Richter, the dayside assignment editor.”
“Molly,” she said, turning to the young reporter.
“You know I hate that. Why don’t you go back and work on your investigation for next week? Did you clear with the building owners yet?”
Molly gasped. “No! I forgot! I’m sorry! I’ll do that right now!” She turned and raced off.
I looked over at Michelle. She smiled, obviously amused.
“She can be a bit much sometimes,” she said, looking toward the young blonde reporter, “but her heart’s in the right place.”
“Are you sure?” I asked.
“I like Molly. Except sometimes I kind of forget she is a reporter here. She started out as an intern…and then she never left. I got so used to her being here that it took me until October 5th for me to ask her what she was still doing here since she was a summer intern. And that was the day I learned that we’d hired her.”
“In my defense, that was only about a month ago. I love Molly, but she reminds me of an overly-excited puppy – always eager to please and with way more energy than should be humanly possible.”
“I can see that,” I said.
“So I understood the look on your face when you were chased into the newsroom with Molly yapping at your heels.”
I nodded. “She’ll take some getting used to, that’s for sure.”
Michelle smiled. “I think you’re going to be a wonderful addition to the 13 News Team. Here, let me show you where your desk is.”
She led me over to a mass of desks. “This one,” she said, motioning to an empty desk near the center of the group, “is yours. Make yourself right at home.” She started to walk away, but turned back, smiling. “And because I started out as a reporter too, I know the most important questions. The bathrooms are that way.” She pointed down a hallway.
“Good to know,” I said.
“And, even more importantly, the break room is back that way, and we have a huge coffee maker.”
I smiled. “You really do know all of the most important things, don’t you?”
Michelle winked at me and headed back to the assignment desk.
I sat down at my new desk and sighed. This would be my home away from home.
I looked up. Sitting across from me was a very attractive young man. “Um. Hi.” I muttered, a little thrown by his sudden appearance.
He reached across the desk to shake my hand. “I’m Philip.”
“That’s an awesome name.”
I chuckled. “I didn’t always think so. It was a bitch to spell when I was little.”
He smiled. “That sounds like it would be. Very old-fashioned. So you’re the newest hire?”
“Very cool,” he said. “Now they won’t be making fun of me for being the ‘new guy’.” He winked at me.
I chuckled and glanced down at my hands. “Not sure how I ended up out here, though.”
“Really? Where’d you come from?”
“Wow, I thought I was from far away. I’m from California.”
I looked him over. He looked like he was from California – dirty blond hair, brown eyes and very athletically built. I could see him on a surfboard out in the ocean…and me with him…and then I realized I was staring. I cleared my throat. “I’ve always wanted to go to California.”
Philip grinned. Oh my. Perfect white teeth, and the most adorable smile I’ve seen in a long time. “I was about to say ‘penny for your thoughts’ but I’m not sure I want to know.”
I could feel myself starting to blush. My first day was definitely NOT going the way I had originally planned.
I turned around. That voice was awfully familiar.
“Immi!” A redheaded woman bounded up to me and tackled me.
“Hi Fran!” I bear-hugged her. Francesca Daly had been one of my best friends at journalism school. We had both graduated from the Columbia University School of journalism, and we’d kept in touch first through letters, and now through Facebook. She was part of the reason I’d accepted this job.
“It’s so good to see you, Immi! I missed you!” She fluffed my ponytail. “Still the same hair color, still reminds me of a chocolate milkshake.”
“God, you’re weird,” I said, laughing. “Is this usually your shift?”
She nodded. “Yep, 2:30 to 11:30. Nightside is fun.”
“At least they put us on the same shift. Is Michelle the nightside editor?”
“Assignment editor,” Fran corrected, “and no. You can tell you were a newspaper reporter.”
“Shut up,” I snapped, giving her a playful shove. “So who is the nightside assignment editor?”
The man standing behind me looked nothing like I expected an editor to look. He had a mop of brown hair, bright blue eyes, and he was wearing a black and white plaid blazer and jeans. He looked about 18. Maybe 19 at the oldest.
“Hi?” I said, unable to keep the surprise out of my voice.
“Hi. My name’s Will.” He extended his hand.
“Imogen.” I returned the handshake and glanced at Fran, who was trying not to giggle.
“Nice to meet you, Imogen. Looking forward to seeing what you turn in. I read some of your online articles. You have talent.”
I smiled. The quickest way to my heart was complimenting my work. “Thank you.”
He smiled back. “Anytime. I love having talented reporters on my shift. Means I have to do less looking over shoulders.”
“Like mine,” Fran interjected.
“Well, I need to make sure you don’t miss anything when you’re editing. That’s my job.”
“Meh,” Fran said, winking at me. She had always been one of the most capable editors in our class. But I knew that face. I smiled. Clearly she liked the attention.
“News meeting in ten minutes,” Will said to us before heading back to his desk.
I picked up on it immediately. “You like him,” I whispered to Fran.
“You shush,” she responded, turning a little red.
It was like we’d never been apart.
I was so glad when Immi came home. Well, not home exactly, but back into my life for real instead of through letters and the internet.
I loved that girl so much.
She definitely had a reporter’s instinct – never leave until your questions were answered, no matter how irritated your source got with you.
And I got irritated quickly.
She learned exactly how to push my buttons when we roomed together during j-school. We even lived together for a while after graduation while I was searching for a producing job and she was writing for a small-town newspaper.
I considered her the sister I never had. And when she moved back to Maryland, I was devastated. But shortly after she moved, so did I. I had been looking for a job on the west coast, somewhere nowhere near home. Wyoming was far enough to make me happy.
And I loved the people I worked with. But I missed my best friend. So when Immi said she thought about breaking into TV, I told her my station was looking for reporters.
Her transition was difficult, she really didn’t have much of a tape, but I worked my magic and gave the editors copies of her print pieces. She always had a way with words and she was always revising, rewriting, trying to make it perfect.
I even recounted a story from Columbia when she was working on an article and I had gone to bed, but when I got up at 6 AM she was still writing. She kept saying, “Not yet, not yet, it’s not done yet!”
She won a prize for that piece.
And the bosses loved her conviction and her style of writing.
And just like that, she was on her way out to Wyoming.
And before I knew it, we were standing at the afternoon news meeting together, making faces and giggling like a pair of high-schoolers.
“Alright, alright, quiet in the peanut gallery.” Will hit his travel mug on the table like a gavel. “Before we get into tonight’s show, let’s all say hi to our newest reporter, Imogen Robinson.”
Immi nodded and looked around the table. “They’re staring at me,” she hissed.
“Say something, stupid,” I hissed back.
“Hi, um, it’s great to be here, it’s a very long way from Maryland, but you seem like a fun bunch, and I’m always more comfortable in newsrooms than anywhere else, so I think it’s a good fit.” She looked at me.
“Yeah.” She looked at her hands.
“Thank you, Imogen. For her benefit, can we all just say our names so she gets a feel for who we are?”
I looked at her. She looked put off by all the attention and I couldn’t keep myself from laughing. She glared at me and kicked me under the table.
“Ow! Geez, sorry.”
Will looked over at us. “If I wanted to deal with small children, I’d be a preschool teacher,” he said playfully.
I grinned. “Sorry.”
The rest of the people in the meeting began to introduce themselves.
I really hated corny “getting-to-know-you” junk. I would figure out soon enough who everyone was. There was no need for them to go around and introduce themselves to me. I felt like I was in elementary school again.
A grey haired man sitting to my left started the conversation. “I’m Ethan, and I anchor the 10:00 and the 11:00 and do some general reporting.”
The blonde woman sitting next to him chuckled. “And you create general mayhem and shenanigans.”
He winked at me. “Only sometimes.”
The woman continued. “I’m Cheryl. I’m his co-anchor and also do some general reporting.”
The young Hispanic woman to Cheryl’s left waved at me. “I’m Alex, I anchor the 5 and the 6 most of the time and I’m a nightside reporter.”
A good-looking redhead smiled at me. “I’m Riley, the 5:00 producer.”
The man next to him playfully punched him in the arm. “And token ginger. I’m Peter, the 10:00 producer.”
“You’re one to talk, Goldilocks,” Riley retorted.
“Don’t make me separate you two,” said a gray-haired woman. She turned to me. “My name’s Dorothy, the 6:00 producer. Welcome to the peanut gallery.”
“That’s not very nice,” said an African-American woman sitting next to her. “Howdy, darling, I’m Katrina, and I’m a meteorologist.” She had a bit of a Southern drawl to her speech.
Molly smiled. “I love it when you talk,” she said to Katrina. “You know me,” she said, turning to me.
“I certainly do.”
“I’m Javier. I anchor with Alex. Nice to meet you.”
“Hi, Imogen. I’m Kieran, I’m a reporter and I anchor on the weekends.”
“My name’s Jeremy and my role is intern.”
Phillip grinned at the young man. “Me Jeremy, me intern! Intern no use words!”
Jeremy glared at him.
“You know I’m just kidding,” Phillip said, laughing.
“Kon'nichiwa,” said an attractive Asian woman. “I’m Carmen and I do sports.”
“Hey,” said the man sitting next to her. I’m Dan, and before you ask, this is the photog corner.”
An African-American man with red dreadlocks grinned. “It’s kind of like being back in high school. I’m Brett, by the way.”
“Sofia,” said a woman with dark blue hair.
“HI!” exclaimed a redhead. “I’m Summer and I’m not a photog. I’m a director.”
“I’m Melissa,” said a quiet blonde woman. “I’m an engineer.”
I looked over at the one person who hadn’t spoken yet. He had dark hair, dark eyes, and stereotypical hipster glasses. “Hi,” he said. I couldn’t tear my eyes away. Indian, maybe? I heard Fran giggle next to me, but I didn’t care.
“Hi.” I said, smiling.
Will clapped his hands. “Okay, now that’s done, let’s go over the rundown! Our top story at 5 is obviously the upcoming election.”
I glanced over at David again.
Fran nudged me and smiled.
I never go to the news meetings. I don’t have to, really. But when my boss heard that there would be a new reporter there, he decided that I was going to go and meet them.
And when he found out that the newest hire was a girl, well, that sealed my fate.
“Go out,” he said. “She’s your age. I know, I asked Will.”
Dear god. I knew what he was trying to do. He wanted to set me up with the new girl.
And until I saw her, I didn’t appreciate his meddling.
But something about Imogen really threw me.
And when Melissa and I left the news meeting, she picked up on it really quickly.
“So the new reporter is really something, isn’t she?”
I tried to play it cool. Did anyone notice? “She seems interesting.”
Damn it. “I guess.”
“I figured. You spent most of the meeting staring at her.”
Melissa didn’t talk much, but when she did, she was a bitch.
“I wasn’t staring at her. I was looking sort of...past her.”
“You were staring at her.” She grinned. “I could tell. It’s okay, she’s pretty hot.”
“Okay, we can stop talking about this now.” I was getting pretty uncomfortable.
“She likes you too, you know.”
“I don’t like her. I don’t know her that well.” Melissa was really starting to push my buttons. “Can we PLEASE drop this?”
“I just don’t get it, because why else would Bill force us to go to the news meeting other than to meet her? He must have known.”
I glared at her. “I like you a lot better when you don’t talk.”
She laughed. “I’ll get in with her. Find out what makes her tick. Who knows? Maybe she was staring at me. You never know,” she said with a wink, “maybe she’s not into guys. Maybe she’s into something a little different.”
“You’re secretly hoping she’s a lesbian, aren’t you?”
She winked again. “Don’t let anyone know. Remember, we’re engineers. We don’t have feels.”
I sighed. Some days I wasn’t sure exactly why these people were my friends.
“Immi, you’re my best friend. I know these things about you. And you thought Phillip was hot-”
“Wait a second! I don’t-”
“We’ll discuss that in a minute. But seriously, you were pretty attracted to him. But you saw David and I thought your head was going to explode.”
She made a face at me.
We were curled up on the floor of my apartment drinking hot cocoa like we would do in college, both in our pajamas, after our first night working together.
“You totally like him. It was just like Shane back at Columbia. You couldn’t tear your eyes away from him.”
I could see her getting uncomfortable and I knew I had her pegged.
Finally, she relented. “What do you know about him?”
I had her.
“Well,” I said, smiling, “I honestly don’t know too much about him other than that he was hired at the same time I was. But he seems nice.”
“Well, ‘seems’ isn’t exactly what I was hoping for. I was hoping you’d have some concrete information to give me.” She folded her arms and pouted.
“I’m not an engineer,” I retorted. “I don’t work with them very much. I just know him because we came in at the same time. We had lunch once. I will give you that he’s really cute.”
“You have your own problems,” she said, her expression playful. “You have a crush on Will.”
I shrugged. “That’s common office knowledge, I think.”
Imogen looked surprised. “Has anything come of it yet?”
I laughed. “Of course not. The newsroom is like a miniature high school. Rumors spread like wildfire and everyone knows everything.”
“So like our entire floor that year?”
I started laughing. “The ones that thought we were lesbian lovers who just pretended to have boyfriends. Yeah, sort of, except they don’t end up making stuff up in the newsroom. They’re all in news, they somehow just know.”
Imogen laughed too. “Good point. Never underestimate the investigative powers of a reporter on a mission.”
“We should set you up.” I grinned. This was the best idea I’d had in a while.
I groaned. “You and David, obviously! You’re clearly attracted to one another. Go for it!”
Imogen rolled her eyes. “I met the guy not even 12 hours ago and you’re planning our wedding. Slow it down, jeez.”
She always liked to take things slowly – way slower than the rest of the world. And that was always her downfall. “You don’t have to know him super-well for there to be chemistry. I think the fact that you two spent most of the meeting staring at each other proves there’s chemistry.”
“Maybe.” She sighed. “But what am I supposed to do, just walk up to him and be like, ‘hi, you’re really attractive, I think we should date’? Come on, you know that’s not going to happen ever.”
“Don’t be so negative, Immi.” She was always down on herself – she didn’t believe that she was pretty or smart or good at reporting or anything. She hadn’t as long as I’d known her, anyway. “You don’t have to propose, just ask him out for coffee or something.”
“Where are we going to go? All the coffee places are closed by the time we’re on break, smarty pants.”
“There’s always the break room. We’ve got a coffee maker.”
She sighed. “I’d say that you have no concept of romance, but then I’d be a hypocrite.”
I laughed. “Trust me, Immi, everything’s going to come up lilacs for you two!”
“The phrase is ‘coming up roses’.”
“It’s a different phrase.”
“God. You’re so weird,” she said, getting up. “We should make some popcorn.”
“Wow,” I jumped up. “You read my mind.”
“What, that you’re weird or that we need popcorn?”
I loved this girl.
I looked at myself in the mirror that night. Maybe Fran was right. David was pretty cute. He could get whoever he wanted to have. And if I wanted any chance, he probably needed to know that I was interested. And if I wanted to be absolutely positive I was interested, well, I guess I’d have to get to know him first.
When they all told me that working in a TV station was like going back to high school, I didn’t believe them. This was a professional place full of professional people.
They would, of course, conduct themselves professionally.
Imagine my surprise when they didn’t.
And when I discovered that it really was like a high school for adults, well, I didn’t really know what to think.
I was a newsroom intern, meaning that a lot of what I did was assisting reporters with things. I had to learn a lot of different things before I could successfully do much of anything at the station.
And I didn’t have a lot of experience. I was only a second-semester freshman, so I hadn’t been around that long. But I really loved what I was doing and I really loved interacting with everyone in the station.
So when I came in for my second day and a reporter marched right up to me and said hello, I was thrilled.
It was Imogen, and it was only her second day too.
“Oh, fun. At the paper I worked at, we were always brutal to the interns. They were like our pack mules and they carried all of our stuff and they ran us coffee and everything.”
I was a little surprised. “Where did you work?”
“The Baltimore Sun.”
She smiled. “Yeah. I was pretty successful in print journalism but I wanted to try something new.”
That didn’t quite make sense to me. “Then how did you get to Wyoming?”
“Well, because I wanted to try TV and you can’t start in a high market station. They don’t let you do that. And Baltimore is market number 26. It doesn’t work like that. I needed to start smaller than Baltimore. So I moved here to the 197th market on the list and channel 13.”
She grinned. “And it helps when your best friend from j-school produces the 11.”
So she knew Fran. That made a little more sense. “So how do you like it so far?”
“Well, it’s kind of hard to judge on day two.” She grinned. “But I can see myself having a good time here. What about you?”
I thought about it. “I’m pretty happy. I mean, I’m journalism major at the University of Wyoming, so I would hope this is what I wanted.”
Imogen actually laughed at me. “You think that you know what you want? You’re in college. What year are you?”
“I’m, well, now I’m a sophomore.” I felt myself growing self-conscious. Imogen’s laughter was a little unnerving, and, quite frankly, rude.
“YOU’RE A SOPHOMORE!” She started laughing hysterically. “YOU’RE A SOPHOMORE WHO THINKS HE KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT HE WANTS!”
I glared at her. “That’s right, because I do know exactly what I want. And right now, I want this conversation to be over.”
I stormed away from the still laughing reporter. She and I were not friends.
“Okay, maybe I was a little rough on the intern. But he was being dumb.”
Fran really didn’t seem to agree with my logic. “He’s an INTERN! Interns are supposed to be dumb. You don’t need to TELL them that, most of them just seem to know.”
I thought about this. She was right, of course. Fran usually was. But still.
“Maybe it’s a little sadistic, but I like telling people they’re morons.”
She rolled her eyes. “And you wonder why you’re an old maid with a cat instead of a boyfriend.”
I cringed. Of course she didn’t know, I hadn’t told her, but still.
“What?” Fran almost choked on her coffee. “Edward Murrow is dead?”
Riley looked up from his corner of the news desk. “Edward Murrow’s been dead for a while.”
“Edward Murrow was Immi’s cat, dumbass.”
I loved Fran’s directness.
Riley raised an eyebrow. “You named your cat Edward Murrow?”
I shrugged. “He looked very…respectable. He was a respectable cat.”
Fran nudged me. “We had a fish tank of reporters too, remember?”
Will had been passively listening but looked up now. “Okay, Frannie, I love you but that comment is terrifying.”
We all laughed. “In college, they wouldn’t let us have an actual pet, but we were allowed to have a fish tank,” I explained. “So we went to the pet store and bought a 25 gallon aquarium, filled it with water and bought the most colorful fish we could find. We had a school of reporters!”
Fran could hardly speak for laughing. “We had Walter Cronkite, and Barbara Walters and William Hearst…”
“Tim Russert! Ted Koppel! Dan Rather! Helen Thomas and Hunter S. Thompson!” We were both laughing hysterically.
“You deserve each other, you maniacs,” Riley said, chuckling, before going back to work.
He was right, of course. Fran and I were like two halves of the same person.
“I know someone else she totally deserves too,” Fran said quietly, glancing in the direction of the studio.
I glared at her.
Suddenly, Will jumped up. “IMOGEN! I’m putting you with a photog and an engineer. You’re going to Sheridan and you’re going live.”
“Breaking news. Excellent.” I jumped up. “Let’s do this thing.”
Fran giggled. I knew she had some sort of plan, but I really didn’t have time for it now. There was news to break.
Imogen raced back to her desk to collect her things.
As soon as she was out of earshot I turned to Will. “Send her with David.”
“Trust me,” I insisted, “it’s the best idea ever.”
He sighed. “You scare me sometimes, girl.” But he picked up the phone and called. “David, I’m going to send Sofia to a live shot. Go with her and help her out if you can. Imogen’s the reporter. Thanks. See you.” He hung up and looked at me. “Happy?”
I grinned. “Very.”
Imogen bounded up to the desk. “So who’s going with me?”
“Sofia’s your photog, and David’s going to help you engineer the live shot because Sofia’s never photogged from a live truck.”
She shot me a sideways glare. “Awesome. What’s the story?”
“No details, just a phone call from one of our dayside interns about the science building at Sheridan College being evacuated. She’ll be on scene. You’re looking for a tall, skinny blonde girl. Valerie.”
Imogen nodded and started for the door.
Will sighed. “Don’t bitch out the intern.”
Imogen sighed. “Fine.”
I sat down at my desk, awfully pleased with myself.
My phone rang – Imogen had sent me a text.
“U R so DEAD when I get back”
I chuckled. You could always tell how mad she was by how bad her grammar was. And judging from that message, she was pretty upset.
“You’ll thank me later. Just call me ‘cupid’s helper’.” I sent back.
She didn’t write back.
When I got to the satellite truck, Imogen was standing outside staring at it.
“Never seen a sat truck before?” I asked.
She jumped. Obviously she hadn’t seen me. I laughed. “Sorry.”
“Don’t worry,” she said, catching her breath. “I’ve seen them before, sure. But working in print, I never really got to interact with one.”
“Oh.” Duh, she’s been in news for a while. You idiot, you knew that. “Right.”
She blinked. “So how exactly does this thing work?”
She wants to learn how to engineer a live shot? “You want the technical version or the simple one?”
Imogen laughed. “Simple, please. I don’t know how much mildly irrelevant information I can store in my head.”
She’s not kidding. She actually wants to know how to operate a satellite truck. I was a little lost. And that damn inner monologue wouldn’t shut up. “Well, basically, you stand in front of the camera and be pretty…”
You’re an idiot. She probably thinks you’re hitting on her.
“And then the camera feeds into the truck and the video gets spit out by the satellite dish like if you have satellite TV…”
“…and then it makes its way back to the station and gets picked up by the big dish on the roof and then it goes through the control room and they feed it onto the TV.”
Idiot. That was simple alright; she probably thinks you’re dumb. Well played.
Imogen was looking up at the satellite on top of the truck. “That’s so cool.” She turned to me. “I only semi-understand it, but it’s SO COOL.”
“I’ve never heard anyone tell me that engineering stuff is cool.”
Imogen laughed again. She had the brightest, most genuine smile I’ve seen on a reporter. “Well, I want to be more than the girl on TV. I think I should know how I get on TV at the very least.”
Sofia came bursting out of the building at that moment cradling her camera. “Who’s ready to do news?”
“ME!” Imogen exclaimed, jumping into the truck.
I jumped in after her. Her excitement was contagious.
I’m not sure whose idea it was putting these two together, but they were either brilliant or complete idiots.
I’ll admit, I didn’t know Imogen very well, but I’d worked with David before, and he wasn’t one to get distracted easily. He usually was really good with explaining things.
But he couldn’t explain the live truck to me if his life depended on it.
Eventually, he quietly apologized to me and began setting up on his own. I’d never seen him so…scrambled.
And I thought I knew why.
I pulled Imogen aside while David was connecting everything. “You listen to me.”
She seemed surprised. “Okay.”
“I don’t know what you’re doing, but whatever it is, you leave him out of it.”
She pretended to be confused, but I knew she was well aware of what I was talking about.
“You just want to get yourself out of here onto a bigger career. I know your type. You don’t think you belong out here. We’re just a stepping stone for you. Isn’t that right?”
Imogen raised an eyebrow. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“You’re scaring the engineer. He doesn’t need to be a part of whatever you’re trying to do here. Just go on about your business.”
“Seriously, I don’t get it.”
I was getting mad now. “You’re just like the other reporters. You only want to further your career. You think you’re too good to be out here in a no name station in Wyoming! You don’t care who you push out with you either!”
She stared at me, wide-eyed.
I could hardly contain my rage. “These fucking reporters think they own everything and they don’t! You guys think that you can have whatever the fuck you want and that the rest of us are here only to make you look good! That the rest of us mean NOTHING except for when we’re putting you on television! Fuck you guys, all of you!”
The reporter just stared at me. I figured I’d gotten my point across well enough.
“Now. Sit your pretty little ass in front of that camera.”
She did as she was told.
I hadn’t seen what happened. I just heard Sofia screaming and prayed her often-misdirected rage wasn’t aimed at Imogen. As cruel as it was, I was hoping Valerie had shown up and Sofia was screaming at her for moving a cord or bumping the tripod.
We weren’t that lucky.
I jumped out of the truck and saw Sofia fuming and Imogen looking like she was going to cry, and the intern was nowhere to be found.
Now’s your chance, said that damn voice. Swoop in and be a superhero.
I thought about it.
Of course, Imogen didn’t give me that chance. “Save me from that psycho please.” She ducked into the truck behind me and peeked out the window. “Crazy woman.”
“She’s just...not...you know...”
I sighed. “Well, that too.”
“No duh.” She glanced out the window again.
I sighed again. I felt bad that Sofia was taking her rage out on Imogen because Imogen didn’t know any better.
“Whose idea was it to send me out with...?” Her eyes widened. “I’m going to kill Fran when I get back to the studio. I’m just going to murder her.”
I was about to say something, but Sofia’s shriek stopped me.
“WHERE IS MY DAMN REPORTER?”
I looked to Imogen, who had ducked under the seat. “You should go.”
“Why does she hate me?” she asked softly before climbing out of the truck.
“I don’t think she does.” I tried to sound as convincing as possible.
“Unlikely,” she muttered, before walking towards Sofia. “Let’s do this so I can get back to the newsroom and murder my best friend.”
The ride back to the newsroom was the most awkward two and a half hours I’d ever spent. Sofia was still really mad at me and I had no idea why, and David seemed to know but really didn’t want to tell me.
And I now knew why Fran couldn’t stop giggling when I left. She created all of this. She knew.
As soon as we got back, I dropped my stuff at my desk and immediately headed for Fran.
“Hey, Immi,” she said, grinning. “How was your day?”
“You’re mincemeat,” I growled.
She laughed. She still thought I was kidding.
“Let’s go,” Fran grabbed her bag and headed for the door. I picked up my bag and followed her.
Once we were safely outside, I couldn’t hide my anger. “How did you think that was a good idea? You stick me with a psychotic photographer, and you send me with someone I really don’t want to look bad in front of, and then you giggle at me while I struggle!”
She took a deep breath. “Are you done? Can I talk or are you still screaming at me?”
I glared at her, but didn’t say anything.
“One. Yes, I was the one who told Will to send David with you. And you know damn well why. Two. I had nothing to do with his choosing Sofia. She’s loose cannon, and you set her off. I probably should have warned you, yes, I take the blame for that. But I didn’t send her. I knew that you’d need him because she’s crazy.”
We both turned.
David was running toward us. I sucked in a breath. Why is it suddenly so cold?
“Imogen.” He smiled. “I’m so sorry about your live shot. It looked good, but you had a crazy photog and I thought you were going to cry. I just want to be sure you’re okay.”
I couldn’t speak...or breathe...or think...so I nodded.
“Good. Would you maybe want to grab dinner before work or right after the six o’clock tomorrow?”
I couldn’t process what I was hearing. I nodded again.
“Great.” He smiled. “See you tomorrow, then.”
“Tomorrow.” I still couldn’t make sentences, but there was progress.
I wasn’t sure how I was able to do it, but Imogen and I were going out for dinner during our break tomorrow.
What do you have to say now? I asked the annoying little voice.
For once, there was no answer.
Imogen had stopped asking me if I was proud of what I had done. It was a dumb question, honestly. Of course I was. I was her wingwoman, and I set her up with her engineer. Of COURSE I was proud of myself.
Now, I’m not sure if she stopped asking because she realized I was right or if she just couldn’t talk because she was in shock. Either way, the questions stopped, she loved me again and she was going on a date.
I won again. Just like back when we were in college. And, luckily for her, nothing much had changed.
“What do I do?” she asked. We were standing in front of her closet.
“When was the last time you went on a date?”
She grinned. “I don’t remember. How long has it been since the last time I told you never to do that?”
“There’s your answer.”
I shook my head. “Immi, I love you but you’re hopeless. You need to stop relying on me for this stuff.”
“Well, you said it yourself,” she said laughing. “I’m hopeless.”
“No, you’re not,” I said playfully. “You’ll be my new project. I’ll make you popular and flirty and I’ll teach you all kinds of things. You’ll be in TV. You’ll need to know these things.”
“Will I really?” She looked surprised.
“You’re going to be famous,” I shouted, laughing. “You’re going to get so many emails from guys who want to date you! You’ll be like the Angelina Jolie of Wyoming!”
She made a face. “That’s disturbing.”
“It’s true, though.”
I grinned. “Oh, Immi, aren’t you so glad you made the jump to TV?”
She wrinkled her nose at me.
I knew when I went to TV that my life would be different. I kind of pictured it like being in Hollywood. You know, people wanting pictures with me, shaking my hand, recognizing me on the street, et cetera.
I sort of expected the occasional crazy who would come up to me on the street and be like, “OH MY GOD YOU’RE SO PRETTY. I WATCH YOU ON TV PLEASE MARRY ME.” But I hadn’t really thought about it. It wasn’t a pleasant thought.
And as I stood in the makeup room checking my hair before my first live story intro, I had to think about it.
“Nervous?” came a voice from the hallway.
Alex was leaning on the door, giggling. “Sorry, Imogen. Didn’t mean to spook you.”
“Well, you did,” I responded.
She laughed. “Are you nervous for your first chroma key appearance?”
I chuckled. “I don’t think ‘nervous’ is the correct phrase. ‘Terrified beyond belief’ would work better.”
“Imogen,” she began, coming in and sitting on the counter next to me, “think about it. Is this the first time you’ve had your name attached to a news story?”
She smiled. “Is this the first time you’ve had your photo in the paper?”
“No, it’s been in print before.”
“Well, see, then it’s nothing new!” She patted my back. “You’ll be fine.”
She smiled at me before she left the green room.
“I got this.” I said, nodding in the mirror.
I glanced at the rundown. Whoa. Imogen was making her first appearance on air. And she was the lead story. She walked into the studio and smiled at me. “Hey.”
“Hi,” I said, smiling. “How are you feeling?”
“Like I’m a deer standing in the middle of a highway.” She chuckled and picked up the earpiece.
“What’s this thingy called?” she asked, holding it up.
“It’s an IFB.” I said. “It’s how you hear Dorothy talking to you.”
She smiled. “Dorothy? Oh, cool, I thought Summer would be screeching at me.”
“Nah, she screeches at me through my headset. Do you know how to hook any of this up?”
“Nope.” She grinned, handing the IFB to me. “What do I do with this?”
“It clips on the back of your shirt, and then you put it in like a headphone. It hooks around the outside of your ear and then the little piece here goes in like a set of earbuds.” I said. “Here, turn around, I’ll clip you.”
I swept her hair aside. It was soft, smooth…I accidentally brushed the back of her neck. I felt her jump. “Sorry.”
“No, no,” she giggled lightly. “I’m fine, just clip this thing.”
I did. “Okay, now, do you have a microphone?”
“Um.” She grinned. “Don’t think so.”
I pulled one from the shelf. “Here.”
She took it but looked at me questioningly.
“You don’t know how to use that one either?”
“Okay.” I sighed. “Run this up your shirt.”
She blushed. “Don’t look at me.”
I turned around.
“Okay, now what?”
I turned back. She was holding the microphone near her chin.
“Okay.” I smiled. “Now clip it onto your collar and just keep it away from your hair.”
“Really? It makes funny noises on my hair?”
“It does.” Though your hair is so soft, it may not…
I cringed slightly.
“Hmm.” She tossed her light brown hair over her shoulder. “This works better?”
I smiled. “It should.”
“Great.” She still looked terrified, but at least she was smiling.
I walked behind the camera and began to adjust it. “Now, try to stay in the same general spot so I can keep track of you and I can keep you in the frame.”
Imogen grinned playfully. “You mean like this?” She leaned backward dramatically.
We both laughed. “Exactly like I said,” I retorted.
“And now, News 13 at 6:00!” bellowed the voice that announced the beginning of our show.
“Rock and roll,” Imogen whispered.
David knew exactly what he was doing. Knowing he was behind the camera of my first green screen appearance definitely made me feel a lot better about it.
However, I was absolutely NOT ready to admit to anything. We still had to go to dinner after the show.
When I walked out of the studio, I was surprised to see the television in the makeup room was delayed. I saw myself on screen, smiling. “Imogen Robinson, channel 13 news,” I said with my image.
It was surreal seeing myself in the television screen. It was like I was looking at someone else, smiling and chatting with Alex and Javier like it was nothing new.
“IMMI!” Fran raced into the room and bear hugged me. “You were awesome! And I would go check your Twitter feed to see how many guys are hitting on you, hot stuff.”
“I don’t have a Twitter feed.” I had never thought to get one. I always tweeted through the paper. And I used Facebook way more anyway.
“Oh, tsk tsk, Immi,” Fran said, folding her arms. “We’ll have to fix that. It takes thirty seconds to set up.”
“Do I have to?”
“Yes,” called Michelle from her desk. “Most reporters have a Twitter feed. Let Fran help you. She’s the social media genius around here.”
I sighed. “Fine.”
Fran grinned. “What do you want your handle to be?”
“That works. How about ‘at Reporter Imogen’?”
“Reporter Imogen.” I shrugged. “Simple enough.”
“Great!” Fran began typing furiously. After a few moments, she looked up at me. “Ok, now I’m gonna have you follow a bunch of us.”
“Wait, wait, don’t I get to decide who I want to follow?” I asked.
“Well, yeah, but I’m starting you off because you need my help with EVERYTHING, clearly.”
I opened my mouth to retort, but I decided against it when I saw David out of the corner of my eye walking toward us. “I don’t have time for this,” I muttered, turning toward him. “Hey.”
He smiled sheepishly. “Hi.”
Fran looked up. “Hi David! Wasn’t Immi good on air today?”
He glanced at me. “She was wonderful.”
I felt myself start to blush. “Let’s go grab food,” I muttered, trying to escape. “I’m starved.”
“Sure, let’s go,” David said, still smiling.
We walked out of the newsroom together.
As much as Imogen said she hated me, I knew the truth. She adored me, because she was head-over-heels for David. And I got them together. She wouldn’t hate me for long.