The Amazing Adventures of Sara Corel
A novel by Toomey
Chapter Twenty-nine: Interview
Winter was little more
than an annoyance to the Big Apple. Snow was pushed aside, the
subways ran as usual, city services were rescheduled or
worked around, some schools were (thankfully, to be sure) closed
occasionally, radiators rang with demands for more heat, the
bars were fuller and noisier, gridlock worsened, and the general
tenor of peoples' complaints changed as usual with the
But in the City That
Never Sleeps, work went on despite the temporary inconvenience
of a major snowstorm. Especially on the forty-fourth floor of
the old Daily Planet building, housing what was once a great
metropolitan newspaper, now successfully metamorphosed into
an international multimedia cable news conglomerate. They had
And Louise Layne had a
problem. She always had a problem, and it was always the same:
her boss, the star of the show she produced that bore his name
'Deep Inside with Ken Clark'.
In a way, she was the
victim of her own success. He'd always somehow managed to be the
interviewer who landed the Big One the newsmaker of the
moment, the happening celebrity, the head of state or captain of
industry, the lucky or unfortunate wretch who commanded the
attention of the world for a brief moment of immortality. His
insightful probing put a human face on the events the world
cared about. His easy familiarity with the powerful and famous
bridged social and cultural chasms between the unapproachable
and the unwashed.
Only it wasn't
necessarily Ken Clark who did the considerable dirty work
involved in bullying, bribing, cajoling, threatening, pleading,
stampeding, blackmailing, groveling or outright lying to get
these self-important bozos in line to kiss his feet. He wasn't
the one who did the research needed to come up with the 'facts'
behind the 'insightful probing' that let his subjects spin their
stories just the way they wanted in order to further their own
agendas. And his 'easy familiarity' was born of only one thing
a narcissistic proccupation with his own bloated ego that
brooked no rival to his overweening self-importance.
So it was up to Louise
regularly accomplish the impossible, scoop the
competition and set him up for another triumph. Which, for the
most part, she had been able to do. She was good, after all.
Tough and persistent, savvy and smart. Years of effort on her part had made it so that an appearance
with her boss defined importance in the perceptions of
superstars and Joe Sixpack alike.
maybe too much. Everyone everyone was focused on
one incredible newsmaker.
Whoever nailed down
the elusive little girl with the 'S' on her chest was going to
win the biggest prize possible. Terms like 'interview of the
century' were woefully inadequate to describe such an event.
Louise stared morosely
at the swirling storm in the evening gloom outside her nearly
frosted-over office window. Try as she might, she couldn't come up with an angle
that was any better than anyone else's. The little brat just
wasn't part of the interconnected network of associations and acquaintances
that encompassed 'normal' movie stars, politicians, thinkers and
doers. There were no favors to call in, no dirty laundry that
she could discover, no discernable prejudices or worthy causes
she could exploit, and the creature didn't even appear to have
an agent. It was very frustrating.
Her boss summoned
her into his inner sanctum. She scurried in obediently. His tall,
impressive frame was leaning back comfortably in the big chair behind his
desk, the trademark curl of jet-black hair dangling across his
brow in a calculatedly insouciant manner. He was wearing his
prop glasses, which meant he was currently portraying his
'professional newsman' character. Louise knew it was all part of a carefully crafted image that
constituted his principal talent, one that had little to do with
any kind of legitimate credentials. His whole purpose for being
revolved around his looking and sounding authoritative, charming
and well manly. His persona had nothing to do with being
a mild-mannered reporter and everything to do with the
perception at least in his own mind that he was some
kind of journalistic superstud.
Louise," he greeted her, "Got me a date with the alien
it," she mumbled.
Ken looked impatient.
"It's been what nearly a month since she was all over
the news with that quake stuff in Tokyo
she corrected inaudibly.
and you still
haven't even talked to her people yet. What's the holdup?"
appear to have any 'people'. At least, not the kinds of 'people'
I usually deal with."
'people'. I have 'people'
That would be me,
so get her
'people' to talk to my 'people'. How hard can it be?"
"Well, she has
friends, and even a lawyer," Louise told him. "But
they're not talking to anyone in the media. It's not just me
"I'm surprised at you,
Louise. You've never had this kind of difficulty before."
How would you know?
"Show me what
you've got so far," he commanded, beckoning her to come
behind his desk.
She dropped a folder
in front of him. Pictures spilled out, some taken at the NASA
news conference, some grainy and ill-focused screen shots from
amateur videos, and a few obvious surveillance-type paparazzi
"There's quite a
cast of characters surrounding her," she said, pointing to
several of the photos. "Apparently, she lives with some old
guy who evidently found her and his girlfriend, a
semi-notorious 'worthy cause' lawyer who used to work for Bruce
distastefully at Dinah's picture, an intimidating pose caught
while she was snarling at the trespassing cameraman.
"The kid used to
hang out with a bunch of skaters, but they basically have the
attention span of trout, with a vocabulary to match. They're
She went on.
"There's a bunch of retired Ru