I was foraging for Cheesy Poofs when the scrum began to stir. Sensing the disturbance, I set aside my appetite and leaned out of the live truck. There, across the street, a clutch of rogues and pirates were once again assembling outside Greensboro's federal courthouse. Squinting into the distance, I searched for hoisted lenses. Twenty minutes earlier, I'd helped form a corridor of glass as John Edwards, his daughter, parents, lawyers and (for all I know) personal hairspray caddy filed past. I'd scoured their every glower as they entered the courthouse, a musty building where my kind and camera weren't allowed. Fine by me. Back in my station's live truck, a small cooler packed to near hurricane status held the highlights of my day. Now, with said snacks nearly in my grasp, I had to grab my fancycam and hustle back across the street. Dodging traffic, I couldn't help but wonder what my high school valedictorian was doing this drizzly Monday.
Chances are he (she?) wasn't playing Frogger with the planet's most unpopular millionaire.
Once across the street, I slowed my roll. Hey, one doesn't bum-rush a federal courthouse - not unless one enjoys the taste of pavement with a side of highly shined boot. Me, I'm a lover (not a fighter), so I slipped in all quiet-like among the freelancers and network crews loitering by the entrance. At the top of the stairs, a man I'd come to know as Lord of the Feds was eyeballing his kingdom. At the curb, a few uniformed officers were standing around as only cops can. In the corner of my eye, I noticed a sound guy's boom pole was growing erect, its swarthy operator stroking the shaft. Now, I'm no network jet-setter with a list of fixer's phone numbers in my vest pocket, but I've taken in enough life through a tube to know when shit is fixin' to go down. Besides, a certain someone was fondling his own microphones nearby, a sure sign something recordable was about to happen. But what? All the expected players were already inside. Opening statements were on the day's agenda but for now, lawyers were still badgering possible jurors. Who could be rolling up now? Gloria Steinem? Nancy Grace? Carrot Top? (Ever seen 'em all three together? Hmmm? Have you?)
Don't answer. Just know that I was wracked with doubt as the camera crews drew close. Moments later our preternatural knack for self-preservation paid off when the Marshalls stiffened at the sight of an approaching sedan. The car slowed to a stop in front of the courthouse and though no one could really see inside, two dozen calloused thumbs twitched as tiny tally lights began to glow. My stomach rumbled as I pulled the vehicle into focus. That's when a driver the size of a Zamboni popped out and double-timed it around the parked car. Wondering just what I might say to Oprah, I loosened my grip and made sure I was rolling. Suddenly Andrew Young appeared, looking thick in the chest and pissed off everywhere else. John Edwards' opportunistic confidant returned the cameras' unblinking gaze with a prison yard stare of his own. I fought the urge to blow him a kiss and in an instant he was gone. But with photogs flanking the way, his six second journey to justice was well documented. In fact, it would bounce to outer space and back before he ever took the stand. I myself could not get back to my stash of snacks before receiving texts that I'd just made a cameo on Headline News. In the coming days, that fleeting footage would seep up and down the dial and flood the far reaches of the internet. Friends I rarely talk to would call and congratulate me, for what exactly, I do not know.
I'm just glad it happened when it did. Five more minutes and my furry mug would have been covered in smuggled cheese dust.
Then again, might have gone viral...