Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Two Minutes Out

"Two minutes out, guys…” Lars twisted the AirPod in his ear and nodded at the camera. The camera didn’t nod back. Neither did the shaggy man standing behind it. Lars barely noticed. All he saw were the concentric circles of the TV lens staring at him. He caught his reflection in it and thought about the tie he was wearing. As he did, he mumbled to himself. “That’s right, Nigel, those who live in this public housing unit are reeling in shock after a young girl…’ Lars’ voice trailed off as he kicked at a pebble with the toe of his Italian loafer. As he mumbled, he glanced up the street at a competing news crew. A striking blonde woman stood in her own puddle of light, holding a microphone by her side as a group of kids riding bicycles approached her. “You gonna move?” Huh?” Shaggy leaned into the light. “Are you gonna move? “Yeah, I’ll step out.” Lars looked back down at his phone and continued his monologue. “Police were first called here this morning when the mother of Beatrice Green found her bedroom empty…” “One minute…” barked the disembodied voice. Suddenly, the portable light Shaggy had set up off to the side went dark. Shaggy cursed and stormed off toward the car. Lars blinked, his eyes adjusting to the darkness. As he did, he made out the silhouettes of kids gliding up on bikes. None were over the age of twelve and from the looks of their beat up bicycles, not very far from home. They stopped just short of Shaggy’s camera and stared at the slim young man in his snug suit. Lars nodded at them, his lips moving silently over his script in the dim street light. “What happened to Beezy?” one of the boys asked. Lars eyes darted toward the group, before returning to the concentric circles. “I heard she dead.” said another boy. Lars scrunched his forehead and looked upward, still mumbling under his breath. “This gon’ be on the news?” a third boy asked as Shaggy walked up. “Yeah, little man, hang on.” Shaggy reached in and changed out the battery on then back of the light. When he did, warm illumination fell upon the public housing stoop, Lars standing on the bottom step, looking out of place in his shiny suit. “Thirty seconds.” Shaggy stepped in close to the tripod and leaned on it like an old friend. Lars cleared his throat and listened to the opening news theme in his ear, the  concentric circles now rotating as Shaggy twisted the lens. Why aint you sayin’ nothin’? the first boy asked, as he straddled a bicycle two sizes too small for him. Lars looked at the kid, then at Shaggy, who seemed to be picking his teeth. “Fifteen…” Suddenly, the striking young woman down at the corner began speaking loudly, her cadence quite dramatic. The boys turned and looked, two of them slowly rolling away just by picking up their feet. In Lars’ ears, another booming voice drowned out everything else. In overwrought tones, main anchor Nigel Lyerly read aloud sentences he was seeing for the first time. “A troubling discovery in the inner city, as police search for the person who led a little girl down a troubling path. Lars Parson joins us from where it all happened.” Lars honed in on the now glowing circles. Shaggy, the other reporter and the annoying little boys faded from his view. “That’s right, Nigel, those who live in this public housing unit are reeling in shock after a young girl was found badly beaten in an a community laundry room. But neighbors tell me, they knew the young girl was headed for trouble.” With that, Lars fell silent as a director back at the station punched to his pre-recorded piece. Lars rocked back and forth in his expensive shoes as the boys whispered among themselves. Shaggy leaned in to his viewfinder as if in a trance. He sat there frozen until Lars began speaking again. “With so few clues to go on, police say they’ll be here all night. CityBeat 12 will be there too, with Lexie Steller bringing you live updates at Ten and Eleven. Nigel?” Lars held his most dapper expression as Nigel moved on to a report about a truck in a lake. Only when Lars was certain the camera was no longer hot, did he relax, before making a beeline for his car, a low slung roadster he’d never thought to pop the hood on. The kids on the bicycles watched Lars screech off into the night, then pedaled over to the other news crew, who were breaking down their equipment. Shaggy lit a cigarette and watched the boys roll away, before turning his attention back to his own gear. If he hurried, maybe he could grab a bite to eat before Lexie shows up and wants to start knocking on doors...

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