All the new that’s fit to print, and then some

Another from the archives. Originally posted January 2014

The prompt instructed: “Head to your favorite online news source. Pick an article with a headline that grabs you. Now, write a short story based on the article.”

Originally posted…about a year and a half ago…

I decided to go through my Twitter feed for news stories. I saw several posted by my little local weekly community rag. Most of them were police blotters, but the following tweet caught my eye: “@[Twitter acct] links are overrated. We’ve gone back to using carrier pigeons. But for you, sir: [http: // (….)].” I could only guess what the link was to, since it came up 404-Error when I clicked on it. But the tweet made me laugh. The following is my imagining of the story leading up to that tweet.

Alanewspapern had had it. Rebecca had missed yet another deadline, regardless the fact he had made what he considered to be a completely inappropriate threat to not only fire her, but refuse to give her a good reference if she ever did it again. He was sick and tired of her taking obvious advantage of the very annoying fact her popular monthly articles were the only reason anyone picked up a copy of his paper these days.

You’d think with all the convenience of email and cloud storage and whatever in the hell else, he’d have finally managed to get Rebecca in a corner with no more excuses for not getting her piece in on deadline. But she was an old dog like himself, and she no more respected the benefits the latest technology provided than anyone else of their generation.

He sat at his desk, lost in thought and frustration. The office line rang and he could hear the receptionist telling Jeff at the printers she had personally told Rebecca she was late. Things were going from bad to worse when the receptionist felt like she had to make excuses.

There were two people on staff whose sole purpose was not to create copy, but post it on the website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any number of other internet-related media accounts they managed for the paper. Like the printers and typesetters before them, they were solitary and mysterious about how their technology worked, and just like their antiquated predecessors, hysterical about timeliness.

“I can’t keep tweeting police reports, Alan, seriously,” one of them whined. “That’s not how it works if, like, you want people to actually give a shit.”

Alan ignored the insubordination.

“Have you even called her?” Twitter’s twit asked.

Alan raised his eyes and leveled a gaze at the kid. No matter how the world changed, on what seemed like a daily basis, some things have never lost their power. Twitter’s Twit shrank from Alan’s glare, slouching down behind his laptop, returning to whatever-in-the-hell it was he was tapping away at on his keyboard.

Alan got up and walked over to the other one, a girl, who at least had some sense of office decorum.

“Update the blog with the crazy email feedback Rick’s piece’s been getting,” he instructed her. “Ask Terry to proof before you do that.” He jerked his head toward the twit, “and ask Terry to draft three or four tweets.”

“I can do the tweets, man,” the kid called out. The girl rolled her eyes at Alan in camaraderie.

“Yes, and no,” Alan replied. Terry is good at writing captions and titles because he actually possesses a talent on the craft of writing, a talent for the news, and the experience the kid completely lacked, Alan thought to himself.

“He’ll give you whatever it is that you need to get people to,” Alan paused a beat, “how’d you put it, give a shit?”

As Alan started to walk back to his desk, the girl touched his arm. “You really do need to call her, or text or something. Honestly, there’s not that much more we can do to cover.”

He waved the girl off, and fell back down in his chair. With a sharp sigh he picked up the phone. He turned his back to the room and called his wife.

“I KNOW I KNOW,” she yelled as she answered. “I’m late! I’m working on the last edit… honestly I’m done… just this last…”

“Becca, just fuckin’ hit send. Jeff’s at the printer, sittin’ there waiting, probably pissed, and the kid’s making me nuts with his usual shit. Hon, please.”

Alan heard the telltale muffled sounds of the receiver held to Rebecca’s ear by her shoulder and typing at her computer. She didn’t reply.

“OK?” He pleaded, “We can’t drag it out any….”

“Shut up….lemme finish just this…”

“Dammit Becca, NOW!” he yelled. He felt the kid and the girl freeze somewhere in the room behind him. Rebecca hung up.

As Alan swung his chair back around he saw the kid standing and looking at him. He waited. “What?!” Alan asked impatiently.

The kid continued to stand in place with a flat expression on his face. “So, that guy’s at it again with his stuff about ‘where’s the link?’”

Alan turned to the girl. She shrugged, “I got nothing until Rebecca gets that article in.”

Alan got up and walked over to the kid’s desk. “Move,” he snapped.

The kid stepped back. Alan sat in his chair and scanned the screen. He clicked on ‘Reply’ and started typing.

“Where do I hit ‘enter?’” The kid pointed at the tweet button. Alan clicked on it, got up and went back to his desk.

The kid frowned, “What d’hell’s the link…” Alan didn’t reply. The kid looked over at the girl who was staring at her screen with a surprised look. The kid clicked on the link.

“Ho ho ho… hooo, man! Rebecca’s gonna…oh yeah.” He fell back in his seat, head back and laughing as he spun his chair around and around. “Thanks for f’in me over, man,” he muttered.

Alan looked up with the same leveled look as before, but this time he had a co-conspirator’s smirk.

“Don’t worry, kiddo. She’ll know it was me.”

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