Lonely Weekend
Author: Samason Hill

Chapter 7
Three Square Feet

VII

 

Things had looked promising for John O’Leary. Starting out carrying sound for the local ABC affiliate, John was doing special interests in no time.  He soon got an offer from down state and got his teeth capped - in a market like that, you can’t afford to go half way.  All indicators were that he would get picked up by the nationals - he even had a short name that was easy to say.

 

Then he met her.

 

He didn’t want to do it - it wasn’t really his thing and he wasn’t ever involved in that kind of stuff before.  But the lure was there; he took it and found himself swimming in a much too large pond with really big fish.

 

It seemed like a cut and dry scandal.  Middle-aged Councilman, married with two kids, younger assistant.  Assistant sets ultimatum - no more afternoon dictation and weekend junkets until he moves out of his house and files for divorce.  Councilman calls it quits, fires assistant, assistant goes to the press, namely John.  John breaks the story, gets a pat on the back, maybe a step up.

 

Except it didn’t go down quite like that.

 

John played the odds and lost.  Any fool would have believed the assistant.  She was hot and the Councilman was often away at undisclosed locations. 

 

Any fool would have checked the source.

 

When the story broke, the Councilman held a press conference and explained that the assistant had made repeated advance toward him and after several reprimands and sessions that included his wife and pastor he had decided to let her go.  This still may have gotten the standard NYC reaction of “ya, right” if his wife, his priest, and the director of the homeless shelter that he volunteered at anonymously two weekends a month weren’t standing behind him at the lectern.

 

After the assistant’s suicide note admitting that she’d lied and her psychological records (it seemed her father had abandoned her and her mother when she was two and she had endured a long parade of “new daddies”) were made public, John packed up and headed back home to Buffalo.

 

He called himself a freelancer now.  This basically meant that if he didn’t sell a story, his mother (who he lived with) would have to give him money for lunch and cigarettes.

 

But he had his feelers out.  And he knew that he would someday be big news in the big news.

 

He was just sitting down for coffee at Holly’s Diner. It was the Tuesday after Presidents’ Day and he was glad to be out of the house and away from his Mom when his phone rang.

 

“O’Leary.”

 

“John, it’s Lee from Ace Maintenance.”

 

Lee worked for a building cleaning company that also had a biological disposal license.  This meant that if someone made a particularly nasty mess, Lee was likely to have to clean it up.  This more often than not was the result of dead or seriously injured person or persons.

 

“Whadayougot for me Lee.” John liked Lee and normally would have made some small talk, but he wanted to look as important as possible - his phone rarely rang in public (or anywhere else for that matter) unless it was his mother asking him if he had been to the employment office today.

 

“I might have something for you.  We just cleaned up after a murder on Brentwood and there wasn’t much blood.”

 

“That’s not very exciting, Lee.”

 

“No, wait.  They had already taken the body like they always do before they call us but I heard one of the cops say she bled to death and I thought that was kind of funny.”

 

“I’m not laughing, Lee.”

 

“There’s more.  Same deal?”

 

As a freelancer, John couldn’t afford to pay his informants up front, hell; he couldn’t afford a doughnut to go with his coffee so he paid on what he called a ‘royalty system’, “You know the deal, Lee.  If I get ink, you get paper.  Fifty bucks if I get a byline. Twenty for each follow-up”

 

“Right, OK. So I’m thinkin’ if this broad bled to death, where’s all the blood? You know I get a lot of these calls and there’s usually…”

 

“Lee, spare me.”

 

“…So there’s only about three square feet of carpet I gotta cut out...”

 

“I’m still not laughing.”

 

“I had another call just like it, four weeks ago.”

 

“Now, I’m hysterical.”

 

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