I sit in my studio, listening to the new bullshit propaganda. "Call us at..." The show host murmurs out, as if it were her last breath. Watching the time, I carefully plot out my next move. "Free access..." The guest enthusiastically replies, in an overly ecstatic voice.
Ppfft I light my lighter. Fftt I light my cigarette. Breathe in... breathe out... Oh, it feels so damn good. I thought, smiling at my first cigarette of the hour.
I continue watching the time, contemplating my next hour’s show.
Crack...Creek... The door opens behind me. In one quick swoop, I take the pen I am writing reports with, and throw it at the person who just tried sneaking in. Nice... right in the jugular. I say to myself. "Get the fuck out, Skippy!! You fucking idiot! The red light was on!" I yell, pointing to the lit ‘on air’ box above the door. I was pissed he made me lose my train of thought.
Skippy curdles out a lame joke "I thought it was the red light district." He then collapses to the floor, gripping the pen in his neck. I shook my head in disgust, and turned back around to settle in to my chair. I grabbed another pen and went on with my work, as if nothing was wrong.
The boss, Mr. Imp, runs into the studio and abruptly raises his voice. "What happened?!" He asks, shocked, as he looked around the room for answers.
"Nothing." I said, nonchalantly, not even looking up from my paper.
"Our goal..." The guest stated, sounding like they were trying to sell horse shit to pigs.
The show was still going on and had five minutes left, while everyone who heard the commotion, was standing around watching Skippy bleed to death.
"Why did you do this?" The local sheriff asked me as I sat in a dark, damp, room.
"Because he needed to be taught god damn lesson." I said angrily, lighting up the second cigarette of the hour.
"He’s such a fucking alkie, he never knew any better. He’s always going into work drunk off his fucking rocker. He complains about his teeth, so he goes into Boston every day to get them worked on. I hate to tell you, but his teeth are piss yellow, and they’re new! He drinks all the time." I suggested, eyes raised, as I waved off the notion as if it were a pesky fly.
"Well, I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but he really never drank. He had no alcohol in his system. He was pure straight edge." The cop informed me, as he leaned over the table, arms wide open, as if to accept a peace offering.
"You’re shitting me." I replied, in awe.
"No, ma’am. Skippy never drank." He casually stated, sitting back into his chair.
"Bullshit!" I angrily replied, as I threw my cuffed hands on to the table, accidently dropping my cigarette. We both watched it comically fly in the air and drop to the ground.
"Seriously." The cop responded, eyes following the rolling Marlboro.
"Well give him a fucking alcohol test." I demanded, sliding my hands off the table, as I leaned over my chair. I placed both hands onto the floor as I picked my butt up and took a drag off of it.
"Can’t. He’s dead." The cop said, unapologetically frowning, as he took a cigarette out of his shirt pocket and lit it up, as if my flying tobacco stick was nothing out of the ordinary.
"No shit?" I questioned, snuffing out my Red in a disposable water cup.
"Uh huh." He stated, taking a drag of the filter, as if my questioning his enquiries meant the cement was finally dry under the carpet.
"Nice." I smirked out.
"All rise" A voice boomed from a back corner. Everyone stood up and there I was, handcuffed, chained to a table. The judge walks in and sits at his bench. "Be seated." He stated, looking around the room. I quickly surveyed the area around me and noticed the place was completely filled. It was packed tighter then a vacuum sealed storage bag. It was worrisome, but I shrugged it off to gawkers.
The trial got started at eight AM, two days after my questioning. My co-workers took the stand, one after the other. The story was all the same; Skippy was a great guy and he would never harm a fly. What the fuck? I kept thinking, as I witnessed their lies.
My turn to talk came around noon. I took the stand in my ‘cuffs. "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?" The bailiff asked.
"Yup." I smirked, taking my left hand off the book and lowering my right.
The lawyers questioned me about all the bullshit that happened. "You have been working with the station for over a year now, correct?" The tight wad of a bitch lawyer asked. She looked as if she’s never had a good fuck or shot of tequila in her life.
"Correct" I smugly answered.
God, this sucks. I thought.
"You’ve known Skippy for that duration of time, correct?" She asked, as she started pacing the floor.
"Yup" I replied, watching her roam. She kinda looks like a free range stuffed chicken, squawking out asinine questions. I kept thinking, as I heard her fuck me pumps clack on the tiled floor. Her mid-calf length power dress suit has not even moved an inch, due to it being unbelievably tight on her. She probably can’t even fucking breathe in that thing. I snorted to myself.
"In that time, has he ever done anything to offend you?" The lawyer questioned, stopping to face me.
This is bullshit I thought.
"Yup" I answered, a bit annoyed at the grade school call and answer type of questions.
"What has he done?" She asked, looking me straight in the eye.
Am I two?! I wondered to myself, secretly laughing at the question.
"Well..." I trailed.
I told the court all about Skippy’s antics and how he "sexually flirts and touches the staff. He offered an underage co-worker to go have a drink with him, where he was already liquored up at the time. He also said he would take them home, right after they indulged him in the pleasure of a cocktail."
What a fucktard I thought.
Finally, I was allowed to go back to my chair. The trial that day got over at five PM. One month later, we were still there.
"All of a sudden, the trial ended. After three hours of deliberation from the jury, I found myself here, talking to you." I said, as if I had no cares in the world.
"Wow." Calista said, stunned.
"I guess I’m gonna be rooming with you too." I quickly added. I sat down on my cot and took my shoes off.
"Okay, okay. That’s cool. So how long are you here?" Calista asked, rubbing her eyes, as she laid down on her cot and faced me.
"I’m here for life, because, uhm, I left something out." I stopped, trying to think of whether or not I should tell her. I scratched my head, debating on what I should do.
"Tell me, please?" she asked, like a kid interested in the latest bed time story.
"I attacked my boss, soon after the trial. I had gotten out of the grasp of the security and tried to strangle him." I stated, as if I had told that part a million times. I positioned myself so I was leaning against the wall.
"Wow. That’s so unreal." Calista said in awe.
"Well, you do what you gotta do." I shrugged. "I was so filled with hate, I almost killed
him." I continued.
"Shit, man." Calista unbelievably remarked.
"Yup. I know" I stated, a little sarcastically.
All of a sudden, the lights went out. "Lights out. Time for bed." Calista stated, rolling on to her back.
"Are you serious?! It’s only eight thirty." I couldn’t believe it. I’d never gone to bed that early before.
"Uh huh. Wake up is at five forty five AM. That’s why. Remember, we’re locked up; not on vacation." Calista explained, getting comfortable under her sheets.
"Shit. All right." I said, a little upset about having to go to sleep so early. I got under the covers of my bed and drifted to dreamland.
Two years later, Calista and I are best of friends. We were in the courtyard, finishing up our two hour "recess". Calista and I were watching the rest of the women meander around, as if they were so bored, they didn’t know what to do with each other. I lit a cigarette as Calista and I continued to talk.
"So, I’ve been here for two years, and we’ve been cell-mates the whole time. We chill and do everything together. We’re like the godfathers cos heads come to us for shit." I said, taking a puff off my cigarette.
"Yea, I love it." she said, smiling, taking a fresh Newport out of the box.
"Me too." I grinned through a cloud of smoke. "So my question is," I continued, as I looked at my cigarette longingly before tapping the ashes off. "You never told me why you’re here." I said as I took another puff of the Marlboro and then looked up at Calista.
We hung back for a few minutes before joining the others. I was interested in knowing what she did wrong.
"Uhm..." Calista trailed off, flicking out her Newport. "It’s a long story." She smiled as we started to make our way back into the building.
Do people not think before they pop into the studio to talk to me? The On Air light is on and people fucking have to walk in as if I’m not reading a live spot. I thought, three months after my parole hearing ended. I was in the Correctional Facility for five years; and I was starting to miss hanging out with Calista and seeing the regular people there. My time was better controlled, and ironically, I felt freer behind those steel bars, then I currently do behind the glass walls of my studio.
My first day back there gave me a hectic welcome back party. April Fools definitely brought me fools alright. Since it was Friday, the Dark Giant came in to cover for the Hyena, who normally covers for the Dark Giant. Why, I don’t know. The Hyena was off possibly whoring himself somewhere again. Who the hell cares. Certainly not me. The Dark Giant had played a joke with our news guy, Barney, that led callers to rant on how awful we really are. I stood there producing, wondering how the hell I could survive the day. It’s so tempting to do what I did to Skippy on someone else.
The day wears on and it’s almost noon. The light was on, as usual, and I had about a dozen people running in and out of my office. What the fuck I thought, as I was eating my lunch. I’m listening to the past hour show wrap up, and my boss, Mr Imp, comes in.
"What" I asked him, unamused, taking the light off and the ear buds out of my ears. He was poking around for a few minutes and immediately went out of the room empty handed. Just as I shrug it off, he comes back in. Same thing. He looks around the studio, this time asking "Why’s the light on?". Before I could answer, he looks at the secretary and continues, motioning as he points to me and leaves "Come in, Blaine. Ask her your question". Blaine comes in and questions me at rapid succession.
"What’s number 49?" She asks, paper and pen ready.
I answered and she immediately retaliates "How about 50, and can you print a list out of the computer for me?"
Leave me alone, you fucking idiot. You know damn well you need to shut the fuck up or die already. Maybe both. I’m still on the fence about that. But every five minutes you come in with the same damn question. Fucking. Shit. I thought, rolling my eyes and answering her queries for the hundredth time of the day. "No, we don’t have a printer attached to this computer. Plus, this screen doesn’t allow you to print." I responded, pointing to the screen I was in, as I was a tad annoyed that she kept asking the same thing over and over again. She couldn’t seem to get it right. Fucking dumb blonde. I thought. What a ditz.
The noon show comes and goes, as they say my entire name on the air. Plus the fact I have to train a new guy for the sport games. Definitely not a good idea. I have a feeling he’ll be taking over that show soon enough.
"The people here don’t like taking orders" The Wig Lady whispers to her guest, off the air. She motions to me next door, as I stood at the control board. Damn, if I could only jump through that window and strangle her. And to think she thought I didn’t hear her. I laughed at myself. That broad needs to be taught a lesson. Always thinking no one hears her through the "sound proof" walls as she whispers, into the microphones, to her guests. You’ve been in this business longer then the updated twentieth century technology, you old bat. You should know better. I thought, shaking my head in disgust as I continued snickering and played another commercial.
As the commercial was running its course, the bullshit happens again. The light was on, and in comes Imp. I have a knife in my hand because I was trying to finish my lunch I started earlier. Quick flip of the wrist, knife goes through his heart.
"I should have done that the first time, asshole." I slurred, so pissed he came in without looking at the light. With the commercial ending and the show back on the air, the guests were wrapping up. Two minutes to go and the only person huddling over Imp was Blaine. No one else was there long enough to care.
The show ended, and so did Blaine. I had a switch blade knife in my back pocket. It is a very urban city, by the way. I quickly took the blade out and forcefully sliced her neck. Two down; about three to go. I thought; smirking as the people left the room next door.
The guests freak out when they saw what I had done. Better watch out, bitches. You’re next! I thought as I ran to Blaine’s desk and grabbed a pair of scissors. I snatched them, breaking it apart for both blades to be separate, and beat the people to the door. Swiftly, I stabbed both guests with each blade. "Two birds with one stone, fuckers." I slyly said to them, grinning like a Cheshire cat.
I then ran in to the back room, grabbed a CD, broke it, and used a piece to cut The Wig Lady. "That’s what happened to Skippy. And that is what’s happening to the station. The whole reason no one communicates, biatch." I spat out and walked casually into my office.
I lit and finished a cigarette I had started an hour before and went in to the hall. I scanned what I did and called 911. "Nine one - one, what type of emergency is this?" the woman asked. I told her, anonymously mind you, that I found five people dead via various ways. She told me she’s sending police and paramedics, and to stay on the line. I hung up on her and left. Just as I walked casually off the elevator, the cops showed up.
"Where’s the station?" the Sergeant asked me in a huff.
"Third floor." I said, pointing up. Dumb bacon. I just killed those fuckers. Your key suspect is slipping through your grasp. I thought as I grabbed the packet of cigarettes out my pocket, lit one up and went home.
"And that’s what happened?" Eddie questioned, eyes raised, as he stood by me, smoking his cigarette. We were standing outside the Superior Court as the trial was going on. Eddie, Tony, and I were the last ones left at the station. Our trial consisted of questions such as what we did, how long we’ve been there, when and where we worked, and why I was in court again, considering my past. However, I was not in hand cuffs. Good on me, I kept thinking.
"You can’t rat me out, ok?" I tried to plea with Eddie, as I threw my cigarette on the ground, and watched it roll down the sidewalk.
"I know" he said, dropping his cigarette on the cement and stomping it out.
"I figure, your reputation at the station, Tony and my skills on the equipment, how about the three of us run the place and start brand new? You could be the Operations Manager, I could be the Program Manager, and Tony could be the "Specialist"?" I questioned my friend.
Thinking it over, he dug into his pocket and pulled out another cigarette. He offered me one and I took it. Lighting up, he said, "I think that could work." We both spent the rest of the cigarette watching the traffic down Main Street.
Three weeks later, the trial was over and Eddie, Tony, and I rebuilt the station. We refurnished, refurbished, and rewrote what the station stood for. The trial was the most bullshit thing I’ve ever been at. They told me I was being watched by them, since I was the only one that had a previous record, and currently on probation.
We made the station one of the top AM stations in the world. Not only were we the most talked about Talk Radio, we had hot and fresh releases during the night, and an internet following. We were politics free from 6AM until 3PM, unless a host wanted a show on government issues. But, it had to be on our terms. From 3PM until dawn, we had all kinds of new music playing. Rap, Rock, Hip-Hop, Soul, Funk, Jazz, Indie, Alternative, you name it. It was being played.
One day, about four years later, we had an incident. It was like no other. I was on call that week and I received a phone message from Tony. Someone had done it again. All the people at the station were dead, including Valerie, a woman who had occasionally worked with us prior to the killings.
When I arrived at the station, the cops were swarming all over the place. It looked like a scene out of a police show. Considering no one knew I had hidden cameras installed in each room, I went into my office to review the days happening.
Four hours later, I came out of my office to find the sheriff who originally arrested me, shackle me up again.
"Why’d you do this again, man?" The cop asked, as I sat in the room I was questioned in, nine years prior.
"I don’t know what you’re talking about, Copper." I stated, unimpressed, as I reached for my Reds.
"Stop bullshitting, Alex. I know you killed your employees." He said, coldly staring me down as I lit a cigarette.
"Seriously, let me go. I’m innocent, and you know it." I casually attempted to plea, as I dragged on the filter of my butt. Who the fuck did this? I thought, playing with the ‘cuffs on my wrists. At least I wasn’t chained to a chair this time.
The cop pulled out a DVD and dropped it into the player that was sitting in the corner of the room. He wheeled the table that the machine and TV were on towards me, pressed play, and sat down. Ooh, we get to watch a movie. I hope it’s Monster’s Inc. I love that movie. I thought, as I got comfortable in the seat.
"Watch the TV, please." He stated, pointing to the fuzzy screen. He turned on the DVD, and a black and white recording came into focus. It was the pictures from my office! How the hell they got the tapes, I will never know.
"What the hell is this?!" I asked as I continued to watch a blurred image shoot and kill all the people working there. It was like I was watching some top secret tapes from Columbine.
"This," the cop stated, pointing to the screen. "is you murdering your employees" he finished, grabbing his own Newport cigarette from his pocket and lighting up, as if his pause was the answer to all my questions on God.
"Where did you take this?" I asked, shocked.
"From your office" he bluntly stated, as if I were stupid. Well that answers my question. I rolled my eyes. Guess they snuck in before I got there.
My questioning went on for three more hours. It was just back and forth as to why I did it again, do I realize that if I go back to jail, I could never get out, and other corrupted ramblings. Finally, they let me go and we started the trial the next day, considering they had "circumstantial" evidence on me now.
The trial went on for what seemed like decades, but it was only three months. They found me guilty because of those damn movies. I knew one day that they’d come to bite me in the ass. Guess I should have told Eddie about them.
"So you’re here, because you pleaded insanity and need a therapist to talk to?" My jail appointed therapist, Nick, asked, as I sat chained to a chair in his office. I am now a life long member of Bellevue Hospital, New York’s most prominent mental facility.
"Uh huh" I muttered, as I tried to wiggle around in order to get a cigarette. "Can I please be unchained to get a smoke?" I whined, as if I were five and wanted a piece of candy before bedtime.
"You know you can only be unchained in your room, or, until you can prove you won’t attack anyone." he said, reaching over his desk to my shirt pocket to get my smokes. Considering I am not allowed to carry matches and lighters, it’s been hard for me to go without smoking.
"Thank you" I said, as he put the cigarette in my mouth and lit it for me. "But you know I’ve been good." I continued, taking a puff.
"Welcome" He replied, taking his own cigarette out of the pack, as he sat back down. "You see, you’ve not been here that long. You’ve got to prove to everyone that you can handle yourself." he continued, pointing the cigarette at me accusingly, before lighting it.
"I can’t make any promises." I shrugged, struggling with my cigarette.
"Not asking you to." Nick replied, reaching for the half finished butt from my mouth and flicking it into a nearby ashtray.
"Fine." I said, blowing a ring of smoke at him.
I’ve been seeing Nick for one year already, and in that time, I have gotten the chains off me, as well as getting a matchbook every two weeks; so I have to use my lights carefully. I sit in my little white room, which is no bigger than a handicap bathroom. I am waiting for them to let me out so I can see Nick and discuss my week.
Slowly, I am letting the reigns go and am getting to be on my own. Every day that I get a new freedom, I get to feel free. Click. The lock gets unlocked. "Come on, Alex; time to go." The orderly for my ward says.
"Cool. Let’s cause some ruckus, Petey. I want to stir up some trouble." I smirk out, as I get up off the floor from sitting in the corner, having finished my writings for the moment.
"You know I can’t let you do that." He frowned sympathetically, as if he could win brownie points from me. He moved out of the threshold to let me through.
"I know, but I still want to run free." I replied, smiling, arms spread out as I ran my fingers along the cool walls of the hospital. The long corridor made the walk to Nick’s office seem like I could fly, as Petey walked below me to make sure I wouldn’t flutter away.
I’ve been in this place for too damn long. I wrote in my journal. I’m now five years in Bellevue. I get my smokes and lights every day, so I get to smoke when ever and where ever I want. Gotta love it.
My term here so far has been pretty adventurous and adventitious, to say the least. I see Nick every two weeks and I even get a bigger room. I now have a space that makes my old corner that not only look, but feel like a stall. Although it’s only 10 ½ by 10 feet, it’s so much bigger. I’m working on getting a room with a view.
Click. My door gets unlocked. Yes, I still get locked in. It’s the only thing holding me down. Petey opens the door and tells me I have a phone call. "Who is it?" I asked, looking up from my journal. I closed the pen inside the book and placed it next to me on the floor.
"Some girl. Ce-Ce, I think she said." He told me, scratching his freshly buzzed head.
"Calista?" I asked, wide eyed, actually excited to hear she’s on the horn. "And nice haircut." I smirked flirtatiously.
"Yea, thanks." Petey blushed.
"Sweet. Ya gonna let me talk to her?" I asked, scooting out of my corner. I still have that habit of sitting in the corner as I write. It keeps me concentrating. I move my book a few inches away from me so I can get up to walk towards the door. Petey nods yes, as he walks me to the ward desk. I was so glad to talk to my best friend, I could hardly contain myself.
"Hey, Cali. What’s good?" I enthusiastically asked, picking up the phone.
"What’s up, ‘Lex? Long time no see." Calista exhaled. I could tell she was smoking.
"I know... What have you been up to? I am bored as shit here in New York." I sarcastically rolled my eyes at Petey.
"I bet you must. It’s so empty down here in the CF without you. I still run, you know, but it’s nothing with you not here." Calista glumly stated.
"Word?" I replied. "I heard that I may get out of the Vue soon. I could visit." I suggested.
"For real?" Calista asked.
"Yea, rumor has it that since I have been here so long, I could get out on good behavior." I laughed.
"That’s what’s up" Calista chuckled. "Well, I just wanted to check in with you and see how you’re doing."
"Cool. Thanks." I said, shuffling through my pockets for my smokes.
"By the way, how’s the station? You hear anything?" Calista asked, not wanting to hang up.
"Actually, Eddie called me yesterday evening." I responded. I had found my pack and lit up. "He said that the station had to shut down for two years after what had happened, as you know." I continued, implying there may be an extra admission somewhere.
"Yea." Calista said.
"Well, once they re-opened, they hired more people and got rid of the bad karma. The publicity actually made them more known." I said, watching Petey glare at the clock, then to me.
"Oh?" Calista questioned me.
"Uh-huh. So Eddie and Tony are currently running the place, hoping I’ll get out and go back." I said, with great ease and excitement.
"Wow, those are friends." Calista assured.
"I know." I paused, looking back at Petey. "Hey, I hate to do this, but I got to go. We’ve been talking for over an hour and I’m now being clocked. Maybe I’ll talk to you later?" I asked, not wanting to let my friend go. I stood there playing with the filter of my cigarette in the ashtray next to the phone.
"Sure, sure." Calista replied. "So I’ll talk to you another time, babe. You know where I live." She said.
"Yup." I smiled. "Talk to you soon." I finished and hung up the phone.
I started walking back to my room and Petey tried to stop me in my tracks, grabbing my arm, he said, "Hey, you forgetting something?"
"Uh, no" I said innocently, as I turned around to face him.
"Yea, you just missed forty five minutes of your visit with Nick." he said, looking at his watch.
"Shit." I had forgotten all about it. "Can I still get in?" I asked, as I started to walk towards Nick’s office.
"Yes. He cancelled his next two appointments. He’s waiting for you." Petey said as he walked with me.
"Oh shit. He didn’t have to do that." I said, concerned I’d get reamed out.
"Well, he’s been a little upset because you skipped out early last time." Petey stated, trying to come up with better excuses.
"It wasn’t my problem. He was pissing me off." I shrugged out a reply, thinking about that session.
Nick and I discussed my recent shortcomings, the call with Calista, and the rumor about me leaving.
"What would you do if you left?" Nick asked, intrigued I was actually talking.
"Well, Eddie said I’m welcome back at the station. He kept my job open." I said, reaching for my first smoke of the day. I’d gotten into the habit of placing my Reds and Bic right in front of me on Nick’s desk. I’d always feel awkward groping my pockets in search for them otherwise.
"Are you sure you want to go back to that environment?" He asked, taking a cigarette from the pack next to his coffee. Damn, he’s gotten old and decrepit. He used to be hot and sexy. I thought as I watched him light up.
"Yea, I can handle it." I assured him, as I took a puff from my Reds.
"Well, I can arrange a probationary hearing next week for you, but you’re going to need to check in with me three times a week and you need to write down everything you do." Nick said, taking a drag from his cigarette.
"O...k..." I said, enthusiastically unsure.
"Don’t I do that anyway?" I quizzed, flicking my ashes.
"Why are you questioning it? I thought you’d be excited." Nick questioned me, as he grinned through a smoke ring for added emphasis. "It’s the fact you’ll be out of here, so it’s a precaution." He continued, taking a sip of his coffee.
"Well, it’s the tedious things you want me to do. It’s bullshit." I tried to reason.
"A cigarette please." Nick said, opening his desk draw and pulling out a quarter filled shoe box of smokes. I’ve had to give up one cigarette per swear in each session. It’s helped a lot. The cigarettes in the box are from the past year. I reached for the box and dropped a new butt in.
"Anyway, we’ll see what happens." Nick said, putting the box back in his desk.
"Sure, I guess." I said, sighing, giving in and almost unwillingly coming to my senses.
Nick got me a hearing a week later, and there I was, the third time in fifteen years at a trial. It went by real quick; only lasted about a week. Part of the judicial sanction was I had to have a GPS monitor. Otherwise, check in with Nick three times a week, keep a log, and behave. Eddie picked me up and we drove to the station on the last day of the trial.
"So what have you been up to all these years?" Eddie asked, as we pulled into the parking lot. As if he didn’t know. I thought.
"You know, same old shit." I shrugged. "Been locked in a room for most my days, talking and writing it out." Wow, I thought, I just swore and didn’t have to give up a cigarette. Nick probably smoked my cigs. Free smokes for him. Bastard. I snickered.
"What?" Eddie asked, looking my way.
"Nothing." I smiled. I was happy just to be out of New York and at work with my friend. Why go on about trivialities?
"Well, I wish you hadn’t left us. I missed you." Eddie frowned, looking at me, as we took the elevator to our floor.
"I know. I missed you too." I frowned back. I honestly did. The longer I stayed away from him, the more I felt myself die. "But the fucked up thing is, that wasn’t me on the tapes. I was set up." I implored out my reply, trying to quickly change the subject.
"I figured." Eddie shrugged. "I reviewed the tapes. That clearly wasn’t you." He continued as I followed him into his office.
Sitting down, I replied, "So you’re not mad about the hidden cameras?" I scrunched my nose.
"No, not at all. In fact, that was a good idea." He lit up a cigarette. "I have been using the same concept since. Although people have been stealing massive shit, there’s been nothing major to report. Plus, I tweaked the focus. Now people are clear as day." He smiled through a puff of smoke.
"That’s good. Glad to hear" I nodded enthusiastically, lighting up my own Red. "And thanks for fixing it." I answered, smiling at the fact I got to see that Cheshire grin of his that I adore.
Everything was falling back into place by the middle of the year. We had so many great events that I went to, and I loved every moment. I’m so happy that I’m finally out and free. It’s been a long time coming. I’ve got no urges to kill, yet the only thing I’ve been murdering have been liquor and smokes. I wrote in my journal. I turned on the FM on-air monitor in my office to listen to what was being played. All of a sudden, I get this odd sensation in my bones. The first thing I hear was "Here I go again, on my own...." as it rang in my ears.
"Here I go again on my own. Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known." The Whitesnake song blared over the monitors. My bones tingled, my eyes twitched, my brain went into overdrive.
All of a sudden, I felt myself get off my chair, walk to my file cabinet, reach in the bottom drawer, and pick up a blank CD. I felt myself lifting my knee to snap the disk and crack. Oops, the disk broke.
I open my office door, and I saw Eddie typing something at the front desk. "I hate this fucking place." he said angrily, cigarette dangling from his mouth, not even looking up.
"I know. Me too." I hastily replied, walking towards the on air studio.
I passed the rooms of computers that held the internet hubs, the AM studios, and finally, I entered the FM studio where the sound was coming from. I pushed the CD in the hosts’ neck and put the computer in autopilot. Considering we require our hosts to pre-record some of their show, I felt it was a good time to utilize the program.
The monitors were still blaring, playing the next round of songs. I moved swiftly into the AM studio to check the on air host there. He acknowledged my presence as he popped a CD of an interview that he worked on into the CD player, and had about half an hour to talk. After seeing this, I knew I had at least 20 minutes to "chat".
"What’s new, Berg?" I asked, leaning on the door frame, making sure he didn’t know I did something "wrong".
"Nothing, Alex. You know, same shit different day. I am doing the game with the Carp later. You going to be around?" He asked me, turning around to check the sound level of the CD.
"Yea. I should be. I think it’s going to be one of those days I’m swamped with work." I said, raising my eyebrows.
"Yea, I hear that." Berg said, rolling his eyes and motioning me to be quiet so he could go on air.
I left the studio to wind up back in my office. Eddie knocked on my door and walked in.
"Clipboard time." Eddie waved the metal object. "Give me two extra dollars for whatever carton you want." he continued. I reached in my back pocket, pulled out twenty five dollars, handed it to Eddie, and said "Reds, please." He took my money and checked my name off on the list.
As he stepped out my office, he turned back around to question me. "Are we on auto pilot in the FM studio?" I gave Eddie an "I don’t know" look.
"I have no idea. Want me to check?" I asked, starting to get up from my chair.
"Nah. I’ll do it. No worries. I’ll check now before I do the run. Do you want in on a case too?" Eddie asked, motioning me to sit back down.
I sat for a moment, thinking, and shook my head as I replied "No".
Eddie shrugged, shut my door, and headed out.
Two days later, the cops came around to question why we had another employee dead. This time, it was uneventful for them. They were unable to check the tapes because, ironically, the tapes weren’t running. It was two days of the cops snooping, and then the case was suddenly dropped. It was as if we were business as usual.
The day after the cops left, I was back in the swing of things. I had new events to promote, new employees to hire, and was able to hide the deed I did with ease. Eddie and Tony knew of my secrets, and I knew neither would rat me out. "You’ve got to cover your ass and cover your mouth in order to play the game." Eddie had once told me. Sure as hell I did! I knew which cameras to shut off and where they were hidden. However, I did not feel too well with knowing the cops had been lurking around. I’m not paranoid, but it’s eating at the back of my mind.
I wrote a report and wanted to leave my office to have a cigarette. It was nice out, so I felt like going outside to enjoy the weather. I walked over to my door, opened it, and there was my favorite cop, about to knock me down.
"Hey, Alex. What’s up?" He said, smiling.
"Nothing, Copper. Can I help you?" I asked, as my heart dropped to the floor.
"Oh, I just wanted to ask you some questions. You got a minute?" He said to me, as he motioned me back into my office.
"Well, I was about to have a smoke." I told him, flashing him my pack.
"You can smoke in your office." He replied as I backed into my desk, trying to walk towards my chair. "Plus, that crush proof pack looks like it’s seen better days." He attempted to joke.
"Fine, come in. Shut the door and sit down." I mumbled, giving in; a little upset he was here. I didn’t think about laughing at his joke. It wasn’t remotely funny. It’s not my fault crush proof boxes are shit. No wonder why I hate soft packs. These buggers are worse!
"Thanks." he smiled, trying to show that there were no hard feelings. He sat down in the chair across from me and lit a cigarette.
We talked about what had happened four days prior, why the cameras were off; how come no one called 911 right away. I told him that at the end of the day, we noticed the FM studio was on autopilot and no one called because we were not only scrambling to get the autopilot off and put news on, but we were trying to figure out what happened for ourselves.
He stayed for another half an hour, trying to get answers out of me. When I didn’t budge, he finally left and I was free to go out for that smoke that was originally intended.
One week later, another mistake happened. I was writing in my journal and someone knocked at my door. Without taking a break or looking up, I told whoever it was to come in. Barney walked into my office, asking me if I had change for a ten dollar bill. I nodded yes, put my pen down and pulled my wallet out of my back pocket. I gave him a five and five ones. He took the change and went to leave.
As he started to step out the door, I called him back in. "Barney, hold on. Can I ask you something?"
"Sure." he replied. He turned around to face me.
"Shut the door" I said, standing up. He closed the door as I ask him to sit down. I walked to the front of my desk to face him, as he made himself comfortable in the seat. I leaned against my desk and sternly said, "You know, you’re a good man, but I am afraid I have to let you go." He was shocked. As he tried to think of something to say, I reached out and grabbed his neck. I stood there, strangling the life out of him. A few minutes later, he sat in the chair, completely useless. I got up, checked myself over, and I became "calm". I lit up a cigarette and called Eddie into my office.
Eddie came in and saw me standing over Barney. I was attempting to make it look like I was resuscitating him.
"What the hell happened?!" Eddie said, confused. He stared quizzically at Barney, as if the man would magically jump back to life and tell us the truth.
"I don’t know. He just... stopped breathing." I said, finishing the burning cigarette I put in the ashtray.
"Christ, Alex. You call 911 yet?" He asked, looking at Barney lifelessly sitting in the chair.
"No. You’re the first one I called." I replied, turning to a full ashtray on my desk, and putting the cigarette out.
"Alright. Call 911 while I try to think of something." Eddie said, scratching the scruff on his chin.
I called 911 and waited in my office until the emergency crew came. The paramedics showed up first, then my favorite cop. "Alex, what happened? What did you do?" He asked, surveying my office, as if he expected blood to be spattered everywhere, and it tell him all the things he needed to know.
"Not a damn thing. You always think I did it." I retorted. "I was talking to Barney about what he had planned for the weekend. The next thing I know, he’s grabbing his neck and starts to gasp. He dies about a minute later. I don’t know what the hell went wrong." I continued, nonchalantly, almost sounding emotionally scared. Damn, I’m a good actor. I thought.
"Well, you know what this means, right?" The cop asked, looking directly at me.
"What?" I questioned, eyes raised, as if I were stupid. I was more annoyed, then caring to fake idiocy.
"It means I have to bring you into the station. We need to make this a formal investigation." He said, leaning forward against the chair in front of him.
"Why?" I asked, not wanting to leave. I did have work to do.
"Seeing how you were the last one to see Barney alive, your answers are not making much sense. We need to bring you in." The cop stated, grabbing the clipboard he placed on my desk.
Damn. I thought. Another time I’m brought into that pit and questioned. "Do I have to go out in cuffs?" I asked, not wanting to be shackled.
"Nope. You just have to come quietly." he replied, clipboard by his side.
Down at the station, I received the third degree as to what happened. My story stayed the same. I was talking to Barney one minute, and the next, he choked up and died. They made me stay for two hours; only after, to find out what had happened to the station while I was gone.
"You know that Jackson Browne song, "Stay / The Loadout", makes me want to become a roadie? I wish I were younger. It makes me sad in a way." Tony reminisced, shifting his weight in the chair.
"Come on, Tony. Answer the question." The cop said. Tony was in the same predicament I usually was in. Here he was, poor thing, sitting in the same dark room I usually sit in, getting interrupted by the same crooked sergeants.
"Answer what?" Tony asked, as he was trying to wiggle out of his handcuffs.
"Answer me the question of why you pushed Berg out the window." The cop said.
"I didn’t push him! He lost his balance, tripping over an unseen box. I merely tried to catch him so he wouldn’t fall!" Tony pleaded, almost in tears. He was so anxiously trying to leave, that he was starting to make himself sick.
"Well, you know we’ll have to keep you over night, right?" the cop asked.
"I’ll go, only if I can have my juicer." Tony quipped in a huff. He said this as a matter of fact, due to not really knowing why he was being interrogated. He knew he was innocent. No one ever believes the someone who’s ‘anti government’ and ‘anti establishment’.
Eddie walked into my office and sat down in a chair. He lit up a cigarette and waited for me to respond to him. I was free from two consecutive overnights in jail, and was busy typing a report.
"Yea?" I said, stopping to pick up my Reds. I took a cigarette and lit it, turning to face Eddie. As I took a puff, Eddie began to lecture me.
"We need to talk." He said. I felt as if I were being fired.
"Okay" I was unsure where this was going.
"Tony was locked up for the night yesterday. I had to pick him up this morning." Eddie stated, taking a drag of his cigarette.
"Why didn’t you tell me?" I asked, shocked. "What happened?" I continued, flicking my cigarette.
"I didn’t tell you because I figured you would have seen him. Apparently, they think he killed Berg." Eddie replied, getting up to reach a water in the mini-fridge.
"Really? Wow. Hey, pass me one." I said, acknowledging Eddie’s movement. Eddie threw me a water as he sat down to open his bottle.
"Yup. He said they questioned him all night. I don’t know all the specifics, but he claims he didn’t do it." Eddie stated, taking sip from the plastic container.
"I know." I said, taking a sip of my water. "I saw Berg fall. Tony was only trying to help. What the cops didn’t see, was the fact that Berg landed on the Carp’s car and killed Carp with the impact. I saw some hobo take the Carp to the woods next door." I continued, motioning to the trees across the street.
"No shit?" Eddie said, puzzled, looking past my head and out the window to the woods.
"Uh-huh. It was before they chained me up. I saw movement outside from the corner of my eye. I turned my head to see Tony’s shocked face sticking out the window. The ironic and fucked up thing is, cameras were rolling and I bet no one will care." I casually stated, as if this was normal.
"Think we better inform the police?" Eddie asked.
"Nah. Don’t need the hassle." I shrugged out my reply, as I finished my water.
"Bitch." Eddie snorted, as we both giggled at the remark.
Over the next two weeks, we had more odd happenings. Tony came back to work after taking a few days off and I noticed more people went missing. Although Tony stayed in his office, one by one we lost our people.
Ring. Ring. "Alex, line one!" Tony yelled from down the hall.
"Thanks!" I said, picking up the phone. "This is Alex, how may I help you?" I said, picking up a cigarette and lighting it.
"Yes," A deep voice said. "I know who’s next on the list to die." It said, and hung up.
"What the shit?" I questioned to the receiver. I hung up the phone and paged Eddie to come to my office. A minute later, he walks in.
"Yea?" He asked in a huff.
"Sit down." I said, taking a draw of my Red and pointing to an empty chair. "Some guy just called and said he knows who is next to die." I laughed as I told Eddie. The second I finished laughing, Tony barges in.
"Guys, you gotta see this." He frantically said. We stood up and followed Tony to the talk studio. There lying lifeless, was Mary, one of our prized hosts.
Mary was sprawled out over the table. She was on air one minute, and the next, she was silent. Thank fucking God someone offed her. Old bitty needed to retire anyway. I thought as Eddie rushed to put AP on. Tony dialed 911 and we were back to interrogation.
The cops swarmed our studios for the next week, watching our every move. I attempted to stay in my office, in case ‘they’ wanted to ‘question’ me.
Knock. Knock. Shit! I thought, getting up to let whoever was knocking, in.
"Hey Alex." My favorite cop smiled, as I opened the door.
"Hey Copper." I frowned, disgusted he found me.
"Can we talk?" He asked, wanting to step into my office.
"Sure." I said, letting him in and walking to my chair.
"I assume you heard about Tony from Eddie?" He asked, as I watched him get comfortable in the seat across from me.
"What, about him getting locked up? It’s been two weeks." I asked, intrigued to hear about what he’d have to say.
"Yes, Ma’am. He was the one who killed Berg, and now it seems Mary. Plus, on a relative side note, Barney died due to food poisoning. So you’re off the hook." He smiled.
"Good to hear, man." I said. "You had me worried." I joked.
"Uh-huh. So what’s new?" He asked, taking a cigarette out of his pocket and lighting up.
"Not a hell of a lot," I replied, reaching for my own Red. "Except I have you lot bugging me. I can’t get any work done." I continued, putting the cigarette in my mouth and lighting it.
"I know," the cop said "But I am just following regulations. You know that." He continued, shrugging off the notion as if he felt sorry for saying it.
"Yea, but this is crazy." I replied. "Is it going to be over soon?" I asked, taking a quick puff of tobacco.
"I hope." The cop nodded. He bent forward to reach for a nearby ashtray, flicking ashes into the bowl.
"Good, because I have work to do." I stated, motioning to the piles of paperwork in front of me.
I contemplated telling the cop that Tony didn’t kill Berg, and I had doubts about Mary. However I didn’t want his crew lingering around longer then they already were. I also didn’t know how to bring it up with out interrogating myself.
When the cop left my office, he had informed me that Tony had an ankle bracelet that he had to wear for two weeks. Damn. He’s heading in the direction I went in. I thought as I was filing some papers and various records. I wish he would talk to me himself, instead of bullshitting around. The two of us were so close.
The day ended with Eddie offering me dinner. Of course I took it. We ate at some little Spanish joint down the street from his house. "So I think we should close down the station." Eddie said, over a plate of shared nachos. "I mean look at all the shit we’ve gone through over the past two decades. What the hell else can happen?" He continued, munching on chips.
"I honestly don’t know." I replied, shaking my head as I took a bite of a jalapeno pepper.
Bzz. Bzz. My phone was vibrating. I picked it up from its holster and saw "Tony Office" on the screen. I showed it to Eddie and he shrugged as I answered it.
"Alex?" Tony said immediately. He sounded scared.
"Yea?" I replied, raising my eyebrows quizzically.
"Where are you?" He continued, rushing out his questions.
"Out to eat with Eddie. Why? What’s up?" I asked, looking at Eddie, confused.
"Good. I need you to both come to the station. Now." He said, sounding urgently worried.
"Why? Can it wait?" I asked, taking a sip of the Corona that just came to the table.
"Just come, damnit." He spat out and hung up.
"Fuck. Something’s wrong. Tony said he needs us at the station." I told Eddie, closing my phone.
"Why? He queen out again over a mouse? The cat will get it." He said, disgruntled, as he reached into his back pocket, grabbed a twenty from his wallet and we left.
We arrived at the station twenty minutes later to find our three interns, "Keysch", "Rain", and Danny stone dead. Our sales department; "The Robot", Katy, Candy, Mick, and Talia, were also dead, placed in a circle. It was such a bloody, merciless killing. Eddie immediately called 911 upon looking at the massacre. As I went to find Tony and calm him down, I spotted him in his office, shivering in the corner. He was sitting on the floor, rocking back and forth.
"Tony, what happened?" I asked, crouching in front of him.
"I don’t know. I was in here doing work. The next thing I know, I heard screams in the sales department, and everyone was dead. I called you right after I found the interns." He said, still shaking, pointing to the ghosts in the hallway.
"Did you notice anything particular after Eddie and I left?" I asked. Tony nodded no. "How about within the hour?" I continued, putting my hands on Tony’s shoulders, to slow his shaking. Again, Tony shook his head in disagreement.
"After you two left, I had the interns file some paperwork. They were laughing among themselves, as they did the work. Then, I heard the door open, so I figured either they took a smoke break, or one of the sales people came in." Tony said, taking a pause. He looked down at the floor as if he could see the department below us.
"That’s an odd time for sales to just be coming in." I said, a little worried, as I glanced at the clock. "Plus, the interns know they can smoke up here." I continued, looking back at Tony.
"Well, no one came to my office. So I figured everything was fine. About thirty minutes later, I heard Katy scream. I ran into the office, and there she was, in the circle with the others. Dead. She must have used her last breath to scream." Tony started tearing up, as he looked me in the eye.
"I know that if the cops come, they’ll take me away. I don’t need to go back into that corrupted place. I didn’t do anything. And I know those pigs are only there to lock innocent guys like me up." Tony cried. As soon as he finished his sentence, there was a knock on the door. We both look up as my favorite cop walks in, ready to ask questions.
The cop brought Tony, Eddie, and me down to the station. We weren’t under arrest per se, but they needed to ‘ask us a few questions’. One after the other, we went into the interrogation room, alone, for a talking to. Our stories were all the same. Eddie and I were out to dinner when Tony called me, and that Tony was the one who found the bodies.
"So they went as far as frisking me. Assholes." Eddie spat out, as we were standing outside the police station having a smoke. We were currently waiting for information on Tony. "Almost took my fucking cigarettes away, too." He continued. "My lucky gold lighter never felt so used before." He quipped.
"Damn." I said. "That sucks." I snickered.
"Yea," he replied, rolling his eyes. "So I don’t know what they will do about Tony." He said, lighting up another cigarette. "I think he’s gonna get a similar treatment you got."
"You think?" I asked, throwing my cigarette on the ground.
"I wouldn’t doubt it." Eddie smugly said, watching my cigarette roll away.
A month later, Tony was sitting in the same little room in Bellevue that I was originally in. All his research got confiscated, and he wasn’t allowed his juicer. He was on the verge of dying.
"I am innocent, Alex. You know that." He implored to me, as he sat on his cot. They gave him a cot because he refused an actual bed.
"I know, Tony. I’m working on getting you out. Have you talked to Nick?" I asked, unsure of what to say.
"Yea. He said that there is nothing he can do. That they ‘found the killer’ and apparently that’s me." Tony told me, shifting himself, as he started to cry.
"Wow. Maybe I could try to talk to him?" I suggested, a little uneasy, as I watched my friend become disturbed.
"You can try, but this is bullshit. Total bullshit." He insisted, getting agitated as he wiped back tears.
"I know." I nodded, thinking of how I could spring him.
Later that day, I went to Nick. Although I still talk to him once every three months, I felt that I could help my friend.
I knocked on his door and Nick welcomed me in. "Alex! Welcome! You do know your appointment is next month, right?" He asked with open arms.
"Yea, Nick, I know; but I came to visit Tony. I figured I’d drop in and say hello." I replied, taking a seat.
"Okay. Hello then." Nick smiled. "However, by the look on your face, I think you may have other things to talk about." He continued, a bit worried.
"Well," I responded. "I do." I didn’t know how to start, so I sat there watching Nick’s movements. Let him make the first move. He’s the therapist.
"Okay, what is it?" He asked, pulling out a cigarette from the shiny silver holder on his desk.
Must be new. I thought, slightly jealous of it.
"Still smoke?" He asked me, offering me one.
"Yea, I do, but it’s not that." I replied, accepting the offer. "It’s about Tony." I stated, coming to some ideas.
"Okay…" Nick trailed, lowering his head to light his cigarette.
"I feel it is unfair that he is here. He didn’t kill anyone." I said, taking a pause to light my cigarette.
"He won’t even kill a fly if it bit him." I continued, inhaling the smoke before blowing some out.
"Alright." Nick said, nodding in agreement as he listened intently to what I had to say.
"Tony is dying in here because of all the harm this place is doing to him. He is the type of man who would rather keep to himself and do research on healthy living, than do actual work." I said, as I attempted to plea with Nick. "He doesn’t even like doing work with us when we’re all together at the station." I chuckled out, just at the thought of his lazy gossiping behind not doing his job. The boy grazes on snacks and talks too much. God love him.
"I understand." Nick said, laughing at my last remark, as he took a sip of his coffee. "But you are not telling me anything I don’t already know. The police have proof he did it. Remember those tapes of yours?" He asked, eyes raised, tapping his brow with his index finger. I was starting to get upset. This was yet another time I was regretting the blurry recordings.
"Yes." I replied, sighing.
"Well, he was shown on the tapes killing the employees." Nick said.
"Impossible!" I stated, now getting angry.
"It’s true." Nick responded, taking the last draw of his cigarette.
I tried to plea some more with Nick for another hour, and finally, he said he would try to get Tony out of Bellevue. "Thank you" I said, getting up to leave.
"Listen, if you need anything, I’m here. But I can not make any promises for Tony." Nick attempted to assure me as he walked me out.
Not even two weeks later, Tony was released from Bellevue. He told me when I picked him up, that Nick said the reason he was out was because of me. "Are you serious?!" I asked in disbelief, as we drove down the Pike.
"Yeah." Tony said, scratching his thick head of hair and looking out the window.
"I can’t believe it. You’re out because of me? That’s Nick for you." I said, amazed. "By the way, we need to get you to Dre for a haircut. That Jewfro is out of control." I smiled, quickly glancing over at him.
"Yea, I know. I just don’t need to see Dre right now. I don’t want to deal with his Old World politics. I won’t get into it with him. Not now." Tony shook his head in displeasure. "Plus, get this: Nick told me that he is retiring." he blurted out, quickly changing the subject.
"WHAT?!" I exclaimed, wondering why Nick didn’t tell me himself. I was so shocked, I almost skidded off the road.
"Yup. He told me yesterday." Tony replied flat out, looking my way.
"Holy shit. That’s unfuckingbelievable. That’s sick. He never told me." I stated in awe.
We got to the station, and I escorted Tony to his office. "See? Nothing’s been touched since you left." I said, showing him around, as if I were selling him a small plot of land worth its weight in gold.
"Yeah, well I need to get some food in my system. I feel like I am going to pass out. Can you take me to the store to buy some?" He asked, rubbing his stomach as he looked as white as a ghost. He may be rail thin, but now his bones are protruding through his skin.
"Yea, sure. Your juicer is still here." I smiled at him, pointing to the contraption in the corner. "Even been dusted." I beamed as if I won some high achievement award for being a nerd. Sure, I tried using it; what the hell. Got nothing to lose.
"Good." He smiled.
We left his office and went to the market down the street from the station.
After buying more than two hundred dollars in food, we headed back to the building. When we got him settled, I watched Tony juice with ease, as he ate some cashew nuts while continuing to mix his food. Simple process, hard to clean.
I went to my office, as Tony got comfortable in his. I checked my email and voice messages, and called Nick. I felt I had to question him about his recent decision of retirement.
"This is Nick, how may I help you?" He answered on the first ring.
"Nicholas, what’s up?" I said, trying to make it sound like a routine call.
"Ah, Alex. I’ve been wondering when you would call. You had to call and ask about my retirement, huh?" He asked, reading me like a Little Reader book. Damn, I thought. He’s a better judge then I give him credit for.
"How’d you know?" I asked, let down that he figured it out. I quietly scanned my desk for my Reds.
"Because you called me Nicholas. You don’t call me that unless you’re about to question me, or are making a point about something." He stated casually.
"Oh." I said, frowning at the thought of being caught. "Why are you leaving Nick? This means I am free of the ‘Vue forever?" I asked, lighting a cigarette. I must have sounded like a four year old pondering the meaning of life.
"Not necessarily." He replied. I could hear him softly packing cigarettes.
"Two weeks ago, you told me you were quitting. Why are you opening a new pack?" I asked, changing the subject.
"Changed my mind. Plus, I heard that crappy lighter of yours. That means you still are too." He retorted. I smiled silently as he said that, remembering the way he would tease me about my bright pink ‘lucky’ lighter.
"You still have Dave?" He asked, referring to the old BIC.
TO BE CONTINUED.....