Natalie sat in the passenger seat as Walt drove down the highway. The bravado laden voice of America’s favorite anchorman blustered through her ear.
“Natalie Brock. A helluva job you did on the Countess Cucamonga murder story. Helluva job.”
Natalie’s heart fluttered. She’d always dreamed of talking to the man behind the most coveted desk in cable news and now she was. “Thank you. I’m so glad you called, Mr. Manley.”
“Oh, please,” Kurt said. “Mr. Manley was my father. Call me Kurt.”
“OK Kurt,” Natalie replied.
“To be the first on the scene when the world’s most beloved pop star is snuffed out like a spent candle,” Kurt said. “You must have drunk a second glass of lucky juice today, my friend.”
“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Natalie said. “Not that I’m happy the Countess is gone, of course.”
“Of course,” Kurt said. “Blah, blah, blah, we all have to be human and say we’re sorry that we were around when bad shit went down but you know as well as I do that bad shit is always going to go down and its better for our careers if we’re there when it does.”
“I can’t deny that,” Natalie said.
“I hope you broke your foot off in that incompetent cameraman’s ass though,” Kurt said.
Natalie looked at her driver. His attention was on the road. “He was, um, severely reprimanded.”
“Excellent,” Kurt said. “Well anyway, I just wanted to congratulate you on the bang up job you did and let you know that you can take it easy because a Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties is being dispatched to Florida as we speak.”
Natalie closed her eyes. She covered her phone’s receiver with her hand, then blurted out multiple obscenities.
“Natalie?” Kurt asked as the reporter raised the phone back to her ear. “You there?”
“Sorry,” Natalie said. “Bad connection. You were saying?”
“You’re off the story,” Kurt said. “The bigwigs and I were impressed by your bravery. I mean, appearing on TV with your looks? That takes huevos, chica. Huevos grandes.”
Natalie took a deep breathe. “Kurt, with all due respect, I believe I’m the most qualified to report on this story. I’ve already broken it. I’ve already spoken to witnesses and authorities on the scene. I’ve even interviewed Countess Cucamonga’s manager on a number of occasions and he will no doubt prove to be a vital contact as the case progresses.”
“Let me stop you right there,” Kurt said. “You’re talking about qualifications and I’m talking about something else.”
“What are you talking about?” Natalie asked.
“Blonde hair and big titties,” Kurt said. “You don’t have ‘em and we need ‘em.”
“That’s disgusting,” Natalie said.
“Maybe it is,” Kurt said. “But we’re Network News One and you know our motto: The Hottest Blonde Chicks. The Biggest Titties and…”
“Oh yeah, and occasionally we report the news and shit,” Natalie said. “I know it well.”
“Then you understand the bind we’re in,” Kurt said.
“I understand you’re a bunch of sexist pigs,” Natalie said.
Kurt sighed. “Natalie, it’s easy to write the type of reporter that we here at NN1 prefer as a product of sexism, but if you do that, I think you’re missing the bigger picture.”
“Which is?” Natalie asked.
“The world is a terrible place,” Kurt said. “Umpteen zillion years ago, God granted us the gift of life and we’ve been repaying him for the favor by killing ourselves and each other at a rapid clip ever since. We’ve yet to put our minds to curing that which ails us, like cancer and heart disease, but everyday a new fangled method of killing the masses is invented. It’s sickening when you really think about it.”
“What does that have to do with…”
“Hot ass blonde chicks with big titties?” Kurt asked.
“Right,” Natalie asked.
“The people must be educated about what’s going on in the world,” Kurt said. “But with all the death and depravity going on, would anyone really bother turning on the news unless a hot ass blond chick with big titties was there to report on it?”
“I like to think that people don’t care about what the reporter looks like so much as the quality of the news report,” Natalie said.
Kurt chuckled. “And I think a leprechaun ought to swoop down on a magic unicorn and give me a pot of gold and a Vietnamese hooker loaded up with enough ping pong balls to choke a horse but we’re talking about reality here, kiddo, not fantasy.”
“This isn’t fair,” Natalie said.
“Oh boo hoo,” Kurt said. “Guess what? Life is unfair. Do you think some janitor making minimum wage to snake out shitty toilets only to come home and write out an alimony check for three-quarters of his pathetic salary to his no-good, two-timing ex-wife even though she hasn’t allowed him to see his kids for six months would ever, EVER want to turn on the news and learn about how many people were blown to smithereens today unless that information was pouring out of the supple red lips of a hot ass blonde chick with big titties?”
Natalie struggled for a response but couldn’t find one.
“Do you know how much joy our hot ass blonde chicks with big kitties bring to the average male news viewer?” Kurt asked. “Do you know that the average porn website costs over fifty dollars for a three month subscription? Do you know that in our recent viewer survey, a whopping eighty-nine percent of respondents said that they watch our channel for ‘fapping material?’ We’ve got people masterbating to our reporters and learning about war, destruction, chaos and the latest monkey produced virus to be found in their microwave TV dinners. It’s a beautiful thing.”
“I guess I never thought about it that way,” Natalie said.
“Most women don’t,” Kurt said. “Most women don’t understand what it’s like to have a penis. That little guy demands action 24/7, the type of action that our overburdened, overpopulated world is ill-equipped to offer anyone. The closes the average man will ever come to a hot ass blonde chick with big titties is to watch our channel.”
“Even so,” Natalie said. “I still…”
“Plus,” Kurt said. “Did you know that we are the nation’s number one employer of hot ass blonde chicks with big titties? Without our network, hot ass blonde chicks would be forced to resort to one of the other despicable professions they’re known to work in. We’re talking stripping, pornography, or even worse, appearing in network dramas for scale. Scale, Natalie! Are you trying to starve our hot ass blonde chicks with big titties?”
“No,” Natalie said. “I would never want to hurt the hot ass blonde chicks with big titties.”
“Good,” Kurt said.
Natalie searched within herself for strength. After mustering some up, she gave it one last try.
“Kurt,” Natalie said. “I’ve been trapped at the same local station for ten years. I don’t want to be here for my entire career. If I lose this story, I doubt I’ll ever find another one like it. Please. Don’t take me off it.”
There was dead silence on Kurt’s end of the phone for a moment. Finally, the anchorman sighed and started talking again. “You got guts, lady. You know, you remind me of a young me. Hard to believe, I know, but I wasn’t born the stud muffin I am today, the same stud muffin that gets women to tune in by the millions. We here at NN1 aren’t just about brining the news to men while they get off. Every night, the nation’s supply of females tune in just to flick the old bean around to yours truly.”
Natalie made a face of pure disgust. She was glad Kurt wasn’t able to see it. “OK then.”
“With a little hair dye a whole lot of plastic surgery, you too can be a hot ass blonde chick with big titties,” Kurt said.
“But I don’t want to be a hot ass blonde chick with big titties,” Natalie said.
“Yeah, well,” Kurt said. “Maybe I didn’t want to have ten trillion hairs ripped out of my anus and surgically implanted on my head in order to fight my male pattern baldness. Maybe I didn’t want my teeth replaced with shiny porcelain chiclets. Maybe I didn’t want silicone gel implanted in my pecs or off brand, illegally imported, discount Guatemalan botox shot into my face by a nursing school drop out every morning but damn it, I wanted to be the best damn anchorman around so I did what I had to do. Was I wrong when I said you had huevos grandes?”
“No,” Natalie said.
“Then get out there and get yourself some blonde hair and big titties!” Kurt said.
“But,” Natalie said. “There’s not enough time for me to get blonde hair and big titties.”
“Well,” Kurt said. “You better think of something because your boldness just bought you another round of airtime, kid.”
“Thank God,” Natalie said.
“No,” Kurt said. “Thank me.”
“Thank you, Kurt,” Natalie said.
“And the next time I see you on air, you better look like you just walked off the set of Jumbo Jigglers Part Seventeen.”
Click. Kurt hanged up. Natalie did as well.
“Network News One?” Walt asked.
“Kurt Manley himself,” Natalie answered.
“Wow,” Walt said. “Someone’s moving up in the world.”
Natalie rested her head against the cool glass of the passenger’s side window and watched the bright lights of Miami pass her by. “Where the hell am I going to get blonde hair and big titties at this hour?”