Natalie sat in the back of the news van and pulled off her blonde wig. She then lowered her head into her hands and cried.
Walter wasn’t one for emotion. He bit into a snack cake, then patted his colleague on the back. “Um…there, there?”
The attempt at consolation was of no use. Natalie continued to sob.
“Something wrong?” Walter asked.
“Yes!” Natalie shouted as she pulled the melons from her bra and tossed them on the floor. “These ridiculous things! That ridiculous news station! The way I’m expected to tart myself up like an Amsterdam hooker! The way….the way…”
“That dips hit Kurt Manley spoke to you on air?” Walter asked.
“Exactly!” Natalie said. She launched into her best impression of Kurt Manley’s deep, booming anchorman voice. “Don’t interrupt a man while he’s speaking, Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties.”
“Yeah, I saw that,” Walter said. “That was rough.
“And I apologized to him!” Natalie said. “I actually apologized to him!”
Walter pulled another snack cake out of the box and unwrapped it. “You didn’t really have a choice.”
“I could have told him off,” Natalie said.
“And then you’d be out of a job,” Walter said. “Nope, you did the right thing. If there’s two things I’ve learned in this business over the years, it’s knowing when to pick your battles, and accepting that you’re going to have to eat a lot of shit with a smile on your face.”
“I don’t know if I can eat anymore,” Natalie said.
“You’re just getting started,” Walter said. “You’ll get used to it. Find a productive way to deal with the stress.”
Natalie rubbed the tears out of her eyes. “How do you deal with it?”
Walter held up his half-devoured snack cake, then slapped his big gut.
“Oh,” Natalie said.
“Not a solution I’d recommend,” Walter said. “Seemed like a good idea when I was young but before I knew it, I had more weight than I could ever possibly get rid of.”
“I’m sorry, Walter,” Natalie said. “Were all the other reporters you worked with that terrible to you?”
“And then some,” Walter said. The big guy pulled a third snack cake out of the box, looked at it, changed his mind, then threw it back in the box. He displayed some rare willpower for thirty seconds until he gave in, retrieved the snack cake, unwrapped it, and chomped on it.
“Screw it,” Walt said. “I’ll just get my stomach stapled with all the dough we’re going to make off our book.”
“If there ever is a book,” Natalie said. “I might go to jail for ripping out Kurt Manley’s hair plugs and feeding them to him.”
Walter smiled. It was the first time Natalie had ever seen him do so. “Now that I’d pay to see.”
Natalie’s personal cell phone rang. She looked at the screen. “KURT MANLEY.”
“Damn it,” Natalie said. She answered the phone and said ever so sweetly, “Hello Kurt.”
“Natalie, my dear,” Kurt said.
Natalie’s face scrunched up in disgust as she silently mouthed the words to Walter, “My dear?”
Walter shook his head.
“You are doing a cracker jack job with this Toilet Killer story,” Kurt said. “And…ungh…oh…oh yeah…and I can tell you the bigwigs upstairs were especially impressed with the way you handled those text messages. They say a reporter should never become part of the story but boy howdy, is it ever good for ratings. NN1’s numbers are through the roof and going up, up, up until they land on Mars and…unghh…holy shit yes…ungh….”
“Thanks Kurt,” Natalie said. “Glad to hear everyone is pleased.”
“I’d…ergh…love to hear your thoughts on this story going forward.”
“Going forward?” Natalie asked.
“Yeah,” Kurt said. “Yeah, yeah, yeah….ohhh…oh God, yeah!”
Natalie looked to Walter and performed the internationally recognized, “He’s crazy” sign by twirling her finger around the side of her head in a circle three times.
“Kurt, are you alright?” Natalie asked.
“Fine,” Kurt said. “Ungh…fuck! Oh, pardon me. Yeah, I’m just enjoying a little down time in my office while that debate show is on, you know the one, where the idiots scream at each other and no one knows what anyone is saying.”
“Idiots Scream at Each Other and No One Knows What Anyone is Saying?” Natalie asked.
“That’s the one,” Kurt said. “Great show. Ungh…oh baby…yes…so this story. What else have you got in mind? Talk to me. Talk to me in detail…long and slow…don’t leave anything out.”
“Well,” Natalie said. “I assume I’ll just continue to interview people who have been impacted by the Toilet Killer’s rampage. The victims’ friends and families. People they knew well. Random citizens who are scared they’ll be the next victim. I actually contacted the CEO of a toilet manufacturing company who says his sales have plummeted. He’s willing to talk about it on the air.”
“Yes,” Kurt said. “Yes, yes, YES! GOD YES!”
“And of course there’s the whole fallout of Chief Walker and Agent Walker being thrown off of the investigation,” Natalie said. “I’ll be asking around to find out what people think of that.”
“Uh huh,” Kurt said. “Ungh…go on. Don’t stop…don’t stop!”
“I don’t know,” Natalie said. “That’s all I’ve got for now.”
“Don’t stop!” Kurt shouted.
“What?” Natalie asked.
“Just say anything!” Kurt said. “I love the sound of your sexy voice!”
Natalie’s face scrunched up again. “Kurt, what’s going on?”
There was a brief moment of silence before Kurt cried out in ecstasy. “Oh! Oh God! Oh yes that was great!”
Natalie was not amused. “What the?”
“Holy shit,” Kurt said. “I need to get that Mexican lady to clean my desk. Looks like someone dumped a gallon of cottage cheese on it.”
The proverbial ignition switch in Natalie’s mind turned. “Kurt…were you…masterbating?”
“Man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, sugar tits,” Kurt said. “I have been behind that desk non-stop for nearly two days now thanks to this Toilet Killer son of a bitch and let me tell you, I was backed up like a turn pike during rush hour. Thanks, doll.”
“Kurt,” Natalie said. “That’s…that’s…I don’t even know what to say.”
“Don’t thank me, babe,” Kurt said. “I know, I know. You’re flattered that such a big, important man like yours truly would develop a sexual interest in a little nothing like you. I’m sure that’s got to be messing with your mind, but just be proud of yourself for attracting a big dog like me.”
“That’s not what I was going to say at all,” Natalie said.
Walt scribbled a note on a piece of scrap paper and held it up in front of Natalie’s face. “Put him on speaker.”
Natalie appeared confused, but abided. She put Kurt on speaker. His voice filled the back of the van.
“Yeah, well,” Kurt said. “Most of you bimbos don’t have any idea what to say anyway. Such pretty little things with such empty little heads.”
Walt pulled out his cell phone.
“Um,” Natalie said. “OK, whatever. Is that all?”
“Nope,” Kurt said. “Hey, is it me or is there something wrong with this connection?”
“Something wrong?” Natalie asked.
“Yeah,” Kurt said. “Sounds like we’re on speaker.”
“Speaker?” Natalie said. “Don’t be silly…no….I think it’s just a bad connection.
Walter pulled up the recorder app on his phone and began recording the conversation.
“Ahh,” Kurt said. “Well, anyway, look sweetheart, you are my new toy and I cannot wait to unwrap you and break you in.”
Walter held up his phone to show Natalie what he was doing.
“What’s that now?” Natalie asked. “Break me in?”
“Yeah,” Kurt said. “Oh I’m sure no one told you but it’s sort of an unwritten rule that each and every one of our Hot Ass Blonde Chick Reporters with Big Titties has to take at least one ride on the wet and wild Kurt slide.”
“Come again?” Natalie asked.
“Oh I will,” Kurt said. “Don’t you worry. Again and again. Maybe you will too, although to be honest, my orgasms will be more of a priority than yours. I can’t go on TV unless Little Kurty has been drained of all his buttermilk.”
“Little Kurty?” Natalie asked.
“My penis,” Kurt said. “My big ole famous news penis, the one attached to America’s Favorite Anchorman. He needs to say hello to your kitty cat.”
“Wow,” Natalie said. “Kurt, listen, I don’t know if you’ve been drinking or something but this is highly unprofessional.”
“Oh it’s not professional at all,” Kurt said. “And I’m completely sober. This is just the way things work here at Network News One. All the big shots in charge of the network know I do this and they’re cool with it. They want me to be happy and for me to be happy, I need to see whats underneath your skirt.”
“Kurt,” Natalie said. “I really don’t want to continue this conversation.”
Walt scribbled down a note and held it up. “Keep it going.”
Natalie looked puzzled but nodded in the affirmative.
“Listen,” Kurt said. “Once this whole Toilet Killer story wraps up, you’re going to be on the first plane to New York. We’ll get together, go to a fancy restaurant. I’ll have a steak, medium-rare. You’ll have a salad that you’ll just play with but won’t eat because God knows NN1 can’t be allowing any porkers on the air and we don’t want you getting chubby.”
“Then you’ll come up to my penthouse,” Kurt said. “We’ll have a nightcap, maybe dance a little and then you’ll…lick my taint.”
Natalie was unable to contain herself. “OH MY GOD!”
“It’s an acquired taste,” Kurt said. “But it’s a fetish I’ve had for the longest time. I just love it when my subordinates, whose future careers and livelihoods I hold in the palm of my hand, put their tongues all over that little strip of land between my sticker and my stinker.”
“I’m hanging up now,” Natalie said.
“Well,” Kurt said. “If you want to miss out, be my guest. I’ve been told my taint is quite lovely. FYI, I’m going to need you to tell me my taint is lovely. Really helps build up my ego.”
Walt scribbled down one more note and held it up. “And if I refuse?”
Natalie nodded and spoke into her phone. “And if I refuse?”
Kurt laughed. “Oh, your career will be deader than disco, baby. Dead and buried and gone. You either lick my taint or you’ll never work at Network News One again.”
“I see,” Natalie said.
“And not just NN1,” Kurt said. “I’ll put the word out all over. You’ll be blacklisted. You’ll never work in broadcast journalism again. Hell, you’ll never work anywhere again, period.”
Walt gave Natalie a big thumbs up.
“OK, Kurt,” Natalie said. “You’ve given me a lot to think about. I’ll get back to you.”
“Don’t wait too long,” Kurt said. “I’ve got a line of aspiring news babes lined up for a mile who would gladly fight you for the chance to lick my taint in exchange for a little air time.”
“Ugh,” Natalie said. “Goodbye Kurt.”
“Adios, sexy mamacita,” Kurt replied.
Walter stopped the recording on his phone.
Natalie hanged up her phone and turned to Walter. “You knew he was a pervert!”
“Everyone knows he’s a pervert,” Walter said. “I mean, there have been rumors for years but no one’s ever actually confirmed it…until now.”
“Until now? Natalie asked.
Walter held up his phone. “Congratulations. You own a news network.”
Suddenly, Natalie grinned as every doubt and fear she’d ever had about her career as a broadcast journalist flushed out of her body. “Walter, you genius.”