Bobbie Jordan, TV Reporter

Roberta Jordan has been fortunate indeed. The beautiful blonde was a popular cheerleader and volleyball player in high school and a part-time fashion model while in college. Her good looks have opened a number of doors for her, but now that she'd graduated from college, she's about to encounter the real world.

Her high school had a large civic auditorium attached to it and she and other students were part of the stage crew. She enjoyed getting her hands dirty and spent many enjoyable Saturdays building sets, hanging lights and operating the sound equipment. She discovered television broadcasting in college and majored in TV production. Now she's been hired to work at NewsCenter4, her hometown's premiere station.

Dave McDaniel has been in broadcasting for many years and has pretty much seen it all. But now he's been dragged into this whole 'equal opportunity' thing. As his station struggles to comply with the new regulations, he's been told they'd like to hire a woman for the studio crew. He's tried to tell the boss it won't work, that women can't handle the pressure that comes with live television production. Indeed, they've already tried two and neither could handle it. Now he's faced with this Jordan woman. Burned twice already, Mac is skeptical and if she can't measure up, he's determined to get rid of her. In fact, he's even bet the boss a steak dinner that she won't last a week.

Bobbie Jordan, TV Reporter explores the world of broadcasting at the local station level and you'll get a peek into what it takes to bring your local news show to life. Bobbie's facing the biggest challenge of her life. She'll have to deal with some unwanted male attention and earn her place on the staff. To read a preview of the story, scroll down.

Bobbie Jordan, TV Reporter

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(c) 2019 C.R. Britting

Chapter 1

May 2006

Shortly before nine on a Monday morning, a city bus fought its way through the heavy rush hour traffic. The vehicle was about three-quarters full and some of the quiet conversations among the regular riders centered on a newcomer: a pretty young woman seated in the sixth row. No one had seen her before and the guys seated behind her speculated who she might be and what she might have in the large gym bag on the seat beside her.

 

As the bus approached 18th Street, she reached up and pulled the cord overhead, signaling the driver to stop. The guys watched appreciatively as she rose to her feet and moved to the front as the bus. More than one thought she looked like a cheerleader for a sports team, and others figured she must be a fashion model. She had actually been both, but as the bus pulled to the curb and the young woman stepped down into the warm May sunshine, the guys would have been surprised to learn her real vocation.

 

* * * * *

 

Roberta Jordan headed down the sidewalk, her heart filled with a mixture of excitement and anxiety. She had dreamed of working in television for many years and today that dream would come true. Years of classes and student productions had led to the newly-framed degree sitting on her dresser, but now she’d have to prove herself; to demonstrate she could handle the challenge of real-world broadcasting.

 

Reaching her destination a few moments later, she glanced up at the large number four on the side of the building. Below it were three gold letters and a large logo, proclaiming the building home to NewsCenter4, the city’s premiere TV station.

 

“All right, Bobbie,” the former model reminded herself. “Stand up straight and keep your shoulders back. You’re on."

 

So saying, she took a deep breath and pushed her way through the glass doors.

 

* * * * *

 

"Confound it, Vince," said the gray-haired man sitting across from Mr. Abernathy. "We've been over this before. Why do you want to inflict another woman on me?"

 

"You know the reason, Mac," Mr. Abernathy replied.

 

"Yeah," the older man growled. "Equal opportunity. Ain't it wonderful?"

 

The operations manager of NewsCenter4 laughed. "Lighten up, Mac. Bobbie is not like the others we've tried. You'll like her."

 

Mac rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah, we'll be the best of friends. That's what you told me about Tricia and Darlene, too."

 

Abernathy's smile faded. "Well, I guess that was wishful thinking on my part. I hoped they could work out. You know we like to use people from within the company when we can, Mac."

 

"They couldn't hack it, Vince. Worse, their sloppy work made us look bad on the air."

 

"I was impressed with Bobbie when I met her at the university. Let's at least give her a chance."

 

Mac threw up his hands. "All right, but I don't have to like it. And if she can't do the job—"

 

"Then you'll be a patient, kind, and friendly supervisor, won't you?"

 

Mac frowned. "I'll run her out of here."

 

Vince laughed. "Exactly."

 

Just then the phone rang. Abernathy picked it up. "Yes?" He listened for a moment. "Thanks, Linda. We'll be right out."

 

He got to his feet. "She's here. Let's go meet her."

 

Mac followed his friend outside and mentally groaned when he saw the young woman sitting nearby. Oh, that's great, he thought. Just what I need in the studio, a beauty queen.

 

She stood when she saw them coming, and Mac noted the pretty blue dress that ended several inches above her knees. Blonde hair spilled about her shoulders and when she smiled, Mac's sense of despair deepened. The guys will go bonkers when they see her. How will I get any work done with her in the studio?

 

"Good morning, Bobbie," said Mr. Abernathy. "It's good to see you again. All ready to go to work?"

 

"I could hardly wait for graduation so I could get started," she replied with a grin.

 

The operations manager turned to Mac. "Bobbie, this mild-mannered gentleman is Dave McDaniel, our day shift technical director. You'll be working for him. Mac, this is Bobbie Jordan."

 

The girl turned in Mac's direction, giving him a smile that could have melted ice. She extended her hand. "I'm glad to meet you, sir."

 

Determined to dislike her, but having no choice, Mac clasped her hand. "Hello, Miss Jordan."

 

Abernathy must've caught the look on Mac's face. "Be warned, Bobbie," he said with a smile. "You’re in for a challenge. Mac doesn't like the idea of women on his crew. He thinks they're a bad influence."

 

"My experience is they don't want to work," Mac growled, hoping his face didn't reflect what he really thought. "All they do is stand around and talk and they hate to get their dainty hands dirty."

 

* * * * *

 

Bobbie bristled at his words, thoughts of male chauvinism running through her mind. Don't want to work? Afraid to get my hands dirty? What planet were you born on, mister?

 

"Now, Mac," Mr. Abernathy said, placing a hand on the older man's shoulder. "Let's give Bobbie a chance to show what she can do."

 

Mac took a deep breath. "Yeah, well, maybe this time I'll get lucky."

 

"Tell you what. I want to talk to her for a few minutes, and then I'll bring her down, okay?"

 

What's the matter with him? Bobbie wondered as she watched Mac walk to the elevator. Then it finally sank in: I have to work for this guy?

 

He reached the elevator and, after pressing the call button, he glanced back in her direction, a sour expression on his face. Bobbie's excitement at her new job took a big hit and all at once she wasn't sure she'd made the right choice in coming to NewsCenter4.

 

"Bobbie?"

 

Mr. Abernathy's voice broke into her thoughts. She turned, seeing him in the doorway to his office.

 

"Come on in," he called, gesturing for her to enter. He closed the door after them and headed to his desk. She sat down across from him, wishing she had stayed in bed this morning.

 

"Something wrong?" he asked.

 

"How can I work for Mr. McDaniel if he dislikes the very idea of my being in the studio? I had two other job offers, Mr. Abernathy. Maybe I should have taken one of them instead. Do you really want me here?"

 

"Mac doesn't dislike you, Bobbie. How can he? He hardly knows you. What drives him is getting the work done, and anything that interferes with that goal is a concern for him. If he thinks a woman in the studio is a distraction, fine. Prove to him that you aren't a distraction. Work hard and let him see you care about the job. You can do that, can't you?"

 

"Yes, sir," she replied, still not convinced.

 

"Of course you can. Look," he said, leaning toward her. "There are a number of reasons why I hope you can succeed, but three in particular. First, I really need another experienced person in the studio. Secondly, as the business world has become used to the idea of equal opportunity, the station has worked hard to provide new opportunities for women and minorities.

 

"We've had difficulties trying to implement those policies, though, when it comes to hiring operating personnel. Most people simply can't handle the pressure that goes with live television production. It takes sharp people, who can react quickly to unexpected challenges."

 

Bobbie knew exactly what he was talking about, having experienced that same pressure herself. She knew about unexpected challenges, too, especially with the inexperienced student crews in her college classes.

 

"After seeing some of your school projects, talking to your professor, and then interviewing you, we think you'll be a valuable addition to the staff. And, of course, the fact your family already lives in the area was a plus factor in our decision."

 

"Thank you, Mr. Abernathy. I'll try not to let you down."

 

"You won't, Bobbie. There'll be a period of adjustment for you, but after that, things should smooth out."

 

He got to his feet. "Well, we better get started," he said with a chuckle. "I know Mac is anxiously awaiting your arrival."

 

"Say," he added as they reached the office door. "I do hope you're not planning to work in that dress—"

 

"I wasn't exactly sure what to wear," she replied, "so I decided to dress up, just in case. I did bring some other clothes." She held up a gym bag she had brought with her.

 

"Great. There's a restroom down the hall. Why don't you go change, then we'll fill out your paperwork and I'll take you downstairs."

 

"By the way," she asked as she turned to leave. "You said there were three reasons why you want me to succeed. What's the other one?"

 

He laughed. "Mac bet me a steak dinner you wouldn't last a week. I'm looking forward to having dinner on him."

 

* * * * *

 

Fifteen minutes later, they rode the elevator to the first floor and Bobbie's sense of excitement returned. She’d first met Mr. Abernathy when he gave a guest lecture in one of her college classes. After class, he had given her his card, inviting her to come in for an interview. That interview had led to today.

 

They entered the studio and Bobbie was impressed. It was much larger than what they had in college. At one end were the sets for the station's news programs and at other end, she saw three young men painting a kitchen mockup.

 

"Jim," Mr. Abernathy said to a dark-haired guy working on a ladder, "is Mac here?"

 

"He went to the store to get some supplies, Mr. Abernathy," Jim replied as he climbed down. "He should be back in a little while."

 

"No problem. Guys, I'd like you to meet Bobbie Jordan. She's joining the crew today. Bobbie, this is Jim Sampson, our senior cameraman."

 

Turning to the others, he introduced Ralph Dickson, an African-American who was so tall she wondered why he wasn't playing pro basketball. The other guy was "Buzz" Clarkson, a handsome, blond-haired young man, who Mr. Abernathy said wanted to be an actor. He looked like Brad Pitt and from the impish grin on his face, Bobbie realized there must be a long line of women who had fallen prey to his charms. She hoped she wasn’t blushing as she realized she might be next to get his attention.

 

"I have to get back upstairs," Mr. Abernathy concluded. "Give Bobbie a paintbrush, and show her how she can help. She says she doesn't mind getting her hands dirty."

 

She and the guys spent an enjoyable thirty minutes talking and as she learned of their backgrounds, Bobbie felt sure she could get along well with them. Dave McDaniel, however, would be another matter.

 

"What's going on here?" demanded a voice from behind her. She turned in surprise, seeing Mac coming towards them, a can of paint in his hand, and an angry expression on his face. "I wanted that set finished by 11:30, and you're not even a third done!"

 

"Sorry, Mac," Jim replied. "We were just getting acquainted with our new crewmember. This is Bobbie Jordan."

 

"We've met."

 

Mac set the can of paint on a work cart. "The three of you get back to work. Miss Jordan, I want to see you in my office, right now." He turned away, a scowl on his face.

 

She glanced at Jim, who grinned back at her.

 

"Now, Miss Jordan."

 

She turned, seeing Mac waiting impatiently by the studio door. She hurried after him, to a small cubicle just down the hall. She entered at his gesture and he followed, closing the door with more force than necessary.

 

With a sigh, he sank into a squeaky chair behind the battered desk. There weren't any other chairs in the tiny office, so all Bobbie could do was stand in front of him and wait for the explosion.

 

 

Chapter 2

Hot and Dirty

 

Dave McDaniel ran a hand through his gray hair as he tried to decide what to say. He should have been in the studio when Jordan arrived, but he wasn't, and things had gotten off to a bad start.

 

"What did I—?" she started to say, but a raised hand silenced her mid-sentence.

 

"Miss Jordan, you and I are gonna have to work together, so I'm going to give you a few ground rules. If you can follow them, we'll get along. If not, I'll do my best to get rid of you." Leaning back in his squeaky chair, he continued. "How long were you and the crew talking?"

 

"Twenty minutes, maybe half an hour.”

 

"All right. That conversation just cost the company two man-hours of work. I had allocated a certain amount of time for the job to be completed. Now it's going to take longer and we'll be pushing close to news time to get it finished. I don't like that."

 

He leaned back across the desk. "Miss Jordan, you need to be aware of the problems you or any woman can create just by being in the studio. Guys are guys. They'll want to 'help' you, instead of doing their own work. They are all single and they'll compete for your attention, especially Buzz. He'll try to show off."

 

"But that's not my fault!" she replied with some heat. "You can't blame me for what they do."

 

"I know that, Miss Jordan," he replied. How can I make her understand?

 

He tried again. "Look, Vince has a worksheet on his desk that allocates four job positions for studio crew. That's four crewmembers, not three crewmembers and an equal opportunity person. Everyone has to do his or her share of the work, or we have a problem."

 

"I'm more than willing to do my share."

 

He nodded, groping for what he really wanted to say. "That's good, I'm glad to hear it. The best way you can help is to keep everyone's mind on the task at hand. Show the guys that you're a part of the crew, that you're willing to work, not just a pretty distraction."

 

It was the same thing Mr. Abernathy had said. "I never thought of it that way before."

 

"And sometimes it's hard, dirty work, too," he said, glancing at her designer jeans and bright-colored shirt. "No offense, Miss Jordan, but you look more like a Calvin Klein model than someone who's come to work."

 

"Just try me!" she shot back.

 

A smile touched the corners of his mouth. "Oh, I intend to do just that, Miss Jordan."

 

He paused a few seconds to let the words sink in. "First, however, I have a few questions." He picked up a sheet of paper from his desk. "This is your résumé. I've read the words, but they don't give me a feel for the depth of your broadcast background. Tell me about it."

 

* * * * *

 

Bobbie stood across from Mac's desk, trying to control her anger at his insinuation she was not here to work. What she really wanted to do was to punch him out. She had worked in the fast food places in high school and in other jobs to pay a portion of her college expenses. No one had ever accused her of being lazy.

 

With an effort, she pulled herself together, telling him about her stage crew experience in high school and the stuff she did in college. He listened closely, responding with several perceptive questions, and a couple times he even mentioned similar things he did when he was just getting started. It surprised her that he seemed really interested in what she had to say and she began to relax a bit as they talked.

 

"I have my own DV camcorder," she told him finally. "And last summer, Dad bought me an Avid Express editing system. I had fun learning it and I used it for all my school projects."

 

"Well," he admitted, "you are certainly better prepared than the other gals we've tried. Knowing the Avid system is particularly impressive, since we may be getting a couple of them here soon. As for the rest, well, there's a lot to learn."

 

He leaned back and regarded her for a moment. “I only have one more question,” he said finally. “Why in the world do you want to work in this pressure cooker? Why don't you get yourself a good, clean, nine-to-five job?" He pointed at her. “You’re obviously intelligent, and with your degree and good looks, you could do most anything you wish. Why do you want to work here?"

 

Surprised to see genuine curiosity on his face, Bobbie answered as honestly as she could. "I've always wanted to work in the technical part of  TV. As to the pressure, I enjoy the challenge of having to do something right the first time, every time. I can do as well or better than a guy at most things, although you may not want to believe it."

 

"Well, let's just say I've been burned a few times recently. I suppose you're determined to give this job a try—?"

 

"That's why I'm here."

 

He looked at her for a long moment, then nodded. "All right, you want to work here, but I wonder how much." He got to his feet. "Come with me."

 

They left the office and Bobbie followed him to a storage shed at the rear of the building, stopping at a large pile of TV cables.

 

"Here's your first official duty, Miss Jordan. These cables were out on a remote shoot last week and it rained all day."

 

She could see the wires were not only covered with dried mud, but they were also badly tangled.

 

"All of these cables need to be cleaned and rolled up. You've got about two hours until lunchtime. See how much you can get done." He turned to her. "Unless, of course, you think the job's too hard for you."

 

She cocked her head and stared back at him. "Is this some kind of a test, Mr. McDaniel?"

 

"Absolutely. Before this week is over, you're going to know this TV station inside out. If there's a light to be hung, you're gonna hang it. If there's a cable to be moved, you're gonna move it. If there's a messy job anywhere in the plant, you're gonna get it. I'm gonna find out just how bad you want to work here."

 

She looked down at the formidable pile of cables. They were a mess and it would take a long time to clean them all.

 

When she glanced back at Mac, he had a silly smirk on his face, as if he thought he had her over a barrel. Not a chance.

 

"Fair enough," she replied with a mischievous grin. “But you are mistaken if you think you’re one day closer to that steak.”

 

She watched his eyebrows go up and realized that sparring with him might be fun.

 

"So Vince told you about that, did he? No matter. You want to work here, you work for me."

 

"Can I start now?"

 

If Mac was surprised by her comeback, he didn't show it. "There's a slop sink over there," he said, pointing to the corner of the room, "and the cabinet next to it should have the supplies you need. I've got some things to do; I'll be back later."

 

* * * * *

 

When Mac returned at 11:30, she had the pile completely untangled and about half the cables cleaned and stacked neatly against the wall. Bobbie felt she'd done a good job, but her clothes were dirty, her hair was hanging in her eyes, and worst of all, she'd broken a nail. It would take at least two weeks to get her hands looking decent again.

 

"That's enough for now," he told her. "It's almost lunchtime. Go get yourself something to eat and I'll see you in the studio after the news at 12:30."

 

She made her way to the restroom and tried to put herself back together. A wet cloth got most of the dirt from her clothes and after washing her face, she pulled her hair back in a ponytail and headed to the lunchroom, hoping to avoid Mac for the next hour.

 

Bobbie had just finished her sandwich when she realized that the news program would be starting in a few minutes. It would be fun to watch from the control room, so she headed back upstairs.

 

Inside, she met Jack Lincoln, the sound engineer, a nice man who set up a folding chair for her. She was surprised to see two other women and Jack introduced Valerie Ramirez, the electronic graphics operator, and Mary Stevens, who ran the teleprompter.

 

Bobbie had been in TV control rooms before, of course, so she was familiar with most of the equipment. A large bank of picture monitors sat opposite the console, showing pictures from the cameras, tape machines and other sources. To her left was the soundboard, and near it, the video switching console. Next to the switcher was the director's position and to his right were the graphics workstation and the teleprompter computer.

 

She heard footsteps behind her and when she turned, she was face-to-face with Mac, who promptly frowned.

 

"I thought I told you to go to lunch," he said with the now-familiar growl. "What are you doing back here?"

 

"I did eat a quick sandwich," Bobbie replied with what she hoped was a demure smile. "But I wanted to see the news program being produced and Mr. Lincoln," she added, indicating the soundman, "told me it was okay to sit in for the show."

 

If Mac had a protest to this idea, it was cut off by the arrival of the director, Pete Adams, whom Bobbie had met briefly on the day of her job interview.

 

"Morning, Mac. Looks like a standard show today." He sat down at the console and put on his headset. "Say, that's a right pretty addition you've made to the crew. She can run camera for me anytime."

 

Bobbie tried not to laugh, for she could see Mac's face tighten. His reply, however, was cut off by yet another arrival. She recognized him as Brian Smithfield, the noon news anchorman. After seeing him on TV for years, it was a bit of a shock to actually meet him in person.

 

"Morning, Mac. Pete, I've made a change on page ten, the story about the mayor's news conference." He waited until the director found the place in his script. "The remote crew just got back thirty minutes ago, so I haven't even seen the footage. They're editing now and Barbara will bring you the tape and the copy as soon as it's ready. If it isn't ready in time, we'll bypass it, and run it in the 'D' segment."

 

"No problem, Brian," Pete replied, making a note on his script. He glanced at the clock as the newsman hurried to the studio. "Places please everybody. Five minutes to air."

 

Forgetting about Bobbie, Mac sat down at the video switcher. On the camera monitors, she could see Brian putting on his microphone. Jim Sampson, the cameraman she'd met earlier, helped him put in the IFB, an earpiece that allowed Brian to receive updates and instructions from the control room.

 

Pete pressed a key on the intercom panel in front of him, activating the IFB. "Can you hear me okay, Brian?"

 

The newsman nodded as he looked through his script.

 

Pete turned to the soundman. "Open Brian's mic. Brian, mic check, please."

 

"One... two... three." The veteran newsman's voice came from the speakers in front of her. "A five-car accident on Interstate-77 tied up traffic downtown this morning. It took crews more than an hour to..."

 

"That's good, Brian," Pete interrupted. "Thanks."

 

Bobbie watched the soundman pull down the fader, turning off the newsman's mic until show time. Just then, a woman hurried into the control room and handed Pete a sheet of paper.

 

"Here's the copy for the mayor's press conference. The piece is 58 seconds. I gave the tape operator the cassette."

 

"Thanks, Barbara," Pete replied, glancing at the clock. "One minute, everyone. Let’s test the show open. Standby to roll VTR-9."

 

Bobbie glanced at the monitor for the videotape recorder, and saw a freeze-frame with the graphic, "Show open."

 

“Roll nine. Jack, track VTR-9."

 

The soundman pushed up the fader for the videotape machine, and in a few seconds, they heard the prerecorded program opening.

 

“Okay,” Pete said after ten seconds or so. “That’s fine. Recue the open. Thirty seconds, everyone.

 

On the wall, the big, red digital clock continued its countdown to the top of the hour, and Bobbie took a deep breath, hoping everything would go smoothly.

 

"Here we go," Pete called. "Five seconds to tape roll on VTR-9. And... roll nine. Track nine, fade up on nine."

 

The show open began and once again Pete reached for the IFB key. "Tape for the mayor's press conference is ready, Brian. It's 58 seconds."

 

The newsman gave the camera an upraised thumb.

 

"Ten seconds. Coming out to camera two. Ready Brian's mic."

 

Bobbie glanced at the sound console. Jack had his finger on the fader, ready to open the newsman's microphone. The anchorman looked into camera two and smiled.

 

"Five seconds. Open Brian's mic. And... take two! Cue Brian."

 

"Hello, everyone," the newsman began. "It's noon in the city and here's the latest from NewsCenter4. A five-car accident on Interstate 77 tied up traffic downtown this morning. It took crews more than an hour to clear the remains of a tractor-trailer and four cars that tangled just after the morning rush hour."

 

A hand touched Bobbie on the shoulder, and when she glanced around, she was startled to see Mr. Abernathy. He beckoned her to follow him.

 

"Bobbie, we have breaking news," he said once they got out the hall. "There's a bank robbery in progress four blocks from here. All of our regular crews are on assignment in other parts of the city. They're coming, but it will be some time before they arrive."

 

He handed her a camcorder. "I need you to get down there, right now. Do the best you can until the mobile unit arrives."

 

 

Chapter 3

 

Unexpected Assignment

 

Bobbie stared at Mr. Abernathy in disbelief. "But, I'm not a news—"

 

"I know that, Bobbie, but with the news program in progress, I can't send any of the studio guys. The closest news crew is thirty minutes away, so you're it." He put an arm around her shoulders, propelling her toward the front door. “Just get down there and do the best you can until we can get you some help."

 

As they walked toward the front door, she opened the camcorder case, seeing two extra tape cassettes and an extra battery for the camera. She turned on the camera, verifying that she had a picture and checked to be sure a tape was loaded.

 

Bobbie hurried up the sidewalk, wondering if this was another test Mac had cooked up for her. That idea died when she saw the police barricade a block from the bank.

 

"Where do you think you're going, young lady?" a cop asked when she reached the barrier.

 

"I'm from NewsCenter4. They sent me down here to cover the bank robbery."

 

The officer looked her up and down, a skeptical expression on his face. "Yeah? Right. You wouldn't, by any chance, have a press pass, would you?"

 

She stared at him. "Uh, no. I just started work this morning. They haven't issued me any ID yet."

 

His face reacted to her rather lame explanation and she knew what his answer was going to be.

 

"Please, officer, our news crews are on the other side of the city. I was the only one available, so my boss sent me." She gave him her best ice-melting smile.

 

If the cop had been in his twenties, that might have done it, but he was an older guy.

 

"Sorry, lady. Without any ID, I don't have a clue who you are. I can't let you through."

 

Bobbie visualized Mr. Abernathy firing her when she stumbled back to the station empty-handed. If only there was some other way to—.

 

The officer rubbed his chin. "As it happens, I know a man who works for NewsCenter4. He's in his fifties and he has gray hair. Kind of a taciturn guy; he helps produce the programs. Since you say you work for NewsCenter4, you have any idea who I'm talking about?"

 

"You mean, Mac? Dave McDaniel?"

 

"Correct," he replied, "but without an ID, I still can't let you through."

 

Bobbie took a deep breath. I am so fired.

 

The cop lowered his voice a bit. "You know, a sharp news hound like you could probably find an alley between the buildings down to my right." He was careful not to point in that direction. "You might even be able to see the bank from the other end of it."

 

"Thank you, officer," she replied, realizing that he had bent the rules a bit for her. "I owe you one."

 

His mouth turned up at the corners. "Oh, go on, get outta here, girl. Go shoot your story."

 

It didn't take Bobbie long to find the narrow alley between the buildings and she turned into it, hoping she wasn't too late. When she reached the far end, she stopped and set the camera bag on the ground. Someone had been thoughtful enough to include a piece of white cardboard and she used it to do a quick white balance on the camera. Then, heart pounding, she stepped cautiously to the corner.

 

What luck! The bank was almost directly across the street, just off to her right. Bobbie lifted the camera to her shoulder and zoomed out for a cover shot. Starting the recorder, she shot about 30 seconds of the entire scene. Then she zoomed in and shot a close-up of the sign on the front of the building, again recording half a minute.

 

That complete, she wondered what else she should do. For the moment, everything was quiet. Then she noticed something move on the sidewalk in front of the bank. Wait a minute. Is that—?

 

She zoomed in tight and her breath caught as she saw a body on the sidewalk. Good grief, who is that? One of the bad guys? A bystander?

 

It was hard to hold the camera steady at that magnification, so she moved to where she could brace her body against the side of the building. That helped and she shot some footage of the body, both a static close-up and a zoom from the wide shot to the body.

 

She lowered the camera, but less than a minute later she saw more movement across the street. Four men approached the bank carrying what looked like a stretcher. From their appearance, it must be the police SWAT team. Bobbie started recording again as the black-clad figures crept toward the bank,

 

She watched, the tape counter running, as the police team reached the front of the bank. They were careful to stay below the windows, probably mindful of the bad guys inside.

 

Just then she caught movement at the edge of the viewfinder. Zooming out a bit, she was just in time to catch two figures emerging from the bank. The one in front was a middle-aged woman. An arm circled her throat; apparently the man behind using her as a shield.

 

They moved onto the sidewalk and Bobbie realized the robber wasn't aware of the SWAT guys to his left. She was shooting fairly tight; the robber and the woman left-frame and the SWAT team on the right. One of the police called out to the bank robber. She couldn't hear what he was saying, but the robber could, and he suddenly turned toward the cops, keeping the woman between them. The police rose slowly to their feet, talking to the robber in an apparent effort to calm him down.

 

The exchange continued for half a minute and then, to Bobbie's amazement, the robber released the woman, who promptly ran to the police. The SWAT team, now with their guns drawn, yelled at the robber to lie down on the sidewalk. After a few seconds hesitation, he complied, and soon they had him in handcuffs.

 

Bobbie caught the woman’s excited gestures as she talked to the police. One of them entered the bank and came back out half a minute later. “All clear!”

 

Lowering the heavy camera, Bobbie took a deep breath and rubbed her aching shoulder, hoping that the footage was good. She debated going across the street, but without a press pass, the cops might give her a hard time.

 

Less than a minute later a fleet of police vehicles arrived, their lights flashing. She shot some of it and as people began to come out of the bank, Bobbie saw a chance to get an eyewitness account. Holding the camera unobtrusively at her side, she walked across the street, keeping away from where the police were working.

 

Seeing a man headed in her direction, she lifted the camera and approached him. "Excuse me, sir. I'm from NewsCenter4. Could you tell me what happened in the bank?"

 

"Am I gonna be on TV?"

 

"I can't promise anything, sir. It depends on how much time we have. Can you tell me what happened?"

 

“Well, I was waitin’ to make a deposit, when I saw this guy come in. He was all upset over something; I couldn’t tell what. He talked to the manager, but then, all at once, he pulled a gun and started yelling. One of the bank workers tried to escape through the front door, but the guy ran after him and shot him."

 

Bobbie recorded the rest of his story and ten minutes later, she had two more interviews, with much the same information. She lowered the camera for the last time, tired, but elated, sensing some good material in what she'd shot.

 

With things returning to normal, she retrieved the camera bag from the alley, wondering if she should head back to the station or wait for the news crew to arrive. The decision was made for her when a NewsCenter4 mobile unit pulled in behind the police cars.

 

The crew got out and Bobbie headed for the truck. One of the guys started setting up a camera and tripod, while another raised the mast on the microwave antenna, allowing them to feed a live picture directly back to the studio.

 

"Excuse me," she said to the guy setting up the camera. "I'm Bobbie—"

 

"I'm kinda busy right now, lady," he said, pushing past her.

 

She stared at him in disbelief and walked over to the truck, where she got the same treatment from the guy setting up the microwave. She spotted a third man talking on a cell phone. Bobbie waited until he finished, then approached him.

 

"Excuse me, sir," she said politely. "I'm from the station and—"

 

He dialed the phone again. "Frank? Yeah, we're here. It's over. They got the robber. One bank employee wounded. Looks like he'll make it. Not much here but a follow-up report." He listened. "Yeah, we'll be ready to feed in 45 minutes."

 

He brushed past her, ignoring Bobbie completely. In total disbelief, she stared after him, noticing two other TV trucks pulling up across the street.

 

She watched the NewsCenter4 crew rushing around like they were doing something important and suddenly lost her cool.

 

"Stop!" she yelled. They glanced around an irritated look on their faces.

 

"You people are idiots!  I've got the whole story right here," she said, lifting the camera. "Don't you want it? Or should I give it to those guys across the street?" She pointed to the mobile units from the other stations.

 

The man with the phone stared at her for a few seconds. "Frank, let me call you back." He walked over to her. "Ma’am, I’m Jerry Devine, the news producer. What are you saying?"

 

"I’m Bobbie Jordan. I just started work at the station this morning, for Dave McDaniel in the studio. Word of the bank robbery reached us just as the noon news was starting. Mr. Abernathy told me to run over here and shoot what I could then wait for you to arrive."

 

By now the two technicians were also listening to her story.

 

"So what do you have?" the producer asked.

 

She lifted the camera and ejected the tape. "Everything. Let's take a look."

 

He instructed the techs to continue the setup and he and Bobbie climbed into the truck, where the producer rewound the tape through the footage, checking it as he went.

 

"You got eyewitnesses, too?" he asked rhetorically since he could see them on the monitor.

 

"Three," she replied. "I didn't have any release forms with me, but I have the people on camera saying it's okay for us to use their pictures."

 

"Good thinking. And look at this!  You got the takedown, too! This is great stuff, kid. What did you say your name was?"

 

"My name is Roberta Jordan," she answered, a bit of frost in her voice for him calling her 'kid'. My friends call me Bobbie."

 

He didn't hear the reprimand; he was busy looking at the footage. "Okay, okay, great. Yeah, we can use ten seconds of the wide shot to establish, then we'll add—"

 

She left him with his excitement and climbed from the truck. Bobbie was happy she’d finally got them to listen, but she was irritated about the way they treated her, and she fully intended to bring it up later, back at the station.

 

Crossing the sidewalk, she sat down with her back to the bank building, her adrenaline suddenly depleted. She closed her eyes and waited patiently for them to tell her she could go back to the studio.

 

She must've dozed off, because the next thing she knew, someone was shaking her.

 

"Hey, kid."

 

She lifted her head, seeing the producer standing next to her.

 

"Sorry, I must've dozed off."

 

"They want you to do a standup."

 

"A what?" she replied and then a feeling of dread came over her as she recalled a long-forgotten term from school.

 

"A standup. They want you to be on-camera live. Brian will interview you from the studio and we'll B-roll your footage so you can narrate it. We'll go live in 15 minutes."

 

She gawked at him. "You can't be serious. I'm not on-air talent. I did a couple of on-camera things in college, but that's not—"

 

He waved off the objection. "You'll be fine. We'll set up a monitor near the camera, so you can see the footage I've edited. All you have to do is talk about it."

 

"But—" she protested, suddenly remembering that she must look terrible. "I'm not dressed to be on television. My hair's a mess, I'm half asleep, and my face feels like I haven't washed it in days."

 

"I've got a makeup kit in the truck. Take it to that cafe down the street. Get yourself a quick cup of coffee or a Coke. Use the restroom to touch yourself up if you wish; you don't need much. Get back here as soon as you can and we'll look at what I've edited from your footage."

 

Bobbie grabbed the makeup kit and hurried away, still thinking it was a bad idea. Nine minutes later, she returned to the truck, where Jerry had the footage waiting. They went through it and she was impressed. The tape looked better than she expected, especially since she'd shot it all hand-held. Jerry had done a good job of piecing it together, including a short clip from each of the three eyewitnesses.

 

"This looks great, Jerry," she said, pointing to the monitor. "I hope the news director will be pleased."

 

"Pleased? He's ecstatic. He's already seen the edited piece. You got us an exclusive, Bobbie, and he's over the moon about it."

 

"Two minutes, Jerry," one of the technicians called.

 

"C'mon, let's get you in position."

 

Outside, they directed her to a spot in front of the camera, with the bank building behind her. The camera guy gave her a hand mic and stepped behind her to help with the IFB earpiece. The IFB cable had a clip that attached to the back of her shirt collar, keeping the weight of the cable from pulling the earpiece from her ear.

 

"Mic check, Miss Jordan," the technician in the truck called.

 

She lifted the microphone. "Testing one, two, three, four. I'm standing in front of First National Bank on Sixth Street, where around noon today—"

 

"Thank you, that's fine," he called. "I'm going to turn on your IFB now and you'll hear what we're currently broadcasting. Pete Adams, back at the studio, can see and hear you. He'll be calling you in just a minute."

 

"Okay," she replied, feeling like she wanted to find a manhole someplace and crawl into it.

 

All at once, she heard the sound in her ear, a commercial from a local car dealer. It was only on for a few seconds when it suddenly went away.

 

"Hey, Bobbie. This is Pete Adams. Can you hear me okay?"

 

She lifted the microphone, glad to hear a friendly voice. "Sure, Pete. I can hear you just fine. Do I really have to do this?"

 

He laughed. "Things moving a little too fast for you?"

 

"You got that right."

 

"You'll be fine, Bobbie. You look great and all you have to do is narrate the footage that Jerry has edited. You can do that, can't you?"

 

"I guess so."

 

"Of course you can. I'm gonna jump off here, and in just a sec, Brian will come on, okay?"

 

"Sure, Pete. Thanks for your help."

 

She heard yet another car commercial and then Brian Smithfield's voice.

 

"Hello, Bobbie. Hear me okay?"

 

"Yes, sir. I hear you fine."

 

"Just call me Brian. I'm sorry we didn't get a chance to get acquainted earlier in the control room."

 

"That's okay. Can I make a request?"

 

"Sure. What is it?"

 

"Can you call me Roberta, for on-air purposes? It sounds a little more dignified."

 

"Good idea. We’ll do it that way. We're about a minute away from your live hit. They'll come to me first, and then I'll throw it to you. You have a short intro before we start the footage?"

 

"Yes, sir. About ten seconds, then I'll lead to the tape."

 

"Great. You'll be fine. We're 45 seconds out."

 

His voice went away and she heard the tail end of another commercial. Then there was a brief moment of silence and she heard the "breaking news" intro.

 

"Hello, everyone, this is Brian Smithfield, in the NewsCenter4 newsroom. Today, around 11:30, a disturbed man shot a bank employee and held police at bay for almost an hour before he was finally subdued. We have an exclusive NewsCenter4 live report from our Roberta Jordan."

 

"Brian, I'm standing in front of First National Bank on Sixth Street. According to witnesses, an unhappy customer came into the bank to complain about an alleged error on his bank statement. When the explanation didn't satisfy him, he pulled a gun. Here's what the witnesses had to say."

 

The eyewitness reports played in her ear. She could see the picture on the small monitor they'd set up for her and when the interviews ended, she talked over the footage she had recorded earlier. The footage ended and suddenly she saw herself on the monitor. Startled, she looked back up at the camera, realizing they wanted her to wrap things up.

 

"After about an hour, they took the alleged bank robber away in handcuffs. The wounded bank employee was taken to a local hospital, and the bank will reopen tomorrow morning. That's the story from here, Brian. This is Roberta Jordan, for NewsCenter4."

 

"Thanks for that report, Roberta," she heard Brian say. "They tell me you shot that whole sequence yourself; is that right?"

 

"That's correct. When the story broke, all of our regular news crews were on other stories, so I got drafted...er, I mean, I was asked to fill in."

 

Brian's laughter sounded in her ear. "Drafted, eh? Well, drafted or not, that was a fine job. I understand today is your first day at NewsCenter4?"

 

"Yes, sir. I started this morning. I'm part of the studio crew."

 

"Well, we're glad you're with us, Roberta. Thanks again for the story. This has been a NewsCenter4 special report. I'm Brian Smithfield. We now return to our regularly scheduled program."

 

She heard what must be a soap opera playing in her ear, but just as she was about to remove her IFB, she heard Pete Adams again.

 

"Super job, Bobbie. Congratulations. Everyone here is going nuts."

 

"Thanks, Pete," she replied, sure he could see her blushing. "I'm heading back to the studio."

 

"Okay. Catch ya later."

 

The news crew offered her a ride, but she declined, needing to get her head together. Wow, what a day, she thought as she walked through the afternoon sunshine. First, Mac is ready to boot me out the door, and now they've got me on television. That brought a smile. Feast or famine, as her father liked to say. What else can possibly happen?

 

A lot, for no sooner did she hit the front door, than the receptionist jumped to her feet, all excited.

 

 

Chapter 4

 

Praise and Hard Words

 

“Miss Jordan!” I saw you on television with that report from the bank. When it was over, the phones went crazy. We logged more than 50 calls, with people wanting to know who you are. There were so many, I had to have help answering them."

 

“Fifty people?" Bobbie asked in stunned amazement. Why in the world would they call about me?

 

"That's right," the receptionist replied, her eyes wide with excitement. “The phones didn't stop for more than half an hour. Everyone asked the same thing, ‘Who's that new girl reporter on your station? She's so cute.’" The receptionist giggled.

 

"Oh, by the way," she added. “Mr. Kinsey would like to speak to you."

 

"Who?"

 

"Frank Kinsey. He's the news director. His office is at the back of the newsroom, on the second floor."

 

Now, what have I got myself into? Bobbie wondered as she got off the elevator. Down at the end of the hall, she could see the newsroom and above the door a big NewsCenter4 logo. She hadn’t been in this part of the building yet, so she was curious to see what everyone was doing.

 

Just off the corridor were a number of small edit rooms. A station like NewsCenter4 might have half a dozen news crews, but only two live trucks, like the one at the bank earlier. The other crews had to bring their tape back to the station to be edited.

 

Each edit room had two videotape machines, a player and a recorder. The producer would put his original recording in the player. If he had fifteen minutes of material from a news event, he might not be able to use more than a minute or so on-air, so he had to select which scenes he wanted to use. He would then electronically edit the selected scenes onto the record machine, to make a master tape, which would then play as part of the newscast.

 

After stopping to watch for a moment, Bobbie proceeded to the newsroom. The place was almost as large as the studio, with computer workstations scattered throughout. Some people were on the phone, others were screening footage, and, off to one side, she recognized the station's meteorologist, preparing his computer graphics for the evening news show.

 

Several offices were set against the back wall and Bobbie headed in that direction, feeling a bit self-conscious in her dirty jeans and a casual shirt. People looked up at her and a couple of them turned to whisper to the person at the next desk. Bobbie felt like a bug specimen in a glass jar.

 

One woman saw Bobbie and her eyes widened in surprise. "Oh," she said, getting to her feet. "You're the girl from the bank, aren't you?"

 

"That's right. I'm Bobbie Jordan. I just started work here this morning."

 

"I'm Jenny Crenshaw. I think it's sooo exciting, how you got drafted to do a news exclusive like that. I've been here for six months and all I do is carry tapes back and forth to the library."

 

Jenny was older than Bobbie, about 25, with long, straight brown hair, and a dowdy-looking skirt that reached almost to the floor. Her desk was a cluttered mess and it made Bobbie wonder if there was a reason why all Crenshaw did was carry tapes.

 

"I got lucky," Bobbie replied, trying to make light of her exciting experience. "I was the only one available at the time."

 

"They could've picked me," Jenny declared. “I have a Sony camcorder at home. I've had it almost a month and last week I shot my sister's wedding."

 

Bobbie had to bite her tongue because she didn't want to hurt Jenny's feelings. Instead, she replied, "Maybe next time you'll get a chance, Jenny. Can you point me to Mr. Kinsey's office? I'm supposed to see him."

 

Jenny pointed to the back of the room. “His office is the middle one."

 

"Thanks. It was nice to meet you."

 

She walked to Mr. Kinsey's office, feeling a little sorry for Jenny. Bobbie might be a newcomer to NewsCenter4, but she knew it took more than just a few weeks playing with a home camcorder to be a shooter.

 

When she reached the news director's office, the door was open, and she saw Mr. Kinsey behind his desk. He was in his late forties, a heavyset man with black hair. He was apparently talking to someone else in the room.

 

Kinsey happened to glance in her direction and his face broke into a smile. "Bobbie!" he exclaimed, waving for her to enter. “Come on in, we were just talking about you. It's good to finally meet my star reporter."

 

He got to his feet as Bobbie entered, and she noticed another gentleman sitting across from him, a handsome man in the late thirties, with curly brown hair and an expensive suit. The stranger smiled, and she noticed him glance down at her jeans.

 

"Bobbie, I'd like you to meet Richard Mansfield, our vice president and general manager. Dick, Roberta Jordan."

 

Mansfield rose to his feet, and all Bobbie wanted to do was crawl in a hole. The big boss? Oh, no! Here she was, in her dirty jeans, probably looking like something the cat had dragged in off the street.

 

"I...uh...I'm glad to meet you, sir," she managed to say. "I'm happy to be working at NewsCenter4."

 

The GM took her hand and Bobbie was surprised at the firmness of his grip, so unlike the wimpy handshakes some men gave her because she was a woman.

 

"I'm very pleased to meet you, Miss Jordan," he replied. “It's not very often that a new employee makes such a dramatic entrance."

 

"Thank you, sir. I'm glad I was able to fill in for the regular news crew."

 

"Well, sit down, Bobbie," Mr. Kinsey said, indicating the other chair across from him. "Vince Abernathy tells me you just graduated from State last Friday."

 

"Yes, sir, that's correct. Then I raced around all weekend, trying to get my apartment set up." She smiled. “It was a relief just to come to work this morning."

 

They talked and Mr. Kinsey asked a number of questions about her background. Bobbie told him of her desire to work in the technical part of television and mentioned a few highlights of her college work. During the exchange, the general manager didn't say much, but she could feel his eyes on her as she answered the news director's questions.

 

"Miss Jordan," Mansfield said finally, "one of my responsibilities as a manager is to be on the lookout for talented people. The broadcast business demands men and women who can think on their feet, and who can adapt quickly to changing situations. Vince told me how he handed you a camera and pushed you out the front door to fend for yourself."

 

"Yes, sir. I did the best I could."

 

"You did more than that. The footage you shot was excellent; I doubt if our regular crew could've done much better. But more than that, you conducted yourself more like a seasoned professional than a young woman just three days out of college. I watched from the control room as you were preparing to do the live shot. You may have been justifiably nervous, but once you were on the air, you acted like a pro, taking your cue from Brian like you'd done it a hundred times before."

 

"Thank you, sir," she replied, positive that she was blushing at his complimentary words.

 

"Not only that, but you looked great as well. A fresh, young face, without the arrogance our audience often complains about in reporters. The people watching loved it, and the phones rang off the wall."

 

"We recorded your report here at the studio," Mr. Kinsey added, "and we're going to air it again in the six o'clock news. We'll have to cut it down because of time constraints, but it was the big story of the day, no doubt about it."

 

"Well, young lady," the GM said. "You've come in here and taken the place by storm. What do you want to do now?"

 

"Sir?"

 

"Do you want to be a reporter? A shooter perhaps, or a producer?" He smiled. "You want my job?"

 

Bobbie laughed, realizing that he was teasing her. "I think I'll wait until next month to take your job, sir."

 

He nodded. "Good answer. As it happens, I'm not quite ready to step down yet. But what about the rest? What do you want to do?"

 

"I was hired for the studio crew, sir. I've been looking forward to it ever since my interview. I think I'd like to continue with that."

 

"I can't talk you into working for me?" Mr. Kinsey asked, a concerned look on his face. "I can probably get you some more money."

 

"Not right now, sir. I'm the new girl here and I've already seen how people look at me. I'd like to blend in with the scenery for a while before I ruffle any more feathers."

 

Mr. Kinsey looked disappointed as he got to his feet. “Very well, Bobbie, we'll leave it at that. If you change your mind, come back and talk to me. I'm sure we can work something out."

 

She stood with him. “Thank you, Mr. Kinsey. And you, too, Mr. Mansfield. I'm happy to be working here."

 

"Fine, Miss Jordan," the boss replied with a wave of his hand. "We'll talk to you later."

 

She stepped out of the office, their words ringing in her ears. I actually did okay!  Wow! 

 

Walking on air, she headed back through the newsroom, thinking she better get back downstairs. Then she remembered she would have to face Mac and all at once her feet hit the floor again. Surely Mr. Abernathy told him where I went. Is he going to chew me out for being gone so long?

 

Bobbie stepped into the elevator, but no sooner did she press the button, than a hand caught the door. A woman stepped in front of her, her foot keeping the door from closing. She was tall, and a good-looking woman, too, with shoulder-length red hair, and a figure that must make men run around in circles. Her top was a size too small and the short skirt she wore emphasized her long legs.

 

"You must be the new girl, Jordan. Is that right?"

 

"Yes, I just started this morning."

 

"Well, I saw that circus stunt you pulled a while ago," she said in a belligerent voice. “What a joke. A grade school kid could've done better than that. You looked like such a dork when they came back to you. Your mouth was hanging open a mile.

 

"Well, let me give you the real news, sweetie. I'm next in line for a reporter's job. No flashy, blonde cheerleader is gonna take it away from me, you got that?"

 

Bobbie blinked in surprise, shocked by the unexpected outburst. "And your name is—?"

 

"Tricia Benbow. I have a degree in journalism and I've been a production assistant here for two years. I saw you out back cleaning those filthy cables this morning. Why don't you just go clean some more of them and leave the reporting to people who know what they're doing!"

 

With those words she was gone, leaving Bobbie to stare at the elevator door as it slid closed. I've made an enemy, and I haven't even been here a whole day.

 

* * * * *

 

After the Jordan girl left his office, Frank Kinsey watched as she made her way through the newsroom. He saw people staring at her, no doubt wondering why she'd been in his office, and how it might affect them.

 

Office politics, he thought with a sigh. How I wish I could make them go away. He closed the door and turned to his guest.

 

"Well, what do you think?" he asked as he returned to his desk, interested to hear what the boss had to say.

 

"Too soon to tell, Frank," Mansfield answered. "Jordan's got the makings, that's for sure. She's cool on camera—"

 

"Except for that little goof coming back from the B-roll."

 

Mansfield waved it away. "My bet is they forgot to tell her to do a wrap. Even so, she recovered well and ended the piece just fine. And did you see her in those jeans?" He laughed. “No wonder the phones lit up."

 

Kinsey smiled. "She does look great, doesn't she? How far you figure she'll go?"

 

The GM shrugged. “As far as she wants. That's assuming she doesn't get derailed along the way."

 

The news director's eyebrows arched, a question on his face.

 

"Derailed? Well, she might decide to get married and raise kids. I've seen it before; a talented gal will fall for a guy and she gives up a promising career to raise babies." He lifted a hand. "Women are made different from us, Frank. It's a fact of life."

 

Kinsey knew that to be true. As much as he loved his wife, it would be difficult for him to give up his career for her. She, however, had taken the baby track early and that suited him just fine.

 

"What should we do?" he asked. "I'd love to get her over in my department as soon as possible."

 

Mansfield nodded. “Yeah, but you're going to have to give it some time. Wait for her to come to you; don't try to persuade her before she's ready," He chuckled. “Besides, if I know Mac, he'll make her life miserable enough that she may be begging for a job by Friday."

 

* * * * *

 

Bobbie stepped off the elevator, her shock turning to anger at Tricia's words. Two years as a production assistant? That was a long time. Someone really sharp would have been promoted or would have moved on to a new job by this time. What's her problem?

 

She stopped by Mac's office, hoping to catch him there and avoid a confrontation in the studio. No luck. The office was empty.

 

Heading to the studio, she realized she was famished. She hadn't eaten but a sandwich since breakfast, but she dare not delay anymore, or Mac would have her hide.

 

Taking a deep breath, Bobbie pushed open the studio door. Inside, the news set lights were on, and all three of the cameras were trained on a test chart. One of the cameras had a side door open.

 

At the other end of the studio, near the kitchen mockup the guys were painting this morning, she saw a pile of lighting equipment. They must be getting ready to light the kitchen set for an upcoming program.

 

No sign of the guys. Mr. Abernathy had told her a different crew did the two evening newscasts, so maybe Jim and the others had left for the day.

 

"Well, it's about time," said a voice behind her. Bobbie didn't have to turn to know who it belonged to.

 

Mac walked past her, pulling a portable oscilloscope behind him. She'd seen one before: an electronic device that helps an engineer troubleshoot problems with the studio equipment. Mac must be working on the cameras, probably camera three, the one with the side door down.

 

He left the scope by the camera and returned to where Bobbie was waiting, her pulse racing.

 

"So now you're a TV star, is that right?"

 

"No, sir. I just did what they told me to do."

 

"I don't know about that. Looked to me like you showed up the whole news department, kid."

 

"Please don't call me 'kid', Mr. McDaniel. I'm a grown woman."

 

He blinked in surprise, apparently not expecting any backtalk. "Where have you been anyway? Your shot at stardom ended ninety minutes ago. Did you stop to do a little shopping on the way back?"

 

"Of course not. When I returned, I was told to go up and see Mr. Kinsey, in the newsroom. Mr. Mansfield was there, too."

 

Mac sighed, an exasperated look on his face. "Yeah, and I suppose they buttered you up and told you what a great job you did, is that right?"

 

Bobbie felt her temper beginning to get out of control. “As a matter of fact, they did. They were very appreciative, too."

 

"I guess that makes you the heroine of the moment, eh?"

 

"I just did the best I could, sir. They liked it and so did the fifty people who called the station to say so."

 

"Well, that doesn't cut any ice down here, Jordan. You work for me."

 

That did it. “They also offered me a job, Mr. McDaniel. A job working for people who like what I do and who don't yell at me all the time!"

 

She stood there, glaring at him, her fists on her hips.

 

His eyes narrowed. "So you're bailing out; after less than one day. You're too good to work in the studio now, is that it, Jordan? Well, I knew it. I knew you couldn't stick it out. All that 'just try me' talk in my office this morning was hogwash."

 

He stared at her for a few seconds longer, then, with a shake of his head, he turned toward the camera. “Goodbye, Jordan," she heard him say. "Maybe I'll read about you in the paper sometime."

 

 

Chapter 5

 

A Decision to Make

 

Bobbie watched Mac work on the camera, seething at the way he'd treated her. When she'd left Mr. Kinsey's office, she’d been ready to return to the studio to work. But why should she have to put up with Mac and his attitude, when she could work in the newsroom instead? What do I have to look forward to here?

 

She watched the back of Mac's head as he fiddled with the camera, wondering what he was thinking. Well, why should I care? He wants me gone anyway.

 

Bobbie headed for the door, and other than the camera fans, her footsteps were the only sound in the studio. I'll sleep on it tonight, she thought, and tomorrow I'll tell Mr. Kinsey I'm ready to make the switch. The studio door closed behind her, leaving Mac and his attitude on the other side of the wall.

 

Yeah, she thought as she headed up the hall. Maybe I should even wear a tight top and a short skirt like Tricia. The people at home think I'm cute. Well, maybe having a cute chick on the evening news a few times a week will help the station's ratings.

 

A smile touched her mouth as she thought of her favorite: a flared, black corduroy skirt, with a hemline a good bit above her knees. It was pretty and she liked the flared look because it didn't ride up as much when she sat down.

 

Yeah, that would be perfect. And she had the perfect top to go with it, too: a red, ribbed sweater with a scooped neck. It was cut pretty low, but it didn't show anything unless she bent over, which she was careful not to do.

 

Won't Tricia's eyes pop when she sees me tomorrow? Ha! Her legs don't look nearly as good as mine. That reminded her she needed to find a place where she could work out. At school, she ran three times a week and spent a lot of time at the gym. She knew she had a good figure, but if she wasn't careful, it was easy to put on a few pounds.

 

Five minutes later, she boarded the bus for the trip home, her decision made.

 

This is the end of the preview. Since this story has commercial possibilities, I can't publish the rest of it here. If you'd like to read and evaluate a preliminary copy, contact me for more information. Be prepared to formally introduce yourself and show ID. That will protect my copyright, okay?

Short Stories:  1  2  3

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