Parental Advisory Rating: V, L & S
Break out those V-Chips, everyone!
Executive Producer Tonya Muir
Writers - Xwpfanatic TNovan TMuir
Episode One: Powder Blues
I check my equipment one last time, adjusting the camera on my shoulder. Doesnt matter how much padding you put under it, its still heavy on the shoulder. The Sony Betacam weighs over fifteen pounds, without accessories. That isnt much compared to prior models, so I cant really complain. Especially since the Betacam has withstood a lot of abuse from my travels.
In addition to the camera everyone sees, I have a micro-camera clipped to my belt. Its smaller than a pager, with a lens the size of a dime. But it gets sharp color images and sound. Its powered by a nine volt battery, also tucked into my belt. If I have to ditch the big camera for any reason, I wont be totally blind. This has happened more times than I care to think about.
I have a partner on crew, Jimmy Parks. Everyone calls him Jimmy Olsen because he has red hair and hes junior on staff, fresh out of film school. The red hair is his own damn fault. It actually looks more orange than red. This is especially incongruous since Jimmy is of Korean descent. Jimmy sits in the van and monitors the feeds. Both cameras are live right now. Were about to go in.
The cop next to me listens to the wire in his ear and nods. He gives me a thumbs up and I follow him closer to the house. Were standing in the middle of Beverly Hills, on the huge front lawn of Ty Sagalow, Hollywoods hottest star of the moment. Ty is about to be arrested for a number of felonies. Hes known to be sourcing coke to his much younger leading lady on the set. Hes known to be screwing her too, which wouldnt be so bad except shes underage. Hes not aware of that fact; she lied on her resume and to him. Ignorance is not bliss in this instance.
My contacts in the LAPD let me know this was going down tonight. Working for TrueTV has given me a lot of friends on the force. I see them all the time when I ride along as they arrest the rich and famous. I admire the job they have to do here in Lala land, where nothing is real and everyone thinks they are Someone Important.
The action begins. I point the Betacam at the front door where the officer in charge is knocking loudly. "Mr. Sagalow, this is the LA Police Department. Please open the door, we have a search warrant for the premises." Two cops stand to either side of the office in charge, in case something goes wrong. I am a little farther back with another four cops.
I cant help but hope that something will go wrong. No one wants to watch an easy arrest. Hell, I dont want to film an easy arrest.
As the first gunshot rings out, I get my wish. I hear the click of the shoulder mike and then the words, "Shot fired! Were going in."
I trigger the camera as two of the officers move from behind me with the battering ram. Its the only thing around here heavier than my camera. Im glad Im not wielding that. Two hard blows send the door crashing open.
"Move, move, move!" The team leader calls as the officers rush in. I have a good shot of them making entry and so far I am very pleased. Im sure my cop buddies dont feel the same way.
Though my brain is telling me to duck out of the way, my instincts tell me otherwise and send me hot on the heels of the officer closest to me. I wield my camera as he does his automatic pistol, knowing myself to be just as adept with my weapon of choice. It has led me through many harrowing situations.
While I am doing everything I can to stay out of their way, I am still making sure to get good shots. I know better than to charge ahead of the officers. OReilly, my buddy on this team, would have my head if I were to do something that stupid. Im not willing to take that chance no matter how badly I want the story. Not because I fear for my own safety but because I dont want to burn bridges with OReilly or these men.
As we step into the darkened front hallway, the rush is palpable and has a deep rich flavor that tingles on the back of my tongue providing a better high than any of the drugs I experimented with. The hall is a room that sets the atmosphere for the rest of the house: overwhelming and austere. To our left is a large winding staircase of gray and white marble leading to the second floor hallway which is little more than a balcony overlooking the entranceway and the formal living room beyond. The stone walls are lined with glowing brass sconces and it is obvious to even me that the interior decorator was going for the "too much money to have taste" look. The small part of the house we see reeks with it.
I use the Betacam as an extension of myself, seeing through its lens as easily as I see with my own eyes. I track up the staircase and over the balcony, listening intently to the chatter around me, silently urging them to speak up. Though my personal preference is stunning footage, spectacular sound is something I won't turn down.
The officers are doing a search of the downstairs while I stay only feet from where I entered the house, letting the Betacam do my searching for me. It would appear that nothing is going down on this level. My intuition tells me to follow the cops going up the steps to the second floor so I do. My instincts are always good and I learned long ago never to ignore them.
"Upstairs room? Which end?" the officer in charge mutters to his microphone, back plastered against the wall in the middle of the stairway. I stand beside him, and I realize how exposed we are in this large echoing room. I hope they make a move soon because I know any action that happens here won't be in my favor. It would be like shooting rats in a trashcan. I watched my older brothers do that as a kid and never quite understood it, but find it an apt analogy right now.
"South West end," crackles back. "Shots are out of the South West window."
Cool. I adjust the Betacam, tap the micro-cam on my belt to reassure myself of its presence. We're moving again in seconds, slinking up the remainder of the staircase. We're still sitting ducks here if Sagalow decides to come to the front hall instead of taking potshots at the cruisers outside but this knowledge only excites me further. I love the danger of my job, something I'd feared wouldn't be possible for a camera person. Thank God for Jerry Springer and trash TV. He set up a pattern of sensationalist journalism that gives me the ability to do what I'm doing today. Life on the edge: shut up and jump.
We arrive at the landing and duck into a room. Scanning it quickly, it proves empty of anything but bad taste and expensive baubles. Here we wait for word from the street. We hear a few more shots and they sound louder now. I creep closer to the open door and peek around the jamb with the Betacam. I think he's in the room at the end of the hall, or just beyond it. I will him to open the door so I can get footage of the infamous Sagalow with a weapon in his hand. We could sell such a clip for a handy profit, ensuring me a healthy bonus. The thought brings a grin to my face and I know my teeth glint in the fading light. I brush my hand through tangling hair, flipping a long ponytail over my back.
I'm still focusing on the door when two more officers slide behind me into the room we've taken over. I glance back at them to see they have blueprints of the house. Quickly I spin the Betacam around, making sure to take in the atmosphere of the room on my way: the officers hunched over the rolled out blueprint, their weapons still drawn. Viewers will be able to feel the tension in the room and it makes me smile. So far I couldn't have asked for a better night.
I focus on the map, zoom in on the room where we are and then pan over to where Sagalow must be. Then I go back to my position by the door. He's still taking shots out the window, apparently. The chatter on the radio confirms this.
"Come to me, come to me," I chant, wanting the door to open. "C'mon, c'mon."
I've never prayed to a deity and I certainly don't now but by some grace of some god, the door I'm watching creaks open. It reveals Ty Sagalows handsome face, peering through the crack.
All right! I grin as I zoom in on him. I know I should be ashamed of my blatant happiness about the fact that this man is an idiot, but I wanted a good story and Im gonna get it now.
"Damn it, Ty! Put the gun down!" The officer beside me in the doorway commands. It isnt until Sagalow pushes the door open further that his costar is revealed at his side. "Let the girl go!"
Cool! Hostage too. Oh happy day. The actor is dressed in white terry cloth shorts and nothing else. I zoom in on his face to capture his wide eyed drug stare and then come back out for the full effect of the actor holding a weapon on the slip of a girl in front of him. It's a Smith and Wesson forty-four magnum, light gleaming off well polished silver. He must have reloaded during his haphazard shooting because even from here I can see spent cases on the floor in the room and his hand clutching a ripped open box of ammo at the young womans shoulder while he pins her small body to him. He has at most six shots before he has to resort to the box but we have no way of telling how many bullets are in the gun itself. If his hands weren't shaking so much and the angle were right, I could try to zoom in and count the empty chambers. I love this.
I take the opportunity to focus on the girl, her blonde hair tied back in a ribbon, her caramel eyes seeming to focus on everything and nothing. Its obvious that they are both strung out. The girl has to be. Shes far too calm. She makes no sound as he growls at the officers and jams the weapon into her temple.
Blue uniforms are pressing around me in my doorway. They try to shove me out of the way but I don't budge. This is what I came for and I'll be damned if some cop is going to push me to safety as if I'm a damsel in distress. I've seen more shootings than most of these boys put together.
They're yelling to Sagalow to put down the weapon. Shouts are coming from downstairs, too, and I realize that there are officers in the front hall but I can't afford to look at them. I can't look away for even a second, refusing to miss the moment that will end this night. Darkly, I know what I am hoping for. I wonder if that makes me as sick as the man stumbling forward across the hall. He lurches as if drunk, waving the weapon and screaming obscenities at the officers and me. I am glad that his young costar is drugged, too. She stumbles along beside him in his painful grip but her peaceful face shows no sign of the fear she should be feeling. If she dies tonight, her last moments wont have been filled with panic and Im grateful for that. Im not the cold-hearted bitch most take me for, although Im but a stones throw away from it.
So were at a virtual standstill in the upstairs hallway. Even though hes stumbling around and waving his weapon, hes too close to the door for a good shot from downstairs. He holds the girl in front of him so the officers crouched in the doorway with me will have no better luck. None of us can move without risking injury to ourselves or her and, after awhile, even the shouts dwindle down so all thats left in the silence is sliceable tension. My blood is singing with my good fortune.
"Is that a fucking camera?" Ty asks, breaking the silence.
It takes me a moment to realize hes talking to me. Im so used to having it, I dont even think about it anymore. "Yeah," I reply slowly, making it a three syllable word. I figure now is not the time to explain that cameras cant fuck.
"Come over here!" he barks, spittle dripping down his chin. He wipes it off in the girls hair.
"No, Ty, she cant do that," OReilly replies for me.
"Like hell she cant!" Ty replies. He presses the magnum closer into the girls skin. She giggles, as if it tickles. "Get over here, camera dog, or I blow her fuckin head off."
Camera dog? What the hell type of insult is that? I roll my eyes. Coke is no damn good for anyone. "Why?"
"It doesnt matter why," OReilly mutters next to me.
"I want to talk."
"So talk." I point to the Betacam with my free hand. "Its rolling."
OReilly steps partially in front of me, nearly obscuring my shot. "What do you think this is, Sagalow? A tea party? Put your gun down and then you can talk to this nice lady here."
I growl. I am neither nice nor a lady. Ill make OReilly buy me a beer later for that comment.
"Youre not getting it!" Even as the words leave Tys mouth his magnum fires a shot into the closest cops chest. The cop goes down screaming. The girl hardly reacts to the round being fired next to her ear.
The number of expletives that leave my mouth and the cops around me will guarantee a long beep on the broadcast. I pan the camera over to the cop, hes a rookie I dont know, and realize the kid is wearing a bulletproof vest. Itll still hurt like hell, but he wont die.
All the cops are tense, each of them are praying for just one clean shot. I have mine though and thats all that matters.
"Get over here, now! Or I blow her fuckin head off!" He looks like he might actually mean it this time.
Ah hell, at least itll be great footage. Before anyone can stop me, I approach the demented actor. "What do you want?"
"I want to talk." His voice is whiney; he must realize the shitload of trouble he just bought himself.
The idea comes to me in a second. "Ok, ok you can talk. You can talk to the whole country, Ty. Were the top rated independent syndicated news show worldwide." I think all of my qualifiers were in there. "Let me just get the microphone, Ty. Ok? Its right here " I reach into my vest slowly, feeling around for anything that is shaped somewhat like a microphone, hoping that hes too wasted to notice the one perched on the end of the Betacam. My fingers close around my penlight.
Oh well, what the hell? I pull it out and hold it up. "This is our newest mike, Ty. Itll pick up anything and transmits via light wave." Smell what youre shoveling, Harper. I force myself to sound serious. His eyes are so glazed, I doubt if he even knows his own name at this point. "You just need to hold it and speak right into it."
He looks at me puzzled. Both of his hands are accounted for, in his mind. One is wrapped tightly around his co-star, keeping her from escaping. The other is holding the gun. If I get lucky, hes going to have to let go of one of them in order to get his wish.
"You hold it!" he protests, his voice confused, unsure of the situation.
"I cant, Ty. I gotta shoot," as I say the word, I regret it. "Film," I correct hastily. I tap the penlight against the camera.
"Oh." Hes so close to taking the bait. I can feel it.
"Come on. Lets get going." I extend the penlight once more and smile like all those false network anchors do.
He reaches out with the hand holding the gun. Yes! Yes! Yes!
"You want me to hold that for you while you talk?" I asked with as innocent a tone as these lips can manage.
"Do you mind?" he asks, his manners returning as the coke works through his system.
I shrug, "Nah. Just for a minute though, ok?"
"Ok." He hands me the magnum, barrel first, scaring the hell out of me. I dont have on one of those fancy vests. I just have my equipment vest, and it wont stop shit. I grab hold of the barrel. Its still hot from its recent firing, and I untangle it from his fingers.
The moment its out of his hand and into mine, four very pissed off cops tackle him.
And I get it all in close up.
Damn, Im good.
<fade to commercial>
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<fade in from commercial>
I smile as I drop the kickstand on my baby and park her outside my favorite after-hours hangout. I love The Rio; it serves all of my purposes. I get to hang out with a lot of my friends and there is always someone who wants to go home with me. Quite a few news groupies gather here. Most of them all hope that one of us will be able to help them break into 'The Business.' I let them think that. I know, Im awful. I laugh to myself as I hang my helmet on the handle bar and get off the bike.
I take a good look at myself in the reflection of the bar window before I go in. Black silk shirt open to the third button, small black leather vest to accent the chaps over my dark jeans and boots. I run my fingers through my hair to work out some of the kinks left by the helmet. Oh yeah, I look good and I'm ready for whatever the evening might hold.
As I open the door and step inside, I am immediately greeted by a loud round of applause with varied whistles and catcalls inserted liberally. I spread my arms to either side of my body and take a bow. "Thank you! Thank you! No applause, please, just throw money!"
This gets me an additional round of applause. Some dip-shit pitches a quarter at me which I snag out of the air with my left hand. The bar goes silent, waiting for my reaction.
I look up to see the culprit is Gary Lawton. Gary is another cameraman and at one time we were considered rivals, but not anymore. Now Gary is the closest thing to a best friend I have. I move to his spot by the bar and take the stool next to him. "Thanks a lot, you cheap son of a bitch." I toss the quarter onto the bar.
People laugh and the bar activity goes back to normal.
"My pleasure." He smirks as he raises his glass to me. "You know, I have come to a conclusion about you, Harper Kingsley."
"Oh you have?" I motion the bartender over then I signal for two drinks, one for me and one for my friend. "And that would be what?"
"You are either the bravest, or the stupidest, person I have ever met."
I laugh as the bartender puts our beers down in front of us. I continue looking to Gary over the rim of my mug as I take my first drink.
"A fucking penlight! You used a fucking penlight!"
"Inspired, don't you think?" I chuckle as I sit my beer down and slowly begin looking around to see who might get my attention tonight.
"Crazy maybe. Too bad they don't give awards for those kinds of shots, cause, man, that was a winner."
"Thanks." For some reason, Garys approval actually matters to me.
"I still can't believe that it worked."
"Eh, Sagalow was positively trashed out of his mind. I could have handed him a stick of fuckin dynamite and he wouldn't have known the difference."
"Now that would have been some footage!" Gary laughs as he drains his glass. "Oh look, it's the Ice Bitch." He points to the TV above the bar.
I turn my head from the dark blonde that had caught my attention to the screen. There I find another blonde. Oh, now she is cute. I grin. "Ice Bitch, huh? Doesn't look very frosty to me. Actually she looks like she'd be quite a sweet treat." I sip my beer.
"Kelsey Stanton? Are you kidding? Oh, you need to get out more, my friend. She has quite the reputation for being a man-eater."
I nearly choke on my beer at his words. I glance up again, study the woman on-screen. Nope, not her, she's 'family.' "Gary, she's a lipstick lesbian." I explain patiently, as if to a child; most men are. "The words 'man' and 'eater' do not commingle in her vocabulary." I am proud of myself for finding a non-sexual way to use the word commingle in a sentence.
"Ha! Goes to show how much you know, smart-ass. She lives with Erik Collins. They've got quite the thing going."
"You don't say." I consider the screen again. Generally, I'm not wrong about these things so this news does surprise me a bit. "Too bad. She really strikes me as the type who would enjoy a tongue bath."
"Nah. Well, at least not from you, but I'll bet old Erik 'Super Stud' Collins finds himself on his back more often that not. I'm betting she likes to be on top. I'm guessing she gives quite the ride."
"I could fix that problem." I smile as I crook my finger to the woman I was checking out earlier. "If she were with me, she'd be on her back and enjoying every heart-pounding, muscle-jolting minute of it as she writhed around on a nice set of silk sheets." I drop my voice just a bit and lean closer to him. "You know what I mean: when a light sheen of sweat breaks out on our bodies as I fuck her silly."
"You know you've got quite the ego there." Gary remarks as he shifts in his seat to make the proper adjustment. His grin fades as the woman comes over to me laying a gentle hand on my shoulder.
I move my mouth to her ear. "So, can I buy you a drink?"
She nods as her other hand travels slowly down the opening of my shirt.
"Careful, darlin', you'll cause my buddy here to have a heart attack." We both glance over at Gary who is staring and not doing a damn thing to try and hide it. I raise my eyebrow at him as her hand travels under my shirt, her fingers grazing against my nipple. If Gary wants a show, I can give him a show. "You were saying?" I motion for the bartender again.
"Ah, hell! Nothing, forget I fucking said anything." He turns to the bar, sipping the beer I just bought him. Poor Gary, he never gets the girl.
"So, sweet thing." I turn back my attention to the woman on my shoulder. "Other than me, what'll you have?"
She smiles. " How about a Screaming Orgasm?"
"Well, I was thinking a drink first, but, hey, I'm game for anything," I tease, as I slide my hands under her blouse caressing the small of her back.
"It is a drink, silly." She gives my nipple a little pinch. Oh, she's gonna be fun.
Coming next week at its new regularly scheduled time of Thursday, 9pm EDT, Must Read TV:
Episode Two: Powder Room
Sensationalist television makes my blood boil. The cutting edge camera shots and pure lack of decorum are media and not news. I hate that the business is a reaction to the ratings and not the events of the world. I hate more that my own station is pushing that direction. Our competition has stepped up to the battle, wielding flashy sets and expensive, form-fitting suits of pastels. The ratings show that audiences like this hip look and were losing to the competition. Change is afoot and I can smell it like rotten meat on a campout in June. I wrinkle my nose with distaste as I finish my tea and turn my attention to the stacks of files Gail handed me. I turn down the volume again, finding the tall woman distracting.
* * *
Have you been Exposed?
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