THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 51
…“Assalmu alaikum. Who I am, is of little importance, what I have to tell you may change your life,”…
Yes, Francine was lying to the Senator when she told him of her doing real work. The evening cast is 4 hours away and as for the script, she would read whatever they put on the prompter, unless it makes her look stupid or cheesy. No, Francine was headed for the comfort of her personal, fully equipped dressing room.
She flashes her thumb against the print-recognition coder, to gain access to a world no one is allowed to know about… that and her age. In a world of investigative reporters and scheming assignment editors, only her cleaning lady has access to it, lest the governor declare it a disaster area. Queen Francine does not rank #1 in market neatness.
It is a sanctuary fit for the General Manager, or Senior Vice-president for that matter, who coincidently Francine has been engaged to, ever since she was up for lead anchor on the 6 & 10; not coincidently. The poor sucker guy may be witness to the next Ice Age before she sets a date.
Once inside, she succumbs to her narcissistic ways, her image filling the large lighted mirror. She does a pirouette to verify whether that diet she started was working or not. All it takes is one chauvinistic comment about her butt to trigger that. She nods her approval, complains about why nobody has invented a better pair of pantyhose, and goes about putting herself back together.
Once seated, she leans forward for a closer inspection of her midday makeup, that when it was applied this morning, only served to polish the already perfect face of Aphrodite or Venus de Milo. Even her many enemies cannot dispute how truly pretty she is.
Her nose was a bit on the shiny side, God forbid, reflecting light like the hood of her 2029 Corvette; Nothing that a swirling mass of tinted powder won’t cure.
Satisfied once again, that perfection is achievable, Francine decides to make her routine appearance among the peons in the newsroom. She has lucked out this day, arriving just in time to schmooze a throng of Junior High speech students; Autographs gladly, pictures surely, questions, “Talk to the news director over there.” More pictures?
She was about to see if anything new had crossed her desk, when a telephone call comes through to her cell phone. The 1970s ABBA oldie anthem “The Winner Takes It All”, beckons her to answer. Nobody is allowed to call her at work, “It might be my agent,” she thinks aloud.
“Is this Francine Bouchette?” The voice on the other end of the line has a thick, unfamiliar accent.
She has half a mind to hang up, but anyone who has her number has good connections. “This is she and who may I ask is this? I am very busy, so make it brief.”
“Assalmu alaikum. Who I am, is of little importance, what I have to tell you may change your life,” the caller must be Arab or Muslim.
“I am listening, but you’ll need to get to the point.”
“We have chosen you to tell a story, on a day that will live in infamy, as will your name.”
“Please don’t play games here, whoever you are. If this story requires national attention, you have the right girl.” Francine is playing right into the man’s hand — a full house.
“If you meet our needs woman, you will need to listen closely and ask not what your source is.”
“Okay, yes,” and what is with that “woman” reference? It isn’t hard to disrespect this particular female and this old-school moron is lucky she hasn’t dispatched him to cellular hell.
THE RETURN TRIP