The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 82
Normally the click and clack of typewriters carried up the stairs from the offices on the first floor. The press hummed and hammered, but now they slowed to a stop.
All four from the newsroom rushed into Sam’s office. He stood at the window and looking down at the street. Sam motioned for them to sit. They sat; Rudy and Rich in the chairs, Gordy and Butch on the couch. The silence was eerie. It was like sitting in a funeral home. Even someone clearing their throat seemed inappropriate. The tick and tock of the old mahogany clock on Sam’s desk was like the sound of distant railroad workers driving spikes into ties.
An uncomfortable minute or two passed that seemed like ten.
“I shouldn’t have ask you to sit,“ Sam said. “Come up here, men. I want you to look at main street. I want you to see what happens. I want you to see how news and events change things and people. It is rare. Things like this don’t happen often in a person’s lifetime. When you report it, it has to be right; it has to be truth. Shading it one way or another changes memories and perceptions. People 100 years from this day will read your words. Use the skill and conscience god gave you to tell the truth.”
A phone call broke the quiet.
Sam answered, “Yeah, Honey, I heard. Okay. Okay. I got some things to do. Love you.”
Sam’s eyes were sharp and clear.
Everyone observed the street below. Cars stopped. People who were walking the sidewalks gathered in small clusters and talked. It was as if everyone was suspended in time and place. A street normally chaotic and teeming was quiet and subdued. It was as if everyone was in some sort of a hypnotic trance of disbelief.
A truck turned a corner and was blocked by a car. The truck driver blew his horn. Someone yelled at him, “Knock it off, the President has been killed.” The truck driver climbed from his truck and joined a cluster of people on the sidewalk.
“You knew him didn’t you?” Rich said.
“Not really,” Sam said. “Enough to disagree with his politics. No one ever really knows the rich and politicians. We had a beer or two in college and lunch a few times when he was in the House. We’ll never know how great he could have been or how badly his presidency might have become.”
Sam turned to them and said to Rich and Rudy, “Get on the streets and get the reaction of anyone willing to talk. Gordy you handle the phones and keep your regular copy going. Butch compile his record; dig into the archives. I want you all back in an hour.”
Sam picked up the line to the pressroom, “The paper’s going to be late today. Move the front page. We’ll have something for you in ninety minutes.” Sam hung up. His eyes widened and he said, “Go! We got a paper to put out.”
They met back in an hour and fed Sam bits of paper and information. He jotted them on a legal pad and then began typing. “Rich,” Sam said, “type nothing but local quotes. Gordy you work on anything that you received on how it is impacting the community, school closings, events; that kind of stuff. Rudy, how it effects the nation. Butch give me a short bio. I’ll take care of lead story. I’ll be done first and then as you get done feed it to the pressroom. Let’s go!”
They worked fast and exchanged copies using each other to proof. When complete they ran the stories to the pressroom. Everyone helped the pressmen. As soon as the press spit out its first copies they helped bundle. Everyone loaded bundles in their cars and distributed them to the drop-offs and the carriers’ homes. In all, the paper was only a hour behind. It was quite a feat given the task.
Rich went home that night with Sam. They salvaged some happiness from the day. Sam, Katie, and Rich talked at length about the prospects of the looming life of their infant yet to come. They discussed names for children.
Katie drifted to the kitchen. Sam and Rich sat in the living room watching the TV.
“What do you think?” Sam asked.