The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 116


Towards the end of May Sam promoted Rich. He was moved up a desk and Gordy moved back. No explanation was offered. Sam walked in the newsroom one day and said, “Rich, you and Gordy switch desks.” It was awkward. Gordy said nothing and neither did Rich. Their was no congratulations from Rudy.
The just moved their desks around.
Right after the desks were switched Gordy quietly approached Rudy at his desk. “Has my work slipped that much?”
Rudy shrugged. “No that I’m aware.”
Gordy looked back at Rich, now at the second desk.
Rich shook his head slightly and appeared confused.
Gordy stepped to Rich’s desk. “You swear you knew nothing of this.”
“I hate this,” Rich said. “I’m a hack compared to you.”
“I wouldn’t go that far,” Gordy said, “but I know I write better than you and can certainly report better.”
“I have no idea what’s going on,” Rich said. “We’re still friends?”
“Sure,” Gordy said. “It would sure be nice to know what’s going on.”
Rudy swiveled around in his chair. “Let’s see how this plays out for a while. Sam may just be trying something; who knows? Until then let’s make sure this doesn’t divide the newsroom. Let’s keep the moral high and do our jobs. Sam may even be having a break down.”
It was always known that Sam had a special feeling toward Rich, however it was never noticed preferentially in the office. Sam had boundaries. He was very professional and pragmatic.
June started fresh. Comfortable breezes from the south passed through trees and carried the purity of nature. Every morning was like an awakening to a fresh new world unspotted and unpolluted. The kind of air you want to breath in and not let go. And there was no tension in the office.
Sam’s days were full. He was now managing four newspapers and yet was able to spend about 30 after work a couple of times a week with Rich. They spent the time discussing style and form. Sam patiently taught Rich to make his writing personal and how to persuade without the appearance of persuasion. It was subtle, but Rich caught on quickly.
They sat side by side at Rich’s desk in the newsroom. It was about 7:00 PM. They both wore white shirts with the sleeves rolled up. Both were tired from a day’s work. Sam had gone line by line over a writing exercise he had given to Rich. Sam asked Rich to rewrite one of his articles written about the Port Clyde situation not as a report, but from his point of view.
"Forget how to write a news story," Sam said. "Think about what you now see and experience, those are the bones. Think next of everything you've ever read, seen and experienced, that is the flesh, the muscle, and sinews. Then how it makes you feel and what you want others to feel that is the heart and the blood that flows through the story. Like when you saw that hammer thrown at you, it was like the first time you faced curve ball; you didn’t know whether to stand in there or duck. You trembled. You gripped the steering while like a Louisville Slugger. Get the point? Put the reader behind your eyeballs. Some have it, some don't. I want an essay about your sailing by tomorrow. At least seven hundred and fifty words and no more than a thousand and not one letter of your work can slip here. I want to see how you can write."
“I have something in mind,” Rich said, “the voyage back from the Cape.”
“Speaking of which,” Sam said, “have you given further thought to the books Frank gave you and the one from my library?”
“No,” Rich said.
“Have you not been curious or motivated enough to explore other similar writings?” Sam asked.
“Not really,” Rich said. “The style used in those books are persuasive. It’s more than a presentation of facts, it’s manipulation. If I’m going to be a journalists I must remain objective and be able to recognize writing and speech that is nonobjective.”
“Those books were meant to bring you around,” Sam said. “They were supposed to open your mind to realities that are on the horizon. They are of changes. We all have an opportunity to be on the right side of history. Journalists, writers, and artists must lead the way.”
“I thought we were just supposed to report the truth,” Rich said.
“There is more than one truth,” Sam said. He walked his finger across his desk. “He walked. He led. He followed. He stepped. He limped and so on. We can lead, others will follow.”
“It almost sounds like a revolution,” Rich smiled uncomfortably.
Sam looked solemnly at Rich. “Really.”
Rich swallowed hard. “This country is like huge battleship; it can’t be turned because a few little boats are in the way. Battleships go where they won’t to. It takes a long time for them to alter their course.”
“But a single torpedo can sink one,” Sam said, “and they are much smaller than the battleship.”
“The problem is that once it strikes the battleship the torpedoes life is over,” Rich said.
Sam’s mouth turned down and he nodded slightly. “Go home and write,” Sam said.
“Yes, sir,” Rich said, “I will.”
Rich was so deep in thought that he walked up, forgetting the Jeep in the parking lot. He walked back and drove it home. He saw Sam through the window from on the street. He sat motionless at his desk staring at the wall across from him.
Rich went home that night and typed a rough copy. He made corrections and rewrote it again. He woke early and rewrote it again.