Roger, the scheming bastard, deliberately pounded loudly on the door, as he knew I was hurting, that every sound reverberated through my skull with agonising force.
‘It’s open!’ I screamed, holding my head.
‘Come on,’ Roger said, striding into the room, ‘it’s another beautiful San Francisco day!’
‘Don’t make me sick!’ I groaned. ‘I just want to die.’
‘If you don’t get into the channel, your wish will come true as Quigley will murder you!’
‘I feel too sick to work…’
‘You can’t pull that routine, Charlie. Quigley knows you were going out with your buddies.’
Ah, yeah, now I remember.
‘Had to celebrate Murray’s engagement.’
‘Who is Murray?’ Roger asked with interest.
‘A bloke I know, another cameraman except he does movies.’
Blearily, I looked up at Roger who grinned down at me.
‘Shit, Charlie, you look awful!’
‘Gee, thanks, Roger!’ I grunted, slurping coffee.
‘You should have switched to soda water after a few drinks.’
‘You are not my mother, Roger! Stop nagging me!’
‘Speaking of which, have you called your mother?’
‘God, Roger, are you a woman or something! No, I haven’t called her…’
‘It is her birthday!’
‘She’s in London, her birthday was yesterday…’
‘So call and apologise for missing it!’
‘Just leave me alone! Fuck! I’m dying here!’
‘Dying is too good for you, Charlie,’ Roger said cheerfully. ‘Have you showered?’
I didn’t answer, just jabbed a finger at my wet hair as evidence of my brief encounter with water.
‘That will have to do,’ he said, looking me up and down. ‘Jeans and a T-shirt again?’
‘Roger, leave me alone!’
‘Charlie, don’t try to be the asshole with me; I know you!’
‘Asshole? Why do you keep calling me a donkey’s bum?’
‘You try to be a hard case but I know. I saw you help that old black woman across the road.’
‘Don’t lie, Charlie, I saw you and I know what I saw! Was she blind?’
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about!’
‘Yes, you do, you liar! I saw you, Charlie! You can deny it but I saw you being nice!’
‘I’m never nice,’ I groaned.
‘Crap! You help an old blind woman across the street.’
‘You must have me confused…’
‘No, I don’t! You can’t fool me, Charlie Addison! Now, get focussed on work!’
‘I’m focussed,’ I groaned. ‘Just don’t shout!’
‘Ok, ok. Come on. My car’s outside! We’d better get in before Quigley has a coronary!’
‘You have to have a heart to have a heart attack,’ I grunted as I walked unsteadily out of the apartment, ‘so that rules out Quigley!’
‘Charlie, you look like shit!’ Jack Quigley grunted.
‘Gee, thanks Boss, it’s good to see you as well!’
‘I need you to do a job.’
‘So I gather.’
‘So I gather!’ Quigley mimicked a bad English accent.
‘If that’s supposed to be an impersonation of me, don’t give up your day job! Comedy Central is not going to scoop you up!’
He jabbed a finger at me.
‘One day, I’ll kick your sorry ass out of here…’
‘Then kick away. It would be a fucking relief!’
‘I don’t know why I keep you on the team.’
‘Yes you do. I’m your best news cameraman!’
‘You were but we’re getting a new cameraman,’ Quigley said with a broad smile. ‘Trip Howard.’
I sat up in the chair. Quigley had my attention.
‘Trip Howard from Channel 7?’
‘Yep. He’s good.’
Grudgingly, I had to agree.
‘I’m giving him a run this afternoon. He’s doing the news stories,’ Quigley said.
Our channel took the network news so we only did the local stories and a superficial newsmagazine. You know the type of show. The one where the host shows you how to lose weight, the bimbo reporter shows the latest cute little cocktail dress and what dog makes the best pet.
‘If you’ve got him for news, what do you need me for?’
‘I should fire you!’
‘So, fire me,’ I said wearily. ‘Then I can die in peace.’
‘Today, I’m putting you with Emily Burdon…’
‘Emily Burdon! God, no!’
Emily Burdon was the fashion reporter who did the frothy stories on fashion, celebrities and crazy fads. She was, of course, gorgeous and was always perfectly groomed. Dark haired, big eyes and big boobs, she had made it purely on her good looks and her “cute” accent.
I guess a plummy upper class English accent was cute for Americans!
‘Can’t you two get on?’
‘She’s an airhead…’
‘No, she’s not. I don’t see the fucking problem, Charlie! You’re both Brits!’
‘She’s the sort of bitch I left the U.K. to get away from! This is bollocks, Boss…’
‘You’re working with her!’
‘Jesus H. Christ! This is bollocks!’
‘Or I fire you.’
‘Your choice, Charlie!’
‘The network wants a decent audition tape so I want it shot properly.’
Quigley thrust a fat finger at me.
‘Make her look good, Charlie, or you are history!’
Suddenly, I knew he meant it.
‘I will,’ I mumbled.
‘Not much for you to do, she’s photogenic.’
‘I suppose so,’ I mumbled, ‘if you like scatty Sloane rangers…’
‘Fuck, Charlie, what are you babbling about? I can never understand you! Emily Burdon is beautiful and will be a star!’
She was beautiful and I had almost fallen for those big doe eyes and the yummy figure but inside that designer dress was a heart of a pure vixen and manipulative bitch!
‘Go do it, Charlie! Just make sure you’ve got her in focus. No fuck ups, Charlie. You got that?’
‘Yes,’ I mumbled, ‘I’ve got it!’
I signed out the camera and the recorder. After a handful of pills, my headache had receded and my head didn’t hurt when I bent down to put the equipment into a bag.
Then, high heel shoes tapped their way down the corridor and I knew it was Emily Burdon.
The Bimbo Walks!
Good title for a movie!
Wearily, I looked up. Emily leaned against the door, folded her arms and looked me up and down.
She was, of course, beautiful as always. Immaculate in a business jacket and short skirt. There was no doubt Emily was a real dolly bird with a great body.
Emily Burdon was beautiful in an Angelina Jolie sort of way – dark and brooding with big soulful eyes – but there was no warmth in those eyes.
‘There is the evidence,’ she said with a dramatic sigh, pointing at me, ‘that Jack Quigley hates me.’
‘If it’s any consolation, the prick hates me as well!’
Emily took a tentative step forward.
‘Whatever. Look, I don’t like you and you don’t like me. It’s obvious but we have to work together for the day.’
‘I can hardly wait! What groundbreaking story are we doing? The latest lipstick shade?’
‘Wow,’ Emily said sarcastically, ‘you know that there are shades? I thought you only went for scrubbers wearing Slut Red!’
‘Is that the colour you’re wearing?’
We scowled at each other for a moment, although I had to admit that whatever lipstick shade she was wearing, her full and pouting lips looked very inviting!
‘We have a story to do,’ Emily said through gritted teeth. ‘Let’s put this bollocks aside for one day.’
‘A whole day? Fuck, I can’t stand it!’
‘No! It’s one segment this afternoon. All you have to do is point the camera and shoot.’
‘My job is a little more complicated than that!’
‘Whatever you say, although thousands wouldn’t believe you! I’m driving!’
‘I do and I have the keys!’
Emily strode away with an angry flounce and I told myself to stop looking at her arse.
‘It’s only this afternoon,’ I muttered as I swung the equipment bag over my shoulder. ‘Just one afternoon with the bitch from hell!’