Sunday, February 19, 2017

Tauy Creek Digest #33: Damnation

Benjamin Lindstrom got off the elevator and approached the receptionist desk where a floppy-haired bearded guy was standing and scrolling through his phone. Ben licked his lips and began talking. "Hi, I'm..."

The receptionist cut him off. "We usually don't get bomb threats until after the new issue comes out," he eyed Ben's briefcase.

"What? No. I'm Benjamin Lindstrom. I'm the new editor-in-chief."

"Oh," he trailed off. "Come on, I'll take you to Mr. Perry." They began walking through the office. The whole time the receptionist was scrolling and texting on his phone.

"Do you get a lot of bomb threats?" Ben asked.

"About once a month. We upset a lot of people," they went into an office with 'Editor-In-Chief' on the door. "Mr. Perry, Benjamin Lindstrom is here."

"Thank you, Kyle. Benjamin, how are you?"

"I'm fine, sir. You can call me Ben."

"Okay. Benjamin, you are going to be the overseer of our little group here. You are the moderator and mediator of half a dozen or so voices. You keep them on the rails even if they've already come off," Jack explained.

"What do you mean?"

"Jack, I have what I want the next issue's cover to be," an older man came in carrying a cover mock-up.

"Here's your first fire. Benjamin, this is Fred. Fred, this is Benjamin, the new editor-in-chief," Jack walked out of the office.

"Ah. Okay. Benjamin, I have what I want for the next cover," Fred handed Ben the mock-up.

The picture was the President's head atop the elaborate golden robes of King Henry VIII. The caption underneath read: 'You know you want it.' "We're not using this," Ben said and handed it back.

"Why not? Matt in graphics worked really hard on this," Fred said.

"And I will give him all the kudos he deserves but we are not using it."

"Give me one good reason."

"You're the new editor-in-chief?" a short Hispanic woman with long brown hair and big glasses came into the office.

"Yeah, can you give me one second?" Ben said. "We use provocative but neutral covers. Now, if we split the cover and show the President as a man of the people we could run that," Ben turned to the woman. "Hi."

"Hi, you need to sign off on this," she handed Ben a small stack of papers.

"Okay," he glanced at the top piece of paper. "Thanks, Isabella," he looked back down at the paper. "Whoa. You can't use this title."

"Fire her," a lighter brown-haired woman, very thin and angular, came in. "I warned her about that title."

"What's wrong with it?" Isabella asked.

"You can't call half our readers," he looked down "'fucking morons.'"

"I disagree," Isabella said.

"Fire her," the thin woman said again.

"And you are?" Ben asked her.

"Sarah. I'm the head conservative writer."

"Nice to meet you," Ben said. "I will read this, Isabella, and make sure it is okay but the title has to be changed."

"Fine," Isabella huffed and turned to leave.

"Think of how many people would buy the magazine with this cover," Fred attempted to sway Ben again.

"Yeah, the wrong kind of people who will then call and email about having liberal articles," Ben explained.

"So? Then we just fire Isabella and Justin and hire new conservative writers."

"Told you you couldn't call our readers fucking morons, Isabella," Sarah said quietly.

"At least I didn't want to call our readers retards," Isabella snapped back.

"No. No. I used libtard. Completely different."

"No, it's not. Everyone knows exactly what you mean by libtard and it's offensive."

"Pfft," Sarah scoffed. "Such a snowflake."

"That's enough," Ben shouted. "Fred, we are not using this cover. Get me the articles you are working on and I'll read them and come up with a neutral cover on my own. Isabella, Sarah, we will not--NOT--insult or degrade any--ANY--of our readers. Is that clear?"

"Yes," they both muttered.

"I'll get you my article," Sarah said.

"We can just use your idea of splitting the cover between this and a man of the people one," Fred said.

"No, that ship has sailed. I will choose the cover. If you can handle it, next week maybe you can help with it."

"But why...?"

"Why, Fred? Why? Because I'm the boss, Fred, and I will not be pushed around. I will not be manipulated. And I will do my best to be as fair and balanced as possible. If you don't like that then maybe we will hire some new conservative writers. Clear?"

"Crystal," Fred said. "Can I hang this up in my cubicle?"

Ben sighed. "Of course. Maybe at the end of the year we can do a rejected cover section."

"That'd be cool. Good idea."

"Thanks," Ben said. "Get me your article by the end of the day."

"Yes, boss."

Ben sat down in the chair at his desk and breathed deeply.

"Hi. Hey," someone poked their head into the office. "I heard that I was going to be fired?"

Ben looked at him. "Justin?"

He nodded his head.

"No. I'm not firing anybody."

Justin scoffed. "You guys need to quit pre-firing me when we get a new editor-in-chief," Justin shouted toward the bullpen.