Anderton Baumgardner was sitting in his bass fishing boat when he heard the news about
Johnny's arrest. He was wearing his lucky fishing vest and lucky fishing hat loaded down
with lucky lures while casting a western spin twirler as far as his arm could whip it.
"Dad, the phone's for
you," his daughter called out.
"I'll be right there,
pumpkin," he said, putting down the fishing rod and clambering out of the boat that
was perched on a trailer in the driveway leading to the garage of his large tri-level
"Hey, Winnie, Holmby
here," the voice on the other end of the phone said. "I hope I'm not
"No, no. I was just
finishing up some chores around the house."
Winston was silent.
"Your daughter said you were
fishing in the back yard," Holmby continued.
Winston dropped his lucky fishing
hat on the coffee table. "Right, fishing," he said with a chuckle. "You
know how kids are."
"Look Winnie, I'm sorry to
bother you at home but I knew you'd want to hear about this as soon as possible."
"What's up?" Winston
"It just came over the wire;
they arrested some kid in those robberies."
Winston was the Senior Editor of
the Weekly World Scene. It was he who had pushed so hard to move the story of the
robberies from a small article on page 34 to a larger one on page five to a screaming
headline on page one. Just this past week he'd argued long and hard for his new idea, one
which he was convinced would boost the tabloid's already massive circulation to new
heights. And as so often happens, he won out. This weeks issue, which was being
distributed at the very moment Winston heard this news, featured a front page which was
nothing but 120 point type that screamed:
"I said they've got a
"I heard you the first
time," Winston said. "Are you positive of this?"
"I've got the UPI story in
my hot little hands."
"The god damned sons of
fucking bitches. This really sucks dead donkey dicks," Winnie spat out. "When
did it come over the wire?"
"Just this minute,"
Holmby said. "I think you owe me, Winnie."
"When did you become such a
"When did we start working
Winston hung up. It was a good
thing Holmby was working tonight. He didnt work for the Scenewhich
didnt subscribe to the wire services since they werent nearly creative enough
for their lurid needshe actually wrote for a real newspaper, though that didn't stop
him from passing along information or story ideas when the inspiration struck. For a fee,
Winston tried calling the
Managing Editor, who was "unable to come to the phone", a phrase which loosely
translated as "it's after eight o'clock you silly ass; he passed out drunk hours
ago." He knew the publisher was unavailable, for at that very moment he was somewhere
in the middle of the Sahara attempting to be the first man to cross that desert riding a
balloon-wheeled sand bicycle.
"What do you mean
recall the papers?" Flash Stanley asked incredulously when Winston got him on the
phone. Hed heard some pretty ridiculous requests in his day, but this took the cake.
"Just what I said. Can you
get them back?"
"Jesus, I don't know."
"Well if you don't,
who would?" Winston asked, "You're the fuckin' circulation manager, right?"
"Look, they're already out
in the system. I don't know if there's any way in hell I can call them back at this
"Try," Winston said.
"'Cause if you dont, that's exactly where we'll both be tomorrow morning."
Two hours and three Tanqueray and
tonics later the phone rang.
"I did it," Flash said.
"All of 'em?"
"What does that mean?"
"That means there are gonna
be a few we can't get our hands on, but we'll have ninety-nine percent of 'em. Maybe
ninety-nine point five."
"Good work," Winston
said, "I owe you one."
"You know what you owe
me?" Flash asked.
"If you still have it in the
morning, you owe me your job."
Winston hung up and finished his
drink in one gulp. Flash was right.
[ Chapter 22 ]