I think Lucy has more words than Sam now. So, we're back to Lucy and Sam. Today, we're trying to move the plot along while still giving us a chance to watch Lucy squirm. We're also seeing her in the element she'd much rather be in. One of the things about comedy is that it has to be tightly plotted, almost as tightly plotted as a legitimate Who Done It?
A legitimate murder mystery, by the way, is one in which the reader is given all the clues the investigators receive and has an even shot of resolving the crime. With comedy, the audience should be able to start to get a vague inkling of how the story is going to climax. The exact details shouldn't be telegraphed, because if they are you lose a key element of comedy: the unexpected reveal. Even gag comedies, like Police Squad/The Naked Gun, which rely on a constant stream of little funnies, build up to set piece finales.
In comedy, the reader/viewer has an idea how things will end. You surprise them by either playing with how you get to that end game, or you surprise them by subverting the end game. The point being that, this bit, is a rather slow part in service of plot, that, hopefully, still has enough amusement to not frustrate the reader. Fiction below the fold, catch up with the links above the fold. As always, the page-a-day fiction, minimal editing happened here.
1. Start of Lucy's first chapter
2. Conclusion of the first Lucy chapter
3. Start of Sam's chapter
4. Sam's story continues with an unfortunate evening
5. Our two main characters interact as Sam gets shot down.
* * *
Let me be honest with you: I’m not proud of what I said. It just sort of came out; between Fiona’s badgering and Sam’s puppy dog stare — maybe that’s what it was — I just couldn’t think of anything else. It was like that for the rest of the afternoon.
“So, how did you meet him?” One of the girls at work would ask.
“I’ve known him forever, it seems like.”
“Sounds like a great guy,” so-and-so would say.
“Yeah, he is.”
“You hear so-and-so? Lucy’s got herself a real catch.” Then it was so-and-so’s turn to ask about how wonderful a man Rusty is and how happy I must be. And on and on. I didn’t want to lie, but I also didn’t want to get caught lying. When it was time to leave I couldn’t escape fast enough. So, let’s re-evaluate my life decisions while I change out of my Olive Garden work clothes into my director’s assistant and all-around movie-making work clothes. Infomercials are a kind of movie.
One: I am an incredible liar. Two: Christine’s advice is the worst advice. Three: I am dating my childhood dog. If I had a psychiatrist, this would be fertile ground for revelations and un-repressing things. That’s still a thing people do, right? Repress things? Because I’d like to repress the memory of today. I left for my real awesome job before Christine came back in. Which was for the best, because her pint-sized frame would prostrate itself before my wrath.
I don’t even like Sam; he’s creepy and awkward. I like it when Fiona ruins his day, but I can’t bring myself to do it. Sort of like I read revenge fiction and romance novels, but I could never do some of the horrible things those people do. I like it as entertainment, not as real life. Though, I suppose, I like it better than having accidentally taken myself out of the dating pool among the people connected to me at work. At least, until Christine helps me come up with a way out of this.
The other thing I liked about working at the station (I prefer that to “selling Oxyclean,” because, well, Oxyclean is a respectable product compared to what we sell), is that the people there respect each other. We know we’re the bottom of the barrel, but we don’t slack off. It is the best two hours of live crap selling at night you’ll ever see. Our hosts, Jon and Tanya, make everything seem so amazing. Especially Jon; he reminds me of one of those television preachers, but with better hair. Amazing hair. And a voice that would be great for radio if his face wasn’t meant for television. He’s perfect for our primary market: middle-aged women, most likely divorced or thinking about divorce, looking for a man who seems trusting, handsome and who wants you to treat yourself.
No, he doesn’t want me to treat myself. He thinks I deserve the best, and, for a moment, when he catches my eye behind the camera, and his eye twinkles in the stage lighting, I think he is selling the best. Then we have to cut to Tanya oohing and ahhing like Mrs. Howell in one of her gaudy dresses. You wonder how a woman who spends all her time in front of the camera could possibly dress so bad. She doesn’t fit our target demographic. Unless these insomniac housewives are looking for someone to feel superior too. Then she fits the bill perfectly. I know during her segments I feel superior.
When I arrived Jon was talking with our staff. That was another reason Jon was our favorite; he talked with us. Sometimes, he’d even help me move something if it was too big to get myself. And he never asked me to get him coffee. One day, he brought me coffee during a break. Well, he brought everyone coffee, but he handed me mine instead of just putting it on the folding table. Well, I was one of the two people standing there that he handed it too. Look, he knows my name without looking at my name tag; the creepy old guy who sells faux antiques every other Friday always has to look at my name tag.
At least, I tell myself he’s looking at my name tag. Because my tender brain can’t take the other possibilities.
Our director, who I assist when I’m not saving his ass, is an old industry hand. He says he likes working these hours because it means he’s sleeping while his kids are at school, working while his kids are sleeping and at home when they’re actually awake enough to enjoy him being home.
“Also,” Roger told me one day during a four in the morning happy hour after a good night where we were able to tape something that would be seen during actual day light hours. “My wife told me that if my snoring woke her up once more, we’d get divorced. Not sleeping together saved my marriage.”
I had laughed at that, and then he’d shown me pictures of his kids. He had gotten me a few odd-jobs, but they were for theaters. I took them, because it was a chance, but they never turned into anything. When I got there early, he was in the corner that he called his office. He whistled and waved me over. I pulled my half-sized notebook from my purse and plucked out my pen (it was blue. Some girls carry around purple or pink pens, but I’m a professional) from my breast pocket and was ready to write.
“Lucy, glad to see. Ready to sell some Pledgex — the infringing brand name of a multipurpose cleaner?”
“Sir, I am proud to array our team’s considerable skills on infringing some products.”
“Damn right you are. Also: Your alter ego working much this week?”
“I can switch shifts,” I said. Fiona owed me. She didn’t know she owed me; she didn’t know why she owed me. But she did. And I collect. In full.
“Good. There’s a charity event, something about cancer or puppy dogs. Point is, they asked Jon to be their speaker that night. He needs a speech.”
“Cancer and puppy dogs are two very different things,” I said. “Give me the name of the event, and I can draft him a speech before then.”
“I don’t have the time to figure all that out,” He said. “My assistant’ll give you the details.”
“I thought so. That’s why I said it,” He said. He finished fiddling with his smartphone and finally actually looked at me. “Look, I told Jon to get here early and to give you all the information. He’s probably in the office reading up his notes on how Pledgex gets out the toughest stains. Now, do you know why I’m having you do this for me?”
“Because you love me?” I asked as I tucked my purse into the most secure place in his office, namely, the prop box for the afternoon kids show. I had a chance to help with that once. Sesame Street has spoiled me. Public access puppets are just creepy. Child’s Play creepy. Like someone fed the Muppets after midnight.
“Because you’re the only one who’ll do it without needing over time,” Roger said, as he patted me on the shoulder. “Which is why I love you.”