A Word in Your Ear
Although there is no newspaper anywhere in the United States like the Weekly Galaxy, as any alert reader will quickly realize, were there such a newspaper in actual real-life existence its activities would be stranger, harsher and more outrageous than those described herein. The fictioneer labors under the restraint of plausibility; his inventions must stay within the capacity of the audience to accept and believe. God, of course, working with facts, faces no such limitation. Were there a factual equivalent to the Weekly Galaxy, it would be much worse than the paper I have invented, its staff and ownership even more lost to all considerations of truth, taste, proportion, honor, morality or any shred of common humanity. Trust me.
Midafternoon, in the bustling editorial offices of the Weekly Galaxy. Jack Ingersoll paced his squaricle, assembling his list for tomorrow morning’s conference with Massa. Pausing, he squinted one-eyed across the heaving writhing squaricles toward the battery of reporters, gnawing away at their phones. He said, “Glue on Postage Stamps Can Give You Migraines, Doctors Fear.”
“Is that one sentence or two?” Mary Kate replied, but she typed, she typed.
Jack nodded, unheeding. “Jogging Causes Nymphomania,” he said.
Boy Cartwright, the limey bastard, the rotten Englishman, Massa’s pet editor, the only person in the known universe with a corner squaricle–walls and windows on two sides!–Jack’s least favorite living creature, came and stood in the door space of the squaricle and smiled. Jack hated it when Boy Cartwright smiled, when that doughy baby-fat face spread its puffy pink lips. Jack would much prefer to see Boy Cartwright’s unhealthy face twisted with agony, or that soft and sluglike body cowering in abject terror. The reason Jack watched Wages of Fear every time it came on television was so he could pretend it was Boy Cartwright being dragged down into that oozing lake of oil and squashed beneath the wheels of the straining truck.
But here was Boy at the door space to Jack’s squaricle, his usual shit-eating smile smeared across his white diseased-pumpkin face.
“Listen, Boy,” Jack said, “don’t you have a belfry to haunt?”
“Ahsk me,” Boy suggested, “what’s the good word.”
“Will you then go away?”
“Oh, absolutely,” Boy promised.
“All right,” Jack said, “What’s the good word, Boy?”
“Felicia,” Boy pronouned, with loving care on every syllable. Then he smiled even more horribly than before and, true to his word, went away.
Felicia! He knew! The bastard knew! Jack’s face twisted with agony as he turned to Mary Kate, who was glaring poison-tipped darts at Boy’s back. “How?” Jack demanded. “Who?”
Because it had to be a mole within his own team, a viper in his bosom. His scoop was a scoop no longer. Jack Ingersoll and his team were no longer the only ones who knew that John Michael Mercer had thrown over Fluffy MacDougall for someone named Felicia.