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Infernis – Chapter Fifty-Six

April 17, 2013

Chapter Fifty-Six

What big eyes you have, Grandma.

Jerry was waiting. He was also sweating. He had only been on the job for five and a half weeks at this point.

Of course he had been lucky to be working in Texas instead of California. He was thankful for that at least. He remembered that at times like this.

Jerry knew the position was going to be tough. He knew the turnover had been high. And he knew the reason.

He was gazing at the reason right now. “The Angel of Death.” Taht was now the boss’ nickname due to his tendency to fire people by pointing his finger and saying “You. Are. Gone.”

He was on his cellphone. He was also still sitting on set. Still had the makeup bib on from when Jerry called the makeup girl in as distraction. The boss was even still miked.

It didn’t matter. Whatever the face of the network said, whatever he wanted, it was as good as holy writ.

Better even. Though the instructions might be ambiguous, arbitrary, and often capricious, they were carried out to the letter whether it made any sense or not.

Jerry had just taken over some of the tasks of his predecessors. He made sure that the kid in the mailroom kept the coke coming and was in the boss’ dressing room each morning. That gave the line ‘white as snow’ from some hymn a whole new meaning.

And so, like the last seven producers, Jerry was waiting for the inevitable point and the words that would put him back to looking for work. He’d barely unpacked. At least that would mean less work picking up and relocating again.

“Yeah? So, you’ve been a bad, bad girl, then? When was the last time you washed your twat?”

Jerry wasn’t sure what the protocol was. Should he be standing closer? Or further away? What was the proper distance when the boss was talking dirty on the phone to his mistress and you were waiting to be fired?

Of course, like Oedipus, Jerry had run smack into his fate by trying really, really hard to avoid it. He had worked the tech department like mad. Made them work weekends and long weekday hours making sure every goddam light, every mike, every wire, every single technical aspect of the show was in working order, was documented as to that fact, and documented who it was who had checked each particular item and when.

Making a chain of responsibility had been key to surviving this long. So far, he’d managed to push blame off on a couple of interns, Kraft services, and one very talented technical director.

The last was the problem. Once he had had to play that card, he lost some of his control over the tech crew and had less places to spread the blame if something major went wrong.

As had happened just fifteen minutes ago. There was a problem with camera 3 and audio. They had fixed that quickly by replacing the mike.

But then the teleprompter had gone wonky seven minutes after that. The screen was going bad and they didn’t have another one nearby.

They were just supposed to do a quick spot for tomorrow’s show about God’s hatred of show business and all that is Hollywood. He’d gotten a lot of mileage out of that one. The plague in New York had helped to bolster that argument.

The ad was supposed to air in forty-five minutes. Then the good tele-reverend was to go home and see his wife. Then he would go see his mistress. Repeat tomorrow.

Jerry thought about letting tomorrow worry about tomorrow. Then he decided that whoever said that didn’t have a mortgage, an ex-wife, and two kids in college. And they certainly didn’t work for him.

“Mmm. Shave it, but don’t wash it. Daddy’s agonna to clean yer cunt for ya tonight. Mmm-hm! Bye.”

The reverend snapped the clamshell shut and looked up. He gave Jerry a thousand yard stare.

Jerry waited for it. The finger. The catchphrase. The laughter. The humiliation. The ‘You. Are. G–‘

Then the boss smiled.

“Call my wife. Tell her I have to work late. Technical problem.

“F*** it!!!”

The Angel of Death’s spittle flew at Jerry’s face. But at least there was no finger. The boss shuffled the paper on his desk for effect.

“Do it live. We’ll do it live! Get the f***ing cards ready.”

Jerry had survived another day. Once he found out why the teleprompter was out, someone else wouldn’t. Even if it wasn’t their fault. Didn’t matter. It was survival of the quickest to spread blame.

Jerry muttered something about mysterious ways to himself as he walked away from the seat of judgment.


From → Infernis, Novels

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