We met with the actors in Charles Dickens, all of whom were excited both as a result of the upcoming show, but because there were several reporters in attendance eagerly shining our spotlight and journalistic efforts on behalf of the show.
They were real, honest and fun. It was obvious they were into the characters and looking forward to their performance the following night. Emma admired the comradery involved. No one present was an attention seeker and as soon as they’d answered their question they brought the attention back to the entire troupe. It was humbling that although creative, articulate and obviously adept each in their own right, they were there for the good of the whole, the performance and show in general.
Emma was interviewing a young man, in his late teens when a scuffle broke out. Startled, she turned to look into the eyes of a man whose abject stare targeted her directly. Fearful hate blasted her, searing her, filled with a burning desire for bodily harm. She involuntarily took a step backward, pulling Marcy with her.
Marcy turned startled eyes toward Emma and noting the direction of her gaze, turned the camera on the man advancing toward them. Before he’d moved more than five feet, he went down, tackled by a man although not as tall, obviously well built. Immediately he was hog tied and yanked to his feet, disappearing into the crowd.
Emma shook, she couldn’t help it. She knew he’d come for her. Face ashen, she watched and caught a glimpse of him as he was practically dragged from the room. A woman dressed in jeans and sweater stared back at her and imperceptibly nodded. It was such a minute movement she wasn’t even sure it had happened.
“Um, Emma, what was that all about? That guy wasn’t here for the cast of the show. I mean he was staring directly at you and clearly intended getting to you and I somehow doubt it was because he enjoyed your journalism.”
“Yeah, I saw that. Scary. I’m…I’m not sure what that was. Think I ticked someone off? Was it my hair, or my eyes do you think?”
“There you go again, that light-hearted humour intended to distract. What’s this really about?”
“At this point, anything I might say would be conjecture.”
“Is it that story you’re working on? The one about the young woman murdered. . .”
“Marcy, the less you know, the safer you’ll be. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Believe me.”
Marcy was startled by Emma’s response. “Have you told Harold about this? Does he know what’s going on?”
“Yeah, he knows.” Turning to face her Emma continued, “Not a word, Marcy, please! He wants to pull me off the story and with or without his sanction, I’m going to continue. I mean it, please! Keep this incident to yourself.”
“OK, got it, but I doubt I’ll have to say anything.”
“What do you mean?”
“Look around, Emma. There are at least a half-dozen journalists and photographers here. My money’s on at least one of them catching this incident on camera. So my advice, for what it’s worth, tell Harold before he catches sight of it on the news.”
“Yes, you’re right. I never thought of that. Dang it!”
They returned to the van and back to the office where Darcy hurried back to the tape room to ready her work for print. Glancing back at Emma as she continued on, she was worried. If Emma didn’t say anything to Harold, then she would.
Emma wrote up her notes for the two articles and headed to the type-setter to offer them along with Marcy whose pictures were also ready. They waited around to see what the article would look like, and both were pleased with their efforts. They did the high-five salute and Emma hurried to Harold’s office.
“Got a minute, Harold?”
“Sure, come in, come in, how’d it go?”
“Well, it went very well. I think you’ll enjoy the article. Very enjoyable.”
“So, out with it, Emma. What’s got your tongue? And don’t say the cat. I can read you like a book.”
“Oddly enough while we were interviewing the cast for the show, a man entered the room heading our way. Seemed like an angry man to me. He was taken down and out but Marcy pointed out the incident was probably caught on tape.”
“What’s so noteworthy about this then? He have a beef with the cast or something?”
“No, I don’t think so. I think his beef was with me.”
“Explain!” He sat forward, elbows on his desk, one hand covering the other as he leaned onto them for support.
“Marcy got it on tape. It looks like he was coming after me. For some reason, she thinks I was his intended target.”
“It’s fine, Harold, security got him immediately he made a move. He didn’t get within ten feet of me probably twenty. I didn’t get to talk to whoever took him down in order to determine if he had a weapon. For all I know it was a beef with where the news van was parked.”
“Yeah, we both know that’s not true!”
“I’m really not worried, Herold. I was startled at first, who wouldn’t be? Someone stares you down like they wished you’d burn in hell, you kinda take note.”
“You’re off the story! End of discussion!” Harold jumped up from his seat and stared her down.
“I guess that only leaves one alternative. I take an early vacation. I’m finishing this story, Harold. I’m not letting it go.”
“You continue with this Emma, I swear to god I’ll see you don’t work at this office again!”
Standing Emma quietly replied, “Harold, I hope you don’t mean that. I hope it’s just concern talking. I love my job and I don’t want to go job hunting after the holidays, but if you force my hand, I will.”
“We’ll see about that!” Harold was angrier than she’d ever seen him.
“I’ll see you after my vacation, Harold.”
She walked away, in part hurt at his attitude, and in part grateful he cared. Since there wasn’t anything left to do but leave, Emma packed up her belongings, nearly cleaning out her desk, and with a final look toward Harold’s office, left without a word to anyone.