The director cut to a head-on shot of the woman.
“Thank you, Eliza. On the surface Constance Young led a very glamorous life. Professionally, viewers saw her interviewing presidents and kings and sports heroes and rock stars. Her access to and association with these celebrities made her a celebrity as well. On the flip side, the morning-television audience saw her talking with children or petting camels and elephants or dressing in Halloween costumes. That made her very human, very approachable. So on the one hand Constance was up there on a pedestal, and, on the other, people felt they knew her.”
“They felt they knew her even though they’d never met her?” Eliza asked.
Margo nodded. “Yes, because they learned so much about her. People were intrigued by her personal life, whom she dated, where she went, what she wore. There were countless articles about her, discussing her family, her friends, where she grew up, where she went to school, where she lived, what she did for fun. How many times have you seen a picture of Constance in a magazine, Eliza?”
Eliza smiled. “Too many to count.”
“Exactly,” said Margo. “All that exposure—on the air, in the print media, in ad campaigns—made Constance a public figure, but in addition to that, her coming into our homes on a daily basis, so we started our day with her, morning after morning, bred a real familiarity. When the day broke, there was Constance Young, just like the sun. We came to feel we actually knew her, that she was a part of our lives. Of course we’re going to feel upset and sad that she’s gone.”
A s soon as the broadcast was over, Lauren tore down the country road in her BMW. Annabelle and B.J. drove back to Manhattan together, dreading what was waiting for them at the Broadcast Center. The executive producer had instructed them to meet him in his office before they went home for the night.
“We’re in it deep, Beej,” said Annabelle, resting her head back and closing her eyes.
“I might be in it, but you’re not,” B.J. said calmly. “You didn’t know a thing about the dead dog or the cops talking about the missing unicorn, and you certainly didn’t know that I was going to tell Eliza instead of Lauren.”
“I was the producer, B.J. It’s my responsibility to know.”
“Don’t worry. I’m gonna take all the heat, but there isn’t really that much Linus can do about it.” B.J. shrugged. “The worst that will happen is he’ll drop me from the show, but he won’t be able to fire me from KEY News. The union will protect me.”
Annabelle stared straight ahead at the highway. B.J. was single, and while he still had his rent and bills to pay, it somehow seemed that he would be all right no matter what. But Annabelle was the main bread-winner in her house. Her family couldn’t continue the life they had without her salary. A family of four, living in New York City, wouldn’t be able to cut it on the money Mike made as a firefighter. She couldn’t afford to lose her job.
Though she sometimes daydreamed about quitting her job at KEY to America and escaping the grinding pressure Linus inflicted on his staff, Annabelle didn’t delude herself that things would necessarily be any better at another network. Plus, she felt a loyalty to KEY News and didn’t want to leave. Now she prayed Linus wasn’t going to force her to go.
The office door was open.
“Well, well, if it isn’t the dynamic duo.” Linus sat behind his massive, cluttered desk. He was leaning back in his chair, a football palmed in his thick hand. “Come in. Close the door and take a seat.”
Annabelle and B.J. obeyed as Linus tossed the ball in the air and caught it.
“You know, I’ve been in this business for over thirty years, and I’ve seen a lot of things, unbelievable things.” Linus spoke calmly. “But I don’t ever recall seeing such a blatant screwing of a network correspondent by her colleagues