Nan looked at her computer clock. “Sheesh, it’s 3a.m., this place is dead.” Nan McHough was a reporter for the New Orleans Bagatelle, a competing newspaper in the Crescent City. The Bagatelle featured sensationalized news, and was often accused of “stepping over the line.” Nan had drawn the cross-over shift – that portion of time between when the paper goes to bed and the morning shift arrives.
The police scanner suddenly buzzed. “Possible shooting on 9th Ave., officer dispatched.”
Nan looked up from her computer. “Welcome to Saturday night in the Big Easy.” The scanner silenced so she continued editing feature copy. “Busy work.”
The scanner buzzed again. “Officer injured. All units, be advised. East ramp, Tulane Avenue Bridge.”
Nan clicked on the small television next to her desk. “Wow.” The television reporter was rambling about a police chase, shooting, and possible homicide. A video of a helicopter hovering over a darkened street highlighted the reporter’s story. Special bulletins were flashing across all stations. “I guess I better get down there. Jason!” She called across the room to a young man near the wire service machine. “I’m headed for Tulane Avenue.” She grabbed her pad and a small camera and headed for the elevator. “Call the print desk and tell them I want space for one last story.” Moments later Nan was in her tiny Civic snaking her way through the dark streets.
Finally, she converged on the gathering of news media, police and ambulances. “Total chaos, as usual,” she murmured to herself. She got out of her car and spotted her long-time police officer friend, Harley Smith, standing with his back to her. “Hey Harley.”
The tall uniformed man turned and grinned as he watched Nan approach. “Hey, girl. Awfully early for young ladies to be out on the street.”
She cringed slightly when he called her girl, but she knew he didn’t really mean it as a sexist reference. “Harley, what goes on up the road?”
Harley lifted the police tape for Nan to duck under. “Haven’t you been listening to your scanner?” He rolled his eyes and actually laughed.
“Yeah, Harley, what’s the joke?” Nan twisted a lock of hair impatiently. There has to be something strange here if Harley isn’t upset over the shooting of an officer.
Harley tipped his hat back. “Well, the way we got it over at the precinct was that there was a shooting and an officer down.”
“I already heard that on the radio. The TV was running bulletins, a helicopter video and everything.”
Harley laughed again. “You better get your pad ready, and I’ll take you over to the ‘crime’ scene.”
“I still want to know what is so funny.”
Harley chuckled again and motioned for her to follow him.
Nan trailed Harley between emergency vehicles and a “Swat truck.” When they got to a street corner flooded with light, they stopped. “Okay, what?”
“Look carefully.” Harley pointed between four officers.
There, seated on a gurney, was a police officer with his arm in a sling. Behind him was a tow truck driver jacking up the rear of a car.
Nan shook her head. “I don’t get it.”
“Some lady’s car tire had a blowout, that officer stopped and tried to change the tire and the jack slipped.” Harley laughed.
Nan grinned. “And the electronic media ran with a bogus story.”
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