Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: SLANDER (09/07/17)
- TITLE: Talk @ 8
By Graham Keet
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â€œJohn, we have Anonymous on the line who says he has something to tell us that every citizen of this city should know.â€
â€œSound good; put him on. Good evening, Anonymous, whatâ€™s on your mind?â€
â€œI want everyone in this city to know the truth about our leading citizen, Mayor James Baron.â€ The voice over the phone had a metallic ring with an echo effect; obviously the result of an application to disguise the callerâ€™s true voice. â€œMayor Baron is campaigning for re-election, but I want everyone to know there are two sides to the man they see kissing babies and opening flower shows. Heâ€™s actually a disgrace to the office, in fact I â€¦â€
â€œJust hold it there for a moment, Anonymous.â€ John Briscoe cut the transmission as he noticed his producer, Martin Grewar, signaling through the window from the room next door. â€œMartin, do we carry on with this?â€
â€œSure, just give the usual warnings; this could be what we need to boost our ratings.â€
â€œSorry about the interruptionâ€”Anonymous, please carry on, but bear in mind that you may have to prove your statements to avoid possible prosecution.â€
The hollow voice continued. â€œYou want proofâ€”thereâ€™s plenty of proof. Thereâ€™s two young women working in the mayoral office that are too scared to testify about what our good councilor gets up to when he forces them to work overtime. And then thereâ€™s his wife, Emily. Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™m not the only person to have noticed the bruises on her face that her make-up doesnâ€™t hide. The manâ€™s a sadistic pervert.â€ There was a click on the line and the call was terminated.
â€œWow, that was quite something,â€ said John Briscoe, trying to sound upbeat. â€œI must remind the listeners that the views expressed on this program are not necessarily the views of the station or of its presenters. â€œLetâ€™s take the next caller, Evelyn?â€
The show had not yet ended when Mayor Baron was on the line to Grewar. â€œInvite that caller to call back tomorrow, but this time have the call tracedâ€”I want that person brought to book for those lies he brought against me.â€
Grewar called through to Briscoe and told him to invite Anonymous to call back.
The next night the hollow voice was again heard. â€œI hear that our beloved mayor is unhappy about what I said yesterday. Too bad. I donâ€™t take any of it back, if fact, I have a very serious ultimatum for him. Either you resign and hand yourself over, or by this time tomorrow youâ€™re a dead man. This is no idle threat.â€
Immediately Briscoe cut the link. Grewar summoned the stationâ€™s legal team and the police, and a plan of action was decided upon. An hour later the police admitted the call trace had ended at a throw-away cellphone.
The following night Talk @ 8â€™s outdoor unit moved into place outside the Baronâ€™s residence. As Briscoe and his broadcast team arrived, he was met at the door by plain clothed detectives. â€œWeâ€™ve got men both inside and outside the house. We want you to conduct an interview with Mayor Baron and his wife; the mayor wants to speak to the citizens himself.â€
The broadcast paraphernalia was set up in the spacious lounge and James and Emily sat opposite Briscoe. Briscoe could see that Emilyâ€™s make-up was not quite hiding a dark patch under her left eye, and that she was wearing a polar necked shirt, even though it was a warm evening. Briscoe began to explain the broadcasting protocol to the Barons while their young Ukrainian maid, Darina, brought in a tray of tea. She poured three cups and placed one on a small table beside each armchair.
The interview had barely begun when James Baron suddenly started convulsing. He stood to his feet momentarily, then collapsed to the floor where he lay gurgling, white froth coming from his mouth. Briscoe shouted for someone to dial 911, while Emily bent over the now still body shouting, â€œJames, talk to me. Whatâ€™s wrong with you?â€
Darina entered the room and caught Emilyâ€™s eye. Emily nodded slightly. Darina noticed Baronâ€™s hands now folded across his chest. Those hands will no longer strike a woman, nor will they wander where they shouldnâ€™t.
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