Working For The Paper

The manila folder slapped the desktop. Three years of investigating, interrogating, interviewing, even a little subterfuge. Okay, more than a little subterfuge, but it was all worth it. “Your story, along with all the independent corroboration, list of sources, everything, as requested.”

He pushed at the folder with that special pencil of his, the one with the eraser at both ends, as if I’d served him a trout almandine with the head still attached instead of steak tartar. “Sit down.” Editor Cavanaugh pointed at the chair. “Something’s come up.”

A tingle ran down my spine and my neck flushed. I collapsed into the chair. “Aren’t you even going to take a look at it?”

“I don’t need to. You’re going to kill it.”

If I hadn’t been in shock, I might have jumped over his desk and choked him to death. “What?” I managed to splutter. “You can’t be serious!”

Editor Cavanaugh held that stupid pencil balanced between his index fingers. “Can’t be helped. You knew this was a possibility going in. What you don’t know is that the Vice President is stepping down. Even as we speak, he’s about half way through his resignation speech. Another ten minutes and he’ll disappear into the history books.”

“You are serious, aren’t you?” I checked my phone. Twitter was blowing up with the news. How did I miss that?

“Very serious. Your work put him in an untenable situation.” Cavanaugh smiled.

“So why are we killing it? We should have this on the front page!” How could he sit there just grinning like a clown? This was my life’s work on the table, and he was about to dump it into the garbage.

“Oh, we’ll run the story, or at least a story. You see, the VP agreed to an interview. He’s prepared to spill the rest of the story, and this time, the story goes all the way to the top. It will bring down the administration, and his party along with him.”

“You’re killing the story because it’s right? I don’t get it. This is BS!” The blood pounding in my ears made it hard to hear what he said next, hard to hear anything. I could barely stay in the chair I was shaking so badly.

“Did you hear me?” Cavanaugh said again. “The reason we’re killing the story is we have an even better story to tell. Here is a plane ticket to Washington. You’re expected at 2:00 this afternoon.”

“Ticket? What are you saying?”

The bastard grinned sat there grinning. “In return for dropping the story, he’s agreed to an interview, but only if it was with you. Now take the ticket, get out of my office, and get on that plane!”

Somehow I got to my feet, found a boarding pass in my hand, and was ushered out of Cavanaugh’s office, applause greeting me from the newsroom, my colleagues standing to congratulate me on my next assignment. As stunned as I was, I liked the sound of that: my next assignment.