Disclaimer: I don't own Kolchak: the Night Stalker. I'll skip the mordant retort for the next one.
Author's Note: When I heard of Darren McGavin's passing back in late February, I wanted to write a tribute but life and my major Law and Order projects got in the way. Now that they're done, I can focus.
Beta: PureSakuraMelody…and her orchestra.
Dedication: To the talented Mr. McGavin and his departed wife, Kathie Browne, and their entertaining banter in the series finale, "The Sentry." I hope my attempt at the repartee will play comparable to the real life one.
Timeline: Halfway through the Sentry.
"Will you stop yanking me about? You're making me like a piece of taffy," Carl complained as Lieutenant Irene Lamont and her maroon suited flunky hauled him off to her car in handcuffs outside the secluded government storage bank, the Merrymount Archive.
"If I had my way, Carl, you wouldn't be taffy—you'd be gunk in the gears of the prison machine. Now say goodbye to the Merrymount Archive."
He snarled as he was escorted to the backseat of her modest Chevrolet Impala. Lamont's minion joined him and eyed him cautiously.
"You don't sound so sophisticated now," he spat out.
"Only when I need to be. You'd be surprised what a little erudition can do," Lamont smirked as she sat on the driver's seat.
"I've seen the effects of your erudition. You've turned all my fellow reporters into babbling horndogs," he struggled against the handcuffs.
"Better to keep them at bay by pretending of wanting to be in their pants rather than to give yourself away." She ignited the engine and drove off into the surrounding suburbia.
"It moves my heart to see the inspiration to the next generation of women in action."
"I'm not the first, Carl, nor will I be the last." They exited the suburbia and soon infiltrated the highway traffic of a busy Chicago day.
"I'll say one thing, lady—glad to see you're not ashamed to exploit yourself."
"Me? I'm here to see that the law is served and if I have to use God's gifts, so be it," she beamed.
Carl rolled his eyes. "I never met such a sanctimonious…," he muttered to himself.
"Careful, there is a lady present," she jabbed tongue-in-cheek.
"You have to point one out first, Lieutenant."
"I enjoy your caustic approach, Carl. What delectable cynicism," Lamont barbed as she went into a line of traffic.
"And you have a fine choice of words. It's probably the one thing I can dredge up pertaining to a compliment."
"Don't be. Merrymount probably has you in their back pocket—wouldn't be the first time the law enforcement was kowtowed by special interests," the reporter ranted. Bittersweet memories of his encounters with Oceanic Oil quickly sprung to mind.
"You couldn't be more wrong. All I want is seeing the law enforced and justice served, and that includes you being locked up," she said with conviction.
"Me? I'm just a reporter," he hummed innocently.
"Who impersonated a doctor, don't think I forgot, Dr. Kolchakowski. Not to mention your trespassing and manipulating poor Mr. Flaherty." She reiterated his current list of misdeeds.
"Mr. Flaherty isn't that innocent. He knows the truth behind those magnetic tapes," he sighed. "But okay, fine, you got me. However I do what I do for the truth. What do you do? Fluff up your hair, shimmy those legs, and stall anyone who interferes with whomever pays your department at the time?"
"What a callous statement. I'm wounded," the lieutenant mocked.
"Don't patronize me. I lived through Payola and I find it alive and well today."
"So did I and I have lived through yellow journalism, so don't think I don't know your agenda—to sell papers."
"Actually, that isn't my agenda. Just comes off that way." He narrowed his eyes.
"Well, it's not like you report on important things like Watergate—you focus on tabloids and giant Gila lizard monsters," the dichotomous officer sniggered.
"Snigger all you like, but you'll see I'm right. You heard the coroner—both Kemper and Coogan had reptilian bite marks all over their bodies. How do you explain that?"
"I don't. That isn't my job. My job is to secure the interest of the police."
"And mine is to garner the truth," the intrepid correspondent stated with pride.
"With your patented deceptions and misapprehensions, like being the Police Commissioner."
"That was one time. People never let you forget."
"I just use physical charm. You on the other hand, are far more manipulative," Lamont replied, sneering.
"Oh please. You have that mask of yours."
"That charming façade and your erudition. Then once you need to focus as a cop, you discard that rather quickly. You're as cruel as the rest of the world," Carl jeered.
"It's not a façade."
"No? When you arrested me, you seemed rather down-to-business and outright crude."
She chortled. "That's because you bring out the worst in me. And don't make yourself so humble. Your charm quickly turns once you have what you want, too."
"What's your point?"
The traffic lightened up and she drove to the proper exit. "You may not want to admit it, but you're just like me."
The scheming journalist sensed an opportunity. "I can't refute that, but I think we skew on motivation."
"Not really. You want the means to your ends satisfied, as I do."
"If you say so," he shrugged.
"Your actions say so. Just because you're a reporter doesn't mean you're not a public figure and thus not up to scrutiny," the officer lectured like a schoolmarm.
"That may be, Lieutenant, but I figured my washed-up status would help with my anonymity."
"Always with the cracks. You're so distant to everyone, aren't you?"
"I have to be, for the story comes first."
"To the cost of everything? Is it worth it?"
Carl recalled his ex-girlfriend Gail Foster and the penalty he paid with her for pursuing the killer vampire, Janos Skorzeny.
"Sounds so easy, huh?"
"If you're done psychoanalyzing me…"
"I haven't even begun, but I don't want to waste the rest of my life on something so insignificant." Her reply oozed in sarcasm.
"Now who is being the sarcastic one?" he derided.
"I guess it's another thing we have in common," she chirped.
"Stop that. We don't have anything in common; I don't know why you continue to think that."
"The more you resist, the more I wonder what you're holding back—you're clearly overcompensating."
Her goon finally made a motion and grinned. "Now you do something," the writer scoffed. "Well, lady, since you think I'm overcompensating, what would that be?"
"The more you quip and deceive, the more success eludes you. So you keep making yourself fail subconsciously because if you succeed, you wouldn't know what to do. It's easier to fail and be lazy, than do the hard work of overcoming your shortcomings."
"It comes off that easy to you?"
"Of course. I'm a real people person." Lamont propped herself up in her own self-importance.
"I've always had a theory about people who wanted to be psychiatrists—that they'd rather study people from a distance because they are afraid of them." He could play her game as well.
"It wouldn't be fear. It would be a sense of superiority and rising above the ne'er-do-wells."
"Now you're just being conceited."
"At least I am in touch with my talents. It's a pity, Carl; you would have made a fine cop."
"Oh please. Learning double-talk, suppressing reporters, and being a peon isn't in my grand designs," he ridiculed.
"Don't think I'll be a lieutenant forever, Carl—I got big plans and if you are good, you might get some exclusives."
The newsman wasn't sure if he should laugh or take her seriously. "Oh, really?"
"You have potential. I like that in a career man. Just stop being a pest to me and Merrymount for starters." Her pitch altered to an enticing one.
"I know what you'll do if I say nay, so what do I get if I comply?"
"For now, nothing; once I am promoted, I won't forget you. Think of it, Carl—all those times people have stopped you and your stories, wouldn't you like to reverse the sentences?"
"Laying it on rather thick, aren't you?" He arched an eyebrow.
"Just appealing to your basic instincts. Your writing is full of it."
"Nice to know I have a fan," he retorted in his patented self-deprecation.
"After our first encounter, I read up on you. Not bad writing style. You need polish, but that's doable."
"You sound like you have plans in store for me."
"Somewhat. If you join me."
"Everything or nothing, eh?" The tactic was all too familiar for the contributor, particularly after Senator Palmer's satanic laced offer of power.
"And the offer expires almost immediately?" He paraphrased the late Senator.
"No, but it won't be for long, particularly if you snoop around Merrymount again." They journeyed into the city.
"I know I must be on to something, if you're piling me with temptation and shallow flattery. Aside from the giant 'Gila lizard monsters' running around in the basement, of course."
"I wonder if you really believe those, Carl," she responded, in a skeptical demeanor as she turned a corner.
"You'll believe me next time you go on the subway."
"I don't do the subway. Think about my offer, Carl. I think you're intelligent enough to discern the opportunity of a lifetime, if not with fringe benefits," the calculating officer purred with her usual sexual charisma. His eyes popped up like balloons.
"Lieutenant Lamont, I don't know what you're going for, but I don't do that."
"Ah, other team, eh?"
"No, I just like honest women."
"I'm honest; I work for the police after all. No one more honest than me." She pulled up by the police station.
"Honest like a fox," he grunted.
"Honest enough to know how to play with the corners. I have to admire you, Carl—most wouldn't stick to their convictions if they had such offers dangled right in front of them. We're so very much alike." She parked the car and faced the reporter.
"I doubt that."
"You just don't know a good thing when you see it. Maybe jail will change your mind. Think about it, won't you? Take him away."
The underling towed him out of the car. "I know a good thing alright—and that is to not for fall for you like the rest of the male population has. I'm not done yet."
The lieutenant's gaze intensified to a harsh one. "You will be when I'm through with you."
"Where's your innocence and honesty now, Lieutenant? Huh!" Carl screeched as he was lugged into the building. Lamont just shook her head and muttered.
"Poor man. He's not so bad, compared to most men. Once I crack that attitude of his, he may be putty in my hands yet."
I hope I did the pair justice. Leave a review if you wish and see you in the funny papers.