A SERIES OF TELEVISED EVENTS
By Kimberly T.
Author's note: This story was my contribution to the 2005 Gargoyles Anthology, which had as its theme The Eye of Odin. First time I ever saw one of my works in print! Copies of the book are hard to fine now, but the editor gave her okay to publish it here for everyone to read for free! Standard disclaimers and acknowledgments apply.
"Good evening, everyone! I'm Travis Marshall, and this is another edition of Night Watch, where we at WVRN keep you in tune with New York at night!"
"We have here tonight a very special guest; a native son who has become virtually an overnight sensation." Travis turned slightly to face the man seated at the guest speaker's desk; a man who could be described as Adonis made flesh. He had bronzed skin with a perfectly muscled physique, suavely handsome looks combined with a dazzling smile and the sort of wavy locks that made hairstylists offer to pay for the privilege of combing it.
The man really needed no introduction; since his sudden appearance on the New York social scene's horizon six weeks ago, he had already received countless offers for modeling gigs, been to every major party and event in Manhattan, was currently in negotiations for three different movie contracts, and was swiftly moving up to the #1 spot for People Magazine's list of Most Eligible Bachelors. But Travis introduced him anyway, and had to wait a full minute and a half for the applause, whistles and screams of utter adoration from the studio audience to die down before continuing.
Travis began with, "I understand that you're a man who's not afraid to wear jewelry; that you always wear a necklace with an large and unusual gem. May we see it tonight?"
The Adonis shook his head and smiled. "Sorry; it's personal. A very private matter." He offered instead for inspection the ring on his pinky finger, a massive emerald that had been given to him by a well-known woman of society. Rumor had it that the ring had been a thank-you gift for a night of wild passion, but Travis's guest only said with a smile, "A gentleman will never kiss and tell." He then moved the subject on to the movie he had just signed on to star in, Midnight Rider.
Just a minute or so into that conversation, a cameraman gave Travis the fifteen-seconds warning. Travis turned to the camera and said, "We're about to go on a commercial break, and when we return we'll talk some more about Midnight Rider. We'll also meet our next guest, Police Commissioner Jordan, here to talk with us about that mysterious rash of "pie attacks" that have been happening for the last six weeks. The first people to be hit in the face by cream pies that seemingly came out of nowhere were public figures; corporate CEO's, and of course those creatures known as gargoyles. But the most recent victim was a retired seventh-grade math teacher… Mr. Gregarino, is something wrong?" Travis noted with concern how his guest had given a start and gone pale while he'd been speaking.
"Uh, no, nothing's wrong. I, uh, could just use some water…"
* * *
(six weeks later)
"We regret to report tonight that supermodel and media darling Vincent Gregarino is now officially listed as missing, and foul play is suspected in his disappearance. He has not been seen since eight o'clock yesterday morning, when he left his luxury apartment overlooking Central Park to reportedly go for a stroll before meeting his agent. We will now show you now an interview with the superintendent of his apartment building, who may be the last person to have seen Mr. Gregarino; Mr. Lewis Dodson, interviewed at one o'clock today…"
"Yeah, I saw Mr. Gregarino leave his apartment; he said he was heading into the park to go for a walk, and clear his head a little before meeting with his agent. That agent of his is a real b—oops, can't say that on TV, can I? Anyway, the agent shows up at eight-thirty, but Mr. G. ain't back yet, so I have him wait in the foyer. And then a little before nine o'clock this guy comes in, and tries to tell us he's Mr. G! He claimed he'd been mugged in broad daylight and they'd taken everything… but last time I looked, muggers don't take a guy's whole face and build, and replace it with someone else's!"
"Would you describe this stranger for our listeners, Mr. Dodson?"
"About five-eight, and on the skinny side; brown shaggy hair, totally average face… Dunno why this guy even tried to claim he was Mr. G., 'cause the whole world knows the real guy's face, not to mention he was six inches shorter and limp as a dishrag compared to the real man's build. The only way that could be Vincent Gregarino was if somebody squeezed all the good stuff out. Anyway, I dunno how this guy knew both my name and the agent's, but we told him to beat it before I called the cops. But now I wish that we'd gone ahead and called the cops on him, because we haven't seen Mr. G. since, and now I'm thinking that skinny twerp had something to do with it…"
* * *
(Three months later)
"This is Nicole St. John for WVRN, and your eyes are not deceiving you; I'm currently riding backwards on the back of a motorcycle! But be advised that the man actually driving this motorcycle is a trained professional, and the cycle seat itself has been specially modified to make this a little safer; in other words, don't try this at home! If you're wondering why I'm doing this risky maneuver, it's because this is the only way that New York's resident 'Marathon Man', Charlie Greene, would consent to an interview; to conduct it while he's exercising!"
Nicole muted the wireless microphone for a moment as she gave the signal to her driver. He accelerated and turned the corner, with the cameraman standing up in the Jeep's passenger seat following close behind.
And there was their quarry, right on schedule: Charlie Greene, who had just gotten into Guinness for running the fastest official time ever in a marathon; fifty-eight minutes thirty seconds! He'd maintained a sprinter's pace for the entire twenty-six miles, and the entire athletic world was buzzing about it; those who weren't trying to sign him up for the Olympics on the spot were frantically wondering how he'd done it.
The news crew caught up with Mr. Greene, who was running while wearing the classic New York jogger's outfit; sweatshirt and sweatpants, sneakers, and an "I (heart) NY" ballcap. The only thing atypical was the gold chain around his neck, leading to some large pendant that was tucked inside his shirt. Oh, that and the fact that he was running at the fastest pace Nicole had ever seen…
Once they'd caught up with him, Nicole reiterated the facts that nearly everyone knew, for the sake of those five or six New Yorkers who hadn't heard of him yet. She said, "Mr. Greene, there have been plenty of athletic coaches and sports trainers, even biologists, who claim that what you did is supposed to be impossible for the ordinary human being."
"They've even said it to my face," he replied with a grin. Incredible; they were moving at over twenty miles an hour, and he was talking as easily as if he was just walking! "And I've had to submit to nearly every drug test known to man, and even be X-Rayed so they could see if I had some cybernetic implants, straight out of the comic books! But they didn't find anything, and they never will either, 'cause this is all me."
"Mr. Greene, your coworkers have told us they often called you "Charlie the Jogger," because of your habit of jogging in Central Park nearly every day, rain or shine. But up until this year, you never came in any higher than 517th place in the New York City marathon, in those years that you competed; what happened this year to give you this incredible burst of speed and stamina?"
"Honestly, I can't really explain it myself; not in terms that would make sense to anyone else," Charlie said with a shrug. "But last month, while preparing for the marathon, I… you could say I moved on to the next level in running!"
"So are we talking about one of those New Age theories, about the mind transcending the body's limits?"
"Very possibly." Charlie flashed her another grin.
Just then, something unexpected happened; they'd cleared this route for the moving interview with the traffic authorities, but apparently a few private citizens had decided that it wasn't their concern, because a car pulled out of a parking spot almost right in front of them! The motorcycle driver had to slam on his brakes and swerve to avoid a collision. Jostled in the process, Nicole swore aloud as she desperately held onto her seat, then just as desperately hoped that the crew back at the studio were able to bleep her words out before they went on the air.
But she kept her eyes on Charlie Greene, who was—incredible! He'd just run straight up and over the car, and leaped off the top to land ten feet in front of it and continue running down the street! At the top of his leap, that chain around his neck flew up, and a large blue-and-gold pendant on the end jumped out of his sweatshirt and sparkled in the midmorning light. But Charlie grabbed for it and tucked it back inside his shirt before hitting the pavement, and twisted back to wave apologetically to Nicole and her crew as he continued running down the street.
"Tell me you got that on film," Nicole breathed in awe. And when her cameraman (with an equally stunned look on his face) slowly nodded, Nicole gathered herself together and said wryly into the microphone, "Apparently, this interview is now over."
* * *
(three weeks later)
"And in sports news today, the roadrunning career of Charlie Greene has hit a snag, and may well have come to an end. While running in Central Park, practicing for the Olympic trials, Greene tripped over a cat that ran out in front of his path and went down hard, tumbling into some bushes. Passersby helped him back up, but his left knee and arm were injured; the doctor who examined him afterwards said he'd sustained heavy bruising and some strain to the tendons for the kneecap. The doctor said that with proper physical therapy he should recover fully, but Charlie Greene declared that his professional running days are now over…"
* * *
(three weeks later)
"This is Travis Marshall of WVRN; we interrupt this program to bring you a special news report. The creature known as the 'Were-Poodle' has been captured! As most viewers will know, for several nights Manhattan has been plagued by random attacks from a creature that, according to witnesses, resembled a giant French Poodle, standing nearly six feet tall. Its rampage though the restaurants, jewelry stores and clothing stores of Manhattan has caused damage totaling in the millions, but the greater threat has been the creature's high-pitched yapping; exposure for too long or at too close a range has driven many victims insane. But tonight, with the aid of those mysterious creatures known as gargoyles, the police captured the creature at Tavern on the Green and finally subdued it. We are about to take you live on the scene, where WVRN reporter Nicole St. John is standing by. …Nicole?"
"Thank you, Travis. We're here live at Tavern on the Green, where the Were-Poodle was just brought down by NYPD's Finest, along with the aid of four gargoyles. The battle was not without cost; two policemen were injured in the battle, and six patrons of this fine restaurant were apparently driven mad by that terrible yapping before the creature was subdued. The gargoyles that were involved in the capture left the scene before we arrived, but witnesses report that one of the gargoyles was also a casualty of that yapping, and was carried away by its comrades."
"Nicole, the doctors of Manhattan General have reported that the first victims of the Were-Poodle, from its first appearance six nights ago, are now almost fully functional again; as traumatic as it has been, the insanity induced by the yapping is apparently only temporary. So we can hope that very soon, our--Nicole, what's happening there?"
"Travis, amazing news! When the SWAT team removed the Were-Poodle's unusual jeweled collar, it turned into a human woman! She's just been identified as Assistant District Attorney Margot Yale…"