Kolchak: The Night Stalker
Now It's Part of You
Notes: The characters are not mine, but the story is! This takes place after the initial movie The Night Stalker, but before the second movie. I've had the vague idea for a while, but the 30 Losses prompt 'It was my sister's'; Left behind blossomed it into this.
Tony Vincenzo had no idea what had happened to Carl Kolchak after his unceremonious firing and disappearance from Las Vegas. As far as he could tell, no one cared, either.
The newspaper's office was filled with the usual array of laughter and wild stories in between computer keyboards clacking away. Life went on as it had always done before Kolchak had arrived to turn it all upsidedown. The only times Tony even heard the maverick reporter's name mentioned were when someone was making fun of him. Which seemed to occur more often than Tony wanted.
"Do you ever wonder where Carl Kolchak ended up?" one of the girls said as she gathered around the water cooler with several coworkers. "He's never heard of anymore."
"I bet he was committed to a crazy house," a second one giggled.
"And blacklisted from every newspaper in the States," a mailboy added.
"They should've done that years ago," the first girl sneered.
"You know, maybe he chased after vampires so much that one of them ended up biting him on the neck," the second said. "Maybe he's one of them now."
Tony finally lost his patience. "Alright, break it up!" he yelled as he stormed out of his office, waving for them to move along. "We've got a paper to put out. And it's not going to happen if you guys stand around making up trash all day!"
They scurried back to their posts, but the snickers persisted throughout the room. Once someone muttered, "Don't jeer Kolchak around Vincenzo. He doesn't like it."
Tony frowned to himself as he went back in his office and shut the door. It was true, now that he thought of it. He didn't like it. Kolchak was a good reporter. Sure, the stories about the vampire had been outrageous. But deep down, Tony had finally started to believe him. And he had been impressed with Kolchak's final article on the case.
He wasn't sure what it was, but ever since that day he had not liked working at the paper. In fact, he was liking it less all the time. He had been stressed for months. His ulcer had been acting up. And every morning he dreaded coming in and hearing what the usual cacophony of snickers and snide remarks were in reference to.
His sister, being her usual busybody self and convinced that she knew Tony's mind, flatly told him what the problem was when she dropped in to visit that night.
"You're feeling guilty over Carl being fired," she said.
"What?" Tony cried, flying out of his chair. "That's ridiculous! I didn't have anything to do with that!"
"No," she replied, "but you told me you were going to publish his story. You had no idea that your boss was going to let him go and the story never would get released. And now you don't even know where he is."
Tony waved a dismissive hand. "That's not my problem," he grumbled. "I'm not his keeper."
She perched on the edge of his desk. "And then there's how upset you are over Carl being the target of a lot of the office jokes," she said.
"Of course I'm upset," Tony said. He began to pace the room. "It's childish and immature. I'm supposed to be running a newspaper, not a nursery! I thought I was dealing with responsible adults. Anyway, Kolchak is a good reporter. He doesn't deserve to be run into the ground like that."
He paused in the middle of the floor. "Do you know what I found on the bulletin board a couple days after he was fired?" She shook her head. "This stupid, Photoshop-doctored picture of Kolchak being attacked by a cartoon vampire!"
"What did you do about it?" she asked.
Tony looked put-out. "What makes you think I did anything about it?"
She raised her eyebrows knowingly.
At last Tony raised his hands in defeat. "Okay, you're right. I demanded to know who'd made it. No one came forward, so I just tore it down and said that the next person who tried something like that could go work for a cheap tabloid." He sighed, running a hand through his hair. "After a while the jokes died down and things got back to normal. But every now and then it just seems to sprout up again. Today was the first time I've heard Kolchak talked about in weeks. Nobody really cares what happened to him. He's just another reporter, a kook at that."
She nodded, folding her arms over her chest. "You know what I think you need?"
Tony looked to her. "How would I?" he retorted.
She slid off the desk and to her feet. "You need to go somewhere else," she said.
He stared at her. "What are you talking about?" he exclaimed. "Go where? Why?"
"Quit your job! Go someplace where no one even knows about Carl Kolchak." She smiled. "You could come back to Evanston with Rocco and me. There's always a place for you in the Venetian blind business."
Tony sighed. "Thanks, but it wouldn't work out," he said. "I'm a newspaper man."
"Then go to a different newspaper!" she persisted. "You've built up a good reputation. You could get a job at any newspaper in the country!"
"And Kolchak probably can't get a job at any one at all," Tony muttered to himself.
"What was that?"
Tony groaned. He went back to his desk and sank into the chair. "Do you know what I've done off and on for the past eight months?" he said.
She shook her head. "No. What have you done off and on for the past eight months?" She leaned forward on the desk, her hands spread on the surface.
Tony slammed his hand on the polished wood. "I've been trying to check up on Kolchak!" he burst out. "I've tried everything I can think of to find out where he disappeared to, but I get nada. Zip. Zilch! He's vanished into thin air!" He threw his hands in the air. "He's probably wandering somewhere without any means of personal income. And why does that bother me? It wasn't my fault he got fired. But he's been fired and I should have washed my hands of this whole thing. Instead I'm trying to find out what happened to him!"
She regarded him in amusement. "Anthony Albert Vincenzo, you are a marshmallow," she said.
He stiffened. "What's that supposed to mean?" he demanded.
She just smiled. "Think about my advice," she said.
After she left, Tony tried to get back to work. But no matter how many times he started reading the articles he was supposed to edit that night, he could not concentrate. At last, in utter frustration, he opened the web browser and typed a search for available editorial job positions as far away from Las Vegas as possible.
There was one in Seattle that sounded promising.