Clearly, I’ve fallen way behind on my Story Every Day exercises. I just barely squeezed one out for today.
Still, I thought it would be fun to play around with a minor bit character I created for Shades of Red way back when. I had to look him up just to remember his name. In a way this is sort of a follow-up to that story, one of the consequences of that adventure. Some of the best genre stories are from the point of view of someone not directly involved with the big epic that’s taking place. The little guy on the side who’s a witness to these big events can offer a fresh perspective on the action and help flesh out the universe at the same time.
This story involves Radio Gal, who if you’ve been around here long enough you’ve seen once or twice before. Just the first few hundred words. For some reason I have a blast writing these scenes of superheroes just sitting around talking.
Wayland tapped the thick stack of papers. His perfectly manicured fingertips slid down the top page to the blank at the bottom of a dense block of text. The paper looked green in the glow of the nearby neon signs. Wayland hated these first encounter meetings, always taking place in basement bars or these all-night diners. At least this place was empty. The aging cook half-asleep behind the counter hadn’t given them a second glance since they walked in.
“Just start here,” he said. “I’ll take care of everything else.”
The young woman sitting across from him chewed at her bottom lip. Her name – or rather, what she pranced around calling herself – was Radio Gal, minor-league hero of the upper west side. She was pretty, despite the large, bright yellow conical helmet and matching jacket. Beautiful deep brown eyes a few shades lighter than her skin studied the contract.
“I’m just not sure this is my thing,” Radio Gal said. She adjusted one of the antennae on the side of her helmet. “I’m not like an actor or anything.”
Wayland stifled a sigh. This was always how it went. Initial reluctance and modesty. Refusal to see how the deal would help them. It’s for the greater good, not fame, so on and so forth.
“I’m betting you sing a little, though, am I right?” said Wayland. He gestured to the radio antennae and smiled. “You could be the first hero with her own recording contract.”
She giggled. “Just in the shower.”
Wayland flicked his cell phone, sending it spinning. “One phone call and we’ll have Puff Daddy in a studio in six hours.”
Radio Gal sighed and pushed the contract away. “I’m sorry Mr. Wayland. I’m not doing this for the fame or to get some Gatorade patch on my jacket.”
“This isn’t about that Starburst business is it?”
“Starburst business? You mean when his wife-”
“Whom he married against the wishes of his management.”
“She nearly destroyed the city.”
“She wasn’t my client!”
Radio Gal rested her chin on her hands and remained silent.
Wayland scowled. He was losing her, just like he’d lost every new client since the Starburst incident. Nothing killed an agent’s career like the death of a favorite client, his wife, and the hundreds of people they took with them on the way out. Ari Emanuel hardly ever had this problem with the Coen brothers.