Below you will find the results of my having challenged myself for a number of days to write a short story with a beginning and middle and an end inside of 30 minutes. Here is what I came up with. I hope you like it.
Dom’s judgement tended to get him into trouble.
For example… March 30th, 1981. Dom’s playing selections from Elvis Costello’s Trust. The album had come out in January, and everyone returned from Christmas break hung up on Trust. I mean, the cover, alone, is amazing.
Dom’s got a great, big, prickly, sensitive personality, so it would make sense that Elvis Costello would appeal to him. That endless need to feel slighted by something.
I’m in the front, sitting next to the teletype machine. It’s about 2:30 in the afternoon, which is not a great time to assembling the sports report, which was my scene. I was a journalism major, and most of the kids still wanted to be either Woodward or Bernstein. I got roped into being Dick Enberg.
I’m putting together two minutes worth of sports chat, when the teletype goes berserk. Starts rattling paper like a machine gun devouring nine yard of bullets.
Ronald Reagan has been shot!
Oh Fucking Shit!
Now, I know this was 1980, but it still wasn’t that far removed from SDS and The Weathermen and The Black Panthers.
I figure it’s either some homegrown political extremist, likely from Northern California, or somebody from Iran. Makes sense to me.
I tear off a bunch of sheets and knock over the wastebasket en route to see Dominic, who is in the broadcast booth.
Dom was never my favorite person in the world. He was sullen, and when he wasn’t sullen he was angry and combative. Still, he’s the guy on the mic.
I hand him the teletype sheets. “Somebody shot Reagan!”
Dom looks the stuff over. His eyes start to rattle around in their sockets.
He slowly – dramatically – turns down the music. Elvis Costello fades away like the end of a Humphrey Bogart movie. Dom leans in towards the microphone.
“Ladies and gentlemen, President Ronald Reagan is dead.”
He closes his eyes and rests his head against the live mic, which makes a loud ‘thunk’ sound.
I guess Dom came from a very large family. He had, like, eleven siblings. He learned very early to make grand pronouncements to get attention and to resent people who ignored him.
He returns to playing Trust. He shakes his head, sadly.
I back away from Dom; he’s still hovering around the microphone while the phones are lighting up like firecrackers. It takes me a few seconds to figure what to do.
“Dom,” I say, “I’m not sure he’s dead. It just says that he’s been shot. We don’t know what kind of condition he’s in.”
Dom looks up at me, and I can tell he’s pissed. I just shit on his moment. As far as he’s concerned, across campus, across the city, there are people who will, for the rest of their lives, remember where they were when Ronald Reagan was assassinated. “I was listening to Dominic Forelli’s radio show.”
Now, I am tearing him out of history. I might as well be tearing open stitches.
Dom abruptly turns Trust back down to dead air. He leans into the microphone.
“Ladies and gentlemen, President Ronald Reagan has come back to life.”
Dom swivels his seat towards me. He fixes an impassive look on me and he shrugs.