I am teasing you …

I am teasing you with an excerpt from Vice Report. I adore Grant, Mona’s boss at the true-crime site Vice Report. Sure, he’s a bit of a hack. And he is terrible at hiring staff. But he has a huge heart and will do anything for you, once you are in his world.

Everyone should have someone in their life like him. Don’t you think?

Was the body dead, Mare?” Grant asked when I tapped on his office door. We start every Monday with an editorial meeting, planning the week’s lineup. I gave him a withering smile.

“Very dead,” I said, doing my best hard-boiled reporter voice. “It was a sad scene. It will make a great story, she cackled cynically.” I dropped the Humphrey Bogart and sat down in his guest chair, setting my coffee on the corner of his desk.

“I have a mess of story ideas, actually,” I told him, getting out my phone and finding my notes.

He turned off his computer screen. This was a habit. His way of telling anyone who came to talk to him that they had his full attention. Grant was big on grand gestures, rules of engagement. I liked this one. It made me feel like the most important thing in the place and gave me more of his attention than I would get if his screen continued to sip at it.

He turned in his desk chair and smiled.

“I don’t usually send you to the bleak ones, do I?” he asked, childishly excited. “But that one had a whiff about it. Was I right?”

He opened his drawer, raised one eyebrow into a question mark. It was impossible not to catch some of his infectious enthusiasm, even though—I reminded myself—we were talking about a tragic death.

I nodded. His gestures became more animated, with my approval. He pulled a bottle of whiskey and two shot glasses out of the drawer where he kept them under a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style, and set them on his desk.

He poured bourbon into the small glasses, after dusting them.

He often pulled the bottle out, theatrically, but we rarely took a drink from it. It was, usually, a staged gesture designed to call attention to his role in our collective theater with him playing Lou Grant and me as the eager cub reporter Mary Richards. It was a joke. Usually.

There must be something different about today. I hadn’t even had breakfast. Now I was facing a whiskey. I don’t drink this way. I don’t like whiskey.

 “I knew you would find a good story there,” he said. “All you need is a push in any direction and you find stories. You are wasted in this place.” He gave me a sly look, to measure my response. “If I was your friend, I would fire you,” he said. “But I enjoy your company too much.”

“What?” I said, shocked, reeling. Was this the thing that was different about today? Me getting fired?

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