/ Wednesday, January 11th, 2006 /
Phones ringing from the hooks, the echo-centric main floor carved from granite and polished with a shine holds home to a litany of greetings from those stationed behind their respective desks. “LMC News Division, a subsidiary of Leicester Media Corporation” a welcoming voice greets, her words sharing space in the room with countless others, “this is Nola.”
The woman’s desk directly in front of the slue of rotating doors separating those on the inside from those on the outside, every new, well-suited addition to call the floors home immediately look towards her upon arrival. His suit, one of many others within the warm confines of the frigid New York morning, a man with swagger and poise struts through the doors and approaches Nola’s desk without a moment’s hesitation.
“I will connect you to Mr. McIntosh, please leave him a message if he does not pick up” Nola replies, the voice on the other end responding in such a way that gives her comfort to end the call. “Grant Haste, I’ve got a 12:10 appointment with Mr. Sam Vickers” the man checks in, Nola not offering the man more than a cold stare, her eyes glued to the papers on her desk, an unenthusiastic, almost scoff remark made for the man to look around the room.
Caught by surprise at the woman’s unprofessionalism, Grant does as instructed, his eyes wandering around the walls as he does his best to brush away the unwelcoming introduction. “Do I just walk to his office?” Grant proceeds, a sign at the back of the lobby reading off the direction in which Mr. Vickers’ room can be located, Nola’s to look at the man starting to turn into a scowl.
“Do you want me to hold your hand and escort you there?” Nola asks, though Grant refuses to answer, departing the front desk as another call takes the woman’s undivided attention, the annoyance clear in the expression draped across his pale face. In halls clean enough for the man to get a detailed-enough reflection to see the blemishes upon his skin, Grant travels through turns and open-areas as if he were a freshman on the first day of school, Vickers’ waiting lobby finally catching his eye.
Having himself a seat upon the undersized, flimsy plastic and dollar-store supports, Grant folds one leg over the other and places his briefcase atop his lap. Lined along the walls, portraits of some of the greats to have once entered the building’s grounds hang with pride, the luminescent lights above each portrait doing their part in suggesting those portrayed to be etched in infamy.
Near the entry to Sam’s office, one portrait of many takes Grant’s focus upon its sighting, whilst some of the portraits in colour, others in black and white, this one portrait not only appears most recent, but the most familiar as well. The only woman photographed along the line, her blonde hair runs over the shoulders of her blazer, and her forward portrayal differs from that of all others, who sport a side-pose, almost as if their appearance were all just a pointless presentation.
A short time later, the clear-glass door opens, a secretary poking her head through the opening to repeat Grant’s name. Following the woman within the much darker confines of Sam Vickers’ office, Grant is welcomed by the charming smile of an old man appearing gleeful to see him. “Mr. Washington D.C getting his first taste of the big apple!” Sam Vickers remarks, shaking the hand of the man opposite his desk, “how’s the first bite?”
A confused mixture of unintelligible sounds, Grant neatens up his phrasing to describe his first greeting in proper english. “It wasn’t all that welcoming” Grant replies as Sam returns to his seat, “if the big apple is supposed to be a juicy one, the first bite can best be described as ‘dry’.”
“You’re an outsider encroaching on their territory” Vickers replies, Grant finally having himself an adequate seat for adults. “Not to mention, you’re from D.C” Vickers continues, his hands folding atop his chest as he slouches in his seat, “you’re not going to be one finding yourself all-too liked at first.”
With a nod, Grant puts on his most pleasing front, laughing at Vickers’ jokes and playing along with his employers’ every move. “How’ve the last few months been off television?” Vickers inquires, Grant explaining the difference between on-air life and returning to a more secluded routine. “I always find it to be more calming when you don’t have to show up on screens every day” Grant replies, “you get to be yourself, y’know? Live the way you wish to, not how the media does.”
With a smile, Vickers changes the direction of the conversation for a moment, offering the man a shot of whiskey as he retrieves a vintage bottle from the drawer of his desk. “Are we allowed to drink on company grounds?” Grant challenges, Vickers now holding the curved bottle in one hand and a pair of glasses between his two lead fingers in the other.
“It’s my news network!” Vickers responds, hands spread out like a triumphant boxer, “I can, quite frankly, do whatever the fuck I want!” With a laugh, Grant takes the man up on his offer, the older gentleman not one to shy away from over pouring, the glass he slides Grant half full, and the glass he keeps for himself being just a shy over that. “To new beginnings!” Vickers exclaims, glass held high, awaiting Grant’s reciprocation.
“And to fresh starts!” Grant adds, colliding his glass with that of Vickers, his first sip bringing a sour edge when mixed with his coffee, the evening beverage never one to sit well at first. “It’s New York City, Grant… The sleeping giant that controls this entire country’s informational input from the comfort of a side-stand studio” Vickers explains, one finger removed from the glass, aimed towards Grant.
“You’re not in D.C anymore, my friend” Vickers concludes, Grant’s head bowing, a slight disappointment overcoming him before he affirms the older gentleman’s statement. “How did things leave off back home?” Vickers questions, Grant’s face changing to one of surprise at first, returning to the usual composure he had been sporting for the minutes previous.
“Things were going well” Grant replies, the left eyebrow on Vickers’ face lifting into the air, “but I realized that it was time for a new chapter, so I called it a day.” With a deep breath, Vickers adjusts in his seat before ultimately choosing to remove himself from it entirely, his stroll taking him around the desk and into the seat beside that of Grant’s, a slight smirk coming over the younger man’s face as this change of scenery unfolds.
“I like people with the poise that you have, which is why I think we can get along” Vickers explains, placing his drink back upon the desk, “but in order to do that, you need to not bullshit me.” Grant’s expression quickly changing, Vickers alters his approach, the ice having been broken, the bits that remain intact discarded with the force of a blowtorch.
“I know why you left, D.C, alright? And I know that it was not of your own volition” Vickers explains, “now I think very highly of you, but I also understand that you’re someone in need of proper punishment for your actions.” With a sigh, Grant’s eyes turn away from Vickers, his head looking towards the floor whilst his employer continues. “I think you’re far too talented to have allowed yourself to be the advisor to an asshole” Vickers continues, “but you need to know your place.”
Placing his glass beside Vickers’, Grant runs his hand over his face, preparing for tides to turn in a dramatic fashion. “Because of how easily D.C let you off the hook, keeping your scandal out of the public eye and, instead, keeping it in house…” Vickers explains, “I figured making you suffer with a daily reminder, on air, every day of the week until your contract runs out, would be the best form of punishment… Whilst still not wasting the good you still can offer and do.”
“That’s why you signed me?” Grant replies in question, his tone having shifted into one of defence, “have me play second-fiddle to Taylor so I can get a paycheck and never move on?” With a shrug, Vickers notes the woman’s experience in dealing with flawed people, both on camera and off.
Nodding to himself, Grant returns to his feet and takes his belongings into his hand, Vickers left remaining where he was left whilst Grant walks out of the door. Whispering to himself, Vickers counts down from ten as he takes another swig from the glass. Upon reaching zero, Vickers looks back to the door and watches Grant return through it, asking for directions towards the newsroom.
Offering the man the answers he returned looking for, Vickers oversees Grant’s dramatic exit once more, chuckling to himself as the glass is brought back to his lips. “This is going to be fun” the man says to himself, shrugging his shoulders as he returns to the desk, the office bound for a little more fun in his eyes than it previously had, his Wednesday morning beginning with some spice.
Just beyond the view of his office, Grant remains standing in the glistening hallway, his eyes unable to detach themselves from the blonde-haired woman’s portrait, her name plate read from his lips in a whisper. “Taylor English” the man mutters a number of times, his eyes closing tightly before parting differently, his annoyance having turned into an intense stare, and his feet finally taking him in the direction his immediate future resides within, waiting for his entry to begin a new chapter.
= Tonight at 9 is created by Zachary Serra, all rights to the series belong to Zachary Serra and the entity of Pacer1 Media from the start of Season 1 onwards =
The bulletproof glass doors that lead into the towering newsroom granting him entry to the centre of everything, Grant stares towards the heavens, the heart of LMC News taking the design of a panopticon, fifteen rows of floors towering above the open-air space, a newsdesk stationed in the room’s middle.
Monitors in each direction turned to competing channels, a wall of colour-coded pop-ups differing in severity and constantly-updating bulletins, the newsroom offers nothing less than the best of technology.
Gazing in wonder, Grant goes completely unaware of the numerous faces all staring at him with a range of expressions, those stationed on the floors above staring down from their pedestals. His eyes finally stumbling into the one door he was most concerned with finding, Grant swallows his worries and proceeds forward, the balls on his knuckles tapping against the fogged glass with hesitation.
“Enter” the voice from within calls aloud, the door’s handle taken into Grant’s grasp and pushed forward, his eyes immediately landing upon the blonde woman sitting behind her computer. Stood in the middle of her office, Grant remains silent for an awkward few seconds, his new co-anchor patiently waiting for the man to muster the courage to speak his first words.
“Hi” Grant begins, the woman rolling her eyes as if to suggest the first word was less than worth the wait, “I’m Grant Haste, the new co-anchor of-” Without letting the man finish his introduction, the woman insists that she already knows who he is. “Why are you in my office?” the woman proceeds to inquire, the nameplate at the forefront of her desk designed in much the same fashion as the one beneath her portrait outside Vickers’ office.
“I just wanted to come in and introduce myself” Grant replies, the woman turning her chair towards the man’s direction, hands folded upon her lap with one leg draped over the other. “I already know who you are… As does everyone here” Taylor replies, “why would you think you’d walk into a newsroom after what you did in D.C and have the need to introduce yourself as if we didn’t already know everything there was to know before you could even walk in?”
Clearing his throat, Grant’s hands reach around his back, folding together away from the woman’s sights, a few eyes from beyond their office door frozen upon them, intrigued in seeing how this unfolds. “I don’t think you know everything” Grant replies, his tone sounding sarcastic, almost humorous in a way Taylor doesn’t take kindly to. Flashing a grin of displeasure to accompany an unwelcoming chuckle, Taylor’s hands press against the sides of her chair, pushing her from her seat.
“You don’t think we know everything?” Taylor asks, slowly walking around her desk, Grant left watching anxiously as he knows this welcome to be bound for little more than what he’d already encountered. “You vouched for a rapist because you ‘owed him’, and got away with it until the woman he fucked over, both literally and figuratively, took him to court” Taylor remarks, “and then quietly depart from D.C on mutual interest of what’s best when you become a liability.”
Taylor’s face gets close to his, eyes cold enough to send shivers down Grant’s back before he can even feel the heat of her breath. “You go ahead and tell me, right now, how I don’t know everything” Taylor exclaims, holding the floor open to allow the man his damndest at climbing out from the inescapable hole he’s dug himself into.”
His teeth sinking into his bottom lip, Grant responds in a way in which the woman expected, her face showing that she’s glad to find the man is still capable of telling the truth. “I can’t” Grant replies, the woman turning around and returning to her desk almost immediately, “but I can tell you that there’s more to me than my darkest moments.”
As her hand reaches out for her chair, Taylor’s palm merely presses into its headrest before her body freezes, anger building in the moment Grant finishes his sentence. “What about her, D.C?” Taylor asks, her head turning back towards the man, hair covering one eye, the one which remains undisturbed serving enough of a stare to demoralise the man before her.
“Is there more to that woman than what she had to suffer through that night anymore?” Taylor questions, Grant’s head sunken in self-hatred, “I’d bet everything she does reminds her of him in some way.” A smirk on her face breaking from the filth she feels coursing over her, its disgust wrapping around her arms, and coiling around her fingers, Taylor takes her seat behind the computer, eyes locked onto Grant as he peers at her, head still hung.
“You had the choice, in that moment, to do the right thing… And you chose the wrong thing” Taylor explains, “that decision isn’t one that you get to take back, nor is it one that you can just forget about.” Leaning forward, Taylor tells the man to hold his head up and stare her in the eyes the way she believes a real man to be capable of. His battery-sized pride swallowed, Grant holds his head up, eyes unmoved from her face.
“You’re no real man, Grant” Taylor explains, fingers locked together atop her desk, “you’re a piece of garbage in an expensive suit… And all that luxury covers up is moral bankruptcy.” No longer wanting the man to stand before her sights unless he needs to be, Taylor directs the man to the office beside her own. “Unfortunately, I have to share a wall with you” Taylor concludes, “so stop being here, and go over there.”
Eyes turning back to her computer, Taylor begins to question herself as her hand rests atop the keys, Grant doing as instructed until his name is called back. Turning around, Grant looks the woman in the eyes, her face illuminated by the monitor’s screen. “I only share a desk with you because I owe Sam” Taylor explains, “I don’t like you, and trust my prediction when I say, I know that is never going to change.”
Clearing the build up of tension, Taylor makes it through her final warning unscathed, the man leaving her office for the one next door upon its conclusion. “Stay out of my way, and I will stay out of yours” Taylor furthers, “because, if I really wanted to, I could have you back off-screen, slowly fading into obscurity by the day, with the snap of my fingers.”
Walking around the sloped walls to the office one room over, Grant places his hand upon the door and pushes forward, stopping in the walkway for a moment to stare back into the panopticon. Every set of eyes on the floor directed towards him, a mob of people leaning along the bannisters of each floor above act just the same, an entire crowd watching the man’s first vanishing act, his body encapsulated for the time being behind his own thick-fogged glass door.
Alerted by the tapping at his door, Vickers allows entry to the figure on the other side, a motivated Grant emerging from beyond its fogged-out divider. “I see you’re finding your way around the building nicely… I like to be a fast learner!” Vickers exclaims, Grant immediately opens the conversation with a request issued on similar grounds.
“Can I start a few days early?” Grant inquires, the man down a blazer and tie, instead sporting an unfurled dress shirt and slacks. “Are you going to ask for information leading you to the whereabouts of your stolen wardrobe?” Vickers mocks, a genuine chuckle coming from Grant as he implies otherwise.
“You may not trust me on air yet, but I’d like to start from scratch… True scratch” Grant explains, Vickers left asking a simple set of questions before he makes his decision. “Have you sat in on the rundown?” Vickers wonders aloud, Grant offering him the exact time and location of such a meeting. “Have you a wardrobe, preferably one that is complete, for this evening's show?” Vickers continues, Grant revealing the blazer and tie from behind his back.
“Do you know what city we’re in?” Vickers inquires, Grant enthusiastically reciting the nicknames associated with New York. “And have you been drinking?” Vickers concludes, Grant reciting a perfect rendition of the alphabet backwards to seal the deal. “Let Taylor know I gave the ‘all clear’” Vickers replies, a nod of appreciation coming from Grant as he quickly dashes out of the man’s office, leaving his boss with a smile plastered across his face.
Adjusting his collar, Grant stares at himself in the mirror, eyes locking upon those within his reflection, a mutter of confidence spoken beneath his breath. Removing himself from the office, Grant walks around the lengths of the panopticon, his journey taking him to the control room hidden behind the desk’s backdrop.
“You’re Aiden!” Grant exclaims, the man he calls for stood before the monitors, double checking the set for airtime. “Redwood” the man replies, his last name added onto the first, a name which Grant formally recites. “Aiden Redwood, it’s a pleasure to meet you” Grant greets, a hesitant Aiden explaining that he’d prefer it to be as much a pleasure for him as it appears to be for the new co-anchor.
“Listen, I don’t wanna step on toes, so you just let me know if I’m encroaching into territory I don’t belong” Grant explains, Aiden suggesting Taylor would take care of that before he could. Entering the room, almost as if the mere mention of her name incited her presence, Taylor finds both Grant and Aiden stood together, gradually walking further into the room, buying her time until Grant leaves.
“I have to take care of something really quick, I look forward to tonight’s show” Grant exclaims, walking past Taylor without a word on his way out, she and Aiden coupling together, watching the man zip into the front desk.
“Can I have everyone’s attention for just a second!?” Grant calls out, his feet planted against the platform which the desk sits upon, the eyes on the floor placed in his direction. Above, doors open quickly as a crowd begins to gather the length of the towering overhang.
“I know you all already know who I am, and I want to address the reason why” Grant explains, the newsroom now flooded with people eagerly awaiting what he has to say. “I fucked up at a time where people counted on me not to” Grant explains, “and I’m not some asshole that doesn’t understand that… I’m just an asshole that has to live with it.”
Taking the captivating display as worth more than nothing, the eyes treat every word with the weight they were intended to be taken with, each statement hitting with those surrounding the man with a storied past. “Not only did I help ruin someone’s life, but I hid behind millions of dollars of comfort without needing to worry that I’d never get to return to the air with a squeaky-clean reputation” Grant furthers, “but that all goes away tonight.”
Intrigued by the front, the crowd awaits the man’s continuing statements, questioning the promises with actual uncertainty. “The truth is, I know just as you all do, that I don’t deserve to be sitting at this desk tonight” Grant concludes, “but since I am, I’m going to make sure that I’m nothing but honest, both in front of it, and otherwise.”
With a deep breath, Grant nods to himself and those around him, assuring them that, through one way or another, they’ll be both in store for, and a part of, a great show this evening.
“What’s going through your mind right now?” Aiden whispers to Taylor, knowing her well enough to assume she holds an opinion on the guarantees having been made. “I don’t know, but if I were you, I’d make sure I had five minutes saved in case this thing goes off script at some point.”
“And you’re on the air in three…” Aiden counts down, words through the earphones unheard by the rest of the newsroom, which watch the stage before them anxiously. “Two…” Aiden counts as Taylor looks to her side, eyes upon Grant in wonder of what he truly plans to have unfold in seconds from this very moment. “One…” Aiden counts, his words fading into a breath as silence proceeds, Grant recognizing heard silence as the signal that the show has begun.
“Good evening, I’m Taylor English...” the woman greets, her head turned towards the man beside her, “...and I’m Grant Haste” the man concludes. “Tonight we discuss, amongst other things, an attack in a Russian synagogue that wounded at least eight” Taylor continues, Grant’s eyes locking onto the woman as she moves along the script.
Finally concluding the opening introduction, Taylor pauses for a moment to allow Grant to take over, the words on the teleprompter walking him into a rundown of Tony Blair’s setting out of his Respect agenda. His eyes running down the lines moving up the screen before him, a lack of words leave Grant’s mouth, the man frozen live on air as Taylor watches on, his inaction prompting her to begin the first story on his behalf.
“Today in the United Kingd-” Taylor begins, her opening statement concluded abruptly by Grant, who breaks his silence by admitting to the viewers that he first has a statement of his own to make. “Thank you Taylor for your hindsight” Aiden says to himself from the control centre, the flip of a switch at his finger deactivating the teleprompter, the screen going completely black, allowing for Grant to take the reins.
“As many of you know, the last time you saw me on television was for another network” Grant explains, Taylor’s hands folded, right elbow on the desk as her body turns towards the new co-anchor. “A number of months ago, I was released from my contract with such a network under what was then-described as a ‘mutual agreement’” Grant explains, “an agreement that, in reality, was me being fired behind the scenes due to my existence within the network becoming a liability.”
With a smile, Taylor looks on at the man, surprised at his gall to go through with such career-altering promises, a sort of satisfaction running around the newsroom much aligned with that of Taylor’s own. “I was a liability to the network because I had information that was, and still is, detrimental to a legal case currently ongoing, and including my former co-anchor, one Howard Nalty” Grant continues, Taylor awaiting the punchline she knows resides in hiding around the corner.
“The legal case, in specific, pertaining to that of a claim, one Jasmine Malichi, made against Mr. Nalty” Grant specifies, “a claim that he, after work hours, had physically and sexually assaulted her not only against her will, but on company grounds.”
“Get ready to cut to commercial on Taylor’s cue” Aiden calls out, the control team he stands before knowing exactly what their orders are. “I was let go on the agreement that I was to remain silent on the ordeal until after its conclusion” Grant explains, “it was an agreement I once agreed to… And itt is a deal I no longer agree to such conditions of.”
“Take it home, Grant” Vickers says from the comfort of his office, the glass of whiskey in his hand pressed to his lips with a smile, every television usually presenting his competitors turned off, only one, sat before him, powered on and tuned to his network.
“Tonight, I most likely surround myself in legal battles that will probably kill me someday” Grant continues, “but I do so confidently, knowing that my inaction will not remain so.” Her hand covering her mouth, Taylor conceals the smile she is no longer able to contain behind her fingers, those within the newsroom unable to keep themselves back from such a similar response, overwhelmed with a weird sense of joy at such honesty prevailing in a fairytale-like manner.
“Tonight, I submit myself to the truth” Grant explains, hands folded upon the table as the wide shot zooms into his face, the close-up only adding to the weight of such a decree. “I witnessed Howard Nalty assault, and rape, Jessica Malichi after work hours on company grounds” Grant announces, “I knowingly took part in a cover up, I knowingly committed obstruction of justice, and I knowingly ruined the life of a woman I live every day regretting my own wrong doing of.”
With a tear, Grant explains that he accepts all responsibility for his own inaction, and will subject himself to the punishment according to his actions. Stunned into silence, Taylor looks on at Grant, holding back tears of her own, allowing a few seconds of silence to linger in the air, nods of approval given to those within the newsroom, Aiden calling for Taylor’s signal through the earphones.
After a moment, the woman composes herself, fixing the papers before her accordingly as the wide shot zooms out, Grant still staring straight into the lens as he had for the minutes prior. Clearing her throat, Taylor lays the papers back across the desk, her hands folded upon its glass surface once more, eyes returning to the lens as the teleprompter returns.
“We’ll be back after this” the woman concludes, camera screen fading to black, the last sight before commercial being the uneasy rest in Grant’s expression, eyes still sturdy, as confident in his decision as he can be, and proud of his remarks.
== Tonight at 9 ==