Stinky News at Eleven

By Peter Grant

Comedy & satire, Short stories

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412
4 mins

Part I -- Haven't I Seen You Somewhere?

Eddie was coming home from work, glad to be out of the cold and walking through the Victorian lobby of his condo, a building constructed in the 1890’s as a luxury hotel. The elevator was slow and scary and Eddie was heading for the grand staircase.

Eddie never looked at himself as he passed the pier glass mirror, one of many Victorian antiques in the lobby, but he noticed a man preening in front of the mirror. He looked familiar, but Eddie couldn’t remember where he’d seen him. Eddie paused for a second to think and his reflection caught the other man’s eye.

Eddie was eye catching. At six feet, four inches he was eight inches taller and almost sixty pounds of frame and muscle heavier than the preener. The preener turned and spoke to Eddie, “I’m Peyton Meyer. I’m new here, but gosh you look familiar.”

“I was thinking the same about you. Eddie Morrissey.”

They shook hands. They were delighted to meet each other. Peyton was especially delighted. With affected modesty he said, “I get that all the time. People see me on the news, you know.”

“That’s it. You’re the misery reporter. The one stands on a street if it’s snowing or raining so people don’t have to look out the window.”

It didn’t sound like a glamorous job the way Eddie described it. “It is dark at eleven, you know. They can’t see anything outside. Why do you look familiar?”

“I’m a cop, but your station did a human interest piece about me—I hand out toys to the kids at the hospital.”

“Officer Eddie. OMG.” He obviously followed the fan website, OMGOfficerEddie. “I’m such a fan. I raced over and talked to Andrea Watts as soon as I saw the piece. It was so inspiring.”

“Nah. I’m just doing my job. You’re the real celebrity. You’re on TV all the time.”

“I just moved here and I don’t really know anyone. Would you like to come over for dinner? How about Saturday?”

“We’re kinda new here too. We moved here about a year-and-a half ago. You must be up to your ears in renovations.”

“I’m subletting, so I didn’t have to do anything. He’d heard the word “we” and it eventually registered. With so much product on his hair, it took time for anything to penetrate to the gray matter.

“Well, I don’t think we’re doing anything, but I’ll check and give you a call.”

“We includes?”

“Me and my” he used Stinky’s catch phrase, “ball and chain.”

Not what Peyton wanted to hear, but he couldn’t back out. He gave Eddie his phone number—he checked a slip of paper in his wallet to be sure he remembered—and Eddie gave him his.

“So what time?”

“Is seven okay? Anything you don’t eat?”

“I eat almost anything. So does Stinky, but it’s better to stay on the healthy side. Nothing fried.”

Stinky? Odd name. Was it a man or a woman? Peyton wished he hadn’t been so eager, but it had been months since he’d, well, had any. Peyton was confused. If the guy was gay he would have noticed that he was being flirted with, but if he wasn’t gay would he accept a dinner invitation from a stranger? Peyton wasn’t one to grasp a situation quickly and had to mull it over.

Eddie was more excited about the invitation than Stinky. “I know you don’t watch much TV news, but you know that goofy guy that reports dumb things like snowstorms?”

“No. They’re all goofy.”

“You’ve seen him. He’s fairly new. He’s the one that stands in front of city hall if something happened during the day. Except it’s eleven and nothing’s happening. His name is Peyton Meyer.”

“The one who can’t get to the end of a sentence without screwing up?”

“That’s the one.”

“What about him?”

“He’s a neighbor. He recognized me from the Officer Eddie piece and I recognized him from the news. He invited us to dinner on Saturday.”

Less than two years earlier Stinky was living in his genteel bachelor apartment. The neighbors went out of their way not to notice each other. Two women could live next to each other for a decade and not be on a first name basis. His only reservation about moving to the Hudson was that the other residents’ sloppy lives would slosh onto his.

“Did he invite both of us?”

“Not at first. He invited me and when I told him I had a ball and chain he added you.”

“In other words he was hitting on you and you cleverly foiled his evil designs, but forced him to fork over the time, effort and cash to feed both of us. Well done.”

Eddie wasn’t sure if that was a compliment. He didn’t think that Peyton was hitting on him and wasn’t trying to foil his evil plans, not thinking there were any. As he thought about the encounter, he decided that Stinky was probably correct. “He seems nice enough. He’s new here and maybe he wants to meet his neighbors. Do you want to go?”

“You’re sure that it’s not a celebrity summit? Will us lowly folk be allowed to sit at the same table or will we be fighting for crumbs like Lazarus or the dog? I forget the exact story.”

“You’re crazy, Stink. That sounded like a yes. I’ll call him.”

“On the condition that you tell me if you see him on the news between now and then. I want to know what my competition looks like.”

“Hah. You don’t have competition.”

Later that night Eddie was watching the news while Stinky was brushing his teeth. “C’mon Stinky. They’re going live with Peyton Meyer.”

When they met, earlier that evening, Peyton was heading for work as Eddie was coming home.

Stinky came into the den with foamy lips. Peyton appeared on screen, bundled up and holding a microphone. Stinky remembered him. Peyton was conventionally handsome without being distinctive. He looked nice. He didn’t look dangerous or mercenary or sexy. He looked like the kind of person who appears at your door and cheerfully asks you to join his church.

“I’m at the sewage composting plant where a terrific fire has broken out. Fire fighters say it’s a case of spontaneous composting.”

“Oh my god!” Eddie was alarmed at the fire raging behind Peyton.

“He did it again,” Stinky mentioned. “He means ‘spontaneous combustion.’”

“City officials say that maintenance procedures were not followed. The sewage is supposed to be stirred...” Peyton winced and was having trouble maintaining his alarmed and concerned broadcaster expression, “to disappear the heat. It reached composting temperature and the fire spread rapidly through the plant. Fire fighters are working to contain the blaze, and keep…” He was having trouble with his stomach, “the affluent out of the river because of possible environmental damage.”

“He meant effluent.”

The screen split to show Andrea Watts, Eddie’s interview buddy on the left side. “Peyton, what are they saying about sewage treatment in view of this dramatic event?”

The wind was blowing toward Peyton. He was turning green and holding his stomach. His cheeks puffed out. His eyes were watering. “Andrea, you can’t believe the smell.” He turned, bent over and audibly but not visibly blew chunks too close to the river to comply with EPA regulations, should they be watching.

Peyton’s half of the screen vanished and Andrea was alone. She looked like she was chewing a piece of bad sushi and said, “We’ll keep you posted on this developing story. Thank you Peyton Meyer.”

The news story gave Stinky a much greater interest in the upcoming dinner. “Mugs, if he wants us to bring anything, sign us up for a pu-pu platter. This could be fun.”

Since the communication line was between Eddie and Peyton the subject of appetizers did not arise and Stinky brought his usual bottle of wine. The boys were standing in front of room 517 at 7:10. Stinky handed the wine to Eddie. “You’re the one he has the crush on. Impress him.”


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