Friday morning started with another meeting in Kurt’s office. The morning’s paper lay folded-up on his desk, untouched and unopened. We all knew what was in it.
“Normally I’d be disappointed about only having a follow-up to run on a Friday,” he said, pausing momentarily to take a sip of coffee. “But even a hot scoop probably would have been bumped to the second page by yesterday’s news dump.”
Ash shrugged. She’d done something to her glamour charm that had changed her hair color to strawberry blonde, and I was resisting the urge to stare at her in search of other changes. “That’s Fridays for you.”
Kurt nodded. “So it is. I wouldn’t be surprised if you find people suddenly a hell of a lot more talkative today.”
“Where’s Wolf? FBI Spying on Lycanthropes” read the headline of the paper that sat on the table between Rico and I. Somebody in copy editing was probably pretty pleased with themselves, but seeing my name attached to the byline beneath it made me wince.
Rico studied the page as he sipped his coffee. “Man, no wonder you’re always so worried. Turns out somebody was watching you.”
I hadn’t had time that week to meet with Rico for lunch, but now, more than I ever, I needed his advice. So the two of us were meeting for a quick breakfast at the coffee shop on the ground floor of the Wexler Building. Although technically, it was already my second meal of the day.
Who needs Atkins when you have lycanthropy?
I called MacClelland.
“Miss Stone,” he said. “Is it already time for another round of twenty questions?”
Well, that certainly sounded promising. At the very least, he hadn’t hung up yet.
“Would you give me twenty answers?”
“Well that depends on the questions,” he replied. Dropping into a more serious tone, he said, “Same deal as before. Nothing gets attached to my name and I won’t give you anything that needs to stay secret.”
“That’s more than reasonable,” I said. It wasn’t the same deal – MacClelland had shifted from refusing to leak anything secret to refusing to leak anything that should be secret. It was a subtle distinction, and I doubted that he was even consciously aware he had changed his position. It suggested that he might be experiencing some cognitive dissonance of his own – maybe of the kind that arises when ideals and principles contradict?
“American Cargo Ship Sunk Near Singapore” was the top headline of Wednesday’s front page. The five column banner easily overshadowed any and all of the stories below-the-fold, including the one tucked away in the lower right corner, under the headline, “Parahumans Targeted by No Fly List”.
I tried not to feel bitter about being crowded out by a story off the wire. I’d set out with the goal of just breaking the story, and had ended up with a front page headline. A single column, below-the-fold headline, but still a front page headline. That had to count for something.