Sweet Anger(2)

By: Sandra Brown



Kari saluted. “Right, Chief.”

Pinkie’s beet-red face split into a grin as he lit one of his unfiltered cigarettes. “And that’s what I love about you. You don’t give me any guff.” He sauntered away in the direction of the newsroom. “And you’ve got great legs,” he called over his shoulder.

Kari took the compliment for what it was, a teasing gesture between friends. Pinkie had been her friend and ally ever since she’d signed on with WBTV five years ago. Where others were cowed by the querulous news director, Kari, as a green intern with no more television journalism experience than her college diploma afforded her, had called his bluff one day and forever won his respect. She talked to him as no one else would dare and got away with it because of their mutual affection. She knew he wasn’t nearly as fierce as he pretended.

Pinkie saw in her a dedicated, thorough reporter with initiative. He could count on her not to “screw up,” as he put it. At the same time, he liked her warm personality, her femininity. He had had a hunch that the viewers would be as charmed as he, and he had been proven right.

When Kari had married Thomas Wynne two years earlier, Pinkie had feared he would lose her. But she had assured him that she wanted to continue working. “Thomas agrees. Until we decide to start a family, he wants me to do anything I want. And I want to keep working for you.”

“There might be a conflict of interests here, Kari,” Pinkie had said. “How can you impartially cover the city hall beat when your husband is one of the city councilmen?”

“I’ve already thought of that. Much as I hate giving up that beat, I think it’s the proper thing to do.”

“So where does that leave us?”

“I’ve got an idea for an entertainment segment on the news programs.”

His white eyebrows had jumped up then lowered into a thoughtful frown. “Let’s hash it over.”

Pinkie had trusted her judgment and her ability to implement her idea successfully. Kari Stewart’s critiques were a highlight of every newscast. She was witty and incisive without being scathing or vicious. The viewers adored her.

Now Kari went into the editing room and closed the door behind her. She dropped into the chair and fished a cartridge of videotape from her oversized bag, which served as both purse and carryall. Pushing back a mass of untamed blond hair from her cheek, she inserted the cartridge into the computerized editing console and began watching the interview she had conducted barely an hour before.

She picked up the telephone and dialed an extension. “Sam, hi. Kari. Can you bring that tape you shot last night of the rehearsal to editing room three, please? Thanks.”

A few moments later the door opened behind her and she said, “Just set it down, Sam. Thanks. I’m using that for B-roll. I’ll be ready for it in a minute.”

She was capably punching buttons while scanning the two monitors, one with the unedited tape playing, the other with the edited version she was electronically compiling. She was so engrossed that she didn’t notice that the door didn’t close.

“Kari.”

Pinkie’s voice and the unfamiliar tone of it brought her head around. She had seen him in moods ranging from elation when they had scooped all their competitors on a story, to drunken melancholia over a bad ratings report. She had never seen him as he was now: deflated, sagging, abject, and most uncharacteristic of all, pale.

She half rose out of her chair. “Pinkie? What is it?” He laid a hand on her shoulder and eased her gently back into the chair.

“An accident report came in over the police radio a few minutes ago.”

“And?” A cold fist of dread began squeezing her heart. “What kind of accident?”

He ran his hand over his head, then dragged it down his face, distorting the features. “Auto/pedestrian. Just a few blocks from here, right downtown. I sent a cameraman over there. He just called in.”

She did stand now, fighting off his hands as he tried to restrain her. “Thomas? Something’s happened to Thomas?” There was no one else in her life. Pinkie wouldn’t be acting like this if it weren’t Thomas.

She made a mad dash for the door, but Pinkie caught her. “It is Thomas, Kari.”

“He’s hurt? What happened? What?”

“A truck hit him.”

“Oh, my God.”

Pinkie dropped his eyes to the middle of her chest, which was just about eye level for him. “It was … fatal. He died at the scene. I’m sorry, sweetheart.”

Several ponderous seconds ticked by. She remained motionless, speechless. Disbelief paralyzed her. Then quietly she said, “You’re telling me Thomas is dead?” Her hands gripped Pinkie’s shirtfront like claws and she shook him. “A truck hit him?! Killed him?!” she screamed. Several of the station’s employees were now crowded into the doorway of the editing room. The women were weeping. The men looked distinctly uncomfortable.

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