“Sir, we have another crate of slow lorrises.”
“Good, good. Any of them alive this time?”
“Good Lord, those things are fragile!” Lee paced restlessly around a small, imaginary circle. It was a notable trait given the tremendous size of the building that surrounded them; an wide open maze of people and projects that defied the imagination, every day.
“But the good news, sir: They’re a mother and baby.”
Lee visibly relaxed at this information. “Thank God. Okay, here’s the plan. First we’re gonna take the baby away from it’s mother for a few hours. Then we’ll reunite them, film the whole thing, and add some heart-warming music. We’ll call it “You Won’t Believe What Happens When this Slow Lorris is Reunited with Her Baby.”
Jansen made a note of this on his tablet. It took a little while because he had to poke each touch-sensitive key awkwardly with a single fingertip. Then he had to file the note into his projects folder, so that he could remember to delete it later. He asked, “What should we do with the rest of the crate?”
“Throw them in a pile out back. Maybe we can sell their skeletons or something.”
Jansen nodded, and made the notations on his tablet, noticing in his records that there should still be a pile of slow lorrises left over from last week, so it would be easy to know where to chuck the new ones.
“Sir,” Katie yelled from her desk. “Justin Bieber on line one!”
“If he hasn’t committed any felonies, I don’t want to talk to him!”
“He says he’s lost.”
“Shit, okay, keep him on the line, and get a recording of the phone call. We’ll call it, “Justin Beiber Out of Control: Leaked Phone Call.”
“I think he’s just lost. Does he have a meeting here today, or something?”
“Shit, that’s right! We were going to cover him in kittens and take photos. Jansen, isn’t that your department?”
Jansen scrolled his fingers all over his tablet, seeking to confirm this information. He scrunched his face as he continued to get lost in the tablet’s machinations. Why couldn’t he recall one project from the next? But wait, he had lost track of everything while his boss continued to speak.
“… and the whole agency refuses to return my calls anymore. I don’t care what kind of animals we use as long as there is some variety in there! You’ve got to keep people off guard otherwise they get bored. That’s why we need a great white shark here in the studio.”
“Right.” Jansen fumbled at his tablet some more.
“But live sharks are too expensive to buy on the free market, so we’ll have to trap one ourselves somehow. Look up shark trapping, Jansen.”
“Once we have a shark we can just feed it things, or I don’t know. Do you think a slow lorris could win a fight against a shark?”
“I don’t think so, sir,” Jansen said, watching the letters he typed get all mixed up.
“‘Watch this Slow Lorris Get the Upper Hand on a Great White Shark,’ the headline will say. Can you imagine? Oh, I wanna click on it already!”
“I can’t wait to click on it either, sir.”
“The whole world wants to click on it! They just don’t know it yet. We already have a slow lorris, right?”
“Yes sir. Two of them.”
“So let’s find a shark, then. That’s step one.”
“Yes sir, but…”
“Step two, let’s see if that slow lorris can put up a fight.”
“Right.” He typed all over his tablet. “Probably not, though.”
“Step three!” He yelled. “Bloodsport!”
“If it doesn’t work out, hell. We can just put out, ‘You Won’t Believe How This Guatemalan Farmer Feeds His Shark.’ See, that came out of my mouth one second ago and I already want to click on it. Did you get that one, Jansen?”
“Guatemalan… . Sorry, sir, this auto-correct is… bad.”
“Just… whoever throws the monkey into the shark’s mouth, make him look like a Guatamalan farmer.”
“Hey boss!” a familiar voice cried.
“Chaz! What do we got?”
Chaz approached with his usual swagger. Today he was wearing classic Lethal Weapon clothes and a pair of peculiarly dark-shaded Google glasses. With him was a young boy in a hoodie, around thirteen years old.
“Hey guys,” Chaz said smiling.
“How are you enjoying the Google glasses?” I asked.
“Oh, they’re cool. They’re really cool.”
“Who’s the kid?” Lee asked.
“Oh, this kid’s awesome! Tell ’em your name!”
The boy stood silent.
“Go on, don’t be shy. Tell ’em your name, kid.”
He looked ashamed. “I’m Jonathan Hershmeyer.”
“And what’s the deal with him?”
“Jonathon here wants to grow up to look just like Johnny Depp!”
Jonathan nodded shyly.
Lee and Jansen stared at the boy, brows furrowed. His face was broad, his eyes wide apart, with reddish brown hair, freckles, and overly prominent ears. If there was ever a face that failed to resemble Johnny Depp in any way, it was this one.
Chaz continued, “So his family agreed to allow him to get plastic surgery to fulfill his dream!”
“And we’re going to take the pictures of the process!” Lee exclaimed.
That was Chaz and Lee for you. Always on the same page. They hugged each other bro-ishly and Jansen knew that meant another new project to keep track of, as he furiously pecked at his tablet with his index finger.
“Dr. Rochester’s going to be very busy,” Lee said.
“Haha, yeah. The plastic surgery is actually going to take a while. I think he said it was going to be more procedures on a single face than anyone else in history.”
“You’re going to be famous, kid!” Lee exclaimed. “Everyone’s going to want to click on you!”
“Hey,” Lee said. “You don’t know anything about Guatemalan sharks, do you?”
The boy stood stone-faced.
“Chaz, look them up on your glasses for me.”
“Oh, well, these don’t work like that.”
“What? Why not?”
“I had the lenses replaced with sunglass lenses and now they don’t work like that.”
A siren sounded then, and red lights flashed all throughout the building. The place went into an uproar as everyone ran toward the nearest screen.
“A million hits!” Lee cried, unable to contain his glee. “Which one was it?” Soon, the answer was broadcast on every screen in the building: A single headline with a thumbnail photo.
“Why is This Baby Hippopatomus Being Pushed Out of an Airplane?”
The building bubbled with excitement.
“Click it, Katie!” Lee said.
Katie clicked, and the video played. In it, a camera placed above an open hangar door records three men as they push a small hippopatomus out of an airplane. It’s wearing something like a parachute, but it is in no way clear what happens to the hippo after it leaves the airplane, or why any of it happened.
“Are you getting this Jansen? We need more stories like this one!”
“More hippos out of airplanes,” Jansen typed.
“Was this one yours?” Lee asked Chaz.
Chaz’s proud smile was all Lee needed to know. His eyes welled with respect. “That’s journalism, Chaz. That’s journalism.” Louder again, to emphasize to everybody: “That’s journalism!”
The room burst into applause.
“Well, I’d love to stick around and celebrate,” Chaz said, “But it’s time to get this little movie star here the proper paperwork.”
“Oh, absolutely. I don’t want to be liable for a single bit of …this,” he said, motioning at the boy’s face.
“Sir!” Katie yelled from her desk. “Beiber on line one again. He says he won’t do the cat shoot, but he will dress up as a Guatemalan farmer.”
“Jansen, did you find out about what Guatemalan farmers feed their sharks?”
Jansen read his notes from top to bottom. Nothing he was looking at made any sense.
“It looks like they eat slow lorrises, sir.”
“Ah, that’s right. New plan: Save those slow lorrises for the great white shark we’re getting. Justin Bieber, disguised as a Guatemalan farmer, will feed the shark a slow lorris, whereupon we electrocute the water until the shark goes crazy, and we capture whatever happens on film.”
Jansen paused. “What on earth do we call that one?”
“I’m thinking: “This One Weird Trick to Enrage Sharks Isn’t What You Think.”
“That’s for sure,” Jansen said, typing.
“Okay then. Good meeting. Keep me updated on everything.”
“I will, sir.” Jansen smiled. Another productive meeting with the boss, he thought, as he casually kicked a laundry basket full of kittens out of the way. And another productive day.