winner of LCC’s Tall Tale contest, 2013
I’m a Daily News reporter. We take turns working the late shift. There’s a police scanner on the corner of my desk, and I’m listening to it crackle.
When you listen to the scanner awhile, you get to know the codes. “Code 9 in the residence” means there’s a gun in the house. “Subject possible ten-two-two” means somebody might be a little nuts. “I’m ten-four-one with the subject” means a cop just made an arrest.
So I’m listening, but it’s slow, and I’m fantasizing what it must be like to work in a more exciting place like New York, where there are superheroes all over the place. Spider-Man swinging from the skyscrapers, Superman leaping over tall buildings, the Bat signal in the sky … How cool it would be to work the super hero beat on a newspaper!
Then I hear a scanner code I’ve never heard before: “We have a ten-one-nine-four-oh-BB situation.”
“We have a what now?”
“A ten-one-nine-four-oh-BB. On top of the Stratford.”
The Stratford! I know where that is. I used to live next door. I ran for my car. I had to get there before the cops set up containment! I was so glad I kept the key to the street door of my old apartment building. I unlocked it, ran up the stairs and banged on the door of one of the apartments.
“Daily News,” I said, handing over my business card. “May I use your bathroom?”
“Say what?” the guy asked.
I rushed in and pushed up a square in the ceiling, exposing the hidden passage to the roof. I climbed through, and I was up there, with only a little ladder to climb to get up on the Stratford.
I raced up, whispering Lois Lane’s mantra from the first Superman movie: “Pulitzer prize, Pulitzer prize …”
I was on the roof. And there, on the edge, looking over Commerce, was a guy in silver tights and a black cape. Holy cow, I was working the superhero beat!
I pulled out my notebook, rushed over.””Hi, I’m with The Daily News.”
The guy leaped a foot at least.
“Who are you?” he demanded.
“Leslie Slape, Daily News. And you are …”
“Z-O-R-G?” He nodded. “And you’re from … Longview, Kelso?”
“I am from a planet beyond your ken.”
“Uh, OK. I was wondering if you’d mind chatting with me.”
By then the police sirens were so loud we could barely hear each other. Without warning, Zorg grabbed me and zoomed into the sky. He settled us down on top of the furnace at Longview Fibre, the tallest structure in the county.
“No one will disturb us here,” he said.
And then he gave me a really great interview. We were just wrapping it up when, out of nowhere, this blur of red and gold whams into Zorg.
Then it was pow! Zap! This guy in red tights is duking it out with Zorg on top of the furnace. I’m thinking, I’ve got to get some shots of this, and I push the power button on my camera. Dead battery!
I’m taking notes like crazy, and starting to wonder how I’m going to get down, ‘cause it looks like the guy in red tights is beating the crap out of my ride.
Then it’s over in a flash. Zorg is toast and the guy in red has whooshed me back to The Daily News before I even have a chance to say, “And your name is —?”
I go in, tell the copy desk what I’ve got, and the editor gives me a look, like he thinks I’m ten-two-two.
“OK. Some nutcase gives you a fake name and a fake address, and you don’t even get the name of the other guy, and you don’t have photos. No story.”
How did Lois Lane ever handle this?
I’m about to leave when I realize my car is back at the Stratford. But it’s not. It’s in the parking lot — and under the windshield wiper there’s a note with one word: