Welcome to the first “Random” day on the schedule. Today we have part one of a cheerful short story entitled “Interviewing Leather.”
Some artists have blue periods. Some poets have sonnet sequences. I? Write stories about superheroes. It’s this thing I do. And this one is relatively high concept, though God knows where I could sell it. The basic idea is “what if Rolling Stone sent a reporter to interview a B-list supervillain.”
This is part one because the story isn’t finished, and maybe when I run out of parts I’ll finish it. We’ll see. I don’t promise a regular update schedule, though.
You’ll notice (if you care) that the categories include ‘Justice Wing.’ I’ve been building up a self-contained world I can write superheroesque stories in for some time. Apparently for my own amusement, because Kavalier and Clay aside there isn’t exactly a burgeoning market for these things. Damn Superguy for scarring me.
Some of the language isn’t all that kid-friendly. But then, I do have a mature readers warning on the site. Enjoy!
It was a seven hour drive up to Meridian City. Coastal driving. Northbound. There’s a lot of great views of the ocean going that way, if you happen to like staring out at water. As it’s not really my thing, I was just glad I had an iPod plugged into my car. Besides, I like to listen to music when I’m heading out to an interview. Y’know. Listen to their albums. Or listen to their genre.
Really, it’s the best part of the job. I sit down in the music library and cipe tracks into a playlist. Free rein at the candy store, and it’s all legal. The RIAA doesn’t have jack or shit on me. Not that’d I’d much care if they did. I find most of the people who give a shit about kids stealing their music don’t give that much of a shit about their music in the first place.
And over time I build up specific playlists depending on who I’m going to see. Cutting edge or retro, I have a music list that I can put on repeat for a couple of days before I see them. It helps me get into my own head, get ready. Think like they do so when it comes time to interview them I’m halfway there to start with.
So I’m driving. But this time I’m not heading up to interview an alt-rock or hip hop star. This time it was Leather.
Leather’s a supervillain. I don’t have a playlist for that.
I didn’t want this gig.
Seriously. I wanted a gig, sure. That’s why I went into the office in the first place. It’s a monthly ritual between me and Kyle. I walk into the Amplifier offices, hit on Teenee at the front desk, and then go back to see Kyle. And he bullshits me for a few and we spar back and forth on the state of rock today, and he tells me that he hasn’t got anything lined up, and I tell him I need to eat and if he can’t feed me, I’ll go work at Starbucks since they pay on time anyway. And we go around a few times, and then he’ll act like he just thought of some feature or interview he’d like to have done, only he’ll have three weeks worth of prep and research already lined up. We argue about the wordcount and pay rate, but as soon as he suggests it we both know I’m going to take it.
This didn’t work like that. He smiled when I walked through the door. That’s when I knew I was in trouble. Before we could even go through the opening statement he’d pitched it to me.
“She’s a supervillain,” I said. “That’s not very rock and roll.”
“Bullshit.” Kyle leaned back in his chair. “It’s not very Britney Spears pop, I’ll give you that. It’s utterly rock and roll. Think of what Tom Wolfe could have done with this in 1966.”
“It’s entirely possible her mother hadn’t been born in 1966,” I said. “I think Tom Wolfe would have some trouble with it.”
“Forest for the trees, Toddy. Forest for the trees.” Kyle pulled that out every once in a while. I’m not always sure what he means when he says it. The big picture with a supervillain involves being punched really hard. “Look. You drive up to her place for an afternoon–”
“I’m getting directions to her lair?”
“That’s a bit melodramatic, isn’t it?”
“She’s a supervillain, Kyle.”
“Okay, point. Anyway. You go up there. You get a few candid shots. You shoot the shit with her for a few hours. You come home and type it up. No big.”
“You’re acting like this is some pissant celebrity interview. How’d you even set this up. Did you call her agent? Does she even have an agent?”
Kyle shrugged. “Some of them do. But no, I met a friend of a friend of one of her ex-henches, and he got her to call me. She thinks it’d be fun.”
“So you drive up there.”
“That’s not how it works,” Kyle said, leaning forward and folding his arms on his desk. “I’m the editor, you see. I solicit articles and I edit them after I get them. You’re the writer. You go and you write the articles.”
“Can’t I go bug Nelly for a week or something?”
“What, you think you won’t get shot covering rap?”
“I think getting shot beats getting bitten by radioactive animals. People who visit into the supers’ world end up becoming permanent residents.” Or they end up dead, but I didn’t figure that needed to be mentioned.
“Then next month, you can interview yourself. Isn’t that traditional for journalist super heroes?”
“What makes you think I’d be a super hero?”
Kyle snorted. “Anyway. Get a picture of her we can use, and I’ll give you the cover.”
I raised an eyebrow and leaned back. Which was a mistake, because that’s code. That means ‘I want to hear the offer,’ even though I didn’t really want to hear the offer. If I heard the offer, then I knew I’d be doing the gig.
“And a buck and a half a word.”
“Mary gets a buck ninety.”
“You’re not supposed to know what Mary gets.”
“Yeah, but I do. So why aren’t I getting what Mary gets?”
“Because Mary doesn’t suck.”
“So send Mary.”
Kyle shrugged. “Leather wants a guy. She doesn’t like talking to girls. That was part of the deal.”
“So you’re offering me a buck and a half a word and my name on the cover because I have a Y chromosome?”
“And don’t suck as bad as the other guys I have available,” Kyle qualified.
Kyle arched an eyebrow, and then nodded. “Good enough. I’ll call Rob. Have a good one.”
I blinked. Kyle was off script. Kyle never goes off script. “Well, hang on. What else you got for this month?”
Kyle was punching in a phone number. “Nothing.”
Kyle shifted a finger to the hook, looking back at me with narrow eyes. “I have a brief window of opportunity to get an interview with a supervillain who looks and dresses like a Suicidegirl, Todd. Frankly, if you’re not going to write this, the only thing I care about is finding someone who is.”
“Oh, so now we’re playing hardball?”
“No, now I’ve given up on you. Rob’s not as good, but I can pay him one and a quarter. Hell, he might do it for free if I give him the cover.”
“So pay me one sixty five and I’ll do it.”
“No. Good bye, Todd.”
“One fifty will be fine.”
Kyle hung the phone up.
So now I was doing the gig.