((Author’s Note – Today’s story features an issue that some people may find upsetting, so the majority of the story is behind the cut.))
At eleven fifty-five PM, precisely on the dot, the adverts switched back to ‘Good Night, New York with Eddie Best’ with the usual live jazz-band fanfare. Eddie Best, seventy-two years young and dressed in his standard suit was smiling to the camera, standing on the stage with the TV screen wall behind him showing off the New York skyline. He’d kept fit over his fifty year broadcast history, going from a handsome and hilarious young man to wise and witty in his old age, with just starting to thin hair of a dark grey, and un-treated wrinkles that he would always call his ‘laughter lines’.
“Welcome back to the final section of Good Night, New York, with me, Eddie Best.” He said in a almost theatrical manner. “And I think it’s time we had a chat.” Ignoring the talk from his producer in his earpiece, Eddie headed to sit on his desk. His hand started to reach back into one of the many drawers on it, filled with props and other tools of the trade. “For fifty years, nearly every single day of my life, I’ve been on your screens. I was here on my wedding day, I was here after the birth of my children, and I was here on the evening of my wife’s death, two years ago today.”
“Keep the cameras on me, Jimmy.” Eddie called out to the stage manager on seeing a runner heading towards him. “And keep them rolling. This is important. See, I’ve got a joke to tell you. Today, I was dropping off a coffee to Tammy Harris, the producer. Three years now I’ve been doing that. I’d bring her a coffee, she’d tell me it’s wrong, we’d laugh and walk to the machine together while talking over the show. Well, today she wasn’t in her office when I went in, and she’d left her computer on.” He took a pause, before gesturing to his eyes. “So, out of the corner of my eye I catch mention of my show. And I take a look. And it’s an order from the executives. That this show will be going on hiatus. For retooling.”
He laughed for a moment, before slamming his hand down on the desk. “Retooling, to fit a new audience. A new demographic. New talent. Me though? I’m old talent. Said so in the e-mail. Some punk-nosed upstart who has been in TV for what, five years, thinks that I’m past it. Says the figures don’t lie. Well, hell with the figures!” Ripping the earpiece from his ear, he crushed it beneath the butt of a 9mm pistol he procured from the drawer before jumping up, aiming it at the hulking form of a security guard edging towards him.
“Get back! You don’t shut me up, you don’t try and take me off my own damn show! I’m Eddie Best! I’ve given this station, I’ve given America, fifty years of my life! I carried this station through hard times, people tuning in just to see me! Advertising prices were at a premium in my slots! And all that counts for nothing with these idiots, fresh out of college and their heads full of figures and content and horsecrap! They want to take this show off the air, and when it comes back up? I won’t be here! It’ll be some similarly aged kid, with crude material and cruder guests!”
Brandishing the gun, he swept it along the front row. “Don’t cut me off! Good Night, New York is live, and this here is real life! See this? This is what your Nielson figures get you! Pen-pushers and nickel and dimer’s who care nothing for tradition or feelings! Decadence and decay, pumped through your screens into your home, and the traditionalists? The people who built things from the ground up? We’re left behind and forgotten for not being ‘edgy’ or ‘current’ or whatever else buzzword they throw at you!”
Tears were running down his face now, his gun-wielding hand trembling for all to see. “You want to get rid of me on this show? Then you want to get rid of me!” His grip tightened, knuckles going white as he raised the gun. “So, I’ll be going on hiatus now. You’ll never see me again on this show. I’d put together a big finale, with clips of my best bits and my bloopers, but I’m just sick and tired of what TV’s become. So… this has been Eddie Best, saying Good Night, New York, and good night, America.”
Eddie Best squeezed the trigger, the click cutting off halfway through. His eyes widened, even as security charged at him. He had just enough time to see the safety on the gun being on, before he was tackled to the ground and had the weapon wrested from his hand.
“I don’t know if you guys have seen Twitter, but that just -trended-!” The executive laughed, even as the floor crew watched the distraught host being taken away on a stretcher. “Everyone’s talking about it, and probably tuning in too.” He thumbed the screen of his iPhone, scratching at the carefully trimmed patch of hair on his chin. “If only the old man could pull in this kind of attention regularly. You know, like that film. Network. What do you think, Tammy?”
“What do I think? What do -I- THINK?!” Tammy screamed, before driving her fist into the man’s mouth. He fell back, spitting blood as Tammy started to kick at his shins. “I think Eddie was right! And you know what?! I. QUIT. You SICK, twisted, rat BASTARD!” Her final kick was aimed right between his legs, drawing a pained squeal before she turned to hurry off after Eddie, starting to sob as she did so.