THIRTEEN – ACTION NEWS TEAM
“Of all the fucking stupid shitty assignments, this has to take the fucking cake,” growled McCorvy Cofax. He pulled the cigar out of his mouth and spat.
“Watch the camera, asshole,” warned Zelda Baker, moving the equipment out of the line of fire.
Dyke bitch, thought Cofax. Why did Dodson stick me with her? He knows she hates me.
“C’mon, missy,” he said, beckoning for her to follow him. “We got some bullshit pictures to take.”
Zelda frowned and hiked the camcorder up on her shoulder. “We’ll be lucky to get anything in this fog.”
Cofax walked away from the cars into the pine woods to the north of the dirt road. “We’ll be lucky if there’s anything to take pictures of—even without the goddamn fog. Fucking bullshit assignment.”
“We all get what we deserve, Mac,” said Zelda.
“Then what’d I do to end up with you?” he shot back.
“I was wondering the same thing,” she muttered softly under her breath. Then, more loudly, she asked, “You sure you know where you’re going?”
“What’s to know?” he said. “The lake is north, the lake is south, the lake is west. All we gotta do is go in one of those directions and we’ll get where we’re going.”
“Yeah but isn’t the shipwreck supposed to be on the north side of the peninsula?”
“Who the fuck cares, sweetheart? This is just a fucking snipe hunt. We just walk through the fog for a while, take a couple of blurry pictures, kill some time, and then head back to the newsroom and collect our paychecks.”
Zelda smiled. “Not going to be one of your Pulitzer Prize winning assignments, then?”
“With you along? Not fucking likely.”
“What about the Frosts? Think we should worry about them? We are trespassing after all.”
“What they gonna do, shoot us?”
“Lock us up and sue us, more probably.”
“Let ’em try. I’ve faced worse.”
“Mac, you are worse.”
“Nice of you to say so. Now, do you think we can cut the chatter and find this fucking lake?”
Fortunately, it didn’t take them long to find the lake.
Zelda trained the camera lens out over the water. “I can’t see shit,” she announced. “Just some dim shapes in the fog. Nothing that looks like a ship.”
“Told you. So, why don’t we just relax a bit before heading back to the office?”
“We could come back tomorrow. Maybe the morning sun will burn off the fog.”
“Are you fucking kidding? This is a snipe hunt, sweetheart. Weren’t you listening? If you don’t want to go back to base, we could hit a bar, if you like.”
“You’re not my type, Mac.”
He took a long draw on his cigar and sneered at her. “Not enough tits, eh?”
“Fuck you, asshole.”
“Wassamatter, Zel, no sensa humor? You hear the one about the Dutch girl who got her finger stuck in the dyke?”
Zelda turned and stalked off into the woods. “Fuck you!”
Cofax chuckled. “Fuck you, too, sweetheart.”
“Good thing you brought your own car, shithead!” she yelled back at him.
As soon as she had disappeared into the trees, Cofax reached into the pocket of his trench coat and pulled out a half-empty bottle of bourbon.
“I thought she’d never leave,” he said to the bottle. Then a disturbing thought occurred to him. “That dyke better not let the air out of my tires—or I’ll have to teach her the real meaning of the words ‘rim job.’”
He laughed at the joke and took a swig from the bottle. Deciding it was too much effort to stand, he sat down on the sand and watched the waves wash into shore.
“Just me and you,” he purred to the bottle. “Why did I ever think I needed anyone else?”
He took another drink, letting the bourbon seep into his brain, enjoying the burning sensation as it went down.
When he’d drained the bottle, he decided to take a little rest before heading home. He leaned back, barely able to keep his balance. But something he glimpsed on the lake made him sit up again.
A shape. A shape was moving toward him across the water, through the fog.
He blinked once, twice, not believing what his eyes were telling him. “Looks like I should have brought a full bottle,” he said aloud.
Coming at him, walking on the water, was a pale woman in a long white dress. The thin fabric did little to conceal the curves of her body.
“Mebbe she’d be nude if I had another pint,” he commented to the bottle. “Fucking Hell of a time to run dry. I either gotta get me more booze or a better imagination.”
He tossed the bottle at the apparition. It bounced off the waves in front of her and passed harmlessly through her feet.
“Shit,” he said, more than a little perplexed. This ranked as one of the strangest delusions he’d ever had.
“Hey, babe,” he called at her, “come here and give me a ghost job.”
Her thin feet touched shore, and she gazed down at the prone reporter. Her deep, black eyes met his bloodshot grey ones.
“Hi,” he said. “Come here often?”
“Are you a writer, or an artist?” she asked.
He smiled. “Fuckin’ Pulitzer Prize winner, babe. That turn you on?”
In answer, she leaned forward and kissed Cofax on the lips. The waves washed in and consumed him.