This is a first in a series of interviews with the characters from my novel, Shooter in the Crosshairs. Today, reporter Nancy Patrick turns the tables on her photog, Brock Nicholls.
NANCY: So Brock, thank you for agreeing to sit and chat a while.
BROCK: I didn’t agree to anything. This was part of the whole promotional thing I had to sign when that asshat wanted to write a book about me, so can we get this over with. I’ve got news to shoot.
NANCY: Were you born this grumpy, or do you have to work at it?
BROCK: Grumpy? You do know I’m skipping lunch for this.
NANCY: Let’s talk about your early career.
BROCK: You can talk about whatever you want, just stay away from Dallas. I ain’t going there, the bastards.
NANCY: We’ll stay away from Dallas. When did you know you wanted to be a cameram- uh photog?
BROCK: Don’t start that cameraman shit with me. Those lardasses push pedestal cameras around an air conditioned studio all day.
NANCY: Sorry, habit.
BROCK: I don’t think anyone starts out wanting to be a photog. The hours suck. The pay is crap. And you gotta work with reporters. You just sort of are a photog. Something inside you just puts you there. I’d rather be roaming the streets of the hood with my Panny 500 than at some fancy state dinner or high-dollar opera rubbing elbows with the rich and famous. Kinda like cowboys. You know there’s more out there, but but the cows are better company than the people.
NANCY: You say that like it’s a good thing.
BROCK: Look. A cowboy has swagger. It’s not because he’s an asshole. It’s because he’s out on the range by himself and he has to deal with anything that pops up. Coyote tries to take a calf — he handles it. Poachers try to stampede the herd — he handles it. He’s seen it all, and lived to tell the tale. Same with a photog. He lives by his wits and his experience.
NANCY: But you have a reporter with you.
BROCK: Puh-leeze. I could do this job just as well without you — and I have. Let me see you shoulder my Panny. I got nothing against reporters. Hell, I even like a few. But when it comes down to it. You need me more than I need you. Good reporters know that. The suits back at the station never seem to get it.
NANCY: So that’s where all this angst comes from. You want respect.
BROCK: I crapped before I came here.
BROCK: I crapped before I came here. If I didn’t, maybe I could give two shits what you, or anybody else thinks about me. All that matters in the story. I gotta get it right. And I gotta touch people with it. If I miss on either of those, I haven’t failed my station, my reporter, or myself. I’ve failed the story. And that’s a crime.
If I gotta climb a tree and act like a nut to do it get it right, that’s what I’m gonna do. I’ve literally carried reporters across creeks on my back because they didn’t want to get their precious high heels wet just to get the shot right. Left their ass on the other side when we were done, too. Prissy-ass prima donnas.
NANCY: You know, that’s the one reason I didn’t mind working with you.
BROCK: You liked pissing with me.
NANCY: It was fun pushing your buttons. And it was so easy. But come on, you think anyone else would have done what you did. The crackhouse? The woods? Finch? Bumfus?
BROCK: I said stay the fuck out of Dallas. Besides. Miss Ida’s a good woman. She didn’t didn’t deserve what she got. Who tries to kill a grandmother? When that prick Finch wouldn’t let me work the story, what else was I supposed to do? Let The Mullet burn down an entire neighborhood?
NANCY: The Mullet. Where do you get these names?
BROCK: The idiot wore a mullet. What else do you want me to call him?
NANCY: Let’s play a word association game. I’ll give you a name. You give me a one word description. Rev.
BROCK: Peacock. Nice guy. Heart’s in the right place.
NANCY: Uh, just one word. Ida Mae Christophe.
BROCK: Hero. Grandmother. Stalwart.
BROCK: Captain Asshat.
NANCY: The fire chief? Really?
BROCK: Hey, I called him ‘Captain.’
NANCY: Mike Hartly.
NANCY: After all you’ve been through? Source?
BROCK: Mike knows how I feel about sources. I’d go to jail for him.
NANCY: Percy Finch.
BROCK: One word?
NANCY: One word.
NANCY: That was creative.
BROCK: You live by your wits on the street.
NANCY: Earl Bumfus.
BROCK: Stay the fuck out of Dallas.
NANCY: I’m a reporter. I had to try. One more. Nancy Patrick.
NANCY: I didn’t expect that.
BROCK: Look. I didn’t care much for working with you. You were the stereo-type of everything wrong with this business. Surface over substance. You were green, naieve, and in over your head. But you knew it, and you didn’t let that stop you. You were bullheaded stubborn and wrong about a few things, but you followed your gut until you got your answers. I can’t fault you for that — I can shake my head and try to tell you better — but I can’t fault you. I think you’re gonna be okay in this business.
NANCY: That might be the nicest thing I ever heard you say about anybody.
BROCK: And if you tell anybody I said that, I’ll deny it. Who do you think they’re gonna believe? Now, you owe me lunch.