Keeper Of The Gate

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Image by: Ryman Arts

My Gate Keeper

by

Cusper Lynn

“Sheila, hold all calls. I’m not available,” I said.

“Yes, Dr. Lynn,” She said.

I stared at the check. It was there, big as life, $10,000. Not enough to even get started for Klondike, but enough to keep the lights on for another thirty days. I was going to have to give it back. I hadn’t even wanted it by the time he had passed it over. But there it was and there was no way I could simply ignore it. Hell, half of it would at least give me enough time to breathe. But it would mean dealing with Klondike and there was no deal in that.

The intercom erupted and I answered it. “Yes, Sheila?”

“No, JJ,” the voice on the phone said.

I closed my eyes. The receptionist, Sheila Markson, was continuing her unblemished record of consistent disservice. I’d fire her except that I’d hired her as a favor to her father, a close friend who I owed a debt to from back in my corporate warrior days. So I had to accept the conditions that prevailed.

“Hi JJ,” I said. “Can I get back to you? I’m. . .”

“Cusper, I’ve got a major project and I need you in on it,” JJ said.

“What’s the project?” I asked. Given the way the day was going, I was skeptical.

“You still have the same email address?”

“Sure. Why?”

“I’m zipping something over to you now. Pop it up,” JJ said.

I brought up my email and found an email from JJ with a good-sized file attachment. I clicked on the attachment. A video popped up. It was Elna Alvarez interviewing a doctor.

“Okay, so a doctor is on Elna Alvarez’s show. So?”

“Wait for it,” JJ said.

I watched for a few more seconds. The segment was clearly coming to the end when there was a commotion and the camera turned over to the far side of the stage. A man stumbled out and collapsed. The screen went to a standby notice and then an ad rolled.

“What happened?” I asked.

“What happened is that we’ve got an open checkbook to deal with a PR nightmare. Dr. Raul Villa, a scheduled guest on Elna’s show, died during production. The producer reached out to me to handle the PR and I’m reaching out to you to be on my team.”

“I’m flattered,” I said. “What’s the pay?”

“For you, $3000 a day plus expenses,” JJ said.

“But. . .” I began.

“Don’t even try negotiating, Cusper,” JJ said, “I have a budget and if you can’t do it for that, then you can’t do it.”

“I thought you had an open checkbook,” I said. “So what exactly am I doing for $3000 a day plus expenses?”

“Whatever it takes. Are you in?” JJ asked.

“Sure. But one question, why me?”

“It’s in your backyard,” JJ said.

“Fine, I’m in. What do you want me to do?” I asked.

“Bone up on Elna Alvarez’s show and then meet me at the airport in three hours. I’m flying into Sarasota,” JJ said.

“Can do, will do,” I said.

“I’ve already fired off some preliminary press releases but we are going to be boots on the ground and in the thick of it tomorrow morning, so make sure your calendar is clear.”

“Done. You are sending over the. . .” I began

“Check your email,” JJ said and hung up.

The contracts were there. I read through the terms. I had money coming in. I put Klondike’s check in a drawer and locked it.

 

 

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