Reporter looking for cryptic banter
In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime. And Mark LaFlamme, who whines about it incessantly. These are their stories.
So, I'm pretty sure I need a partner. It's not that I'm overworked. I spend more time trolling than a bass fisherman or an out-of-stater looking for a prostitute in downtown Lewiston.
The problem is that I don't have enough banter in my professional life. I have thoughts. Deep thoughts.
Fresh from the streets, popping like an overloaded Pez dispenser, I'll spring to my wife's desk on the other side of the newsroom.
"Somewhere in the distance," I'll say to her in my most dramatic tone, "a dog barked."
My sweet wife looks at me with those pretty, brown eyes and says nothing. The silence is enough. The brown-eyed silence says: "I married an idiot."
So I bounce as if on a pogo stick to the copy desk. There I find editors hanging from their desks like bats in a cave.
"It was a night just like this," I inform them with just the right tone of ominous foreboding.
The editors look at me with those small, black eyes and then consult each other with beeps and chirps. Protecting the queen is what they're doing. And then one of the worker editors is enlisted to advise me on the remark.
"Do you need something to do, Mark? Or shall we devour you and feed the remains to our young?"
The bane of banter
Cops are no better. Cops worry constantly about banter because it might get inserted into a news story. Cops need to think about what their chief thinks of their demeanor in the 'hood. So when I lunge at a cop with one of my profound observations ("The beasts are loose in Bethlehem tonight, wouldn't you say, officer? Eh? Eh?") they think heavily before responding.
"There is the possibility," a cop might say, "that perpetrators will commit misdemeanors or felonies this evening. That's affirmative."
Criminals get all itchy when you try to banter with them. You just want to yack about the nature of the city and they get all squirrelly about it. You unleash a few lines of fresh banter and to their delicate, crook ears, it sounds like trouble. They think you're wired and start patting you down, right there on Park Street. They look over one shoulder, then the other, and flee in an all-out sprint. It really kills the banter mood.
I've got nobody. I need a Lenny Brisco-type partner. Someone who will understand my non sequiturs. Someone who will scowl when I scowl and spit when I spit. Someone who will address me by my last name only.
"The one-eyed monkey barks at midnight."
"You got that right, LaFlamme. It is wise to know the difference between a hornet and a bee."
"Damn straight, LaFlamme."
The shadows know
On a few occasions, I've had people shadow me on the job. These were young people fooled into believing my occupation is exciting. I like having them along. They bring to the job scene a great deal of enthusiasm. For about six hours. At which point, they realize that nothing ever happens and the reporter they happen to be riding with is a big dork who speaks in riddles. I always try to use these people as banter partners.
"This is the big one," I'll say, ear cocked to the scanner. "Get ready to roll."
A barking dog complaint rolls across the airwaves.
"Sir, I'd like to call my mom," says the pimply, Lenny Brisco washout.
So, I need a partner. No journalism skills are needed. Hell, I don't have any of those, myself. All I'm looking for is someone who can keep up verbally. At those times when I don't make sense (estimated by my colleagues at 94 percent), you would just nod, spit and say something equally inane.
"The lunatics are in the hall."
"Hear that, LaFlamme. The paper holds their folded faces to the floor."
"And every day, the paper boy brings more."
"Yeah, LaFlamme. Yeah."