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cmcpress
December 11th, 2010, 08:21 PM
Hello there - my first post! Just coming back to writing after an absence of 20 years.

I'm very rusty, but please, be savage.

I'm still working on an ending for this - so this is only an extract.

Apologies to any tabloid journalists who may be reading this... careful of those naughty words.
****************************


The Death of Ferrara De Lynne (Work in Progress)



The news came as a shock to everyone - most of all me. I first heard about it through the wire. I had been on a story for the late edition at the time – after Ferrara De Lynne's appearance at the premiere of her latest film she was due a cocaine relapse in her hotel room. The V/board had just reached my desk and I was beginning to work through the rushes when I noticed words creeping across the ticker on my screen -


Ferrara de Lynne killed in car crash.....


That wasn't right.


I immediately tuned into one of those omnipresent twenty four hour news networks and watched open mouthed as the story broke. I didn't recognise the presenter – clearly one of the local XBC guys first on the scene with the scoop – A smug fucking small town oik with a regional accent auditioning for prime time - milking the dead cow for all she was worth. Every over enunciated word hacked away at my already ulcerated stomach lining.


The camera panned over the scene - a group of yellow jackets holding the gathering slack jawed gawkers back - A trail of wreckage, glass shards and twisted metal – the twin skid marks leading up to where the car had upended and ploughed into an underpass taking my career along with it. It was totalled.


The ambulances had been and gone it seemed. They had already removed the bodies and there was some conjecture about whether the driver had been drinking and if not what had caused the car to career off the road so violently. Suddenly the presenter dramatically cupped his earpiece and confirmed that he was just hearing in from the hospital and, yes, Ferrara De Lynne had died on impact. I cried out in rage and threw the remote at the screen. It pinged off impotently changing the channel as it hit the floor.


That Fucker! She wasn't supposed to die yet. We'd just signed a two year contract! Six months of negotiations, three rounds of protracted and bitter legal wrangling in which time we'd turned down a deal with The Daily Hate in order to sign up with this fucking red top. Exclusive access. Twenty four months of page turning, front page busting, juicy, prime cut, raw, bloody, grade A material. They signed up to the franchise and in return they just fucking cancelled her.


The customary background noise from the office outside had died down and I could feel ears straining to hear. My assistant Mel poked her head around the door.


“Is everything O-”


“No everything is not OK. Fuck! Get this away from me,” I shoved the storyboards into her arms. She scuttled out. I called after her,


“And tell that load of nosey cunts to get back to work – NOW!” Slam!


My fingers jabbed at the phone keys as I dialled through to the V/Art department.


Gareth Ravel, head of V/Art, yello'd back at me. I spoke through gritted teeth:


“Gareth, it's Stringer, have you heard?”


“Heard what?” Gareth said.


“Turn on XBC”


A muffled thud as he dropped the receiver and then the click of a television being switched on. Gareth's voice again.


“What the -” he began.


“She's dead,”


“What do you mean dead?”


“She's dead, they fucking killed her.”


At the other end of the line Gareth was taking this in. I tried to gauge what he was thinking – How much had he known? Was this why the last set of storyboards had come through late?


“Why wasn't I told she was going to die” He said.


“You didn't know?”


“Did you?”


Realisation slowly dawned. “Merchant. He's been gunning for this column since the takeover.”


“but we'd just signed - ”


“Look, Gareth, I’ll catch up with you in a bit.”


“Where are you going?”


“I want Merchant.” Slam!


Storming out of the office I was Moses, parting the dead sea of columnists that had gathered outside my office.


It seemed monstrous. How could they have orchestrated such a thing in such a short amount of time? It was just inconceivable that they could have got everyone – the police, the doctors, ambulance drivers - all in on it.


Ferrara had been my creation. I knew every intimate detail about her.


Hers had been the classic rags to riches tale – the working class Essex girl made good. She had worked after school to fund the two assets she was most known for. Those assets she had later insured for £4 million.


Something about her early appearances as a page 3 model captivated the public's interest. Her down to earth nature and flirty naivety had captivated the public's heart. The general public loved her – even having called her “the people's model” - a play on her less flattering comparison as “Princess Diana with tits”. From Page 3 girl to failed popstress to pornographic then legitimate actress she never seemed to lose her down to earth charm.


We had covered her rise to fame, the lost years - nights stumbling out of nightclubs - her many romances - the on/off relationship with the footballer she had dubbed the love of her life – Peter Rowen – his nights out with strippers, the many infidelities. We suffered alongside her struggles with addiction, her time in prison and revelled in her eventual rehabilitation.


We were the first to break the story of her engagement to Andrew Nike – Rowen's team mate and love rival – the man who had accompanied her to her fate. Marriage turned her life around and we described her eventual conversion to Christianity (the older readers had loved that story) and her subsequent Christian lovemaking manuals (“Spice for Spouse's”, the slightly controversial “Jesus take me now” and “Wedlock Wanks”) .


What Gareth, Merchant, myself and a handful of other people knew was that the voluptuous legend that had been Ferrara De Lynne could not possibly be dead.


You can't kill someone who never existed.


I was one of a team of four writers that had conjured up the idea of a virtual celebrity and the old man, Merchant senior, had loved it.


She was a veritable Cash cow. Here was someone we never needed to pay for interviews, was always available for photo-calls, committed the most outrageous acts we could write for her and was exclusively ours. We made so much money from her through advertising, sponsorship deals, book deals, pornographic films.


It wasn't easy to carry out such a deception – there were logistical problems that we overcame with body doubles – we insisted on a very private and exclusive photography team – and a willing and closeted footballer who used the cover of a relationship with England's hottest property to deflect any other indiscretions he might have not wished to make public. You have to bear in mind we were writing for the most popular daily rag in the UK! Most of our readership had the average reading age of an 8 year old. All they wanted was Tits, gossip, sport and “witty” puns.


In one foul stroke Merchant junior had destroyed an entire empire – my fucking empire – the old man would be spinning in his Bahaman bed, rotting away as the vitriolic cancer ate away what was left of his black heart. All that was keeping him alive was bile and power-lust. Whilst he occupied Rich man's limbo Junior was pissing on as many trees as he could before one of his other siblings could start sniffing around the family chattels.


There were rumours about Junior's secretary and their relationship. She was another of his concubines that his wife – herself an editor for a sister newspaper – either tolerated or permitted. She was indeed vacuously beautiful, in the conventional way that only the secretaries of Plutocrats are – just not quite enough for the catwalk though. She was also loyal.


Maybe it was a form of Stockholm syndrome – you know you can't work for anyone else and you're going to be pretty much captive until you lose your looks and he is paying you lots of attention (and money). Fucking alpha males get all the luck. Whatever the reason, she was insistent that I remained outside as Junior was in a meeting.

Unfortunately for her I was also persistently dedicated to finding out why the man who had single handedly murdered the woman I had known intimately for nigh on 10 years hadn't thought to include me in his decision making process. My persistence triumphed.


The smug bastard was sat, feet up on his desk watching the television. He had heard me outside but had the gall to sit there not even pretending to be working.


I raged: “why wasn't I told”


“look Ste,” he began in that phony first name term way he had, “calm down just take a seat -”


“why the FUCK wasn't I told?”


“we'd had a meeting with the sponsors and they felt - “


“Because I think I deserve to have been told. Fuck I’m only the chief staff writer, don't you think I would have come up with something a little better than a fucking car crash.”


He took his feet off the table. “So you're not actually bothered that she was terminated?”


“Of COURSE I’m fucking bothered,” I paced as I spoke, arms flailing angrily. “But if you had approached me first we could have made some kind of deal. The franchise – we had just signed - ”


“Ste, it's unfortunate but as I said the sponsors felt that Ferrara had become too predictable. We couldn't keep rehashing the same old story-lines.”


“So, what, your criticising my writing now?”


“No, no, no. I'm saying that Ferrara as a character had gone as far as we could take her and the ad money just wasn't coming in any more.”


“We had two more years. Two. More. Years. Doug. You didn't have the right to take her away.”


He sighed. I could tell he thought he bloody well did have the right. “Let's face it. The public were bored of her.” he said.


“Bored? Have you seen the TV? Do they look fucking bored to you?”


A more seasoned reporter was now on the scene interviewing teary eyed “witnesses”. Even at this late hour bundles of flowers were being delivered to the gates of her house.


“Of course they're paying interest now, but look at the figures – downloads were down – ad revenue was down – stories about Ferrara were receiving less hits – check out her Google rankings – a 5% month on month decrease. Ferrara simply wasn't profitable any more”


“Then why the fuck did you renew the franchise?”


“You know we couldn't let it go – She's worth more dead than she was alive.”


I choked. “You fucking killed her.”


“She wasn't real Ste.” He eyed me quizzically. Maybe he thought I’d lost it. Maybe I had.


“Think about it – we can still release stories – she's back in the public consciousness again. There'll be biographies, exclusives, diaries to be exploited. Films she will have been working on, unreleased albums or rehearsal footage. We still need you.”


I sat down, exhausted. “I can't trust you. You did this behind my back.”


“I'm sorry but I knew how you’ll d feel about this. We had to kill the franchise.”


“Two more years. She had two more years.” Fuck, i was almost crying. This wasn't like me at all.


“So you keep saying. Come on, Take a cab home, sleep it off and we'll talk about it in the morning.”




The morning came and went as I phoned in sick and proceeded to spend the day moping around the house watching the news in between crying jags, shameful and unsatisfactory self abuse to De Lynne videos and bouts of furious letter writing. I wrote and rewrote my resignation, tossing each half articulated draft into the wastepaper basket.


Who was I kidding. I was never going to resign. I ([email protected])'d never owned the De Lynne rights personally – they were split between the staff and Merchant senior in a shadowy company that was hidden away under some remote rock. I'm sure it was some undecipherable tax dodge to him but for us the main boon came in the form of creative autonomy. As long the shit we churned out sold papers they left us alone. Leaving now would be like walking out on a funeral before the casket had arrived.


I'd never noticed before how much De Lynne merchandise I had acquired over the years. My flat was a morbid shrine full of life size cutouts, posters, books, placemats, Blue-rays and so on. I must have looked like one of those demented fans who wrote hilarious, badly spelt, explicit letters to the FDL fan club.


At one time we'd had a nutter wall of the various self shot pictures fans would send in. It was like a bosch painting with naked torsos (heads always just out of frame) juxtaposing various genitalia (male and female), cute animals or, bizarrely, pictures of family members. We had to take it down when one of the cleaning staff complained.


Judging by the missed calls Gareth had been trying to get through all day. I rang his mobile.


“Ah, The Kraken wakes,” he answered, “you missed a whole shit heap today.”


The background was noisy and he was slurring. “You're not at work?” I asked.


“They let me go.”

“Fuck, i'm sorry.” Another man down.


“Don't be – look come down and join us”


I thought about it. “i don't know, i'm not sure i'm in the mood to socialise.”


“Ach, come on, There's nothing like drinking with people you don't really like to lift the spirits.”


“well – Where are you?”

“Soho -the castle. Come on, You don't want to miss my leaving drinks.”

Sync
December 11th, 2010, 08:48 PM
Hello, first post and already a story.

welcome to the site.

Nice writing, a few over-the-top voices, and punctuation things, but as this is a working copy, nothing that can't be picked up by you.

I could picture this a screen play.

thanks for the read

Sync

wilbur4c
December 12th, 2010, 02:13 AM
I really like this too. I love the way the reader thinks the death is of a real person and then we realise. My only comment would be the profanity, not that I'm opposed to it (you should here me at the office) and as I work in the media I know every other word is a swear word in normal conversation but you might be at risk of it becoming invisible, and the reader desensitized to it. It might be better to replace some of it it with words like hell, damn and even shit etc and only use the stronger profanity when you really want to emphasise the anger or emotion - build up to it.

cmcpress
December 16th, 2010, 07:01 PM
Thanks guys - really appreciate the review - not really had much experience of writing, so looking for ways to improve - grammar, etc.


I really like this too. I love the way the reader thinks the death is of a real person and then we realise. My only comment would be the profanity, not that I'm opposed to it (you should here me at the office) and as I work in the media I know every other word is a swear word in normal conversation but you might be at risk of it becoming invisible, and the reader desensitized to it. It might be better to replace some of it it with words like hell, damn and even shit etc and only use the stronger profanity when you really want to emphasise the anger or emotion - build up to it.

Thanks, yeah the swearing was a worry - i think at the beginning it's more to show how mad he is - as the story progresses he does calm down and move away from the constant profanity.

Thanks for reviewing - been quite busy this week so i hope to have a good review of some of your work!