WACB, Pittsburgh’s Most Trusted Source for News
Dressing Room of Fan Favorite Evening Anchor Maisy Farley
Monday, 7:10 PM
Maisy dipped her fingers into the extra-large tub of Pond’s Cold Cream and dug out a glob of the white stuff. She methodically worked the cream into her skin. After she massaged it into her face in small circles, she waited a few beats while it worked its magic. She rolled her shoulders, wiped the excess cream away with a cotton ball, and then peered into the mirror to examine her naked face.
She tilted her head from one side to the other, searching for any blemishes or imperfections. Finding none, she sat back satisfied and winked at her reflection. “You still got it, sugar,” she reassured herself.
Just then someone rapped on the door. She winced and sent up a quick prayer that her self-affirmation hadn’t been loud enough to be overheard out in the hallway.
“It’s open,” she called.
She swiveled around to greet her visitor as the door creaked open. The new field reporter peered into the room.
“Uh, Ms. Farley?”
Maisy scanned her mental Rolodex for the reporter’s name and drew a blank.
“Don’t be shy, darlin’. Come on in.” She smiled broadly and waved her hand.
The reporter hesitated for a moment, then she stutter-stepped into the room and pulled the door closed behind her. She stood ramrod straight with her hands clasped together in front of her.
She looked for all the world like a high schooler who’d been hauled into the principal’s office.
Maisy studied the woman for a long moment, and the name finally popped into her mind. Summer. Summer Reed.
She’d met Summer a few weeks earlier. She’d caught the fresh-faced strawberry blonde with the startlingly bright blue eyes staring at her over a tray of bagels at an early-morning all-hands meeting. Tired, and possibly a bit cranky at being dragged into the station at five a.m. for a meeting that could have been an email, Maisy had at first dismissed the girl—woman, she corrected herself—as a starstruck intern earning summer high school credit. But Summer had mustered up her courage to come over and introduce herself, gushing that Maisy was her idol. She’d grown up watching Maisy on tv with her parents.
Now Maisy turned her attention back to the young reporter, but Summer was staring at Maisy’s makeup table with a puzzled expression.
“You hoo, over here. Did you need something, Summer?”
She dragged her eyes back to Maisy. “Oh, sorry. Mr. Wilson wanted me to ask you if you could stop by the conference room for a … um, brief meeting … before you leave for the evening.”
Maisy suppressed a smile. The local media award winners were scheduled to be announced today. Every year, her news producer, Preston Wilson, ‘surprised’ the talent with cake and cheap champagne when the winners were named.
“Right. Of course.”
She pulled her signature blonde curls up into a loose topknot and snapped an elastic around her hair. Then she screwed the lid back onto the jar of cold cream and grabbed her pocketbook.
She was halfway across the room before she realized Summer hadn’t moved.
She craned her neck and looked over her shoulder. “You coming?”
“Yeah, of course. Can I ask you a question?”
“You certainly may.” Maisy was loath to correct someone’s grammar outright, but these young reporters butchered the English language without mercy.
“Do you use that drugstore stuff to take off your makeup?” She pointed at the tub of cleanser.
“I sure do.”
Summer wrinkled her nose. “And it works?”
Maisy strode across the room, grabbed the jar, and pressed it into Summer’s hands. “Try it yourself and you tell me.”
“Oh, I couldn’t—”
“Take it. I always have a spare jar or two in reserve. I’m telling you, sugar, once you use this stuff, you’ll thank me. It’ll work much better than whatever fancy French micellar water you’ve probably been using.”
Summer stared at her for a beat, then popped the makeup remover into her shoulder bag. “Uh, thanks. Your skin does look great … for your age.”
Maisy pressed her lips together, pulled her shoulders back, and walked out of the room without dignifying the statement with a response. Summer trotted down the hall behind her like an eager puppy. She appeared to be clueless that she’d just insulted her idol.
Maisy stopped outside the conference room and arranged her expression into one of surprise before pulling open the door and stepping inside.
“Surprise!” a chorus of voices sang.
Livia, the station’s longtime makeup artist and hair stylist, tossed a handful of confetti in Maisy’s general direction.
Maisy clasped her hands to her chest and scanned the room. The entire evening crew was there, along with an assortment of weekend and daytime people who happened to be in the building. Preston gestured toward a thickly frosted sheet cake with a big grin. Maisy’s co-anchor, Chet Roy, stood against the wall, stiff-backed and expressionless.
Ha. Looks like somebody didn’t win … again.
“What’s the occasion?” Maisy asked.
Maisy’s favorite camerawoman, Jocelyn, gave her a knowing look before popping the cork on the bubbly.
“Local Media Stars were announced today—as if you couldn’t guess,” she said as she handed Maisy a plastic flute of champagne.
Once everyone had a glass, Preston raised his in Maisy’s direction. “To Maisy, Pittsburgh’s fan favorite media personality for the sixth year running.”
“Seventh,” Livia corrected him.
“For the seventh year running,” he amended.
Maisy pushed back the swell of disappointment that rose in her chest and lifted her own glass. “Y’all know I could never do it
without the best team behind me. This is a joint effort.” She smiled and gestured toward Chet, pretending not to notice the grimace he tried to pass off as a smile.
The assembled group responded “cheers” and swigged their almost-chilled champagne.
Maisy took a small sip and tilted her head toward Preston while Jocelyn and the video editing intern cut and passed out the cake.
Preston clasped her heartily on the back. “Well done, Maisy. Really. Nobody can knock you off your throne.”
“Mmm. So, who won the investigative journalism award?” she asked casually.
Preston pursed his lips, then snapped his fingers at Summer. “Reed, who got the Dirt Digger Award for Investigative Work?”
Summer trotted over. “I believe that went to Troy Jones over at the City Paper.”
“For his series on the safety lapses with the driverless car pilot program?”
“Right, that’s the one,” Summer confirmed.
That’s all she said. One noncommittal syllable. But Preston knew her well enough to hear the lengthy, unvoiced monologue that single sound carried.
“Your exposé of the corners being cut at that compounding pharmacy was stronger, Mais.”
He was right. She could acknowledge that without being prideful or vain. Troy’s investigation was good, but hers was better. Earth-shaking. Change-inspiring.
“Then I wonder why I didn’t win,” she mused.
Preston made a choking, coughing sound and shifted his gaze nervously.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that,” Maisy said.
He cleared his throat. “Summer, why don’t you get Maisy a slice of her cake before it’s all gone?”
After she walked away, he turned back to Maisy with a pained expression. “Now, before you get mad, you have to listen to everything I have to say. Deal?”
He squared his shoulders and inhaled deeply. “Okay, so the station made the decision not to submit your piece in the investigative journalism category.”