Deadline
Red Herring

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Heathen: D | Grade It Now!
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Sweet Merciful God, It's Over

The Ghost of Cancellation Future flops down on the couch. "I just stole Dick Wolf's lunch money and fed it to my cat," it says, proudly, putting its arm around my shoulders and settling in for the duration.

Benton is feeling argumentative today. He wants a specific type of black pen, and the copy boy delivered the wrong one to his desk. The copy boy tries to point out that he is in fact a she, but Wallace has no time for such trifling things as gender because he needs a non-Bic pen and he needs it now. Bics don't win Pulitzers, people, and they don't omit noxious mind-addling odors that you can sniff for inspiration. ["I hate Bics too, but at least I'm still able to get off my fat ass and get my own pens now and again." -- Wing Chun] All Ms. Copy Boy is saying is give Bic a chance, but Benton will have none of that hippie crap and refuses to call her anything but "copy boy." He heckles Ms. Copy Boy for her inability to distinguish a Bic from a Rollerball, then ridicules her desire to be a reporter. Wallace throws his pen cup at the wall as she runs out of the room. I sense the onset of a legendary Benton Black Mood.

Brooke peers into the office, having witnessed the semi-violent exchange between her semi-husband and the semi-Copy Boy. She's semi-surprised to see him so fully disgruntled. "If I were a copy boy, I myself wouldn't be so damn casual," Wallace snaps in his own defense. She jokes that he never had to slum it like that because his mother called in a favor and scored him a high-level job. Brooke then asks Wallace why his column is late, and he replies that Nikki is running a "Best of Benton" series beginning Monday. "That should last us until Tuesday," Brooke cracks. Wallace snaps at her, putting Brooke on the defensive because she was just trying to cheer him up with laughs. They spar: she claims he's the man she ran from, not the one that got away; he calls her "incapable of intimacy" and says it shows in her brittle prose. "You're the one who slept on the couch during our honeymoon!" Brooke yells. ["Yikes." -- Wing Chun] As Wallace storms out, he blazes past Nikki, who demands his column and says she doesn't have time to indulge his writer's block. "I can't turn it on and off like a faucet," Benton snarls. Nikki replies, "I don't have that problem with your paycheck." Ha! So Wallace has antagonized three people. On a good day, Wallace is the dark cloud in everyone's life. Today, he's Hurricane Andrew after the storm ate too many ginger snaps and got indigestion.

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