November 15, 2020, 10:30am, PST.

Location: The Computer Room. Mitch Bennett, David Weber, Laurie Pence, Lee Lindberg, Lance Donaldson, and Brian Milman are having a last minute meeting, before heading over to the Media Center, where they will be joined by Will Friedman, Tom Rosen, and Chloe Gold.

NEW RIDGEMONT HIGH IS ON THE AIR!

Mitch: [Checking off items on a clipboard] David, is everything set up in there? Are we ready for them?

David: As ready as we’re ever gonna’ be. The power’s on, the tech is running, and I’ve made copies of the information packets that we’ll be handing out. I’ve even put out coffee and doughnuts.

Mitch: Awesome! Lee, how do things stand with the A/V presentation?

Lee: We’re good to go. I’ve put together a sampler of NRH Radio promo clips and a montage of test-pieces, from NRH TV.

Mitch: You’re looking a little ragged, Lee…like you slept in your clothes or something.

Lee: Always paying attention to the really important stuff, aren’t you? I guess that’s why they pay you the big bucks.

Mitch: Couldn’t you have at least shaved?

Lee: I was out all night, okay? I didn’t have the chance to coif myself this morning.

Brian: You and Joanne are getting hot and heavy, aren’t you?

Lee: [Snorts] Like I’d tell you.

Lance: But you have to tell us.  We have to know everything, especially the dirty details.

Laurie: [Slightly nauseated] Actually, we don’t.

Mitch: [Putting up his hands] We’ve only got twenty minutes before we meet up with Principal Friedman.

Lee: And with Chloe…don’t forget Chloe.

Mitch: I swear, Lee, if you weren’t so good with A/V.

Lee: [Grinning] Yeah, it sucks doesn’t it?

Mitch: [Looks up at the ceiling and counts silently to ten, then turns to Laurie] Where are we with the newspaper?

Laurie: The revamp is finished…modeled after the original USA Today. I’ve got a series of mockups to show off.

Mitch: And you’ve decided to go with a weekly?

Laurie: That makes the most sense. There really isn’t enough material for a daily, and with our school workloads, we couldn’t produce one anyway. The weekly’s totally doable, though, and at this point, all I need are reporters and columnists. Up until now I’ve been doing most of it myself.

Lee: Yeah, what’s up with the labor? I mean, I’m not anchoring the news telecast, and if I have to use Lance and Brian as on-the-scene reporters, the show’ll be about as popular as Alf.

Brian: Hey! What’s wrong with us?

Lee: Lessee, one, you’re ugly. Two, you’re dweebs.  Three, you’re ugly dweebs.

Brian: Just because we’re not going out with Joanne Genduso doesn’t mean you have to be a dick to us.

Lance: I kinda’ like Alf.

Lee: That makes four.

Mitch: Are you guys finished? I’ve got all the people you need…reporters, anchors, columnists, the whole deal.

Lee: Care to share with us who they are?

Mitch: [Flipping pages] I’ve got Marissa Preston for the news anchor’s spot…with me doing special one offs here and there.

Lee: I can definitely live with that.

Mitch: …with Liz Goodman and Nicole Parker doing the reporting.

Lee: Great, two Star Crew cunts. Thanks a lot.

Laurie: I call ixne on that word.

Mitch: They volunteered, Lee. What do you want?  Now, the radio station…[looks at Lee dubiously]… you’re going to produce the programs, as well as run the technical side of things?

Lee: That’s right.

Lance: Oh, that’ll be popular.

Brian: Yeah, what the hell do you know about music?  

Lee: Nothing.  

Mitch: Uh…

Lee: I’m the organization man. Other people will create the programs and DJ.

Lance: People? What people?

Brian: Yeah, “people” don’t like you, Lee, remember?

Lee: That must be why Marty Savini and Kevin Reilly are gonna’ host a metal show for me, for two hours a day, three days a week, as well as a show on the local metal scene every Sunday afternoon.

Lance: Whoa!

Lee: And it must be because of my unpopularity that Joanne Genduso and Stacy Singer are doing alternating Punk and Goth shows twice a week, as well as a New Wave show, every Saturday.

Brian: Holy Shit!

Mitch: Lee, that sounds fantastic!

Lee: See? You’re not the only one who can make things happen.

Laurie: What about me? Who’ve you got for the newspaper?

Mitch: [Consults his notes again] I’ve got Tim Goldstein and Billy Johnson covering local music. Sandy Kendel has agreed to do sports…oh, and Denise Diamond wants to run a social column…gossip, fashion tips, that kinda’ stuff.

Laurie: [Grimacing] Denise Diamond?! That…

Lee: [Holds up a finger] Remember, you ixned that word.

Lance: Just think, you’ll get to tell her what to do! It’s like cosmic justice or something.

Brian: Plus, Denise is really hot!

Laurie: That doesn’t do anything for me. Who else?

Mitch: Well, David has agreed to do all the school news and stuff.

Laurie: Yay!

Lee: Just remember, no nookie on the job. Mitch is running a clean operation here.

David: Can I hit him?

Mitch: No hitting.

Lance: What about Brian and me?

Lee: You guys can be waterboys.

Lance: Aw!

Lee: If you do a really good job, we’ll promote you to iced tea boys.

Mitch: Ignore him. I need you guys for troubleshooting and general maintenance. This operation’s got a lot of moving parts, and things are gonna’ break.

Lance: Cool. [Gives Lee the finger]

Lee: You’ve gotten bold, Lance. That dance did wonders for you.

Lance gives Lee the other finger.

Mitch: Okay, I think that’s it. Let’s show Principal Friedman what we’ve got!

Lee: And Chloe…we know you want to show her what you’ve got.

Mitch: Urrmm!

David: Why don’t you lay off, man?

Lee: Why don’t you make me?

Laurie: Boys, be nice. This is a big deal.

Lee: Keep your pants on. I’m just screwing around.  Don’t worry, Mitch, you’ve done an awesome job.  They’ll be impressed.

Mitch: Thanks, Lee, I really appreciate that. Let’s do it!

The five depart.

Outside the NRH Media Center. Will Friedman, Chloe Gold, and Tom Rosen meet Mitch Bennett at the entrance.

Mitch: [Opening the door] Principal Friedman! Chloe! Tom! Good to see you.

Chloe: [Hugs him] I’m so excited!

Friedman: [Shaking Mitch’s hand] We’re all excited.  This is a big day!

Mitch: [Bows slightly and gestures] Please, after you!

The group enters the room, a converted gym annex, which has been divided into three discrete areas, designated for the newspaper and the radio and television stations. There is also a large, central, circular bay area, lined with a series of tables loaded with typewriters and computers. The room is littered with cameras, microphones, and lights.  

Chloe: Ohhhh…wow!

Tom: This is incredible!

Friedman: You and your team continue to amaze me, Mitch. Please show us around!

Mitch: [Stepping down into the bay] Okay, so this area is the newsroom. It’s where all the reporting and features that we gather will be edited, for both the paper and the telecast.

Laurie: [Rolls out a large design sheet on one of the tables] Here’re the logos we’ve done for The Standard and for the TV station, which we’re calling NRH TV.

Chloe: Okay, those are totally cool.

Tom: I like the take-off on the MTV logo.

Mitch: Laurie gets the credit. She does all of our graphics.

Friedman: These are really professional, Laurie, and the slogans are sharp.

Laurie: [Eyes shining] Thank you, Principal Friedman!

Friedman: So, tell me what you’re doing with the paper.

Laurie: We’ve decided to go with a weekly…there’ll be a balance of news, editorials, book, music, and other reviews, as well as more “social” type columns.

Friedman: That sounds like a lot of work!

Laurie: It is, but Mitch has been really good about recruiting. We’ve already got a lot of these jobs filled.

Tom: What about sports?

Laurie: [Smiling] I knew you’d ask about that. Sandy Kendel will be doing all the sports reporting.

Chloe: Cheerleading too, I hope!

Laurie: [Laughing] I don’t think it’ll be hard to convince him to cover that!

Friedman: And how about the TV and radio stations?

Mitch: Lee knows his way around the equipment more than anyone, so he’s in charge of that side of the operation.

Lee: The TV station is the most expensive part of the newsroom, so it’ll be the most limited. News, plus features.

Tom: What sort of features?

Lee: In-depth stories about various student constituencies, profiles on teachers, classroom projects; that sort of thing. Mitch has gathered a fuckload of footage.

Mitch: Jesus, Lee, do you have to…

Friedman: [Laughing] It’s fine, Mitch. It’s not like he invented cursing.

Lee: Anyway, the plan is to air fifteen minutes of straight news, every day. We’ll add fifteen minutes of sports on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and on Tuesday and Thursday, we’ll add a half hour feature.

Friedman: My only concern is the student-oriented features. I love the idea, but given the buzz the school has created already, everyone in the state is going to be watching. We have to guard their privacy.

Mitch: Not to worry. I’ve got signed permission forms for all the stuff we plan on running. There are copies in the informational packets I’ve prepared for you.

Friedman: You’re a lawyer, now? Is there anything you can’t do?

Mitch: [Laughs] Not quite. Chloe’s dad wrote the waiver. These kids really want their stories told.

Friedman: You guys are something else.

Lee: As for the radio station…

Chloe: I’m really stoked for that.

Lee: I think you’ll be happy, then. I’ve got people lined up to do shows seven days a week, across a pretty wide spectrum of 80’s musical styles: metal, punk, new wave. Here, check out the station logo and slogan.

Chloe: That rocks!

Friedman: I like the slogan. KISS always used to open their shows with that over the PA.

Lee: You know your shit.

Friedman: I was a pretty big fan as a kid…I must’ve gone to a half dozen KISS shows.

Tom: Who’ve you got DJ’ing all these programs?

Lance: Greasers.

Lee: [With a dignified air] Some of the Heights boys are doing shows. Stacy and Joanne too.

Brian: Of course, the girlfriend has to have a show.

Lee: At least I have a girlfriend.  

Chloe: Well, I think it’s fantastic that you’ve been hanging out with them, Lee; and that you’re dating Joanne.

Brian: That girl scares me. She always looks like she’s about to beat someone up.

Lance: What the hell do you two talk about, anyway?  

Brian: I suspect they don’t do very much talking.  

Lee: [Very pleased with himself] You might be surprised.  Joanne’s really smart.

Lance: About what? Oil changes?

Brian: Lube jobs! [High fives Lance]

Friedman: Actually, Miss Genduso is a top honors student. If she keeps it up, she could be valedictorian, when she graduates.

Brian: No way.

Lance: You’re joking.

Friedman: Not at all. I would have thought that you, of all people, should know not to judge on appearances.

Brian: [Turning to Lee] Sorry, man.

Lance: Me too.

Lee: It’s cool.  

Mitch: Lee has actually put together a multimedia presentation, with sample clips of the radio and news programs. You want to show them?

Lee: Yeah, right…come on over here, to the monitors.  

Chloe and Friedman take informational packets and follow Lee to the far side of the room.  

Lance: We’ve actually gotta’ take off. Brian and I have Calc 2, next period.  

Mitch: That’s fine. You’ll catch up with us after school, right? For the meeting, in Principal Friedman’s office?  

Lance and Brian: We’ll be there! [Waving as they depart] Later!

Mitch and Tom settle into two chairs and watch as Chloe and Will go through the clips that Lee has prepared.

Tom: So, how’re you feeling? Top of the world, huh?

Mitch: [Slightly wistful] Yeah…it’s great.

Tom: What’s wrong?

Mitch: [His eyes fixed on Chloe and Friedman]  Wrong? Nothing…nothing at all.

Tom: You lie. I know that look.

Mitch: [Turning to Tom] What look?

Tom: You’re in love with her, aren’t you?

Mitch: [Looking down] Is it that obvious?

Tom: Not at all.

Mitch: But you noticed.

Tom: I’m a good noticer. I do it for a living. I’m sure no one else knows. Well, except for Lee, maybe, and no one listens to him. I was in love with her too once, you know.

Mitch: Really?

Tom: Yes, really.  

Mitch: When?

Tom: Until not that long ago. Since we were kids. Our parents are best friends, so we kind of grew up together.

Mitch: So what happened? Why didn’t you two go out?

Tom: She didn’t feel that way about me. She thinks of me like a brother.

Mitch: She’s so affectionate. She hugs me, holds my hand, puts her head on my shoulder…  

Tom: I know it well. It’s not flirting. Just who she is.

Mitch: It feels like torture sometimes. I want to kiss her so badly.

Tom: Why don’t you?

Mitch: [Horrified] God, no! Absolutely not!

Tom: Well, ask her out, then.

Mitch: I can’t.

Tom: Why not?

Mitch: Because I know she doesn’t feel that way about me, either.  

Tom: That could change.

Mitch: [Firmly] No, it would be a betrayal.

Tom: How so?

Mitch: She’s really opened up to me, Tom; told me a lot about herself; about her past. For her whole life, she’s felt like people only liked her for her money and her looks. New Ridgemont High has given her a fresh start. She’s genuinely happy.

Tom: I see.

Mitch: So, if I ask her out; if I express interest in her, in that way…

Tom: She won’t have her best friend anymore.

Mitch: And that means more than anything to me. I don’t know if you can understand this, but I owe everything to Chloe. All of it. I wouldn’t have done any of this stuff, if it hadn’t been for her friendship.

Tom: She brought you out of your shell.

Mitch: More than that. She makes me feel like I’m cool; like I’m not a loser. You see how she is with the other nerds, the greasers, and all the other officially “unpopular” people. She treats them with dignity and respect; tenderness.

Tom: It sounds like you’re just going to have to bear it, then.

Mitch: [Sighs] Yeah, some days are harder than others.  

Tom: You’re a good friend, Mitch. Chloe’s very lucky.

Mitch: Can I ask you how you did it? How you got over her?

Tom: I never did, Mitch; at least, not entirely. Shit, I still think about her sometimes. There are moments, when she looks at me a certain way, that my heart feels like it’s going to burst. But it gets easier over time. Plus, I’m seeing Jaime now, so I can redirect a lot of those feelings. And there was someone else, too, once, in a different place, a long time ago.

Mitch: I don’t have anything like that. It’ll have to be the work. Heart and soul, you know?

Tom: There are worse ways to cope with unrequited love.

Mitch: [Smiling] Yeah, I guess there are.

Author

  • Milton Lawson

    Milton writes comics, loves cinema, and roots for sports teams that cause distress. He is an editor, technical lead, and contributor at Cathode Ray Zone.