When she entered the pub, the fumes welcomed her. Ella ignored the guys she passed, who stared at her as if she was nothing but a piece of meat. Her way led straight to the bar where Lukas waited for her, grinning. “Hey Sweetheart! How’s it going?”, he asked, charming as hell. She couldn’t stand it, loving his humor at the same time. “I need one of those cocktails”, was all she said. Lukas nodded gently. “Just a second!” He prepared the drink and gave it to her. “Cheers!” Ella took a sip and smiled. He never got them perfect. It was either too much alcohol or simply not enough. That’s just the way he was.
Lukas was the American boy in a British small town. He had all the girls. The pretty ones, of course. However, he never tried to flirt with Ella. At first it made her feel insecure, even disappointed because she assumed he didn't consider her pretty enough, but she kept telling herself that she deserved something better. She preferred being something like friends with him.
Ella was married to her job. She was the Dutch girl who had left home because her world had become too small for her. As a journalist, she saw herself as a writer in first place. It was her mission to write stories, real life stories that had protagonists and antagonists and conflicts, intrigues and suspense. That's why she loved the crime reports. None of her colleagues wanted to write them, and Ella took these stories with all her affection. It was not the sensation, not the fascination of evil; she didn't took the place of a voyeur. She spoke for someone. For the people. Every victim left a family and friends full of grief and sorrow behind. Those emotions were real, they were touching. No novel would ever be like this. This was reality.
But reality didn't always do what she wanted.
"Tough day?" Lukas asked, cleaning empty glasses full of despair. Ella nodded. She was done talking for today. That was the problem of her job: You run out of words if there's nothing to say. "Tough story?" The questions surrounded her. It was strange as always with him. One day he was the best friend on earth and the other day he barely even talked to her at all. "I'm the journalist, so I ask the questions, I assume", was her answer. Lukas simply smiled. "Let me take an educated guess: no story at all." He leaned towards her, his arms placed on the bar between them, and captivated her look so she couldn't turn away.
Damn, he was handsome.
Ella took another sip from her drink. "The dirty little secrets of Susana May." She frowned, which made him grin. "That young model? What, did you do researches on how many plastic surgeries she had?" He laughed; it sounded wonderful. No wonder all the girls fell for him. Ella took a look around. The bar was full, but not overcrowded. Most of the men drinking here were too desperate to commit suicide. She'd never understood why Lukas didn't work in one of those nice hip pubs for young ladies and their boys. Probably because they were nice and hip. He was too manly for kids clubs, but not for their visitors. Paradox, but Lukas.
She stared into her glass. "Who reads this shit?" She emptied it in one gulp. Lukas looked at her closely. "No crimes for you to solve?" He raised his eyebrows. Ella shook her head. "I'll just go to bed now. Tomorrow just can't be worse, so I'm really looking forward to it." She paid for her cocktail, got up and walked out of the bar. In the doorway, she turned around and waved at Lukas. He waved back smiling.
Ella turned around - and ran into a huge guy, wearing a brown coat. "Sorry", she said, but he didn't even look at her. He went straight to the bar. That's all she could see before the door closed.
She reached her apartment twenty minutes later. After she closed the door behind her, she let everything fall down from her shoulders. This day was so over for her. Slowly, she scuffed towards the kitchen. Her apartment consisted of three rooms, basically; a bathroom, a bedroom and a large living room with an open kitchen. Ella opened the fridge and took a bottle of milk out of it. Her brother would’ve drunk from the bottle, but she took a glass out of the cupboard. She just stood there for a while, staring at the now empty glass on the sideboard. Eventually, she cleaned it and put it back where it belonged.
The ringing phone made Ella start up. She took the receiver and answered the call. “Van Veen!” “Hi Ella, it’s Herman calling. I have some bad news for you. Dick wants you to do an interview with Susana May; tomorrow.” Ella moaned. “Don’t shoot the messenger”, Herman said friendly. “No, it’s alright, Herman. I’m happy that you called and not Dick. It’s just not my day today”, she answered honestly. Herman smiled. She could hear that.
Herman was one of favorite colleagues. The 56 year old man came from Austria and had worked as a journalist since he was seventeen. He was inspiring in his working manor and as a friend. His helping hand had saved Ella more than once, in almost every sense. Now he warned her again. Dick wasn’t interested in value at all, especially when it came to news; or at least what he called “news”. “Thank you for calling, Herman. I’m looking forward to Dick’s next holiday”, Ella said. Whenever Dick was on holiday, Herman was the head of the editorial department. These days were the only ray of hope for Ella, and for the magazine.
After hanging up the phone, Ella went to her bedroom. She set her alarm clock and took off her clothes. Sleepiness came over her. This day was more than over. She crawled under her blanket and turned all the lights out. Only the shining numbers of her clock grinned at her, reminding her of her insomnia and making her think about Lukas and what he might be up to now. No good idea at all. She tossed and turned for over an hour, fighting her mind. When she eventually fell asleep, she saw nothing but black.
Ella woke up at 6:45 AM. Her clock was set for 7:30. She stretched her whole body, yawning.
About thirty minutes later, she sat at her small kitchen table and had her live saving breakfast without which she would run around like a zombie all day long. She checked her phone; mails, messages, missed calls from home and work, social media. It took her one hour to be prepared and informed for the day; one of her every day rituals she just couldn’t miss. She cleaned her cup and plate, took on her light leather jacket and finally went to work.
The redaction was already filled with life, stress and noise. Ella went inside and took seat at her desk. She checked her mails again while having her third cup of tea. “Shit”, she whispered when she saw Dick heading towards to her. She turned around and tried to look busy, but her boss didn’t care. “Ella, my dear. How are you?” he asked. He brought his face close to hers, so she had to lean backwards to get away from him. “Good morning, Dick”, she replied with a fake smile on her face.
Richard Garner had won this job in a poker game, at least that’s what Ella always imagined. He had absolutely no interest in valuable news, founded researches or a good writing style. He didn’t even know how to speak proper English, and he was one of the very few native speakers here. It was his special manor to consequently ignore the third person singular “s”. Nobody understood why.
“I’m glad that you will write about this model. That’s exactly the right story for you. You are our little gossip girl.” Ella didn’t listen to him. He didn’t notice. His monologue wasn’t finished yet, but actually, it never was. Ella kept working while he kept talking. That’s the difference about them. She found the phone number Herman had put on her desk and called Susana May’s manager while Dick was still talking about himself to himself.
It took the manager almost five minutes to answer the call. “Hi Mr. Jefferson! I’m Ella van Veen from the Independent Magazine International. I think you can help me to get an interview with Ms. Susana May”, she started the conversation. Mr. Jefferson coughed. “Sure, we already expected this. Ms. May told me that she really wants to do this interview to get some facts clear that circle around in the press. She will meet you at 2 PM at the café Corneille.” Ella took some notes and wished him well. She looked at the clock. It was just 10 AM. Dick had gone when she’d started to talk to Mr. Jefferson. She decided to do some more researches about the current media situation of Susana May. Always be prepared. That was one of her main rules.
The results weren’t surprising Ella at all. There were naked pictures of Susana May which the whole world had seen already, articles about her getting drunk at parties, some model pictures, and some advertisement campaigns with her. Nothing spectacular – just as Ella had expected. She wanted to hit the wall with her head. No one would want to read about Susana May telling the press that she’s a nice girl and that her ex-boyfriend or whatever was the reason why she got drunk at that party; only once, of course. This was definitely not worth to be printed in a magazine.
But as usual, Dick thought differently about that.
“Ella, that’s why I love you so much, my dear! You’ll get us the best story ever! And now go find the dirty little secrets of that girl”, he said when she told him what she’d found out. Not that he cared about how true the information she collected was.
Ella tried to kill some time. She read the online articles of De Telegraf and did some more researches about what was going on in her small town here in England. Maybe she could find a better – a real – story and just write it in addition to the crap she would produce about Susana May. When did people start to care about models?
Finally, Ella decided to go to that café and wait for Susana May there. She left the office and felt the relief right away. Life was so much easier without Dick’s smutty face being around. She took the bus and drove to the city center where the café Corneille was. When she arrived there, she took place at one of the small tables and ordered a cappuccino. She watched the people passing her by. That was the journalist in her; she couldn’t resist the need to watch everything that was happening around her. People were the most inspiring elements on earth; especially people like Lukas.
She didn’t want to think about him, but it was too late. She already saw his face in front of her inner eye. Now she felt the need to write him although she knew that he hated texts and that he probably wouldn’t answer and that would drive her crazy again. But in the end, she gave in and took out her phone to text him about her day and her plans and everything he wouldn’t want to know.
It was 1:30 PM by now. The streets were full of life. People were rushing through the city. Even though she lived here for almost six years now, Ella still felt like a stranger in this city. She’d never really been part of this, and whenever she watched the people here, she had the feeling that she would never belong here. She didn’t even know the reason why she still stayed here. Or maybe she did, but she wouldn’t admit it.
Time flew, people came and went, and Ella waited full of patience. But at 3:30 PM she started to believe that Susana May wouldn’t come - which was pretty cool because she wouldn’t have to do the interview. Unfortunately, she would’ve to explain Dick why she couldn’t come up with a “good story” today. Damnit! And she thought yesterday would’ve been a bad day.
Ella paid for the coffee, got up and went through the city when something caught her attention. At first she couldn’t say what it was, but then she realized that there was a blue light flashing to her right. She turned around and saw the police cars surrounding a white limousine. It took her a second, but then she recognized that limousine. She’d seen it on a photo. It belonged to Susana May.
Motivated, she ran towards the police officer standing in front of the cars. “Hi! My name is Ella van Veen, I’m a journalist for the Independent Magazine International. Is this the limousine of Susana May?” He looked at her, his facial expression was rather unfriendly. “Yes”, he answered unexpectedly. That motivated Ella even more. “Really? I wanted to meet her, over there in the café, but she didn’t come. And now I see her limousine and all the police. Did something happen to her?” Ella asked again. The officer’s look changed. “You wanted to meet her? When?” Now it was up to Ella to answer his questions. “Well, her manager told me that she would come to the café Corneille at 2 PM. But – as I just said – she didn’t show up. I just wanted to go back to the redaction when I saw this scene. So, what happened?” Ella tried to take the role of the journalist again. She didn’t like the witness perspective.
For a while, the policeman didn’t say a word. Then he suddenly replied: “We don’t know what happened. Ms. May disappeared, that’s all we know.” Ella looked at him with big eyes. She had to resist the need to cheer. This story had just become a story. Now she was into it. “What do you know? Are there witnesses? Do you think this was a crime?” she asked all the questions that came to her mind. But the officer shook his head. “I won’t talk to the press”, was all he said.
Ella never gave up quickly, but she could tell when someone really wouldn’t talk to her. So she left the crime scene – she was sure it was one – and looked around. A few people were standing close to the scenery, watching it curiously. But those who stood in groups weren’t those Ella was looking for. And then she found him.
He was standing alone, a little closer to the police cars than all the others, and he was nervously checking the streets. Ella went straight towards him and stopped right in front of his face. “Hi! I’m Ella van Veen of the Independent Magazine International. Did you see what happened here a few minutes ago?” The man just stared at her. He was very tall, but thin, and his dark blonde hair looked a little tousled. He was probably in his mid-twenties. “Y-Yes. I mean, no. Not really”, he stammered. Ella smiled at him. She put a strand of her blonde hair behind her ear and looked at him from beneath. “What did you see?” she asked in a soft voice. The man seemed to calm down. “I was on my way back to work after my lunch break. I was a little late and therefore in a hurry, so I didn’t watch what surrounded me. I crashed into a man wearing a long brown coat and a strange hat. A girl was with him and I thought I’d seen her before, but I didn’t know where. She couldn’t walk, he had to carry her. I thought maybe she didn’t feel well. But then I saw the limousine with its open door and that it had crashed into the street lamp.”
Ella turned towards the car. She hadn’t seen the street lamp before, but the man was right. The limousine had hit it and therefore was demolished in the front. She turned back to the man. “That man you saw, could you describe him a little more?” The man seemed to think about it. Then he added: “He was a big guy, tons of muscles. And he had a tattoo around his neck, barbed wire, I’d say.” Ella smiled at him again. “Thank you! That was really helpful”, she said. As she saw the policeman approaching her and the witness, she decided to leave.
On her way back to the redaction, she checked her messages and mails, but she didn’t find what she’d hoped for. Of course not. Back at her desk, she wrote down all her notes in her little black notebook. She preferred handwriting over computer documents.
It didn’t take long before Dick arrived at her desk. “What happened?” was all he asked. Ella took a deep breath and counted to five silently. Then she answered: “Susana May disappeared.”
Dick looked at her, puzzled. “Could you do the interview first?” he finally wanted to know. Ella could just stare at him. “Did you listen to me?” the question broke out of her. Dick didn’t understand. Of course not. “I just told you that a young somehow famous woman disappeared and you still want to publish more naked pictures of her? What the hell is wrong with you?” Ella couldn’t believe she just said that. The whole redaction fell into silence. Herman watched her, his facial expression caught between the most worried eyes on earth and a big fat smile.
For about five minutes, nobody said anything. Then Dick found his voice again. “Just come up with a good story. As soon as possible!” He rushed away without looking at Ella or anybody else.
Tag der Veröffentlichung: 09.01.2015
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