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|More journalism, Hoorah! I got this idea flipping through the posters at Wal-mart. Enjoy. There is some very, very minor language, for anyone who cares. |
It was probably one of my most bizarre assignments, the McQueen interview.
We were scheduled to meet during one of her photo shoots, as it's always nice to have the narrative flair of a bustling interview sight. I'd flown in that morning, and my plan was to do the interview and send a write-up to my editor before enjoying a relaxing dinner with friends, then catching the red-eye back to New York.
She was decked out in her full splendor as I arrived for the interview, about 15 minutes early for a photo break. She was trussed up like for one of those bookstore posters, all shimmer and shine, but she really was beautiful. She posed and primped on a large flower, smiling sweetly into the camera lens, haloed in a flurry of clicks and flashes.
"Great Bonnie, keep it up!" her photographer murmured as he reached up to adjust a light. "You're gonna love these shots, just keep 'em coming, hon."
I was taking down notes, the usual dribble- the flash of lights, the bustling of various crews and workers, the gleam of glass and metal.
"All right, let's take a break everyone."
Right on time.
Bonnie fluttered off the set, still looking radiant, and was almost instantly swarmed by a small army of make-up and hair artists.
"Mr. Gilroy, I presume," she said, smiling charmingly as she politely waved the beauty crew off and alighted on the arm of a chair, gracefully adjusting her wings.
I suppose I forgot to mention that Ms. McQueen is, in fact, a fairy- and in the most literal terms possible. She stands a little under two inches tall and has an amazing set of gorgeous wings reminiscent of a lavender monarch. At that time, she was a major player in the world of coloring books and posters- every executive was clamoring for her to pose with this unicorn or in that castle or on some garden trellis, and was expected to move into commercials and made for TV movies soon. I was interviewing her for our "Rising Stars" feature, and was looking forward to an easy gig.
As a reporter for a fantasy magazine, I'd read up on the handful of other interviews and snippets about her in preparation for mine, and found them to paint a glowing picture of a sweet, humble star. I soon found out why.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Ms. McQueen."
"Oh please, call me Bonnie," she said with a delightful little giggle.
"Bonnie it is then," I said, flashing my most charming grin. "Now, I know you're a busy...woman, so let's go ahead and get started." It was bad journalistic form, jumping into the interview with next to no small talk, but her photographer didn't look like the type to wait around for a reporter and I didn't care to wait for the next break.
"Now, first of all, what is this project-"
"Can we go off the record for a moment, dear?" she asked pleasantly.
"Uh...certainly, Bonnie." Usually my subjects only go off the record to reveal sensitive information, but even that was unheard of this early in the conversation. What secrets could sweet, pure Bonnie McQueen have to share?
The change that came over her was astonishing- almost instantly she slumped from her perfect posture. I watched in amazement as she pulled a very tiny box from some unknown place in her costume, withdrew one equally small cigarette, and proceeded to light up.
"I didn't know you smoked," I managed to say.
"Which is why it's off the record. Can't spoil my image, now can I? The fresh-faced, innocent little fairy who spends her days in the company of unicorns and butterflies." Her voice, sweet and lilting only a moment before, had descended to a strange, grating tone.
"Bonnie, this is highly irregular, I'm not sure-"
"It's Ms. McQueen when we're off the record, Jimmy."
I was too shocked to respond as she took a long drag on her cigarette.
"Hey, wanna see something fun?" she cackled. Cackled? Bonnie McQueen does not cackle. Bonnie McQueen giggles, chirps, titters, maybe even laughs, but she does not cackle.
"I knew you would," she flashed me an odd little grin and lifted her skirt to a less than proper height to reveal a tattoo on her inner thigh. What it was doesn't bear repeating- suffice it to say that I would happily burn the image from my brain with a hot poker.
With yet another cackle she dropped her skirt to it's normal modest length, put out her cigarette and dropped it to the ground as she said,
"On the record. I'm sorry Mr. Gilroy, what was your question again?"
"Er..." I stared blankly down at the questions I had written on my legal pad, the after-image of the horrendous art I had just seen marching up and down the neat, orderly lines. As a journalist, I was supposed to be cool, calm, collected, and able to deal with anything that came my way.
So maybe I'm not that great a journalist.
"I was just asking if...um...I was asking about the project you're currently working on."
"Well, this is for a calendar they're putting together- I think it's going to be called Fluttering Faeries, and it will be sold this December in all major department stores. I'm posing for April." She flashed me a huge smile.
"How do you like working on these calendar shoots?" I asked, feeling my way back into the journalistic groove- I even managed to write down what she'd said.
"Oh, they're gads of fun!" She said with a smile. "Just think- I get to encourage and inspire the people who buy this calendar for an entire month! Can you believe it?"
"Do you have any other big projects in the works?"
"Off the record." She lit up another cigarette and continued in what I had come to think of as her evil voice, "I don't think the kiddies want to know what else I'm working on at the moment- of course, my face is blurred through the whole thing, but you catch my drift. Hey, are you thirsty?"
I blinked. "No thanks, I'm fine." I still couldn't get over her blatant abuse of "off the record."
"Good." Bonnie, er, Ms. McQueen flagged down a passing gopher, a gangly college student with a scrappy goatee. "Bring me a 'smoothie'- you know what I'm talking about."
"Yes Ma'am, Ms. McQueen, Ma'am," he called over his shoulder as he dashed off, previous errand forgotten.
"And more rum this time!"
We waited in silence, Ms. McQueen twirling her hair around one finger. After a few minutes the gopher was back, out of breath and with a clear cup of pink slush in one hand. "Here you are, Ms. McQueen."
"Ms. McQueen, Ma'am," she corrected.
"Ms. McQueen, Ma'am."
The young man nearly sprinted away, a look of relief on his face.
Ms. McQueen sipped her drink and smiled with satisfaction. Finally, she spoke. "As far as you know, this is a smoothie. On the record. Not at the moment."
Bonnie sat up attentively, smiling up at me with bright, innocent eyes.
This was going to be a long interview.
Once more I attempted to regain my composure. I latched onto the first question I saw- I was completely out of order, but my editor could deal with it. "So...I know that recently you worked with Gloria Frendin. Can you tell me what that was like?"
Bad move. Even now, I saw her smile tighten.
"Off the record," she hissed. "I despised working with that pretentious, disgusting-" What followed was a string of obscenities that would set a sailor's ears on fire- as it was it made mine burn. I've covered some tough beats in my career- vampires, imps, succubae, but never have I encountered anything like little Ms. McQueen and her acid tongue.
Finally, her rage spent, I could only sit in wonder as she said, "On the record.
It was delightful."
Suddenly I had a realization- I had found the chink in her armor of hairspray and Cover Girl. I could do what no celebrity journalist had ever done; show young Bonnie McQueen's true colors, and on the record.
"Do you, care to elaborate?" I asked.
I watched with concealed glee as her smile trembled with the grit of her teeth.
Bonnie took a deep breath. "She's a very talented fairy, and it was a pleasure working with her. I wish her the best of success, and hope we can work together in the future."
Clever girl. But I refused to let up.
"I've heard it said that you two are basically the same thing- vanilla and French vanilla, so to speak. What do you think sets you apart from Ms. Frendin?"
A little more color to her cheeks. Just a bit further and I've got you, Ms. McQueen.
Ha, not so quick with our answers now, are we?
"I think that we both have something very unique to offer to the industry. I'm very talented at working with animals, while she..."
"What's the meaning of all this you little weasel?!" Her voice sounded like gravel on glass.
I wrote furiously.
"I hate her and I don't want to talk about her anymore! Ask me about my career goals, or my childhood, or whatever other insipid subject your diabolical little mind can come up with!" More obscenities. Good, good.
She shot me a glare that would split rock, took yet another deep breath, and smiled prettily.
"On the record."
"Excuse me?" I looked up from my writing. "You didn't go off the record for that last little spiel."
Just for an instant, her beautiful little mask slipped.
"Yes I did."
"No, you didn't."
Her smile changed subtly, perhaps as she mixed in a smidgeon of cruelty. "I see you don't use a tape recorder."
I cursed my editor and his stickler, old school ways.
"That doesn't matter," I bluffed, "I wrote it all down anyway."
"Oh, but someone as creative as you could make up whatever they wanted, couldn't they? Are you familiar with the term 'libel?' Because my lawyers certainly are."
"My editor trusts me- it will be my word against yours."
"Excuse me, young man?" she called sweetly to the gopher.
He approached warily.
"Did you hear me say anything but sweet, pleasant comments about Ms. Frendin?"
"N-no Ma'am," he stammered. I felt sorry for the kid- he looked like a caged animal.
"Oh, enough of that Ma'am stuff. You can call me Bonnie."
"Thank you Ma'am."
"Off the record! What the...when I say you can call me Bonnie, you call me Bonnie, damn it! I can't even come up with any names vile enough to describe you!"
"Wait for it, you incompetent twit! Now, on the record."
"Thank you, Bonnie," the student muttered and made yet another hasty retreat.
"He's such a darling," she commented to me, batting her eyelashes.
"Okay, Bonnie, you've got me. You can stop bothering with all that 'off the record' stuff."
"Oh, but it's just too much fun!" She giggled.
I had the sudden wild idea to excuse myself, phone my editor on my cell, and have him listen in on the interview so I'd have a corroborator, but as Bonnie leered at me with that saccharine smile of hers, I deflated. Besides, I consoled myself, who cares if a little calendar fairy is really a she-demon?
"Thank you Bonnie, I think that will be all." I sighed and stood up.
"Oh, going so soon?" She simpered.
"Yes, I'm meeting some friends for dinner."
"It was a pleasure meeting you," she said. "I'd shake your hand, but mine's not exactly big enough," she added with a little laugh.
"That's quite all right, Ms. McQueen," I muttered with a tight-lipped smile.
"Oh, please, call me Bonnie!"
"I don't think so."
And that was the last I saw of little Bonnie McQueen, aside from the complimentary "Fluttering Fairies" calendar I received from one of her PR people. I burned it.
Last I heard, Bonnie had steadily declined in popularity, even with all the glowing interviews, and her career was shot. Had to join the Tooth Fairy Corp, but no one wanted her around the kids, so she's working the hockey player beat.
As for the beleaguered intern, he's now a successful photographer. He's been offered one or two lucrative fairy calendar deals, but he keeps turning them down.
No one knows why. <br> <br>
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