M iles Del Riccio stepped out onto his front lawn as the sun peekd over the horizon and was surprised to see his newspaper waiting for him.
“That’s a first,” he muttered. Miles normally checked the lawn, found nothing, and angrily dressed himself for work. Normally, he read the paper when he got to work. Normally, when he got home that evening, he would throw his own paper into the trash can without removing it from the plastic wrapper. Normally, he would angrily curse through the phone at the paper delivery service for their seemingly endless late deliveries. Normally, he never read the paper before work.
But today, Miles Del Riccio found his paper waiting for him on his front lawn when he woke up.
Miles raced outside in his boxer shorts, barely fending his bare, clumsy legs from the cold air. His steps seemed like an odd sort of dance, and his eyes darted every which way to ensure that the neighbors weren’t watching. He hungrily grabbed the dew-soaked paper and sprinted back to the house.
The morning seemed like a celebration. He read Sports on the toilet, the Front Page over a piping hot cup of coffee, and Metro as he buttoned his shirt. He found the activities much more flavorful this morning, seeing as how they were mostly done in rich silence.
Edging You Out won at Remington. The First Lady was renovating the Green Room. A plane crashed just outside of Louisville. Senator Bob Sturm was visiting a high school in Lake Castor. Graham Williams was dropping his bid for the presidency. The war in Afghanistan rages on.
And Mitch Leavelles, Miles’ favorite actor, was arrested for possession of cocaine yesterday morning.
Miles found that news quite disheartening, but it couldn’t derail his morning. He sauntered to his car with a new energy he found refreshing.
Miles sipped his coffee at the office and talked with the girls in the break room. This was not normally how it was done. Normally Miles would sip his coffee as he quickly foraged through the newspaper. Normally the girls would gossip amongst themselves without him. Normally, Miles would accumulate what he had been able to read, what he gathered from gossip, and what radio deejays reported as his daily intake of the news.
But today, having read it before he went to work, Miles felt informed enough to gossip.
“Did you read that about Mitch Leavelles?” Miles asked with a ghost-story lilt to his voice.
“I love him,” Brenda the receptionist swooned. “He is hot.”
“You ain’t lyin’,” Lakeesha the boss’ secretary testified.
“I mean about the drug bust,” Mitch said, surprised. “The arrest.”
They looked at him, confused.
“When did this happen?” Brenda asked.
“Don’t fall for it, Brenda,” Lakeesha smiled. “You know that boy always is playing some kind of joke.”
Miles laughed. “No,” he said. “Really. It was on the front page this morning. He was arrested because he had a lot of cocaine in his apartment. Really.”
“That’s horrible,” Brenda moaned.
“You’re serious?” Lakeesha asked.
“As a heart attack,” Miles said, careful not to smile. He knew he had a reputation as a practical joker, but he was serious. “Didn’t you read it?”
Brenda shook her head. “I barely skimmed the paper this morning,” she reported. “I was in a hurry.”
“Ditto,” Lakeesha said. “That’s too bad.”
“Yeah,” Miles agreed.
The next morning, Miles didn’t expect to find his paper on the lawn when he woke up. He figured the previous day could only be a fluke, and things would return to normal. But when he stepped out into the purple morning in his boxers, the blessed sight of the newspaper on his lawn delivered a smile.
His eyes poured over the stock exchange as he sipped his morning coffee (DOW was up three points), he read Sports on the toilet again (the Rangers took it in eleven over the Yanks), and the Front Page as he buttoned his shirt (the President is sending troops overseas… again).
And in the Business page, MiniCel was merging with Lewis and Dane, Inc.
“Damn,” he cursed. He didn’t fiddle much with stocks, but he knew that if Lewis and Dane went, his company would soon follow.
At the office however, no one seemed to care as if nothing happened. Miles stood in the break room with his coffee as Stan Decker and Brenda carelessly flirted with each other. Stan was a lucky bastard, Miles thought. Brenda was the high point of many a man’s day the office, and Stan was the only one that really got to enjoy her on a personal level. However, Miles and Stan were the closest thing to best friends that men over thirty could achieve, so Miles heard about it first-hand, which was almost as good.
“Hey Miles,” Brenda called, “how did you know about that Leavelles thing yesterday?”
“The bust?” Miles asked, confused. “It was in the paper. Front page.”
“Oh,” she said, her eyebrows rising. “But I read a story on it this morning and they say it didn’t happen until late yesterday morning. That would have been after the paper was delivered.”
“The press always gets leaks like that,” Stan said, smiling his carefree, Southern farmboy smile. “Happens all the time. They want the word out before it happens. It’s called a scoop.”
“Oh,” Brenda said, and the subject was dropped.
Stan poured himself a cup of coffee and another for Brenda. He grimaced at the taste.
“Stale, huh?” Miles asked.
“It always is,” Brenda reported. “But you get used to it after a while.”
“Maybe MiniCel will shell out a few extra bucks when it comes to the break room,” Miles said gloomily.
Stan perked up, his eyes shining. “You leaving us, Miles?” he asked.
Miles looked at them incredulously. They both looked around to ensure no one was listening, and then back at him, surprise dancing through their pupils. “That is, if we get taken over by them,” Miles said slowly.
“Do you know something that we don’t, bro?” Stan asked, just as slow.
Miles was floored. “Didn’t you read Business this morning?”
“Yes,” Brenda said. “I did.” Stan nodded as well.
“They got Lewis and Dane,” Miles said quickly. “We’re next, I’m sure.”
Stan and Brenda exchanged glances as if they’d just heard their parents curse for the first time. “When did this happen?” Stan asked warily.
“Yest- last night… yesterday…” he stammered. Why don’t they know this, he wondered. “I’m not sure. It was in the paper this morning.”
Stan stalked across the break room to the paper lying open on the corner table and tossed aside whole sections, then stopped at the Business page. He walked it back to the coffeemaker, scanning along the way.
“Where is it?” Stan asked as he set the paper down in front of the non-dairy creamer. “I don’t see it.”
Miles searched the entire page, the entire next page, then the entire section, each page more desperately than the last. It wasn’t there.
“That’s impossible,” he murmured. “That’s fucking impossible.”