The weather office had warned everyone that the storm was going to be bad and that people should stay off the roads if they didn’t have to travel, but Juliette Sexton and Andy Lipokoff had been assigned to cover the blizzard for their local television station and that meant going out for the obligatory ‘reporter bracing herself against fierce winds while everyone remains completely oblivious to the fact that there is also a camerman trying not to get blown away’ shot.
They got about four miles from the studio before going into a ditch. No one was hurt fortunately, and the back of the station vehicle had a winter emergency kit, so they’d be fine until someone could come along and pull them out.
“We’re likely going to be here for awhile,” Juliette said to the veteran cameraman.
“Most likely,” Andy said in return. “We may as well make ourselves comfortable, I guess.”
After about five minutes of awkward silence, Juliette decided to try and strike up a conversation with the quietest person with whom she had ever worked.
“So, Andy,” she began. How long have you been at CKAM?”
“Going on twenty years now,” he said.
“Twenty years?! Wow, you must really like it here. Have you ever thought about moving to a bigger market?”
“Nah, I’m not much for big cities. I like the peace and quiet a city of this size offers. I can just go about my business and no one pays me any attention.”
“Have you always worked as a cameraman?” she then wanted to know.
“Yes. Well, except for that time I was a movie star.”
“Right, of course. Hey wait, what did you just say?” Juliette asked.
“About enjoying small town living?”
“Duh!!! About being a movie star.”
“There’s not much to say. I was a child actor for about ten years, won an Oscar for my last picture, and then retired immediately afterwards at the age of fourteen.”
“What the fuck?”
“Yup, that was me.”
“What was you?” an even more confused Juliette asked.
“Oh sorry. ‘What the fuck?’ was my signature line in Raising Ted and Mary. I thought you were just quoting it back to me. Every one did for about five years after it came out.”
“Raising Ted and Mary? Wasn’t that the movie about the kid who was more of an adult than his coked out parents? I thought the kid who starred in that was Andrew Lannigan.”
“Andy Lipokoff hardly sounds like a glamourous Hollywood name, now does it?”
“So what happened? Why did you quit?”
Andy then went on to tell his poor little rich kid story. He was only in show business because his stage mom never realized her own dreams of stardom. Andy was both mature and talented beyond his years, so he had no trouble getting cast. He started out with a few photo shoots, followed by commercials, some television guest spots and then broke into movies. On paper he made a lot of money from his work, but his mother spent it all on herself, so Andy decided to walk away and become a normal kid. It wasn’t easy at first because he had been so famous, but Andy had one thing going for him that guys normally don’t want going for them: a recessive hair gene. He was bald before the age of twenty and thirty pounds heavier by the time he graduated community college.
“No one recognizes me these days,” he continued, “and that’s the way I like it. Here, I’m just Andy Lipokoff, small town cameraman. You’ll keep this to yourself, right? Because I know how to adjust the camera to make you look like absolute crap on air.”
Juliette laughed, with the hope that now that she and Andy had shared this bonding moment, he’d see her as a friend and help her look like someone who had what it took to work for a national network.
“Sure thing, Andy. Do you want to know my dirty secret?” she then asked her colleague.
“Not particularly,” he answered.
So the two of them went back to sitting in silence, and that’s how they remained until the tow truck arrived four hours later.