7K 360 361





She shouldn't have worn the hat. It was a mistake. Why Althea had listened to her herself and worn it she'll never know. I mean who wears the famous fedora of Hal Jamieson to a meeting with Hal Jamieson? She imagined the glass table was a sheet of ice over a cold lake and she wished she could just drown beneath it.

It was suppose to be a momentous first encounter, the famous TV anthropologist meeting his young dynamic producer. What amazing television would they produce together? When Althea's family asked their loaded questions at Christmas she'd actually have something to say, instead of her usual mumble-until-they-stop-paying-attention-to-you approach. Planetary forces would shift and even Auntie Jo would be impressed, because Hal Jamieson was world famous. People still dress up as him for Halloween. Althea prayed that some of that prestige would reflect onto her.

And then people would listen when she spoke.

Maybe smile more.

At the very least they'd notice she was human being living on planet Earth.

It would be the in she's looked for since she watched the popular kids eat together from the other side of the cafeteria.

Althea had never been able to connect. She had no friends and she could never figure out why. It wasn't from lack of trying. She'd read heaps of self-help books on how to make friends. When she'd encroach on circle of people chatting to join the conversation, she'd be met with cold smiles and find herself slowly pushed out, like puss exiled into a pimple.

This job would change all that.

Althea had spent the entire sleepless night rehearsing what she'd say to the living legend. It went something like this...

Mr. Jamieson? Oh, I can call you Hal. I remember the first time I saw 'The People of The World'. It was the episode when you traveled to Mozambique and lived amongst the Tsonga. You helped that women give birth to her baby. I felt so connected to humanity. It's why I got into documentary edutainment. Because of you. Because you brought people together. I'm beyond honored to get to serve as your producer and I know we are going to make your Comeback Special the kind of television that moves people. The type of television that's important. The type that inspires. The way you inspired me.

Althea never got to make that speech.

When Julian, The Chief Development Executive of Edutainment called her into the boardroom she barely got out a breath before a haggard Hal Jamieson spat, "Take that fucking hat off and shove it up your ass."

Althea's outstretched hand shriveled away like a salted leech.

Hal Jamieson had aged. His face had come to resemble Chicken McNuggets since his spectacular meltdown that led to his ten-year absence from the tube. His stubble, once the sign of man living on the edge of the world, was now grey and shaggy, the sign of a man living on the edge of poverty. His once dusty blonde hair that flapped in the trade winds was now limp and greasy. He wasn't wearing his leather jacket, trusty pouch, and iconic white fedora. He was in a cheap tin coloured suit with an unpressed purple shirt that didn't quite match.

How could this be the man who saved his crew from freezing to death in the Russian tundra by seeking refuge in the fresh remains of a dead narwhale? This guy looked like a door-to-door salesman peddling landlines.

Althea took off the white felt fedora and tried to choke it to death.

"Hal, meet Althea Jones. Your new field producer." Julian said with his one million white teeth.

Strange YarnsWhere stories live. Discover now