Susan stood in front of the mirror. She was barely one year out of journalism school, and was beginning to grow weary of the fluff pieces she was assigned by the small market tv station where she was an evening news reporter.

She stood straight, looked directly into the mirror, and said, “This is Susan Quinones reporting for CNN.”

“One day…” she murmured as she walked to her car.

Peter Flores was handing out masks. He was glad that he was able to get his tour bus back on the road. The past two and a half months had taken all his savings just to keep from closing his business all together.

“The mayor says we all have to wear a mask…sorry…but you will really enjoy the trip…beautiful day, huh?”

Thirty seven people, he thought, angrily. A third of the bus capacity. That’s all they will let me carry. We haven’t seen one single case. Not one single case. Ridiculous.

With everyone on board, families together, groups spaced apart as per the regulations, Peter pulled onto the road. The mask was causing his glasses to fog.

“Stupid mask,” and he pulled it slightly below his nose. He swatted at a fly buzzing around his head.

A little boy sat in the first row next to his mother. “Mama, I’ve never been on a bus before. I like this bus. This is fun!”

Peter saw his mother in the mirror as she smiled and patted his leg.

He swatted at the fly.

“Mama, did you see that bee? It’s a bee!”

It landed on Peter’s cheek, crawled under his mask. Allergy, he thought, as he jerked the mask off his face. The ear loops threw his glasses to the floor. He tried to grab them, felt the lurching of the bus.

He couldn’t regain control.

“Hey, Susie Q, boss wants you in his office,” said Jake, the weatherman from his desk.

She hated that name. It seemed like all the old people had some problem with pronouncing Quinones. “It’s Susan,” she replied.

He shook his head, grinned, and pointed to the office.

“Quinones, I’ve got a big story for you; bus crash out on Highway 19. Take Adam to film it. We need to get this on the evening news.”

“On it.”

She spied Adam at the coffee pot, and hurried toward him.

“Hey, Susie Q, what’s up?”

“Not you, too. It’s Susan. Big story. Grab your camera.”

Susan was walking toward the flashing lights, saw the paramedic tending to the survivors.

“Well, look who’s here folks…it’s Susie Q.”

“Susan Quinones. Is it all right if I talk to someone? Ask a few questions?”

“Go for it. These guys were the lucky ones.”

She saw the bus lying on its side.

“Can anyone tell me what happened?” She asked the group.

A little boy jumped up, “It was a bee!”

“What?” Susan asked, “ a bee? What was a bee?”

“ A bee was flying around, and it landed on the bus man’s face, and crawled under his mask….”

“His mask? He was wearing a mask?”

“We all were!” said the boy. “You know, because of the virus.”

“The virus,” she whispered. “The virus.”

She spent a few more minutes asking details from the others, then walked past Adam as he turned the camera off.

“Turn it back on, Adam, we need to film the tease.”

“You want the bus in the background?”

“No, the town. Get the town in the background.”

“You sure, Susie Q?”

“Susan. Yes. I’m sure.”

“Okay. In three, two, one…”

“A town completely untouched by the pandemic through the entire lockdown, suffers twenty two COVID 19 related deaths in one day, just three days after the lockdown ends. Details at six. This is Susan Quinones, KRTV Evening News.”

Adam’s mouth was open, stunned, as he turned off the camera.

“That’ll bring the eyes. I’ll fix it at six. CNN, here I come.”

As she walked past Adam, he began to sing, “Oh Susie Q, Oh Susie Q….”

She stopped. “Why do you…wait…Is that a song? Is that a real song?”


2 thoughts on “HEADLINES

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