It was a busy Friday afternoon, sure the weather wasn’t exactly warm but the winter sun still shines somewhat bright. The studio area was buzzing with crews, personnels and executives, all of them barking details over intercoms. The cacophony of this chatter was the root of the symphonies that aired every night, filling time slots, flowing out of television sets and dyeing the mundane life of run of the mill people with amusement. Years and years passed, the telly industry still tries to outsmart the audience using the idiot box. In a well lit and furnished makeup room Ed Greene, the showrunner of “The Late Night Show”, slouched over his recliner. The show had smashed record viewership figures and dominated all the demos for an era but now that era was waning. Ed sat, combing his thin, newly grown mustache with his frail fingers, waiting for his routine latte before the show. Staring at the pictures and awards that hung over his wall, Ed sat pondering about his contract with the network, the contract that would decide the fate of his show. He knew he’d have to smash it out of the park if he wanted to clasp the big money contract. He had smashed it out of the park many times before but it isn’t the same anymore. Ed’s letterbox which was filled with fan mail a couple of years back was now filled with reports from the network about dwindling ratings and complaints embarrassing the interviews and skits he performed by declaring them out of touch. Maybe he failed to click with the newer, younger stars or perhaps he was too out of touch with the common audience who used to cement themselves before their TV screens during his show timings. A thought consumed Ed was interrupted by Kris, Ed’s manager, assistant and real life sidekick. If Ed was the showrunner, Kris was the guy who made sure Ed could run smoothly. Kris came in the room with the coffee mug, handed it to Ed and gasped. He asked Ed,” What’s with the stache boss? You auditioning for some movie after shooting or something”. Ed moved two fingers across his curled up forehead and said in a dejected tone, “ I think the new look will be the talk of the tinseltown, who knows it might bump the ratings for the next two episodes”. Kris waved his hand disapprovingly and said,“ Nah boss, we don’t do this kinda vanity very well. I’d suggest, get it shaven and we’ll be rolling in 15, so get ready for it”. Ed rubbed his knuckles and gave Kris a heavy hearted look, both of them knew that Ed had lost his magic and the show lined up could very easily be the generic crap they had been doing for quite sometime now. Kris said with a smug look,” Boss we got Linda Carter this evening, she’s the new face of the Mcnulty Movies. People will be tuning in, all you gotta do is the trademark Ed Greene straight shooting and smooth talking”. Ed sipped his coffee and murmured,”The trademarks haven’t been working for a while now, Kris, have they?”. Kris replied in a protesting tone,” C’mon boss, You’re the King of late night talk show hosts, what is the channel gonna do if ya think about leaving them huh?”. Ed spoke in a dry tone,” We ain’t got the network locked up like the old time, pal. Tell’em I’ll be on the stage in five”. Kris left Ed who was finishing his coffee while dangling in his chair. The cameras rolled and the spotlight was on Ed, he tried to light the screen with his charm and launched all the witty comebacks he got from his script writers. The curtain fell and Ed returned back to his makeup room. Kris came tip toeing and raised his thumb to Ed, claiming,” Boss, it was straight fire. I told you long live the king. Alright I got ourselves the evening snack” Ed asked Kris with a disinterested voice,” Do you think we’ll get renewed contracts after current one’s expire?”. Kris answered with a stuffed mouth, “Of course Boss, honestly all you gotta do is fill the next two episodes and then we can ask for sometime off the air. Maybe you can take a vacation and refreshen the mood. Then we’ll be back on the public’s screen jumping up and down”. Ed responded,”Yeah, maybe absence will make their heart grow fonder”. Ed opened his culinary parcel and globules of taste laden curry fell on his bespoke suit. Ed Greene sat in his recliner with a curry tinged suit on and an inconvenienced look while Kris sat opposite to him trying to hide his instinctive smile. Ed asked Kris to go and fetch him some clothes from the props department. Kris returned moments later with a scarf , an overcoat, a cap and pair of trousers. Ed was amused by the total mismatched wardrobe collection Kris was handing him. He went to the changing room and appeared in his new clothes, looking like everyday joe, a face in the crowd rather than the famous Ed Greene. Kris remarked,” Boss, that’s how you gonna dress, if the network doesn’t offer the contract” and started chuckling. Ed spoke in a rebutting tone,” Kris, if I dress in these garments , you better get ready for the rags and tatters” and laughed it off. Kris in a recalling tone mentioned,” Boss, remember we planned on this skit, one day you can put on a disguise and interview common folk and then freak them out by revealing yourself”. Ed smirked,”Good old days, Kris. Hey wait a minute! We can parody that skit on the next episode. Inform my driver that I’ll be taking the bus to my apartments today, like a common man, working hard with his hands”. Kris laughed and complied with Ed’s instructions. This was gonna be a new adventure for Ed, stepping foot amidst his crew and his viewers. Wrapping the muffler around his ears and face, Ed walked towards the bus station at the edge of studios. He was jittering yet excited for this minuscule prank he would be playing on absolute strangers. He felt late evening winter gusts running across him and little drizzle, wetting the shoulder pads of his newly acquired second hand overcoat. A bus came to the stop and Ed boarded it. As he was about to sit beside the window, a husky yet feminine voice asked him,” Mister can I sit by the window if you don’t mind”. Ed turned and saw a scruffy short heighted lady, in her later sixties or early seventies standing there. Very politely Ed replied,”By all means madam, be my guest”. She sat on the seat and thanked Ed. Ed tried to start a small talk by saying,” Madam you’re a tourist or do you work at these studios”. The old lady replied,”No mister, neither I was here to meet a few of my old friends, in the diner next to the studio”. Ed said,”The Night Owl Diner used to be a pretty neat place back in it’s day”. Old lady replied,”Yeah, back in our day it used to be up and running, but even now they serve decent donuts and confectionaries”. Ed furthered the conversation by saying,”Is that so, I’ll have one tomorrow at lunch break. I work at “The Late NIght Show”. The old lady exclaimed with a mild amount of excitement,” You work in the ‘Ed Greene Show’. You got some on stage role or what? ”. Ed answered,”Nah Ma’am, I’m just a backstage script writer, complete pencil pushing job nothing on camera”. Lady asked further with more curiosity,”You must have met Mr. Greene at least ? ” Ed replied,” Yeah obviously, I have had the pleasure of meeting him time and again”.
Lady further questioned,” Is he a gentleman backstage or is it a gimmick for TV ?”. Ed replied,” He’s a pretty good guy, not as funny or good as he seems on TV but yeah he’s still a great person. Although he is quite stringent with off days.” Lady exclaimed,”Well he’d let you have an off for anniversaries , funerals etc.” Ed told her,” Never needed an anniversary off, madam. Still looking for the one.” Ed spoke this and smiled sheepishly. This statement rang a bell in Ed’s mind, after around a dozen on screen romances and for the frame flirtations, he never found someone he could actually spend time with. The lady commented,” Get yourself a puppy by the time you find someone suitable, dogs are nice to have around when you’re lonely”.
The Lady somehow hoped to ask this question,”So is Ed Greene actually the lady’s man or is that on screen only?”. Ed absentmindedly answered,” Don’t know madam, Mr. Greene is pretty quiet about his personal life, the man vanishes after the shows”. The lady seemed to be a chatterbox and Ed seemed to enjoy her company. Both of these merry souls sat discussing and reminiscing their yester years. How the lady met her deceased husband in the Diner or how once in his Starting years Ed was refused for a writing contract payment while he had cancelled a few dates to complete his end. By the time they were finished laughing, Ed realised his stop was next on route. He asked the kind lady,” Madam, I’d like to invite you to the diner, perhaps next saturday at one. We’ll have some of those decent donuts and cups of coffee.” The lady replied,” That’s very nice of you Mister, but I’ll have to politely decline this”. Ed in a gentle voice spoke,” Well no problems, it was lovely chit chatting with you madam”. Ed stepped out of the bus and started to plod towards his residence. He reached his house, unlocked his doors and changed back into his own self. Stripping the garments and the faux identity he had dressed himself in. With a smile he went to his bed and slept. Next day he woke up and called Kris and said,”How’s the morning sunshine” and laughed it off. Kris picked his ringing phone and replied,” I’m doing fine boss, how about you, how did the bus trip go?”. Ed replied,” Nothing special, man. I dozed off half way through. Alright Kris gotta tell you something real important”. Kris with a sincere tone asked,” yeah Boss”. Ed told Kris,” Tell the network executives, we’re discontinuing and the last two episodes can be memorials from past years or something. Tell them that Greene’s real sick and won’t be able to make it.” Kris inquired in a puzzled tone,” Everything alright boss, you doing good?”. Ed replied jovially,” Never been better, old friend, one more thing send me the numbers of a few pet shops. I gotta get myself a dog”. Kris was partly confused, parts happy, his friend Ed had finally snapped out of the gloom and sounded like old days.