Weaver caught me in the parking lot. “Lemme guess, three-day suspension. You, not Lou.”
“Yeah. I don’t get it.”
“It’s how Finch operates. I tried to tell you to let me handle it.”
“Well, next time just stop me before I give a shit about a story.”
“No. Next time, don’t leave your story with Lou.” Weaver smiled and punched my arm. “Brock, you’ve got something special. A passion and raw talent that doesn’t come along often. Don’t let this thing with Lou keep you from caring about your work. That’s what makes it special. Lou’s jealous. He couldn’t crank that out if you did it for him.”
“I did crank it out for him.” I tried to laugh. “And see where it got me.” I just wanted to go home and cry on Susan’s shoulder, but I sucked it up for the boss. “Payback’s a bitch.” I had already started concocting ideas to torpedo Lou’s story the next time we worked together. His stand-up would look lovely a shade of sea-sick green. Or better yet, there had to be a way to embarrass him in front of his fans at the next live shot.
“You know I can’t let you do that, Brock.” Weaver had obviously seen the wheels turning in my head.
“That bastard deserves it.”
“He’ll get what’s coming to him. Guys like that always do.”
“Yeah, but I want to be around to see it.”
“You got the short end, and that sucks. But you gotta let this drop.” Weaver put his arm around my shoulder.
“Drop it? What about journalistic integrity?” I pulled away from Weaver. “Lou plagiarized. Where’s the penalty for that? What if that was to get out somehow?”
“Don’t be stupid.”
“I’m not saying I would . . . I’m just saying.”
“Okay, say this 'leaks' to the paper. There’s a big investigation. The station ends up with egg on its face. The only answer for Percy Finch is to fire both of you. Try getting a job after that. And after what you saw today, how sure are you that he’ll do the right thing? You’ve got to let this go and get past it.”
“I know, but how? I put my heart into that story.”
“And that’s why it was good. This business needs more guys like you. I’ll make you a deal.” Weaver’s tone brightened. “Ever heard of NPPA Boot Camp?”
“Every March, the National Press Photographer’s Association holds a week-long training camp for photogs. The best of the best from places like KUSA/Denver, KSTP/Minneapolis, WBZ/Baltimore fly in to run you through the wringer. It’s a tough week, but it’s one that will change your life.” Weaver studied my face. I guess he liked what he saw, because he continued, “They just wrapped up this year’s camp. You keep working hard and keep your nose clean, and next year, I’ll send you . . . If you’re still with us.”
“What about Percy Finch?”
“It’s next year. He’ll forget about this by then, if you can drop it.”
“As long as I don’t have to work with that son of a bitch the day I come back.”
“I don’t think Lou will be asking to work with you anytime soon. Now start your vacation. Treat Susan to a room in that fancy hotel of hers.”