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the inside scoop

scene: the offices of metropolitan news, the largest paper in pujolsville. a dozen desks are scattered around the floor of what appears to be a dilapidated warehouse.

bernward sits, stage front, in one of the desks. woodstein sits in an adjacent desk, with the back of his chair almost touching him. bernward is hunched over his computer. woodstein is on the phone, speaking inaudibly and listlessly to the party on the other end of the line.

the editor approaches both desks.

editor: (shouting) hey, you guys, i want three columns on the pujols situation for the sports/living/arts/news/obituaries section for tomorrow. i want real hard facts, good reporting, and not more of this "neither side is talking" crap. this is the i want it on my desk by nine pm. any questions?

bernward: (normal tone) why are you shouting?

editor: (shouting) so that you can hear me over the roar of the busy newsroom!

woodstein: boss, we cut staff down to a dozen in 2005.

bernward: the ceo at gannett said and i quote "who gives a fuck what happens in pujosville?"  when they acquired us.

woodstein: the only reason we keep publishing is because craigslist stopped openly carrying adult services ads, and we now run hookers' phone numbers under "farm supplies" in the classifieds. 

bernward: i suppose it falls generally under "husbandry." it's correct in a sense.

editor: you guys are both on thin ice, here! you are young cub reporters and you should be trying to learn from the veteran reporters here! 

woodstein: you fired everyone who was alive in the ford administration.

editor: goddamn it, get me that article, and make it good! there's a dozen english majors who'd take your jobs in a minute. i'm going in my office now, and i'm going to slam the door.

editor walks over to another desk in the warehouse, and mimes slamming a door.

bernward: i could probably spare some time after i finish this movie review and the layout on "shelter pet of the week."

woodstein: i gotta finish this article on fashions for women going back to the workplace after having children.

bernward: okay, let's talk around three and see what we've come up with.

scene: metropolitan news offices. three o'clock approaches. bernward and woodstein seated, as before.

woodstein: what do you have?

bernward: nothing much. i called lozano's office and got his secretary. she said lozano was not commenting. i said, that was fine, but i still had a few questions. she said his answer was "no comment." i said i wasn't getting off the phone until lozano spoke to me. she put me on hold for ten minutes, then someone picked up. a voice that was clearly the secretary affecting a masculine voice said, "uh, this is mr. lozano. we have no comment at this time. we will put out a statement when circumstances change. please don't call back." then she hung up.

woodstein: i didn't get any further. dewitt's office told me to call mozeliak, and mozeliak told me to call dewitt's office. then everybody went to lunch for three hours.

bernward: what are we going to do? i don't want to get canned. 

woodstein: we just need a source who will talk to us.

woodstein's phone rings.

woodstein: (answers phone) woodstein, metro news. . . . yes . . . . you what? . . . wait, a minute, i'm putting you on speaker.

voice: (deep male voice comes from speaker) i want to talk to you about what's happening inside creep.

bernward: the committee to resign, extend, and enrich pujols?

voice: yes. but it's not safe to talk on the phone. can we meet?

woodstein: sure. when? where?

voice: there's an old parking garage on carter street. be there in twenty minutes.

bernward: who are you? how can we recognize you?

voice: you can call me "one cup." (dialtone)

scene: dimly-lit, deserted parking garage. bernward and woodstein walk through the dark garage. lights spaced every twenty feet cast pools of white intermittently.

a dark figure appears just outside one of the white circles.

woodstein: are you . . . (embarrassed) "one cup"?

voice: yes.

bernward: what can you tell us?

voice: that's not how the game is played. i can't tell you too much. i have to remember what happened to kyle lohse.

woodstein: what happened to lohse?

voice: motocross surgery, really? you think that's what happened? but i've said too much.

bernward: ok. so what's going on with the pujols negotiations?

voice: (laughs)

woodstein: well, what is going on?

voice: i can't say much, but i'll say this. follow the money.

bernward: "follow the money"? what does that mean?

the shadowy figure steps out of the light and disappears. footsteps echo through the garage.

scene: back at the offices of the metropolitan news. editor is eating takeout chinese at his desk. woodsteind and bernward are at their desks, with their chairs facing each other. all other desks are empty.

bernward: but what does it mean? how can we make a story out of it?

woodstein: does dewitt have secret income? narcotrafficking? arms sales? maybe albert knows too much about it?

bernward: we can't do anything sensational. if we accuse dewitt of running drugs based off an anonymous tip from a guy in a garage, we'll never get in the clubhouse again.

woodstein: maybe it's simpler. maybe he just means the money in the transaction. so who wants money?

bernward: everybody. albert wants salary money.and endorsements money.  dewitt wants gate revenue and tv sponsorships.

woodstein: so albert wants a contract for more money . . . .

bernward: . . . and dewitt wants to pay him less.

woodstein: right. so the story is albert wants . . . a lot of money?

bernward: ooh! oooh! and here's the angle! dewitt wants to give him less!

editor: thirty minutes, boys!

woodstein: (shouts) almost done, boss! (normal tone, to bernward) yes, that sounds good. now people are going to want some numbers.

bernward: so, so, big numbers for albert, right? a . . . a billion dollars!

woodstein: too much. let's say $350 million. how long?

bernward: umm, 20 years? no, albert is 30-something. he could play till he's, what? 45? jamie moyer did it. 15 years.

woodstein: done. and dewitt wants much less. $50 million? over five years?

bernward: sure. i like it. and there's got to be some conflict, right? neither side will budge?

woodstein: yes. but give the reader some hope. people don't like sad news. it's a recession. they wouldn't budge initially, but they've talked and there getting close.

bernward: let's see that lozano quote. Just needs a little tweaking. "Lozano's camp did not deny the reports of progress in talks with the club. Lozano indicated that a statement would be forthcoming. Lozano added, 'circumstances change.'"

woodstein: perfect.print that baby!