Us (whiny and pissed-off): "Goddamn, Brent, I'm at this big debate with all kinds of national media here and this frickin' Trash 80 isn't working and it's 5 minutes before deadline so if we wanna have a story in the first edition couldn't you please get somebody there, even a copy editor, to take dictation from me? Please?" Brent* (curtly): "No, we can't." Us (desperate, ever-eager to please): "So what should I do?" Brent (cold, robotically): "You'll have to come back here and write it on a computer."After concluding the conversation we slammed the phone receiver down as hard as we could and cussed as loudly as we could, then looked around the little press room at the Wortham and noticed that we were all alone except for the Prince of Darkness himself, who perhaps had been experiencing technical difficulties too or had been otherwise detained. "What's the matter?" he asked, and when we explained something to the effect that our immediate superiors were a bunch of sorry cocksuckers he laughed and commiserated. ("Hey," we remember thinking, "this guy is nothing like the asshole he's made out to be!") As we both packed to go Novak related that he was staying at a downtown hotel--we believe it was the Hyatt--and as he had come directly to the debate from the airport he had no idea how to get there but had been told it was within easy walking distance. We gave him simple yet exact directions--"Go out the front of the building, take a left, go to Smith, take a right, keep walking, can't miss it" and hurriedly took our leave. After retrieving our truck from the garage we were on the way out of downtown when we spotted Novak, his clothes bag slung over his shoulder, resolutely hoofing it north across the bayou and wending his way through small nighttime clutches of the homeless and derelict--going totally the wrong way. In a press to meet our deadline, we did not stop to redirect him but honked and waved as we sped past. Upon arriving at our office we tried once again to send our dispatch into the system, this on-site attempt finally resulting in the story's total obliteration and disappearance from the face of the earth. We managed to reconstruct a reasonable but abbreviated facsimile in time to meet the paper's "owl" deadline--there's some quaint newspaper talk for you--but over the next couple of days we worried over the fate of Robert D. Novak, hoping he had found his way to his hotel and was not laid out in the weeds next to Buffalo Bayou. We were relieved when a post-debate installment of his syndicated column appeared in the other local newspaper.
We were to depart the newspaper out on the freeway in just a few months, following yet another unsatisfactory employee-supervisor consultation with Brent, and Chester and Brent were to be not that far behind, moving on, possibly, to bigger and better things where their peculiar talents could be put to better use. The newspaper was put out of its misery some years later. Novak, of course, continued to wander through the wasteland of American politics-governance for two more decades--a happy warrior, of sorts, until the end.
*Who was notable in the newsroom for the incessant nose-picking and crotch-rubbing he performed while in the act of editing copy.