Back at his desk Dale made a last futile attempt to restart the AccuScan Weather Center before slamming the power button in disgust. He was up a river of shit and his only real hope before the five o'clock broadcast was to mock up a static map on one of the other computers. He had clear day satellite images of the Fort Wayne area he could use, and he could look up the current and upcoming weather on a variety of web sites, but Dale had butterfingers when it came to Photoshop. His last desperate attempt at mocking up a map in an emergency had ended with what Station Manager Samantha Coolidge had called "a Kindergartener's finger painting of a tractor covered in semen".
Dale then did what he was perhaps better than anything at and procrastinated. He decided he should finish his lunch break before dealing with the problem and proceeded to stare at the last remaining inch of his cheese steak like it had said something nasty about his mother. That would have been unexpected. Instead it had done what hundreds of other cheese steaks had and disappeared piece by piece, bite by bite, down his gullet to be digested in Dale McElroy's not insubstantial midsection.
"Why do I do this to myself?" Dale asked within the crowded confines of his mind.
He was supposed to be on Atkins, minimal carbs and sugars, and he had just gulped down eleven inches of what amounted to a log of carbohydrates. Dale was fat, and he hated it. It wasn't the weatherman's job to be beautiful, but for the titular sixty seconds of the 60-second AccuScan WeatherCheck he preferred not to be red faced and covered in a sweaty sheen from the minimal exertion of gesturing at the green screen.
Dale didn't linger on the guilt of the cheese steak and his ballooning waistline. He had exactly an hour for lunch and he wanted to finish updating the "Chem Trails" section of his web site. His presence on the Internet was what he and a handful of others considered the lynch pin of a ragged international organization called "FEMA L-Watch". None of his coworkers at Fort Wayne Action News 7 had any idea that Dale's passion wasn't the AccuScan Weather Center or the rooftop Drive Time Cam. They thought he obsessed over the Nor'easter and laid in bed at night imaging what it would be like to make love to El Nino.
Cumulus clouds were as nothing to Dale, for it was the ephemeral man-made lines that periodically appeared amongst them that were his real love. No, not love, he hated them, but he had developed something akin to love for that hatred.
Most people knew of FEMA as the Federal Emergency Management Agency. To the uninitiated it was simply a benign organization tasked with helping citizens overcome the adversity of surviving large-scale emergencies and natural disasters. But the truth was plain as-
"Hey, how's it going asshole?" Chet, the evening anchor, sidled into Dale's office with a smarmy grin and dropped himself casually onto the chair across the desk.
Chet liked to call Dale "asshole" and "cocksucker" because Chet was the big dog at Action News Team 7. Next to Samantha Coolidge, Chet was the man in charge. He made sure that everyone knew this by assigning them all fun names. His co-anchor Juanita Cruz got "sweetie", the pot smoking number one camera operator Terry was stamped with "fuckface", and Dale got "cocksucker". Chet was pretty sure that Dale actually was a man fond of cock. Dale was pretty sure that Chet was compensating for a small penis that he frequently put it inside both Samantha Coolidge and Juanita Cruz. This would have been an immense surprise to Juanita Cruz who hated Chet more than the sun hates the moon, but Samantha would have wondered how her secret got out.
"Hey, Chet!" Dale hastily pushed the wrappers from his sub into the trash can. "I was just working up the loop for the six thirty. I'm having some trouble with the AccuScan Weather Center so it may be a little dicey."
"Yeah, that's fantastic." Replied Chet distractedly.
After years of being misunderstood, I had hoped we finally had "our" story. I was wrong.
He had a yellow inflatable tube around his waist, the kind with a comical duck head. There was a tiny fish in one of his hands, and a trident in the other. In the background a squirrel wearing shades was water skiing.
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