Below is a short excerpt from The Means. You can download a longer version (PDF) here.


SAMANTHA DAVIS

Print is dead. —Dr. Egon Spengler, 1984

“There’s been a plane crash.”

Samantha had expected the receptionist to ask her to wait a moment or to offer her coffee. People are running in all directions around them but the receptionist sits in place, redirecting phone calls.

“Where?” Samantha asks.

“In the ocean, just beyond Staten Island. About five minutes ago.”

“Passenger jet?”

“Yes, I think it was one of the big kind. International.”

“Oh, no.”

“I’m sorry, but Mr. Mueller is not going to be able to conduct your interview today. He’s heading to the newsroom now. I can try to reschedule
you.”

“Of course, I’ll just call you later. I’m sure you’re all busy,” says Samantha.

“Erica, cancel everything for the rest of the day.” A man has come around the corner from behind the receptionist at the speed of an Olympic power walker. He looks about fifty and has extra weight around his middle and face. He has a cell phone and his jacket is flapping behind him from the other hand. His tie is on but loose with the top button of his shirt undone and his hair is brown and full and looks like it hasn’t been cut for some time.

“Yes, Mr. Mueller.”

“Make sure Paul Becker gets in Control Four and tell him no commercial breaks until he hears from me. Send only emergency calls for me to Control Four.”

“Yes, sir,” says the receptionist.

David Mueller stops next to them but his manner keeps a hurried pace. “You Samantha Davis?” Gorgeous brunette with green eyes. He remembers hearing the deep voice with gravitas. He sees in person that she has kind of a big head with a little body and he knows from experience that translates well to TV.

“Yes.”

He looks at her for two seconds, making a decision. “Come with me.” He moves from reception to the elevators without looking at her or thinking about her again, like she’s something he tucked into his pocket for later. Samantha follows behind.

Mueller continues yelling into his phone. “Is Ken Grant in the studio yet? Good. I want Jeffries and a crew out on Staten Island now. How far offshore did this thing go down? No? See if you can get any of our guys on a police or rescue craft. And charter our own boat. Divert our traffic helicopters out to the scene and get some visuals on it. Get a crew to South Street Seaport, and put a crew on Ellis Island. We can get some coverage of the rescue boats coming and going. I’m stepping into the elevator, I’m going to lose you. Reach me in Control Four.”

Mueller lowers the phone and they step inside the elevator. He pushes 1 and looks at Samantha. “You’re going to see a newsroom in high gear. Stay next to me and observe.”

“This is the best interview I’ve ever had.” She worries this sounds insensitive but sees that Mueller, for the moment, is not as concerned with what happened as he is with covering what happened.

“Ken Grant is great on breaking news. He’s also a pilot for Chrissake. He’s perfect for this.” Mueller is a general content with his battle plan. “It’s Rolling Thunder now. News rundowns are in the trash and it’s breaking news, live as it comes. This is what reporters live for. It’s going to be nuts in there.”