A Bearish Strategy
by Randolph O. Mann
“We have interrupted the current PBS broadcast of ‘Community Forum’ to bring you this Breaking News Item! Initial reports from on site reporters indicate there is a terrorist kidnapping-slash-shoplifting attempt in progress at the T. Winston, INC South Campus Fashion Theater and we will be taking you LIVE to the scene, once our Fashion Reporting Team has completed setting up. Good afternoon Mercedes Kirke! ... Mercedes are you there? ... Mercedes Kirke, can you hear us? ... Hello Mercedes are you picking us up? ... Well as you can see, events are unsettled there and we are experiencing some minor preliminary technical difficulties with the equipment...”
“Royce, can you hear us?”
“Yes we can! Mercedes, your broadcast is coming through very clear and strong. We are hoping you will provide us with your assessment of the current..."
“Royce, can you hear us? Repeat, can you hear us?”
"I have been told the audio portion of our broadcast is hampered and we will be temporarily returning our viewing audience to normally scheduled programming until this problem can be corrected.”
Karen sat up on the couch in Linda's living room. “Linda? If I were you I would get in here and see this News Alert!”
“What are you talking about?”
“Linda, the PBS News Team is broadcasting live from the T. Winston, INC South Campus.”
"No shit! I am on my way. Do you want some popcorn?”
“Sure, now get your butt in here and check this out!”
“Unfortunately there is still a missing audio hook-up at the scene. But we have decided to stay with our Exclusive Live Broadcast of this Breaking News Story. At present, we will supply the video broadcast of this important event and will be transmitting Mercedes Kirke’s unedited comments from the scene. I can report that, from our original information, Mercedes Kirke has described a violent clash between the avant-garde fur fashion designer formally known as Ensue La‘Daw and PETA protestors outside of the T. Winston, INC venue, where glimpses of his fall and winter collections were being offered an early presentation. It is our preliminary assessment, and I must reiterate this coverage is unsullied, the scene has been bloodied and..."
“Voice check! Testing One, Two ... No I don’t hear a damned thing. Repeat we are getting nothing at our end.”
“Mercedes this is Royce, we are Broadcasting Live and we can hear everything you are saying. Can you hear us?”
“One, Two, Three ... Testing! Son-of-a-Bitch!”
Linda exclaimed, “Wait a minute, did Royce just say ‘Ensulada’ ?
“Linda, don’t start! You remember what happened that last time you started reading hidden clues into every conversation? You ended up handcuffed and getting interviewed in your birthday suit by Mercedes Kirke on the Evening News. Just let it go, girl friend!”
“I still think Royce said ‘Ensulada’.”
“Obviously our connection is limited and I will apologize for that unfortunate..."
Mercedes shouted, “Heads up, everyone! I am told we’re having audio issues but we will keep broadcasting our video. Camera crews please, can you just keep your cameras rolling but stay hooked up to your headphones as I will improvise a directorial narrative until our technicians in the truck can get our sound tweaked. There is a slim chance that ‘talking head’ Royce can pull his brain away from the teleprompter long enough to provide an ad lib voice over for our video feed. Camera One, start with a panoramic shot along the fashion runway where those crazy PETA radicals are scampering around naked as hell and screaming their lungs out, Camera Two if you can get any fashion model T & A shots do not hesitate, ‘shoot’em’. Royce just loves ‘Exploitation Bites,’ they boost his viewer ratings. What? ... Oh, don’t worry about frontal nudity, we will censor their ‘giblets’ with blur-filters. Royce mind? Hell, he would trade his right testicle for footage of ‘swinging Johnsons’ or ‘pie poses’. Royce is all about the Nielsen’s. Camera One, you can continue filming from ground level and I will climb onto the catwalk where I can entrench among the fashion models and obtain their candid ‘On-The-Spot’ perspective. And from that angle you might even get a couple of those ‘unfortunate’ up-skirt shots Royce is always calling for at the post-production critiques."
“Again I will remind our listening audience that our feed is limited to a one directional broadcast and from time to time directorial production remarks might be inadvertently transmitted. As such, I must take this opportunity, as Mercedes Kirke repositions, to remind our viewers that this is a live broadcast and the content from time to time may approach a level that is deemed inappropriate for younger members of the audience. Parental Discretion is advised. With that disclaimer announced we will return to the T. Winston, INC South Campus where our courageous reporting team has established a one-way audio feed at the scene...”
Linda said, “This is so weird. The first day we both sneak off campus, all Hell breaks loose.”
Karen replied, “I know, this is really wild! Look at that sign, ‘I’d rather be naked than wear fur’.
“I don’t see that sign.”
“It’s a green one that William is holding up”
“William? Our William in the Shipping Department?”
“Yep, that William.”
“What the hell is William doing in that PETA crowd?
“It looks like he is holding up a green sign and standing next to Randy.”
“My Randy? What are those two doing there?”
“We are happy to announce that I have been told our audio connection has been completed. Mercedes, Can you hear us?"
“Royce, I copy, can you hear our transmission?
“Yes we can, Mercedes. Will you please bring us your report on this breaking news story?”
“Royce, at present I am embedded among the T. Winston, INC runway fashion divas modeling the winter collection offered by the furrier formally known as Ensue La‘Daw."
Linda shrieked, “There, she said it again and we both heard this time! Ensulada! I am telling you, Karen, there is some monkey business going on and if both William and Randy are up to something the fur will fly.”
Karen soothed, “I would suggest taking a wait and see approach and allow both Randy and William the benefit of the doubt. After all, we don’t want to get caught crying wolf when we have no idea how this could have gotten so out of hand.”
“I can guess! And that guess would involve a high-stake gambling venture and a Shipping Department fleecing. This is what I deserve for leaving the fox to guard the henhouse.”
“Quiet! Mercedes is about to interview Olivia. Oh my God, it’s true!
“What is true?”
“We do look twenty pounds heavier on television.”
Mercedes announced, “As everyone can see, at present I am embedded among the T. Winston, INC fashion divas and I intend to use this microphone to collect their thoughts and eavesdrop upon their conversations as these discriminating fashion icons are besieged by this unruly crowd of PETA protestors. Excuse me, sweethearts can I get your names?
Olivia whispered, “These people really are scaring me, Shilo. They’re naked and dripping with blood!”
“Relax Olivia, there’re harmless. Remember what Randy said, this same group has been showing up at all the high profile events hoping to get some exposure for their animal rights protests.”
“Exposure? There is an understatement if I ever heard one. These loons are freaking nude Shilo! Buck naked! Covered in blood and gore! And they are scaring the living crap...”
Karen pointed at the TV screen. “Look Linda, there are Courtney and Jill. And on the other side of Kirke is Shilo.”
Linda mumbled, "PETA? Randy said that the Teamsters were working security and everything was taken care-of. There is something squirrely about this whole affair.”
“Will you just relax? Here, eat some popcorn.”
Mercedes pointed her microphone towards the models. “Excuse me ladies! It is very important to identify my sources and I really need to clarify all of your names, please.”
Shilo said, "This is wild! Look at those women in the cages! They are dressed like lions and tigers and bears!"
Courtney was shocked. “Oh my! They aren’t dressed Shilo, they are completely shaved and naked. Their outfits are only painted on!”
Jill asked, “Since when did paint start qualifying as an ensemble?”
Karen shouted, “Linda, look at the television screen! That girl in the cage, she's been painted to look like just like a leopard, with whiskers and even a cute spotted tail. This is wild!"
“This is BS I have seen that same spotted lynx somewhere."
“Really? Do you hang with many radical animal rights activists?"
“She is not a part of any anti-fur campaign. I got it! She is a member of a ‘way’ Off Broadway erotic dance troupe billed as ‘A-Bunch-aw-Cheetahs’! I've seen her picture featured on the promotional placards outside the Cat Box Follies and Adult Review. They perform during ‘happy hour’ every Tuesday and Thursday”
“Linda, it scares me to think how you would know that.”
“Yes, our Randy! It is a very long Christmas story.”
“Save it for later, Linda. Mercedes is about to interview the girls. Turn up the volume!”
Courtney giggled, “Ou, ou, ou, look at the sign that guy is holding up: ‘Save a beaver by showing yours.’ That is silly! They even misspelled the word b,u,y.”
Shilo asked, “Where is that sign? I don’t see a guy with a sign.”
“He is that strange naked fellow just to the right of where Randy is standing, he’s the one with the Barbie Doll fur coat wrapped around his ...”
Jill exclaimed, “That is a very disturbing image!”
Olivia shrugged, “Well you know, boys will be boys.”
Mercedes interrupted, “Excuse me? Could I get just a couple of your names?
Courtney asked, “Do you think that counts as cross-dressing?”
“Courtney, that only counts as weird, just plain weird.”
“That is NOT funny Jill! We are all professionals here and need to maintain accurate comportment.”
“You don’t have tell me that, tell that creepy PETA-Dude in the Barbie Doll outfit.”
Shilo said, “When Randy said ‘PETA’ I thought he meant pocket bread. These people are wrong too, I would not ‘rather be naked’. What I want is for them to stop yelling and just go away.”
Jill exclaimed, “Oh God! Shilo, grow up, this could get really ugly.”
Olivia whimpered, “Shilo, Jill is right! They are now screaming for all of us to take all our clothes off!”
Shilo conceded, “You may be right. These protestors sound very committed.”
“Dammed straight! Committed? I think they’re crazy as a March Hare.”
Jill said, “Committed or not, I suggest we consider stripping-off and just sacrifice the whole fur collection to their cause before one of us gets injured when those ‘nuts’ decide to just climb up on the catwalk and rip off our outfits for us.”
Linda screamed at the screen, “No! Wait ladies, please don’t do that! Ladies please, we need to talk about this! Oh god, I really think they intend to strip.”
“Linda, you might be right, those girls are going native.”
“That collection of skins is only on loan and T. Winston, INC has not committed to carrying this furrier’s line. Stripping-off is a very bad idea AND ‘ditching’ any of these exclusive pelts is NOT an option. Girls! I don’t care how much Mercedes and Royce need their ratings to pick up. Jill don’t, I have seen that look in your eye before."
“I think Jill is going to throw her hat into the crowd.”
“Oh please honey don’t do that! The head band is made with pure Austrian Mink and cost us a fortune."
“Calm down, Linda. They can't hear you!”
“And don’t even think about throwing that! Olivia please, a Cajun Skunk trooper’s hat will be very expensive to replace and if you just fling it into the crowd it will be gone in a FLASH! No Courtney, that was not an order it was a figure of speech, pull that New Zealand Opossum vest back together before you catch a chest cold.”
“Linda, stop yelling at the TV screen. They cannot hear you. They are on television.”
“Oh God! Stop ladies, the footwear is T. Winston, INC property and must be accounted for in my inventory. Shit! Jill, those were Oregonian Moose-hide moccasins and those Finnish Reindeerskin princess slippers are prototypes! Please Olivia, don’t just toss them into the crowd for Christ’s sake. Hell, ladies you might as well just toss the Egyptian Alligator hiking boots and the New Jersey Muskrat mules into the crowd as well. Damn-it! That was a sarcastic remark, not a suggestion. I cannot watch this! I am going to cry!”
“Ok, you want me to turn it off then?”
“Do not TOUCH that dial, sister!”
“Look Linda, I think our T.Winston, INC divas are capitulating and this year’s fall and winter fur collection is about to become the spoils of war. Look at Shilo, she is attacking the button-fly of those skintight Russian Broadtail-Suede trousers, Jill just flung her Stone Marten poncho into that angry throng and Olivia is being spun like a top as those PETA folks yank that North American Coyote-Tail boa from around her neck. She is lucky, poor Courtney lost her footing when unruly PETA Protestors yanked off that expensive pair of Japanese Tanuki pumps ..."
“Those were one-of-a-kind footwear.”
“... and parked her squarely at the edge of the runway where she forfeited her Persian Lamb low rise tanga shorts."
“They are not PETA protestors, that is the whole Shipping Department! I saw a member of the night shift just catch Olivia’s Mouton-Pelt garter. Jill just bequeathed a Bolivian Chinchilla corset to a swing-shift forklift operator!"
“Not the one lined with Latvian Curly-Lamb?
“Linda, these fashion divas can now be officially labeled as rogues.”
Linda wailed, “Stop, STOP, STOP! Girls, this is all a setup! For Christ’s sake keep your clothes on! These 'protestors' are not from PETA, they’re charlatans from the Shipping Department and this whole winter collection is destined for some back-alley swap-meet. What a total shame. That lace-up Argentinean Nutria mini skirt is worth a small fortune and Olivia just offhandedly flung it to our morning dispatcher. I am sure that will cover his green fees for a year or two. That Azorean Rabbit armguard Jill just parted with could send a child to private college. I am going to kill Randy!”
“Linda, I am sure the worst is over. After all, the girls are almost naked. The remaining items are only lingerie.”
“Only lingerie! Are you kidding? That Bulgarian Ermine brassiere supporting Shilo's tits could pay both of our rents for some time. The Beaver Pelt thong sliding down Courtney’s thighs is worth more than what it was covering. That matching Finnish Raccoon bra and pant set just given away by Olivia is valued at a figure capable of financing a sizable portion of the American dream. Jill's Arctic Harp Seal petty pants would bring six figures if you could get lucky enough to even find one circulating."
“Speaking of ‘getting lucky’, Randolph snatched up those high-class petty pants before our naked girls left the catwalk. It looks like they were cajoled into joining the PETA protestors for celebratory cocktails.”
“If I can catch Randy in possession of officially embargoed fashion paraphernalia without a proper bill-of-lading we could have him arrested and start termination proceedings! Quick Karen, grab your bag! We are going to work!”
“Linda, wait! I think we should think this all the way through. Hey wait for me! We really need to talk about this!”