The news in Denver, 1975

He knocks on the door. It’s a wooden door. Like most doors. He’s no door expert. That’s for sure. Nope. No expert. Just general assignment. A little bit of this. A little bit of that. Fires. Obits. Murders. Funerals. City Council meetings. Fires. Rotary club speeches. Car wrecks. Fires.

He knocks again. He looks around. Generally. Do the dumb things first. Sometimes, a dead drunk on the pavement. Sometimes, a dead jumper on the pavement. Sometimes a dead big shot on the pavement.  You always check the pavement. Not that he knows from pavement. Him? An expert? That’s a nope.

Footsteps. Coming down a staircase. Someone peeping him. Is that a cat? Sounds like a who-is-it cat. “Newspaper guy,” he says from the diaphragm. “I called. You answered. You said come. I’m here.”

Chains clanking undone. Bolts thrown. Burglar bar disbarred. The cat voice again. Aimed at…him? Suspicious noises. Suspicious smells. Suspicious foreigners. Suspicious neighbors. Oh yeah. A little bit of everything.

Can’t send the city hall gal. No. They sure won’t send the sports guy. God, no. If they called the politics guy he wouldn’t budge. Not the religion writer. And not the society maven. Nope. When breaking news is general they call out…the general. Expert in nothing. Ready for anything.

The door opens. The general stands ready. A man without a beat. A loner. A pro. Knows some of this and some of that. His catalog a mile wide. An inch deep. Stabbings. Shootings. Candle-stickings. Lead-pipings. Rope burns. It’s what he does.

An old lady. In the doorway. A cat voice. No cat in sight. A wave of heat. Furnace on full blast. Explosions. Outbreaks. Prison riots. Anti-Protests. Pro-demonstrations. Tear gas. Malaise. Mayonnaise. A little bit of been there. A little bit of done that. Boocoo tee-shirts on the expense account.

“Mrs. X?” Pen in hand. Slender notebook. Slid unobtrusively from the back pocket. The cat voice says “People call me The Button Lady.”

Wars. Coup d’etats. Missile crises. Gas shortages. Third rate burglaries. A cat lady with no cat. Just buttons up the wazoo. Most buttons collected in one spot since King Tut. Define news. Just did. The public wants to know. Must. Get. That. Button. Story.

He steps inside. Overpowering heat. Buttons everywhere. Everywhere. The walls. The table. The chairs. The staircase. The floor. The lamps. The ceiling. The door. The inside side of the outside door.

Not like most doors. He’s no door expert. Nope. Still. Not like most doors. Holy crap. Not like any door he’s ever seen.

He starts to ask questions. To scribble. A little bit of who. A little bit of why. He breathes. He scribes. No news too big. No news too small. He’s got this one surrounded. Buttoned up. It’s what he does.

Because, even as termites chew silently on its foundation, the news—the good, the bad and the buttons—is still black and white and read all over. By young men and old ladies. Young women and old gents. And everyone in between. In Denver. In 1975.

©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013, all rights reserved

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