I didn’t plan to write a short story. I never do. I’d like to be more intentional about it though and get much better at telling the stories of these characters who suddenly take up space in my head when I sit down to write a serious piece or while I’m doing the dishes. Here is Shauna – she inspired a two-parter. I’ll share the second part tomorrow and I’ll see you this weekend for another episode of The Change Diaries Podcast. Have you subscribed yet on Apple? Anyway, let’s meet Shauna…
Shauna strutted into the boardroom of TLC Radio, tossing stray locks over her shoulder as she approached the oval conference table. The natural finish struck her as unusual; normally corporate environments favored a deep cherry stain.
Her mind wandered to the mahogany table sitting regally in her parents’ dining room. A wedding gift from her maternal grandparents, they treated it like an only child. Shauna wished that she still felt like their pride and joy but after graduating with first class honors and failing to nab a job after six months – they were beginning to despair. Anyway, why on earth was she thinking of dining tables and disappointment when she needed to be on top of her game?
‘Stay focused, you are here to win this’, Shauna gave herself a stern mental reminder as she strode towards the outstretched palm of Errol Powell, Managing Director of The Listeners Choice.
“Ah, good morning Miss Templeton. Thanks for coming by.” Mr. Powell grasped her manicured hand in a firm handshake. “Take a seat and make yourself comfortable.”
“Thank you, Mr. Powell.” Shauna smiled briefly, hoping that a mask of dislike hadn’t flashed across her face. After reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, she had become obsessed with reading faces and searching for hidden messages.
“So, let’s get right to it. Tell me what you have in mind and what kind of future you see for yourself at TLC Radio.” Mr. Powell said as he leaned forward, his skin gleaming with a sheen of sweat thanks to a subpar performance from the struggling air conditioning unit. Life in the tropics was often a sweaty affair but Shauna was cool in a white cotton top and skirt and her lightweight navy blazer. All from Banana Republic in Dolphin Mall, Miami. She hadn’t shopped on the island for years.
“As you know, I’ve been freelancing for the last couple years, doing voiceover work and a few adhoc interviews at the station to fill in for presenters when needed.”
Shauna started her pitch, vaguely conscious of Michael Jackson’s Dirty Diana wafting through the intercom system. It was eighties hour at the station with DJ Chris at the controls. She watched Mr. Powell’s eyes drift toward her slender ankles and slowly start to work their way upwards. The image of a snake unfurling assailed her like a bad cliché and she paused, distracted. ‘God damn it’, she thought, ‘Get it together’.
With a shake of her head, Shauna’s locks tumbled forward. She cleared her throat and her voice inched up a decibel as she continued. “Radio is my favorite communication channel and I have a real passion for it. I like the team here at TLC Radio and I want to make it my home by taking things further, ideally hosting my own show. I’m thinking of initially working with a co-host, doing a mix of current affairs, music, interviews, something that will appeal to…”
“What’s your experience in hosting a live radio program?” Mr. Powell cut her off abruptly. The leather chair squeaked as he shifted his bulky frame.
Shauna observed his curly hair and slanted eyes set on almond colored skin and his broad nose with thick lips. His features were the gift of many nations mingling – master and slave, indentured laborer and plantation owner, indigenous people and colonizer.
‘Enough’. She brought her mind back to the room and took a deep breath. “Well, I’m broadcast trained, by the best in the business. I co-hosted the university radio program ‘On the Beat’ during my final year. I’ve been doing voiceovers here in studio for the last two years Mr. Powell. People know my voice and…”
He interrupted her desperate spiel with an offer, “How about a midnight to 3am slot? We have an opening for a new co-host of Man and Woman Talk. I’m sure our listeners would appreciate a young, smooth female voice to explore sex and love. Don’t you think?” He licked his lips and Shauna tried not to shudder as her mind bounced around desperately. Her face felt hot, and she wondered vaguely if finally, she would be the one to prove that a dark-skinned girl could blush bright red.
Mr. Powell drummed his thick fingers on the heavy oak table while Michael pleaded urgently:
Dirty Diana nah
Dirty Diana no
Dirty Diana nah
Dirty Diana no
In the end her response took a second too long and the door closed as quickly as had it opened. ‘Just as well’, Shauna thought as she headed down the stairs and into the visitors’ parking lot. She didn’t want a graveyard shift and she wasn’t doing a late night no-holds-barred call-in program to talk about what men and women want from each other. She had no plans to be the Howard Stern of the local airwaves.
She was Shauna Templeton. She wanted to bless the world with her voice from the moment they woke up until they were safely at work or back from the school run. She wanted a prime-time slot with news, music, meaningful discussion and inspiring interviews. And prime time was what she would get.
Thanks for stopping by. It’s a two-part story. Tomorrow I’ll share what happened on Shauna’s next Interview! Follow my blog and subscribe.
© Arlene Amitirigala 2021. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.