All unpublished manuscripts should be considered FICTION whether true or not
” GENERAL MINDY WAYNE ”
From the time Mindy Jackson was four years old everyone knew she would grow to be a newswoman. Her parents and grandparents were never able to watch the News just once. First they’d watch the network news version, and then they had to watch Mindy’s production of it. Mindy was a petite little thing with big rimmed glasses. She looked like a Mr. Beasley doll from the mid sixties. It was so cute to watch her being so serious playing News Woman. Mindy had all the right words and all the right emphasis on what was being said. The only thing she couldn’t quite master was not crying whenever a story was extremely sad, or an extremely happy story.
By the time Mindy was able to read and write she was copying down what the reporters had said, and not only did she give her own rendition, but she’d compare all the news broadcasts to each other for accuracy, to make sure they weren’t changing the facts. If they did; the producers and editors would hear from her. She knew all their phone numbers by heart, and they all recognized her little voice as soon as they picked up the phone. Initially they would argue with her and tell her that she had something wrong, but before long they quit that. Mindy was never wrong.
Mindy was only nine and the stations and channels she listed to would sometimes call her to verify stories that they had previously aired rather than take the time to rerun the film footage of the broadcasts to check the facts they had given. Mr. Jaffee at station KCKT did this more than any other station manager. He was all about accuracy and saving time.
When Mindy was in grade school she convinced the Principal (Mr. Wintler) to let her put on a live production of the news before classes started in the morning. Mindy had current news, reviews of TV shows, movies and cartoons. She even had a segment on pets and after school snacks. Before long the entire school was showing up early for her “Mindy Jackson Show.” For a grade schooler she really applied herself. Mindy spent extra time outside of school studying English Grammar, and taught herself to type on an old Royal manual typewriter.
By Junior High Mindy was learning photography and film developing. She continued with an expanded version of the “Mindy Jackson Show” and renamed it, “Straight News with Mindy Jackson.” Her school had no such thing as a newsletter or a year book. That is, not until Mindy decided it needed to be otherwise. She put on fund raisers with the help of the other students, and bought all the supplies she needed. Any time there was anything going on in the school, or the community, there was Mindy and her camera. She attended all of the School Board meetings that were open to the public and reported on these as well.
Mindy organized photo day at the school. With the permission of the teachers and the Principal after school times were arranged when Mindy could take pictures of all the classes, clubs, the teachers, administration and staff.
Mindy was only an eighth grader but she took all the pictures, developed all the film, and produced the schools newsletters and year book out of her fundraising money. Mr. Pruitt, the Principal of her junior high, was so impressed he notified the school superintendent to tell him all about Mindy and what she had been doing. When the next School Board met Mindy was requested to be sure and be there. Of course, she would have been any way. Someone had to cover the story.
The School Board reviewed copies of all her newsletters and her year book. They couldn’t believe what an outstanding job this eighth grader had done without out assistance from anyone or any adult supervision. After a few minutes discussion the School Board voted to reimburse Mindy for all her expenses. They also voted that next year Mindy’s newsletters were to be expanded and be distributed throughout the entire school district. (As long as it did not interfere with her school work, of course.)
Mindy’s freshman year was an exciting time for her. Hard work and lots of hours, but she was thriving. She never missed a single event for the entire school district. Sometimes the schools would actually reschedule the times and days for events to make sure Mindy did not have any time conflicts. The exception to this, of course, were sporting events and some of the holiday specials that were all scheduled on the same evening. Sometimes Mindy had to decide which events she would personally cover, and let her “Reporters” cover the others. By this time she had a staff of 10 working with her.
Friends at the TV station thought it would be cute to give Mindy an Official Press Pass. Mr. Jaffee presented it to Mindy during a special ceremony at the station. Mindy was so excited. This was like four Christmas’s roll up into one. Mindy was a real reporter.
Nothing changed in Senior High School. She was involved in yearbook, school paper, English classes, drama, student council, and always on the Honor Roll with straight “A’s”. Mindy and her staff covered every event that happened. Mindy even worked with her friends at the station to learn stage arrangements, lighting, sound, makeup, teleprompting, and script writing.
During Mindy’s senior year Mr. Jaffee gave her an internship at Station KCKT as a proof reader and script writer. Mindy worked with Abby, who was glad to have her. Abby was a classic egg head,(nerd) from the word go. Early twenties, trim, sandy hair and pale blue eyes…almost grey. Abby loved the work and took it very seriously. She showed up early and worked late. She had been putting in 60 hour weeks so the help was sorely needed. This was excellent. They were a perfect match and quickly became as sisters. The two would proof each other’s work and Mindy was able to pick Abby’s brain and learn things about the business that no school books could ever teach. This included how to work people to get the stores and information that they were slow to give up; but that every good reporter would need to know. The psychology of the human mind is a much bigger part of gathering the news than any outsider would ever guess.
Mindy loved school, and school loved Mindy. She was highly thought of and very popular. Unfortunately for the boys however, Mindy was way too busy for romance and dating. Mindy had grown into a very attractive you lady, long and lean with an athletic figure to go along with her beautiful face and long flowing hair, spotless complexion and radiant eyes. Her kind and loving personality captured everyone’s hearts and she reeked of charisma too.
When it came to naming the Home Coming Queen Mindy’s name was the first name on the lips of almost all the kids. Many of Mindy’s friends told her that they were going to vote for her. So she put a notice in the school paper that she was requesting that she not be considered for Queen. “How could I possibly cover the event if I’m in it?” but no one listened to her and she became Homecoming Queen and her other staff members from the paper had to cover the story and take pictures.
“The College Years”
Off to college with a full ride scholarship as a Fulbright Scholar. All Fulbright Scholars are foreign exchange students, of course, and Mindy was attending the University of Okinawa. The University is located in Naha with a population of about 350,000, with studies in Law, Journalism and Administration. The university, and the city, are multi cultural and multi lingual. The University is not too far from the arm base in Torii, Japan where her Uncle David was stationed. This would give her opportunities to visit him, when she did she got to know many of the ranking officers as well as the enlisted men.
She delighted in these visits. Mindy was working toward dual degrees in Journalism and Law forced. This most certainly put Mindy into a very tight schedule. Many of her new friends scolded Mindy and would tell her,
“All work and no play makes for a dull Mindy.”
But what they failed to understand was that for Mindy, all of this was play. It’s what she lived for.
College and the courses she took were everything she had hoped for and more. Never in her wildest dreams had she ever thought she would learn to speak fluent Japanese and get a law degree. Journalism was the only thing she had ever thought about. Mindy graduated with honors (Suma Cum Laude) and a host of other accolades to her credit.
The job offers didn’t just come rolling in, they avalanched in, without her even putting out applications, the word was already out on her in the industry. She was not only attractive, she was absolutely beautiful. Beautiful, talented, experienced and dedicated. Yes, dedicated was the word, she was not ambitious; she was dedicated to a life as a journalist and serving in her chosen profession.
Back in the early to mid sixties, something that was never done in the field of journalism is for a journalist to be hired by Network News without coming up through the ranks. A journalist had to work in the industry for years before they could ever hope to get a Network offer. But that is exactly what happened in Mindy’s case. Not only did she have an outstanding portfolio, a degree in both Law and Journalism, and a lifetime of references all the way back to grade school, but her old Station Manager, Mr. Jaffee from Station KCKT, was now the head of the news for the ABC.
Mindy started out doing weather, and was such a success that she was quickly moved to doing fill-ins for the regular news reporters when they were sick or on vacation. She began doing the late night segments and then worked her way into the main news desk as a co-anchor. The late night hours didn’t bother Mindy either. She was rhythmically still on Japan time, which is 14 hours ahead of New York.
The other Networks (except ABC ) were producing News Magazines. ABC decided that they needed to compete more aggressively with the other National Networks. ABC selected their most popular male anchor, Charley Charles to fill the slot for a News Magazine and everything was placed on high gear. The Network spent millions on setup, promotions and even some per-recordings of stories for test markets. No surprise, Charley shined as everyone knew he would.
Charley had been a former pro athlete and still lived the live the lifestyle that came with it. He was not a professional journalist, by any means, but he had a very high “Q” rating and the audience loved him and the camera loved him. Even though Charley was a jock, he did not have a huge ego. He was frequently messing up and was quick to laugh at himself, and laugh when others called him on it too. He came across as a real person, and this enamored him to a loyal following. People loved to watch his slots just to see Charley no matter what he was talking about.
Charley was given a contract with a provision in it that there were certain dangerous activities he was forbidden to participate in, some of these were contact sports, motorized racing, riding motorcycles, riding horses and skydiving. Pretty much everything he loved to do. But he signed the new contract anyway, and was determined to follow it. He was fully aware of the expenses the Network was going to in his regard, and as a team player he had always put the team first.
“Charley’s Hunting Trip”
Some of Charley’s buddies from the Ne York Giants football team called him for a get-together day of fun and games. One of the linemen suggested they fly to upstate New York and spend the day hunting, smoking and drinking. Charley knew there was nothing in his contract against flying on commercial aircraft or hunting. So, Charley and the rest of the team gave a big “Thumbs Up.”
The Network was going crazy. Two days before the first live broadcast of their News Magazine Show, millions of dollars were on the line, and they had lost not only their leading anchor but also the star of their News Magazine show.
When Charley was walking across the tarmac to board the plane a baggage trolley had run over him and killed him on the spot. DOA at the hospital. The Network just knew they would lose millions and even worse, they would be the laughing stock of the industry.
One by one the Network called in each of their top anchors to discuss the position, but no one wanted this albatross around their necks. There was no time to prepare, no time for research and no time for promos. All the anchors knew that the program was destined to fail and they did not want have their names associated with a failed program that could kill their careers. The Network even tried to hire big names from other Networks, but the word was out, even the millions they offered couldn’t make anyone jump ship to help this new baby.
The entire program had originally been Mr. Jaffee’s idea. He knew how it worked at the Networks. He knew his head was about to roll. Mindy went to visit Jaffee in his office. Today was his birthday and she had made him his favorite cake to celebrate, Angel food confetti, but Jaffee was in no mood for cake or conversation. He knew that his dear Mindy had gone to a lot of work to do this or him, so he tried to put on a brave face. Mindy saw right through him. After a few down trodden minutes Mindy was finally able to pull everything out of him. She told him that after Charley’s death everyone knew that there was turmoil at the Network, but she had no idea they were as bad as what they are.
Jaffee could hardly talk without sobbing. It broke Mindy’s heart to see him this way. It is always hard to see a dear friend or a hero crumble. Mindy made several suggestions of experienced journalists to do the magazine, but everyone she named had already turned down the job.
“What about Randy Wayne?” she said. “He’s tall, as good looking as the day is long, he’s intelligent, experienced, and he has a loyal following (though small) and he also has a great rapport with the camera, it really likes him. And I’m certain he’ll take the assignment. Being that he’s relatively new to the industry, I don’t believe he’ll shun it for fear of assassinating his career if the show doesn’t make it.
“Maybe,” said Jaffee, “But he just doesn’t have the weight to carry this program by himself and none of the other want the job, so we still don’t have a co-anchor.”
“What about me,” she bubbled with excitement.
“Mindy Sweetheart, in case you haven’t noticed, you’re a woman!”
“Exactly, Mr. Jaffee. All of the other Network News Magazines have two male anchors hosting their shows. We would be the only Magazine with a male/female show. Just think of the demographics they’re missing. We’d be opening an entirely new viewer market, one that has never been tapped before. And, I’m also not concerned that his will ruin my career if it doesn’t work out.”
Jaffee thought in silence for two or three minutes. Mindy knew to keep herself quiet. She knew that in negotiations whoever speaks first looses.
“Mindy, I think I like it”. Jaffee said, he was going to take this idea to the network executives.
“I don’t know for sure if this is a viable option or not, but I think it’s better than scrapping millions without even trying, and it might just save my career too.” He asked Mindy if she can be ready in two days.
She said “If necessary I can be ready in two hours.”
Jaffee knew that if anyone could be ready in two hours, it would be Mindy.
The Network executives were not 100% behind the idea at first, but they did like the idea of a male/female program. Three of the executives didn’t even know who Mindy Jackson or Randy Wayne were. Jaffee had prepared for this. He had brought a complete workup of her work with him and explained her life in media from the age of four. He had references from grade school through college, as well as reports on her excellent internship work. He had samples of her writing and clips from her broadcasts.
He was equally prepared regarding Randy too. One of the execs were quick to mention that he saw Jaffee as one of her earliest references for Mindy.
“Yes, I’ve known here since she was eight years old, and I’ve always known that someday she would be a great journalist.” Said Jaffee.
After viewing everything and much discussion everyone agreed that Mindy and Randy had the necessary look, charisma, intelligence and dedication for a big assignment like this. And if they didn’t try it, they were guaranteed to lose millions and have egg all over their faces. Heads could roll over this, but they decided to go with it.
“The New News Magazine”
Mindy and Randy Wayne were naturals together. Both of them were professionals, and neither of them had ambitions above wanting the show to succeed. They complemented one another’s skills and offset one another’s deficiency’s. The show was an instant success. Mindy and Randy were so proud to have saved the program, and they were proud to have not let the Network Executives down, especially Jaffee.
Two attractive young singles working together day in and day out, long hours, meals together and common interest led to the inevitable romance. Not to mention that this was exactly what America wanted. America could not wait for wedding bells for America’s new ‘Sweetheart Couple’.
The Vietnam War (Police Action as they called it,) was raging. It totally dominated the news on every channel and during every program. Near the end of 1969 the draft was initiated by Congress. Mindy noticed that Randy had become restless and moody. He knew he had to talk to her about it.
“Mindy, I’m having a problem. I don’t know if we’ve ever discussed this or not, but I come from a very long line of military veterans. I’ve been in contact with a mutual friend of ours, General Westmoreland. I’ve discussed with him my desire to enlist in the Army and do my part. He has assured me that he’ll make sure I’m assigned to be a War Correspondent as soon as I complete Boot Camp. He has assured me that I’ll never see action, and you can be assured that I’ll be completely safe. I’m also hoping that I can make my reports a regular segment on your New Magazine after I leave.”
“Yes; and what about the show Randy? Have you discussed this with Jaffee yet? Have you actually enlisted already? What about us?”
“In order. The show will be fine. It’s been a huge success and they’ll have no problem replacing me with a big name now. No I haven’t discussed this with Jaffee yet, but I need to since Westmoreland wants me to head out in two months at the latest. No, I have not enlisted yet. If I had, I’d already be on my way to Book Camp. And what about us?????? “ Randy pulled a ring box out of his pocket, went down on one knee, and asked Mindy to be his wife.
Randy said, “We will need to have a simple ceremony. I know you’ve always planned on a bigger wedding, but we will only have two months together before I head out and we won’t want to waste any time. And Mindy, you’ll only have to wait two years for my return. I promise you I’ll be okay, and you know I always keep my promises. I’m sorry. This is something I must do.”
Mindy turned and ran out of the room crying uncontrollably. All professional decorum was gone. It took her about two hours to calm herself down and collect her thoughts before she became the true professional that she was. She called the courthouse to find out what she had to do to get a marriage license. Then she called Randy.
“Get your Best Man lined out. We’re getting married the day after tomorrow at 2 P.M.”
Randy was right about the Network having no problem getting a replacement for him. The applicants were knocking down the doors for the opportunity to replace Randy Wayne. Every big name out there wanted the job, and the chance to work with “Marvelous Mindy” as people had begun to refer her.
Two great months for Mindy and Randy, and then off to Camp Leonard Wood for Randy. At Boot Camp Randy proved that he was an outstanding marksman and they wanted him for sniper duty. The Full Bird Colonial in charge attempted an end around move to get him, but General Westmoreland cut him off at the pass and kept Randy where he had promised him. A War Correspondent.
After several months of seeing Randy’s reports on the news Mindy began to relax about his military service. And besides, his military pay was so far superior to what he had been making as a Network star back in the States….., how could she complain. Ha, ha, yeah right! Military pay was only a pittance of what Network pay was.
Mindy was sitting in the dressing room contemplating how wonderful life was and how great it would be to see Randy again when Mr. Jaffee called and asked her to come to his office. When she went into his office she was surprised to see General Westmoreland standing in Jaffee’s office. Westmoreland gave Mindy a giant hug and a sad smile.
“Mindy, your husband is missing. He was traveling in a halftrack when it was hit by an explosive device. I’m sorry Mindy, but no bodies have been recovered from the site. The destruction was total. ” Westmoreland grabbed Mindy and gave her another heart felt hug.
Mindy and Westmoreland talked for another 45 minutes. They discussed everything that he knew about the incident and what the military is doing regarding the situation. Westmoreland left Mindy with Jaffee and Jaffee did his best to console her. Jaffee told her to take off as much time as she needed.
“ Take off work, ” Mindy said. “ What do I have besides work? ”
Mindy continued with the News Magazine Program like a trooper, but she was torn apart. She’d lost a massive amount of weight from her already trim body, she wasn’t sleeping and everything was weighing on her mind. Mr. Jaffee had flown Mindy’s parents to New York to be with her, but even this had only minimal positive effects on her.
Four days later General Westmoreland telephoned Mindy with a very negative update on her husband. “I have bad news that I’m obligated to tell you Mindy. Randy’s status has been downgraded to “Missing in action and Presumed Dead. I’m sorry but without getting too graphic, no one could have lived through that explosion.”
Mindy went numb. She walked out of the studio. She didn’t even remember hanging up the phone.
Less than an hour later Mindy was on the phone again with General Westmoreland.
“I’ve just gotten off the phone with the President. You are to take every possible measure to find my husband. Dead or alive.”
“I understand your grief Mindy, but we have been sparing your feeling about this. What we haven’t been telling you about finding Randy’s body is that there isn’t enough body left to find.”
“General Westmoreland, I am a reporter, a newswoman, and a journalist. I deal every day with hard facts, scientific evidence, and anything but hunches, premonitions and feelings. But I’m telling you Randy is alive. He is being held somewhere. He is a prisoner. He is not dead.”
“I’d like to honor your wishes Mindy, but I just can’t. I have a war to fight.”
“I don’t think you understand General. I’m not asking you to do this. I’m ordering you. I have the full power and authority of the President behind me and I don’t think you want me to bother him again concerning this.”
“Okay, Mindy. Just what do you suggest I do? You seem to have this all lined out.”
“Don’t get smart with me General. Call out the Green Barret’s , the Army Rangers, Secrete Forces, Allies, and everyone else you can muster up. Hell, call out the entire Army, Air Force and Navy. Put the rest of the F..king war on hold if necessary. Attack every rat hole, every POW camp, every bunker, and every damn rice paddy. Find my husband at all cost, and bring him back to me. And that’s not a suggestion, that’s an order. Do I make myself clear General, or do I need to jump on a plane to Viet Fucking Nam and spearhead this myself?”
Westmoreland had a quick response. “You know Mindy, the more I think about it the more I like your idea. Please let the President know that operations to locate your husband will start within the hour.”
Mindy hung up before Westmoreland could ask her any questions.
That evening reports began coming in. News from Vietnam reported that the military, in a joint forces operation had launched the largest military assault against the Vietcong since entering the Vietnam conflict. Armed forces had overrun and taken an enemy stronghold area of about 10 miles by 20 miles of lands previously controlled by the Vietcong. A monumental assault was under way. No other information was forthcoming at this time.
Mindy and the rest of the world heard nothing regarding the push except splendid news. Westmoreland had not contacted Mindy for two days and she was getting ready to call him again to light another fire under his butt when Jaffee called Mindy and with a very excited quiver in his voice and requested her to come to his office.
Mindy hurried to Jaffee’s office as quickly as she could go without running. When she opened the door there stood general Westmoreland and her rag-tag husband. Randy had been held in a Vietcong POW camp along with 30 other military men. The men were being tortured, starved, beaten, used for slave labor.
After a several minute of joyful reunion and jubilation General Westmoreland approached Mindy and said, “By the way ‘General Mindy Wayne’, I was talking to President Nixon this morning. He called me to congratulate me on the excellent work and the aggressive actions we had taken in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. Oh, and by the way, it seems that he doesn’t even know who Mindy Wayne is.”
“Oh, did you think I meant the President of the United States? I meant the President of ABC.”
All stories in this Blog should be considered FICTION whether true or not