Thursday, January 21, 2016
“Ziva!” Nick bellowed. He reflected briefly on how often he seemed to do that at the paper, half the time with his mate’s name attached. She was supposed to tell him before she did shit like this. Wasn’t communication part of marriage?
Ziva entered his office. “Yes, honey?”
He gestured at his computer screen. “What the hell?”
She rounded the desk for a look. “Oh, scat. I didn’t mean to CC you on those. Those are from Twitter, for the web page.”
“Not another contest.”
“No, not another contest. This is just for fun. We asked the readers to send us photos of their first robin sightings of the year. Actual robins, not shifters. Something to get their minds off January and onto spring.”
“Spring will get here when it gets here. Why am I—the Editor in Chief, may I remind you—always the last to know when you run these stupid things?”
“Because you don’t give a hump for the web pages, and because you think these are stupid things. The readers love it when we run these features. They feel like they’re part of the paper.”
“Wish I felt that way,” Nick complained.
“Oh, shush. Here, take a look. These are the cream of the crop. One of them is sure to make you laugh.”
“Unlikely.” But he looked, mainly because Ziva was his mate and failing to humor her could get him sent to the doghouse. Literally.
The file started out with blurry shots of birds shivering on bare tree branches or poking through the snow. Maybe they were robins. Who the hell could tell? “You sure these aren’t Photoshopped? Or taken in some other year?”
“We insisted on timestamps. And we’re allowing Photoshop in certain instances. Like this one.” She clicked ahead to a pic of a ten-story robin looming over a group of fleeing, panicked humans. The bird blasted Godzilla-style fire out of its open beak. In case anyone missed the reference, the wags had added a caption: Spring in Tokyo. “We need to remind the readers, photos should be limited to Talbot’s Peak and the surrounding areas,” Ziva said.
“But you’re going to run this one.”
She shrugged. “It’s too funny not to.”
Nick had his doubts on the humor quotient, but held his tongue and bravely kept clicking. He had to admit, some of the shots showed a modicum of creativity. Birds in little red parkas. A shot of a robin on a tropical beach dipping its beak into an umbrella’d coconut, with Screw winter typed underneath. And Nick’s personal favorite, the guy in the Batman costume grinning at the camera and holding a three-year-old boy in tights. “You should have been more specific about the Robin,” he said.
“I think it’s cute, too. That’s Orson, from down at the grocery. They’re not robin shifters, so technically he’s still within the rules.”
The next one up was—Nick leaned in closer to the screen. “Holy shit. Now those are two red breasts.”
“Penelope sent that one in. I’d better have a talk with her.” She cuffed him on the shoulder. Nick hastily clicked past. “No employee pictures. Readers only.”
“Thank Lupa. I never want to see a selfie of Lamar in a feather boa again. Oh, for the love of—!”
It wasn’t a bird, although it had wings. It wasn’t red-breasted, either. The naked, lavender man posed for his photo with a sign held in front of his privates: What about us purple martins?
“Oops,” Ziva said. “You weren’t supposed to see that.”
“Dammit, I thought he left town. I’ll purple his martin if he sends in any more pics. You are not running this.”
“Of course not. It’s for robins only.” Ziva reached for the Delete button.
“Hold on a second. We should share this.” Nick called up the email for City Hall, chose the purple picture and hit Send. “It’s about time Gil got a decent screen saver.”