Swim Where 13
“Thanks for your help today.” Belinda escorted her older brother down from Scott’s apartment.
“Are you kidding me?” Martin’s laugh exploded from his belly. He shook his photo of Scott in his swimsuit and posing with his gold medals under his sister’s nose. “I’ll have to have it laminated for protection: everyone at the firm will be drooling all over this treasure.”
“Thanks anyways.” Belinda didn’t have to look. It was one she took and printed today that had Scott’s arm draped over Martin’s shoulder. The Olympic star had signed it: ‘to my pal Martin Lyle.’
“I’m glad you walked me down alone because I’ve something private to say to you.” Martin stopped with her in the lobby. “I’m not completely daft, so I know there’s more going on in that apartment, than just interviews. But you can trust me not to blab anything to Mom and Dad. Say whatever you will to them on your own time.”
“We have too much mutual blackmail on each other for it to be any other way.” She giggled a bit on recalling some. “We should consider sharing some with them, while their hearts are still young enough to take the shocks.”
“I noticed something when I was videotaping you and it stayed with me all day. I have never seen you looking so good.” Martin smiled as his sister blushed. “I don’t mean there’s ever been anything wrong with your looks. Radiant is the description that leaps to mind. Whether that guy upstairs put that on your face, or if it’s there from the work you’re doing is for you to decide, but sis,” his fist pushed her shoulder like a friendly slow motion punch, “it really works for you.”
Back upstairs at Scott’s flat, Belinda set to work, with her video editing software hooked up by a firewire cable to her video camera. She smiled when she linked in the portion of Scott they had shot on the balcony. They’d done the segment five times before the perfectionist reporter had thought she had the perfect take.
“If I came with you tomorrow,” Scott stepped up behind her. He had just finished his assigned job of disassembling and packing up a professional lighting system Belinda had rented for the day, “they would be certain to let you in the door.”
“I’m not letting you even close to another news person yet.” She shot back and that case was firmly closed.
“We have freelance reporter Belinda Lyle here today.” Charlene Biggs was the top sports desk anchorwoman at a major channel. She smiled at her guest seated adjacent on a sofa. “You just strolled in here today and presented us with a video segment. But you knew that we’d buy it in a heartbeat.”
Belinda just smiled sweetly and recalled the advice they had offered in the green room. ‘When Charlene wants your response, she’ll pose a question.’ Until then, Belinda’s job was merely to look good.
“I previewed this piece.” Charlene spoke to the camera. “I was amazed and you all will be too.” The successful woman then turned to her guest. “Do you know that I once tried to interview him?”
“I’d love to view that clip.” Belinda said.
“No way.” Charlene laughed. “Especially not when we now have yours to compare it to. Let’s not tease the folks anymore. Run the video.” She then reached over and put a hand on Belinda’s knee in a friendly manner and whispered. “I hadn’t planned on posing that as a question, but your answer made it great.”
“I’m in the Olympic gold medalist Scott Wagner’s tastefully appointed apartment.” Belinda said on the video, while the camera followed her across the living room. “Surprisingly, he doesn’t live in an aquatic cave, littered with half-gnawed sports reporter bones. Mr. Wagner?” She spoke a bit louder as the camera cut to him.
“Scott.” He said curtly. He was semi-reclined on a deck chair, wearing only a pair of snug swimming trunks. His bare chest glistened with baby oil.
“Certainly.” Belinda was heard but the view remained on Scott. He sat up slightly: the movement caused his abdominal muscles to tighten and become sharply defined as a sexy six-pack. He then swiveled at the waist to collect a t-shirt that was draped over the back of a chair. In the opening few seconds, Belinda had probably cause 80 percent of the female viewing audience to gasp.
“Scott.” She hesitantly tested the word, as shyly as a mouse would be careful of a gift of cheese mysteriously sitting on an odd looking contraption. “Up until now, you’ve been less than forthcoming with the press.”
“You’ll notice that the phrase ‘up until now’,” his voice terse but not hostile, “still resides in the present tense.”
“You did agree to the stipulation of my limbs remaining attached to my torso.”
“Grudgingly.” Scott mumbled. He had put on the slightly too small black t-shirt that accentuated the lean musculature of his well-proportioned body.
“When one doesn’t speak up for himself,” Belinda’s on camera countenance had grown a little bolder, “he has to be content with what others say about him.”
“Mmmm.” His noise was nasal based, like a hum to denote thinking, but it was closer to his famous throaty growls, than in appreciation of a tasty aroma. Belinda had needed a few takes before Scott had achieved the exact tone she wanted.
“Why don’t you tell us something of your life prior to the Olympics?” The camera angle had begun with showing the two people seated corner-on the table: they were in profile as they had been facing each other. But as Belinda spoke the line from her script, Martin’s cue was to walk the camera’s perspective to almost behind her. I’ve read that you were a scuba diving instructor.”
“I have my instructor ratings,” he corrected, “but I mostly worked as a guide.”
“I’m guessing that you were amazing at it.” Belinda slowly leaned over towards him. She seemed as a lion tamer brazenly walking up to a wild beast. Martin’s job was to zoom the lens in slightly faster than her movement. In this way, a viewer might feel he or she was participating just as fearlessly.
“If that’s your final answer,” Scott chuckled slightly as he stole a line from the game show, “then you’ve blown your shot at the big-money round. I was lousy at it.”
“How so?” Belinda set her elbow on the table and she rested a chin on her knuckles. That was the last posture the audience would see her in, because the zooming lens continued until Scott’s face was in close-up.
“I found it extremely difficult to swim slowly enough for clients not to feel rushed.”
Belinda’s voice could be heard occasionally from off screen, as with sparing use of her own words, she gently nudged him to converse genially with the viewers. The effect was homey and casual. Scott described several anecdotes that summed up his life in swimwear.
“While you were earning your living in the water,” the reporter gently steered the subject matter, “you were also effectively beginning your own Olympic training?”
“I suppose so.”
Martin Lyle’s prearranged camera instructions had him swinging the shot again. The new position brought both the interview participants back into the frame.
“You didn’t receive financial assistance from the nation’s sport program either?”
“I have my own money.” He said: then as her expression seemed to ask for more, he added. “I’m not wealthy. I’ve just been frugal with my modest inheritance.”
“I just wish we had more time to explore that thought further.” Belinda glanced at her wristwatch. She normally used her cell phone’s time display and had bought a pricey looking one as just a production prop for this moment. “I’ve heard some say that you shirked an obligation by not swimming the four by one-hundred relay but by your being at the games on your own dime, as it were, you had a right to decide.”
“I fully concur that we haven’t the time to go into that.” He paused for a breath and a very brief span of thought before going on. “Maybe I should tell you of it later.”
“I’m sure the people watching would want that too.” She turned her head to look at the camera’s lens, while Martin panned back slightly. “Thank you Scott Wagner for an interview without any snarls.”
“Rrrrrr.” In the background he was smiling and the rumble resembled a very large cat’s loud friendly purr.
“Make that with only one growl.” She corrected. “For ASN, I’m Belinda Lyle.” She had made a dozen endings similar to this, each corresponding to the networks she planned pitching the interview to.
“Brilliantly done.” Back in the seemingly live action, but the show was being taped, Charlene Biggs congratulated her. “And especially so, given that until you managed it, I thought that interviewing the Olympic mystery man was an impossibility.”
“How would you coax a turtle’s head from its shell?” Belinda audaciously asked, when her input hadn’t been invited with a question.
“With food maybe.” Charlene ventured. She could always have the snippet chopped later, if it didn’t make her look good. “Or perhaps with a hot looking lady turtle.”
“But neither would work. The harder you tried and the closer you shoved in a lure, the more determinedly he would remain safely inside.”
“That’s a good analogy. How would you do it?”
“By not trying to. The only way is to patiently wait until the turtle pokes a head out. Then you show him by respecting his space, that the outside is a nice place to be.”
“Those are words of wisdom that we media people often tend to forget. Thank you Belinda, for sharing your presence and your wonderful video article with us.”
“You are more than welcome.”
“I suspect the name of Belinda Lyle is one that will be heard more and more.” The seasoned television commentator said after the director called for a cut. “I’ll go butt kick my agent to ensure that my contract is locked in.” Her quip was lighthearted.
“You needn’t worry.” Belinda giggled. “I’m elbows deep in my freelance project.”
“Yes.” Charlene stroked the affirmative out deliciously. “And until you had Scott sit up with that well-oiled belly, I’d forgotten what a hunk he is.” She fanned her face as if feeling sharply elevated sexual heat. “I’d swap you jobs in a nanosecond.”
Belinda wasn’t prepared for that and she blushed.
“When you’ve worked up a piece on the 4×100, I want it. This network will outbid any other offers for it. If an editor balks at the price, tell them to come talk to me.”
“That’s what you have a publicist for.” Belinda remarked with justified pride as they finished watching the segment air. She glowed further on a thought of her parents sitting as close together as she and Scott were, while they viewed the same channel. She had phoned to tell them when and where their daughter would be on TV.
“Not to mention what a script-writer, producer, scene decorator, make up artist, key grip, prop manager, and video editor do too.”
“Your credit roll has left out the caterer and the bikini wearer.”
Swim Where will continue….
Russell Twyce is the Author of Shiva’s Messenger