IN ‘THE MESSAGE”, MY CHARACTERS MATTIE AND CLARE ARE IN DEMAND FOR SPEAKING OUT AGAINST ONLINE DATING SCAMS. TODAY THEY’RE HEADED FOR AN INTERVIEW ON A LOCAL T.V. PUBLIC SERVICE PROGRAM, AND THEY’RE LATE, VERY LATE.
The two women rushed into the lobby of MTNC Television Studios. A solemn Diane Paige greeted them with a cool, “Welcome, ladies.” With a hasty glance at her watch, she added, “I thought perhaps you’d forgotten our interview. We’ll have to hurry.” One could almost see icicles forming on her lips as she spoke. She whisked the women away to a cozy little set. A television camera was aimed at the seating area, its operator standing by with an elbow propped over the camera. He directed Mattie and Clare to their seats while Diane took a third seat, facing them.
Mattie was wearing a sharp yellow pantsuit and Clare wore a black dress and stockings and her sexy black pumps to make her legs look “long and slender,” she’d bragged earlier to her pal.
After the director fit the women with small microphones, he said, “Now just sit back and relax and everything will be fine. Ready in three . . . two . . . “ He nodded at Diane.
“Hello, everyone, and welcome to Neighbor to Neighbor Live! Our guests today are Mattie Mitchell and her friend Clare Tibbitts, two outstanding women on a mission.” Mattie noted a strain in Diane’s voice while attempting to sound sincere. “Two women,” Diane continued, “on a mission to fight online dating scams. Two pillars of the community who—“
“Oh, crap,” Clare moaned loud enough for the microphone to pick up. She was checking her stockings and slumping. “A run! How’d that get there?”
Diane Paige’s eyes widened while Clare smoothed the run with her hand, only to snag a fingernail and spread the run into a good-sized hole. “Oh, great, now there’s a hole. Of all days to wear stockings!”
“Clare, we’re on television!” Mattie scolded, her sharp whisper caught on air. “Just ignore it.” She turned to Diane and attempted to carry on the interview.
“I can’t ignore it!” Clare hissed. “Look at that hole. It’s bigger than a sumo wrestler’s butt!”
Ms. Paige gasped. The director stifled a grin. And the camera rolled.
“Claaare,” Mattie whispered louder, still oblivious to the microphone, “stop fussing!” Shaking her head, she turned back to her hostess and attempted to get on with the interview.
“Easy for you to say,” Clare interrupted, “you’re wearing slacks!”
Mattie sniffed. “Well, you’re the one who had to wear stockings today!”
Eyes narrowed, Diane Paige glared. “Ladies,” she said with restraint, “can we please get back on topic? We want to hear about your endeavors.”
Mattie turned and displayed an angelic smile for the camera.
Fists clenched, Ms. Paige said, “Mattie, tell us about your quest to curtail online dating scams.” Her words sounded stiff, her lips pinched in an affected smile. “What spurred you into this challenge?”
“Well, a friend was taken in by a no-good predator online. That’s how it all began.” Mattie went on, explaining the purpose of her investigation, while Clare squirmed trying to conceal the torn nylon.
Diane frowned. “You’re not suggesting all online dating sites are risky, are you?”
“No, not at all. In fact, many people go on to form meaningful relationships.”
The director twirled his index finger, giving a wrap-up signal. With stiff propriety, Ms. Paige thanked Mattie and Clare. When the camera shut off, her icy smile disappeared. Grumbling to herself, she stomped off in a huff, but a silver-haired man in a booth waved her over.
Mattie was rehashing the show with Clare when Ms. Paige rushed back to them. “Ladies, wait,” she said, her eyes dancing with false enthusiasm. “It seems our phone lines have been flooded with callers. They want to know—“ she swallowed hard “—when you’re
. . . coming back.”