“You’re good, kid.” The man leaned forward in his chair, turning the pages of Kyle’s portfolio as if he were enjoying a sumptuous pastry at one of Cleveland’s local cafés. The artist reacted with a hopeful glance that was just a bit beyond casual, even though the next words uttered were completely predictable.
“You’ve got a real talent,” Mr. Chason said, closing the tall, black book as it caressed the bare top of his mahogany desk. “But you know, times are tough for newspapers. We just don’t have the budget for a traditional illustrator anymore, not even—especially—one of your calibre.”
Kyle Brandon understood all too well.
“It’s all we can do to keep the presses running. Journalistic integrity has to take second chair these days. Hell, we even endorsed the Governor-elect because we knew he was corrupt. Now that the County Commissioner’s under indictment, we’ve run out of big reveals. This Governor ensures our circulation figures will spike again in a year, maybe two, when we play our cards. Maybe we’ll have an opening for you then. Say, have you ever thought about digital illustration? Our website could use the content. It doesn’t pay much, but an artist can always use the exposure.”
“Not really my forté,” said Kyle. “I’m a paper and ink guy.” He respected the editor in spite of himself, and he could independently corroborate the paper’s lack of journalistic finesse by virtue of the fact that if they were any good they might have connected him with the vigilante known in some circles as The Illustrator.
The editor nodded. “I understand. Completely. Ink is in my blood.” He rose and offered his hand. The handshake was firm; Chason was clearly an old-school type. In spite of this warmth, Kyle wasn’t too sorry that he didn’t get the job.
Because he got what he came for.