Pointing his finger discreetly Rudy identified Jimmy Royal.Â There were often jaded conversations about Jimmy Royal in the newsroom but Clay
had never met him and did not recognize his name in the context of his appearance in court this morning.
eyes and clearing them of crusty mucus formed by drainage from his
sinus cavities, Clay
focuses toward the clock radio on the night stand.
Itâ€™s 5:30 a m. It seems mere minutes ago he
woke from the first dream.
â€œThe ragweed must be out in full force today,â€ Clay
said out loud, diverting his
thoughts from the third dream of the night.
removes the yellowish substance from his
Middle Georgia is known for its ragweed.
This allergen appears around Labor Day and intensifies Clayâ€™s miseries as late summer gives way to early autumn.
In twenty minutes the alarm will sound.
will hear the nondescript voice of the local weatherman.
hates awaking to the sound of the alarm.
has a penchant for stepping between time and space.
A maneuver designed to change the outcome of an event, just like awakening from a nightmare before being struck by a sniperâ€™s bullet.
Clay doesnâ€™t enjoy being told what to do.
gets a kick out of seeing his
feet on the floor before Jerry Powell, the aging weatherman, at radio station WAZM
, delivers his
Itâ€™s time to get up.
does not need an alarm clock to tell him when it is time to get up. â€œThe alarm is a crutch.
Iâ€™m not a cripple,â€ Clay
was fond of saying.
Far from it, he
is independent by nature.
relies upon his
internal alarm clock.
body instinctively knows when itâ€™s time to get back to the business of another day, the business of publishing a newspaper.
One of this jobâ€™s most solemn requirements is protecting the publicâ€™s right to know the state of affairs of local government.
As the managing editor, protecting the public interest falls directly upon Clayâ€™s shoulders, quite by accident.
Solely by virtue of his job, Clay has become the protector of the constitution for the local folks.
It is a role he
The Macon Tribune & Journal
(MTJ) is a newspaper he
enjoys delivering to the public each morning.
Clay rolls over and yawns, delaying his
departure from the bed another few minutes. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â â€œGotta get moving,â€ he
After all, Rudy is the editor of the newspaper and Clay works under him as the paperâ€™s managing editor.
likes a smooth shaven face.
doesnâ€™t shave everyday and will pass on this masculine ritual each chance he
â€œA clean shaved face gives a man an air of importance,â€ he
Flipping the covers back, Clay
begins a cursory search of his
bed for any trace of newsprint.
Finding none he
breathes a sigh of relief.
â€œThe first morning in months Iâ€™ve not found bits and pieces of faded newspaper in my bed.â€
did not want to find them.
They seemed to appear out of nowhere during the night.
It was quite a surprise to Clay he
didnâ€™t discover any newsprint in his
bedding this morning.
Finding newsprint in his
bed occurs as frequently as the dream.
was relieved, slightly; nevertheless relieved.
Perhaps, as his
had stepped in between time beating the nocturnal visitor to the punch.
A pleasing smile appears, a smile of self adoration, applauding his
effort in awaking before another piece of newspaper is placed in his
competes with every facet of life.
developed this competitive nature from his
days growing up in Winnie Mooreâ€™s household.
likes to be ahead of the game.
mom nagging him about chores he
was required to do around the house.
quickly learned what was expected of him.
completed each task before Winnie Moore could think to tell him to get it done.
has a reputation.
stayed away from even the appearance of impropriety on this point.
did not flirt with the other menâ€™s wives.
did not engage them long in one on one conversation.
dare not be caught dead alone in a room with someoneâ€™s wife.
would have thought the pieces of newspaper were figments of his
imagination, or lingering fragments of a dream, except he
neatly placed each scrap of paper on a corkboard.
arranged the pieces in random patterns, looking for a possible message.
At the very least the pieces may come together like a puzzle.
The newspaper clippings are real.
There is no way to deny their existence.
â€œIf there is a message contained on the corkboard puzzle it is indiscernible,â€ Clay
determined the bits of newspaper clippings were not from news stories published in the MTJ
, but were similar to an event he
had covered as a cub reporter.
Clay vividly remembers Senator Thomas Eagleston and his dashed hopes of running for Vice President against Spiro T. Agnew, the worst Vice Presidential pick in history, up to that point.
How could Clay Moore
explain seeking help from a shrink over the appearance of newspaper clippings in his
â€œHow silly,â€ he
Itâ€™s out of the question!
did not have designs on leaving the newspaper business.
But a young man has to keep his
â€œBe prepared, you never know when opportunity will knock,â€ Winnie Moore preached. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Clay's rise in the world of journalism was quick.
He earned his journalism degree from the University of Georgia, where he contributed stories to the Red and Black.
didnâ€™t distinguish himself as a likely award-winning journalist.
back, Clayâ€™s peers voted him as most likely to work for a small town weekly newspaper.
proved the college pundits wrong on all counts.
At twenty-one years of age, fresh off the campus at Athens, Clay walks into the Macon Tribune
doesnâ€™t know anyone at the MTJ
, yet he
again exhibits perfect timing.
is working with a short staff.
It is hard to say who is more pleased when Clay
appears in the middle of the newsroom, Clay
or the city editor.
is put to work running copy throughout the building and his
meteoric ascent begins.
work at the MTJ impresses J. Edgar Scott.
likes Clayâ€™s preparedness and quietly monitors his
progress at the paper.
was a keeper from day one.
Everyone who came in contact with him knew it.
is assigned to cover the police beat.
The police blotter is his
first stop at the beginning of his
Reading the police blotter is on the job training for Clay
, because they didnâ€™t teach a course in Athens on reading the police blotter.
Besides no serious journalist wants to be caught dead reading the police blotter.
It was honest work as honest work goes and Clay
is glad as a bee in a pool of molasses to get it.
designed a plan to add humor to the police blotter.
made fun of the antics the police were called upon to defuse.
Rather than publish a serious story about the crime wave in middle Georgia, such as it is, Clay
city editor to publish a humorous version of the police blotter.
Time and time again, Clay
scooped the radio and television reporters in the area.
â€œClay Moore, the man in the know, who knows news before itâ€™s news,â€ his
electronic media colleagues dead panned when Clay
Once a week, Clay
rode in a squad car as the police cruised the city looking to avert even the thought of crime.
featured a day in the life of a police officer.
The rapport he
built up with the police department came in handy.
Particularly when the department was confronted with the biggest police story to hit the town in 50 years.
Although information would prove to be sketchy, Clay
gets more information than most reporters covering this event and later reaped the professional rewards.
Years later clippings from this news event are finding their way into Clayâ€™s bed.
In three short years he went from police blotter editor, assistant city editor, then city editor and finally he was promoted to managing editor.
The promotions happened so fast that Clay
barely had a chance to learn to respond to one title before he
was on to the next.
Never it seemed did he
have time to learn all the intricacies associated with each level of newspaper work.
As managing editor he manages the news staff and news stories.
Clay is a good manager.
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