Alan buzzed the intercom. “Let him in, Janine.” He squeezed the bridge of his nose. What a mess! What an unholy mess!
Bruce shuffled into the office and closed the door behind him.
“G’day, boss,” he offered a smile. Alan didn’t reciprocate.
“Sit,” he barked.
Bruce pulled out a chair and lowered himself onto it. There were still bloodstains on his safari suit. Alan shuddered; they would have to be painted out digitally – adding more expense to what was already the biggest disaster of his career in wildlife television.
“Look, I know what you’re going to say,” Bruce held up his hands in a gesture of surrender, “But I think we can get away with it.”
Alan stared at him. Eventually, he shook his head. “Not this time, Bruce. I’ve covered your arse countless times – literally covered your arse on one memorable occasion –”
Bruce snorted a laugh, remembering the time his sarong had mysteriously dropped just as the Queen approached.
“– but not this time. This time you’ve gone too far.”
“Aw, geez, mate. Listen to me. We can save it in the edit.”
“I don’t see how. You killed the damned thing.”
“Well, yes – but –”
“The last male of its kind. You are personally responsible for the extinction of a species.”
“It was an accident.”
“How many times have you been told? Check before you sit down!”
“I know – I tried to give it mouth to mouth. Maybe should have used my bicycle pump on the little bugger, eh?”
Alan looked aghast. “If this gets out, we’ll lose our contract. We’ll never get another commission.”
“It’s not as bad as all that. Look.” Bruce withdrew a DVD from his blood-stained breast pocket. “Have a squint at this.”
Unbidden, he placed the disc in Alan’s player and pointed a remote control at the screen.
“There’s no sound,” Bruce explained, “But we can dub that in later.”
Alan watched in mounting horror as a somewhat flat and bedraggled bird bobbed across the scene in jerky movements. “What the hell is this?”
“It’s a stroke of genius, that’s what it is!” Bruce beamed with pride. “I stuck my finger up its arse. Instant puppet! So lifelike, don’t you think? No one will know the difference.”
“Get out!” Alan pointed at the door.
Bruce got to his feet. He reached for the eject button.
“Leave it!” Alan barked. Startled, Bruce backed towards the exit.
“Thanks, Al,” he mumbled. He left.
Alan pinched his nose again. He buzzed the intercom.
“Janine, get me the head of Children’s Television.”