The blinds were drawn against the sun, which set early at this time of the year. In the newsroom the phalanx of sub-editors hunched over their computer screens under neon strip lighting. It was a cubicle-world. About half-a-dozen hopeful grads from journalism school were doing their time at the coal-face, putting in the work on the lower rungs of the news game. They re-read, corrected, shortened, fact-checked the material that the real journos sent in. Their main compensation was that they got to make up the headlines and the sub-headlines.
A coffee cup sat forgotten on the desk in Cubicle Three. Mallory Smith was tinkering with an item about the local mayor. “Hey, Alex, whaddaya think of this line about the mayor’s rant on the Town Hall steps yesterday?” he called to his colleague in Cubicle Four.
“Mayor gets a little hoarse”
“Not bad, Mal, not bad. But I think the pun’s too subtle for the masses,” said Alex.
“What pun?” asked Joe from Cubicle One, who was walking by with a pile of paper for the copier. “What’s the pun in that?”
“Oh my God, you’re right Alex. Too subtle!” said Mallory. “Mayor equals mare, see,” he said to Joe. “And hoarse equals horse – geddit?”
“Not one of your best, Mal,” said Joe, and walked on.
Mal groaned a bit. He prided himself on his puns. He tinkered with something about a black box, and considered the double meaning of ‘spat’, but it wasn’t his afternoon. He decided to continue his thinking in the Hilton bar on his way home.