Mornings With AJ and Jen, p.1Thomas Cannon / Humor
Radio Interview- Cover photo by Andréanne Germain
Some rights reserved creative common license of Flickr
Mornings With AJ and Jen Originally published in Issue 13 of On The Premises .https://www.onthepremises.com/issue_13/story_13_g1.html
Hammerschlagen Originally published in the Winter 2012 (issue 4) of Midwestern Gothic
Mac & Cheese Originally published by Roadside Fiction (issue 2)
©2014 by Thomas Cannon
Mornings with AJ and Jen
The gunman waved the gun between Adam and Jenny. Out of the corner of her eye, Jenny could see Mark, their producer, yelling into the phone. Her main attention, however, was on memorizing the guy’s features—his large gut in a thread-bare T-shirt, his long, gray hair in a ponytail. Adam, her co-host, had his eyes on one thing only. The gun held his attention like a naked woman.
“Do you know why I picked your show?” the gunman asked.
For a moment, everyone seemed content to let the question go unanswered. Jenny tried not to think of how, in movies, the captives that beg and grovel are always killed. Not that she would give the guy that satisfaction, but Adam seemed freaked out. She reached over and flicked his arm. It was the sign she used whenever something had gone wrong on the air such as a losing a live spot and she needed him to fix it.
“Of course we do,” Adam finally answered, jerking his line of vision from the gun. “We have the number one morning radio show in Madison. Killing us will make you famous. Where else were you going to go, Buddy? WIFT?”
Jenny could tell Adam was using his radio voice, although the Adam you got on the radio was pretty much the Adam Sather you got in real life. Quick-witted, sarcastic, and sweet all at once, just turned up a few hundred notches. This made him someone that could think on his feet, but she didn’t think cocky was the way to go with this guy.
“No,” the gunman spat out with a sour look on his face. “I don’t care about that. I am taking a stand against posers and you two are the biggest ones.”
“Adam. Let’s not make the gentleman angry.”
“Oh, I think he might already be mad.”
“What are you doing? Do not make him angrier.” Jenny gave Adam the quickest glance. Her co-host sounded confident and he was still sprawled out in his chair, as always in his T-shirt and Khaki shorts looking more like a college student than a thirty-seven-year-old man. But his flushed cheeks and jittering leg showed her that he was scared.
“Both of you shut up.”
Fearing that Adam would keep going, she used the friendliest affect she muster. Tell me your name.”
“Kevin. Kevin—” The guy stopped.
Jen said, “ Just Kevin is fine.” Jen kicked Adam’s foot to say let me handle this. But that was how they worked best. Jenny delivered the show with Adam doing the color commentary.
“We just wanted to know what to call you,” Adam added, “instead of just crazed gunman.”
“What?” The gun wobbled. Kevin’s whole body tensed up.
“Nothing, Buddy. I was just making a joke.”
“A joke, huh? While I go one for you. Knock. Knock.”
“Ah, who’s there?” Adam answered, sounding less and less confident.
“Shut up before I blow your head off.”
Jenny leaned forward and put her hand in front of Adam to take Kevin’s attention. “Hold on, now. What do you mean posers? How are we posers, Kevin?” Adam was trying to humor this guy out of being angry and she wanted to let him do it. He had talked her into putting the pin back into the many metaphorical grenades she had pulled in her life. But Kevin’s reaction told her the only thing to do was keep him talking until the cops busted in.
Kevin’s bushy eyebrows went up. “You guys are supposed to be like a couple, but you’re not.”
“Now wait a minute, Kevin.” Jenny patted the air. “We never said we were a couple.”
“Come on, Jen. You guys act like it. Monday mornings, you always tell Adam ‘There’s my honey. Come give me some sugar, AJ.’”
“I say that sarcastically.”
Adam shrugged his shoulders. “Yes, but that’s how women usually say that to me.”
“No,” Kevin said, waving the gun like wagging a finger. “Quit making jokes. You guys act like you love each other and that your audience is part of your family. Like your children. People like to listen to you because you guys are so great together. I thought I could tell that you two really loved each other. But then that newspaper article comes out and it’s all an act. You tricked me.”
“But we do love each other,” Adam offered, putting his hand on Jen’s knee. “We’ve been partners for 15 years. The way we get along on the air is how we get along. It’s genuine. But platonic. With Jen’s pretty face plastered on the side of every bus, you’re not exactly the first guy to ask if I was with her. Well, you are the first with a gun.” Then Adam gave his standard joke line. “Can’t you tell that I’m not married to her by the way we get along?”
“With your comments like that, we would have been divorced along time ago,” Jen responded, but not in the warm tone Adam had used.
“See,” Kevin said. “You are doing it right now.”
“What?” Jenny demanded. “You don’t think we planned out lines in case of being held hostage by a gunman, do you?”
“You both took the same improv class. That’s how you met.”
“We hate improv,” Adam and Jenny said together.
Now Jenny clutched Adam’s hand. “What are we doing?”
Adam was still splayed out in his chair. “It’s our schtick. It’s automatic. We are not the crazy ones.”
The gunman said, “Listen. Listen now. I am going to tell you what is going to happen. I am going to shoot Adam and you get to watch. I am going to get some real emotions out of you.”
“Why shoot him?” Jenny asked, deciding that Adam was trying to be obnoxious enough to get shot first and that the police wouldn’t allow Kevin a second shot. “Because I’m a woman, you think I’ll cry? I’ll be all emotional?”
Adam fidgeted in his chair like he was going to shoot out of it, but managed to maintain his slouch. “Jenny, here is one time not to argue with a sexist.”
“He’s making me mad.” And so are you, she thought.
“Yeah. I’m not disagreeing with you. But shut up so that you get out of here safe.”
“Are you being sexist, too?” she asked him, pointing her finger. “Trying to sacrifice yourself for me just because I’m a woman. Listen, Kevin, Adam will cry like a little girl if you kill me first. Maybe poop his pants.”
Kevin looked at her. “Why are you saying these things? I am serious.”
“She knows, Buddy. She’s just trying to save me.”
“Adam, we’ve been together for a long time. So you know that if you don’t shut up, I’ll kill you before he does.” Out of the corner of her eye, Jenny could see Mark gesturing now, but couldn’t really tell what he was relaying. Either he was making a cop car light gesture or changing two light bulbs.
Kevin thumped his chest with the gun. “I decide who dies first today. And I said you die second. Then I’ll see how much you care about him. But before I kill you, I want you to go back on the air.”
Adam drummed his fingers for a few moments and then leaned toward his mike. “Mark, switch us back over.”
“The policy,” Mark said back over the intercom.
“We’ll be all right if Kevin promises to keep things on the down-low.”
Kevin glanced between Adam and Mark behind the glass window until Jenny was sure he was getting dizzy. “What do you mean? You better tell me right now what you two are talking about.” He aimed the gun at Jenny. “Forget it. If you want to die first, fine with me. Let’s just get all this over with.”
“Wait. Wait, Kevin,” Adam yelled. “The station has a policy against putting—someone such as yourself on the air. So you wouldn’t be able to, you know, kill us or anything on the air. If we did that then there would be a lot of copycats doing it. But if you promised not to say or do anything rash on the air, we could try it.”
Jenny put her headphones on. “Let Adam and I do our job and work with us, and we will let you have your say.”
Adam said, “How does that sound, Kevin? We can do it if you promise.”
“Yes. Okay. But you break your word and I break mine.”
Adam nodded and then looked over to Mark. Waited for his finger point. “Good morning, Madison. Good morning. Geez, I just said good morning twice. That’s a little annoying. You have AJ and Jen in the morning. It’s 7:43. How you doing this morning, Jen?”
Jenny froze for a moment and then scrambled to get her microphone up to her mouth. “I think you know, AJ. Besides peeing and showering by myself, you’ve been with me. And before you get any ideas, folks, we car pool together.”
“So great then.”
“I wouldn’t go right to great.