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Random Access


Friday, March 18, 1994

Well, Random Rangers, it was a rough week here at "Random Access" headquarters. Rumblings from the very top of the organization were trickling down to us grunts on the front lines here in newspaperland, and the word wasn't good. While the "Random Access" board of directors was convening in Geneva, the regular staff assembled at our top secret underground media complex and a hurried, desperate conference took place.

"Look, it's no secret," Satan said, pragmatic as ever. "Ratings are at an all-time low. Advertisers are pulling out left and right. We need more sex and violence!"

"But... but what about the critical acclaim?" a visibly shaken Gabriel asked.

"Critical acclaim won't pay the rent," a drunken Crank Boy snapped. "And you know what? I'll just bet Tommy Lee Jones will get that supporting actor award instead of me."

The situation was dire indeed. Finally, the board of directors sent a private plane to get me, and within hours I arrived at the "Random Access" corporate tower in Geneva. The boardroom was dark and murky, the faces of the board members obscured by a kind of thick, metaphorical fog that I'd only previously seen in Tom Wolfe novels. As soon as I was seated, a heated discussion resumed.

"I think we need to sack the entire cast," said the vice-president of aesthetic alienation. "Bring in some ringers!"

"We need a young cast, a sexy cast," said the vice-president of lubrication.

"How about a promotional tie-in?" suggested the vice-president of slimy things found under rocks. "How about 'Random Access' action figures?"

"What if we set 'Random Access' on a beach, and the entire cast was lifeguards?" offered the vice-president of horrible things to do to household pets. "Is David Hasselhoff available?"

Suddenly the vice-president of abrasive underclothing stood up and bellowed, "What we need... is FABIO!"

"All right, that's enough," a think, cool voice at the end of the table said smoothly. A hush fell over the room. It was the president of the "Random Access" board of directors himself.

"Scotto, I want you to watch some video. Tell me what you think. It's time for a new direction on 'Random Access,' a new order. Have a look at this."

A giant video screen descended from the ceiling, and the following video clip assaulted my senses:

I could hardly believe my eyes. Standing before me in the slinkiest, tiniest black dress I'd ever seen was none other than Crank Girl, with a sleek foreign handgun in one hand and a suitcase full of prime Columbian powder in the other.

"I didn't think you'd make it," she whispered. The handgun dropped to the floor.

"We've got to get out of this hotel," I replied. "Raphael's men are everywhere. There's a price on my head, can't you tell?" Indeed, it was scribbled on my forehead. She could hardly miss it.

"Here," she said, moving in slowly, pressing her tight, athletic figure against mine. "Let's just get rid of that price on your head, shall we?" She brushed her lips against my forehead every so slightly, using her saliva to smear the dastardly ink. "Raphael's men won't be here for another two, three minutes... plenty of time for a guy like you, right, Scotto?"

I nodded grimly. Crude sexual innuendo was never my forte, but when it came right down to it, Crank Girl couldn't be denied...

"I think you get the drift," the president said. "When you come back from spring break, it's a whole new world on 'Random Access.' Danger, intrigue, sex appeal... what do you say? Of course, the rest of the cast will have to be... let go, but that's the nature of the business, Scotto my boy, the nature of the beast. Who wants to watch a pansy angel baby like Gabriel? Who wants to watch a drunken invisible clown? Think big, Scotto, think big! Think style, think panache, think ratings! If there was ever a time to sell out, Scotto, it's now, now, now!"

I was forced to agree. In fact, I was forced to agree by the vice- president of coercive tactics, who twisted my arm and put a knife to my throat until I agreed and signed the new contract.

"I'll have my people in touch, Scotto," the president said. "You're going to need a whole new wardrobe, a whole new setting, a whole new cast, and a whole new image."

Somewhere, somehow, soundtrack music by Jan Hammer began to fade in. "When you get back from spring break... it's show time."

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