Greek Passions

By: Holly Rayner

That identity, however, had never been without turmoil. In Washington, like everywhere else, Kally’s medium was slowly dying. The Republic had been struggling to remain relevant long before Kally joined its ranks, and some people had joked that it would soon go the way of the bookstore. They had dutifully gone online like the other major papers, discounted subscriptions, and even commissioned smartphone apps, but the bottom line was simple: very few readers were willing to pay for information that they could get for free elsewhere. Advertising dollars started to dry up, forcing the paper to offer huge discounts to prevent them vanishing entirely. Expenses had mounted and salaries dwindled, but the Republic family stubbornly fought on.

“This paper has been running since the 1920s. It’s not folding under my watch!” Frances had declared. The woman was as tenacious as a lobster, and the fire in her voice did a lot to keep her employees going.

A few hundred thousand subscribers had fought the good fight, too, eager to support unique reporting from people like Kally. They would often send their favorite writers encouraging emails, and urge their friends and family to “get behind the pay wall”. The staff at the Republic thought of these diligent souls with great affection.

Despite all these efforts, there simply wasn’t enough money to get things done, and by June, advertising dollars were scarcer than rain in the Sahara. It was obvious to everyone that, unless Cinderella’s fairy godmother appeared with a sack full of cash, the paper would soon fold. And then a miracle came, like a bolt from the blue, just when even Frances had lost all hope. It hadn’t been a fairy godmother, but to Kally, it had seemed close. Drexel Omnimedia wanted to buy the Republic.

Drexel Omnimedia was a subsidiary of the massive global conglomerate, Stratos Holdings Inc. Three months prior to its offer for the Republic, Drexel had bought out a failing television station and turned it into a thriving news network. The success of WHRT-TV gave everyone hope that the newspaper would not only be saved, but left intact.

However, no sooner had the acquisition been confirmed than the paper was closed down and stripped bare of everything of value. Almost overnight, the family Kally had known for so long was cast to the winds.

Kally had been in shock, and at least three days had passed before she could compose herself enough to begin looking for a new job. Like her colleagues, she had run to the Post and the Times, only to be unceremoniously turned away. She was curtly reminded that she’d turned them down before, and told that they couldn’t afford to let her reconsider now. Everywhere she had tried, the story was the same: no newspaper wanted to, or could afford to pay anyone new.

Eventually, Kally had been left with two options: take whatever job would allow her to survive, or continue to pursue her career in journalism. In the end, she had decided that she loved her art, and she couldn’t see herself doing anything else. She had conceded that the market had dried up in D.C., and Kally was certain she would only fare better in New York. It was a risky gambit, but she had taken it, only to discover the same situation existed there too. Then a mentor of hers had offered her a suggestion, and an introduction to Standard, Ayers and Associates. Having embarked on a fledgling career as a non-fiction writer, the bulk of Kally’s financial future now lay in the hands of the unknown man she was going to meet at The Three Rivers.

He’s not showing off at all, is he? thought Kally, gazing up at the building. It was a huge expanse of polished glass, and had the opulent look one usually saw in the best of five star hotels. A plush red carpet led to enormous glass doors with brass handles that looked like golden roses. Each pane was bordered by intricately-drawn patterns of leaves and vines. Above Kally's head, a wine-red awning bore the restaurant’s name. Kally moved past the valet and into the vestibule. An self-conscious impulse moved through her as the sheer scope of the building became apparent, but she did her best to ignore it.

“Okay, this is just ridiculous,” Kally said out loud as the sound of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons filled her ears.

The vestibule area was richly carpeted and a luxurious velvet couch sat at either end. Behind the couches were small waterfalls that slowly fed koi ponds full of radiant fish. A small chandelier hung overhead, and tried to mimic the subdued beauty of candlelight. Stepping into the restaurant proper, Kally beheld a marvelous fountain and vaulted glass ceilings. Elegant tables stretched as far as her eyes could see, but oddly, every one of them was empty. She was still considering how a place like this could be deserted on a Friday evening, when a clear voice rang out.

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