The television crew was buzzing with anticipation. They had been on location outside the palace since three in the morning, just after an anonymous tip was phoned in to the station. It was now ten and the place was a jam-packed frenzy. Across social media that morning rumours had been spreading like the clap at Woodstock, and it seemed there may be some truth to them. There was no official news yet from inside the palace, and no sign of any coming. That was only a minor roadblock, for every experienced journalist knows getting a story is like skinning a cat—there is more than one way to do it (though some of those ways might get you arrested).
D’Marcus Fonzarelli (not his real name) was a Salvation Army informant working as a butler to the royal family. He buttled like nobody’s business. It was he who had tipped off the media. The T.V. crew’s cameraman, Lyle, happened to know D’Marcus. Lyle had a hunch. He was getting treatment for it. He also had a suspicion. Lyle believed if he could contact D’Marcus, then he would be able to get the inside gossip on what was happening with the crown prince. Lyle’s suspicion turned out to be right. His hunch turned out to be a large cyst.
Lyle attached a note to a homing pigeon, and then sent the bird through an open palace window by wrapping it in plastic and launching it from a t-shirt cannon. Moments later a paper plane emerged from that same window, glided over the palace lawn and landed at Lyle’s feet. Lyle picked up the aircraft and dismantled it. On one side of the paper was written all the information the news crew needed for their story; on the other was a ransom note for the pigeon. The crew set up their gear, requested immediate airtime from the station, and then delivered their exclusive report live to the nation.
Everyone loves a titillating royal scandal, and this one had it all: a young maid romantically involved with the prince, the princess pregnant to a Russian spy, government corruption, botched plastic surgery, a four kilogram bag of cocaine and a dead infomercial actress. The whole thing had been masterminded by a jilted ex-ice cream shop owner named Amadeus Burundi (his real name). Police levelled charges against Mr Burundi, ranging from arson to ventriloquism with intent to harm. The news was a public sensation and a royal embarrassment. It was the closest any of the news crew came to professional success, and they all died within a year (the youngest of them was ninety-two, so that was not unexpected). No one was surprised, and even fewer were impressed, when the breaking scandal became known as “The Big Scoop”.
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