At the zenith of her career, Annabelle Kelly was the sole journalist with impeccable credentials to cover politics in Washington DC. In that wild den of power brokers, it was Annabelle who commanded their attention and held their feet to the fire of public scrutiny. Without question, it was unofficially considered a rite of passage for any up and coming politician to appear on her cable news show, where their mettle would be tested against her uncanny prowess to cut through the clutter that politicians would speak with. She got to the point, she would stay on point, and she would whip her guests back to whatever point they were trying to avoid that was perhaps further from their comfort zone than they’d like. A comfortable politician is a lying politician, she used to say. The further she could steer her guests away from the comfort of their talking points, the greater likelihood she had to gain a better understanding of the truth.
It was human nature, and especially political nature, to hide the messy truths from ordinary people. To a certain degree, Annabelle understood that in their positions of power, politicians had access to information that would be best if kept from the public’s knowledge. However, all information is power. The greater the control that these otherwise ordinary yet elected humans amassed, the greater the amount of power they would be wielding. Power that had the potential to shape and alter the lives of millions of people in the country and around the world could not be blindly trusted in such ordinary hands. And that’s where Annabelle came in… and she loved every minute of making politicians squirm in their seats as her line of questions would find these uncomfortable truths.
Her viewers loved it too, which contributed to her ever stellar ratings for her show, and which brought great pleasure to the bosses at her network HCN: Heartland Cable News. For 5 years straight, her timeslot vastly overshadowed her competitors in the other networks, a remarkable feat for someone who was just turning 29 this year, on Election Day of all days. Despite her age and even younger appearance, her voice exuded an implicit authority supported by the rigorous research that she personally conducted before every show. With the help of her loyal staff, and an even fiercer producer, she had often thought of herself as the Joan of Arc of cable news: the young journalist who took on seasoned corporate executives turned politicians, special interest lobbyists, greying senators, three vice presidents, and a sitting president. Many of these Washington DC elite would praise her publicly but some had privately expressed their disdain at the way she appeared to salivate at the moment where she knew she had someone powerful cornered into a silent spot where no response would do justice to her line of questioning. Were it not for her popularity, many would have chosen to avoid appearing on her show all together. And just when it appeared that her career would go on to further heights, Annabelle’s fall would be swift and the death blow to her career a merciless one. The Joan of Arc of cable news had fallen, captured in a scandal from which there was no return.
Annabelle reflected on all of this as she sat in her favorite corner of the BB’s Coffee Den just outside her apartment in the Upper East Side of New York City. At first, she welcomed the transition from her life in Washington DC, perhaps a bit more than she expected. Annabelle quickly discovered that New York City was a place that, during the day, could fill a person’s mind with limitless wonder where success was feasible, tangible, and edible. The nights, however, had a predictable habit of eating away the drive and energy that any ordinary person would need in order to make it through to the next day. She had grown used to the many pleasures and delights that the city had to offer. She had abstained from alcohol for most of her life, having her first social drink at age 25, and had completely avoided toying with any illicit drug use during her high school and college years. To keep her mind and body clean was a feat that she was extremely proud of as she felt that nothing should hamper her drive towards establishing a successful career. But once that had been taken from her, and after her subsequent move to New York City, she abandoned her lifelong abstinence to what she now viewed as regular pleasures. With all of these thoughts in her mind, she attempted to scratch away a small patch of white powder that she noticed on her black pants, the result of the previous night’s small indulgence on some cocaine before a restless bedtime. Her phone’s screen lit up with a text message she had been waiting for.