Chapter 62 – Greta the Witch live
Tonight was a special night, because the NSA Director had agreed to come on the show. Army General Kevin Alexander, had a distinguished military career, and there was strong speculation that he was planning to run for President. In fact he was a relatively unknown politician to the American public, and this was a calculated gamble to kick-start his fledgling campaign.
As Greta was driven in the stretch limousine to the studio, she held JC’s hand on the wide back seat. Whenever she saw the New York skyscrapers she was transformed back to her vision when she had seen the Silver man and all those dead people around those huge tall buildings. The events since that time had played tricks with her memory, but she was still convinced that it was those New York skyscrapers that she had seen in her vision.
The only person she had ever spoken about her vision was JC. He always listened to her with great sensitivity, but never gave an opinion. He assumed that being driven at speed in these cars made her nervous, he didn’t understand about her deep anxiety. So far every part of her vision had come true, except the one about the dead people.
They arrived at the studio, where there was the usual crowd of fans outside of the stage door. JC and the studio security detail kept a wary eye as Greta signed autographs, shook hands, posed with a characteristic incisor smile for photographs, kissed babies, and accepted bouquets of flowers.
Once inside, Greta went through the familiar routine of hair and make-up. Wardrobe brought in her designer outfit and shoes. JC and the studio went to great lengths to ensure that the interviewees never met Greta before the show. The interviewees had their own dressing rooms in a different part of the studio, with a different team of people to help them. Greta’s reaction when she first met her guests were one of the highlights of the show.
As Greta was dressed and made-up, she could hear the warm-up act on set, warming up the audience. The idea was to prepare them to applaud spontaneously on queue.
As she walked on stage at the appointed time, the audience needed no prompting they erupted spontaneously into an enthusiastic standing ovation. She curtsied in the way she used to curtsey to the King, a trade mark move that audiences loved, blew kisses, and waived a thank you to the audience. It took a full two minutes before the applause subsided and she could sit down in her chair, to wait to begin the interview.
Unlike other chat shows when the host would go through an introduction routine before the main guests arrived, on Greta the Witch live, there was none of that. After the opening credits, there was a shot of Greta sat alone on her seat, and an announcer who was heard but never seen, spoke. ’Tonight on Greta the Witch live, Greta will interview Army General Kevin Alexander the National Security Agency Director.’
At this point, Army General Kevin Alexander walked on stage dressed in his military uniform. The audience applauded on cue, although there was no standing ovation, and the applause was distinctly less enthusiastic than it had been for Greta. This was not surprising because the General was a relatively unknown figure to most people in the audience.
The General had not met Greta beforehand; he was told it part of the magic of the show, but he didn’t like it. Greta’s first impressions, were one of the greatest parts of the show. Next day, the morning news shows would often show clips of Greta’s facial expressions as she talked to the people that she interviewed.
With the actress on the last show, Greta had not only made her outrageous comments but fingered the poor woman’s face, smearing her make-up. This image had appeared on the front page of magazines, and was on millions of screen-savers around the world.
The General waived an acknowledgement to the audience, thanking them for their polite applause, and outstretched a hand as if to shake hands with Greta.
Greta did not rise from her chair, and refused to take the General’s outstretched hand. The applause from the audience faded quickly, as Greta’s snub to the General was clear. The audience sat in hushed silence, they sensed this was going to be a significant Greta moment. The Studio Director held the close-up image of Greta’s face from a remote control HD camera, but cleverly briefly switched the live TV image to show the bewilderment in the NSA’s Directors expression as he remained standing, and clips of the audience sat on the edge of their seats. Everyone seemed to be holding their breath.
In the silence, Greta said softly but her words were unmistakable, ‘where is the Silver man?’
The General was completely taken by surprise and sat down heavily in the chair opposite Greta, removing his military cap. The cameras clearly showed how his eyes flicked, taken completely aback by the question.
Nobody watching really understood Greta’s question, but here was something amazing. One of the most important people in the US Government who reported directly to the President being wrong footed completely by this outrageous woman.
Millions of people watching were glued to the drama. Something thinking that perhaps she would grab his crutch next, she was famous for doing that.
However, everyone was taken by surprise when Greta stood and began to pace around the studio. The Director instructed the camera’s to follow her as she walked around the set. The watching audience saw the parts of the set they didn’t normally see, equipment, cables, cameras, lighting, and the less polished parts of a TV studio.
The NSA Director remained seated. He had been briefed to expect the unexpected, but was told by the PR folks, whatever happens remain calm and professional. He was trying to understand how she would know about something as secret and sensitive as the existence of the Silver man.
Both he and Greta wore hidden ear pieces that allowed the Production team to pass instructions while they were on air. Behind the scenes there was much confusion, the Director instructed the Video Editor to be ready with an early commercial break if necessary. Her finger was poised over a button.
Suddenly Greta turned and stared at the NSA Director, and then her body convulsed. Her eyes showed just the whites as she spasmed and hit the floor.
JC rushed in from the side of the studio just as she appeared to faint. He caught her easily and carried her to the nearest resting place, which was her studio chair. He knelt beside her, and then she seemed to come around.
She stood without aid from JC, pointed her right arm at the NSA Director and said, ’You are a liar and a fool’.
Now the Director tapped the Editor on the shoulder and her finger hit the button to cut the live transmission and go to the commercial break. The estimated 60 million viewers let out a sigh of frustration as a Toyota ad filled their screens. The Japanese automotive company couldn’t have taken a more backward step in their brand respectability if they had tried.
But the Editor had been a fraction of a second to late with her button press. 60 million viewers saw Greta take a step towards the NSA Director turn her hand with a pointed index finger into a fist and go to strike him. Just in time JC pulled her back.
While millions of television viewers watched a commercial break, inside the TV studio it was pandemonium. US Secret Service agents now rushed the stage. Greta and JC were overpowered and pinned to the ground. The NSA Director was hastily escorted from the building and whisked away in a waiting bullet proof car. This was all filmed.
The Ad break was cut short, the recording of Greta and JC being restrained to the floor was shown on air. But not Greta’s punch.
The Studio Director was now showing live coverage of medical staff attending to Greta and JC. Neither had any injuries, the medical attention was unnecessary, but it made great TV. The studio announcer, the voice that was heard but never seen, was doing an improvised voice over, with liberal uses of adjectives such as sensational and outrageous. Viewer figures were reaching unprecedented numbers. JC helped Greta to her feet and she leant theatrically against JC for support. The studio audience gave them a loud standing ovation.
The White House Press Office was already on the phone, trying for some damage limitation. The NSA Director’s campaign for the presidential nomination was probably over before it had begun, but the real problem was the mention of the Silver man.
The studio switchboard was being overrun by calls about Greta, the video was now viral on the internet. Silver man conspiracy theories were being typed on internet bulletin boards.
As if this wasn’t enough, the program had another 30 minutes to run. The Director spoke to Greta in her earpiece, urging her to say something.
She tapped her ear twice, a signal to the studio staff that she had heard and understood. JC helped Greta back to her chair.
She sat very still waiting for the hubbub in the studio to settle down, and the audience to resume their seats. Greta looked directly at the camera. The set was cleared of everyone, except JC, who sat in the chair where the NSA Director had sat. He held Greta’s hand.
Greta began speaking.
‘I have a vision, a terrible vision. It shows millions of dead people here in New York City and around the world. I do not know how or when it will occur, but that man that was with me just now knows the answers.’
She stood, took JC’s hand and walked off the set. She leaned against him for theatrical effect, and once again the audience gave her a rapturous standing ovation.
They still had 30 minutes of the show to run, so after an extended commercial break, ran the tape of the entire programme again from start to finish with the unseen announcer adding an improvised commentary over the video images that enhanced Greta’s reputation further as a psychic.
New York City and most of the major cities in America, had riots that night. The National Guard was deployed in 14 states. The next morning the President declared a State of Emergency.
After the broadcast, JC took Greta home. They had a routine, their privacy was very important to them. JC was a poacher turned gamekeeper in this regard, and knew how journalists snooped.
The glass on the apartment windows was mirrored so no photographs were possible with telephoto lenses. Calls and internet connections were encrypted. Deliveries came to the basement only, they were carried up only by trusted staff. Nobody got into the apartment without being vetted and nobody was ever left alone inside.
The building itself had 24-hour security that JC had vetted personally. He employed a firm to test the effectiveness of the security from time to time. This kept them on their toes.
Greta and JC employed a full time maid and cook, and JC had a driver. The staff had rooms in an apartment below, close enough to be on call, but they were not allowed in the apartment at night. Once they were inside the apartment JC turned off his cell phone, Greta never carried one. The phone to the apartment was directed to automatic answer, the only way in or out now was through the staff apartment floor, and that was out of bounds. They were secure.
They opened a bottle of champagne; Greta insisted on Mumm, she liked the yellow labelled bottle. JC made some thin wheat toast, and spread liberally with foie gras. Greta ran a bath, and they both lay in the bath drinking champagne and eating their toast and paté. They talked a little, they made love in the bath, and they went to bed and slept the sleep of the just.