All Stories, General Fiction

The Freelancer by Adam Kluger


The little turd, Niles, clearly had it out for Lipschitz.

When he first came to the station he was assigned to trail Lipschitz who was line-producing the afternoon show with his usual bravado. Before long, Niles had been given a staff position. Lipschitz thought that made sense. The kid was conscientious.

Little did Lipschitz know that Niles was also a miserable little schemer who held grudges and thought he knew everything there was to know about producing a local Newscast. Lipschitz saw an older writer dress the kid down after he went after him for a mistake during an early morning newscast that the kid had been assigned to.

“Niles…why don’t you grow up and learn how to talk to people respectfully.”

It was a jolt that electrified the newsroom.

What would the snot-nosed kid do? He seemed stunned and he quickly apologized and backed down. Another funny thing happened right after that.  That was the last time Lipschitz ever saw that older writer in the newsroom again. The new kid had the EP’s ear and he was now a staffer. The older writer was a free-lancer and you can bet the kid felt compelled to report the writer to the gutless EP as a “terrible” writer with a bad attitude.

That’s how things went down in this shop.

Not that much different than other TV shops Lipschitz was sure, but he had been able to maneuver around those types of potholes for close to 13 years at Smart TV.

Lipschitz just didn’t care about this new job enough to be concerned with getting fired, so when the twerp went after Lipschitz over a minor point…Lipschitz ignored him. When Niles pursued the point…Lipschitz calmly informed the kid that his script was based on information provided in a reporter script AND a website

“But don’t let the facts get in the way of your argument”

Niles’ face turned deep red.

“I’m killing that story,” he steamed.

“Hey, whatever floats your boat big guy.”

You could almost see smoke coming out of the little pissant’s ears.

Lipschitz knew he was playing with fire but he just didn’t care. He wasn’t going to bend over for this little prick, after all, what was the worst they could do to him? Fire him? It would be a favor. So every morning after that first little flare up, the little prick would try to test and lecture Lipschitz on “mistakes” he was finding in Lipschitz’s scripts. Lipschitz just kept giving it right back to him.

“Hey Niles…you’re wrong again…that tease is the correct tease…check the futures.”

It burned the little turd up to be wrong, but even more than that he despised Lipschitz for standing up to him. It made Lipschitz somewhat of a hero to the other writers but Lipschitz didn’t care about that at all. He was fighting for something else, even though he wasn’t sure exactly what. No little douche bag, short-timer was going to talk down to Seymour Lipschitz who had made his bones in TV news while that kid was still sliding out of his mammy’s ass-crack.

Before long, Niles, the turd, figured the best way to deal with the Lipschitz was to assign him as few scripts to write as possible, less of a chance for a flare-up.

Lipschitz was just fine with that.

Three scripts to write in three hours?

Bring it on you sad little clown.

Lipschitz started bringing a book with him to work. One day it was a book on the Revolutionary War. Another day it was Hemingway. Lipschitz was a professional writer. Sort of. He made a living at it every day for almost 15 years. So what, if it was little news scripts for TV. Lipschitz knew he could do a good job on any story. But he also knew that working in TV news was ALL about time management. A TV script usually took a minimum of 10-15 minutes to write from scratch. You learn how to master time; you’ve learned how to be a TV news writer.

Plain and simple. NEVER get behind. Stay ahead…ALWAYS.

He decided he would knock out all three scripts assigned to him in the first 10 minutes he walked in the door. Lipschitz was through trying to “create” great scripts for this place.

It was over for Lipschitz.

They wouldn’t treat him with respect and put him on staff or make him a field producer. Lipschitz was gone. He’d stay around to pick up a paycheck but he was through giving his best to this place. From now on they would get the bare minimum.

He would limit the energy he expended on this place and he would prepare to move on, but first there was the business of this little monster in a light blue oxford shirt and tan khaki pants that was wreaking havoc in the newsroom and pissing off all the other writers with his unbridled rudeness and arrogance.

“Hey Tricia…You’re going to need to change your script and I want everyone else in the newsroom to HEAR me when I say this cause I don’t want to have to say it again…I don’t want to see the word yesterday in a script EVER AGAIN…DOES EVERYBODY UNDERSTAND THAT?!!!”

Sure, Tricia had made a rookie mistake but he didn’t need to humiliate her like that.

Being an asshole was just Niles’ style. After all, he knew better than everybody else. He had worked at a Boston local for TWO whole years!

Lipschitz always said “good morning” to Niles and the other producer when he first got to work. It was the polite thing to do. The other producer would always say “morning” back. Niles wouldn’t even look up from his monitor to acknowledge Lipschitz’s arrival in the newsroom, usually five minutes after 3AM.

The implicit message was simply this; This was war.

Lipschitz had dared to stand up to the little creep and the little creep wanted to pay him back in spades. Lipschitz knew it and wasn’t overly concerned. He knocked off the three scripts with a loud flourish on the keyboard then he got out of his chair like a concert pianist and walked to the elevator.

He took the lift up one flight, moseyed down the puke green hallway until he hit the commissary. One cup of coffee with extra “whitener”, some sort of non-dairy creamer made of rat’s brains and lye probably, then Lipschitz walked slowly back to the elevator.

He got on.

Hit the button that read 3rd floor.

Walked slowly through the newsroom back to his desk.

As expected, there was a message waiting for him on his computer screen.

Lipschitz sat down, took a long swig of his coffee.

NOT good.

Then he retrieved the message from Niles.

”506 needs to be cut down…too wordy.”

Lipschitz e-mailed him back.

“You got it kid…great catch…it’s your world…we’re just living in it.”

Lipschitz shortened the script in about 20 seconds and then spent the next two hours reading about George Washington.

At the end of the week, Lipschitz looked at the schedule. He was anything but surprised to see that another writer had been written into his regular time slot. When the shift was up Lipschitz packed his stuff up.

He knew that the little turd, Niles, had reported him to the E.P. Lipschitz also didn’t really care. He was tired of being marginalized and devalued at the Local. He went from being the regular line producer of an afternoon show to a 3 day a week writer. It was the type of shoddy treatment Lipschitz had seen befall many a free-lance writer over the years. After all those years at Smart-TV, interviewing celebrities, hanging out at premieres and parties and making little movies for television, now it was his turn to take a bite of the shit sandwich… but Lipschitz would much rather smash it in Niles’ smarmy little face instead.

“Have a great weekend, kid,” Lipschitz said with a wink and a smile as he walked by the little fucker and gave him a hard but playful slap on the shoulder…as it happened, Niles was holding a half a cup of hot coffee at the time, that spilled all over his lap.

If he could have, Niles probably would have chewed right through his pencil right then and there.

Half-hearted apologies notwithstanding, it was no big surprise then, that Lipschitz’s name wasn’t on the schedule for the rest of the month.

It was time anyway.

Time to come up with plan B.


Adam Kluger

Banner Image by the author


3 thoughts on “The Freelancer by Adam Kluger”

  1. Hey James- Thanks so much! – I really like your description that it “rings so many bells of truth”– in many American newsrooms there was an old system called Avstar–and when the line producer or copy editor or anyone for that matter was unhappy with a writer’s script–you would instantly hear…(wait for it…) the noise of a tiny little bell ringing on your computer screen…to alert you to an urgent message–and usually the sound of that tiny little bell would be a harbinger of nothing but big trouble–ask a TV newswriter or producer on deadline and they’ll tell you–the sound a that tiny little bell could cause a Pavlovian reaction even in the saltiest of veterans– well done! Best! Adam 🙂


  2. Hi Adam,
    So many wee twats in the world and not enough knuckles to go around.
    This is too recognisable and makes you want to go out and punch mid-management.


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