The Rumor Mill
Copyright Lydia Thomas 2016
“Why do you want to work at The Rumor Mill?”
The gentleman before me is probably in his fifties. I squint. Early sixties at the latest. I called him in for the interview because of his impressive resume: he’d downed numerous institutions in his day, to say nothing of ruined individual reputations.
“Well, as I’m sure you noticed from my resume, I’ve always had a sort of fascination with this line of work.” He leans forward. “Now, I’m ready to get serious about it.”
I glance back down at his resume, and wonder how much more serious he could possibly get. “What prompted this…desire?”
“Someone’s writing a book about me.”
He waves his hand. “Fiction.”
I frown. “How do you know it’s about you?”
“I’ve heard snippets here and there about the subject matter, not to mention there’s a character who’s just like me.”
“Ah. Is what’s being written about you true?”
“Would I be here if it wasn’t?”
“So, it’s personal?”
“Isn’t it always?”
I shrug. “I suppose.”
“It can’t get out.”
“How are you going to stop it?” I ask.
“She’s always had an overactive imagination. I’m not calling her a pathological liar, but”- He shrugs with a sheepish grimace.
“Well, maybe you should,” I say. “Capitalize on the overactive imagination.”
He grins. “I made that up.”
He is good.
“And you ate that up!” He crows, pointing at me.
“Let’s move on to a scenario we encounter every day here at The Rumor Mill,” I say, ignoring that last bit. “Let’s say a young adult woman moves out of her parents’ home. It’s an everyday occurrence, but how do we make it ugly?”
He leans back in his chair, and touches the tips of his fingers together. “Easy. She was pregnant and her parents kicked her out, for the puritanical crowd. She did it for a man, for the liberal crowd.”
“You like to cover your bases, I see.”
“I do. Give me another.”
“Single adult male. Mid-thirties.”
“Gay. Or one of those alpha-male-red-pill types. Seriously, you don’t have anything more challenging than that?”
“It’s often the ones who seem easiest to destroy who are the hardest to get to,” I reply. “People divide more easily over big names and brands.”
“Of course,” I say. “We don’t need everyone to believe us, only enough people to generate doubt for all of the rest. Besides, half the fun of The Rumor Mill is the drama it creates.”
He dips his head in acquiescence.
“So, tell me,” I say. “Why should I hire you?”
“Because I’ll tell people The Rumor Mill is broken if you don’t.”