Original SWAT Kats Story

The Tortie Papers

By Paul Kemner

  • 8 Chapters
  • 12,737 Words

Tortie Gets a Job. (Series Unfinished)

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Author's Notes:

Here you go, DJ. As I said in my note, I’m establishing character here, so no big action. Snowy and Tortie both have ‘cute’ names for a reason, and neither would consider changing their first name. Let me know what you think.

Chapter 1

“One more applicant to go.” Snowflak thought to herself. All these young kittens, fresh out of journalism school. Their eyes aren’t even open yet. The best head straight for TV jobs. The only one with any experience I’ve saved for last. Wonder what’s wrong with her, to be applying here?

As Snowflak opened the door, she was surprised to see the applicant already walking towards her, hand outstretched. “Thank-you for agreeing to meet with me, Ms. Skaukatt. I’m Tortie Carical, and I appreciate the chance to talk with you about the Trib.” Her manner was quite different from the younger applicants. While not the stereotypical brash young reporter, she did seem quite confident, almost as if she was preparing to interview Snowflak for a story instead of a job.

At first glance, the only thing the two Kats had in common was the long tufts topping their ears. Tortie’s extremely short fur was a mottled camouflage with black, brown, and tan, a tan semicircle above her eyes. Snowflak, on the other hand, had long fluffy white fur, with grey ‘ghost’ tabby markings. “Before we get started, can I offer you some milk?”

“Yes, I’d like some frothed, with a little coffee, in a china cup, if it’s available.” answered Tortie.

As they walked to the kitchen, Tortie took in her surroundings. “You’ve got a lot of room to grow in this building.” she mused as they passed several empty offices.

“Yes, my father had it built in the heyday of the newspaper.” Snowflak responded. “Now, with competition from TV and other media, we’re not having an easy time. Ahh- here you go- the milk and coffee, and there’s the machine.”

There were plenty of unused mugs in the cupboard, with the Trib logo on them. Tortie selected two. “How about if I make some for both of us? I’ve wondered why you advertised for three reporters at once. As you said, most newspapers aren’t in expansion mode right now. This might be something I can help with.”

“Well, my best reporter managed to wangle a low-level job with Kats Eye News, and quit immediately. The other two got fed up with the extra work load, and they found other jobs before I could replace the first one. It’s not easy to keep morale up- with circulation down, and advertising down, we were all concerned about our paychecks.”

As they returned to Snowflak’s office, she continued: “I wouldn’t normally paint such a bleak picture for job applicants, but with your experience, it has to have occurred to you already. You’ve seen the pay range for these positions. I have to ask why a kat with your experience is even applying? I’ve looked at your portfolio, and you can certainly write.”

“Can you imagine this peppered hide on TV?” Tortie pointed at her fur as she sat in the chair across from Snowflak. “The TabbyTown Tattler, the newspaper I’m working at now, was in a position similar to the Trib. If anything, it was worse. Being a small town newspaper, there was less business to fall back on. Mr. Chatwel, the owner and my mentor, finally decided that he had to change the paper if he wanted it to survive. He decided to quit chasing the big corporate advertising money, which was going to TV anyway. He aimed his editorial policy to appeal to small-business advertisers. It wasn’t all that difficult, since HE was a small business owner, too. He also decided that the question of ‘What’s happening right now?’ is best handled by TV, but that TV does a LOUSY job of answering why, or doing any in-depth news. He decided to stress that in marketing the Tattler, he’d appeal to kats that wanted to know the real story, not just what’s happening this very minute….”

As Snowflak listened to Tortie, she thought to herself: “Can I trust this Kat? In a way, it doesn’t matter. If she can turn this paper around it’s worth it. If I don’t do anything, I’ll soon be the proud owner of an empty building up for bankruptcy sale.”

“…Mr. Chatwel and I both agreed that I needed to move to a big city paper to further my experience, and I’ve already trained my successor at the Tattler. When I saw your ad for reporters, I thought what you really need is a first class editor. I know that you’re the editor of the Trib now, Ms. Skaukatt, but you’re also the owner. The two jobs are too much work for one kat to do, and you can’t delegate the job of owner. I thought that if you concentrated on the owner’s job of finding new advertisers, that I could get the editorial end of the paper in line to back you up. Can you think of any reason why I couldn’t get started right away as the editor of the Trib?”

Snowflak was taken aback. Her tail twitched ever so slightly as she thought about giving up editorial control. “Well… we don’t have the budget right now to pay an editor, which is why I’m doing double duty. You’ve seen the

salary range…”

“I’m willing to take a chance if you are, Ms. Skaukatt. If you give me the job of editor, I’ll start out at reporter’s pay. If we can get advertising revenue to go up instead of down, and increase circulation in the next six months, then we’ll talk about paying me what I’m worth. It’s got to be better than re-arranging the deck chairs on the Megaleo.”

The mention of the ‘unsinkable’ ocean liner that dragged the cream of MegaKat City society to the bottom of the sea 70 years before struck home. Snowflak had been fascinated by the story since she could read, and the image of the Trib building slipping beneath cold ocean waves had been a disturbing dream lately. “All right- I’ll take you up on your offer.” She reached across the table to shake hands with Tortie. “Well, we better look over these other resumes so you can decide who your two new reporters will be… and call me Snowy.”

“Thank-you, Ms… Snowy! I think we’ll both look back on this as the start of the new Trib. Do you think MegaKat City is ready for a newspaper with four of these?” she said, pointing at the long tufts that topped her absurdly tall ears.

“Actually, six! Ed Lynx runs the presses, and he has them too! I’m sure the city isn’t ready for us, but they’ll have to get used to it!” Snowflak purred as they clinked their mugs in a toast.

——————— Paul Kemner | “Many people appear to imagine that they cannot Toledo, Ohio | afford to have artistic surroundings, whereas pkemner@bright.net | the wonder is that they can afford so much ——————- expensive ugliness.” M. H. Baillie Scott

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