It’s no secret, everyone tries to hone in on the action when there’s the faintest whiff of stardom or instant wealth on the horizon. Jonas Cider, bless his antagonistic, ingratiating soul, is no different. Ever since Morris Crimpanfortis arrived in this squalid, two-bit former coalmining bastion, people have been trying to hop aboard the gravy train for a nonstop journey to perpetual fun in the sun. Jonas Cider contends that he not only wants to be, but has the right to be, Morris’ sidekick for the new talk show: Anthracite Tonite! Jonas’ claim to fame is that he’s the lone surviving descendant of Clement Cider, who discovered the coal that would fuel the Pre Sunspot Era (PSE) nearly four centuries ago. In an impromptu meeting at the Five-Points Highway Diner, Morris gets down to brass tacks about just what the cohost job entails:  Jonas admits he can’t impersonate Elvis, but he is “pretty good” at handling poisonous snakes.. . .

Jonas Cider: Waiting Centuries for a Co-host Gig

Open Auditions for Co-host

Ah, the pleasure of being a show host and running your own TV production company. People at booths and tables greet me and nod as I triumphantly stride down the center aisle of the Five-Points Highway Diner.

Deluded that I’m still living in Burbank, I am not wearing an overcoat, Shivering uncontrollably, I head to the rear of the diner where the “Boca Grande Room” is located. Snow falls from my shoulders, cascading in slushy clumps on the worn carpet. I suffer the indignity of being told not to melt so close to peoples’ food. I expertly sluice winter mucus with the back of an ungloved hand, and am warned not to do that so close to diners either.

These sad sacks may not know me as a household name yet, but they surely must sense something big in the works. Maybe it’s my air of confidence, indicating I’m on the brink of something important – something groundbreaking. I can only imagine what it will be like when I start appearing live and direct across the U.S. on a nightly basis.

Tripping on Delusions of Grandeur

As I round the corner, I fully expect to be hailed by a teeming complement of bookers, writers, segment producers, brand and editorial managers, social media execs, sales and marketing guys, digital asset managers and associate producers eagerly assembled to discuss topics and offer suggestions for the design and overall feel for the show. Instead, the only person in attendance is the bane of my existence: Jonas Cider.

I try not to leer at Jonas as Tony, my regular waiter, places a water with two squeezes of lime on the soggy coaster in front of me. “Thank you Tony,” I say. The glass is a little smudged, not entirely clean, but I grin and bear it. “I hope you can make the meeting later on.”

“I get off in another hour,” Tony says.

“That’s fine,” I say. Tony is my Director of Catering and Craft Services. I don’t know if he’s any good, but he seems eager enough. Apparently he’s a quick study; at least that’s what his shift supervisor tells me. I just wish they’d spruce up the aprons around this place.

An Offer Genuinely Worth Refusing

“Have you thought any more about my offer to be co-host?” Jonas asks.

Juice flies as I pulverize the lime wedges and douse them with my chilled fingertips in the overflowing mouth of the milky glass. “No,” I tell him.

Jonas Cider claims to be the long-lost descendant of Clement Cider, the man credited with discovering coal in the region nearly four centuries ago that fueled the Pre-Sunspot Era. Actually, a beaver discovered the vein but why muddle history with facts?

An angular man in his thirties with long, scraggily brown hair, Jonas struggles with entitlement issues. Everyone wants to be a co-host, and I have grown to resent Jonas’ arrogance. I know it’s wrong of me, he’s only trying to get ahead; I just don’t like how he’s going about it.

Jonas also fashions himself a Renaissance man: he’s a finish carpenter, plays the Dobro, and designs women’s sportswear.

But can he sing like Elvis?

And, more to the point: can he handle himself around poisonous snakes?