You really can’t beat the meatloaf special with string beans at the Five-Points Highway Diner. Yum. Now that’s eating. But Morris Crimpanfortis V is not especially enjoying his meal this evening. The projected launch date for Anthracite Tonite is bearing down on him like a ton of sizzling ingots, and the all-important decision for a co-host hangs in the balance. Jonas Cider is trying to make a case for himself, but Morris knows he’s all wrong for the part. The erratic yokel can’t be trusted around celebrities. There is only one person in this entire burg that Morris deems worthy of the exalted co-host mantle: Twilz Grimsby, who handles the drive-thru at the Coal Miners Burger Shaft. She can trade celebrity gossip with the best of them, and won’t back down when a customer complains about cold fries. Will Morris get the stones to approach Twilz for the coveted co-host position? Or will be fall back on the old tried and true, with the prospect of Bigfoot lurking in the wings?

Coal Dust and Burgers

Holding out Co-Host Hopes for Twilz Grimsby

I order the meatloaf special with string beans, then glance at my watch. Where is everyone? It’s tough trying to keep the troops motivated when a project seems so far away. The problem is the launch date will be here before anyone knows it, and then what? People will be scrambling around like chickens with their heads cut off. It’s up to me as captain of the ship to keep everyone on point. I wonder if disciplinary measures are in order. It’s tough keeping people in the ballgame when they’re not being paid.

“I can handle both the music and co-host chores,” Jonas Cider offers. “Think about it, a twofer. You can’t beat it.” The scrawny man makes a mock toast before taking a self-congratulatory sip of tap water.

I pick at my salad, wondering if I should say anything about the wilted lettuce. I dump on more Russian dressing from the bottle on the dirty checkered tablecloth.

Where is everyone? Is the snow keeping them away? I sure hope so; I hope it’s not the fact the project is running out of steam.

I chew restlessly, thinking about my options for co-host. I’m still holding out hope for Twilz Grimsby over at the Coal Miners Burger Shaft. Twilz mans the drive-thru and seems to have a pretty good handle on celebrity gossip. She can dish the dirt with the best of them without coming off as being star-struck.

Keeping it real around Celebrities

I definitely need someone who won’t lose it around celebrities. I can’t trust Jonas any further than I can through his scrawny behind. The minute my back is turned there’s no telling what big name he’ll be riling up on the set. Don’t forget, those celebrities are my guests; they’re my bread and butter, my meal ticket. No one can be messing with them.

I finish my salad and slump back in my chair wishing Jonas Cider would just get up from the table and leave. The brooding artist has been bugging me to be co-host ever since I announced the inception of Anthracite Tonight! I remain noncommittal as the search unfolds.

Now, on top of everything else, melting snow starts trickling between my shoulder blades and down my back.

The Lengths to Which Some Will Go

Get this: Mayor Perry Quinnion, misguided intentions and all, came up with the perfect bribe for me to make him co-host: building a fifteen-foot-tall bronze statue of me to replace the beaver in the middle of town square.

“I have a confession to make,” Jonas Cider says, somberly drawing up at the table. “My ancestor, Clement Cider, did not originally discover coal as everyone thinks,” he says. “Instead, it was Sasquatch,” His eyes bore holes into me. “You know… Bigfoot.”

“Okay…” I say. “Bigfoot.” I feel a bout of indigestion coming on. “Charming.”

“Do you want to discuss film rights?” he asks.