"And now it is my great pleasure to introduce a man I'm having sex with, Robert Anderson, Anchor and chief spokesperson for WJXT Channel 4 in Jacksonville."
I stopped the tape at that point. The speaker was a tall redhead, dressed in a clingy red evening gown cut low enough to display some of her delectable breasts and from another angle a low cut back, the red burnishing the ruddy skin and the mane of thick hair coming down almost to her waist.
There was nothing unusual about her expression, except a slight smile as if she had made a joke she expected her audience to enjoy. I wondered what the joke was about an apparently happily married woman admitting to having sex with a man she wasn't married to in front of 500 movers and shakers from around the nation.
The fact that Roxanne Hunter was my wife made it more interesting.
Bobby Carroll, who knew she was my wife, grinned at me and said, "I told you she said it, Tommy. But that's not the funny part. Roll the tape."
"There's more funny coming?"
I sat in front of the monitor and stared at my friend. It was surreal, but Bobby wouldn't be laughing if he didn't think it was funny.
I hit the play button.
As soon as the words came out of her mouth she lifted her gaze from the papers in front of her on the lectern of the conference room at the Westin Snowmass Resort near Aspen, Colorado. She glanced out at the audience and the camera caught her glazed expression as it must have sunk in on her what she had said.
Even for a redhead with the dusky skin of her Mexican mother, the blush that spread over her cheeks, her upper chest and back was clearly visible.
A quick pan of the audience showed stunned expressions and a few beginning smiles.
"I – Oh God – that didn't come out right. What I MEANT to say was, a man I would LOVE to have sex with, like 99 percent of you ladies out there and most of the female population of Jacksonville where he and I hail from. Now be honest, there's a reason he's the biggest anchor – BIGGEST? – oh my God!"
She turned to the blonde man sitting beside her on the dais and said, "Please, Robert, get up here before I dig my grave with my mouth and destroy my marriage. Help me out here."
He pulled his chair back and stood up to his full height, six inches over her tawny five foot ten. He was a big dude. He stood beside her for a moment and then put his arm around her and gave her a kiss on the cheek which brought cheers and wolf whistles, most from women in the crowd.
"I wish I'd known about the sex, Rox, I would have enjoyed it a lot more."
At that the audience erupted. I understood it. Most of the time, Literacy events anywhere in the country for educators, politicians and anyone trying to reduce the rate of illiteracy were respectable, sober and uplifting events. Funny, not so much - actually not at all!
This was a little different, involving educators from around the country, primarily inner cities, who had come together in the pleasant environs of Aspen just before Christmas as a sort of reward for their good work over the past year. Probably 99 percent of them had never heard of Roxanne or Anderson. I was sure that, after enjoying the night, they'd go back to bars around town, party and maybe get in a little skiing the next day - not your normal Literacy environment.
Standing up in front of the room, Anderson was cool, confident and sexy. It was easy to understand why WJXT had almost regained it's previously dominant position in the Jacksonville/Northeast Florida television market, stealing a chunk of my own WJXT -12 audience. He was eye-candy for females.
All anchors, male or female, were, of course. You never saw ugly anchors anymore. The only relatively unattractive staff you ever saw on television were field reporters, and even a few of the good ones had been canned around town for the sin of being too fat or too old or just DULL on camera. It wasn't fair, but it was life. It was business.
Everybody knew that Anderson was only here temporarily. He really was a good newsman, working his way up from field reporter instead of vaulting into the anchor position from journalism school with his looks and sex appeal. The networks are always looking for smart and sexy. He wouldn't be here longer than another year – if that.
Anderson gave the audience one of those looks that told every female – every person – that he was talking to them personally. Then he glanced back at Roxanne. She blushed and I thought there was something that passed between them but it might have been because I was pissed.
He looked back at the audience and said, "I'm sure this will come as news to you, but the beautiful Ms. Hunter's husband is Tommy Hunter, news director at our competitor Channel 12 in the great city of Jacksonville, Florida where I am happy to work. Much, as a competitive newsman, I would love to be sticking it – to Mr. Hunter – I can reassure him that I have not been up to anything with his wife."
He looked up straight into the camera and I know the son of a bitch was speaking directly to me.
"Not that I wouldn't love sticking it – to him – but if I had ever had the pleasure, I would definitely remember it - and I don't! Although I have to tell you, I may have some pleasant dreams in the future."
He looked down at his notes and when he looked up again 'hot and sexy' had been replaced by 'earnest and sincere, ' as he began, "But all joking aside, we're here tonight about a very serious subject. There are thousands of people in our community, in communities around this nation from the poorest to some of the wealthiest, who simply can't read. Not a can label, or a prescription, or instructions on how to take medicine. They are or will be crippled throughout their entire lives because they lack one basic skill for survival in the modern world. They can't read. We're here tonight to thank each and all of you for your efforts to solve this problem."
From that point on it was a sincere, routine and sober speech, as was the rest of the evening. I had seen portions of it. In certain situations we swapped coverage, and not just on the huge stories. It would have been too expensive for both stations to send teams, but since we didn't' expect anybody to be shot or any explosions, 4 wasn't losing anything by sharing. We'd repay the favor.
I had watched portions of it, even though I hadn't seen much of Roxanne. It was my job to keep up on what other stations were doing, because it still involved a local personality and a beautiful local woman. Roxanne had gone as a representative of her employer which strongly supported the literacy campaign. She'd flown out Friday afternoon and surprised me by coming home early Sunday morning.
I'd never seen this portion before though. The tape released started with Anderson's formal speech, which I didn't think about because he was the reason 4 was covering it.
Even above and beyond the cost, I wouldn't have sent a crew out. Our best cameraman was still dealing with the loss of his wife and child in a head-on crash three months before. I was treating him very carefully. Not just because we were friends, but because he was good, really good. Civilians think cameramen just point a camera and shoot. They have no idea.
"This was on the tape that 4 shot. They didn't use it on air because they're the family station, but they saved it on kind of a blooper reel. You know how cameramen gossip and I heard about this really good piece and talked a friend into making me a copy. It's funny as hell, don't you think?"
I stared at him and I think he began to get an inkling.
"You'd think it was funny if Carol walked into a party and told everybody she was having sex with another guy?"
"For God's sake, Tommy, it's not the same. She was joking about wanting to screw the guy. Hell, half the women in Jacksonville feel the same and if you believe the stories, a lot of them have actually done it. It was a joke. Everybody roared and - watch the tape. She wasn't guilty - embarrassed but not guilty, and he'd have to be the best actor in the world to react the way he did. Maybe she was thinking about screwing him. I'm sure she was, but fantasizing about screwing somebody is not the same thing as doing it. Hell, if that was the case, every guy in this station would have screwed Christina and half of them would be divorced by now."
Christina D'Allessandra, who went by the television name of Dallas, was the morning co-anchor. Twenty-six years old, straight black hair and the high cheekbones of her American Indian grandmother, along with a pair of headlights that caused guilty fantasies in every married man at the station, except for me. But I understood what he was saying.
"When was this shot, Bobby? That Literacy event was – what – a month ago? Mid December. I've never heard a word of this."
"Everybody was talking about it, but everybody took it for what it was – a joke. Obviously Rox was embarrassed. She probably thought you'd react the way you have. I guess she knows you better than me. I thought you'd laugh about it. You've got nothing to be sensitive about. Shit, Carole has joked a few times about getting a free pass to try you out. If I was the jealous type, I'd be the one pissed off. Evidently Rox brags about you when the women have their hen parties."
I just stared at the monitor. I'd stopped it on Anderson's smiling face. Bobby was right. It was probably just an inadvertent Freudian slip. She'd been thinking about banging him and the words slipped out and she turned it, with his help, into a joke. I couldn't blame her for her fantasies.
.... There is more of this story ...