Warren took a seat in the waiting room and reached for a magazine.
He looked down at his choice; he was staring at a picture of himself. It looked like him leaving the hospital last week. He vaguely remembered the clothes he’d been wearing, and it looked like the hospital entrance in the background.
Then he noticed the text. The periodical was entitled Warren Weekly, and the current issue’s headline, rendered in large, white, bold, all caps Helvetica:
HEMORRHOID SURGERY: A SUCCESS!
He quickly flipped the magazine upside down so no one would see–as if he wasn’t sitting in the waiting room of the proctologist’s office, as if he wasn’t there for a follow-up appointment to double-check that his surgery was, in fact, a success. As if he wasn’t surrounded by other patients in said waiting room with maladies that were likely similar to his.
But still, as far as he knew, none of those other people were the cover story of a glossy gossip mag.
He turned the magazine back over and quickly flipped back the cover. He thumbed past the first few pages, looking for the masthead. He found it on the sixth page in: Mitzi Multimedia, Inc. There was a toll-free number listed amongst the publisher’s information.
Warren pulled out his phone as he stepped out of the waiting room and into the hall, taking the magazine with him. He was going to try to find out from whomever answered what the deal was with this magazine. And also, why their company had the same name as his Scottish terrier.
“Mitzi Multimedia, Inc. How may I help you?”
“Warren. Hi…so, you discovered the magazine, huh?”
“Yes, I did…IN DR. FINNEY’S WAITING ROOM.”
“Oh, yeah–they’ve had a subscription for years. I’m actually surprised you didn’t find out sooner.”
“YEARS?” He said it louder than he’d meant to, then looked around and, seeing no one, returned to the phone, whispering. “Years? Claire, how long has this…magazine been in existence?”
“It’ll be ten years next month, as a matter of fact. I’m planning a big retrospective Collector’s Edition Double Issue.”
“Oh, really? And will my HEMORRHOIDS be part of that?”
“Honey, look: I’m sorry if that embarrassed you, but I was just giving the readers what they wanted. The good news is, you’re very popular, and your fans were worried about you. You should see all the mail I got saying how glad they were that you were OK.”
Warren heard the nurse practitioner calling his name through the office door.
“OK, look, I gotta go. But we WILL be having a LONG discussion about this when I get home.”
And they did. Claire apologized to Warren again for keeping the whole enterprise secret, and gave him the entire story: How, armed with little more than a spy camera, a laptop, and some basic desktop publishing software, Claire had taken Warren Weekly from a little graphic design project she’d done on a lark and, over the past decade, built it up into an international publishing phenomenon. And she’d done it all right under Warren’s nose.
She told him how she wanted to let him in on it right away but she was afraid he’d be offended or that he’d think she was mocking him, and then the more popular Warren Weekly got, the harder it was for her to say anything because she felt that was all the more reason he’d be offended.
She told him how, unbeknownst to him until earlier that day, he was kind of famous in a weird way. Especially–and inexplicably–in Japan.
She told him how Mitzi Multimedia, Inc. and its flagship publication had earned them a good bit of money–money Claire had been depositing directly into their retirement fund. Long story short, they were going to live better in their golden years than they’d ever imagined was possible.
It was this last bit of information that finally got Warren on board. When she showed him the current balance in the retirement fund, Warren was suddenly far less self-conscious about his picture appearing on a magazine cover next to the giant word HEMORRHOIDS.
And as it turned out, the whole outing of Claire’s extracurricular activities came at just the right time. She was only weeks away from launching Warren TV online and via On Demand, and it was going to be WAY easier to get it up and running without having to do so on the sly.