Millennium Babe: The Prophecy
by Betty Dravis
Saturday, December 25, 1999
San Jose, California
So far it had been a prime day. The best. Even the weather was cooperating: sunny with sparse clouds and mild northwesterly winds. He had predicted sunny with heavy clouds and southeasterly winds, but--what the hey!--he couldn't be right all the time.
Earlier, David Wetterman had celebrated Christmas with his sister's family where he ran-through his new jokes for his biggest fan, his young nephew, Kevin Seth Craig. The kid had been responsive--laughing in all the right places--so the man felt ready to wow his viewers.
The comic weatherman was in his early thirties; half Scottish with a thick shock of bright red hair, and heavy horn-rimmed spectacles perched on a much-freckled nose. He dressed with garish flamboyance, but was meticulously neat.
The man was one-of-a-kind: a meteorologist who used funny routines and outrageous costumes to attract an audience. Not the most accurate weatherman, but that didn't seem to bother his fans; they loved the witty, irreverent little man.
David was also one of a dying breed: a man fortunate enough to be employed in a job he loved.
So what was wrong today? Why this restlessness? This uneasiness? He couldn't put his finger on it, but it was the oddest feeling--as though something was about to happen.
Could someone be following him? Na-ahh, he wasn't that important... yet.
As the weatherman straightened his shoulders, then shook his head to clear it, his resolve returned. He'd never been paranoid before and didn't intend to start now. Not when his ratings were peaking daily.
Yeah, his star was definitely on the rise. He was the Man--the Main Man. Yeah...
Later Christmas evening--around ten fifteen--David stood outside the lobby of KNTV, Channel 11. He had chained his fire-engine-red mountain bike to the courtesy rack, then smoked a Marlboro.
As he crushed the cigarette beneath the sole of his mottled gray snakeskin cowboy boot, he sensed danger: the mild winter evening seemed strangely threatening. Sucking in several deep breaths, the man rescinded the negative thought. Then marveling once again at his good fortune in being a main player in one of the major cities in the good old U.S. of A., he tapped on the window to beckon the security guard.
"S'matter, Wetterman, forget your key again?" The guard bit into a thick slice of pepperoni pizza as he unlocked the door.
David nodded absently as he pushed past the man, but when he spotted the cute young thing standing behind the reception counter he lit up. In a show-off maneuver, he tossed her his black, silver-banded cowboy hat, placed his hands on the ground, lifted his legs into the air and walked topsy-turvy towards her.
Like some men thrive on alcohol or women, David thrived on the three A's: audience, appreciation, applause.
He was always on.
As the short, wiry man flipped back to his feet, his jovial mood dissipated. He suddenly felt dizzy, nauseous; his face was hot and prickly. Since he could usually walk on his hands indefinitely, he became agitated. What the hey's wrong with me?
David took a hard look around, but everything seemed the same: same teal carpet, same potted plants, same smiling posters of news anchors Doug Moore and Maggi Scura, same old poster of him made-up like the Joker in Batman, a role made famous by actor Jack Nicholson.
Same as yesterday, the day before, and the day before that... world without end, David thought. Everyone should be so lucky.
He shrugged-off the ill feelings, retrieved his hat, slapped it at a jaunty angle across his forehead and gave the guard a snappy salute. Then, with a cursory glance over his shoulder, David winked at the girl, shook his head to clear it and stumbled down the hallway towards the dressing room. After all, he was the star. Couldn't let his fans down, now could he?
Like always, the weatherman left his audience shaking their heads and laughing.
A short while later, as David plumped-up the padding in the midsection of his Mrs. Claus costume, another wave of dizziness overcame him. His thoughts became scrambled and his head began to ache. His pulse throbbed, his forehead was clammy. And the itching, the painful itching--God! It felt like tiny ants with hundreds of microscopic, scratchy feet were line dancing through his brain, jamming the wiring.
Dropping into a black vinyl chair beside the door, David lowered his head between his legs to increase circulation to his brain. What the hey's wrong--a terminal case of joke-itis? Na-ahh, prob'ly just a pesky flu bug.
"All-Wet, you're on--three minutes," blared from the intercom. Hate that nickname, flickered through the man's mind as he dismissed the strange feelings and wobbled onto the set in Mrs. Claus's shiny, black, high-heeled boots.
David led up to the weather forecast with a satire about lack of snow in "Fun Jose" hindering residents from celebrating the true spirit of Christmas. Shifting to a more serious mode, he was halfway through the current weather stats when he suddenly toppled to his knees.
The cameraman, accustomed to the weatherman's fast-paced antics, followed his movements with precision. But when the man yanked off his gray wig––forcing the granny glasses askew––and began digging his fingernails into his face and pulling his thick, curly red hair, the cameraman reeled with astonishment. His eyes sought out Bitsy Blodgett, the director. What now, boss-lady? He was even more puzzled when the woman shrugged her shoulders, then shook a frenzied finger in David's direction.
As the cameraman's eyes flicked back to his subject, he was astonished. David had once again changed demeanor: from clownish he'd gone to frenzied, but now was calm, as though in a soporific stupor. He was still on his knees, and his eyes burned with hypnotic intensity. They were fiercely fixated on the camera, glowing brighter than the laser wielded by Luke Skywalker in Star Wars.
Quicker than a frame-freeze, the cameraman zoomed in for a close-up. Strange, he thought, All-Wet looks radical, like a hell-and-brimstone preacher straight from the Bible Belt of the thirties. Could he be on drugs? Na-ahh, he's too square.
When the weatherman's large, luminous yellow eyes stared through the crooked glasses into the camera and he spoke, his voice took on a deep booming quality. The tone resounded with such authentic authority, the man now seemed more like a wise old prophet who had wandered off a page of the Old Testament, or even like... uh... God.
David's words were few, but powerful: "From the mouth of a babe," he roared, "shall come peace, prosperity. The first babe born in the third millennium shall be born to great wealth. It shall be a special child, a child with extraordinary gifts: the beauty and grace of the Blessed Virgin, the strength and courage of King David, the mercy and wisdom of King Solomon, and the love and compassion of Jesus Christ, your Lord and Savior. Under the divine protection of God Almighty, this beloved child shall wear His armor and fly His banner as it obediently fulfills its destiny."
The shocking message was of a joyous nature, but the weatherman's expression remained grim, unnerving. His dramatic words hung in the air, numbing the newsroom, but when he gasped and collapsed to the floor, the director came alive. Using frantic hand-signals, she directed the cameraman to cut back to the news anchors while she and the crew rushed to help the crumpled red heap on the newsroom floor.
Good Godzilla, Bitsy mused, has David gone postal on us, or is the little clown pulling San Jose's trillion-dollar legs? The sponsors'll never put up with this, let alone his fans.
As a big, burly electrician hoisted the unconscious weatherman over his shoulder and carried him to the dressing room, the phones began ringing. Lines throughout the station were lighting up like they had following the San Diego suicides--the Heaven's Gate tragedy.
Groaning as she massaged her throbbing temples, the director thought, Oh-hh, God, sounds like Ma Bell's having a bell-ringing contest. Afraid the little clown's gone too far this time. Bitsy swallowed dryly, rummaged in her purse for an aspirin, then scurried away to get a glass of water, and medical supplies to disinfect the weatherman's self-inflicted wounds.
Since the skeleton night crew only answered direct lines to the newsroom, Bitsy had to make a quick decision: call in extra staff or ignore the phone calls. Forget it! she decided. Let the news desk worry about it. I have to find out what the hell David's up to.
Bitsy had stripped off the weatherman's blood-spattered costume jacket and was dabbing disinfectant on his minor abrasions when he regained consciousness. "Bitsy... Bitsy? Wh-what happened?" He stared up at her with eyes swimming in anguish.
"First things first--how do you feel? Need a doctor?"
"No... no doctor. And Nurse Amy, you ain't, so quit fussin' over me. I wanna know what happened out there."
"Nurse Amy? Oh-hh... General Hospital..." Bitsy responded. Then: "You want to know what happened? Suppose you tell me!"
When David, obviously confused, shook his head sadly, the director filled him in.
The blood left the weatherman's face and his eyes grew as round as compact disks. "I... I said what?" He had done some asinine things in his life, but nothing like this.
Bitsy repeated the prophecy.
Well, I'll be rolled in camel dung and coated with mustard, David thought, but he said, "Well, I'll be a poor man's John the Baptist!"
Bitsy gave a full-blown unladylike snort. "Come on, man, you think this is a joke? Level with me, what are you on?"
"Y'know me better'n that, Bitsy. I... I'd never put any chemicals in this buff bod." David grinned weakly as he patted his firm biceps, then sobered. "As... as for what happened out there, I'm clueless. Remember doin' my Christmas satire, a terrible itchin', wild, scrambled thoughts... then nothin'."
No chemicals, huh? What about those cigarettes? Well, at least he doesn't drink, flittered through Bitsy's mind, even as she said, "Nothing? Good Godzilla, David, get a grip!" The director groaned once again as she dropped the bloody gauze pads into a wastebasket. "From the sound of those phones, sounds like plenty to me." Yes, she thought to herself, plenty of trouble. And no doubt I'll be caught in the fall-out.
As Bitsy retrieved David's purple, western-cut shirt from a wall peg and tossed it to him, he asked, "Could we... uh... pass it off as a Christmas skit?"
"Afraid not! If this goes past Silicon Valley, you could be in big trouble. The media will hack your words up in little pieces, then print them before jamming them down your throat. Or could go the other way--instant fame. For your sake, I hope Jane Q. Public forgets all about it in a few days."
On the way out, Bitsy paused in the doorway, her voice softening as she said, "Oh well, I better contact the suits. They can take it from here. Sure you're okay, David?"
"Well, mentally, I'm as scrambled as a haywire cable, but physically, I feel fine," the weatherman answered absently, his mind lingering on two of Bitsy's words: instant fame. Wow--me an instant celebrity! Rosie, here I come. Guess I better get the tape, review the show. Gotta do some serious public relations.
As the director closed the door, she muttered under her breath, "Out of the mouths of babes... and fools. David doesn't realize it, but this could be a disaster."
Little did she know how prophetic her own words were.
- End of Chapter One -