Gary’s gaze drifted to the plaque nailed to the wall above his desk for the twelfth time that day. Ram of the Year, it read. He sighed.
The plaque had been hanging there for a few months now, ever since the newspaper he worked for, The Daily Ram, held its annual awards.
He hung his shaggy head, the little beard on his chin dipping to brush the inkstains on his desk. Gary had yearned for the Ram of the Year award ever since he was a kid. But now his victory seemed hollow.
“Gary?” He jerked his head up. Loretta stood framed in the door, her hooves freshly polished and shining in the morning sunlight. Her long neck curved into his office, and she gazed at him through thick lashes. “Gary, how’s the story coming?” she asked. “The editors are hounding me for it…”
Gary heaved himself out of his chair. He placed his hands on his lower back and stretched. He stomped his hooves into the carpet a few times to shake some blood back into his legs. Loretta still lingered in the doorway, awaiting his response. At length he cleared his throat.
“You ever wonder what the point of it all is, Loretta?” She blinked. “We spend our days chained to our desks, churning out stories for the press, and once a year we hold a ceremony to decide who made the biggest contribution. Whose story was the best.”
Loretta brightened. “But your story last year was brilliant! ! ‘Breaking Bad Llamas: Bringing Down the Metropolis’s Deadliest Gang’! You were so brave to go undercover like that.” Her eyes shone as she quoted: “‘And as I stared down Alpaca Mack after confronting him with evidence of his theft, I knew that I had won.’ So brave—”
“I made it up!” he brayed. Loretta skittered backwards a half-pace.
Gary hung his head again, and brought his hands up to rub his eyes. Snapping his head up, he stared wildly at Loretta.
“I made it up! All of it! There’s not a scrap of truth to my award-winning story. Some journalist I am…”
“I don’t believe you! You’re a good writer, and a good investigator. You couldn’t possibly have made the whole thing up.” Loretta had begun to paw the ground nervously. Gary was her boss; what was she supposed to do with this revelation? Her mind was reeling. “You mean the disappearance of CarrotCorp.’s stock had nothing to do with the Bad Llama Brigade? Is there even such a thing as the Bad Llama Brigade??” As a llama herself, she was secretly hoping that there wasn’t—no llama wanted to be associated with such heinous crimes.
Gary’s gaze became doleful. “It’s true. I made it all up. I even hired a few llamas to dress up in ski masks to stage the photos.”
A look of disgust developed on Loretta’s face, like an image surfacing on a sheet of photo paper in a darkroom. She stalked over to the Ram of the Year plaque. Tearing it from the wall, she looked Gary up and down, from his tiny goat horns to his cloven hooves.
“And you’re not even a ram,” she spat.
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