By Keryn Mells and Craig Major
MUSEUM SECURITY OFFICE
“Come in,” calls a muffled voice from inside. He enters.
“Gidday Jim,” says the uniformed body at the desk, gesturing at him to sit.
“You know that security incident last week,” asks the curator as he drops into the chair.
“Yeah, yeah. We checked against the photos of the exhibit from the week before. There was definitely nothing missing. Must have been a fault with one of the sensors. Bit embarrassing locking down four people including a kid!”
“Sure was. So I just did an inventory check – there doesn’t seem to be anything missing, but there are several new items in the living room that are not in the catalogue.”
I pick up the China figurine and peer at the cat face nesting in ceramic blue-fur, with a mixture of endearment and revulsion.
It has bright green, almond-shaped eyes with huge off-centre pupils and three prominent lashes. Exactly the same eyes and lip-sticked mouths are painted on resting deer, dogs with long floppy ears, and lambs: curiously poking out their little pink tongues.
The ornaments are a legacy of my mother, who also left me the house. Most of which is still furnished with her 1950’s carpets, old fashioned cane couches with velour cushions and wooden coffee tables matching the China cabinets. Every surface has a lace doily and hosts several families of China figurines.
Through the leaded diamond-pattern windows of the China cabinet, novelty salt and peppers stare out like curtain twitchers. A pair of yellow and white corn cobs stand on thin spindly legs. Dressed with top hats and sporting canes, they perform a Fred Astaire dance routine on the shelves.
I send a text to Brad, making an arrangement to meet him in town tomorrow morning.
I’m just making a cup of tea on my break, seven hours into my shift when I feel a vibration in my pocket. I pull the phone from the pocket of my shapeless v-necked green uniform. A shapeless top sits above loose elastic-waisted trousers of the same fabric. They in turn sit above a pair of croc-style shoes.
The uniform might be drab but I love it! I’m part of a team helping when there are problems with intravenous lines. We each have an ultrasound machine on a wheeled stand as a trusty sidekick. I call mine Ruth.
I look at my phone: it’s Ginny. Her uniform is multi-coloured striped dungarees paired with Frida Kahlo patterned shirts. It can seem a lot for her 4’6” frame. Her tiny child-sized feet are housed in laced patent leather boots, in a further variety of colours.
My friend and confidante. We were both the target of the cool kids at our local high school. We found a refuge in an unobtrusive space between two buildings. On the other side of the school from the smokers who congregated down the bush track to the swimming pool. And the rugby boys who went to the field with an entourage of cheer-leader types.
Her stature, her head of tightly-curled red hair and her fashion eccentricities made her an outcast. It was my lack of sporting interest, earnestness and tendency for emotion that were magnets for the rugby-obsessed bullies who took no prisoners.
Post-school, we helped each other through tertiary study, break-ups (mine), deaths (her mother/my father), career changes (mine), work dramas (both), cat medical problems (her) as well as the sort of everyday minutiae that is better shared with another person. I text her back agreeing to meet her in the morning.
My pager bleeps and I grab my wheels and head to the children’s ward. By the time I get there, the child, their parents and the staff will all be traumatised by a bruised arm and too many promises that they will “just feel a little prick”.
I’ve got a script for soothing patients. Ruth, rolls ahead of me like a white charger. She, alongside my friendly and empathetic manner (and well-practised technique) will save the day. My face might not be memorable, but my actions become legend.
I wake at 6.30 a.m. when a cat attempts CPR on my chest. I open my eyes reluctantly and turn onto my side, careful not to squash any of the nest of lean long-legged bodies that have crawled into every fold in my body. Rex cats have only a light covering of downy hair and my body is a heat source.
Disturbed by the withdrawal of warmth, more cats crowd my head and chest, seeking attention. I climb out of bed and head to the kitchen, trailed by a line of three felines in varied pastel shades, tails high in the air, mewling competitively. I feed them, and open the door to the backyard before attending to my own toileting and breakfast.
After breakfast I clean my plate, and those of the cats. Slightly obsessive tendencies are a strength in my logistics job. I start on my “to do” list: a few hours of emails, spreadsheets and project management software. Interspersed with terse obscenities and punctuated by fierce stabs on the keyboard. Is the world full of idiots?
After I herd the cats back inside, I grab my bag from the table by the door and set off. On board the train I assume my angry face. A scowling stare below headphones listening to a podcast. I am determined to deter the casual social interaction that inevitably starts with a comment about my height or clothes. Do they think I haven’t heard them all before?
I’m awake early, even on my day off. My tenancy of the small flat has outlasted several owners. I’ve always lived alone – both of my “relationships” lasted a little over a year and didn’t quite make the cohabitation stage. One ex-partner said that my earnest helpfulness was a little overwhelming. The other claimed I have a tendency to hover and mansplain. Just trying to help! Acts of service are my love language.
I make a perfect soft boiled egg and place it in an eggcup. The cup is fashioned as a basket with green leaves and purple grapes trailing down the side. Embracing the basket is a whimsical mouse with a black button nose, seductive red-painted lips, eyeliner and blusher. Naked except for a pink flower-adorned straw hat and a bunch of strategically placed grapes. I make a pot of tea in a cat teapot: the tail forms the handle and the tea comes out of one paw.
As I eat breakfast, I plan the day ahead. I’ll do my dishes, attend to washing, clean and do some life administration; pay some bills and check my budget. Then I will ride my bike to town for coffee before meeting Ginny.
I was supposed to go to Nana’s house today, but Nana has to drive to Hamilton or Wellington or somewhere to see her sister who got taken to hospital in an ambulance yesterday. I had to go to hospital when I was six cos I broke my leg when I fell off the monkey bars at school. It was a bit boring in hospital, but I got to read lots and watch TV all the time and I got ice cream for dessert every night. I wonder what Nana’s sister broke – maybe her eyes cos she wears these really big glasses.
I normally like the museum and school holidays but today I don’t. Mum said that I was lucky to get into the school holiday programme even though she only booked it yesterday, but I think that she is the one who feels lucky I got in cos now she can go to work.
I told Mum and Dad that I could stay home and read a book (I’m nearly half-way through the fourth Harry Potter book – I’ve already read it once but it’s one of my favourites). Mum said that she had to go into the office today because she had to meet a client. I told her to bring the client over to our house but she laughed like I was making a joke. Dad has to drive to the other side of town to pick something up today and I thought about asking if I can go with him, but he listens to these real boring podcasts in the car and sometimes he puts on this old music from the 90’s and sings. This used to make me laugh when I was a little kid, but I’ll be ten in September.
Max, the barista at Lodge who knows my coffee order by heart, is not behind the percolator this morning. Justine – the other barista (who always uses too much milk) is distracted and doesn’t see me slink back out.
With no other choice I heave a sigh, inhaling stale city air, and begin the 800-meter trek to Curated – a surprisingly hip little nook on the second floor of the Museum. I feel that as long as Selma (or, at a pinch, Marnie) is behind the counter at the less-convenient and second-best coffee spot in this Godforsaken city, the day won’t be a total write-off.
Mum drops me off at the Museum on her way to her office. She’s wearing this weird outfit that kind of looks like the suit Dad’s wearing in their wedding photos, but with a skirt instead of pants. She’s really stressed out and snaps at me when I suggest that maybe I could sit under her desk and read instead of going to the Museum.
Mum doesn’t even get out of the car when she drops me off, just drives up to the bus parking bit and says “I’ll pick you up at 3 o’clock, love you.” I look at her for a second, but get out of the car when she starts the puffy lip thing she does before she’s about to raise her voice.
Mercifully Selma has a shift at Curated this morning. She smiles, her stark black apron wrapped tight around the barista uniform of striped T-shirt and denim shorts. I order, and ask for the coffee “to go”.
On the third floor I perch on a stylish but functionally useless black bench thing, upholstered in coarse fabric. I shuffle into an almost comfortable position and try to savour the first sip of coffee before it loses too much heat. The caffeinated liquid rushes past my pursed lips, over my tongue and descends into my oesophagus.
On impulse, I pull my work phone out of my coat pocket and compose a lie via email, “Sorry Stan, I forgot to mention I’m meeting with our contact at one of the cyber-security firms. I’ll be back in the office after lunch”.
I close my eyes and let the second sip linger between my palate and taste buds.
There’s a bunch of other kids standing by a sculpture of some dead guy – a few of them go to my school. A guy with a clipboard and a blue shirt that says YOUTH GROUP comes up to me.
“Hi, I’m Andrew,” he says. “Are you… ay–ay-oh-ay-oh-fee?”
“It’s pronounced ee-fah,” I tell him.
“Oh, I’m sorry, ay-ee-fah. Got it.”
I smile because it’s easier than explaining the whole story of my dumb name. Andrew ticks his list. He and this girl called Beth tell us all some rules about how to behave in the Museum. We”re not babies, I think to myself, but I don’t say it out loud.
Every time I think about babies I think about how I nearly had a baby brother when I was five. Mum and Dad came into my room one day after school and said that they had exciting news. I thought we were going to put a pool in the backyard, but they said that there was a baby in Mum’s tummy and I was going to be a big sister in a few months. Then one day Nana picked me up from school and said that Mum was in hospital. She took me there and Dad told me that my baby brother was gone. We all had a big long cry.
“Come on, Ay-ee-fah!” Andrew calls out to me. I follow him past the massive doors into the Museum.
I follow the group around and look at all the stuff I’ve seen lots of times before. I think about how cool it would be to bring Ronnie (that’s the name I wanted to call my baby brother) to the Museum and show him stuff – I think he”d love the dinosaurs.
We spend ages walking around some of the not very interesting antiques. Andrew keeps making jokes like he is trying to get Beth to laugh – I think he wants Beth to be his girlfriend because he keeps trying to walk alongside her.
It takes ages to get through the first two floors – mostly cos the other kids are acting crazy. On the third floor is a big olden-day house that I haven’t seen before. A couple of the kids start walking towards it, but Andrew tells us all that we’ll check it out after we look at the Natural World stuff (which I’ve seen like two million times). Some of the kids are play-fighting and Beth is trying to keep them under control.
I dawdle at the back of the group, thinking about how Ronnie would be scared by the big fake volcano that lights up with yellow and red lights like it’s erupting. I would give him a big hug and tell him he’s safe and that the Museum volcano is not real.
When nobody is looking I take a quick peek through the back door of the house. My eyes go wide when I see a picture in a frame. This is something I have to look at RIGHT NOW.
The shrill arrival of a boisterous gaggle of kids snaps me out of my blissful moment. A young blond woman is trying to reason with two fighting boys who clearly spat out their Ritalin this morning. A gangly young man tries to corral the rest of them like an inept, bipedal sheepdog. I glare at the whole scene, which finally passes.
Across from me was one of the large temporary exhibition spaces – recently decked out to resemble a vintage kiwi beach house. A discarded exhibition guidebook is on the bench and I start idly leafing through it. Photographs of kiwi relics are splashed across each page but one particular image catches me off-guard, like a bullet from an unseen sniper.
I can sit no longer. I find myself on my feet, takeaway coffee still in hand. I try to drain it just a little too quickly and spill some still-hot drink on my jacket lapel. I abandon what is left and move with purpose towards the faux house.
When I meet Ginny outside, she hands me a couple of wrapped items that I put in my pocket. I enter and go straight to the kitchen in the Kiwiana display.
The walls are floor to ceiling cupboards, broken by a Formica bench inset with a stainless steel sink. The frames of the wooden joinery are cream; but the cupboards are painted an asymmetrical mixture of orange, teal, powder blue and khaki. At the end of each bench is a rounded group of four shelves, displaying Toby jugs and other ceramic knick knacks. The drawers and cupboards have rounded chrome handles, like the metal end of a safety boot.
Off to one side is a Formica table. Swirling teal and cream is framed by chrome. Matching chairs sit in an attendant circle on the orange-yellow-brown patterned linoleum. It’s like coming home. The kitchen is almost identical to the one in Ginny’s house except that her colour scheme is pastel yellow, blue and green. I’m hoping Ginny never redecorates.
I was 13 when my parents separated. Ginny’s kitchen was my sanctuary. I would go there every afternoon after school. Ginny’s mum, Ruth would always be there. Ruth was a better parent to me than either of mine had ever been. They spent five years arguing about the division of their property. By the time they got to the part where they might think about dividing their time with me, I was ready to leave home.
Ruth didn’t say much: just accepted my presence and carried on with her domestic duties while I read or did my homework. Most of the time, Ginny wouldn’t be there. She would be out doing who-knows-what or in her room with the door shut.
I put my hands into my pockets and feel for the wrapped items. Just as I’m about to take one out, I hear something behind me. I look around and the door to the room suddenly shuts. A message comes through the public address system. There is no need for alarm. The doors have closed due to a security threat. Please wait patiently until a member of our security team comes to release you.
I meet Brad outside and do the hand over. We go inside and straight to the house. It’s only going to be open for another month and I am getting anxious.
My favourite room is the living room. In one corner, there’s a check Velour armchair with wooden arms and legs. A pair of slippers and a newspaper sit waiting for a man in a brown suit who never comes. The rest of the room is a mirror of my own lounge – nested coffee tables, Axminster carpet in geometric patterns and a plethora of decorative ornaments on tables and shelves, in cabinets and on the vinyl covered bar.
I think about what the man in the brown suit looks like. He would be tall with short hair. His camel brown jacket has wide lapels and a large check pattern. A waistcoat and matching pants underneath. More shades of brown mark the wide diagonally striped tie. The clash of the man and the chair makes me smile to myself.
I imagine sitting on his knee and resting my face on the scratchy wool of the jacket. He would light a cigarette and breathe the smoke out in rings. He would ask how his best girl’s day had been. My mother, wearing an apron, would come in with two cold drinks on a round tray. An orange for me and a whiskey for Dad. Mum would return to the kitchen, leaving Dad to read the paper while I snuggle into the space under his arm.
I return to the present and reach into my bag to get my gift. “Here you go, Dad.” I’m about to place it on the table when the door suddenly closes and a message is broadcast through the speakers.
Usually, on a day that I’m not playing hooky from the office, I’d be sifting through financial data looking for anomalies. Instead I’m scouring the rooms of this fake house looking for Farmer Doug.
I’ve always been like this – once an idea, question or topic has grown roots in my brain my focus becomes singular and laser-like. My ex-girlfriend often criticised this tunnel vision, and said that I usually missed ninety percent of an experience because I was concentrating on ten percent of it. Right now, I’m not even considering how impressively curated this exhibition is – how the space has been intricately constructed to resemble a house from a different time period down to the smallest detail – instead my eyeballs are giving each room the most fleeting of glances until I can find that damn doll.
When I was a child in the late 80’s I told my mum that Farmer Doug would always be my favourite TV show. The animated antics of the inept Kiwi bloke and his posse of wisecracking barnyard animals comforted me though my parent’s divorce, a move to a new school and the death of my grandmother.
I hunt through each room of the replica house, my eyes scan each room until I arrive at a space made up to look like a kid’s bedroom. There’s a small bed with a garishly coloured duvet cover, model aeroplanes dangle from fishing line above it. Next to it, a bedside table with an antique lamp and a set of knucklebones on it. A bookshelf is lined haphazardly with volumes of classic Kiwi children’s literature. And there, perched on a wall-mounted shelf is Farmer Doug.
This is a rare artefact – I know that for a fact because I have, over the years, spent a significant amount of time on toy collector forums online looking for Farmer Doug merch, only to come out empty-handed. I stare at the doll – it’s plush fabric skin and denim overalls now faded with age– – and realise that it is (like everything else in this installation) not behind glass, but out in the open. I am also alone in this room. And I still have my brown leather messenger bag slung over one shoulder. I open the bag and lean over the bed.
A voice suddenly booms out from well-concealed speakers, shattering my trance like a battering ram. I freeze.
The door near where I could see the picture said EXIT ONLY, so I find the ENTRY and walk through all the different rooms. There is a massive old TV in the lounge room – Dad told me once that TV’s used to only show stuff in black and white and I thought that cartoons would look pretty boring without colours.
There aren’t too many people in the house, which is cool cos I don’t have to squeeze past anyone. One guy is staring at some old toy in the kids room like he is hypnotised: he is a bit weird so I don’t go in (even though I want to see what books they have on the bookshelf).
I head towards the EXIT and finally get to see the picture up close. It is in a frame on this little brown table with metal legs, next to a chair with bright blue cushions.
The kid in the picture is about five. Even though it’s a black and white photo his hair looks light – like he is blond. His huge brown eyes stare out at me and a bunch of freckles run along the top of his nose. His ears stick out a little bit, and he is wearing this shirt that looks like it is made of scratchy material. The main thing about the photo is that he was sticking his tongue out super far.
“Hi Ronnie,” I say to the boy in the picture.
Ronnie’s hair is tidy but he wouldn’t have brushed it himself, and the stuck-out tongue shows how cheeky he is. I think about how I would have convinced him to help me bug dad into building us a treehouse to play in during summer. I think about how I would have read to him, and how he would have giggled at the funny voices I could do. I would have promised to look after him on his first day of school and I would have come to check on him during morning tea and lunchtime.
I am smiling, but feel a tear sneak out of my eye and roll down my cheek. I want this picture. I reach out to touch it, then jump. A loud voice comes through a speaker hidden somewhere and the doors close.
A WAITING ROOM AT THE MUSEUM
There are four people waiting in the room. One of them, an extremely short woman wearing bright clothing, signals to a man with a bland face. Then she moves across the room and sits down beside a frightened looking young girl.
“What’s your name,” asks the woman.
“Aoife,” replies the girl, looking at her hands in her lap.
“What a gorgeous Irish name. My name is Ginny. Boring. I wish it was as nice as yours!”
“Seriously?” asks Aiofe looking perplexed. “No-one can either spell or pronounce my name.”
“Nothing wrong with being different,” says Ginny. Aiofe looks up and takes in the full picture of Ginny and her colourful wardrobe.
“Why were you in the house by yourself?” asks Ginny.
“I was supposed to be in the holiday programme, but it was boring and I didn’t even want to be here. My Mum didn’t even listen when I told her. Then I saw the picture that looked like Ronnie and I was thinking about picking it up, and so I think that’s why we all got locked in. But I didn’t take anything!” Tears leak from her eyes and a bubble of snot pops and runs down to her mouth.
“Goodness me,” says Ginny, looking a bit uncomfortable with all that emotion. “Who is Ronnie?”
“My baby brother who died. I want to ask my Mum and Dad about him but I don’t want to make them sad.”
“Well, Aoife. Let me tell you a secret. When I was in the house, I was thinking about what my Dad might be like. I never met him. I think it’s ok to imagine stuff, but I also think your parents would be fine with you talking about him. They might even like it.”
“Also, I’m pretty sure it was me that set off the alarm. Do you see that bag beside me.” Aoife nods, wiping her face on her sleeve. “Have a peek inside it.”
Aoife opens the cloth bag and looks inside before turning to Ginny, eyes wide with surprise and her mouth in a little O. “Those ornaments look just like the ones from the Museum. Did you take them?”
“Of course not! I am just rehoming them here. My mother left me with so many but they overwhelm me and I need to move on. I can’t bear to throw them out, so I’ve been bringing them here, so I can still come and see them sometimes.”
Aoife’s O turns into a dash, and then a sideways happy parenthesis. “That’s so cool!”
“See that guy over there,” says Ginny, pointing at Brad. “He’s my partner in crime. His pockets had some more of the stash, but hopefully he’s done the drop-off.”
Aiofe’s face turns red. “What are you going to say to the security guards?”
“Don’t worry,” Brad tells Mark “They’ll probably let you go soon – I might be here a while…”
Mark tilts his head, intrigued. “What? Wait, did you take something?”
Brad walks a tightrope contemplating his next words. He wants to relieve the tension of his secret, but is less keen to incriminate himself. “Kind of…” he lands on.
Mark perks up. “What did you take?” he whispers.
Brad lifts his hands and gestures for Mark to cool it. He glances around and leans in after confirming that Ginny is absorbed in conversation with Aoife.
“Listen, I’m not a thief,” Brad explains in muted tones. “Ginny and I have been friends forever. Her mum left her a houseful of old ornaments that Ginny can’t stand. She’s been smuggling them in here and leaving them.”
Mark ponders this, but can’t make the logic add up in his head. “And, what, you’re helping her?” he asks.
“Well, yeah. She’s my best friend.”
“Yeah …” Mark begins, “but if you’re both leaving stuff – why are we here when something is missing?”
Brad hesitates, glances around the room again and leans in even further. “You can’t say anything to Ginny about this okay?” he whispers.
“Of course not,” he tells Brad, even though this is something he hadn’t even considered.
Brad heaves a heavy sigh. “Everything Ginny leaves here … well, I pick it up and take it back. I can’t tell her how much she means to me. Or how much her Mum meant to me. So I just take her Mum’s stuff.”
Mark says nothing – he’s quietly surprised by how earnest and endearing he finds this situation. He nods, lingering in the moment. “So … you’ve got some of this stuff on you now?”
Brad’s face drops. He nods grimly.
“I’m sure the security guards won’t do anything once you”ve explained yourself – just tell them what you told me and…”
“It’s not them I’m worried about,” Brad interrupts, motioning towards Ginny.
Mark nods again. He gets it. “A relationship – any kind of relationship – is built on trust,” he tells Brad. Inside his head Mark is acutely aware of the irony. He lied to his boss by email less than an hour ago – and he was within seconds of pocketing Farmer Doug.
“I don’t know the full history with you and Ginny, but maybe she deserves to know the truth – whatever that is.”
Brad lets this advice seep in. He extends his hand. “Thank you … sorry, what was your name?”
“Mark,” he replies, shaking the older man’s hand firmly. “Good luck.”
The door clicks and swings open and four sets of nervous eyes look up as a security guard crosses the threshold.
About the Authors
Keryn Mells is a journalist and teacher with special interests in autism and horses. She has recently started writing fiction. She has attended the Kāpiti Writer’s Retreat and done a short fiction course at the IIML. Her story about Lockdown was shortlisted in the Cambridge Autumn Festival Short Story Competition. She lives with her partner, two dogs, a cat and some chickens at the beach with a view of Kāpiti Island.
I really enjoyed this process. It was hard fitting it into our respective lives, but at each meeting we came up with lots of ideas before deciding how to proceed. Craig was great to work with – he had excellent ideas and was open to my suggestions. I became very fond of all our characters.
Craig Major works in the Community Development sector and has a background in Communications throughout Wellington, Melbourne and Auckland. He has trained as an English and Media Studies Teacher but did not pursue a teaching career. He has only recently started writing fiction. Craig lives in Auckland with this family, including twin seven-year-old girls.
This is the first time I’ve worked collaboratively on a piece of fiction and it was a really interesting experience. Keryn was very insightful and was brimming with awesome ideas – she shared a few writing exercises that helped to shape our characters and after a couple of meetings, we had a pretty clear view of how the story was playing out. It was a lot of fun to co-create this piece.
About the Process
Keryn and Craig reflect on their experience of collaborative writing.
We started in early February with a Zoom meeting where we looked at the documents sent out by Writers Practice for the project. We threw around a few ideas and exchanged some documents. We decided to start by developing two characters each (using part of the process that Catherine Chidgey taught in her 2020 Kapiti Writer’s Retreat workshop). The goal was to see if any of the characters would provide inspiration for a story.
After exchanging our character profiles, we had another meeting. Perhaps predictably, we liked ALL our characters, so we started brainstorming how we could fit four diverse people into one story! Luckily two already had a connection.
We thought about places that people (including a 9-year-old girl) might accidentally meet: trains, planes, hospitals… museums! But why were they there? Was there something they all wanted to see? What was it? We couldn’t decide, so we named it the ‘McGuffin’ and started writing about the journey for each character to the Museum.
In the next iteration, the Kiwiana house became a plausible destination and the McGuffin was replicated to become personalised McGuffin’s for each character. They could be locked in by a security breach. Each of them could potentially have caused the breach in their McGuffin quest. Craig was keen for them to be interrogated, so each of them got the third degree.
We each wrote the pieces for our own characters. Craig’s were in first-person and Keryn’s in third-person. We decided to keep the first-person and use an omniscient third-person narrator for the start and finish.
Structuring the piece was a challenge – we both liked the short vignettes in each character’s voice detailing their arrival at the museum, their discovery of their McGuffin and their interrogation with Museum staff.
Keryn edited her character’s point of view and put the pieces together. Over 7500 words. Without the conclusion. The deadline was approaching, so we needed a drastic solution. I’m sure the characters were relieved when Craig suggested that we cut the interrogations. We decided that the characters would all meet at the end, and to mix it up we each swapped a character for these interactions.
The next lot of editing took out anything that didn’t move the story forward and changed it all to the present tense. The last question was the title. Keryn became attached to The McGuffin but it is an in-joke and not actually part of the story, so we had to come up with an alternative. Further suggestions were Keepsakes and Recollections before we landed on Acquisitions. It seemed apt for both the association with the Museum and the acquisitive habits of some of the protagonists.
The final edit was a copy edit and, being journalists, we got it in by the deadline. Just.