"Are you saying that mice carry contagions?" asked Sylvia Slatter, anchorwoman for Wolf Media News Corporation.
"Oh, yes, thousands. Millions, on the low side. Billions, quite frankly. The actual count is trillions, but I don't know if I can say that on a family show," replied the man sitting next to her at the anchor's desk. He wore a crown of white hair and a friendly white beard, along with a trim suit and a tie that cost more than Sylvia's monthly hairspray budget.
"We'll return with more of Dr. Quincy Q. Quackerplotz in just a minute," Sylvia said.
"And we're in commercial," said a production assistant. A herd of makeup artists in smocks stampeded on the stage, fixing minute breaks in Sylvia's makeup, while one or two detached from the frenzy to throw a little more powder on Dr. Quackerplotz's nose.
"No, no! Too much in the wrong place, not enough in the other!" Sylvia said to the markup artists. "My crows feet, my crows feet! Fill them in! God, you're stressing me out and deepening my wrinkles!"
"Three, two, one, and we're back!" the assistant said. The makeup artists dispersed like the vapor trail of an airplane.
"We're speaking with Dr. Quackerplotz, author of 'Scared for Your Life: the True Story of the Dangers that Surround You.' He was explaining before the break that mice carry a form of hantavirus. That's the same as ebola, am I wrong?"
"You're exactly right. They're both viruses, very scary stuff, that make you bleed to death within an hour."
"That is quite scary, Dr. Quackerplotz. Is there any way to avoid it?"
"Not really, as our modern lifestyles expose us to nasty stuff that never existed in nature, like botulism and streptococcus and anthrax. I've never heard a single case of anthrax before World War II."
"Isn't that related to sheep?"
"Yes, yes. And of course anthrax has existed for a long time, but in simpler times our immune systems were stronger and we didn't have to live in constant fear of exposure to these pathogens. Now you touch a handrail at the train station and suddenly you've been exposed to a thousand and one diseases!"
There was a commotion in the back of the studio. Sylvia's smile beamed at the camera even while her eyes shot bullets at the production assistant.
"We seem to be having some sort of technical difficulties!" Sylvia said.
There was a terrific crash and a yell, and a man emerged from the shadows beyond the stage. He barreled straight at Dr. Quackerplotz and shot him in the gut with a pistol.
Dr. Quackerplotz moaned and slumped to one side as Sylvia screamed.
"Why did you do that?"
"I was afraid of what he was going to say next!" the assailant yelled. He dropped his gun as the security officers approached him.
"You...idiot," Dr. Quackerplotz said between clenched teeth. "This...segment...is about...diseases...not crime. Come back in...five minutes."
"What?" asked Sylvia and the assailant simultaneously.
"It's perfect...he needs to come back...when I start talking about...crime. I think I can talk normally if I focus," Dr. Quackerplotz said, sitting up straight. He adjusted his tie to cover the blood stain and shifted in his seat. "Can you see it?"
The production assistant shook his head, his jaw hanging open.
"Well, hurry up, I will have to get to the hospital eventually. And for pete's sake, get this guy some blanks, I only want to get shot once."
The Moral: be dedicated.