Excerpt From “Angel Unawares” by Carol Jackson

“Angel Unawares, a novel” is set in a TV news room in 1983. Crystal, a young woman video tape editor, gets fired. She is blackballed and can’t get a job. She is depressed and has been drinking. She has sunk pretty low. One of the stations in the city has decided to expand the their news operation. They hire Lee, a TV veteran from another part of the country, to manage the ENG (electronic news gathering) department. Lee is an unusual man. He hires Crystal without knowing she was fired from her prior job. Crystal is always very uptight and afraid she will make a mistake. Later, when Lee finds out she was fired, he thinks she does a good job and doesn’t care. He does things through out the rest of the story to encourage her.


Crystal, the young woman is a video tape editor. Early in the story, Lee tries to show her how a camera works, but she is not interested. At this point in the story, she is building up her confidence and decides to try working a camera when she thinks every one is gone.

Lee picked up the schedule and got up. He turned out the light and locked the door. He took the schedule to the newsroom and posted it on the bulletin board. The light was on in the remote room. He went over to turn it out and saw Crystal with the camera pointed at the chart on the wall. Lee stepped just inside the door and leaned against the wall with his arms folded. He stood there quietly, watching. Crystal zoomed in and out, trying to get the feel of the camera. She turned slowly, trying to keep things in focus while panning around the room. Then she saw Lee standing there as she looked through the view finder. He didn’t move.

She looked up with a startled expression. “Uh, Lee,” she stammered. “Uh, I was just, uh, I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t have–”

“No, it’s all right. Go ahead,” he said, still not moving. “Remember what I showed you before?”


“Okay. Zoom in on my eyes. Focus on my wrinkles,” he said with a smile that accentuated the tiny laugh lines at the corners of his eyes.

Crystal looked in the view finder again and did as Lee had told her. It was different focusing on a person than on a chart. She zoomed out and framed up a bust shot of him.

“Got it?” he asked.


“Try to keep up with me. I’m going to walk around the room.” He walked the lengthof the room. Crystal followed him with the camera. “How are you doing?” he asked.

“I’ve got you,” she said. Lee noticed Crystal’s faint smile. He walked back to the door.

“It takes some time,” he said, as he leaned in the doorway. Crystal took the camera off her shoulder and started to put it away.

Lee stood there, watching. He resisted the temptation to ask if she needed any help. If she had gotten it going by herself, she could probably put it away by herself. She did.

Crystal picked up her purse, and Lee turned out the light. They walked through the newsroom to the exit.

“How did you do?” he asked.

“I kept you in focus, but I didn’t pan very smoothly, and I didn’t have you framed up very well when you walked around the room,” she replied.

“Everything takes some practice,” Lee said.

Crystal waited in silence, sure of what was coming, but it didn’t.

Lee opened the door for her, and they stepped outside. He made sure it was tightly.

Crystal played with her purse strap for a moment, then looked up at Lee. “You’re not going to pressure me to try to learn mini-cam?”

“No, I don’t have to, do I? I think you’ll come to me when you’re ready,” he said.

Crystal was relieved and a little surprised. She had been sure he would try to convince her that she should learn.

“Good night,” Lee said. He started to walk toward his car.


He turned back to Crystal. She took her keys from her purse and fumbled with them for a moment. “Never mind, it’s–uh, it’s not important,” she said without looking at him.

“Whenever you’re ready,” Lee said.

“Thanks,” Crystal said softly. “Good night.”

“Good night,” Lee said. Crystal watched him get in his car as she walked over to herown.

He waited to see that she got the old car started before he drove away.

Typically Lee, she thought.


Carol Jackson has has been working in television broadcasting since 1977. She has done studio camera, audio, news video tape editing and Master Control. In college she was an intern in a TV newsoom. She also has been working part time as a certified nursing assistant since 2000. She has been married to a television maintenance engineer since 1996. They have 3 cats. Carol also has a custom car, a 1969 Mercury Comet she has owned since 1976.