Max Headroom / Steve Wilkos
Carter's Controversy

The audience was seated as they waited for their host and his on-stage guests to arrive.
The show promised to be very interesting, even more so than usual. One of the first guests was the legendary reporter Edison Carter from Network 23. From what the audience could gather, Carter was playing love games with a sweet sixteen. That was perfectly acceptable in London. But as an international reporter, Carter had the audience of the whole world to answer to, including those who lived in places where the age of consent was a bit older.

Steve Wilkos walked onto the stage to a round of applause. He didn't expect an ovation until it was earned. He knew better. After the time he had spent hosting this show, he knew his audience. They wanted authenticity. They wanted a hero. Somebody to champion those who came to his show seeking help rather than use their pain for his gain. Maybe some of the other daytime hosts played a tragedy for ratings. But he wasn't one of them. He had seen the pain in the eyes of the victims he stood up for on his stage. He had been sick to his stomach hearing the worlds of the abusers and molesters who blamed the children and spouses they hurt. His heart cheered each time one of the downtrodden who walked onto his stage walked off with their head held high.

"Our first guest is best known as Network 23's front end reporter. He has recently been seen attending several romantic venues with a teenage boy who we will meet later on. For now, let us look at this security camera video sent to us by a man who also works for Network 23."

An image flickered to life on the stage screen. The scene was fairly innocuous at first. Edison was seated at a table in a nice restaurant. Across from him was a boy of sixteen whom the audience did not know. The boy was dressed casually, but in a manner that suggested that he was middle to upper class.

The two were engrossed in conversation, which was punctuated from time to time by Edison gently tapping the boy on the top of the hand. At one point, the boy's eyes widened and he gave a nod. The moment that followed was marked by the gasps of the audience as Edison leaned across the table and kissed his date.

"Let's bring out Edison Carter."

The famed reporter walked onto the stage. There was a smattering of applause, and a few boos. But most of the audience weren't sure how to handle the situation. Carter had brought down several criminals in the past. But now it looked like he might be sexually manipulating a teenage boy. Time to sit back, listen to the full story, and see what was what.

"First off, until we know exactly what is going on, I'm going to ask you to stand." Steve told Edison, "I've seen the show you do. I know you've made quite a name for yourself taking on large corporations. You even faced off against organized religion in one show. Why would you risk the reputation you've built doing that by dating a child?"

Edison smiled. "Bryce is worth it," he replied. "And I'd hardly call him a child."

"You would hardly call a boy of sixteen a child," Steve countered. "Is that so?"

"Sixteen is legal age of consent where we live," Edison pointed out.

"That's not the point," Steve argued. "He's sixteen. A sixteen year old is not ready either emotionally or financially to settle down. And until a person is ready for that I just don't see how anyone can think it would be acceptable to ask them to become involved in an intimate relationship. But let's hear what he has to say about it. Let's bring out Bryce."

Bryce walked out onto the stage and sat down in the chair that Steve offered to him.

"Bryce, how long have you and Edison been involved?"

"Since the incident with Security Systems, I guess." Bryce admitted. "We shared a near-death experience during the events leading up to that report and ever since then, Edison and I have been very close."

"How did you get involved in the report Mr. Carter was doing?" Steve inquired.

"I'm Network 23's head of Research and Development," Bryce explained.

"Wait," Steve held up a hand. "You're telling me that Network 23 hires children for it's staff?"

Bryce resisted the urge to roll his eyes at being called a child and simply replied "Most of the bigger networks do it. Past experience has shown that children and young adults have the best grasp of things when it comes to technology."

"What about school?" Steve asked.

"I entered the Academy of Computer Sciences at the age of ten. I graduated and was accepted at Network 23 at the age of twelve," Bryce replied with a smile.

"And gave b- b- b- birth to me, technically speaking, at the age of sixteen." Max Headroom interrupted from the on stage screen.

"Max," Steve said, patiently. "I know you're used to just cutting in on Network 23. But this is my show and here we do things a little differently. So I'm asking you nicely to wait your turn."

"Sorry," Max replied, leaving the screen blank again.

"You want to know what I see when I look at you, Bryce?" Steve asked, kneeling down so he could speak to the young genius face to face. "I see a very intelligent kid. Yes, I said kid."

Bryce turned away.

"Don't turn away. Being a kid is nothing to be ashamed of. You've been deprived on the joys of a normal childhood. And instead of making up for that, Mr. Carter has been taking advantage of you."

"I..." Edison began.

Steve cut him off. "You should be taking him to sporting events, and fast food restaurants. Not on formal dates. If you really care about him. If you really care like you say you do, you'll help him get back at least some of what he's missed out on."

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