Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

Thursday, March 22, 11:53 a.m.           

Trapped within the cubicle by his subordinates, twenty-nine year old Deputy Assistant Editor John Whiteclay, boss of veteran crime reporter Jack O’Lies for barely five months, makes steady managerial eye contact, then bravely invites his disgruntled employee to discuss his grievances “in the privacy of Conference Room B.” I take this to mean that the Washingtonian’s deputy assistant editor had aught but a cubicle to call his own. Even I have an office with a real, closable door. I have no staff to reprimand behind it, however.

I admire his spunk.

“The web designers are using B. They booked it for all day,” the cubicle owner, seated in front of her computer, meekly volunteers.

“Jack, why don’t we grab a cup of coffee?” John Whiteclay suggests redundantly, given the full cup he holds in his hand.

I already spent time in The Chief’s coffee-having employee lounge of disrespect. Jack O’Lies appears to be wise as well. He stares at The Chief—can a stare be slurred like speech?—in a slurred manner.

“I gotta go to the can,” he announces.

Jack O’Lies stalks off.

John Whiteclay, award-winning journalist turned editor, elbows his way out of the cubicle with mutters of, “Pardon,” and “excuse me, please,” and follows Jack as he wends his way through the maze of cubicles toward the men’s room.

Later, much later, I learned what happened after Jack stalked angrily away with his young editor in hot pursuit. At the time, I remained ensconced within the cubicle of Washingtonian staff writer Bididiana Gomez, chatting with her awkwardly about meteorology (whether the weatherman on KING 5 TV was hot or not).

Out of eyeshot and earshot, John Whiteclay was closing in on his retreating reporter.

“Jack? Jack. Jack!” he said ever more insistently, as Jack approached the same men’s room I’d caught him immerging from earlier.

Young Mr. Whiteclay told me this later. Much later.

“Jack, you and I need to have a conversation. Immediately. And probably with the legal department involved.”

Jack made a derisive grunt, rolled his eyes, and shoved the men’s room door open with his shoulder.

The Chief followed him. Jack repaired to a stall and slammed it shut.

“Fine,” said The Chief. “You think this is the first time I’ve debriefed a writer in the Cone of Silence? You can’t hide in there forever.”

He started to drink his coffee, decided it was gross to do so in the john, set it down next to the sink, then picked it up and drank anyway. Jack began to throw up loudly within the stall.

Jack told me this later. Much later.

“Jeez! Are you okay, Jack? Jack?”

A reporter entered.

“Out!” barked The Chief.

“I gotta—”

“Use the ladies’ room.”

“What? Hey, who’s yakking up?”

“We’re having a meeting. Use the ladies’ room.”

“No way, Chief!”

“They won’t care. I’m in there all the time when I’ve got to have a private conversation, because I’ve got no damned office and the damned web jack-holes are in Conference Room B again, and we can’t use Conference Room A because of the asbestos, so use the damned ladies’ room!”

The reporter retreated. Jack emerged, his face almost as white as it had been on the blogger’s video. He bent over the sink next to The Chief and washed his face.

“Are you sick? I mean, with the flu or something?”

“It wasn’t the crime scene,” Jack said. “I’m hungover as hell. I spent an hour in traffic with no coffee. I will not take shit from a J-school dropout blogger who thinks a three-month internship here qualifies him to write news.”

“He used to work here? Jack, we’ve got to go talk to legal immediately.”

Jack shook his hands dry, then wiped his palms over the back of his pants.

“He’ll get over it.”

“He’ll sue us, is what he’ll do! I would,” said The Chief.

Jack briefly eyed his boss, some sixteen years his junior.

“File the damned copy and leave me alone,” Jack said.

He shoved the men’s room door open with his shoulder and exited.

“It was shockingly good copy,” The Chief told me later. “He knocked it out in twenty minutes. It was all gold—I fact-checked it myself. His quotes were exact. I watched about three hours of TV footage to be sure. He did it without a recorder. Just a notebook and a pencil. Damn.”

Maybe I shouldn’t include the deputy assistant editor’s involuntary “Damn.” But unlike Jack O’Lies, I was doing it with a recorder. I like to be accurate when I transcribe an interview.

As The Chief slunk off to his cubicle to fact-check and copy-edit Jack O’Lies’ 850 words on the Lake Washington body discovery, I decided to risk a shove and confront my illusive interviewee.



Saturday, March 24, 11:42 p.m.

In my haste to flee Jack’s house, I scrawl my cell phone number on one of my business cards, thrust it at his crazy, bleeding daughter, and flee. I never expect to hear from him again, though I still have his driver’s license, keys, and cigarettes.

Jack calls my cell phone late that night. Very late.

“Hello?” I answer.



“Hey. It’s me.”

I do not feel that Jack and I, after one whole interview—albeit a drunken one on his part—are on an “it’s me” basis.

Nevertheless, I know that it’s him the instant I hear his alcohol-addled voice.

“Hi, Jack. Where were you this afternoon?”

“Starbucks. In Ballard.”

“How original.”


“Lucy said you were getting coffee.”

“I was. At Starbucks.”

“For an hour and a half,” I accuse wife-ishly, though I’m not his wife.

“Harry Dekins asked me,” he says.

Ah, Harry Dekins, the quotable coroner!

“Nice,” I say. “So, you want your car keys and stuff back?”

“Can we talk? Like the other night?

“Like the other night?”

Jack lets out a long sigh that vibrates my cell phone against my ear.

“Please,” he says. “Just for a couple minutes.”

“Okay,” I say, sitting on the uncomfortable futon in the uncomfortable ground floor of my home. My husband is upstairs, where it’s warm and well furnished. He’s killing trolls or something in World of Warcraft, fancy gamer headphones covering his ears and rendering him deaf.

“What do you want to talk about?” I say.

Jack sighs again, blowing my impatience away.

“I don’t know,” he says.

“Are you drunk right now?” I say.

“I’ve had a little bit.”

“How much?”

“A couple screwdrivers.”


“Mostly vodka. Less screw,” he says.

“Do you mind if I tape this?” I say. “For both of our protection?”

“Why? This is a social call.”

“Not for me,” I say.

“Why not?”

“Jack, we’re not social that way. We don’t know each other. I’m turning on my recorder. Okay? Jack? Okay?”



Saturday, March 24, 11:48 p.m.

Transcript of recording:

Katherine: Jack? You still there?

Jack: Yeah.

Katherine: So I guess Lucy gave you my cell phone number.

Jack: Yeah.

Katherine: Um…I’ve got your cigarettes if you want them back. And your car keys and driver’s license. So…

Jack: You could’ve left them with Lucy.

Katherine: She was…kind of…she was…I didn’t want to, just in case.

Jack: What?

Katherine: Did she tell you how she hurt her hand?

Jack: She hurt her what?

Katherine: Her hand. Did she tell you what she did to it?

Jack: No. She hurt her what, now?

(Silence for seventeen seconds.)

Jack: Can we talk?

Katherine: I guess, for a few minutes. It’s pretty late.

Jack: I met Harry for coffee this afternoon.

Katherine: Yeah, you said that.

Jack: He called me six times. Voicemails, y’know, the mother hen checking up.

Katherine: Is he some kind of friend of yours, or…

Jack: I guess.

Katherine: He wanted to…what? Make sure you were okay after the thing at the crime scene?

Jack: Coroner’s office botched the autopsy.

Katherine: Your wife’s?

Jack: What?

Katherine: They botched what autopsy?

Jack: The floater from Thursday.

Katherine: How do you mean? I don’t get it.

Jack: They fucked it up. As in, Harry’s assistant is a recovering meth head who chose this week to get back on the dragon, and he wrecked the body beyond belief.

Katherine: Are you serious?

Jack: Something about filling the abdominal cavity with inflated surgical gloves, I don’t know, I was so damned hungover.

Katherine: Yeah, I bet you were! I thought you’d die or something. You got so freakin’ drunk Thursday night.

(Silence for six seconds.)

Jack: Why didn’t you come with me?

Katherine: You told me to let you out.

Jack: I don’t remember. You were there, then you weren’t.

Katherine: You were plastered beyond belief. You told me to let you out, so…I mean, I had to get home. It was a work night.

Jack: You’re sure you didn’t follow me?

Katherine: No. I dropped you off outside the bar, then I drove home.

Jack: I think I did a very bad thing.

Katherine: What—the drinking? The pictures? What?

(Silence for eleven seconds.)

Katherine: Jack? Still there? Hello? Damn, I hate this phone sometimes!

Jack: I’m here.

Katherine: It’s getting late. So…

Jack: I need to tell you.

Katherine: Hm?

Jack: I already knew stuff Harry was telling me. About the body. I knew it had a tattoo on the left heel. Star of David. How the hell did I know that?

(Clinking sounds.)

Jack: What’s that?

Katherine: Hm?

Jack: Are you there? What’re you—

Katherine: So I opened a bottle of wine! I’m not made of stone! You’re drunk as hell.

Jack: Red?

Katherine: Yes.

Jack: Cab?

Katherine: No, gross, no. Merlot. Will you just wrap this up, please, so I can go to bed? Sorry. I…sorry. That’s rude and all. But come on Jack, I’m not following any of this, and I’m tired! I want to go to bed!

Jack: Sorry.

(Silence for twenty-three seconds.)

Katherine: Jack? Still there?

(Silence for seven seconds.)

Katherine: Jack? Jack?

Jack: I don’t talk to anyone.

Katherine: I’m sorry. I’m…God, I don’t know. Want me to drop your stuff off tomorrow?

Jack: Okay.

Katherine: When?

Jack: Before church?

Katherine: You go to church?

Jack: Don’t you?

(Silence for five seconds.)

Jack: I’ve been getting these weird text messages. They’re…I think maybe I did a really bad thing. Katherine? Katherine?

Katherine: Hm? What time is it? Jesus, it’s after midnight! I’ve got to go.

Jack: You’ll come over in the morning. Right?

Katherine: Fine, I guess, maybe.

Jack: Right?

Katherine: Yes, right, I’ll come over. I’ve got to go. It’s so late!

Jack: Okay. Good night.

Katherine: Bye.

End of recording



Sunday, March 25, 8:18 a.m.

I drive—yet again!—south to the Nordic ‘hood of Ballard. It is way too early to be carting myself around Seattle proper. I long for my suburb. I long for my bed.

I knock on Jack O’Lies’s front door. It’s army green, the paint peeling away to reveal a gray undercoat. From somewhere within, his daughter yells something.

I think she yells, “Come in!”

I assume she yells, “Come in!” I turn the knob. It’s unlocked. I come in.

I’m met with worn hardwood floors, ancient throw rugs, and a coffee table littered with high school textbooks (depressing), empty vodka bottles (more depressing), and smearily printed Catholic tracts (depressingest of all). In my current state of hungover Sunday morning blahs, “depressingest” is a word. So is “smearily.”

“Hello?” I call. “Lucy? Jack?”

I hear a TV jabbering. I follow the sound.

In the kitchen, a scary looking bald guy in a white suit is grimacing and shaking his head at Lucy.

“You out there!” he shouts from the TV screen.

“Yes,” says Lucy, as she spoons cereal into her mouth.

“You witness to society’s sin!”

“That’s right,” Lucy agrees.

I hesitate in the doorway for so many reasons. So many that it would take hours to list them all.

Perhaps the top five will suffice:

1)     There’s a televangelist on the TV. That does not bode well.

2)     Oh Roseanne-esque kitchen of my childhood!

I thought I had escaped you. White trashy lower middle class, shall I never be free of your seductive embrace?

3)     Lucy is dressed in a black grandma dress with no décolletage and a hand-crocheted collar. She wears four rosaries of varying weight and color around her neck. This does not bode well.

4)     Lucy is eating Lucky Charms. I love Lucky Charms. If offered a bowl, I will accept, ruining the restrictive and scientifically unfounded diet I invented for myself.

5)     I smell not a whiff of coffee in the air. I will die without coffee.

Seriously… I will die without coffee!

“Hi, Lucy,” I say, waving with a limp, decaffeinated hand. “How’re you?”

“Shh!” she hisses between slurps of cereal.

“You watch as society parades its perversions, its sin, and you do nothing. Well, I say, stop!” shouts the scary bald man on the TV.

“Stop!” Lucy agrees.

“Stop! Tell it, don’t you come over here, into my house of God! Stop!”

“Stop!” Lucy exclaims.

“Why? You break another glass?” Jack says from the doorway.

Oy vey, he’s clad in the classic open door bathrobe. Seriously—come on, Jack! I told you I was coming over!

“Want me to go wait in the living room?” I blurt, shading my eyes like a Puritan.

“What?” Jack says. “You had breakfast yet? Lucy, get her something.”

Jack meanders on unsteady, bare legs to a set of folding doors at the far end of the kitchen. He sports a dark bruise on the left side of his jaw.

“That’s fine, I ate already,” I say. “Should I just leave your keys and stuff on the counter?”

“Calm down,” says clearly hungover Jack. “We’re almost ready. Finish up, Lucy!”

Lucy rolls her eyes, continues spooning cereal, and reaches out to crank the volume on the televangelist. Jack slides the doors open to reveal a washer and drier.

Oh God, he is going to disrobe right here and I’ll be struck blind!

Thankfully, I hear the front door open, then slam shut. Christopher, The Future Priest, enters the kitchen.

“Hey,” he says. “Ready to go?”

“Dad’s still messing around,” Lucy snorts, picking up her cereal bowl to drink the milk like a three-year-old. Jack, not entirely oblivious, steps into the laundry alcove and pulls the doors shut. Spared his nudity, I relax. I am a married woman, after all.

From within, he calls, “Hey, Katherine, you want any coffee? Lucy, make some.”

“No,” Lucy snaps. “You just want it for you, because you’re hungover.”

“We have a guest,” he says from behind the doors.

“She doesn’t drink!” Lucy asserts. “Hangover, Dad—”

“Is this all there is? Didn’t you throw the load in like I asked?”

“Wear the good pants, Dad. I hate when you go in your work clothes. You look so sloppy.”

“I hate these things!”

“You look so sloppy!”

”Will you just make Katherine a cup of coffee and get yourself ready to go?”

“Hangover, Dad, is a necessary and a good thing.”

“What?” I bleat. Right now, I’m hungover as hell, thanks to her dad’s boozy conversation with me till the wee hours. I crave a cup of coffee. I would kill for a cup of coffee. I am not in a good or necessary state!

“You see,” she continues, “As you pour unholy poison into your body, the Lord sees and sends a pain unto you. And this pain—”

“A pain unto me?” Jack exclaims from behind the flimsy laundry doors.

“Unto?” I echo.

“Please tell me they didn’t teach you that in English class,” he says.

Bolstered by Christopher’s knowing smirk, Lucy clanks her crucifix covered self to the sink, where she deposits her empty cereal bowl.

“And this pain is meant to cleanse your soul, just as pain cleansed Christ on the cross,” she continues. “So when you drink of coffee, you erect a barrier between yourself and God, who wishes to help you end your drunken ways.”

I feel this is a bit stagy. I feel that she’s acting out for my benefit. Exactly why does she think I’m here at this raw hour of the morning?

“So, can I go? Is your church walking distance?” I ask her. “Did you really say ‘when you drink of coffee?’”

“It’s six point eight miles,” Christopher says.


“Jack? Do you need me to drive you all to the Washingtonian to get your car?”

I think actually I twang, “Need me ta drive y’all?” This white trashy lower middle class kitchen is dragging me back down the social ladder.

Jack slides the laundry doors open. I flinch.

He’s dressed. I relax.

He’s in a get-up exactly like his editor would wear, unattractive pleated front khakis, golf shirt, and all.

“I hate this,” he says. “I told you.”

“And I told you!” Lucy shrills at gauche teenage volume, stomping her foot. “You are so embarrassing! Why can’t you be normal on Sunday for once? Why can’t you stop embarrassing me?”

I glance at Christopher, hoping for an ally in my discomfort, but he’s smirking at Jack with his gangly arms folded across his thin chest, clearly on Lucy’s side.

Crap. That means I’ll have to side with the only other adult here, which is alcoholic, hungover Jack.

“Okay,” Jack says. “Let’s get going.”

All three look at me.

“Go where, exactly?” I say.

Sacred Heart of Jesus,” Lucy says.

“Pardon?” I say.

“It’s in Belltown ,” says Christopher.

Fantastic. Belltown, land of impossible parking, wandering junkies and computer programming bar hoppers. My second least favorite place in Seattle.

“I’ve got stuff to do today,” I begin. Then I realize that Belltown is quite close to the Washingtonian building. I perk up.

“So, I’ll just drop Lucy and Christopher off at church, then we’ll go get your car,” I say.

“Don’t forget the offering,” Lucy says.

“What?” Jack says, grabbing his much-laundered Members Only jacket from the back of a kitchen chair.

“I left it on top of your wallet,” Lucy says. From the back of another chair, she pulls a black lace veil that resembles a mantilla. She swathes her shoulders and head in it, like some kind of Catholic chador.

“Are we gonna drop you two off first? What’s the plan, here?” I say.

“That twenty dollar bill? Forget it! I’m not dropping twenty bucks in a collection plate,” Jack says, as he and Lucy motivate angrily through the kitchen toward the front door.

“Wait,” I protest. “We need to figure out how we’re going to work this.”

“We tithe practically nothing, Dad!”

“We tithe plenty! We tithe away your damn college fund.”

“Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain!” she snaps.

“God’s last name is not ‘damn,’” Jack says.

“Stop it!”

“Oh my God, are they always like this?” I hiss at Christopher.

“Do not take the Lord’s name in vain!” he hisses back.

Yeah, I’ve been missing this kind of Catholic fun.



Tuesday, March 27, 5:17 p.m.

“Jack?” I holler into the silent house.


“Go put hydrogen peroxide on your hand, or you’ll get lockjaw or something,” I hiss at Lucy.

“Jack? Are you home?” I call again as Lucy slouches to the bathroom, slamming the door behind her.

I find Jack seated on his living room couch, his feet up on the coffee table. A yellow legal pad is perched on his knees. He has exchanged his office wear for an ancient University of Washington sweatshirt and a pair of loose fitting dad jeans. He’s so focused on what he’s writing that he doesn’t notice me until I slap my hand over the page.

He jumps and looks up at me.

“Oh, you’re home,” he says, as if I live here with Lucy and him, all cozy. “Did you girls have fun shopping?”

“Your daughter is seriously messed up,” I say. “You need to get her in to see a psychologist or something, like today, Jack!”

I hope Lucy isn’t standing horrified in the doorway. I glance over my shoulder, find it mercifully empty, and turn back to Jack.

“Lucy’s very religious,” he sighs. “Probably picked it up from her grandmother. I never encourage her.”

“This isn’t some Catholic thing,” I say. “She’s weird as hell!”

Again, I glance over my shoulder to make sure she isn’t eavesdropping in the doorway. I lower my voice.

“She’s the psychologically damaged kind of weird. You need to get her professional help, or something bad is going to happen,” I say.

Jack shakes his bristly head dismissively.

“She’ll outgrow it. Want some coffee?”

I’m surprised he doesn’t offer me a drink: something ruinous like vodka or Scotch.

“Sure, I never say no to coffee,” I say automatically. “But seriously…your daughter…aren’t you going to do anything?”

Jack gently pulls the legal pad from under my splayed fingers. I retract my hand before it can land on his knees. He stands and scratches his fingers over his short-stubbled scalp.

“Let’s go out on the porch. Want a smoke?”

“No, I do not want to smoke, Jack. You know I don’t smoke anymore. You shouldn’t keep trying to get me to.”

“Come on,” he says. “It’s a beautiful sunset.”

I go outside to wait for my cup of coffee, which I will eagerly drink, and my cigarette, which I will not smoke. I take a breath of salty Puget Sound air. Jack’s neighborhood is practically waterfront, but it’s rundown. Because it’s located in Seattle proper and not one of the many unstoried suburbs, its rundown state would be described as “classic” or “historic” by a real estate agent. But it’s trashy to my eyes. And believe me, I know trashy.

I sit on the moldy couch on Jack’s front porch (trashy!) and gaze at the 1960s era pickup truck on cinderblocks in his next door neighbor’s muddy front yard (trashy!) I shiver. It’s getting cold. Jack emerges from the house bearing two steaming mugs of coffee and a pack of Marlboros (trashy as hell!)

“I’m not smoking,” I reiterate, as I accept the hot cup. “You shouldn’t try to make me. Do you have any idea how hard it was to quit?”

Jack sits next to me on the couch. Not too close. But sort of close. He lights a cigarette, takes a long drag, and sighs. He stares at the reddish-gold light jewelling his across-the-street neighbor’s roof. It’s pretty. I stare at it, too. We clutch our steaming coffee mugs, not touching, not talking.

What a picturesque white trash couple we must make.

“I’m gonna get laid off soon,” Jack says.

“Probably,” I say.

“Newspapers aren’t hiring.”

“Nope,” I say.

“There’s no way I can freelance.”

“It’s a horrible lifestyle. I hated it,” I say.

“Too uncertain. Too much hustling. I’m too old.”

“Yeah,” I agree. “Me too.”

He turns his face to mine.

“You’re getting laid off?”

He appears genuinely concerned. I’ve never seen him look like this. His ice-blue eyes are clear as they search mine. His hands are steady on the coffee mug and the cigarette. His body radiates the coiled, tense patience of a snake. So this is Jack sober. He must have been an incredible reporter.

“You never know,” I shrug. “Maybe it’s time for a change. I’ve had three different careers so far. Maybe I’ll become a baker or something this time.”

“How do you do it?” he says.

“Dunno. I’ve had to reinvent myself every four years or so. You just fully commit to changing who you are, I guess. What will you do?”

He takes a sip of coffee, takes a drag off his cigarette, and shrugs.

“Die out?”

“Oh come on, Jack. Don’t be like that.”

He turns the unintoxicated version of his basilisk stare on me. It’s overwhelming. I am paralyzed by his eyes. My God, he must have been such a good reporter once.

“Don’t be like what?” he says.

“I don’t know. Self-pitying,” I fumble, taking a drink to avoid his gaze. “Just…clean house, man. Know what I mean? Your daughter’s screwed up. And you’re…look, I don’t know you people. I’m getting over-involved, overstepping boundaries and all. I should get going.”

He holds out his hand. He doesn’t put it on my forearm, or wrist, or shoulder, or any of the usual places a man puts his hand when he wants to stop a woman from standing up and walking out.

He puts it over the top of my coffee cup.

“Any progress on the book?” he asks.

I sit back down on the couch next to him. I shrug.

“Can I ask you something?” he says.

“Sure,” I say.

He hesitates.

He looks at me, looks away at the dying sunset, then looks back at me.

“Do…” he begins.

He hesitates again, and I know that he’s not going to ask me what he really wants to.

“Do I make a good character?” he inquires.



Wednesday, March 28, 3:17 p.m.

I open the photo of Jack first.

Weegee photo 1943

It’s blurry, low resolution and terribly pixilated. I squint and make out a brick wall behind him, splashed by the orange glare of a streetlight. In the foreground is a spectral, underexposed face that I guess is Jack’s. His cobra posture is unmistakable. He’s slightly hunched over, maybe reaching for something he dropped. Or maybe choking someone lying on the sidewalk.

To be honest, I can’t tell where he is or what he’s doing. But he appears to be caught in the act…and not an act of kindness.

I click on the other photo. I expect an equally low-resolution camera phone snapshot.

Instead, a high-resolution photo takes its sweet time opening. When it does, I get a load of an ultra-sharp image captured by an expensive camera wielded with true skill.

Hopper Painting

I stare aghast at the photo. Jack and I are sitting on the moldy old couch on his porch in a rundown section of Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. He’s holding a coffee cup in his right hand. I’m holding the thick strap of my purse in my left hand. As for our unoccupied hands…they seem to be entwined. We’re looking at each other. Starlight is eminent. It’s all very cinematic. What a pair we make.

Except we weren’t holding hands. I was dropping his driver’s license and car keys into his hand. Our fingers never even touched. We aren’t a pair of anything.

The digital camera I use for work isn’t powerful enough to pull off a shot like this. Most average Joe digital cameras couldn’t do it, unless the photographer had been standing all obvious in the soggy front yard and let the flash rip.

This photo was taken by a pro. A photojournalist.

Or someone with a really expensive camera and a grudge.



Wednesday, March 28, 4:48 p.m.

I email The Seattle Crimeologist as soon as I get home. I use the email account that he hacked, just to keep things neat.

From: Katherine Luck
Date: March 28, 2011 04:48:39 PM PST
To: [email protected]
Subject: Hot Tip: Jack O’Lies
I’ve got a hot tip about Jack O’Lies at the Washingtonian. Answer your phone when I call you.

It takes me barely seven minutes to discover a phone number for Leo Krakowski, The Seattle Crimeologist. He was interviewed last year by the Seattle Times as a blogging trend “expert,” then was re-interviewed this week regarding his altercation with Jack at the Lake Washington murder scene.

I check the Wayback Machine  and find an old web-archived version of his blog. He used to list his phone number along with his email address. I dial it from my cell phone. I really need to resurrect one of my old untraceable cell phones.

He answers promptly.

“The Seattle Crimeologist,” he says.

“Leo?” I say.

“Yeah…are you Katherine?” He sounds all of nineteen years old.

“You sent a couple very threatening emails today,” I say.

“Whoa…back up on this a second.”

“And I quote, ‘Hi ya! So, you’re Jack O’Lies’ new drug of choice? Watch out. Have you seen what he’s been up to lately? Here’s a shot for the stepfamily album.’”

“Hey, I have no idea what that is!”

“You have a really expensive camera,” I say. “You took the photo of me and Jack at his house the other night, didn’t you?”

“Hey…is this some sex thing? Can I record this? Are you on the police force? Are you sleeping with a crime reporter—is that it? Did you tip him off about that dead body in the Lake Washington condo this morning?”

“Oh my God, seriously? I’m married!” I exclaim.

He chortles with unabashed delight.

“Oh, hell yeah! What precinct are you with? Is it South Seattle? There was such a big sex scandal down there last year that I was this close to breaking, but the freakin’ police union lawyers shut me down. Maybe we should talk in person. How’s now? Where should we meet? Hello?”

I sigh. It’s pretty obvious that Captain Overeager here is not my cyberstalker.

“I can’t meet you,” I say.

“Sure you can! Let’s pick a place. I’m in Capitol Hill. Where are you?”

I sigh again. He would live in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. My number one least favorite place in Seattle: land of drunk jaywalking club kids, illogically meandering streets, and zero parking.

“I’m north of you,” I say. “We can’t meet.”

“I’ll come to you. What bus line are you on?”

I sigh a third time. This panting puppy is useless.

Although…Jack asked me to investigate his life, if I remember correctly (never a safe assumption). Who better to start with than his nemesis?

“I can meet you around 7:30 tonight,” I say. “But I’m not dragging my carcass down to Capitol Hill.”

“Sure, that’s fine, sounds great! Wherever you want,” he says.

I meanly consider making sex scandal seeker Leo bus it through two county transit systems and about five transfers up to my neck of the woods.

I’m not made of stone. 

“How about Northgate Mall?” I say.

“Is there a Starbucks? I’ll buy you a coffee,” Leo says.

I never say no to coffee.