Posts Tagged ‘interview’

Monday, March 19, 9:22 a.m.

I’ve never met Jack O’Lies, award-winning crime reporter from the venerable Washingtonian newspaper, but I know so much about him. I also know about his boss, Washingtonian Deputy Assistant Editor John Whiteclay. I first encountered young Mr. Whiteclay at a Society of Professional Journalists awards ceremony a couple years ago, when I was but a slip of a staff writer and he was an investigative journalist at the Tulalip Tribune on the Indian reservation few miles north of my house.

He and the crusaders from the downtown Seattle social justice newspaper, Real Change, owned that awards ceremony, racking up eight or nine first place statuettes between them. I remember he had the longest hair I’d ever seen on a man or woman: a raven black braid that hung past his belt, tied off with either a thin strip of leather or a garbage bag twist tie. He was all of 27.

I didn’t talk to him at the time. I remember being profoundly embarrassed that I hadn’t realized there was a legitimate newspaper up in casino land.

Last night, I finally read John Whiteclay’s 2008 first place investigative journalism article, Slaughterhouse 98271.

He has accumulated at least eleven more first place statuettes since I last encountered him. He’s also ascended from lowly reporter at a weekly tribal newspaper with a circulation of maybe 2,000 to editor at the Washingtonian, one of the last print dailies in the country. My own journalistic ascension has been far less impressive.

When I called Jack O’Lies to set up an interview (multiple times, all sent to voicemail) and when I emailed him (multiple times, all unanswered), I never thought I’d resort to that lowest of tactics (contacting his boss). But I get pushy when I’m ignored.

After checking my email one last time and finding no response, I decide to place a call to John Whiteclay, one print editor to another. Very collegial, I figure. As I dial, I wonder if he still has the incredibly long braid.

I’m transferred, put on hold, transferred again, then put on hold again. While I’m humming along to the canned version of the theme from Titanic, he picks up.

Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet

“John Whiteclay.”

How much humming did he hear?

“Hi there. This is Katherine Luck from the Journal,” I say.

“The Business Journal?”

“No. The Journal Newspapers.”

Did he hear my unconscious attempt to hit the high trills? Why would they subject people on hold to a Celine Dion song? And what the heck is the lyric after “My heart will go on?” It’s going to bug me all day.

“The King County Journal?”

“No. Yes. No, not the one you’re thinking of. That folded, like, ten years ago.”

I just said “like.” That’s not a good sign. It means he’s rattling me.

“Who are you with?” He sounds annoyed.

“We’re a monthly newspaper. We have two editions—the King County Journal and the Snohomish County Journal. But officially or whatever, we’re the Journal Newspapers.”

I just said “whatever” to an award-winning investigative reporter turned editor. I sound 13. I’m 33.

“I’ve, uh, been trying to get ahold of one of your reporters for a piece I’m working on,” I say.

“Permissions can be obtained by calling extension 102—”

“No, no, I don’t want to reprint anything,” I say. “I want to interview him.”

I hear the chatter of a keyboard through my phone. He’s checking his email as we speak. I know that he isn’t looking for a message I might have sent—no, he’s multitasking, barely listening to me. Not that I know this because I do it.

“Who were you trying to reach?” He sounds distracted.

“Jack O’Lies. He’s a crime reporter, it says.”

“It” is the ten year old byline that Google supplied when I typed in “husbands of serial killer victims.”

On the other end of the phone, John Whiteclay stops typing and sighs.

“Jack O’Lies,” he says. “Why would you want to interview him?”

“Research. Um…that I’m doing. For a book. That I’m working on.”

John Whiteclay sighs again.

“Is this some kind of backgrounding thing?”

“Yes?” I say. I have no idea what he means.

“Okay,” he says. “I’ll see. What’s your number?”

“425-775-2400,” I say. I don’t bother to give him my extension. I only do so when I fear a potential interviewee will mistake me for a mere blogger.

“Okay,” John Whiteclay says. “Jack will get back to you.”

He hangs up. I hang up.

Jack does not get back to me.

NEXT >>

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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.

 

NEXT >>

Thursday, March 22, 12:04 p.m.

Thanks to the twittering danger signals of the reporters, I locate Jack O’Lies’ cubicle easily. It stands isolated amid dozens of empty desks along the west wall. He has removed one of the cubicle’s walls, giving him an unbroken view of the cobalt blue water of Puget Sound. I wonder how often he takes in the stunning vista. His head is down, his eyes on his keyboard.

“Excuse me?” I say. “Hi. Are you Jack O’Lies?”

He looks up from his computer keyboard. His eyes are pale blue: a shade not captured by the offensive blogger’s video camera, the KING 5 TV lens, or even my brief glance at him as he glared at his boss.

Impulsively, I decide that the best tactic I can employ is deceit. Dishonesty. Lying.

“I’m Katherine from the Journal. We had an interview scheduled for ten today. I’m kind of late,” I say. It’s two hours after our scheduled interview—more than kind of late. I force a phony giggle.

I ought to mention that I’m a terrible liar.

“Can we grab a cup of coffee?” I say. “My treat. This won’t take more than fifteen, twenty minutes.”

That’s what I always tell my interviewees—fifteen, maybe twenty minutes. Occasionally it’s true.

Jack O’Lies stares at me, but not in the slurred way he stared at his boss. He lets out a rough sound that isn’t a laugh.

“Coffee? Is that the new corporate buzz word around here? Are you from the legal department?”

“No. I’m Katherine from the Journal. Your editor set up an interview between us for ten today.”

“I’m supposed to interview you why, exactly?”

“No, no, I’m supposed to interview you,” I say.

There’s a long, long, long pause. I can hear my own breathing. I hold my breath.

“I’ve got work to do,” he says.

“It’ll just take a couple minutes,” I say.

“Not today.”

“Ten minutes, max,” I say.

His gaze slips back to his computer keyboard.

“I’m on deadline. Go write your blog and leave me alone,” he says.

“But—”

“Not today,” he says again. He says it softly, but not kindly.

Dismissively.

If he shouted, if he added a bit of choice profanity, if he shoved me, I would feel a sight less offended and put out.

“Okay, then,” I say.

I huff back to work, some twenty miles north in speedy, non-rush hour traffic. He actually thinks I’m a blogger. I am many things that journalists don’t want to be, but I’m not a blogger. I’m stubborn at inappropriate times. I hold a grudge…more than one. I can be insufferable when professionally thwarted. But I am not a blogger.

As the afternoon wears itself thin, I sit at my desk and assemble calendar copy to fill holes in the next edition of the Journal, while Jack O’Lies (I learn later) sits at his desk and assembles obituaries to fill holes in the next edition of the Washingtonian. Both of us brood.

He broods about…well, he never told me exactly what. But I was able to surmise later. I brood about my impending trip back to Seattle this evening.

His fellow Washingtonian journalist, Bididiana Gomez, told me plenty about his habits.

I know he likes to drink.

I know he is on deadline.

I know his deadline is five p.m.

I know he retires to the 3 Coins Restaurant (where “restaurant” is a loosely applied term) every night after deadline and drinks Scotch on the rocks. More than one.

I know that I will be joining him tonight.

“Not today,” he warned me. Too bad I’m obtuse. Things wouldn’t have gotten so out of hand if I had listened to him.

Thursday, March 22, 2:49 p.m.

His editor was right to say “Damn.” Damn is right.

Jack O’Lies’ article on the Lake Washington murder hits the web at 2:46 p.m. I read it. I feel depressed.

I was at the same murder scene four hours earlier. I noted so much less. Could I have written an article even half as comprehensive in less than half an hour?

Could I have done it in half a day? Half a week? Half a month?

Yes, given half a month, I might be able to. I work at a monthly newspaper, so I’m comfortable with such a deadline.

But less than half an hour…damn.

I start to doubt whether I ought to try to interview him tonight—or at all. I am so far beneath him. Compared to him, I’m barely better than a blogger.

Then I start to think. To think cynically. A bad habit of mine.

Had he really gotten all those stellar quotes from the coroner? Or were they manufactured, id est, made up? Had his years—decades—of experience made banging hard core murder reportage effortless? Could I do it, if I had decades of experience as a crime reporter?

Only one way to find out.

At five p.m., I jump in this week’s press car on loan for review, an empowering $83,000 Infinity G convertible that can’t help but expand one’s confidence (arrogance). I drive in rush hour traffic from my newspaper’s suburban headquarters south to Seattle. The trip, twenty-four minutes at most according to the car’s GPS, takes an hour and thirteen minutes.

By the time I locate a parking spot outside the 3 Coins Restaurant, it’s 6:24 p.m. I step into the leathery gloom. I’m sure Jack O’Lies has gone home by now. Nevertheless, I take it upon myself to dodge first into the restaurant, then into bar to check.

According to the bartender in the leather-bound lounge, Jack is still in situ, seated in his usual booth in the back, drinking his usual Scotch on the rocks. I order a Diet Coke and a Scotch on the rocks. I carry them into the seen-better-days murk.

I don’t normally do stuff like this—stalk men to their favorite watering hole, buy them a drinks, refuse to take “no” for an answer.

But I’m working.

Sometimes I’m simultaneously amused and appalled at the lengths to which I will go when it’s for work. For fun, for friendship, for my own edification, there’s no way I’d skip dinner to drive through rush hour hell to Seattle to force a miserable widower to tell me about how he came to this sorry state. Especially after he’d made it clear he didn’t want to do so. I don’t cross the line—any line—in my private life. But for a story…I marvel at what I’ve done.

As I approach, a glass in each hand, I feel like the embodiment of stranger-danger. Want some candy, little boy?

“Jack?” I say. “Hi again! Katherine from the Journal? Mind if I sit?”

Seated within a semi-circular banquette, Jack O’Lies is stationed behind three empty highball glasses. The high walls of the booth are like the cubicle walls at the Washingtonian office, but studded with tarnished brass buttons and reeking of sixty years of cigarette smoke. His head is down, as if he’s studying his keyboard at his desk. He doesn’t look up at me.

I slide in uninvited and sit across from him.

“Wow,” I say. “Cool place. I’ve never been here before. But I’ve heard of it. It’s pretty historical, right?”

Jack still doesn’t look up.

“Traffic was crazy. I swear, it’s worse every time I come down to Seattle. You’re drinking Scotch, right? That’s what the bartender said. Want this? I didn’t feel like breaking the ten,” I say.

I think this sounds very cool. But if he asks me why, exactly, I felt obliged to dispose of a ten dollar bill rather than accept change, I’ll stutter stupidly and expose myself as one of the world’s worst liars. I had formal training in acting during my formative years.  Fat lot of good it’s done me.

“Here,” I say, sliding the highball glass filled to the brim with Scotch and slowly melting ice across the sticky tabletop.

Jack looks up. His pale blue eyes move from the glass to my face, where they lock on my pupils. He has the stare of a basilisk. I can’t move. I sense the poison coming through his eyes into mine, but it’s too late.

“Um,” I say, breaking eye contact nervously. “I read your article.”

He says nothing. He’s still staring at me. I can feel it. I play with the red straw that bobs in my soda.

“It was great. Very thorough. I was there, too. At the murder scene, or whatever. I really like your writing style.”

I just said “whatever” to a veteran crime reporter. His silent stare is rattling me badly. I’m reverting to age 13. I’m 33.
”Here,” I say, shoving the Scotch closer to him. “I was hoping to talk to you for a minute or two. About a piece I’m working on. Totally off the record, obviously.”

Jack O’Lies lets out a sound that would be a laugh if it didn’t sound so painful. I actually flinch at the harsh, throat flaying sound.

“There is no ‘off the record’ in an interview. You’re a blogger, aren’t you? The one that’s been emailing and calling me over and over?”

I bristle.

“I am not a blogger. I work for the Journal. I’m an editor. A print editor.”

BFD,” he mutters, dropping his gaze to the glass. He grabs it and takes a sip. “Never heard of it.”

“We have a circulation of over 93,000. Print circulation,” I retort.

“Never heard of it.”

“We had thirteen editions in two counties before we consolidated about a year ago. The North Seattle Journal, the Ballard Journal—”

He lets out a groan and looks up at me. His eyes, so light and so blue, grow drunkenly merry.

“You mean that thing, that neighborhood rag that used to just show up about once a month in my mailbox ever since I bought my house eighteen years ago?”

“Yes,” I say.

“It said Ballard Journal but there was barely any Ballard news. Just random feel-good features and…oh, good God,” he chuckles.

“Yes,” I snap.

“We used to wonder why the hell we got it every month. We never subscribed. We recycled the thing every month. Why don’t we get it anymore?”

“We stopped mailing to homes that make less that $100,000 a year,” I reply.

Ah, the satisfaction I feel as his smirk morphs into a glare and he lets the highball glass clunk too hard onto the tabletop. I raise my eyebrows innocently. Sometimes I manage to leverage that acting training of mine.

“I’m not interested in being in your paper,” he says.

“This isn’t for my paper,” I say. “This is a side project of my own.”

He lowers his eyes, picks the glass up, and drinks.

“So…how do you like The Chief? He said you’d be calling me.”

“Do you guys really call him that? Like, openly?” I say.

He stares at me. I fumble.

“I mean, isn’t that racist, or whatever?” I say.

“He’s our department’s editor-in-chief. Why do you think we call him ‘The Chief?’”

A year or two ago, I would have answered that and been trapped.

“He’s nice,” I say.

“He’s an ad department tool. A tool. In all five senses of the word,” Jack replies.

“Well, he’s a very good writer.”

“Good writers don’t make good editors,” he says.

So…I can be offended in one of two ways. I take a long sip from the red straw. My hands are shaking.

Jack drains the Scotch.

“Thanks for the drink,” he says. “Now, you’ll have to excuse me.”

He doesn’t make to rise or to grab his jacket, which is hanging on an old fashioned brass hook just outside our private banquette. The big brush off. I get it.

I refuse to play along.

“Oh, sure, sure,” I say agreeably. “I’ll get out of your hair, just let me finish my drink, okay? Why don’t we talk about that piece I’m working on? I just had a couple questions I wanted to ask you. It’ll take five minutes, tops.”

I can be so obnoxious when I refuse to be brushed-off.

Jack O’Lies neither sighs nor rolls his eyes. Instead, he turns that icy blue stare on me.

“I’m planning on doing something. I’d like to be alone,” he says.

“What are you planning to do?” I ask in the sweetest, fakest, most engaging voice ever to have come out of Acting 251. “You can tell me. Really…I’ll keep it a secret.”

Later, much later, I wish I’d kept my mouth shut.

 

NEXT >>

Thursday, March 22, 7:53 p.m.

In the brown, dim lounge, alone in our womb-like corner, Jack takes out his wallet. He holds it a moment, then sets it on the table beside the four empty highball glasses.

He inhales deeply. He stares at the flat, coffee colored lump on the table. He sighs shakily.

“You know what today is, right?” he says. His voice is soft and prone to cracking. “You must. Why else…why would you hound me like this all day?”

I’m at a loss, so I say nothing. I surreptitiously signal the bartender for another round for both of us. I will be insomniac tonight from the caffeine, Jack will be chatty from the booze. I hope.

He reaches for his wallet.

“They’re in a secret pocket,” he says, opening it. “Inside the money fold. There aren’t many. It’s easy to forget they’re in there any other day of the year. I never show them to anyone. Never look at them myself … except today.”

Jack slowly fingers photo paper hidden in the wallet and I feel apprehensive. Is he going to show me some kind of sex thing? Some horrifying pornography? He pulls the pictures out and lays them in a small pile on the table.

There are five pictures. They’re creased and split in places from being sat on for years.

“All the other pictures were thrown away or lost after…” he hesitates. He doesn’t speak for more seconds than I can count. “I do this every year. They’re more faded every time. Is that bad?”

All of a sudden, Wikipedia hits me between the eyes. Oh holy crap!

I forgot.

I forgot!

I get why the coroner was so upset to see him at the murder scene.

I get why he shoved that blogger.
I get why he was hostile to his boss.

I get why he kept telling me “Not today.”

His wife was killed twelve years ago today.

How, how, how could I have forgotten?

How tactless am I? How stupid? How unprofessional?

What must he think of my motives in following him here tonight?

“Oh Jack,” I say. I reach my hand across the table toward his, then withdraw it hastily. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize. I really didn’t, I swear…”

“We were so stupid,” he says. “I was, what? Thirty-three? She wasn’t even thirty yet. I was gonna do something when she turned thirty. She invited my whole newsroom to an over-the-hill party when I hit the big three-oh. I was going to get her back.”

The waitress sets my Diet Coke and his Scotch on the rocks on the table. Jack grabs his drink. I ignore mine. He drains half of his. He hasn’t looked me in the eye since he took out his wallet. He stacks and smoothes the fragile photos once, twice, a third time.

“Lucy was in preschool. Three. Not four, not quite. We were talking about having another. My wife wanted a boy. A matched set. I didn’t care. I wanted another, boy or girl, healthy and who cares? You know?”

I don’t. I only ever wanted a daughter. And I got exactly what I wanted. I nod anyway.

“The thing was, we couldn’t afford another kid. That was the huge issue—the worst thing in our lives. How to pay for another crib. Jesus Christ.”

Jack suddenly twitches his gaze from his glass to mine. I flinch.

“Do you have any idea?” he says.

“No,” I say. And I don’t.

“I can’t really remember what she looked like anymore. Not what she really looked like. She laughed like Lucy, but Lucy doesn’t laugh much now. I have this picture of her in my head, but it’s not real. But…” he fingers the stack of photos. “There are these…”

He looks at me.

“Do you want to see?”

 

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Thursday, March 22, 8:11 p.m.

Jack shifts the wedding photo to the bottom of the stack and pulls out a scrap of fragile, holey paper. This one isn’t a photo. He gently unfolds it.

“I accidentally made a tear in it last year. Be very careful,” he says.

He hands it to me.

A big red blob dominates the construction paper. It has wild green hair and broom-like arms and no legs. Its eyes are askew like a Picasso. A series of letters, unconnected and jagged, spell out…something.

 Crayon drawing

“Did your daughter make this?” I say.

He nods.

“When?”

“In preschool. Maybe a week before the murder,” he says.

I look at the paper to hide how uncomfortable I am. If I had realized that today is the day his wife was killed twelve years ago, I would never have sat down at his table, laden with empty booze glasses and pictures from his dead past.

Or would I?

“What does this say?” I ask.

“‘HI I LOVE YOU MOMMY! LOVE LUCY!’” he spells out, tracing the text with his finger. The nail is nipped down so far it’s painful to look at. I’ve seen hands like his before. He must chew his nails mercilessly.

“Very sweet,” I say.

“It took me three of these days, three years, to figure it out,” he says. “It’s the only picture Lucy drew as a little kid that I have.”

“Did you throw the others out?” I ask.

Jack shrugs.

“Things turned bad after she died. Things disappeared. I have no idea why this didn’t.”

He signals the waitress. He’s already so drunk. He looks at me in a way that makes me shrink.

“Things went very, very bad after she was murdered,” he says.

 

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Thursday, March 22, 9:23 p.m.

The fourth photo finds its way from Jack’s hand to mine. It’s a strange image: a Polaroid taken by a neighbor the day before his wife was no more. It’s a real slice-of-life shot, unposed, the subjects unaware of the cameraman’s presence. Jack and his wife are in their kitchen. They are sitting at their kitchen table, one on each side, facing off. I know this posture. They’re in the midst of an argument.

Weegee photo

“Lucy let the neighbor guy into the house without us knowing,” Jack says, as I study the photo. “I had a long talk with her that night about not letting anyone in without asking Mommy or Daddy first. For all the good it did.”

In the photo, Jack of twelve years ago is slumped in his kitchen chair, his head leaning heavily into his cupped hand. The other hand is balled up in a fist that rests on his thigh. Visible tension is all over him. There are stress lines in his forehead. His shoulders are up around his ears. He looks a lot less like the dork in the wedding photo and more like the drunk, widowed, ruined man seated across from me. He’s exactly the same age as me in the photo. Do I look like this?

His wife is in mid-sentence, frowning with her mouth open on a vowel, her hand out to help make her point. She looks even more upset than he does. Jack can remember every word of their conversation, thanks to this picture. Unasked, he recounts it.

“She said, ‘I hate this.’

“I said, ‘What?’

“She said, ‘Seeing you like this. You look terrible. You aren’t eating, you aren’t sleeping—’

“I said, ‘How would you know?’

“She said, ‘Well, unless you’re sleeping somewhere I don’t know about, you’re only in our bed a good three hours a night. And even then, you keep thrashing around and muttering. Are you having nightmares?’

“I said, ‘Can we just drop this, please?’

“She said, ‘Fine.’

“And she did drop it. For about thirty seconds.

“Then she said, ‘You’re on a team, you know. You don’t have to do it all. Can’t some of the other reporters pull their weight a little?’

“I said, ‘All of the other reporters are working just as hard as me! Do you have any idea how hard this is? If the cops nail this guy and the P.I. or the Times are there and we aren’t…do you know how that will look?’

“She said, ‘I just think you could…I don’t know. I just wish you didn’t have to put so much of yourself into some son of a bitch serial killer. It’s such a waste.’

“I said, ‘It’s been months and months—a waste? How the hell would you know? You never read my stuff! You don’t give a damn what I do for a living, do you? You bitch about it.’”

Jack hangs his head.

“I said that. She was dead eighteen hours later. I didn’t know what was coming, but still…I said that. Petty. Stupid. I knew she never read my articles. She never had in the ten years we were married. It hurt. She complained about how much time my job took, but she never bothered to check out the result. How many people’s jobs have an end product the whole damned world can see?”

I can relate. But I say nothing.

“She said, ‘Honey, I just mean it’s terrible that a good man has to give himself to some killer he doesn’t even know, not to the family that loves him. And misses him. Jack? Do you understand?’

“And right then, the flash went off. We both jumped and yelled, and our neighbor was all, ‘Hey, thought you’d be used to the paparazzi thing, Jack! Got any beer?’”

Jack sighs. He’s silent for a long time.

“I was about to say to her, ‘Yes. I’m sorry, baby. I miss you and Lucy. I love you.’ But I lost my chance. And I never got another.”