Posts Tagged ‘investigative’

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. www.wikipedia.com___________________________________________________________________

   From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

   Jack O’Lies (born August 4,1965) is a crime reporter at the Washingtonian, a daily newspaper in Seattle,Washington.

   He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in investigative journalism in 1998 for his coverage of his wife’s murder and the subsequent trial of her killer, the Westgate Serial Killer. He came in second to Gary Cohn and Will Englund of The Baltimore Sun for their series on the international shipbreaking industry, which revealed the dangers posed to workers and the environment when discarded ships are dismantled.

 

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Friday, March 30, 7:24 p.m.

There’s a low-to-mid priced motel just across the freeway. I coax Jack into driving us there by promising him a mini-bar stocked with booze. I check him in on my credit card and hustle him up to his room. The familiar, anonymous motel smell pushes us out of the elevator and down the deserted hallway. I slide the keycard, open the door to the room, and click on the lights. Jack trails me inside.

“This is nice,” I say doubtfully.

Jack sits on the bed and looks up at me.

“Will you stay?” he asks.

“Nope. And there’s no mini-bar, either,” I say. “I’m gonna use the bathroom.”

When I come back out, Jack is sprawled across the bed. He’s asleep.

For a moment, I wonder if I ought to stay after all. He tried to protect me today. I feel I owe it to him to keep him from wandering out into the night in search of the Irish pub just across the freeway overpass. I feel like I should keep him safe and sober.

I quickly decide against it, however. I can explain a few irregular things I’ve done lately to interested parties (my husband), but not sharing a low-to-mid priced motel room with another man.

“Hey Jack,” I say. “Jack?”

I consider shaking him. I lean down instead and peer at his slack face. He’s breathing lightly and evenly. His face is utterly peaceful. I’ve never seen him look like this before. He looks like a dead man.

I grab a piece of motel stationary and scrawl him a note.

Katherine's Handwriting

Translation:

I borrowed your car to get home. I’ll bring it back tomorrow morning. We’ll get breakfast. Or brunch.
Katherine

I take his car keys. After a moment of reflection, I take his cell phone as well. I leave my cell phone in its place. I don’t get many calls. I creep out of the room, turning off the lights as I go, leaving Jack shod and uncovered on the bed.

As I drive home, I ponder the impending karmic joke at my expense. Jack’s car is a manual: the most idiotic form of transmission ever invented. I have driven a stick shift exactly once in my fifteen years as a driver, with less than stellar results.

I lurch, swerve, and stall. I grind gears while swearing flamboyantly through the open window. I am sure to be pulled over for erratic driving the few miles to my house. I’ve always wanted to see someone I know on “Cops.” I’ve seen a cop I know (and in whose cop car I once rode), but that doesn’t count. I want to see a criminal I know. Preferably someone I went to high school with.

Cops TV Show

When the cops pull me over tonight, and the “Cops” camera crew shines their bright lights in my face, I will spout the same bullshit line uttered by all the grand theft auto suspects on the show:

“This car? It belongs to a friend of mine. He said I could borrow it.”

Oh Arturo, god of irony! The person I know on “Cops”…will be me!

Somehow, I make it home without being arrested. I park five blocks from my house, just in case Jack comes to, is unable to decipher my note, and calls the police to report his car stolen. I eat a late dinner, then settle on the couch to snoop through Jack’s cell phone. It’s a very basic, old school model.

In his photo folder is the shot of him outside the Ballard bar and the image he snapped in Everett today. Nothing else. Nothing taken for work. Not one of his daughter.

In his inbox are several texts sent by me today, as well as eleven from his editor. The most recent was sent eighteen minutes ago. I open it.

Are you OK? Call me.
John

There are dozens from “Undisclosed.” I don’t want to open any of these. Jack has shown me some of them. They’re scary and I’ve been scared enough today.

I open his address book. It’s sparsely populated:

“Home”
“Work”
“Lucy’s cell”
“Coroner Harry Dekins”
“3 Coins bar”
“Katherine’s cell phone”
“Katherine’s work phone”
“Katherine’s home phone”

What the hell, Jack!

Unsettled, I put his phone down and open my email to read the dossier sent to me by Leo, The Seattle Crimeologist. It’s awfully comprehensive; obsessively so. It run to 78 pages, single spaced, with photos. Among the highlights:

  • Jack’s two DUI arrest records and mug shots
  • The articles Jack wrote while covering the trial of his wife’s killer
  • Jack’s HR file, two years old, filled with multiple citations for drunkenness at work, action plans, official reprimands and AA referrals
  • A long list of regional journalism awards Jack has won
  • A long list of national journalism awards Jack has won
  • A copy of the notice of nomination from the Pulitzer Prize committee, dated 1999
  • A copy of the letter from the Pulitzer Prize committee awarding Jack second place, dated 1999
  • A write-up by an HR rep on the incident between Jack and Leo that resulted in Leo’s summary firing from his internship at the Washingtonian
  • Lucy’s school handbook, downloaded from the school’s website
  • Lucy’s permanent record from seventh grade through high school
  • Lucy’s quarterly report cards from seventh grade through last semester
  • Multiple high resolution photos of the exterior of Jack’s house

I’m not in any of the photos. Leo’s not that stupid.

I don’t know what to do. So I go to bed. At three in the morning, I awaken suddenly. My heart is pounding. I listen intently.

Before I went to bed, I put several bags filled with cans destined for the recycling bin in front of the door. If a murderer tries to enter, he or she will knock them over and the clattering cacophony will alert me.

The house is silent. But my heart continues to pound. I realize it’s pounding in the urgent manner that typically signals the recollection of an unfinished task.

The Chief.

I stagger out of bed through the dark house and locate Jack’s cell phone. I scroll to “Work” and blink in confusion when I am sent to voicemail.

I’m not very sharp at three a.m. I hang up and dig through my coat pockets until I find the card with The Chief’s cell phone number written on it. I dial. I’m sort of awake as it begins to ring. The Chief is not when he answers.

“Low?” he murmurs groggily into the phone. “Jack? You okay? What happened?”

“It’s Katherine from the Journal,” I say, my voice robotic in the wee hours.

“What…is he with you? What happened to him?”

“He’s okay,” I say. “He’s staying at a motel tonight. I’m still trying to figure out what’s going on. But he’s safe. His daughter’s safe, too. You can stop worrying.”

“Katherine?” Jack’s editor murmurs in his bedroom voice. “Is there anything I can do?”

Half-asleep, yet still so professional! Is he married? Is he shirtless?

I am so immature.

 

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Saturday, March 31, 10:46 a.m.

I call Jack as soon as I leave my rendezvous with the coroner. Outside, hunched against the chilling rain, I hold the cell phone to my ear. After three rings, just as I reach my car, he answers.

“Katherine?” he says. “Where are you?”

“You gave me permission to investigate you, right?” I interrupt him curtly.

“Yeah,” he replies.

“Did I give you permission to do the same to me?”

Silence flows from Jack’s line to mine.

“But you did, didn’t you?” I say. I fumble my car keys out of my purse and open the driver’s door. “You found out where I live. You wrote my obituary before the fact. And now, your coroner friend tells me that the two of you have been talking about me. Your coroner friend! What the hell, Jack?”

Another fathom’s deep silence gushes out of the cell phone into my ear. I get into my car and slam the door. Rain patters on the roof. I open my mouth to say, “Care to explain, Jack?” when suddenly I go utterly numb.

It all makes sense. The solution to the mystery that I’ve been wrestling with for the past week is…

I am dead!

No. That doesn’t make sense. I’ve gone to work. I’ve filed articles. I’ve driven press cars. I’ve bought groceries. I’ve interacted with my family. My co-workers have spoken directly to me at meetings and ‘round the water cooler. There hasn’t been one mention of my funeral or a single comment upon the sad absence of Katherine while I was in the room.

Still…

“Am I dead?” I whisper. “Please, Jack. You can tell me. Is that why you wrote my obituary? And told the coroner about me?”

Jack is speechless for a moment, then he lets out an elephantine snort that dispels any further melodrama I might have stored up.

“Jesus Christ, Katherine,” he mutters. “For the love of God.”

“Well,” I say defensively. “It was a very good obituary. Very accurate.”

“I’m thorough,” he says.

Another solution to the mystery occurs to me.

“You’re a stalker!” I accuse. “You’ve got some creepy fixation on me, don’t you?”

His silence is brief, broken by a world weary sigh.

“What did you do to my life?” Jack says. “Things got so mixed up the day we met.”

“Because you stalked me,” I say.

“I did no such thing,” he says.

“You investigated me, then,” I say.

Jack, the former investigative reporter, hesitates.

“Possibly,” he says.

“Why?”

“You were trying to interview me,” he says. “For some nebulous book. Why the hell wouldn’t I check you out?”

He acted so neutral, so uninformed when I introduced myself nine days ago. What a liar. He must have been an incredible journalist once.

“So, how average does my life seem to you?” I say.

“What?”

“You got everything right about me. Birth place, childhood, boring college, boring first career, boring second career. Married. Kid. Third career as a third-rate journalist. All the boxes checked. I guess I can die now, right?” I say.

“Don’t,” Jack says.

I can’t tell if he means, “Don’t die,” or “Don’t talk like this, you self-indulgent drama queen.” Either seems plausible right now.

“You’re a very good writer, but even you couldn’t make my life interesting,” I say.

“Can we get a drink?” Jack says.

“You always say that,” I say.

“Then say yes for once,” he says.

I sigh. I’m not dead, so why not live a little?

 

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Saturday, March 31, 11:15 a.m.

The waitress arrives with my Diet Coke just as Jack starts talking about murder.

“Leo knows the man in the green suit,” Jack says. “He told Leo about people he killed so he could write about it in that crime blog of his. In return, Leo says he gave the man a dossier about me.”

The waitress nearly drops the plastic cup of soda, sloshing a great puddle onto the tabletop. She beats a hasty retreat.

“Do you believe him?” I say, brushing futilely at the spreading lake of brown fizz.

Refueled by his earlier Scotch, Jack shrugs. He grabs several grubby napkins from an abandoned table and sponges patiently at the soda. I wait impatiently.

Finally, I blurt, “Well? Do you trust him or not?”

“I don’t know,” he says. “Some of what he told me rings true. But…no, I don’t trust him.”

“Who do you trust, Jack?” I say.

He tosses the sodden napkins onto the opposite table, then turns his eyes on me. They are so cold and so compelling.

“I don’t trust you,” I say, before he can say it. “You’ve lied to me.”

He exhales. It’s not exactly a sigh.

“But I’ve never lied to you,” I add.

Even as I say it, I realize that it’s a lie. But I don’t correct myself.

“I trust you,” he says.

“Leo’s telling the truth about the dossier on you. He sent it to me, too.”

“Why?” Jack says.

“Because he hates you,” I say.

“What’s in it?” he says.

“All the dirt that’s fit to dish,” I say. “Your DUI records. Your—wait. First, you tell me how you found out I went to Catholic school for three years. Then I’ll tell you.”

Jack eyes me appraisingly for a moment.

“Did what Leo gave you change your opinion of me?” he asks.

“Sort of,” I say. “I understand you better now, if you know what I mean.”

“Leo says the man in the green suit is mad at me,” Jack says. “He’s coming after me.”

“I bet you wish you’d killed him in that alley after all,” I joke.

Jack does not look amused.

“Do you actually believe that Leo knows him?” I say. “He’s been known to exaggerate.”

“He’s a miserable little punk,” Jack says.

“Sure he is,” I say. “But is he a liar?”

“Yes, he’s a liar,” Jack says. “His reporting at the Washingtonian was full of factual errors and misquotes. And his blog is a plagiaristic disaster.”

“But?” I say.

“But,” Jack sighs. “But he reported details from the condo murder that the cops didn’t release to the media. I checked with Harry Dekins. He confirmed it was all true.”

“Are you sure Leo’s not the man in the green suit?” I say.

Jack hesitates.

“He can’t be,” he says.

“So…” I say.

“So…someone’s after me,” he says.

I nod.

“And you,” he says.

 

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Monday, April 2, 9:52 a.m.

Jack says, “I know.”

I say, “You know what?”

He looks at me with the uncompromising gaze of one whose eyes have been opened. He looks like the embodiment of revelation. My heart sinks.

“You made no sense to me,” he says. “Then I suddenly realized why you were so frustrating: You’ve been doing your best to live like a person in a book.”

“We’re paraphrasing Kurt Vonnegut now?” I say.

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

“I know, Katherine.” he says. “I know.”

I look closely at him; at his eyes, which have never been clearer or more wounded.

He does know.

“Damn,” I mutter. “I should have gotten rid of him when I had the chance.”

 

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