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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Chapter Two

The television chirped to life and began blasting the familiar exhilarating, dark tones of ‘One Week Window’s’ critically acclaimed opening theme. Even though the show was relatively new, it already had the entire nation glued to their TVs, all of them waiting impatiently for the next bit of evidence.
The show had single handedly changed the face of police investigations; instead of a small team of highly trained criminal investigators examining a crime scene, now the entire world had access to the information and could chime in with any leads or breakthroughs. The information sweeping back and forth was astounding, and it helped not only to solve crimes but, in some areas, to prevent them. There was only one catch: if the crime couldn’t be solved within a week, the case was shelved, never to be seen again.
Even though this aspect of the show had drawn a lot of fire from critics, the overwhelming praise from global audiences had drowned them out, and the show went on. It made Rosie sick.
She sprawled in front of the television, notebook in hand like so many other viewers, her eyes glued to the screen, but instead of the snapshots of body parts and cultures of potential ejaculatory juices, Rosie’s eyes were fixed on the face of the most beloved cop of all time: Detective David Armstrong. The camera showed a shot of him looking grim and holding a severed hand, a clip from the very first episode of the show, and then it cut to a shot of Edwin Glaise, the man with the most amazing teeth in the world who served as the ‘anchor’ for the show.
Eddie stared into the camera from behind his spotless desk with a practiced expression that was somewhere between a saddened frown and a male model’s smirk, “On this week’s episode, we are investigating the brutal murder of a young woman named Darcy Tucker. To all her friends and relatives viewing our show tonight,” he adopted his signature condoling look, his eyes wide and tearful, “We are so sorry for your tragic loss.”
Rosie rolled her eyes. Glaise was an expert at emphasizing certain words in his monolog to give them an extra ‘punch.’ It made her want to vomit.
Glaise prattled on, “Lets go to the Tucker’s suburban home where this unspeakable tragedy took place and get the evidence from Detective Armstrong.”
The camera cut to the sea of reporters who began shouting questions at Detective Armstrong as soon as the ‘on air’ light lit up on the porch near the podium. David ran a hand over his tired face and wearily tapped the microphone in front of him, “One at a time, we’re going to do this in an orderly fashion. You first, please.” he gestured to a man with more hair-gel than hair.
“What did you and Investigator Herron just talk about? Shouldn’t that be shared with the viewers? What are you hiding?”
“That was three questions.” He pointed to a second reporter, who yelled out, “At what time did Darcy Tucker die?
David let out a long breath. In the days before ‘One Week Window’ had plucked him from his place on the force, he would have punched the revolting lot of them in the face for their behavior. Now, he had to plaster on a smile and answer, “Approximately ten o’clock.”
A few more questions peppered the man, and after he had answered a few, the show director gestured to him from off-camera and he knew it was time for him to give his over-arching speech. Their method of asking questions first and then giving a statement was unorthodox, but during the last SWEEPs week, they found that sixty percent of viewers loved the pandemonium it created.
As the second hand of the director’s clock reached twelve, David, recently voted ‘the most-trusted man’ in America, began his press conference.
            David Armstrong didn’t feel ‘trusted’. At this point in his career, he was tired and angry, and this week’s grisly homicide made his already prickly disposition worse. David cleared his throat and contorted his mouth and nose as if he had just bitten into a rotten piece of fish, “Darcy Tucker, age twenty-four, was murdered last night in the living room of her parent’s house at approximately ten o’clock eastern standard time. Her parents discovered the body this morning at eight. Darcy, to the best of her parents’ knowledge, planned to be alone. The parents, James and Holly Tucker were away visiting friends.”
            Even before David finished the first few sentences of his press conference, an icon emerged on viewer’s screens that contained a complete biography of Darcy Tucker. There were pictures of her at various ages, as well as a complete medical history, what schools she attended, a summation of her professional career and salaries, her sexual history, and pictures of lovers, past and present. For those who didn’t want to press a button or just wanted to watch the show, a montage of images played automatically on the left side of the screen while David spoke on the right side.
             David continued, “The Tuckers drove to the home of their long-time friends where they had dinner, went to the movies, and spent the night.”
A detailed map of the parent’s route to their friends’ home, the particulars of the Tucker’s car, its mileage, its tire track pattern, and its maintenance schedules were already posted in a second file that viewers could access with a slide of their finger. The friends with whom the Tuckers spent the evening had every detail of their life from bounced checks to abortions posted for the entire world to see.
Rosie stood up and wandered away from her television for a moment, her stomach sick. She stared at the fading wallpaper, just listening to David’s voice behind her as she unconsciously picked threads from her worn t-shirt.
            David continued, “Darcy appears to have engaged in sexual intercourse with her assailant. We are conducting tests to determine whether the intercourse was consensual or forced and whether the intercourse was carried out while she was conscious, unconscious, or dead.”
            His shoulders slumped and his voice dropped as he made this last statement. Multiple files appeared on viewer’s screens with detailed information in regards to how investigators would determine her state of being when the intercourse occurred. Preliminary sketches began to appear which illustrated the manner of intercourse Darcy and her assailant were probably engaged in. Rosie glanced over her shoulder at the television, and uttered a low moan of disgust.
This pseudo-science was based on the location and position investigators found her body and the final placement of various fluids. David and every other law enforcement officer knew that these tests were as accurate as tracking a fart in a breeze. The schematics always assumed the worst in order to peak viewer interest and titillate those who relished sexual violence. There were a subsection of viewers who tuned in to find out if other seemingly normal people had secret unorthodox sex lives.
David was now seething. He could see in his monitor that another camera was showing Dr. Ernest Kreegel with his sketchpad hovering above Darcy’s body. David didn’t know what type of doctor Dr Kreegel was or whether he was a doctor at all. What Armstrong did know was that Kreegel’s lurid pastel drawings of sometimes bloody and maimed victims auctioned for thousands of dollars each week with none of the proceeds given to the victim’s families.
            The technicians in the on-site control van switched the camera back to David, “Darcy appears to have been killed by a blow to her head by a blunt object. We are conducting tests to identify potential murder weapons and the force with which she was struck.”
            Viewers’ screens lit up with close-up pictures of the wound on the rear of Darcy’s head, the red contrasting so violently with her naturally blonde hair that for a moment, Rosie wondered if the image had been enhanced. Illustrations showing the dimensions and shapes of various household items and tools were being compared to the size of Darcy’s fatal wound. A detailed inventory of items in the Tucker’s household that could have been used by the assailant were listed in a separate file. Videotapes of each room of the house replete with close-ups of each room’s belongings were posted. Any items missing from the home would be made available to the viewers once Darcy’s parents had an opportunity to do an inventory. 
            “We are also currently interviewing neighbors and reviewing public and private security video systems in hopes of catching an image of the assailant, their car or the license plate.”
            Files began to emerge on viewer’s screens of surveillance recordings between the hours of eight and eleven from local businesses, security recordings from private homes, satellite images if available, and traffic control recordings from intersections around the Tucker’s house.
David would be the first to admit that crime reports were gruesome, but bearable compared to the next two portions of the investigation. He missed the times when reporters would have asked questions that probed who Darcy Tucker was and what motivations a criminal might have for assaulting her. Instead, he found himself once again answering inane questions about the millions of viewers who loyally tuned in to “One Week Window.”
            David had been on the force for twenty years. He had been investigating violent crimes for ten years before the start of ”One Week Window” and he had seen the devastation that murders and other violent crimes did to families. His exposure to these crimes had made him gruff, craggy, and bad tempered.  These were also the qualities that the show’s producers loved about him and he sometimes wondered if the reporters’ questions weren’t preselected to get him to lose his cool.
            With the last question, David stomped away from the cameras. His body language a combination of curmudgeonly old man and pissed off detective. It made him crazy that his authentic emotions and his exasperation made him a network favorite, and every time he lost his cool or swore at the reporters, viewer interest would spike and the producers would send him their heartfelt approval along with excited requests for more of the same. At least he knew he wouldn’t have to do this much longer: he was sure that Atlas Communications would soon replace him with a detective who was thinner, younger, and more attractive. It was no surprise to David that the new recruits to the police force had become more photogenic over the last few years. David prayed, for the sake of the victims, that they were also capable.
            The cameras switched back to Eddie Glaise, who had been staring directly down the shirt of his make-up artist for the entire time that Detective Armstrong had been onscreen. Even though he had been carefully selected to be the looks of the show, his popularity had never spiked above luke-warm, much to the producers’ dismay. Forty percent of the population said that his teeth were too big and white, twenty percent said that he reminded them of a ferret in a toupee, and the last twenty percent answered with a single word: “creepy.”
            He smiled at the camera with his beady eyes, and cleared his throat, “Thank you, Detective Armstrong. Now, we will hear from our labs-“
            Rosie shut the television off, and chewed on her pencil. She wasn’t interested in Darcy Tucker: the poor girl was beyond her help anyway. What she was interested in was Detective David Armstrong, and she was getting close to getting all the information she would need. 
Next Chapter

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