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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Chapter Twenty Four

“The dungeon” was a place where substandard or disciplined police officers were sent when they ran afoul of their superiors or openly expressed their discontent with the real crime television shows. The cramped and dingy space occupied by these detectives had become a point of pride. They had their own space and answered to very few. If a bright light was shown on these men they would have recognized that they’re structure resembled that of an organized crime family. It was to the dungeon David went when he was truly frustrated with a case.

            Mark Martinez was the point man at the desk. He greeted David with a disdain a police officer would usually reserve for a criminal. “If it isn’t the most trusted man in America. What brings your royalty to our modest accommodations?”

            David had barely slept and his encounter with Terry Finch always opened thoughts about vigilantes, rogue officers, and corruption. “I’m here to see Duckworth.”

            “I’ll see if he’ll see you. We don’t take kindly to celebrities.”

            “Knock it off, Martinez.”

            “It’s good to see you David. Is it that time of the month?” David had been visiting the dungeon once a month since the Amy Schultz murder hoping that they would uncover some clue that would lead to the killer’s identity. Duckworth, his ex-partner, was one of his last connections to the force.

            “You look like shit and you’re killing yourself. Take a vacation.” Said the man who had dark circles under his eyes deep enough to store cigarettes in.

            “I can’t. There’s only one week to solve…” David coughed violently. “You know how the show works.”

            “I also know that there is going to be another death if you don’t slow down. Quit the fucking show. We can always use a solid cop here in our little paradise.”

            “The dungeon” was a collection of grey steel desks stained from spilled coffee and dented from too many angry outbursts from policemen and violent kicks from addicted felons. As David peered around the open room he felt pangs of jealousy as he watched detectives questioning witnesses and sorting through case files.

            “I can’t. I’m stuck. Every week there’s another case and the assholes at Atlas don’t know where to start to solve a crime or recognize a perp.”

            “Maybe they’re not in the business of solving crimes? Have you ever thought of that?”

            “What are you talking about? We solve sixty percent of the murders and crime rates are down because people are fearful of having their faces shown on national television and every aspect of their lives laid bare.”

            “If what you’re reporting is true.”

            “I’m not following you.”

            “With the start of the real-crime reality shows, cases that weren’t solved within the one week time frame were kicked down to us.”


            “Some of them should have been solved. Others, we suspect, were solved even if Atlas wasn’t sure if the right person or persons were charged with the crime.”

            “Which means?”
            “That the purpose of your show is not to solve crimes but to generate ratings. It’s always been that way.”

            David slumped into a chair. If he had felt old a few before he was now ready to collapse. “I’m sorry David. I thought you were doing the show for the money. I didn’t know you actually believed.”

“By the way we have something for you. Just came in. A body just floated up in the river.”

            “Why do I care?”

            “Because the stiff was wearing a plaid coat like the assailant in the Schulz murder.”

            “Where he is?”

            “Lauren Jamison’s got him.”

* * * *

Al Reindt was furious. There was a truly disgusting corpse on his network’s autopsy table and he couldn’t record or broadcast the revolting images. David had called Lauren Jamison as soon as he learned of the body and Reindt was ordered to keep it off the air until the stiff was identified. David wasn’t sure how long Reindt would wait.

“People are going nuts here. Everyone thinks I’ve got Amy Schulz’s killer on my table. Beemer wants the autopsy on the air.” David assured her that he would deal with him. He could also sense that something was bothering Lauren, “Friendship only goes so far, David.  This son-of-a-bitch is a real mess.”


            “When I cut into him there’s going to be a god damn flood of rotten pickle juice all over my lab.  You could have at least bought me a pair of fucking waders.”

            It was hard for David not to love Lauren.  She called the balls and strikes in a fair and accurate fashion.

            “I need to know who this man is and why he died in the Delaware and I need to know definitively whether this is the man who killed Amy Schultz.”

            “That case is almost a year old. How long do I have?”

            “As fast as humanly possible.  Looking at Reindt’s reaction to my last threats I would think you have twelve hours before his desire for ratings overcomes his good sense.”

            “But you threatened to kill him if he revealed anything or crossed me.” Lauren said.

            “A threat is one thing.  Killing a man is another.  Beemer will figure that out as soon as he stops shaking and puts on a dry pair of pants.”


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