Posts Tagged ‘reporter’

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

May 11, 2013

Secret database1

Investigative Reporting

(Episode 44)

 Leland and Merlin weren’t the only ones on the track of a killer.  Back at the office, the ‘ladies’ were also discussing matters.

“I’d like to do a little background on the victims of our killer,” Nancy Gillis told Ruth, “and I was hoping I could use the Sheriff’s computer.”

Ruth rolled her eyes upwards.  “That’s a departmental data base in that computer and only to be used on official business.  That means, by a ‘departmental  official’.

“Whatever I find out, you’d be welcome to.”

“Isn’t that big of you,” Ruth scoffed.

“What you don’t seem to get, little woman,” Ruth continued, after Nancy refused to walk away, “is that this (she patted the computer tower) is proprietary information, which means that it is the property of a Department of the United States Government, a Federal database used by this Bureau, which can only be accessed by someone who has the proper occupational clearance.”

“I knew you would be the most likely person to hold a clearance,” Nancy replied happily with evident awe.

Ruth bathed in this for a moment.

“Of course.  For some things.  And the Sheriff holds the passwords for other, more sensitive areas.  But none of those people include you, young lady.”  Ruth riveted Nancy with her eyeballs.

“But the victims are dead.  And I don’t see how any of this covers the killer.  I mean, what is there about our killer that you don’t want me to find out? ”  Nancy implored Ruth with her best Shirley Temple look.

Ruth shook her head.

“Why not think about it this way Ms. Haphelstot?  Aren’t there a lot of things about this case that you would like to know, and that might help in the investigation if we could dig them up?  You would like to do that wouldn’t you, Ms. Haphelstot?  Help with the investigation?  And myself, I understand computers probably better than anyone here because…  I’m young.  Everybody knows that.”

“It’s true,” Ramey said.  “I’ve got a ten year old who helps me out at the office.”

Ruth was chewing on a painted fingernail.   “Well.  There are a few questions of my own, I’ve had about these murders.  Which Sheriff Leland hasn’t had the time, or the inclination I’m unhappy to say, to pursue.  And I can’t seem to figure out the data base.”

“Go ahead.  Let the girl try her luck,” Ms. Loomis, the Muffin Lady, said over whatever it was Ramey was saying.  “I’d be interested, what the government can tell me about myself that I don’t already know.”

“See.  So we’ve got one dead person already.  And she doesn’t care.”  Nancy nodded briskly.

“At the office,” Ramey shouted, after snapping his head hard.  Nancy imagined perhaps this tossed the Muffin Lady clear of his thoughts, or at least to the side.  “My ten year old often has to go into confidential accounts in order to repair things.  There’s no other way around it, unless I were to endanger their treatment.  So I just make him swear to non-disclosure.  And we treat it that way.”

“You made a ten year old swear to non-disclosure?”  Ruth frowned, un-amused.

“On a deck of baseball cards.  He takes it very seriously.”

“Wait a minute.  I’m a reporter,” Nancy interjected.  “How can I report what I’m not allowed to disclose?”

“Good point,” Ruth said.  “That might work.”

“Not for me,” Nancy protested.  “What do I get out of it?”

“You get the information.  You just can’t attribute it to this source.”  Ramey’s head snapped back sharply the other direction, as the Muffin Lady interjected.  “Trust me.  I’ve done lots of interviews, and that’s how it works.  And once you have the information, it’s usually easy to find another source.  For example, say you find out I once lived in Cincinnati.  Then you go to the Cincinnati data base and see if I’m located there.  And when you file your story you just say, ‘According to the public files in the data base of the Cincinnati Better Business Bureau, Mary Loomis previously owned and operated a shop called “Tasty Muffins” there from 1985-1987.’  You see, simple.”

“Is that true?”  Nancy asked.  “You’re from Cincinatti?”

“Pretty much.”

“C’mon,” Ramey urged.  “We all want out of here.  The sooner we crack this case the better, for all concerned.”

Everybody nodded, including Ruth, who eventually found herself agreeing.  “Oh alright,” she said happily, lifting her newly polished nails from the keyboard and allowing Nancy her seat.  “Let’s do something!”

Photo lifted from Google Images

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

March 29, 2013

dental image

The Dental Beat

(Episode 36)

Nancy Gillis was just in emotional overload.  First, she had been scared to death.  Then, she had witnessed firsthand the two killings.

People arrived.  They discussed events with the Sheriff and Agent Hailey.  A perimeter ribbon was stretched around the scene.   Photos were taken.  Evidence was packaged.  Bodies were examined and then carted off in the Vern Smith’s portable slaughterhouse.   Her dad was called but couldn’t be found.  For quite a while, it was as if she were floating above herself witnessing it all from a soundless stage or as if peering from out of a fishbowl.

Back at the jail, meals were ordered from the Campaign Café across the street.  Nancy ordered another burger, though she didn’t have much urge to eat.  It’s just that if she made herself speak up a bit, then she found the adults left her alone.  So she ordered her preference and answered their questions.  She described what she had done and how she had come to be where she was.

“Chasing the story.”  Sheriff Leland shook his head.  “You are one resolute little woman, I’ll say that,” he grumbled.  “I’ll also say…  No, I won’t.  I won’t say anything more that I might find myself ashamed of saying later.  But… damn!”  He turned away from Nancy vexed.  “I’ll tell you what,” he said turning back.  “Why don’t we put you in here in the cell with Ramey, while we’re waiting for your dad to show, so’s you don’t get into any more trouble.  At least over the next hour or so.  How would that be?”

“Fine,” Nancy replied softly and contritely.

“Okay.  Good,” Sheriff Leland replied, and ushered her off with a wave of his hand towards Ruth.

Nancy followed Ruth into the back cell, which she found was also holding Dr. Ramey Evans, their town dentist – although ‘holding’ wasn’t quite the word, as the cell door was left unlocked as any room in a house.  She looked at Dr. Evans again.  At least she thought it was him.  Though it could as well be some dangerous maniac, or just a simple lunatic; he was dressed in woman’s clothes and wearing make-up.   Nancy sat thinking.  She glanced at Dr. Ramey again.  Finally, she screwed up her courage enough to beg the answer.  “Doctor Ramey?  Is that you?”  She leaned forward to better peer past his rouge and eyeliner.

“Yeah,” Ramey said.  He looked pretty dejected, like the Cowardly Lion or something.  “Who did you think I was?”

“Well…  Nobody else,” Nancy lied.

“It’s not like it looks or what you might think,” Ramey sighed.  “I just wear this,” he nodded his head to the side, “to keep ‘her’ happy.”  Ramey tossed his head to the side.

Nancy wondered who Dr. Ramey was speaking of.

Nancy nodded, and stared ahead for a while, thinking.  Then, she began to go back through her notes, filled in a few things, and asked Ramey what a few of the words she’d overheard meant.  Until it struck her that there was another story here.  After all, the town’s dentist disappears for several weeks and then he’s found cooped up in the Sheriff’s jail?   That’s news! isn’t it? as Nancy saw it.

Her classmate Cynthia Baker had had a toothache and had to be driven all the way to Toone’s Corners to get it fixed.  Missed a whole day of school.  She told Dr. Ramey that.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

And then she knew a lot of people were upset about their dentist dodging out on them, also.  After all, to get to another dentist required driving a long way out of their way.   Around town the feeling was that it was very ‘unprofessional’  of dentist Ramey to just disappear.

“I couldn’t agree more.”  He stared at her with his palms open.

But, it hadn’t seemed as though there was much anybody could do about it.  Even Ramey, it now appeared.

“Right now I’m not in very much control of my life.”  He nodded.

Both he and Nancy looked around the jail.

‘Here, Dr. Ramey was, hidden out in the County Jail – for reasons she wasn’t aware of – and no one, outside of the Sheriff, knew.’  She felt the giddy uneasiness of another imagined scoop rising up.

“Is it a crime to dress up as someone of the opposite sex?”  She asked.

“Not that I know of,” Ramey replied.  “But here I am.”  Ramey pointed a long lavender fingernail out towards where Sheriff Leland paced.  “You might ask him.”

“Maybe not now, though.”  Nancy nodded.

Nancy fished inside her backpack and brought out her camera and pocket recorder.  Now was as good a time as any to begin an interview.  “You mind if I take a photo? “  She hoped there was enough battery left to run the flash.

Ramey threw his hands up in front of his face.

‘And what is this?  Some kind of (fertility) mural all around us?’  Nancy drew her head back to better focus on the walls and ceiling behind Ramey.

Photo taken from Google Images

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

February 17, 2013
"The Lobbyist"  Hamburger At The Campaign Cafe

“The Lobbyist” Hamburger At The Campaign Cafe

Nancy Gillis: Girl Reporter

(Episode 30)

 Nancy Gillis was only 15, and as her reportorial career was going, the blush was already off the rose.  Sure, she could continue writing for the Kimmel High Wolverine.  But if she wanted to remain in the Big Leagues she was going to have to offer them access.  The editor back at the Times had made that as plain as a seasoned editor could, who was trying to delicately negotiate a conversation with a 15 year old girl in another state.   “Who was a minor, by the way”, he continually was reminded.  They had much better, seasoned, savvy reporters who could do the frontal assault thing.

But she’d already tapped every source she knew.  Drew, the boy who was running the tour service, gave her a couple things he had filched from the Mercedes.  A toothpick, which didn’t look to be something the victim might have used.  And a slug, he’d found fallen under a tire… which she’d already photographed to accompany a first person account of her initial arrival on the crime scene.  The Sheriff wasn’t speaking.  And she didn’t trust the other reporters.  They were jealous competitors.  And Mr. Wallace, their journalism teacher at school, had as much as advised her that she was getting into deeper waters than he wanted to tread.  “You’re just starting a career, here, Nancy.  But I’m 5 years from retiring out of this School District.  That is, if I can keep from stepping on any toes.  The school district just hates paying out benefits.”

“Now, you want to go on writing sensational stuff that will get picked up by the Times, that’s fine.  But they’re your editors then.  You understand? I can’t be associated with that stuff.  Not that there’s anything wrong with it, you understand.  But it’s very dangerous to play in the Big Leagues, if you’re not a Big League player, or at least have a Big League Club behind you.  You’re bound to get hurt.  And I’m not young enough to play stickball with them.  They always ‘stick it’ to the little guy, you see, when things go sideways.  You want to go back writing about cookie sales, or Mr. Buckley’s class efforts to repopulate the riverbank with natural growing rhododendrons – then I’m right here.  Okay?”

Nancy nodded.  Fifteen years of age and she was already beginning to realize why people were committed to asylums.  ‘Life was just a viper pit of conflicting passions’, it was seeming.  She hadn’t met the serial killer – and hoped that she wouldn’t – at least until he was well behind bars.  But they might very well agree there.

Nancy rolled all of these difficulties over and over in her head, as she rode her brother’s bike with the card in the spokes around the small town.  Finally, having worked up a hunger, she ordered a burger and shake and fries at the Campaign Café and sat down at the counter.  Someone new was working in the kitchen and the clatter in the place was about twice the usual level.  ‘Well, that made sense,’ Nancy figured.  ‘At least these crimes had brought a little prosperity to my ‘depressed rural community’, Nancy practiced phrasing it like a veteran reporter.  Then she decided to make a list.  “You want to know something?  It’s people”, Mr. Wallace  had been fond of saying.  “They’ll either be able to tell you what’s going on, or even if they don’t know, you’ll find out how much they care.   And while something no one cares about may be important, it’s not newsworthy – unless somehow you can make them care.  Got that?”

‘Okay,’ Nancy thought to herself, ‘who is there in this community who might know something, or have access to knowing something, who I might be able to cajole into helping me?’  She liked the word ‘cajole’.   She practiced writing it in the margin several times.

By the time she was done she had about 13 names.

One by one, she crossed each and every one off, until, as she saw it, she was down to one or maybe two.  The first was Ruth, Sheriff Leland’s secretary.  And the second was that wild card, Agent Hailey.

Then she made another list, remembering another thing which Mr. Buckley had said:  “Put your self in the interviewees’ shoes,” he had said.  “What would talking to you, accomplish for them?  What carrot can you offer?  What do they care about?”

Nancy Gillis started that list.  She was just about done with it, before she remembered to eat.

She glanced up after gathering together her burger and noticed the new cook looking at her.  She smiled.

He nodded slightly, and gave her a small smile back.

Photo from Google Images


%d bloggers like this: