"To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free...to a time when truth exists, and what is done cannot be undone...From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink--greetings!" - George Orwell, 1984
Sunday, September 25, 2016
Saturday, September 24, 2016
Another reminder that the Party does have an internet forum at
Can't seem to get any traction on it; everybody wants to mess around with comments sections instead.
Friday, September 23, 2016
Fire And Rain - Chapter 15
“Why aren’t you in school?” called out Heather sleepily.
“Same reason you’re not at work,” retorted Tori. “Getting kidnapped and almost murdered twice in one day gets me one comp day off school. It’s in the CHHS handbook.”
“Sorry, hon, that was a stupid question,” said Heather.
“Besides, I don’t think it’s a very good idea to go outside now,” added Tori. “We’re kind of under siege, so to speak.”
“What?” asked Heather.
“Look out the window,” said Tori. Matt pulled on his trousers and went to the window.
“The boys and girls of the Fourth Estate,” he said, peeping out between the Venetian blinds. “Looks like camera crews from Fox and CNN and, ah, I think that’s the local CBS affiliate. They’re camped out on the front lawn.”
“My God!” moaned Heather. “I suppose it’s a good thing I didn’t try to go into work. Not to mention that fact that I had my boss arrested,” she added with a giggle. “I wonder if I’ll have a job after today? I’m still in my probationary period, and Paul Lieberman was the one who had to do my six-month evaluation to get me vested. I wonder if he’ll recommend me for permanent staff now?”
“The media’s claiming you and Paul Lieberman were getting it on,” said Tori.
“What?” cried Heather.
“They’ve been calling all morning,” said Tori. “Some reporter from the Raleigh paper asked me that. I told her no, you were getting it on with Two Gun Matt.”
“Tori!” shouted her mother in exasperation. “Don’t talk to any of those people at all, not about anything!”
“You’re catching on fast, Watson!” said Matt with an approving chuckle.
“Well, I haven’t said much,” said Tori. “Their questions are so stupid I’ve started letting Trumpeldor talk to them.”
“I beg your pardon?” queried Heather.
“I put him on the table, cut him a slice of cheddar and tell him to sing, and when he starts meowing for it I hold the phone up to his mouth. NPR actually played it over the air. It was fun until I ran out of cheese just now.”
“You fed that cat a whole 12-ounce block of cheese?” demanded Heather. “Tori, that’s bad for him! He’s too overweight as it is. Cats can have heart attacks too, you know.”
“Well, I had to give it to him once I showed it to him and he sang for it, didn’t I?” protested Tori. “Teasing him is mean.”
“It’s big news, Heather,” said Matt. “Lieberman was looking good for next Chancellor of the consolidated university system. Tori, any public comment on the connection with Margaret Mears, and most especially any news on what happened out at Mile End Road yesterday?”
“Ah, yeah, that’s what I came up here to tell you, Matt,” said Tori. “You’re not going to like it. There’s not going to be any follow-up with Margaret Mears or with that Feebie creep Bennett. You’d better come down and hear for yourself.”
When they arrived downstairs, Heather in her nightgown and robe, Tori had CNN on the television. An elegantly dressed woman telejournalist was standing in front of the Capitol in Washington with a microphone in her hand, a stricken look on her face, talking to someone named John in her studio. “Washington is reeling in shock this morning, John, from the news of not one but two sudden deaths by apparent suicide among top associates of the Clinton administration. Democratic Congresswoman Margaret Mears of New York was found dead early this morning in the basement of her Georgetown home by her long-time companion and domestic partner, Washington attorney Cynthia Morrison. Congresswoman Mears apparently took her own life sometime in the early hours of this morning by hanging herself from a pipe.”
“Like Jeannie was strung up to a pipe in the basement,” growled Matt. “How appropriate. Poetic justice!”
The newswoman continued, “Also, this morning at approximately seven o’clock A.M. a jogger discovered the body of FBI Assistant Director Charles R. Bennett, lying alongside a trail in a national park in Northern Virginia. U.S. Park Police have issued a statement that Bennett apparently died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head sometime last night...”
“They forgot to mention the self-inflicted hand grenade wounds,” commented Tori sarcastically. Matt clicked the remote and the TV fell silent. “What stupid lying dorks!”
“Damn,” Matt muttered. “Damn! Damn! DAMN!”
“Dear God!” whispered Heather in horror. “Matt, they killed her! A Congresswoman! Will they be coming after us next?”
“I don’t know,” said Matt. “Let me make a call.”
“I still have a few friends up there who might talk to me about this,” said Matt. “There’s one guy in particular who would be in a position to know.” Matt dialed. He got a switchboard and asked for the man he wanted to talk to by name. Heather and Tori’s jaws both dropped in stunned amazement when they heard the name. Matt held his finger to his lips and put the call on speaker phone. He was on hold for a long time. A man’s voice finally answered the phone. “Thanks for taking my call, Al,” he said. “I wasn’t sure you would.”
“Jesus fucking Christ on a raft, Matt!” yelled Al. “You bastard’s ghost! Where the hell do you get off wasting an Assistant Director of the FBI? Not to mention two of the Company’s top choppers? We’re all supposed to be on the same side, last I heard!”
“Bennett didn’t see it that way,” said Matt. “The man was committing kidnapping and conspiracy to murder. He also covered up two murders here on my patch twenty-six years ago. Come on, Al, everybody inside the Beltway knew damned well that Chuck Bennett was the dirtiest fed there was, long before Waco. He was holding two women hostage and he and his crew were going to kill them, and me.”
“Holy shit! Why the hell didn’t you call me, Matt? I owe you big time, I’ve never denied that. I would have sorted it out if you’d just given me time!”
“There wasn’t any time, Al, and this wasn’t something that could have been sorted out,” said Matt. “Do you know what it was about? How’d you hear about it?”
“I just got back from the White House. Where the hell do you think I heard about it?” said the man on the phone. “Hillary is damned near hysterical. She wants your hide nailed to the barn door, Matt, and it was all Bill and me between us could do to keep her from calling up Janet and ordering you hit on the spot! Nobody’s shedding any tears over Bennett, I gotta admit, but Meg Mears was a close friend of Hillary’s from way back when they were both chewing on Richard Nixon’s leg.”
“That’s what I’m calling about, Al. I need to know how bad this is going to get. Look, I know you may not feel you can tell me this, and if not I understand, but what about Meg Mears? Did she really kill herself or was she terminated?”
The man on the other end seemed to reflect. “Matt, I’ll level with you. I just don’t know. I don’t think so. Sounds to me like she offed herself. You know that lawyer dyke she was shacking with found her hanging in the basement? She told the cops Meg was very upset because of a call she’d received from you last night. No mention of any unusual visitors wearing dark suits. Bill and Hillary believe she did herself in because you dug up all this old stuff about her daughter’s murder. If it was a hit nobody’s informed them of the fact. I know Janet would never order a termination within the United States on her own.”
“Next question. Are they coming after me, and are they coming after Heather and Tori Lindstrom?” asked Matt.
“Honest to God, Matt, I just don’t know,” said Al. “You know I’m not exactly in the loop over there, even less so than normal for the guy in my slot.”
“Al, I need to see them coming,” pleaded Matt quietly. “I appreciate the fact that I’m asking you to put your ass on the line if you help me. I’ve never asked for any quid pro quo over that business in Panama. The way I see it I was just doing my duty. I can live with the sword of Damocles hanging over my head, I’m used to it, but these two women can’t, and dammit, they shouldn’t have to! They haven’t done anything except stumble onto the counterculture’s dirty little secret by accident.”
There was silence for a bit. “Matt, that other business, with Vladimir Nakritin and Margaret Mears. I just heard about that this morning for the first time. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I have to ask you, is it true?”
“Yes,” said Matt.
“The North Vietnamese financed most of the anti-war movement through the Soviet espionage network in this country?”
“Yes. I don’t know how much money came in from Hanoi but it must have been well over a million dollars. That’s 1970 dollars,” Matt reminded him.
“Damn!” whispered Al. “I was a captain in ‘Nam, you know.”
“Yes, sir, I know.”
“You were there too, weren’t you?” asked Al.
“Yeah, I was an E-5, just caught the tag end of it in ‘72, didn’t do a full tour. Spent most of my time in the NCO’s mess in Bien Hoa drinking beer,” said Matt.
“When Hillary laid that little bombshell on me this morning all of a sudden I remembered this black kid named Derrick,” said Al, his voice quiet and far away. “I am ashamed to say I can’t remember his last name. He saved my life, although not intentionally. One day in Quang Tri he stepped on a land mine about three seconds before I would have. His leg was blown off clean at the hip, no way anybody could have saved him. He died in my arms. Hillary was crying this morning, ranting and raving about how you had killed her friend. The 58,000 names on that wall a few miles from here didn’t even enter her mind.”
“They wouldn’t,” said Matt.
“Matt, I’ll tell you this much. Right now we’ve all got a lot on our plate, as you know unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past twelve months. Hillary’s calmed down and she’s got sense enough to understand that now is not the time. She can’t afford the slightest whiff of any more scandal and she knows it. That last grand jury came too close for comfort. If we get back in on the fifth, though, you watch out for Hillary. She wants you dead and I gather Janet wouldn’t be too upset either if you had an accident. Something about an insubordinate letter of resignation you wrote.”
“Just between you and me and the wiretaps, Al, how do you rate your chances next month?” asked Matt curiously.
“Well, we’ve got those two million brand new citizens we’ve had the INS and every other bureaucratic body we could scrape up processing like mad all summer,” said Al. “We called it Citizenship USA.”
“Yeah, I heard. The Republicans have been bitching about it.”
“Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke. We’ve concentrated on five cities, New York, Miami, Chicago, L.A. and San Francisco. That’s New York, Florida, Illinois, and California, almost enough electoral votes to win. Most of our new Americans are from Third World countries, of course, so they understand the quid pro quo. As a public service we’ve even got voting registrars on hand at these massive swearing-in ceremonies. We filled Candlestick Park the other day.”
“Yeah, I saw it on the news,” put in Matt.
“The mayors in Detroit, Atlanta, Los Angeles and St. Louis are pulling out all the stops for us, since Janet whispered the magic words ‘Federal indictment’ in their ears. A lot depends on whether or not Daley in Chicago can deliver the goods like his old man could and make damned sure we get those Illinois electoral votes like in ‘60 and ‘76,” Al went on. “I know Bill’s sure as hell no Jack Kennedy, but if Daley and some of the other city bosses can do the old Lazarus trick and raise the Democratic dead, with the blacks and the fems and what’s left of the unions up north, and all that lovely disposable gay income keeping our war chest nice and topped up, we just might slip back in by a hair. Love that electoral college! Of course it doesn’t help the GOP that their candidate is Mr. Baker the Undertaker. We were sweating bullets that Buchanan’s peasant uprising might succeed and we’d be facing somebody with charisma and some actual principles, but the country club Republicans did him in for us quite neatly. They’d rather lose than allow the peasants into the country club.”
“Somehow I don’t think you’re going to get much of the American Legion vote this year,” commented Matt.
“Politically partisan rumor-mongering, Matt,” warned Al. “Some university egghead went off the rails, killed a guy and held some teeny-bopper hostage, now he’s trying to muddy the waters and save his ass. I don’t know if Margaret Mears died by her own hand or not, Matt, but now she’s dead she’s officially a martyr for the Movement and of course she’s also conveniently beyond questioning. That’s what this morning’s meeting was about, basically. The spin doctors are already spinning, Matt, the media feeding frenzy is gearing up and you and your lady are both going to get stripped to the bone like you’ve been attacked by piranhas. You’ve got no proof, and by tonight Dan Rather will be telling the whole country there’s no proof. NPR will be leading the chorus screaming bloody murder and by Sunday night Sixty Minutes will have exposed the whole thing as a right-wing hoax that probably originated with Jesse Helms. It’s rotten and it makes me sick, Matt, it’s spitting on the grave of every man who died over there, but there it is.”
“I know,” replied Matt wearily. “Won’t be the first time those guys have had their graves spit on by the Usual Suspects.”
“Ain’t that the truth? Even if we are tossed out on the fifth, you’re still going to have a problem with the Company. They don’t take kindly to country bumpkins in fedoras knocking off their guys. I will do this much for you: while I’m here I’ll make it my business to keep my ears peeled and if I can possibly warn you of any impending problems I will. If I leave office I’ll make sure somebody reliable takes over the listening post.”
“Thanks, Al.” said Matt. “I appreciate that.”
“I owe you, buddy. I remember that every time I look at my wife. And Matt...?”
“Any chance of picking up your vote on November 5th?” Matt laughed out loud.
“No chance at all,” he replied.
“Didn’t think so. Take care, Matt,” he said.
“You, too.” He hung up. Heather stared, waving her hands inarticulately, questioning. “That was one that didn’t make the papers or the tabloids,” explained Matt. “National security, diplomatically sensitive and so forth. A few years ago his wife was on an official tour of Panama. Some muchachos from Medellín got the idea of snatching her and trying to exchange her for Pablo Escobar. I was able to dissuade them. I got that grenade I used yesterday off one of them. He didn’t need it any more.”
“Oh,” said Heather weakly. “Matt, what will Margaret Mears’ death do to the case itself? About the girls, I mean? All we have is Paul Lieberman ranting and raving on a tape recording while he’s obviously emotionally distraught. Even I can guess that recording will be suppressed by the court. Apparently the story is out, like you wanted it to be, but there is still not one bit of hard proof.”
“You can lead a horse to water, Heather, but you can’t make him drink,” sighed Matt. “We’ve done all we can. The horse is standing at the water’s edge and it’s there if he’s ever thirsty. I just hope it will make the dead and the living both rest a bit easier.”
“One is resting easier already,” said Tori quietly. “I went down into the cellar this morning. Jeannie’s gone.”
“God be praised!” said Heather fervently, her head bowed.
“Amen!” seconded Matt. “Mary Jane?”
“She’s still here. I’m not sure why. I get the impression she’s waiting for someone,” said Tori.
“Her father,” said Matt. “He’s probably not going to be with us too much longer.”
“Say, does the federal government really operate like a bunch of gangsters all the time?” asked Tori with interest.
“In a word, yes,” said Matt.
“I have a civics paper I’m supposed to do,” said Tori with a grin. “I wonder...”
“Put down whatever orthodoxy your teacher wants you to put down and get an A on it,” advised Matt quietly but firmly. “If you want to fight it when you’re an adult then more power to you, but for the next few years your mission in life is to cop a couple of pieces of paper off the system, girl, starting with your high school diploma and then a college degree. I never had the chance to go to college, but I’ve always regretted it. Don’t rock the boat until you’ve got those pieces of paper in your grubby little paw.”
“I agree,” said Heather. The phone rang. Heather picked it up. “Hello?”
“Ah, is this Ms. Heather Lindstrom?” said a female voice. “Ms. Lindstrom, this is Lindley Beatty from the Los Angeles Times, and I’d like to ask you a few...”
“Meow!” said Heather, and hung up.
Thursday, September 22, 2016
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Radio Free Northwest - September 22nd, 2016
HAC kicks it off with Who Guards the Guardians? Then comes Gretchen and the Trucker and Comrade Charles Martel returns to RFN after several years on the lone prairie.
Monday, September 19, 2016
The True Face Of The Beest
Sunday, September 18, 2016
My First Anti-Clinton Novel
On the same day in Raleigh, Agent Matt Redmond of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation tapped on the door of the director’s office. Under his arm he carried a large sheaf of manila file folders, bulging with documents and photographs. “Come on in, Matt,” said the director, a rotund man in a pin-striped shirt, red suspenders, and a string tie. Redmond came in, closed the door without asking, and sat down. “Real nice job on that business down in Duplin County,” the director complimented him. “I just got a call from Haskins, the D.A. down there. Antonio Johnson’s lawyer called him, wants to cut a deal.”
“What, plead him down to second degree or manslaughter?” demanded Redmond. “That’s outrageous bullshit, Phil!”
“Yeah, I know. That’s what Haskins told the shyster. He said the best deal his client’s going to get is guilty to murder one with no death penalty, and he testifies against Kenny Atwater. Johnson will do a good twenty at least, and Atwater gets the needle. D.A. thinks they’ll go for it, and the way things are going right now with the legislature and the Supreme Court trimming back all these goddam appeals we might actually see Kenny get the juice in five or six years instead of the usual ten or fifteen. If you hadn’t found Valerie Seawell and turned her we’d have been lucky to get them at all. Congratulations again on a job well done, Matt.”
“What’s Miss Valerie’s future looking like?” asked Redmond.
“Oh, she cut a deal for five years in Bragg Street and she thinks after that she’s going to go into the Witness Protection Program and spend a few years munching nachos and watching color TV,” chuckled the director. “But since you pointed out that outstanding warrant in Georgia, I think the folks down there can protect her a lot better in one of their women’s prisons than our overburdened federal judicial system can. Valerie don’t know that, of course, and we’re going to make damned sure she don’t find out until after she testifies.”
“She’ll only get another five or ten years in Georgia,” commented Redmond, his lean face scowling. “Dammit! All three of them ought to be wheeled into that little green room down there in Central Prison and get three needles stuck in their arms, hooked up to one family-sized jug of cyanide! Kay Wicker was a trashed-out whore and a junkie, but the baby was only eighteen months old, for Christ’s sake!”
“She probably would have ended up like her momma,” commented the director. “Or like our Miss Valerie.”
“We don’t know that for sure,” said Redmond morosely. “Now we’ll never know.”
“Look, Matt, we got the bad guys. One of them’s headed for the green room eventually, and the other two will be off the street for a good long while. With the system today, that’s as good as it gets. If it weren’t for you they’d still be out there selling poison to kids and killing more people. Another case closed for the Southern Sherlock Holmes!”
Redmond groaned in disgust. “You’d think you’d have better things to do with your time than watch tabloid TV,” he said.
“Better than Two Gun Matt,” laughed the director. “You ask for it, you know, wearing that fedora hat all the time and going around looking like you’re Indiana Jones. Look, you said you wanted to see me. What’s up?”
Redmond fished a sheet of paper out of his pocket. “Vacation request form. Starting October 1st. Three weeks accumulated vacation, all my sick leave, and all my comp time for the past two years off every case I ran for days without a break, time I never took. Total six weeks. I checked with Human Resources and this is all legit, I’m entitled to it. I want it all. If I can’t work this out vacation-wise I’ll take an unpaid leave of absence, but I want the time off.”
“Jeez, Matt, I don’t know, six weeks...” said the surprised director doubtfully.
“Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten I’ve got court in the Ming Ho murder and the Armaco fraud case coming up during that time frame,” Redmond assured him. “I’m not going to the north pole or anything. I’ll still be in the area. I’ll make all my court dates and testify with bells on. I want to take this time for a personal project.”
Redmond pulled one of his Dominican cigars out of his pocket. “You mind?”
“Only if you don’t give me one.” Redmond handed him a cigar. “Hang on a minute,” the director said, his mouth watering. He got up and went to the door, which he locked. Then he went to the window air conditioner rumbling in the far wall. “Too damned hot outside to open a window,” he said, turning the unit on high and also turning on an electric fan which sat on his desk. Papers started ruffling around the room and lifting off the desk; the director slammed assorted objects down as paperweights to keep them from taking flight. They both lit up and leaned back in their chairs, luxuriating in the fragrant smoke. “The smell of these will be all over the building in ten minutes,” chuckled the director gleefully. “Then that politically correct bitch Betty Springer will spend the next twenty running up and down the halls in a self-righteous frenzy trying to catch the unreconstructed reactionary male lawmen who are violating the state’s sacred no-smoking policy.”
“Phil, do you realize that if anyone besides me overheard you make those remarks you could lose your job?” said Redmond seriously. “Plus Assistant Director Springer could file a lawsuit claiming that you were creating a hostile sexist atmosphere in the workplace that might cost you your life savings, your home, and everything you own? You’d be better off getting caught with your hand in the till. If you were just stealing money the attorney general and the governor might could cover your ass. Get hit with any kind of PC violation and they’ll run for cover like spooked rabbits.”
“I’m well aware of it,” replied the director bleakly. “Bucking for my job, Matt? Why don’t you report me?”
“I’m going to forget I heard that,” said Redmond.
“Sorry,” sighed the director. “What’s sickening is that there’s some in the bureau who would go running to Betty Springer about my smoking a cigar or rat me out to the news media if I told a nigger joke. My God, sometimes it’s like living under Stalin! I expect to come in some morning and see posters on the wall telling me Big Brother is watching!”
“Big Sister,” chuckled Redmond.
“Anyway, getting back to you, this personal project that’s going to take six weeks we can ill afford to give you is...?”
“You remember once or twice over the past three years you’ve asked me why I left Justice and joined the SBI?” asked Redmond.
“I do indeed,” said the director, puffing away. “I never really bought the Waco story. I’ve always wondered why you really resigned from a job with a six-figure salary and enough perks and bennies effectively to double your pay, and an incredible retirement package. You tossed all that aside, and what did you do then? Did you join one of the two dozen law enforcement agencies in this country or in Europe who would have gone down on bended knee for your experience and expertise? Nope. Instead you came back to tobacco country to sign on with a pissant little state investigative agency with no real power, authority, or resources. This job pays less than a good secretary in the Research Triangle Park earns, we just barely have powers of arrest, and we’re so politicized that someone with the right connections in the Democratic party can publicly buttfuck animals in the Asheboro zoo and still escape prosecution.”
“How’s Wiley’s therapy coming?” asked Redmond.
“Hell, I don’t know, ask the judge. Ask his damned shrink.”
“Well, now, you got to remember Wiley didn’t get off scot free,” reminded Redmond. “The llama bit him in the ass.” The director snorted. “Look, you asked and I’ll tell you the whole story now. Waco was true enough as far as it went. I wouldn’t have stayed federal after that no matter what, but as to why I joined your little band of merry men specifically, the SBI has something I want.”
“And what might that be?” asked the director curiously.
“Huh? I don’t follow,” said the director, puzzled.
Redmond slid the file folders across the desk to him. “The SBI has jurisdiction over this,” he said quietly. “I want this case, Phil. I’ve been here three years and not taken a single day off specifically so I can accumulate enough vacation to work this case on my own time, concentrate on it without worrying about twenty others on my board. I’m asking for this leave starting October 1st. That gives you over two months’ notice. That gives me two months to clear everything off my desk. I’ll leave you with a clean slate, every i dotted, every t crossed. In return I want all six weeks I’m asking for. This investigation was never closed. I want you to assign it to me officially, so I have proper authority and so I can use the archives, use the lab if I need it, get assistance from the local cops in Chapel Hill and the Orange County Sheriff, so forth and so on, whatever I may require. I don’t want you calling me in for anything or trying to cut me short. I don’t give a damn if Peaches the transvestite whore bites off Billyboy’s dick during a blow job under the statue of the Confederate soldier down on the Capitol grounds. If that happens you call the Secret Service, not me. I am going to find the bastards who did this!”
The director looked at the files. There was a faded rubber stamp in large lettering, “Investigation #89945-70. Opened: October 24, 1970. Closed: ____________.” The closure date was blank. “Orange County. Offense: Multiple Homicide” he read aloud from the jacket. He opened the first file. “Mary Jane Mears, female Caucasian, aged 16. Allison Jean Arnold, female Caucasian, aged 17.”
He looked up. “You know, Matt, it’s odd. Ever since you came here, I’ve always had it in the back of my mind to ask you to take a look at this one, what with you being Sherlock Holmes and all, and I don’t mean that in a facetious or disrespectful way. Tabloid bullshit aside, I got to say you’re the best I’ve ever seen at looking at a crime scene and figuring out just what the hell happened, and then going out and bringing in the right people. Hell, yes, you can have your six weeks and you can have this case! But why? What got you interested---oh, sure, that’s right, you’re from Chapel Hill, aren’t you?”
“Carrboro, actually, but it’s the same thing. I grew up out of Carrboro along Highway 54, just a few miles from where I live now, and I went to Chapel Hill High School. I’d just turned 17 when it happened. I knew both the victims. Some time ago, I couldn’t even exactly tell you how or when, I made up my mind that this is something I’m going to do for Mary Jane and Jeannie.”
“What if you can’t turn up anything new in six weeks?” asked the director. “This was twenty-five, almost twenty-six years ago. Trail’s mighty cold and a lot of your witnesses are going to be long gone, dead or scattered to the four winds.”
“Then I’ll work another three years with no vacation and take another six weeks off,” replied Matt. "I’m going to get these guys.”
“What if you can’t get them?” asked the director. “What if you just can’t find any new leads after all this time? The agents who legged this in 1970 weren’t fools, Matt, and two teenaged girls raped and murdered wouldn’t have been a politically protected case. The SBI wouldn’t have gone that far for anybody, not a double sex murder.”
“I know that, Phil.”
“Worse yet, suppose you come up with a theory and the men turn out to be dead? Or worst of all, you become sure you know and you just can’t prove a damned thing? That kind of situation drives any lawman crazy. I know. I’ve had my share.”
“I’ll take my chances on that. If that’s the way it plays out, at least I’ll know, and I’ll make damned sure they know I know it,” said Matt grimly.
“You keep saying they, plural. Why is that? As I recall our guys never even got a glimmer on this one. You got an idea already?” asked the director.
“I’m sure it was at least two killers, maybe three but no more,” said Matt. “I’ve just about memorized those files over the past three years. There was no sign of forced entry and the investigators never figured out for sure how the killer or killers got in. The obvious deduction is that one of the girls knew them and let them in, but there’s no proof one way or the other. The family dog was found in a hallway, its neck broken by a powerful twist.”
The dog was a little mutt named Grouch, Matt recalled. Mary Jane loved animals and would have turned the whole house into a menagerie if her mother had let her, but she doted on Grouch. Did the monster kill her dog in front of her eyes?
“I don’t think Jeannie was tortured for sexual pleasure,” said Redmond quietly. “I think she was tortured for information.”
“Huh?” said the director. “What do you mean?”
“An interrupted burglary has never made much sense here,” explained Redmond. “Nothing was stolen from a house full of valuable small appliances and knick-knacks. Dr. Margaret Mears’ jewelry box was in plain sight, Dr. Andrew Mears’ several expensive cameras were left alone. These guys stayed in the house for a minimum of three hours, yet they didn’t take a dime or a spool of thread, not even so much as a beer from the fridge. They came to kill both those girls, and they came to interrogate Jeannie Arnold about something they believed she knew or something she had done. The killers brought with them the necessary tools to restrain their victims and the instruments of torture to use on Jeannie Arnold. Mary Jane Mears was killed execution style by someone who used masking tape and a pre-prepared ligature as an instrument of death, and I have come to believe that her death was almost incidental, or at least secondary to the main target, Jeannie Arnold. Jeannie was fiendishly tortured by someone who used handcuffs, not masking tape, and she was then killed with a bladed weapon, not strangled. If there was only one perp why didn’t he kill Jeannie with the same ligature he used on Mary Jane? Why use two weapons? If we have a sadist here who tortures women for kicks, then he’s alone in a house with two beautiful young girls whom he has completely in his power. We assume he knows the parents are out of town and he won’t be interrupted. That’s sade heaven. Why not make a meal out of Mary Jane the same way he did Jeannie?”
“I agree,” said Redmond. “Unlikely but possible. I believe that Jeannie Arnold was tortured to make her reveal some information which the actors thought so vital that they were willing to commit a time-consuming, elaborate double murder in the middle of a populous town in order to obtain it.”
“I have no idea on earth,” said Matt. “That’s what I’m going to take six weeks off to try and find out.”
“That is a wild theory, Matt," said the director, shaking his head. “Have you got anything other than supposition to back it up?”
“The timetable of the crime fits my theory,” said Matt. “The medical examiner on the scene gave the opinion that Mary Jane Mears died at approximately eleven o’clock, give or take half an hour. Jeannie Arnold’s time of death is given as approximately one A.M., almost two hours later. Both girls were at the Harvest Ball dance at Chapel Hill High School that Friday night, October 23rd. The dance ended at ten o’clock. Mary Jane stayed on in the parking lot until about twenty past, when both girls drove home to the Mears house in Jeannie Arnold’s car, a 1968 Plymouth Fury...”
“How do you know all that?” asked the director.
“Because I was with her.” Matt hefted the files. “My first contact with law enforcement was being interviewed by the Chapel Hill Police and the SBI about this case at age 17. Fortunately I went straight home after the dance, came in just as the eleven o’clock news was coming on and my father was starting in on his second case of National Bohemian beer, and he went into one of his roaring tirades which woke up my mother, so both of them could vouch for my whereabouts at the crucial time. As the boyfriend of one of the girls I would have been a prime suspect otherwise. As it is I’m sure Daddy has always regretted not finding some way to frame me for the killings.”
“I gather he’s not beyond it. No offense, Matt.”
“None taken. My father is the only man outside the narcotics business I have ever known whom I consider to be genuinely devoid of a single scruple. Anyway, getting back to my point, if Mary Jane was killed about the time I was listening to that sodden bully bellow at me, allowing ten to fifteen minutes for her and Jeannie to drive home, then the killers must have been waiting for them.
“I don’t know. It’s got more holes than a Swiss cheese, Matt,” said the director, shaking his head dubiously.
“Well, I think I can turn it into a nice solid cheddar.”
“If that’s true and these killers are somebody special, and if they’re still around, they might not like you poking a stick at this after all these years,” warned the director. “They might try to get you before you get them.”
“I hope so, Phil,” said Redmond softly, a thin smile playing around his lips which made the director shudder inwardly. “I certainly hope so.”