NB-America has lost its way and we'll never find it again without a revolution, maybe something along the lines of what I propose in TYRANNICIDE where a first-rate scheme is outlined that cannot fail to impress politicians nationwide.
Here are two dandy reviews by a pair of very discerning and intelligent reviewers.
5.0 out of 5 stars
Recommended by habeas corruptus & Robert Steele, November 23, 2009
By Robert D. Steele
This book is a HOOT. It deserves to become a CULT CLASSIC. Nothing would please me more than to see 10 million copies of this book being shared across the land.
The author knows Washington, knows the bureaucracy, and certainly understands the high crimes and misdemeanors that are so characteristic of Congress and the partisan White House (regardless of which party). Although a book of fiction, this book could well be a cultural prediction of the revolution that is brewing.
Personally, I support a General Strike that quite simply demands the same conditions as the author outlines at the end of the book, but for a fun thriller, a fast read, and a strong sense of the power of We the People armed with both knowledge and weapons, this book CANNOT BE BEAT.
Send a copy of this book to every public official whose blatant corruption you cannot stand. If you cannot afford to buy and mail the book, print the cover and this review and mail them that.
Here is a short piece from habeas corruptus by Christopher Ketcham.
A suggestion for further action comes to mind in a recent book of fiction called Tyrannicide, by Evan Keliher, which offers the improbable scenario of the Second American Revolution, which opens sometime in the near future with the slow, careful, systematic assassination of the members of the US Senate for their complicity in the sell-out of the old republic.
In Keliher's fantasy, "It was big business and corrupt politicians against everybody else in a scenario that grew ever worse for average citizens and ever more prosperous for the rich, and it was now going to change even if it meant shooting every last one of the larcenous pricks." Right. Down goes one senator after another, popped between porcine eyes with a .22 cal. bullet fired by experts.
Soon, select representatives follow to the grave. The federal government freaks out with martial law and the iron fist and the boot on the throat, the citizens respond with full-scale armed revolt - a delightful vision, as sepia-tone and strange as that of a citizen musketeer on Bunker Hill fighting the injuries from a distant king.
Now if I was to imagine this kind of thing - and I'm not saying I am - as the proper justice for the most treasonous and scheming and syphilitically whored-out figures in our legislature - shoot the diseased little shits, why not? I think the plan should certainly extend to their friends and co-conspirators on Wall Street.
"…Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, - That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." - The Declaration of Independence
The Butterfly Syndrome avers that a single flap of a butterfly's wing over the Indian Ocean could set air currents in motion that would eventually produce a hurricane in the Caribbean. While such an event isn't likely to occur, the concept is a valid one in that an accumulation of insignificant and isolated acts can and often do produce extraordinary results in unexpected ways.
Accordingly, a nation is more than the sum of its parts; it is a living organism with its own heart and brain and capable of acting in a singular manner when threatened by outside forces. While slow to recognize danger and even slower to respond, the body politic, dozing in Plato's cave, watches shadow play in the media and only grudgingly absorbs signals, half-listens to rumors and innuendos, and relies more on intuition than reason to move itself to action. However, once decided it can move with dispatch and daring in righting perceived wrongs
In brief, the United States is a far cry from the country it was following WWII. The nation became divided, the political parties more partisan, wealth grew for the few as living standards fell for average Americans, and a sense of unease settled over the land. In the background, murmuring softly, the equivalent of a butterfly's wing fluttered and the heart of the organism felt it and the brain stirred itself as understanding came and a call for action made itself heard.
This is an account of the events that followed, as recounted by an eyewitness.
Sen. Hiram Biggers (R-GA), a porcine man with slits for eyes and the greedy nature of the pig, actually owned several pig farms and regularly sought more pork of a different kind to increase the value of his own. His colleagues even referred to him as Hiram the Ham Guy and generously voted for his pork in exchange for his votes for theirs. Biggers managed to accumulate a significant fortune over the years and a good deal of power in Congress by arranging deals that would make Machiavelli green with envy.
In short, Hiram Biggers was a conniving fraud plunked down in a sea of frauds so crooked they could hide behind corkscrews. He never had a thought for his fellow man, cared nothing for the poor; in fact, he opposed every bill that in any way benefited them and for every bill that caused them harm. All of his conniving, fraudulent colleagues did the same.
And so it happened one warm day in late spring that Sen. Hiram Biggers spoke on behalf of his bill to eliminate the inheritance tax and thereby add billions to the coffers of the rich who had paid the senator in kind for his services.
"…really benefits everybody," he intoned in his gravelly, down home style, "because it all trickles down, don't you see? People need money to invest in new
factories and buildings and research and that means more jobs for everybody. That's how these folks would use the extra money to improve the economy and help in the war on terrorism and make America a safer place, too.
"It boils down to patriotism, don't you see? I tell you it's un-American for the government to have confiscatory taxes. Why, if they can seize more from the rich today, what's to stop 'em from seizing more from you tomorrow? It's all about American values, my friends, and it's time we all stood up for American values."
No one in the chamber paid attention to the senator's speech, as the matter under discussion had already been decided in clandestine meetings with key players. The votes necessary for the eventual passage of still another law intended to profit the rich at the expense of the poor and middle class were safely in and accounted for before Biggers took the stage.
Biggers stepped away from the rostrum and was met by a clutch of fellow conspirators who shook his hand and patted his back and said good things about his performance and their collective success. It was a scene reminiscent of one that occurred when Brutus exchanged high fives over Caesar's corpse in the well of the Roman senate.
Flushed with still another victory the senator went back to his office to pick up the envelope stuffed with cash that he knew would be waiting for him and headed for home. At 3:14 exactly he pulled into a downtown-parking garage, climbed out, and started for the exit. At 3:26 he was found between parked cars with a neat, round hole in his forehead and quite dead.
Of course, the media were delighted. Always starved for meaningful fare, or even fare not so meaningful, every TV channel blared the news in a seemingly endless rush of so-called breaking stories that continued to break for days
without ever shedding any new light on the matter.
The facts were actually few and simple. Minutes after the paramedics arrived the F.B.I. was on the scene along with some C.I.A. types and a host of local cops
to control bystanders. Yellow tape closed off the entire parking structure and crowds returning to their cars quickly formed up and added to the confusion.
Teams of F.B.I. agents scoured the structure for evidence and all they found was a single ejected .22-caliber shell casing on the floor a few feet from the body. At first glance it appeared to be a robbery but the senator still had the cash-filled envelope in his coat pocket and an $8,000 Rolex on his wrist.
In fact, there were no real clues to be found. No fingerprints or cigarette butts, no blood or saliva or hair for possible DNA samples. Biggers' clean fingernails, unstained clothing, and neatly combed hair all indicated there'd been no struggle, that the attack had been very fast and unexpected. The killer must have intended to kill Biggers from the start in what had all the markings of a professional hit by the mob, but that theory raised the question of why since there was no record of any mob dealings with the senator.
The authorities released no details of the crime in an attempt to conceal how
little evidence they had, but they floated the story that it was a robbery gone wrong, that the killer was probably interrupted and fled before he could rob his victim.
This story was not chosen randomly but only after much careful thought. Any other version might reflect badly on the senator or on the Senate itself since everyone knew Biggers was a cheap crook and linked to his fellow crooks by an intricate network that could put the lot of them in the big house for decades.
Many were even glad that Biggers didn't have a chance to utter any sort of deathbed confession that might redound to their harm. It often happens that arrested scoundrels will blow the whistle on their accomplices in an effort to avoid a lengthy sojourn in the slammer and no one doubted that Hiram would have sung like a drunk in a karaoke bar.
On the following Monday Bob Ingersoll crossed the city room of the Sentinel with a fresh cup of coffee and half a cruller and sat down at his desk. A lanky 6'2" and slim, Bob disliked making hard choices early in the day so he simplified things by wearing what amounted to a uniform. He wore custom jeans with $90 button-down oxford dress shirts, Allen Edmond loafers, and a sport coat from Hickey Freeman. He liked to dress for comfort but not at the expense of style and class.
The day's mail had arrived, a total of two letters, and he turned to it with a will. Where the mail once involved a dozen or more letters, real paper and envelopes and stamps, it had morphed into e-mail, a good or bad development depending on one's point of view. In former times one had to assemble writing paper, envelopes, stamps, bottles of Wite Out, pens/pencils/crayons, and possess basic writing skills before writing the first word.
With e-mail any half-wit can bang out some ungrammatical crap on a keyboard in seconds and send it worldwide without a trip to the post office. As a result, almost nobody can write literate English nowadays. E-mail and text messages have no need for grammar, coherence, spelling, punctuation, careful thought. It is a great loss, greater than we know.
Still, the occasional old-fashioned letter showed up and Bob always regarded each one as something special, a link to other times. Most were not special and came from people without computers, of course, but at least they were real paper and felt good in one's hands.
Bob sipped the coffee, took a bite of the cruller, and opened the first one. A single page of stationery contained the words: "It wasn't robbery." It was signed with the letter K. He turned the letter over and peeked in the envelope and even shook it to no avail. It was postmarked from Atlanta with a return address in Las Vegas. He looked up, brow furrowed in thought. Synapses snapped, axons fizzed, dendrites lit up neurons in a wild electrical shower of sparks and in seconds Bob analyzed the data and reached a sound conclusion.
"A crank," he thought, "some asshole playing detective." He tossed letter and envelope into the wastebasket and reached for the second one. Forty-five minutes later he sighed mightily, closed drawers, turned off the computer, and spotted the letter in the wastebasket. He hesitated, shrugged, retrieved letter and envelope and tossed them onto his desk as he left.
As Bob drove to his condo across the Potomac the investigations continued at all levels from the Senate chambers to lowly police precincts and none turned up a single new clue or even a new slant that was based on anything more than rumor or speculation. However, an observer might have noticed that most members of Congress looked over their shoulders with more frequency than usual.
Several senators met that evening in the conference room of Majority Leader Tom Hoskins to discuss Biggers' death and reassure themselves as to its likely consequences. Max Abbott (R-MI) and Ted Pastor (R-TX) were co-sponsors of Biggers' inheritance tax bill and also recipients of cash-filled envelopes. As Friday was payoff day they knew that Biggers had one in his pocket when killed and they feared a possible link to them. Hoskins didn't know about the envelopes of cash but he would not have been surprised to learn of them, as he was himself a crook.
After all, who among them wasn't similarly encumbered much of the time?
Any unannounced search of a congressman's briefcase or inside coat pocket or even his home freezer would reveal like caches of greenbacks that couldn't be accounted for by Mandrake the Magician. It seems it isn't a bad thing to have such tainted monies; it's just not a good idea to get caught with them.
"…it was a robbery," Pastor said.
"That's what everybody's saying," Hoskins agreed.
"Sure, some two-bit hood with a gun," Abbott said. "Probably a drug addict."
Pastor agreed. "This town's full of 'em. You're not safe anywhere nowadays. D.C. has more armed people than Baghdad, for God's sake."
"Yeah, why is that?" Hoskins said. "This town is a gun-free zone. Nobody can buy a gun here or even own one, it seems. How come everybody in town is a goddamn walking arsenal?"
"Maybe somebody told 'em about the 2nd Amendment," Abbott said.
"Well, look, it's too bad about Hiram but it's just one of those unfortunate things that happen to people," Hoskins said. "It could have been any of us. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, is all. It was a random thing. We've got to move on here."
"The funeral's tomorrow."
"Yeah. Noon at the National Cathedral."
"Wasn't Hiram a Catholic?"
"Hell, no. He was a goddamn heathen. You could bury him in a landfill and it wouldn't make any difference to him."
"What the hell, it was good enough for Mozart," Pastor said.
The others nodded agreement and so did the rest of Congress. Everyone supported the robbery theory, as it was the most palatable one that could be digested with fewest side effects. The authorities aided and abetted the theorists by withholding information and encouraging the media to run with it. Since that was the only story propounded, it was adopted by almost everyone and generally accepted as what happened to the luckless senator. In point of fact, based on the evidence given, no other conclusion was likely.
Biggers' funeral was held the next day at the National Cathedral and since Bob had two tickets to cover the proceedings he took fashion page editor Colleen Quinn with him. She was tall and svelte and looked like a fashion editor with clothes that seemed to come from the pages of Elle or Vogue. Even better, she had a razor-sharp mind and a sense of independence that would have pleased Ayn Rand.
Some might call their outing a date but it actually wasn't. They'd known each other for a decade and had an early fling that continued sporadically even into the present. Everything considered it was an ideal relationship that worked on many levels, as they'd become sound friends and confidants.
On the way into the Cathedral distraught ticket seekers offered Bob $500 for his ducats but he stayed true to the journalist's pledge and resolutely refused to compromise his integrity. Besides, it would mean filing a phony story on an assignment he'd not covered and that really would be an affront to his code of ethics.
The funeral was a marvelous display of pomp and circumstance that was not unlike a graduation ceremony with a dirge replacing Elgar's famous march. Everyone of note showed up to mourn or gloat depending on his past relationship with the departed. The gloaters far exceeded the mourners, as is usually the case with the funerals of political figures.
The president spoke glowingly of Biggers' fine character, wisdom, and compassion, and obvious snickers were heard in the great room. When the president declared that Biggers was a "… righteous man, a man of honor…" a voice in the gallery sang out, "Oh, my God!" and the speaker threw an arm up in a defensive posture to ward off the lightning bolts he knew had to be en route.
Bach resounded in the vast room, a large choir rendered several numbers in Latin, and no less a figure than the Cardinal himself sprayed the audience with
holy water as he led a procession down the main aisle. Some said the holy water spat and sizzled like water hitting a hot skillet when it landed on politicians in the audience, but those stories may be apocryphal.
All in all, it was a grand affair that received good reviews in the press and talk of an Emmy for the TV coverage. Many were heard to wish that another senator would be gunned down so they could have as much fun again. Hiram the Ham Guy would have been impressed with the show.
Bob and Colleen remained in their seats to avoid the jammed aisles and watched mourners and gloaters file out of the cavernous church in a slowly moving river of humanity. Most talked amiably to friends, laughing, arranging lunch dates or trysts with thoughts of poor Hiram vanished from their minds even before they'd left the premises.
Commenting on their gay mood, Colleen said, "You'd think it was just another social affair."
"It was. They come to be seen. Nobody gives a rap about the Ham Guy."
"They could at least pretend, couldn't they?"
"Why? To deceive each other?"
"Why not? Maybe they could trick themselves into thinking they're compassionate, caring people. That might raise their level of consciousness."
"They're all rich; they don't need to be conscious."
"Fuck 'em. Let's get some lunch."
"Now you've raised my level of consciousness."
They stood and slipped into the thinning crowd and mini-stepped their way out into the bright midday sunlight and gave themselves over to deciding on where to eat. They settled on a small Italian restaurant famous for its pasta and conveniently nearby. Ten minutes later they chose vegetarian lasagna from the menu, thick slices of pumpernickel bread, and a carafe of Cabernet to round out a meal that would be fit for a king if one happened by
Wine in hand, they settled back to wait for lunch.
"So, what's the real story on Biggers' death?"
"A robbery. A street crime."
"Everybody. The feds, cops, witnesses…"
"Not witnesses, reporters. Welsh for one. He was there and saw the crime scene up close."
"I didn't hear any evidence that supported a robbery. How would they know that?" She paused and looked steadily him. "You know something, don't you?"
"Me? No. What? I only know what everybody else knows."
"It wasn't a robbery, was it?"
"Then it wasn't."
Bob sighed heavily. "Okay, it probably wasn't a robbery. They didn't report anything missing. If it were robbery the guy would at least get that watch. They have no idea what actually happened."
"So what's next?"
"More investigations. You can't shoot a U.S. Senator and just forget about it, not unless you don't mind a lot of pissed-off politicians on your ass."
"In other words, it's more of the same, then."
"It's depressing, isn't it?"
Colleen leaned in for her wine glass and her gaping blouse revealed cleavage that would get her employment as a Victoria's Secret model. "Maybe I could cheer you up a bit," she said
Bob eyed her perky, braless breasts and grinned. "You already have," he said.
"And you're glad."
She smiled a soft woman's smile and put her hand on his. "We're both glad."
The waiter appeared then and they turned their attention to the piping hot lasagna and fell silent because their mouths were stopped with pasta and bread awash in red wine. Colleen had to get back to work and so did Bob, but an assignation was arranged for that evening in order to finish what they'd started at lunch.
The morning after the funeral Bob woke from his tryst with the fair Colleen and found he'd neglected to go home last night. It was eight a.m. and it was clamor from the kitchen that awakened him. By the time he'd had a go at his toilet and arrived in the kitchen Colleen was putting the finishing touches on an elegant omelet complete with wheat toast and sliced melon. Bob wondered if she was baiting a trap of some sort.
"Are you baiting a trap of some sort?" he asked, his speech slightly garbled because his mouth was full of elegant omelet.
"To catch what? You? All I have to do is show my boobs and I can do with you as I will."
"Ah, too true," Bob said, sighing. "I am a man of deep passion."
"What passion? You're just horny."
"Yeah, you're right."
"But that's not an indictment, you know."
They looked at each other and both laughed.
Minutes later, Bob cleared the breakfast debris away while Colleen dressed and they left together. Once outside, he kissed her and said, "See you on Friday."
"Have a nice trip."
Colleen went to work and Bob headed home to pack for an assignment in Miami that would keep him away until Friday afternoon. While he was gone he was able to keep abreast of the Biggers matter because it was still all over the media even though there was never anything new to report. The robbery theory held sway and it began to appear that would end up the official conclusion. But then he returned from assignment on Friday afternoon and caught up on the mail accumulated during his absence and matters changed dramatically.
Aside from the usual e-mail there was a single letter waiting for him and it had a familiar look about it, a case of postal déjà vu. The return address read Las Vegas again but it was mailed from Baltimore a day earlier. He opened the envelope carefully and found an identical sheet of paper that also contained but a single sentence. It read: ".22 caliber. Think Sarajevo."
No churning mental machinery on this one. Bob scooped up the first letter lying on his desk and headed for editor Pete Schevo's office.
He entered unannounced and said, "Give this a gander!"
Pete took the letters and read them. "Jesus Christ!"
"What do you think?"
"Did the cops say it was a .22?"
"No. Just that he was shot. I got it from Carl. He overheard the cops talking about it."
"Hmm. Could it be a guess?"
"Sarajevo. Archduke Ferdinand. WWI. What's that mean?"
Bob shrugged. "If it was terrorists I'd say it was an assassination. If it was a pissed-off husband maybe just the usual murder."
Pete studied the letters, turned them over, held them to the light. "We have to give 'em to the feds. It may be nothing but we can't take a chance. If it turns out to be terrorists planning to blow up the Capitol the feds will want a heads-up on it."
"Probably just a crank."
"But a crank who knows what kind of gun was used."
"Okay. We call it in."
Pete phoned the F.B.I. office and reported the letters. He was told to wait for an agent and he didn't have long to wait. Four agents showed up so fast that the editor looked dazedly around to see if they'd been hiding in a nearby closet.
Agent Jim Scanlon was the lead agent and it was apparent from his manner that he was in charge. Newly arrived at the D.C office, he was a big, gruff man with the bulk of a slightly out of shape linebacker and anxious to score a major success by solving Biggers' death posthaste. Dominating the scene, he took in the room and its contents in a single glance and focused on the editor.
"You got a letter on the Biggers case?"
Pete shook his head. "I'm the editor. Pete Schevo. Bob got the letter."
He turned to Bob. "You have the letter?"
"Yes. Both of them."
"There are two letters?"
Bob nodded. "The first one came on Monday. The second came today."
Scanlon read the brief messages and looked up at Bob. "Why didn't you report the first one?"
"I thought it was a crank. It didn't connect until the second one mentioned the gun. I knew that information hadn't been released."
"How did you know about the gun?"
"A friend overheard the cops talking about it."
"Did you tell anyone else about the gun? The caliber?"
Bob shook his head. "No."
"Who was this friend?"
Bob looked at the editor and raised a quizzical eyebrow. Pete nodded.
"Carl Welsh. He's a reporter here."
Scanlon turned to Pete. "Is he here? I need to talk to him."
"He's on assignment…"
"He's on his way to…"
Pete shrugged and picked up the phone. Scanlon bit his lip and assumed a thoughtful mien while his fellow agents gazed stoically and awaited orders. The editor's voice filled the room.
"Helen? Call Welsh and tell him to come home. I know, it doesn't matter, just tell him." He hung up and looked to Scanlon.
More lip biting. He examined the letters as though looking for fingerprints or traces of anthrax. Crossing to a window he stared out at the traffic below and then reread the letters. After a moment, he turned to Bob and said, "Why do you think these were sent to you?"
"I don't know. Maybe because they know me from my column."
"Do you own a .22 caliber gun?"
"No. I have a gun but it's a .32 caliber Beretta Tomcat."
"Why do you have a gun?"
"Why does anyone have a gun?"
"Do you have it with you?"
"No. I don't carry it as a rule."
"When do you carry it?"
"When I think there's a chance I might need it."
Bob wasn't sure if that was reassuring or not.
After reflecting for a moment longer, Scanlon handed the letters to one of the agents and turned back to Bob and Pete. "We've got a dead senator, gentlemen. That's not good. Means a lot of pressure. If it's a simple robbery some of the heat will dissipate, but if it's anything else we'll have the entire Congress on our ass."
"What else might it be?" Pete asked.
Scanlon shrugged. "Revenge. Maybe somebody didn't like him."
"That makes it easy," Bob said. "Look for a guy wearing a blue collar. Every working man in the country hated the bastard."
"I take it you didn't like much him, either," Scanlon said.
"As I said, he was an asshole."
"Bob's right," Pete said. "Dying is the best thing he ever did for the country. Now, if somebody would just shoot a dozen more of his friends, why…"
"So, you had a motive, did you?" Scanlon said.
"Who, me?" Pete said.
"We're looking for suspects, you know."
Pete shook his head. "I'm allergic to guns. I don't even believe in the 2nd Amendment."
"Neither does the Supreme Court," Bob said ruefully.
Scanlon took a final look around the room as though checking for any overlooked clues. He nodded to the agents and turned toward the door and then turned back.
"Give us a call if you get any more letters, Bob. And don't talk about the case. It's not a gag order. Just give us a few days to see what else develops."
"But we're running a story today on it," Pete said.
"That's okay, just don't include anything we said here. We don't want to tip our hand."
"You don't have much of a hand to tip, do you?" Bob said. "You don't know anything for sure…"
"Nobody knows what we know and we want to keep it like that," Scanlon said curtly. "It's better that way."
"It's okay," Pete said, "mum's the word."
"Mum it is," Bob said.
"Good." He nodded and left with his retinue close behind. Pete looked at Bob and Bob looked back.
"Jesus Christ, we may have an inside track on the story of the year!" Pete said.
"Yeah, and we can't print a word of it."
"No big deal. They can't gag us forever."
"I'm not so sure. If they call it national security or say it's against the Patriot Act we're screwed."
"Right now, sure, but the 1st Amendment has to kick in there somewhere. The feds can only keep the lid on for so long with that secrecy crap."
"Are you kidding? The bastards can call us terrorists and ship us off to Gitmo and we'll never be heard from again. Have you read the Patriot Act? They even killed habeas corpus. The average illegal immigrant has more civil rights now than we do, for Christ's sake."
Both men fell silent as both suddenly entertained the same thought.
"You don't suppose…?"
Pete hesitated then said thoughtfully, "I don't know."
"Yeah. The story of the century."
And they left it at that. Pete went back to editing and Bob commenced work on next day's column while the wheels of justice rolled with a distant rumbling as various law enforcement agencies geared up for an all-out effort to solve the case that could turn out to be the story of the century.
Agent Scanlon took the elevator up from the parking garage and made his way through the hallways of the fortress-like headquarters of the F.B.I. The building was designed to withstand an all-out attack by superpowers from this or any other galaxy, although the occupants were not safe from each other as intrigue and sinister machinations filled the air. The building was a place that housed power and the powerful, a combination that always encourages an ongoing struggle for control.
Scanlon arrived at the office of the Director, one Norman Slinker, a man just this side of fifty with a baldpate and bushy eyebrows to compensate for the missing hair. Like Scanlon, he was big but out of shape with a paunch that would serve an alderman well. He concealed the paunch beneath a $3,000 suit.
Scanlon entered and waited for Slinker to finish a phone call. He put the phone down and looked up. "What?"
"The plot thickens on the Biggers case, sir." He handed him the letters. "These were received at the Sentinel."
Slinker took the letters and read them. "Are these from the killer?"
"We don't know. It's somebody who knows details that weren't released to the public."
Slinker studied the letters again. "Shit."
"It may be the killer is taunting us, sir."
"Maybe. Look, go arrest somebody. Anybody. Bring 'em in for questioning. Just say we have a person of interest-whatever the hell that means. Don't mention terrorists. When somebody knocks off a U.S Senator we have to come up with answers pretty damn quick."
"We don't want to mention the letters?"
"No. Fuck the letters. They just complicate things. It's probably a nut case, anyway. We're looking for a lone gunman, a stick-up man who probably has a record for armed robbery. Anything else and it gets tricky. We don't want tricky, Scanlon. We want a nice, open and shut case without any complications like cryptic letters and foreign intrigue. Is that clear?"
"Uh, sir, they found $10,000 in the senator's pocket and he was wearing a Rolex worth $8,000..."
"Sir, it couldn't have been robbery if…"
"The robber was in a hurry. Maybe somebody was coming and scared him off before he could search Biggers. Jesus, Scanlon, get with it. It was a goddamn robbery until we decide it wasn't."
"Yes, sir. I'll get right on it."
He reached the door when Slinker stopped him. "Scanlon, I want you to report directly to me on this. Just in case."
Slinker picked up the letters and leaned back to study them as Scanlon closed the door. He looked up and gazed absently into the middle distance while different scenarios played themselves out in his head. None of them had a happy ending.
The authorities did not release the letters in their news briefings largely because they would run counter to the semi-official position that the crime was a robbery and that the police would soon have the murderer(s) in custody. In fact, the F.B.I. had arrested two known armed robbers as persons of interest as Director Slinker had suggested to Scanlon earlier. Neither man could remotely be linked to Biggers as both had strong alibis, but that was a mere detail since they were intended as show suspects and would be released eventually in any case.
Agent Scanlon had followed up by interviewing Carl Welsh regarding his comments on the caliber of the gun but that lead nowhere since he hadn't told anyone other than Bob. While never a certainty that a leak hadn't spread, it was felt that the writer of the letters had to have some connection with the event in order to know such never published details.
The forensics people went over the letters with everything from simple magnifying glasses to electron microscopes and proved conclusively that paper and envelope were entirely bereft of clues. Any office supply store would carry the exact brands. The envelope was sealed with Scotch tape rather than spittle to avoid DNA clues, the same return address on both envelopes led to a vacant lot in Las Vegas, and the stamp was a self-adhesive type. Any clues from the letters would have to originate with the written messages.
Scanlon was able to reach the same conclusion once forensics had submitted its report and he set about doing just that. He called for a meeting with his top aides with but a single item on the agendum, to wit: What does it mean?
They assembled in Scanlon's office at a large conference table and filled half of its ten seats with five of the best minds in the Bureau. They were cunning men, clever and properly devious, men who had gone up against some of the sharpest minds in the underworld and knew all the tricks of the trickiest of them.
Agent Scanlon surveyed his colleagues coolly, measured the cut of their jibs with a practiced eye, and was pleased with what he saw. He opened a manila
folder, took out copies of the letters, and handed them to each man. They opened the envelopes, read the letters, and looked up at Scanlon quizzically.
"Well?" Scanlon said.
"Uh, I'm not sure…" Fisby said uncertainly.
"Maybe it's a code…" Ogilvy said.
"Beats me," MacTavish said.
"It could be a red herring to throw us off the track," opined Chilson.
"What track?" Scanlon demanded.
"Uh, the one leading to the real killer?"
"You mean the robber?"
Fisby raised a hesitant hand. "You know, it may be it wasn't a robbery at all."
"Oh, it's a robbery, all right," Chilson said. "The Chief said so."
"But do armed robbers usually send letters to the police after they kill somebody?" MacTavish said.
Scanlon rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "And not just any letters but one that refers to Sarajevo."
"That's right," Fisby said, "how many guys ever even heard of Sarajevo? I say the one who wrote those letters was an educated guy, maybe a professional man, not the kind of guy that goes around committing street crimes."
"And where does that leave us?" Scanlon said.
"We know it wasn't a simple robbery," Ogilvy said.
"And what does that mean?"
"It means it was something else."
"The usual. Angry husband."
"A jealous lover."
"Revenge from somebody Biggers fucked over."
"Or terrorists," Scanlon said. "Or suicide or an accident or a serial killer…"
"Are there any other clues?" Fisby said.
"The caliber of the gun," MacTavish said. "Pros use small caliber guns like that. Less noise, smoke. Maybe it was a professional hit."
"But why?" Chilson said. "Mob guys don't shoot senators; they mostly shoot each other."
"How about this?" Ogilvy said, leaning forward. "We know Biggers was a crook. Friday was payoff day and that ten grand was graft. Maybe he took a bribe, didn't deliver on it, and kept the cash. The guy got pissed and…"
"That makes more sense than a straight mob hit."
"Yeah, anybody can hire a hit man."
"It's a good theory," Scanlon said, "but so are all the others." He bit his lip some more. "So we work all of 'em. Follow up on every single angle no matter how unlikely it is. Put teams out there 24/7. Interview everybody. If we can at least find the motive we'll know what we're up against here. Until then, we don't even know what it is we're looking for."
They rose as one and started out.
"The bastard's as good as caught!"
Left alone, Scanlon frowned, bit his lip, and said aloud, "I'm not so fucking sure about that."
It had been a week since Biggers' funeral and, while the Bureau was more worried with each passing day, the politicians in the Capitol proved the old adage about things out of sight being forgotten. Though still somewhat uneasy most of them quickly resumed business as usual as lobbyists filled the lobbies, deals were made, envelopes passed covertly in backrooms, and Hiram the Ham Guy hurtled toward obscurity. There is little room for sentiment in politicians as such an emotion could lead to humanitarian thoughts and patriotism and a love of country that would likely interfere with the hard business of selling one's soul at regular intervals.
Even Bob found the dearth of news drew his attention from Biggers to other matters in spite of the fact that he'd been more involved in the case than just about anybody else. With the passage of time it appeared that the crime would soon be written off as an unsolved street robbery and filed away with all the other unsolved crimes in the cops' voluminous files.
A week after the letters arrived and four days of increased activity by his top aides and their 24/7 investigations proved fruitless, Scanlon dropped by the Sentinel with a new tactic he hoped would be more productive.
Bob was on the phone when Scanlon appeared at his cubicle and he quickly cut the call short.
"Don't tell me," he said. "You caught the killer."
"No such luck."
"You need luck to catch crooks?"
"It helps. Get any more letters?"
"Not even a postcard."
"How was the funeral?"
"Very entertaining. They made Biggers sound like a goddamn saint."
"That's what elegies do. Everybody knows its bullshit." He paused and looked at the surrounding cubicles and the nearby activity. "We need to talk."
Bob picked up on the request for privacy. "Uh, yeah. Come on."
He rose and led the way to an unused office. Once inside with the door securely closed, Scanlon said, "I want you to do something for me. You said the guy sent you the letters because of your column."
"Well, I'm not sure that's what happened…"
"I know, I know. But you're probably right. People know you; they see your picture in the paper every day. You're on TV. And there's the kind of column you write…"
"What's that mean?"
"Nothing. Forget it. Just a hunch. I want you to write a special column about Biggers' death. Drop a subtle hint that you could be contacted if, you know, anybody wanted to tell you anything. Like, offer to be a pipeline."
"You want the robber to send me another letter?"
"We're not talking about a fucking robber, Bob. Actually, I'm not even sure I know what I am talking about. It's routine cop stuff. If the guy wrote you once, maybe he'll write again."
"And if he does?"
"If he does we'll know a lot more about what's going on even if the message is only four words long."
"No. Write it first and let me see it. I'll let you know when to print it. Just comment on the case, don't mention the letters or give out any of the facts. No gun. Work it in that you're interested in the case. Suggest that you'd like input from readers, thoughts, or comments. Be a little vague. Maybe the guy will write again, he may slip up, say something he shouldn't and give us a lead as to what he's up to."
Bob sighed. "I hate to encourage my readers to write. I could end up with enough mail to give the mailman a hernia hauling the stuff in."
"I knew I could count on you."
"Only because I'm afraid you'll sic the IRS people on my ass if I don't cooperate."
"You don't really think the Bureau would do that, do you?"
"The hell I don't. Everybody knows you guys have no scruples."
Scanlon shook his head. "I'm glad Mr. Hoover isn't alive to hear such talk. It would break the poor man's heart."
"Hoover didn't have a heart."
"I know." He moved to the door. "I think we're going to become close pals, Bob. Real close."
Scanlon left Bob alone with his thoughts and they were numerous, indeed. What happened to the robbery theory? Who would write if it weren't the robber? What did he think the writer would write about? A confession? An apology?
Why would anybody write at all? How would it help the murderer?
And what was that crack about being pals? He surely didn't mean socially. Cops always hang out with other cops so they can swap tales of derring-do and share tips on how to fake a back injury and get early disability retirement. The last guy cops want hanging around is a reporter looking for his next big story.
As a general rule, Bob didn't hang out with cops of any kind on the grounds that one never knew what they were thinking. Besides, he was longtime admirer of the Rastafarians and frequently partook of their sacraments in order to commune with the spirits of Haile Selassie and Bob Marley and most cops prefer the company of boozers to tokers. In any event, cops and Bob didn't mix well so he wasn't enthused about teaming up with Jim (Dick Tracy) Scanlon.
When the cranial activity slowed a bit Bob reflected further on Scanlon's odd remark. There was obviously a lot more to Biggers' death than met the eye. He'd snapped sharply when Bob referred to the robber after Scanlon had abandoned that theory. Clearly, the agent was going in a different direction but what direction was that?
Bob gave up and went back to his cubicle and commenced writing the column requested.