Monday, August 9, 2010

'Wu-dunit': Chapter 2, part II

“So who do we think did it?” asked Fred.

Chicago shrugged.

“Could have been a random burglary,” said an editor over the table.

Chicago chuckled. He couldn’t help it.

“It was clearly premeditated and nothing was stolen. And the door wasn’t broken into,” Chicago said.

“So, what we need to figure out is who would have wanted the mayor dead.” Martin stated.

There was a short silence. Mary leaned over in her chair.

“You don’t suppose it was a political thing,” she said across the room. “Suppose a deal gone wrong, an argument. Someone from the office.”

“Something to think about,” Martin muttered.

“And what does Features have to do with all this?” Mary asked.

“You tell us,” answered Hans.

“Well it’s a bit early for a exposé don’t you think?”

Chicago could tell this would be a long meeting.

“Well, if I’m going to be at the press conference, I’d have to leave pretty soon, so maybe we should…”

“Chicago’s right. Before we go about shooting off ideas, Hans and I need to make sure everyone here is on the same page. This story is huge and’ll only get bigger. We’ll need all eyes open. Tell your writers. Tell ‘em to call any good sources. Somebody killed the mayor and I’ll be damned if the police figure out who it was before we do.”

Chicago walked out of the meeting relieved. As the editors were deciding what angles, if any, their departments would cover, Chicago would be prepping for the conference.

Back in his office, he turned on his mounted television to the local morning news. They’d been beating the story to death already, interviewing specialists, experts and talking heads who really had no clue what they were speculating.

Still, this would be a good start. He’d jot a few names down and look for them at the conference.

“Nathan Malone,” said one of the talking heads.

“You think he could possibly be behind this?” asked the anchorman.

“It’s a possibility that Nathan Malone and his group are behind the attack,” spoke the head. “CFS is known for their hatred of the government and of course of the mayor. While they may not have a history of violence, per sé, at least not to this degree, they have been known to threaten members of the mayor’s office and the mayor herself.”

“In fact, six years ago Nathan Malone was arrested for mailing death threats to the mayor’s office, texting and calling her, no?” asked the anchor.

“Yes, that is correct.”

They had a point. The Chicago Freedom Society had popped onto the scene a few years ago after the war. It was one of several branches of the Freedom Society, a nationwide group of anarchists and anti-government radicals. At least that was their shtick. In reality, they were just bored and crazy.

Chicago wrote Nathan’s name on his pad. He’d look for him at the conference. One thing was sure, whoever killed Mayor Wu would celebrate by being there. If Nathan and CFS really were behind this, they’d be at the press conference bragging.

Chicago grabbed his tape recorder, pad and extra pens. On the television screen was the photo of a shaggy haired man no older than Chicago, sporting black, rectangular, tinted glasses and a rather scruffy beard.

As Chicago stood outside in the line of reporters waiting to be patted down by City Hall security, he caught a glimpse of the same scruffy man from the news. Nathan stood in front a group of similarly clad hippies. They held signs mocking the late mayor and her office. They cleverly stood a great distance from the mass of reporters and officials piling inside.

It was the usual set up. The cameras were in the back and the writers in the front. They waited, and waited until-

The small door behind the flag opened. A parade of city officials and VIPs emerged and began to line up on the stage. The reporters grew silent and straightened up.

The Superintendent of Police took to the podium and once he had confirmed that the former mayor had died and was, in fact, murdered, murmurs and scribbling pens broke the silence.

She’d left her door unlocked; someone crept in, yadda yadda yadda. Chicago needed details, but the officer didn’t seem to have anything new, not even a lead.

As the officer spoke, Chicago couldn’t help but notice the slight grin on one of the official’s faces. It was Jack Clark, the alderman and vice mayor who would now be stepping in to run things.

The officer’s speech must have been rehearsed because Jack seemed to know when he’d be called to the podium.

Cameras flashed as Jack gleamed as if he had won an election.

“Citizens of Chicago, as vice mayor I will serve as Chief Executive until the City Council has elected one of their own. Until then, I can assure you that our office will not rest until whoever is responsible for this heinous act is brought to justice.”

The conference only lasted 20 minutes. The reporters got nowhere with questions.

“They dodged every one of them,” said one reporter as he passed by Chicago with everyone else leaving the room.

But for Chicago, things were just starting. He’d already had three names written down as potential suspects. While the officials had given very little information with their mouths, Chicago could read between the lines. Unlike the other reporters, he could tell something was up. Something was missing from the superintendent’s report and Jack was just, well, weird.

The one person who would give him all the juicy, inside information was approaching him from the end of the room.

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