- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Ships from: Los Angeles, CA
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
Harry spotted me and came over. "Well! Hello, stranger! Don't usually see you out on the geek patrol anymore. The body isn't some big shot politician, is it?"
I shrugged. "Hi, Harry. No, beats me. I'm not even here for this, whatever it is. I had a meeting with a source set up, but it doesn't look like it's gonna happen, at least not today." I looked around. "So what's going on to bring out the stand-up troupe?"
"Jeez! You didn't even have your scanner on? Oh, yeah--I forgot. You don't do that kind of shit anymore. Well, the word from the initial call-in was that some guy had been torn to pieces screaming horribly the whole way, and they got a couple of witnesses squirreled away who were down the hall waitin' for the elevator and who swear that nobody went in or out of the room or up and down the hall. One of 'em used a house phone to call the hotel dick, and when they got to the door, they said, the chain was actually on. They had to break it down. Got in, and found the window open and the guy in the room in a condition that'll require blotters to get up the remains. We all got that much. Anything more I can't pass on until after my stand-up. You understand. I got to give the public some reason to keep tuning in to a guy like me when Miss October is over on Channel Seven."
I nodded, but I didn't think he had to worry much. In this town they tended to keep the old folks around. Hell, just between Channels Four and Nine the combined age of the two main anchors was a hundred and forty if it was a day. To Jan, this was just a stopover to Good Morning, America.
"Harry!" somebody called from across the lobby, and Lapisky turned and gave him a wave. "Got to go! Nice seeing you! Let me know if we can work something together sometime!"
I just gave him a smile and nodded, but I appreciated the respect. These days I'd be lucky to come up with anything dramatic; I was coasting and I knew it, but it wasn't really fun anymore. It was just that I didn't know how to do anything else.
The cops were keeping a rigid guard behind the roped-off gateway to the elevator, but I noticed that a couple of uniforms had been pulled and replaced by officers who really looked the part. They knew that the scene was going to be all over local TV in about five minutes and even if the D.C. police couldn't catch flies they always managed to look good for the cameras.
There was, however, clearly more than just the locals involved. Lots of nice dark suits around, kind of FBI Standard, and there were a couple of obvious Feds I couldn't peg just from looking at them.
Most of the bystanders were probably AAAS attendees themselves. The guy I was supposed to meet was here for it, too, but God knew where he was at this point. Well, he had my cell phone and pager numbers if he wasn't spooked by this.
I didn't know how good the absent Jennene was at digging out facts, but I figured Harry and his producer had huddled, so maybe he had something. I made my way over close to him to listen to his sixty seconds of fame for today.
"Memememe ... Youyouyouyou!" Harry sang into the mike. "That a good enough sound check for you, Tom?" He looked back down at a paper in his hand and muttered, "In case you think The X-Files and The Twilight Zone are just fairy tales, D.C. police tonight have one for the Sci Fi Channel right here at the Wardman ..."
Now that lead got my attention, and I waited for him to go on, feeling impatient. If this thing lived up to its billing I might get on this story myself after all.
They cued Harry, the lights went on, and he began, barely glancing at the paper. It was a nice contrast with Jan over there, who was waiting for her producer to finish her extra-large-print cue cards.
Harry, though, was on. "In case you think The X-Files and The Twilight Zone are just fairy tales, D.C. police tonight have one for the Sci Fi Channel right here at the Wardman. Shortly after six this evening hotel guests waiting for an elevator heard what they described as 'horrible screams' from a room down the hall. Frightened, they did not investigate but called hotel security, who reportedly had to break in the locked and chained door.
"Witnesses off the record called what they saw inside a 'charnel house,'--the body of a man variously described as 'torn to shreds' or 'splattered all over the hotel room.' Shaken police call it the most violent murder they have ever seen, but there was no one--and no thing, either--in the room, other than the victim's remains and an open window with a sheer six-story drop to a concrete patio below. People who were on the patio at the time report that they heard the screams but saw nothing. Pending positive identification of the body and notification of next of kin, the identity of the victim is not yet being released. We'll stay on the scene as developments in this bizarre case warrant. Jim?"
I couldn't hear the follow-up question that was transmitted from the studio to Harry's earpiece, but he looked serious and nodded. "Yes, there's some sort of government secrecy involved, although they can hardly hush this one up. There are representatives here from at least five agencies, including the FBI, CIA, Secret Service, and one or two of those agents for places you can't find, as well as the D.C. police. In fact, it's so crowded with various cops and agents up there, I wouldn't be surprised if Smokey Bear came out of the elevator wearing a big yellow marshal's badge. Until and unless they release more on the victim, however, it is impossible to say if he was with NIH or just associated with them. He certainly wasn't local; locals don't take two-hundred-a-night hotel rooms."
Well, it was beginning to sound more and more interesting. Not that I thought I could outdo the major media crowd here; there were even some network types nosing around, or at least their producers, and they had a hell of a lot more people and money to go digging than I did, but there might be something here, some angle my old contacts might help uncover that these folks might miss.
My claim to fame was that, years ago, I got a Pulitzer. Or, at least, I got half of one, for a series now long forgotten that unmasked some pretty nasty dealings between a couple of unlamented now ex-senators, a House committee chairman, and some pretty ugly foreign government types. Much of it was what we used to call the Sieg Heil Brigade, those politicians who'd get in bed with Hitler Jr. if he said he hated commies, but some of it was also bribery and blackmail. It was big news back in the days of the cold war, but it was just about as forgotten now as the names of those dirty politicians.
Most of us old-timers thought of the cold war period as the good old days, really, when scandals meant something and weren't just who was sneaking into bed or on or under desks with who or what. The nation hadn't been the same since it no longer had a common enemy to battle. Hell, these days you run into a few crazy terrorists here and there, a bunch of shady drug types, and you just know it's a non-story until they kill a bunch of people, and then it's good for a week or two tops. When my dad grew up, way back in the Dark Ages, or the idealized fifties, they had duck-and-cover A-bomb drills. You had to know where your nearest fallout shelter was at all times, and you expected Armageddon on twenty minutes' notice. I always get a kick out of these young wimps who think it was Ozzie and Harriet and the Beaver back then. I knew from the stories, the pictures, and some of Dad's old gang who stopped by, that they grew up in the New York tenaments dodging zip-gun bullets from guys in leather jackets whose territories were marked out on concrete jungles. Dad still had scars from switchblades, but, never mind. Always made me wonder about this "power of the media" crap. Grow up in Blackboard Jungle one step from nuclear destruction and the kids say, "Gee, they didn't have any worries back in those peaceful days." I guess that's why I grew up so cynical myself. Heck, the running gag in Father Knows Best was that the dumb schmuck didn't know anything at all ...
Posted November 20, 2000
Posted October 27, 2008
No text was provided for this review.