The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 55

Flipper 

“I need your help,” Rich said.
Butch chuckled, “Okay, I’ll buy.”
Rich glowered at him.
“Okay, okay, go on,” Butch said.
“He and his wife tried to run me off the road. Their car is stuck in a field as we speak,” Rich said.
“I need a drink,” Butch said. “This is good. It‘s time to celebrate.”
“The contractor was Stoval’s,” Rich said. “And I contacted Stoval on the phone and he hung-up on me.”
“What else?” Butch asked sipping his beer.
Rich said just above a whisper and leaning over the coffee. “Gaffe, Stoval, and a certain county commissioner, and an illustrious member of the community, civic and church groups, as well as a car dealer: their names all popped up while making a few phone calls.”
“Gaffe, Stoval, Crocker, and Finster, right?” Butch said.
“You got it,” Rich said.
“Sounds like a law firm. You lucky little twerp,” Butch said. “You’re a couple months on staff and crack the biggest story of the year. Next thing ya know I’ll be sitting behind you and bringing ya coffee. So what do you want, some advice?”
“No,” Rich said. “I want to do the story together.”
“You mean to go so far as to share the byline?” Butch said.
“Even so far as alphabetical order,” Rich said.
“That’s enough to restore my hope in humanity and make me stop drinking,” Butch said and drew the glass to his mouth. “One thing at a time, though,” and he took a drink.
Butch stretched his head to see who was at the pool table. “Hey Flipper!”
A thin man in work cloths turned around. “Can ya give your stick to somebody for minute and come here?” Flipper handed his pool cue to another man and sauntered over to the booth. Butch invited him to sit down as he moved over.
“I’m going to talk to you about something real serious,” Butch said to Flipper. “My friend her Rich, Rich this is Flipper and Flipper this is Rich. As I was saying, my friend, Rich, was nearly killed by Gaffe today. Now here’s the deal. I know you have a family and if you know anything about what is going on between Gaffe and Stoval now is the time to bare your soul. You see telling us is like telling the police. Except we don’t take you to the police station and threaten you will prosecution or anything. Our sources are not public record, but once the police get this it’s in the hands of ambitious prosecutors. What every you tell is protected. We don’t have to tell anybody where we heard it; it’s the law. Are you with me so far?”
“I really don’t know what you’re talking about,” Flipper said and started to scoot out of the booth.
Butch placed his hand on Flipper’s forearm. “When I write this story I can say ‘refused to cooperate,’ or say, ‘this reporter has come to find out.’”
Flipper squirmed and looked at Rich uncomfortably.
“Over here Flipper,” Butch said. “I need your attention.”
Flipper’s eyes reluctantly turned from Rich back to Butch.
“What have you done for Gaffe?” Butch said.
“Look, all I do is haul asphalt. I take it to wherever they tell me. If they say to back it up and dump it in the bay, it’s all the same to me. You gonna put food on my table if something happens and Stoval’s closes down and I lose my job?
“Here’s the deal, Flipper,” Butch said. “Rich and I walk out of here tonight. We will dig and dig and dig. If it turns bad for you we can say you came to us. As an informant our paper can help you legally. Granted your future may be a little uncertain, but if the prosecutor gets to you, they see things only one way, your future is very certain. You’ll be stamping out license plates. It‘s steady work, but doesn‘t pay well. This way, it appear you are doing the right thing.”
Flipper held his head down and shook it.
“Flipper,” Butch said to assure him. “You’re a good man. Everybody knows it. There’s a half dozen people in the this town that’ll give you a job.”
“What do you want to know?” Flipper said with slight exasperation.
“Simply this,” Butch said. “How were you paid when you took asphalt to Gaffe.”
“Check,” Flipper said. “But it was drawn on bank in Augusta. It was a company called Enterprise East.”
“Did you recognize the signature?” Rich said.
“No,” Flipper said, “but here’s something for you, I got paid the same way for work I did on Finster’s dealership and a church, the bank parking lot and a couple of other jobs. I always had to take my check to the same teller at the bank, Mrs. Casper.”
Rich looked at Butch and he was already looking at Rich.
“Don’t say anything to anyone unless it is the police and even then not without a lawyer,” Butch said. “There’s something else, who else got paid like this?”
“Bill Sizemore and Tag Collins,” Flipper said.
Butch reached over and shook Flipper’s hand. “You don’t have to worry about anything. The paper has got you covered. I don‘t have to reveal we even had this conversation.”
“What did they try to do to ya?” Flipper asked Rich.
“Gaffe held a ball bat up to me and his wife egged him on. He didn’t do anything then, but later on they ran me off the road,” Rich said.
“Gaffe has friends in law enforcement,” Flipper said. “So watch yourself.”
“Thanks,” Rich said and shook his hand.
Flipper didn’t return to the pool table, but instead walked out of the bar.
“What’s next” Rich said.
“We call Sam and meet him at the office with Anderson,” Butch said.

Butch made two phone calls at the pay phone in the bar. Rich stood outside and waited. Butch came out and said to follow him to the paper. They drove back to the office and hurried to the newsroom. Sam and Anderson arrived minutes later.