The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 56

The Toast

Sam began by having Rich relate everything from the overheard conversation, the confrontation with Gaffe, my phone contacts, and up to the point I drove to Lighthouse Inn and Butch took over. All the time Sam and Anderson jotted notes. Butch finished.
Sam said, “Is that all?”
Butch and I nodded.
“Anderson, how do you think we should proceed?” Sam said.
“At this point we need some more confirmation before the first paragraph is written,” Anderson said.
Sam looked at Rich and clamped his lips tight. “How do you feel about running with this on your own with Anderson looking over your shoulder?”
“I asked Butch to share the story and byline with me,” Rich said.
Sam turned to Anderson and raised his eyebrows.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Anderson said.
“Anderson and I will run the news for a while and you two get busy,” Sam said and took a long deep breath. “I want a story by morning. No loose ends. If we don’t print something by tomorrow it will take us a week or better to get to where we are right now. You two work the phones until people are hanging up on you because it’s too late. Go where every suspicion takes you. I want a story on my desk by tomorrow morning. I want sources and confirmation for every period, dotted I, and crossed T. Now let‘s all compare some notes and make a list of people we know and places that you can call.”
For the next half hour they tossed around ideas, names, and possible contacts.
Sam concluded the meeting by saying, “Well, I think this will give you both plenty to work on so Anderson and I had better get out of here and let you two alone.”
Rich flipped his hand to indicate he wanted to speak.
“Whatcha got, Rich?” Sam said.
“I took a picture of ole lady Gaffe cursing at me and giving me the finger,” Rich said.
“What!” Sam said with a big grin.
“You didn’t tell us about that,” Butch said.
“I even took one of them beside me in the car as they were trying to run me off the road,” Rich said.
“Some people fall into a pile of crap and come out smelling like a rose,” Anderson said. “But ole Rich here has come out with a bouquet.” Anderson slapped Rich on the shoulder. “You picked ‘em yourself. Good job.”
“Nobody had better call him a cub reporter again,” Butch said. “Except for me when I’m trying to get under his skin or denigrate his character to keep him in his place.”
Sam interrupted the light laughter. “Rich, Butch knows what he’s doing. Do what he says. Give me good crisp writing. Good writing is good thinking.” Sam got up and went to his office.
Rich, Butch, and Terry chatted until Sam returned. Sam had a bottle of Jack Daniels in his hand and tossed it to Butch. “I want you writing good.” Then he looked at Anderson and said, “Let’s go home and let these guys earn a living.” He turned to Butch and Rich, “And call if you need help, no matter what time.”
For the next two hours Rich and Butch worked the phones, jotted notes, and ran ideas past each other. Butch coached Rich on how to talk to people and get information from them; when and how to be aggressive and when and how to pull back. “It’s chess, lad,” he said. “Even white has to move to a defensive position to spring the trap. Never lose sight of your objective - information.”

Rich and Butch drove away in Butch’s car at one point to talk to a couple of people; a bank manger and neighbor of the country treasurer. They returned to the newsroom and began to assemble their information. They indexed it on cards and arranged it in order.
“We don’t normally do this, but this is investigative, our memories fail us, things get lost,” Butch said. “Never rely on your memory. Let your notes write the story for you.”
“I’ve heard Sam say that more than once,” Rich said.
“Sam’s the best, but I think you already know that,” Butch said.
They put coffee on at nine and by eleven Butch said, “Let’s write.”
Butch sat at the typewriter and began to talk and peck, “Beacon reporter Rich Larsen and Butch Hagler has uncovered a scheme of corruption and graft that flows through the hallowed halls of local governments, the sacred sanctuaries of local churches, and distinguished businesses in this community. It is a trail of greed and power the likes of which have never before been experienced in this area.
It starts with Beacon reporter Rich Larsen overhearing a conversation of two lobstermen, ends with the unraveling of a web of duplicity, deceit, and deception and along the way an attempt on the his life.”
And so the article went on until it was finished at two in the morning.
Butch dug two glasses from his desk drawer and sat them on Rich’s desk. He poured them half full of the Jack Daniels. “We don’t want to disrespect the boss by turning down his generous offer. Here’s to you my friend.”
They drank and I coughed.
“Contrary to popular opinion, I drink when I’m done writing. I never drink while writing. Once the demon is out of the bottle and onto the page it never returns.” Butch said and held his glass for a toast. “Here is to drunken poets, writers, novelists, and every other purveyor of words and their families.”
Before Buth got the glass to his mouth Rich held his arm and raised his glass, “And to those who read the wit, the wisdom, and poppycock of the drunken purveyors of words who without their readership they would just be drunks.”

They finished the glass but not the bottle. Rich drove to the apartment, showered, and went to bed. Butch slept on a coach in Sam’s office.