The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 57

The Big Story

Rich was in at eight. Sam, Anderson, and Butch were sipping coffee in Sam’s office when Rich climbed the stairs.
Butch looked ragged. He waved me in. “Thanks to my tutelage… Well you finish it Sam.”
“Damn good job,” Sam said. “It’s already in the press room. The boys down there said they can have it out by noon. We can do some early newsstand drops.”
Anderson said, “Have you guys had breakfast?”
I shook my head.
“It’s in my drawer in the newsroom,” Butch said.
Sam handed Butch 10 dollars. “You guys have a steak breakfast on me and then dig for a follow-up story.”
“Don’t you meant fall-out?” Butch said.
“The phones should start wringing before long,” Anderson said.
“I got only one gal answering phones today,” Sam said. “Told her to log everything. I already phoned our lawyer. He‘s on retainer so he can come at anytime.”
“Hey, Rich,” Anderson said, “You’re Jeep is going to be the most popular car in town. And it’s a good thing you weren’t riding a bike; you’d be dead by now or eating breakfast through a straw.”
“That’s funny,” Rich said, “but I can’t laugh.”
“Me neither, pal,” Anderson said.
“Anderson and I will take care of anything that comes in the office,” Sam said. “Go have breakfast.”
Rich and Butch sat at a local diner and after eating Butch asked, “Do you want to be a journalists?”
“I really never thought about it,” Rich said.
He chuckled.
“What’s so funny?” Rich said.
“You come in town riding a bicycle looking like an orphan and in less than a year…” he paused.
“I don’t get it,” Rich said.
“You don’t get it,” Butch said. “Do you know that any grad at Harvard, Yale, or Princeton would give their left nut or breast to work with Sam White?”
Rich shrugged.
“You really don’t know do you?” Butch said.
“Know what?” Rich said.
“Sam White was the guy who fingered Joe McCarthy before it became popular to finger Joe McCarthy. He was a professor at Harvard and the university caved to pressure and relieved him. He went underground for a couple of years and eventually vindicated. Then everybody wanted him. He bought this paper up here about seven years ago and everybody who knows of him wants to work for him.” Butch paused, smiled, and walked his fingers across the table. “Did he do the walking thing with you.”
“Yeah,” Rich smiled.
“He did that with me. He took a little wad of paper and said that it was a football and his fingers was the player. Then he asked me what happened after he kicked the little wad of paper. We went around and around for fifteen minutes and finally I said, ‘He kicked.’ And then he said ‘Finally, you’re hired.’ I’m showing you everything he’s taught me.”
“I’ve already learned a lot from him,” Rich said. “I never thought I would ever work for a newspaper other than a janitor or paper boy.”
“What is your story, Rich?” Butch said.
“I’m a high school drop out,” Rich said. “No, no, that’s wrong. I’m a junior high school drop out.”
“What else?” Butch said.
“For now that’s enough,” Rich said. “Maybe someday I’ll sit down, me and you and Jack Daniels and I’ll tell you the rest.”
“Let’s go Rich,” Butch said tossing the money on the table. “We got a city to save.”
They split up and agreed to be back at the paper at one.
By the time they got there the lobby was full of people inquiring about the story. Rich and Butch walked up the steps.
Butch walked ahead and in Sam’s office he saw Sam and four other men through the office window. The office door was closed door.
Butch spun quickly to Rich and turned him around. “Take the ferry over to Vinylhaven or drive to Camden and call me.”
Rich hesitated.
“Just go,” Butch said. “Before I shove ya down the steps. And do some sort of newspaper work, ask a question, work on something, anything.”
Rich walked down the steps half way and crept back up to hear what was being said. Butch was called into Sam’s office. Sam asked, “Where’s Rich?”
Butch said, “He’s on assignment.”
“Where?” said one of the men.
“Damned if I know,” Butch said.
Rich scurried down the steps out the back door and drove to Camden.
He called Butch later and found out that there was a meeting in the newsroom with a whole gaggle of lawyers. Later that night Rich returned to the office where Sam, Butch, and Anderson grilled him on what to say and what not to say to the police and lawyers.
For the next week Rich and Butch were able to lay out an elaborate escapade of graft, bribes, pilfering, and cover-ups that shook the foundations of the business, political, religious community, and the local Democratic Party. What was amazing about the whole scandal is that so much money went into bribes and kick backs that little went to the men and women who were charged and confessed.
Rich and Butch concluded their final story on the episode this way: “Amid the blue gray skies of mid coast Maine rode the four stooges: ineptness, idiocy, buffoonery and futility; the likes of which have not been seen in this area before.”