Excerpt: 'The Scarecrow'

I didn't know if she was referring to the murder or the confession but it didn't matter. I had to get off. I looked at my screen and saw I had six emails waiting. They had all come in since I had walked out of Kramer's office. The digital vultures were circling. I wanted to end this call and pass it and everything else off to Angela Cook. Let her deal with all the crazy and misinformed and ignorant callers. Let her have it all.

"Okay, Mrs. Winslow, I'll – "

"It's Sessums, I told you! You see how you gettin' things wrong all'a time?"

She had me there. I paused for a moment before speaking.

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Sessums. I've taken some notes here and I will look into this and if there is something I can write about then I will certainly call you. Meantime, best of luck to you and – "

"No you won't."

"I won't what?"

"You won't call me."

"I said I would call you if I – "

"You didn't even ask me for my number! You don' care. You just a bullshit motherfucker like the rest a' them and my boy goes to prison for somethin' he dint do."

She hung up on me. I sat motionless for a moment thinking about what she had said about me, then tossed the Metro section back on the stack. I looked down at the notebook in front of my keyboard. I hadn't taken any notes and that supposedly ignorant woman had me pegged on that, too.

I leaned back in my chair and studied the contents of my cubicle. A desk, a computer, a phone and two shelves stacked with files, notebooks and newspapers. A red leather-bound dictionary so old and well used that the Webster's had been worn off its spine. My mother had given it to me when I told her I wanted to be a writer.

It was all I had left after twenty years in journalism. All I would take with me at the end of the two weeks was that dictionary.

"Hi, Jack."

I turned from my reverie to look up at the lovely face of Angela Cook. I didn't know her but I knew her: A fresh hire from a top-flight school. She was as green as can be but she was probably being paid $500 a week less than me and that made her a greater value to the company. Never mind the stories that would be missed because she had no sources. Never mind how many times she would be set up and manipulated by the police brass who knew an opportunity when they saw it. Never mind the corruption that would go by unnoticed because she didn't know what to look for.

She was probably a short-timer anyway. She'd get a few years' experience, get some decent bylines, and move on to bigger things, law school or politics, maybe a job in TV. But Larry Bernard was right. She was a beauty with blonde hair over green eyes and full lips. The cops were going to love seeing her around headquarters. It would take no more than a week before they forgot about me.

"Hi, Angela."

"Mr. Robertson said I should come over."

Kendall Robertson was a deputy managing editor and Kramer's right hand hack. They were moving quickly. I had gotten pinked no more than fifteen minutes earlier and already my replacement had come knocking.

"Tell you what," I said. "It's Friday afternoon, Angela, and I just got laid off. So let's not start this now. Let's get together on Monday morning, okay? We can meet for coffee and then I'll take you around Parker Center to meet some people. Will that be okay?"

"Yeah, sure. And, um, sorry, you know?"

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