|Chapter 25: The O.J. Cuts
"Here they are" said Gail looking in the T-window at the faces of Glen and Vera who looked like frightened little children separated from their mothers in a shopping mall. Gail acknowledged them by way of the T-window and left to greet them at the door. They were back in less than a minute with Andrea and Leah rushing to embrace them as they entered the room.
Through the babble and tears of their reunion, the others learned that Blue Mondays lawyer and the woman she lived with had been arrested for something....They had bailed themselves out with paper money, something none of the others had seen in the real world...And did someone mention X-channeling? Had the women been X-channeled? Yes, they had....Hummm.
"Enough of that," said Gail, ushering the reunited quartet to their seats on opposite sides of the horseshoe before returning to her place at the center of the bend.
Glen sat in the last seat; Vera took hers next to Cousins, not at all put off by his appearance. As long as he doesnt smell like he looks, she thought, before noticing the color of his eyes.
Cousins pretended not to notice the color of hers or the way she recoiled ever so slightly when she saw what they had in common. He didnt blame her. Monkey-eyed people were supposed to be bums and he was one. In her place, he would have felt the same way.
Gail said, "We have a few things we have to sort out if we want to do some good here." She looked at Vince and then at Cousins. "Minas O.J. cuts are a good place to start. Oh, that reminds me. When Heck called me from jail, he said he had a cut on his hand. He doesnt know how or when he got it, but he thinks it happened when they cuffed him here in the station...."
Vince slapped the table. "I wondered how they were going to reproduce the blood evidence."
Cousins looked incredulous. "Is that what the police did to Simpson?"
"No," said Ken. "He said that he cut himself somewhere between his house and his car when he was getting ready to go to Chicago. Then he said that he accidentally cut himself in Chicago. Then he said he cut himself at home and in Chicago."
Cousins lifted his brows, "No wonder they arrested him. Maybe he did do it. That dont mean Clay...."
Vince shook his head vigorously, "The way me and Banks got it figured, he was being bugged continuously and watched whenever possible. The cop who set him up had been planning the murder for years and waiting for the right time to do it. But when the time came, his lookout at O.J.'s house saw that O.J. had cut himself, so he had to figure a way to work that into the plan. We think he did. We think that Simpson panicked in Chicago when he found out about all the blood and he cut himself with a piece of glass to cover the small cut he already had that nobody might have noticed. When he had time to think about it, he realized hed screwed up, but now he had this dumb story he had to stick to no matter what."
All eyes turned to Gail. Yu asked, "Is that what happened?"
Gail smiled. "That was one of the scenarios. Well get to that later....Where was I....Oh. Rupert Gieldgood is where we have to start. Hes the bad guy. Hes what Dean Piper, the old head of CBI used to be, only worse."
She made a quick entry on her control pad. Up came a full-length, 3-D image of Dr. Gieldgood in everyones T-window, looking more like a mad scientist from a 20th century horror movie than a real 21st century physician. Perhaps it was the white lab coat he was wearing that left everyone with that impression, or the test tube he was holding up. Whatever it was, no one at the table would have argued with the characterization.
"If you read the Wall Street Journal," continued Gail, "you know that Gieldgood succeed Condor Industrys boy genius Stewart Lynch when Lynchs wife went nuts and bashed his brains in with their kids Louisville Slugger."
Ken and Vince looked at each other with no doubt that Mrs. Lynch had been one of Gieldgoods patients if only briefly.
Gail didnt know what the looks signified and saw no reason to ask. "He headed the corporations pharmaceutical arm, Condor Labs. Most people think they know what that means: Iris Die, hair restorers and depilatories, patent medicinesthat sort of thing."
As she spoke, she programmed the visuals on the fly so that the images she spoke of appeared in the window in a perfectly coordinated flow. "What we dont think about is the fact that Condor Labs does all of the blood, trace and fiber testing for all of the major law enforcement jurisdictions in the country, including the FBI. You dont think about street drugs like Elation and Bounce or all the prescription drugs that are used every day in doctors offices, hospitals and clinics throughout the country."
Kimberly Fleetwoods friends were startled to see a representation of her comatose body being fed a milky white substance intravenously. "Is that really her?" asked Leah.
"No," said Gail. "Everything Im showing you here was ELFed in. Its the only way I know to make it up as I go along without getting a choppy output. But Ive set my parameters to get as accurate a readout of the pertinent data as possible from our dynamic data base."
Glen pointed at his telewindow, "Does that mean you have a reliable program that watches the news and sorts out the facts from the bullshit?"
"Weve been testing it for over a year. We had to make a few adjustments but the last adjustment was four of five months ago. Now, thats only the data base. What we do with it is our call. We try to be as honest and accurate as possible, but were only human, so we cant claim to be infallible."
Glen waved his hand. "I didnt mean to get off on a tangent," he said. "I just wanted to be sure I knew what I was looking at."
"Actually," said Gail, "that takes us into the last thing I wanted to say about Gieldgood. His hold on Jack Fleetwood and the things he could do with drugs, couldnt get him the kind of power Dean Piper had with his control of CBI. Condor Broadcasting is the instrument of power that made it possible to restore Jim Crow laws and turn people with dark brown eyes into second class citizens. Its amazing what you can do with any idea you can present and repeat without a credible rebuttal. A credible rebuttal to ideas like that are why Blue Monday, Leah, Andrea and Heck were arrested. Thats why Gieldgood wants to take the X-channel back to what it used to be."
No one intended to cut their eyes in the direction of Andrea and Leah, but everyone did, to everyones embarrassment.
Gail pushed ahead. "He couldnt kill everybody who got in his way. The system wouldnt allow it. He had to discredit some, blackmail some into working for him, and intimidate others to discourage them from opposing him. He could get away with killing some of his enemies if he did it indirectly through socially engineered murders like the ones youll find in any DZ street gang or through medically controlled assassins like the Brown Belt Strangler...."
Douglas Yu, who had been staring straight ahead in troubled thought, tilted his head back and mumbled, "Son of a bitch."
Cousins cocked his head in the older mans direction, "Whats the matter Top?"
"I feel like a horses ass."
Cousins snorted. "You should."
Yu shrugged his shoulders. "I admit it. I had no idea so much shiso much stuff was going on behind the scenes. I mean, I didnt want it to be Clay, but I didnt see how it could have been anybody but him."
"Ah!" said Gail, "Thats what the major television and radio networks said about Simpson whenever they thought they could score a point or get a laugh out of it. Actually, they didnt talk about it that much. They allude to it as an open and shut case of a black man killing a white woman after he screwed her, abused her and couldnt let her go."
Screwed, thought Barbara, who didnt see why the tan-skinned woman had to say that in mixed company. The see-through blouse she was wearing revealed breast that bordered on being too big. The nipples were definitely too dark. Had it not been for that...that...distasteful display, the word, screwed, may not have been so jarring.
"All they had to do," continued Gail, "was mentioned O.J.s name, the way they do now, and the rest of it was assumed. Its like Condor and American. You hear the names in the same context so often that its hard to think of one as a vulture and the other as a citizen of the United States."
It was an example that had everyone seeing one set of things when Gail said, "Condor and American," and a different set when she said, "vulture and citizen of the United States." Worse than that, the first thought that all of them had at the mention of the word, citizen, was only of people from their state who were allowed to serve on juries.
Gail continued, "Thats what makes the O.J. cuts so important. Somehow, Gieldgood got hold of them without Mina or Margaret St. Clairs knowledge." She turned her head toward Ken. I think the guy you call The Genie gave them to Gieldgood. Margaret didnt come out and say it, but I got the impression that he did it to protect her reputation or Minas life."
"He or she," said Ken, "The Genie could be a woman."
Gail ignored him. "If Gieldgoods intricate little plot hadnt unraveled, what you are about to see would not have been aired. No one could have been allowed to see where he got the idea. But even in the worst case scenario, from his point of view, the man who did the actual killing would have been the only one to take the fall. The Genie didnt know about the plan to kill Estelle Gidarb and blame it on Heck. Mina put the whole O.J. thing together herself several months ago but got sidetracked on the Monday case before she could polish it up for broadcast. The Genie was supposed to do the polishing. Nobody else knew a thing about it, not even Margaret St. Clair, until Heck got arrested for killing Estelle Gidarb."
Unless Margaret St. Clair is the Genie! She obviously knows who the Genie is. Vince watched Kens cheeks bulge with the words he knew the man was bursting to let out. Instead, the two of them shared the thought with their eyes and bent their ears to hear what else Gail had to say.
"Margaret," said Gail, cautioning Ken and Vince with her eyes not to interrupt, "was the one who sent the cuts to me."
"By then," interrupted Andrea, with no verbal or body language objection from Gail, "the man on the mountain had already thrown a monkey wrench into everybodys plans."
"Yeah," said Gail, "The world was expecting to see him right about now. What theyre going to see instead...." she checked her telewindow clock. "What theyre seeing now is a modified version of the O.J. cuts that where used to get rid of Estelle Gidarb and to frame Heck at the same time.
"In that case," said Barbara, seeing no point in sitting through hours of flashbacks and speculative reenactments of a double homicide that happened before she was born, "Why dont we watch what everybody else in the world is watching?"
Ken and Vince fumed, Cousins frowned. Here was that woman again, wanting to be like everybody else when they had a unique opportunity to learn something that only four or five other people alive were privy to. There was no guarantee that they would ever get to see all of the O.J. cuts if they first saw the one Gieldgood used to frame Hector. But how could they object to a request that sounded so reasonable without sounding as if they cared more about the past than the present? They couldnt.
Gail hesitated. From the looks on everyones faces, only three of the others wanted to go in the same direction she did. With a controlled sigh of resignation, she accessed the program and ran it in everyones telewindow.
"All youve missed is the graphic violence warning, the ELF disclaimer and the introduction," she said. "This is what everybody else is seeing in their telewindows at this very moment."
If Barbara felt the bite in Gails delivery, she didnt show it. Her eyes were locked on the image in the window. There, she saw the back entrance to the station with its white on red sign: "WQST, THE WORLDS FIRST TELEWINDOW STATION. TRUTH IS OUR ETERNAL QUEST."
"This," said Gail, " is what we expect the prosecutors sequence of events to look like. There could be minor variations, but it has to be pretty close to this to match the physical evidence and the Farmington Hills time scan we expect to see...."
6:14 p.m. As the clock, which was part of the program, measured the duration of the events being shown, a voice-over of Sam Jinks Public Radio counterpart, Corey Becket, described them. "Hector Clay leaves the WQST studio wearing a dark brown parka with a fur-lined hood. His blue denim trousers are tucked inside of jump boots with a distinctive, clover-lief tread."
A close-up of a heavy, brown boot stepping on and off of an isolated chunk of snow, showed the pattern clearly.
"...He slides behind the wheel of his Chrysler Buccaneer....exits the parking lot onto the I-96 service drive. He follows the eastbound service drive, but only far enough to loop around to the westbound service drive."
Cousins watched what appeared to be a camera zooming into the side glass of the car. He saw what appeared to be the profile of Hector Clay in a darker mood than Cousins had ever seen him. He was going to ask if he was looking at a time scan of the old jungle fighter or an ELF, until he remembered that a time scan hadnt been made in Detroit and even if it had, it would take weeks to process. He had to be looking at an ELF. There was a time when a guy could tell by looking rather than being told or having enough clues from another source to figure it out. Perhaps some people still could. If so, he wasnt one of them.
"Hes an angry man," said the Becket voice-over. "He is a man angry and frustrated at a woman he wanted to have sex with, but one who rejected him then suddenly disappeared..." The ELFs expressions were so exquisite that the words, anger and frustration, didnt have to be uttered. "He is angry about his failure to win the release of Blueford Monday, and angry about the woman whose crusade for decency got his smut-peddling colleague arrested." The ELFs eyes took on a scary glaze as its nostrils twitched and its grip tightened on the steering wheel. "Hes a man with two faces, one that he presents to the public, the other to his enemiesclose up and personal."
"Uh-oh," mumbled Yu, anticipating a flashback of Hector Clay in hand-to-hand combat during the Guido Calvera War. Even though he saw it coming, he gasped along with everyone else at the table when the flashback popped into view. He knew immediately that this scene was taken straight off a Flashback Recording and Encoding Device. He knew because he was there; not in the field of view, but high in a tree preparing to send an electronic signal to the captain and the buck sergeant when it was time to spring the trap....
Seven guerrilla soldiers armed to the teeth with rifles, grenades pistols, machetes and fighting knives, flew backward as if a bomb had exploded in their midst when two howling American soldiers armed only with bayonets erupted from the ground. The woolly-haired Americans were on the guerrillas with such swift and deadly force that they had no time to choose the proper weapons to defend themselves, much less use them.
In a 19 second attack as savage as it was brief, all seven guerrillas lay dead with the Rangers standing back to back, the blades of their knives dripping blood. One of the victors held his last victim, with a gaping wound in her throat, up by the hair.
The camera moved up the dark hand which gripped the dead womans hair, past the veiny, muscular arm. It moved past the AA patch and Airborne tab, past the Ranger tab, and past the splotchy green collar to the profile of a young, ecstatic, wild-eyed Hector Clay.
Barbara Campbell, who obviously hadnt recognized her father, scoffed, "Thats ridiculous. Two men with knives killing seven soldiers with rifles, machetes and all kinds of other weapons in less than half a minute? Even if some of them were women...."
The hard faces of Costello, Yu and Cousins told her how wrong she was in a way that was chilling, convincing and unforgettable.
Vince had been on similar missions, with Yu at his back and Cousins spotting for them, or Cousins at his back with Yu doing the spotting. Cousins first back to back had been with Sgt. Clay and Lt. Banks. Sometimes they hunted in five man packs, sometimes in pairs, a combination that complemented the peculiarities of Banks and Cousins. Costello and Clay got their highest ratio of kills when they hunted alone. All of the rangers consistently took out twice their number or more knowing that the tactical advantage would be theirs if they chose the time and the ground on which to strike.
The uniform expression of the former Army Rangers didnt tell Barbara those things in those words, but they didnt have to. They told her that she was sitting at a table with trained and practiced killers, and that her father had been one of the trainers. Shed known that before, but only now did she feel it.
The image of the young Hector Clay riding a combat high in the jungle of South America melted into the older Hector Clay brooding behind the wheel of his car.
6:30 p.m. The field of view changed to a sparse collection of trees where freshly fallen snow lay undisturbed on the ground around the trunks and on the top surfaces of their defoliated branches. The scene started off dark, then brightened with the artificial light of a digitally enhanced flashbackor rather, the simulated digitally enhance flashback. There didnt appear to be a negotiable pathway until a car pulled into the picture.
In a somber tone, the voice-over said, "Clay parks his yellow Buccaneer in the wooded area behind the Fleetwoods Farmington Hills estate, having somehow tricked or disabled the perimeter alarm. That of course, would be no obstacle to an Army Ranger. He has already covered his face with a ski mask outfitted with ruby Daylight lenses. His knife lays on the seat next to him...."
From the angle and distance of the shot, it was not possible to say who was in the car or what was on the seat next to him. Then the door opened, and a man with a brown parka, blue denim pants and brown jump boots could be seen reaching with a brown-gloved hand for something on the passenger seat. He stepped out of the car with the hood of the parka over his head and an Army bayonet in his hand.
"Clay works his way quickly to a shrub behind the house, sets down his knife. Pulls off his left glove and extracts a lock pick from his coat pocket."
6:32 p.m. "Before he can put his plan into action, Estelle Gidarb walks outside with a coat over her shoulders to attend the bird feeder. She is having a little squabble with Euel, who follows close behind in his shirt and tie. Clay, drops the lock pick, seizes his knife and rushes out to seize his unexpected opportunity. He knocks Euel unconscious with the heal of his knife and slashes Estelle Gidarbs throat from the back so as not to cover himself with blood....But he doesnt stop there."
Mercifully for the faint of heart, the killing and beheading are shown from far enough away to spare them the gruesome details.
6:37 p.m. The voice-over, now gone flat, said, "Clay strips Euel of his trousers and uses them as a sack for his grisly trophy. He leaves the murder scene, and leaves behind one glove, a lock pick with his finger prints and a single drop of his own blood." The camera zoomed in for close-ups of the items left behind by the killer.
6:40 p.m. "The remains of Estelle Gidarb and the unconscious body of her husband are found by the horrified housekeeper. She gets a glimpse of the Yellow Buccaneer driving away."
6:42 p.m. "Police arrive on murder scene. A news report goes out over the air."
6:47 p.m. "Clay returns to the studio, parks his car and enters. Police arrive within seconds. Detective Folgman, armed with an electronically transmitted search warrant enters the premises and takes Clay into custody."
The scene of the police in the parking lot was the same as the one shown earlier on the Spotlight News. Andrea and Leah were the only ones at the table who hadnt seen it.
"Hearing about it," said Andrea, "and seeing it are two different things. They could do big damage with this."
"If things had gone Gieldgoods way," said Gail, with a hint of a smile. "But they didnt."
Contact the author: Jasper Garrison