tagNovels and NovellasMedia Matters Ch. 01

Media Matters Ch. 01


This story is part of an ongoing series. The chronological order of my stories is listed in WifeWatchman's biography, which is currently not updating. Stories after Music Box Dancer are: Return To Apple Grove, Media Matters.

Feedback and constructive criticism is very much appreciated, and I encourage feedback for ideas.

This story contains graphic scenes, language and actions that might be extremely offensive to some people. These scenes, words and actions are used only for the literary purposes of this story. The author does not condone murder, racial language, violence, rape or violence against women, and any depictions of any of these in this story should not be construed as acceptance of the above.

Part 1 - Prologue

"This is Bettina Wurtzburg, KXTC Fox Two News!" shouted the lovely redheaded MILF reporterette at 7:00am, Monday, July 2d, from in front of City Hall. "We are bringing you continuing coverage of the Police arrests of several domestic terrorists that were attempting to poison the farmland of the County!"

"Four persons were arrested last Thursday night," said Bettina, "caught putting down a powdery substance on a plot of farm land near the southwest corner of the County. Drone coverage also recorded the event. The Police moved in and arrested four men, and testing of the chemicals show them to be herbicides deadly to plant life and crops. The Police also raided the BigAgraFoods warehouse in this County, and found hundreds of bags of the same chemicals stored there."

"BigAgraFoods has filed a complaint in Court that the Police went onto their land without a warrant, and also raided their warehouse without a warrant." said Bettina. "But Commander Donald Troy, working with the FBI, did secure Federal warrants to interdict the distribution of the chemicals, based upon evidence of similar actions in another State. And Chief Sean Moynahan and Commander Cindy Ross secured local warrants, as well. BigAgraFoods intends to vigorously contest the Police actions, and they also deny any involvement with the operation to damage the farm land. The arrested men so far have not been connected to BigAgraFoods in any way."

"In other news," said Bettina, "the U.S. Agriculture Department has admitted that a new insecticide they were using in some States may have inadvertently led to bee kills. They issued a statement saying they are investigating the cause of the bee populations dropping, and are discontinuing use of the new insecticide. They have so far refused to say from where they obtained the insecticides, but sources tell national news outlets that the chemicals were purchased from BigAgraFoods."

Bettina went on: "In a related story, BigRoadAndRailCorp President and Chief Operating Officer Clarence Weatherby went on the offensive against the Guardians of Justice's allegations of plans to transport disloyal Citizens to FEMA camps. Roll tape."

The prim Weatherby came on, saying at a press conference: "The U.S. Department of Defense is charged with the military defense of the United States. Though it is unlikely that the USA will ever be invaded, contingencies have to be made to meet any possible threat. BigRoadAndRailCorp is honored to have been asked to work with the DoD to make plans to move troops to battle areas as needed, to move supplies as needed, and to move civilians out of the potential danger zones. This is not some conspiracy plot; it's to help America win any war that any Enemy would dare wage on our home soil. And the Guardians of Justice are traitors to suggest sinister intent in any of this."

Back to Bettina live: "And Social Justice groups are rallying around Dr. Adam S. Keller after his racially-charged questions at last week's District Attorney debate. Roll tape."

"Dr. Keller is asking the right questions!" shouted mayoral candidate and Town & County Assemblyman Eldrick X. Weaver. "All Persons of Color must stand together against Police brutality against our People! And those in positions such as the District Attorney's Office are especially required to stand up to Police abuse and oppression of minorities!"

"On behalf of 'Black Voices Raised'," shouted State Senator Maxine Watts, "I am grateful to Dr. Adam S. Keller for fearlessly pointing out the stigma of racism that pollutes the TCPD, led by the racist Commander Donald Troy! If Paulina Patterson is not with us in standing up for justice against Police racism, then she is against us, and she is part of the problem!"

Back to Bettina: "Results of polls taken by Public Policy Polling over the weekend show some weakening of Paulina Patterson's numbers. She leads Solicitor Miriam Walters 34-32%, with Jenna Stiles at 25%, Gil Krasney at 2%, and 7% undecided. The margin of error is 3%..."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Heck of a weekend to go on vacation and visit your boyhood home." Cindy Ross said to me as we watched the broadcast and drank coffee in MCD with the Detectives.

"Yeah." I said. "I miss all the good parties."

"I heard Carole was solving murder cases up there." said Theo Washington. "Is she going to be the new hire for MCD, sir?" I figured he'd heard from his cousin Jamaal Washington about Carole. And he was trying to start trouble asking about the new hire.

"I think she needs to go to the Police Academy first." I said. "But she really did make an impressive observation that directly led to solving a case."

"Sir," asked Joanne Warner, "any chance BigAgraFoods is going to be charged with anything in this herbicide incident?"

"It won't be for lack of trying on my part." I said. "But time will tell on that. Okay, I've got to catch up on an ugly thing called 'paperwork'. You guys generated one hell of a lot of it. I need a vacation to get over my vacation..."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

At 7:55am, three lovely Angels sat in front of me. Yes, Teresa was back from Apple Grove, and earlier than I'd expected.

"What did you think of Don's home town?" Cindy asked Teresa.

"It's not bad." said Teresa. "Better than where I grew up. But I'm grateful to be living here now."

"Unless Todd moves up there." I said, teasing my Captain of Operations.

"He'll go without me, if he does." Teresa said, not even batting an eyelash. "I am home. This is where my heart is."

"I feel the same way about our Town & County." I said, and Cindy nodded vigorously in agreement. "Okay, let's see what Priya is saying." I turned on the television, just in time to see the gorgeous Indian reporterette appear on screen.

"This is Priya Ajmani with the State News Network!" she said as she stood in front of the State Office Building. "The D.A. debate last week was nothing short of a total disaster! ADA Paulina Patterson walked off the stage, joined by Solicitor Miriam Walters, after Dr. Adam S. Keller of the City University Rodham Foundation for Politics and Social Change asked a stunning question demanding to know if Paulina Patterson, who is black, was more loyal to her job or to People of Color!"

Priya: "SNN is also continuing its coverage of the death of BigAgraFoods Corporation CEO Lloyd Feingold. SNN has learned that the FBI brought in Commander Donald Troy, who is an FBI Consultant as well as Police Commander here in our Town & County, to investigate the location where Mr. Feingold was found dead. Neither Commander Troy nor the FBI are commenting on the case, citing the ongoing investigation."

Priya gave way to State coverage of the Keller incident. After the broadcasts were over, and returned to local feeds for Sports, Cindy turned off the television.

"Interesting." I said. "Or did you notice?" None of my Angels did notice.

"Except for the death of Feingold, which they did not even call a murder," I said, "they did not mention BigAgraFoods at all."

"Think there's something to that?" Tanya asked. "Think they're helping BigAgraFoods bury the herbicide incident?"

I nodded. "I'm sure they're getting some pressure about it."

"I'm going to go make sure you guys got paid, and that the Police Force is getting their coffee and doughnuts." Cindy said, getting up and then leaving for her office next door. Teresa, Tanya, and I continued the meeting and the running of the Police Force.

"Okay," I said, "the official period to apply for Detective positions is now o-pennnn." I said. "Captain Croyle, make sure the word gets out to every Officer on the Force, and to send their applications to my inbox that we use for Police Boxing Matches entries..."

Part 2 - Radio Hour

"This is Reed Hudson, coming to you from our undisclosed location in the City." said the Conservative radio talk show host at 9:00am on KXTC Radio. "It's going to be another great day on the Conservative Excellence Network, and we have a lot of new information for you!"

Reed Hudson was actually here in the Town & County, and his secret broadcasting location was in an unmarked office in an ordinary-looking office building in the northwestern part of Town. He was the State and Region's version of Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity, and his show preceded Rush's on KXTC Radio and many other outlets in the aforementioned State and Region. He had syndication in a growing area, and even some nationwide stations had picked him up.

"The news over the weekend was pretty staggering." said Hudson. "The U.S. Agriculture Department actually admitted using insecticides that were killing off bee populations, and this after previous steadfast denials. They said it was 'inadvertent'. They are blaming a new insecticide formula... but they're not mentioning who sold them the new insecticide. We've confirmed who made that insecticide... BigAgraFoods!"

Later in the show: "And BigRoadAndRail Corp. is defending their contingency plans formed with the Government to move troops and supplies around the country, and they are even admitting to plans to move civilians out of dangerous ares in case of an invasion or nuclear attack. I'm going to be fair to them and say that this could be completely legitimate, and of course the Department of Defense should make contingency plans for the Nation's defense."

"But the documents released by the Guardians of Justice," continued Reed Hudson, "suggest that the citizens being transported will not be told where they are going, and that their destinations could be camps set up by FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the agency that totally botched Hurricane Katrina. Furthermore, the Guardians of Justice say that FEMA is planning to separate and incarcerate anyone the Government considers to be a 'subversive'. We keep hearing about these lists of 'subversives'. Commander Donald Troy of the TCPD, Dr. Marvin Milton at the University, and Dr. P. Harvey Eckhart of 'The Vision' self-help group were on a Government of so-called 'subversives', we learned recently."

"And now," continued Reed Hudson, "the Mainstream Media is not reporting to you the details of two recent incidents of farmland being contaminated by herbicides, one in Fillmore County a couple of States over, and one in our Town & County in the northwest corner of our State. In Fillmore County, a reporter by the name of Teddy Vincent was found murdered. The case was solved, and the four men who committed the crime were arrested. In our Town & County, arrests were made but the legal battle is just beginning. Guess who owns both tracts of contaminated land? That's right, BigAgraFoods. Okay, let's go to break and pay some bills, and the Conservative Excellence Network will continue in a moment."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

As I listened to the radio program, I was examining the music box that had been left in Lloyd Feingold's office. Jack Muscone was in the office with me.

"So I was thinking about this case as I drove home from Apple Grove." I said. "It occurred to me that whoever phoned me and played that music might not have been Mittens Willis or one of his cohorts, but someone who was trying to give me a cluuuuue about something. Soooooo, here we are."

"One of my daughters learned the song 'Music Box Dancer' for her piano lessons recital." said Muscone. "My wife said she began hating that song after hearing it so much."

"I don't mind the tune." I said. "It's the bastard that was playing it to me at that warehouse that I want to cut down to size."

"I'm with you all the way on that." said Muscone. "So... the box was clean of fingerprints. Do you think the box was Feingold's, or was it left there?"

"E.J. Jefferson interviewed Feingold's assistant, as well as others that knew him well." I said. "They all said the music box was on the credenza for months, at least all of this calendar year. They also said that all the top level executives and Board Members had them, that they'd been a Christmas gift from a friend of Mitt Willis some time ago. So I'd guess that this one was Feingold's."

"I'm surprised the City Police were allowed to interview anyone." said Muscone. "We, the FBI, can't get warrants to talk to anyone."

"Sometimes the City Police play dirty, and they can do it for or against the interests of Justice." I said. "And while the interviewed people had lawyers present, at Willis's insistence, E.J. is very good about asking seemingly innocuous questions, and getting good answers before the legal beagles realize what's been given away. I would also add that Mitt Willis is being distracted with these soil contamination cases. Hard to micro-manage the murder case when he's having to deal with the other issues now."

"True." Jack said. "And we did ask you to distract him." I arched my eyebrows at that, even as I continued to look at the box. "So what have you found from this box?" asked Jack.

"O-kayyyyyy, check out these photos from the videotaping of Feingold's office." I said, showing Jack photos of the office. "This music box was always there, but I cannot imagine it always being misaligned with the credenza in that way. Also notice the two mirrors behind it, on the wall. The assistant told E.J. that Feingold used the mirrors to check his suit and his necktie's alignment and such stuff before going into Board meetings or meeting reporters, and the like."

"Okay, what of it?" asked Jack.

"Here's a photo I took from my video taken with my Police iPhone, which is also in the evidence servers." I said. "I was standing at the spot I believe Feingold was standing when he was shot. What do you notice?"

"You're facing the wall with the mirrors... oh, I see it. I can see the back of the music box." Jack said.

"Yes." I said. "The angle aligns the back of the box perfectly with the mirror and that spot. When Feingold stood up, he went to that spot. I think he knew he was facing his Destiny, and had a video camera recording at the time."

"There were no cameras behind the mirrors." said Jack. "Just solid wall. The City Police CSIs took them down, looking for a wall safe. Nothing at all."

"I'm looking at it this way." I said. "Imagine that you're Lloyd Feingold. Over the past few months, you've become aware that information is being withheld from you. You also become aware that you're being bird-dogged, and watched. You might tend to get paranoid, even. So even as you contact U.S. Senator Nunn, you set up for the possibility you may end up dead."

"Now Lloyd know full well that Mittens is smart and has a whole team of people ready to make any evidence of wrongdoing disappear." I continued. "So he has to think smart, and find a way to save the evidence without Mitt knowing about it or being able to find out about it."

"And he may have lost that battle." said Jack. "We had people go through the office with sonar, and also with devices that can detect the small electric currents of servers. They're actually made to detect passive bugs in the wall, but they work well finding hidden servers, hard drives, and cameras. Gist of it: we found nothing."

"Did you check around the pot lights that were in the ceiling?" I asked. "That server or drive would need electricity, like a wire running from the light."

"Yes, we checked all around the ceiling for something hidden above it, both visually and electronically." said Jack. "The pot lights themselves create electrical interference, which means they'd create interference for anything transmitting by anything like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. And there was nothing when we turned the pot lights off."

"Cool beans." I said, still examining the music box. I got out the magnifying glass. "Hmm, looks like there are three hinges across the back, with three small nails in each. On the left side as I face the box, right below the hinge is the opening where the key winds up the spring to make the music box work. It has a little rod in the middle of the hole."

"That would have to be a tiny camera to fit in there." said Jack. I opened the box, and 'Music Box Dancer' began playing. I found the switch to cut off the music... and used it.

"Okay," I said, "obviously the key would go into this closed-off section of the music box, where the gears and stuff are." I began looking around for a way to open that section. I finally found where the lid had been screwed together with very tiny screws. Getting a jewel/eyeglasses screwdriver out of my desk drawer, I began removing the screws as Jack watched and videotaped.

"Now this is interesting." I said as I pulled off the cover to the mechanism. "There are electronics running alongside the keyhole mechanism." I put on latex gloves and began loosening the mechanism. "Ohhhh, look at this." I exclaimed. That rod in the keyhole is attached to the center of this little tube camera! Maybe Feingold did get a recording!"

"Yes, but to where did he record it?" Jack asked. "Is there any kind of Wi-Fi transmitter in there?"

"No," I said, "and I doubt he'd transmit back to his computer, which was taken, and as you said, there was no secret server or possible receiver to be found. But... does this little board and chipset look familiar to you?"

"No." said Jack. "But electronics like that never were my forté."

"It looks to me like what we would find in a jump drive." I said. I got into my drawer and began rummaging around. "Ah, here it is: empty shell jump drive with USB plug attached." I took the small motherboard, which had a square chip in the middle, and carefully worked it into the jump drive shell.

"It fits!" Jack said. "Plug it into your computer and let's see what we get."

"Whoa, Nellie! on that one." I said as I scooted over and back to my safe. My back complained vigorously when I bent down and opened the safe, but I managed to reach inside and get my 'clean' laptop computer. After plugging it in to provide power, then booting it up, I inserted the jump drive. The computer recognized it, ran for viruses and found none, then showed an executable file. I clicked on it and a screen came up that said:


"Damn." I said. "I have no idea what the password could be. And if I try anything and it's wrong, it might erase what's on the chip."

"You know, Cardigan's people have some really good diagnostic tools for things like this." said Jack.

"Jack, with all due respect," I said, "I am not relinquishing this evidence, not when I'm so close... so fucking close..."

"I understand your paranoia," said Jack, "but we have to have it analyzed. Who do you suggest?"

Just as I was about to answer, something on the radio caught my attention.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"So that's what we have." said Reed Hudson. "BigAgraFoods was caught in two places putting down so-called fertilizer that was actually plant-killing herbicide. They say that what happened in Fillmore County was an accident. If so, why was a reporter murdered over it? And just to be clear, the four men that were arrested for the murder have already made plea deals and have stated that they were paid by someone representing BigAgraFoods."

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