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He Could Have Done Anything - Pt. 3

Updated on September 17, 2014

He Could Have Done Anything - Part 3

Please read parts 1 and 2 of this novel about serial killers and those who hunt them at the lens links below. -------------------------------------------------------------------


From Part 2:


In figuring out who a killer might be, it was necessary to get into his head. Knowing the types of people who became serial killers, one actually had to try to sympathize with their thinking in order to learn who they might be, but Paul had always taught the agents who he'd trained that it was necessary to take it to the next level of understanding and to actually attempt to empathize with them, to imagine being them on an emotional level. Not everyone could do it and for those who could, it inevitably had terrible and permanent effects that were not at all pleasant. It changed people. It was a high price to pay to do the job of bringing murderers to justice and, knowing this, Paul now thought that perhaps this is why he had avoided even thinking about doing it with Orion.

71.) Personality

Ultimately, personality in inescapable. From the moment Paul met St. Louis District Attorney Cleveland Beauregard III he didn't like him. Beauregard tried to project the public image of a do-gooder and an unselfish servant of the people, but Paul detected something else in his personality.

During his cab ride from Lambert-St. Louis Airport to the D.A.'s office, Paul had observed campaign posters featuring Beauregard's beaming visage and the slogan "For The Future of Missouri", which informed him that the man was seeking the office of State Attorney General in the nearing election. His smile immediately struck Paul as being forced, completely insincere. It gave him a feeling of foreboding.

Some people are not at all motivated by the desire to be liked by others. The desire to be dominant in their own imaginations supplants all else. When Beauregard's secretary had shown Paul to the D.A.'s inner office, the man rose from behind his enormous mahogany desk, fastened the middle button of his light gray Armani suit coat around his considerable girth and, managing the same phony smile seen on his posters, circumnavigated his desk to grasp Paul's hand and shake it far too firmly and enthusiastically, saying, "Cleveland Beauregard The Third, Mr. Warren! So glad you could come to help us. How was your trip, sir?"

It was obvious to Paul that Beauregard didn't actually care. "It was just fine, thank-you," he replied.

Beauregard had an English bulldog that he insisted on bringing along to his office every day and Paul could tell by the way the dog reacted to Beauregard that he was a man who beat his wife. Like a serial murderer, he was motivated by the need to overcome his feelings of inadequacy. This is not at all uncommon in politicians and, in extreme cases, leads to people like Hitler or Saddam Hussein. On the other hand, people who are blessed with an awareness of their own powers of creativity and confidence in their own capabilities are perhaps the best examples of the type not prone to the destruction of others and, for this very reason, they often attract jealousy and animosity as well as admiration.

Immediately, Beauregard turned the conversation to the rigors of his campaign for higher office, insisting that he was, however, glad to do whatever it would take to win, because Missourians were depending upon his success, and he very quickly made it plain that he'd be handing Paul off to his assistant D.A., Adam Carbone, who momentarily arrived, was introduced and thankfully rescued Paul from Beauregard's presence.

Once outside of his boss's office, Carbone candidly remarked that Beauregard was counting on riding the publicity of the success of their prosecution of Alexander Michael Dunlop to win enough voter approval to become the next Attorney General of the state.

"I see," said Paul.

Carbone examined Paul's eyes for just a moment before he felt he could say, "He's an idiot, you know."

72.) The Phenomenon

"Here's the thing," said Carbone to Paul when they were settled into the former's office and had been discussing the serial killer phenomenon for several minutes, "I've read a lot about these guys, Ressler's and Douglas's books mainly, and I've got a theory about why we see them primarily in certain countries, the U.S., England, Russia, Germany, South Africa. I think it's related to leisure."

"Leisure?"

"Yeah, leisure. Ressler says it's seen mainly in what he calls the 'more advanced' countries, right? But I think the common factor is more related to people living in societies where there are a lot of people who are free to explore personal pleasures, whatever that may entail, societies where survival and work isn't everything and people are not only allowed a great deal of privilege, but they feel they are entitled to it. And then there are some people who feel they aren't getting their fair share and, if they're warped enough, they strike back at the community by victimizing others in a society that is relaxed enough to give them the freedom to do so."

"Uh-huh. So how does this correspond to your boy, Dunlop?"

"Oh, Dunlop is a perfect example. To begin with, he's an American. We're the most privileged society on Earth and, as you well know, we've got more of these sick fucks than anywhere else. He got sober and came to feel he had a right to what they call in Alcoholics Anonymous 'a life second to none.' He meets a former hooker who he thinks he's better than to begin with, treats her very well, has great sex and after she proposes to him, he begins to make big plans for the future, including dumping a roommate, with whom he's lived since getting sober, and renting a bigger, better, more expensive apartment, not just for him and her remember, but for her baby by another man as well. Then, when she dumps him and goes back to being a call girl, he starts drinking again and immediately feels that he's not only missed out on this great future he's imagined, but he's now a drunk again in a living situation he can't afford, with two years of sobriety up in smoke, all so that she can be free to screw guys who can afford to pay her. So what does he do? He attacks prostitution! And what's more, he feels he has the right to because it stole from him."

"But he doesn't attack her."

"No, because he believes he still loves her, but there's evidence that he called the lawyer whose mistress she used to be, thinking maybe that she'd gone back to him and possibly thinking he might be able to blackmail him, because he believed he was married, but discovered he's not."

"Really?"

"Oh, yeah."

The phone on Carbone's desk buzzed. "Excuse me," he said and lifted the receiver. "Yes?...Okay, put him on." Carbone covered the mouthpiece, looked at Paul and said, "It's Dunlop's lawyer." Paul nodded.

"Hello, Juli. What can I do for you?" Paul saw the smile vanish from Carbone's face. "Well he has that right of course, Juli, but may I ask why?.........Oh. I see....Well," Carbone looked at his watch. "I'll see you in the morning then....G'bye."

Carbone placed the receiver in its cradle, looked at Paul, and shaking his head said, "He's seen the witness list and knows that the guy in the cell next to his client is in Beauregard's pocket and that he told him everything. He says Dunlop wants to change his plea to guilty now to avoid the death penalty." He rolled his eyes at the ceiling, ran his hands through his hair and exclaimed without raising his voice, "That fucking idiot! We didn't need a spy! I told him we had this guy dead to rights! We didn't need any more information at all and that moron has become so obsessed with winning his election that now....." Blowing out a breath, he shook his head. Then he sighed and looked at his watch again. "Well, what's done is done. You want to get a drink and a good steak?"

73.) Vermin

"It's bad enough that this bastard was going to get the benefit of the appeals process;" mused Carbone, as he and Paul rode an elevator down to the lobby of his office building, "Now he's going to get off with life."

"Life in prison," said Paul.

"Yes, but life!" Carbone exclaimed. "And he doesn't deserve to live. These people are vermin, Paul, and they deserve to exterminated like vermin."

Paul looked the younger man in the eye and tried to sound sympathetic, as he said, "Well, I know it's small consolation, but I'm quite sure you're not the only one who feels that way."

"Yeah, well..." answered Carbone as the elevator doors slid open and the men emerged into the lobby. "Sorry you had to come all this way for nothing. You'll get your full fee, of course."

"I appreciate that, Adam," Paul said. "And nothing's ever for nothing."

"That's the spirit. Gotta always maintain a positive philosophy in this line of work," said Carbone with a smile, as they stepped out onto the busy sidewalk. "And remember to eat well. You're gonna love this place. Best food in St. Louis. I hope you're hungry."

"I could eat a horse."

"They don't serve it," joked Carbone. "But they added buffalo to the menu recently. Have you ever had buffalo?"

"I love it! Beats beef by a mile," answered Paul.

"Centuries of outrunning Indians has bred that into them, no doubt."

"Oh, that's good. You're very quick."

74.) The Rage

Micky Landis was leaving Melton's Fashions that evening, having dropped off a bid for the shampooing of their carpets, when he spotted a gray haired man in his mid-fifties, sitting on a bench by the women's dressing rooms, holding his wife's purse in his lap.

A couple of weeks after the incident with Wendy Cartwright, Micky had accompanied his mother on a downtown shopping trip and she had left him to hold her purse by the dressing rooms in Cronin's Department Store while she tried on a dress. He always felt embarrassed when forced to do this and would try to keep the purse hidden by holding it firmly with both hands behind his back. On this day he had heard a loud crash, like someone had dropped a stack of dishes, and had looked off to his left to see if he could tell what had happened, when a voice came from his right saying, "Nice pocketbook, faggot," followed by a hard punch to his stomach. The punch had knocked the wind out of him and, as he'd gasped for air, he'd looked up to see Kenny Tyler and his friend Davey, who had delivered the blow, standing there grinning and laughing. In terror, he had scrambled into the hallway outside the curtained women's changing cubbyholes, as the older boys ran away, and begun bawling.

Now, looking at this middle-aged man passively awaiting his wife's return, Micky's face and ears began to burn and he felt the rage begin to grow inside, as he remembered that long ago afternoon in Cronin's Department store.

He had already spied his next target. A few weeks before, he had spotted her through the sliding glass door of a client's dining room, as she was hanging laundry to dry on her backyard clothesline. She had black hair, both piled on top of her head and hanging about her shoulders. Her hair had a white bow in it. She wore black toreador pants, a white sleeveless shirt and white, slip-on Keds sneakers with no socks. She appeared to him to be in her late twenties. Micky slid the door open a bit and could hear the song "Lollipop" on a radio which was propped in the woman's kitchen window, tuned to an oldies station. She was chewing gum and singing along with the Chordettes, as she pinned clothing that looked to be hers alone to the line. He knew now that tonight he would be strangling and then sodomizing her.

75.) Orion's Obsession

Paul was able to arrange a flight home late in the afternoon after his lunch with Carbone and was happy to awaken the next morning in his own bed.

One thing Paul knew that Orion would have in common with other serial murderers was obsession and, as he raked the leaves around his home on what had turned out to be an unusually warm late October morning, he began to ponder just what Orion's obsession might be. Surely it was something more pointed than wiping out "the enemy", something deeply personal and rooted in Orion's childhood development. In all probability, eliminating enemies became linked to it during his military service. How many real enemies does a child have, after all? Paul thought it might be related to the perception, self perception and the perceptions of family and peers, of being better or worse than others. Could it be that Orion was obsessed with the need to see himself and be perceived by others as "the best" and that, once he had focused on serial murderers, he had set out to best both them and the authorities by eliminating them, like some perverse game?

Paul wondered what could have set him off on this course and for now it seemed his best answer was that something had probably happened that Orion had taken as a personal offense. What was it that Carbone had said about privilege? "They feel they are entitled to it. And then there are some people who feel they aren't getting their fair share." Perhaps Orion had felt entitled to the authorities' protection from serial murderers and some occurrence had caused him to feel that he wasn't getting that protection.

Paul recalled what his son had said when telling him about the philosophy of A Course In Miracles, that correct perception is knowledge. Of course this had made perfect sense to the detective. The task was determining which perceptions were correct. And when he had told Carbone that nothing is for nothing, he had meant it. Paul believed that everything that came into his purview contributed to his awareness.

Now Paul believed he knew what his dream had been pointing to. Tom McAdams had found himself in the unenviable position of having the justice system set free the man who everyone knew had murdered his daughter and had felt he had to take matters into his own hands. Paul thought that a similar thing might have occurred with Orion and, whatever his obsession was, it was now driving him to do what he was doing.

Paul spent the latter part of the morning cross-referencing data bases of people connected to victims of serial murder with various other criteria, including self employment, financial independence, law enforcement and military backgrounds, education and athletic and sport hunting histories, but all morning he felt like he was spinning his wheels, just doing busy work while he waited for the things in his mind to finish stewing, because he didn't really expect to find Orion among the data.

Sometimes a thing appears to be one thing and yet it is something else, something similar perhaps, but something else all the while. Orion was a serial killer, of course, but Paul understood that he was vastly different from every serial killer he'd ever dealt with or even heard of and he knew he'd have to focus on the dis-similarities in order to figure out who he was.

No act is truly random, but one thing that makes serial murderers hard to find is the randomness of who they chose to kill. Orion, on the other hand, only killed serial murderers. Serial killers feel compelled to kill and, while Orion may have felt compelled to take the course of action that he had, he did so moreover because he wanted to. He had made a clear decision to be an executioner or, as Adam Carbone had so clearly put it, an exterminator. What's more, he was good at it, very, very good at it, and this was a main reason why Paul didn't believe he'd turn up in his data bases. Paul was sure he wouldn't have a criminal record, so he didn't even include that factor in his searches, but he believed that Orion was a military trained killer, more than likely one with a special forces background and the problem with that was that any record of his true military history would most likely be non-existent.

When Joan arrived home from the hospital after lunch, she had some good news. She found Paul at his drawing table and related it to him. It seemed that Harvey might be coming out of his coma. He was by no means conscious, but at one point that morning by his bedside, Janice Turner had found something Joan had said funny and when she laughed out loud, Harvey had grunted. The women had looked at each other in surprise and then Janice had moved closer and purposely tried to laugh again in exactly the same way. Harvey had grunted again. They'd alerted the medical staff, who thought it was a very good sign. When Joan left the hospital, Harvey's doctor was counseling Janice on just what steps they might take next to help bring him around.

To say the least, Paul was relieved. He'd never said it, never really thought about it, but he couldn't help but know inside that his dog was at least partially responsible for what had happened to his former partner. He rose from his drawing table, held his wife in his arms and said, "Thank God."

Joan looked over his shoulder at his latest work and said, "You know I've never understood how in the world it is that you do this. I don't see anything there yet. I never do, the whole time you're drawing one of these, yet I know eventually it will turn out to be a perfect picture."

Paul turned and glanced down at his drawing, then looked at his wife and said, "Well, to begin with, I don't include one line that doesn't belong in the finished drawing."

76.) Trustworthiness

Tom McAdams had been one of Nevada's most successful real estate developers. During the latter half of the 1990s and the first years of the 21st century, he was the envy of every other developer in the Las Vegas area, as he led the charge in turning that city into one of the most booming areas of the country, when all over America nearly everyone who could manage to put a deal together was capitalizing on the fact that houses everywhere were appreciating. Nationwide, people had become aware that real estate was the key to financial freedom and some of the most aware were investing in Las Vegas, because houses there were appreciating at the rate of 30% per year. Tom had become a legend by attracting investors from all over the country and the world to Vegas with brilliant marketing strategies, beautiful properties, excellent prices, immediate friendly service, access to lenders and figures that showed the promise of quick profits. He'd made an awful lot of people wealthy.

What was not legendary about Tom, because it was classified information, was that in the early 1970s, during the Vietnam War, he had been part of The Phoenix Program, a secret assassination program. Even his wife, Shirley, was uninformed of his actual military history. She knew he had been a prisoner of war and had spent over two years in The Hanoi Hilton, the notorious North Vietnamese prison, but what she believed about how he had come to be captured before being sent there was not factual.

Tom liked to say, "Anyone who can't be trusted to hold your safety line on a mountainside is not worthy to be called your friend." However, Tom wasn't a mountain climber in a literal sense. During the war his way of saying this same thing was, "Any man who isn't willing to lay down his life to save another's is not trustworthy enough to be on a mission with you."

On his last mission, near the Cambodian border, both he and his lieutenant had nearly been captured, but Tom had risked his own life and been severely wounded ensuring that the lieutenant escaped. The lieutenant would have made every effort to rescue Captain McAdams, in spite of his orders to bring back the intelligence they'd been after, but he himself had been so badly wounded that, had he been a weaker man, he'd have died long before he was able to signal for his eventual helicopter extraction from the jungle.

After Tom was taken into custody for killing his daughter's murderer in the hallway of the courthouse in Las Vegas, he once again found himself in a small cell and he remember how he had never been broken by his Vietnamese captors, despite the most unspeakable tortures to which they had subjected him, but now he knew that he was already partially broken, or he would never have done what he'd just done.

In the immediate aftermath of his killing of Andrew Travis Johansen, the news was flashed around the world and people everywhere, those who had been following Johansen's trial and those who had not, raised their voices in Tom's support. Emails, phone calls and telegrams flooded the courthouse, many insisting that he should not be charged with anything and that he should be set free immediately. Television and radio crews interviewed people in the streets and, almost without exception, anyone willing to voice his opinion suggested that Tom McAdams was a hero who had simply reacted emotionally but understandably in the wake of a failure of the justice system. Attorneys from all over the country were soon volunteering their services pro bono in his defense.

Of course he had been arrested and charged with murder. In the morning, at his arraignment, the famed defense attorney Benjamin Gallo entered a plea of not guilty on Tom's behalf and requested that, as a pillar of the community with an impeccable reputation and tremendous financial interests in the Las Vegas area, he be freed on his own recognizance, as he was certainly not a flight risk. Judge Harrison Stokes looked Assistant District Attorney Mary Offenburg straight in the eye and when she offered no argument, he ordered Tom's release without bail. It was a good sign, but it would be the last one for a while. Mary Offenburg was by no means happy to have drawn the case, but Tom McAdams had willfully killed a man in full view of the entire world and she was going to fight to see that he was held responsible for it. The fact of the matter was that the law was on her side.

77.) The Balance

It was with great reluctance that Paul remembered what befell Tom McAdams. It had been a terrible time and ultimately had played a great part in Paul's decision to seek an early retirement from The Bureau. As an FBI agent who had observed the killing of Andrew Travis Johansen at close range, he'd been placed near the top of the list of witnesses for the prosecution. He had come to know Tom over the previous months and, having seen the suffering of the man and his wife and having felt deep sympathy for them, he'd found that he was actually disinclined to blame him for what he had done. It had angered Paul that he would be compelled to testify against this man who had been so severely wronged by a deranged murderer and then had to watch as the case against that remorseless fiend was dismissed by the system he'd been depending upon for the only justice he could ever have hoped to see done.

In the ensuing months, Attorney Gallo had filed a series of motions for dismissal of the case on various grounds, all with no success. As the date of the trial approached, he came to believe that Tom McAdams's mental state, which psychiatric experts for both the defense and the prosecution agreed was deteriorating, would in the long run serve as his best defense.

Phillip and Andrea Smithson had meanwhile stayed as close to their best friends as ever. Andrea spent nearly as much time with them as she did in her own home. Phil Smithson, never one to sit still and ever the innovator, had opened a mainstream news division of his Gaming Broadcast Corporation and made it clear to all that his station would be setting the standard for truth and decency in regard to the case. He'd all but threatened the entire fourth estate that he would tolerate no sensationalizing or otherwise besmirching of the images of Tom McAdams or his family, implying that he would publicly shame anyone and everyone who dared do what his broadcasts would not. GBCNews found that it had an overnight hit on its hands with its nightly editorial show, What's Wrong With This Picture?, which had premiered with a program on the serial murderer phenomenon and thereafter, whatever the focus of the show was, be it aspects of bad government, faulty manufacturing, drugs, gangs, the dreadful state of American public education or the overcrowded and ineffective penal systems, had broadcast a segment every night featuring another American serial killer. Privately, Smithson wished he had thought to create GBCNews and the show when Andrew Travis Johansen had first been arrested, but he was now determined to at least turn as much public sentiment as possible against these animals, while his friend's fate hung in the balance.

Finally, just days before the trial was set to begin, a deal had been struck. Tom McAdams had become so much a shell of his former self that the prosecution had serious doubts about his ability to stand trial and when Benjamin Gallo filed a motion to dismiss the case based on his diminished capacity and the prosecution's psychiatrists were evenly divided in their opinions, Mary Offenburg suggested that if Tom would plead guilty to manslaughter with special circumstances and accept confinement to a psychiatric institution until he was determined to be mentally healthy again, she would accept it. Gallo had advised his client to take the deal. Shirley McAdams did so as well. Tom had agreed.

After only a few weeks of confinement, the nightmares of Tom's hellish days and nights in the Hanoi Hilton had begun. He was soon waking up screaming every night. His doctor had urged him to share his memories of Vietnam with him, to exercise regularly and begin a program of meditation twice a day. He'd increased Tom's medication levels. This had seemed to help for a while and then, as Tom had developed a tolerance for the drugs, things had become worse than ever. He'd lost his appetite and begun to grow thinner. The nightmares had followed him into his days. When his wife would visit, she could barely recognize him as being the man who had shared her bed only months before. She'd asked him how he was doing and he'd looked at her with hollow eyes and said, "How do I look?" She'd cried all the way home, where she'd begun to drink alone.

Then one morning, another patient, who would later explain that Tom had been ruining his sleep for weeks, had attacked him. They were being escorted down the hall in opposite directions and, as they passed each other, the man had whirled around and jammed a long pencil, which he had stolen from his doctor, in Tom's right ear. Tom had died within the hour.

Paul had attended the funeral along with what appeared to have been half the state of Nevada. The governor had been there. Paul had looked at Shirley McAdams, with Phillip and Andrea Smithson sitting on either side of her and, at her father's side, their daughter Veronica, who had been best friends with the murdered Heidi Anne McAdams, and he couldn't have helped but think that the newly widowed woman looked deader than her husband, lying there in his open casket.

78.) Habit

Another one had gotten away with it. His name was Alexander Michael Dunlop. He had murdered six women and now they were sentencing him to life in prison. As he read about him on the GBCNews homepage, Orion was disgusted with how they were letting him win, but he calmed himself and simply put him on the list in his mind. "Later", he said to himself. "I'll get you later."

He'd been following another story closely and now it seemed there'd been a new development in it. In the past twenty eight months, seven women between the ages of twenty-two and twenty-nine, all single, slender, dark haired and attractive, had vanished from an area north of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Now there was an eighth. The most recent article had been picked up from the UPI News Service, was written by a Baton Rouge crime journalist and was quite detailed.

The latest missing woman was named was Betty Reznick. She worked in a small record shop in Zachary, that sold mostly DVDs and CDs these days, but maintained a huge collection of old vinyl albums and singles. She lived alone in the first floor apartment of a duplex in a nice residential neighborhood of mostly single family homes. On election day, at 8:30 PM, she had spoken on the phone to her sister, Eileen, after returning home from voting for Barack Obama for president. She had been bright and cheerful, had told her sister that she thought Obama would be elected and that she believed it would mean a turn around in how badly things had been going in America since September 11th of 2001. She said she was going to put a stack of old 45RPM records on an ancient portable record player she loved to use because it reminded her of what she believed had been better times, the 1950s and 1960s, long before she was born, bake a big batch of oatmeal cookies, then sit and watch a DVD of Elvis Presley in "Blue Hawaii", while using the cookies as scoops to eat a bowl of fudge ripple ice cream, before going to bed. Her sister had laughed, told her she'd never change and asked her how in the world she managed to never gain an ounce, before saying goodnight and hanging up.

In the morning, when Betty failed to show up for work, her boss had thought it strange, because she was always early and had never failed to call on the rare occasions when she'd not been well enough to come in. When he'd called her house and gotten no answer, he'd waited a while, tried again and then called Eileen. Eileen had called Betty's landlady, who had not seen Betty since the previous afternoon, but said she'd go and knock on her door. When the landlady called back and said she had let herself inside Betty's apartment and found nothing out of order except an unmade bed and no sign of Betty, Eileen then called the police.

The police had given her the typical response that Betty could not be considered missing until she hadn't been heard from for twenty-four hours, until Eileen was nearly ready to scream about her sister having been expected at work, that she had not arrived or called and that she was as neat as a pin and would never have willingly left her bed unmade. She'd asked them if they didn't realize that several other women had disappeared from the area over the past couple of years. When the police told her again that she could come down to the station and file a report, she'd hung up, taken her three year old daughter in her arms, dashed out to her garage and hurriedly driven her Scion XD the two and a half miles to Betty's apartment, where she'd found exactly what the landlady had found and one thing more. In the middle of the kitchen table, stacked on a plate and covered in plastic wrap, was an arrangement of oatmeal cookies. There were two large circles of them on the bottom with one cookie missing, topped by two smaller circles and a final single cookie on top. The plastic wrap was loose around the plate where the one missing cookie had been. Eileen knew her sister well. Betty was a creature of habit with a compulsion for symmetry. She would never have taken the cookie that was missing from the bottom circles, but would have taken the single top one and then tightly fastened the plastic wrap around the plate again. Eileen had been certain that someone else had helped himself to a missing cookie. She'd gone in search of the landlady, praying it had been she. The women swore she would never have done such a thing.

Finally, when nobody could say they had seen or spoken to Betty for twenty-four hours, the police had accepted that she was indeed missing and they'd initiated a search for her, first county-wide, then state-wide. She remained missing.

Orion picked up the telephone on his desk and entered a series of numbers. After a few moments he said, "Hey, Gary....I'm good; you?....Glad to hear it....Listen, y'know how you used to tell me about hunting wild boar back in Arkansas?.....Yeah, well, I think I'm ready to give that a whirl....Well, no, not in Arkansas. I've done a little research and I want to give southeast Louisiana a try."

79.) Dreaming

Paul was dreaming of standing in the the hallway of the courthouse in Las Vegas, Nevada with Harvey Turner and Mrs. Thomas McAdams. Just as it had been on that swelteringly hot day years ago, the air conditioning wasn't working in the dream and Shirley McAdams, who had kept her husband on just this side of sanity since their daughter had been taken, looked like she might faint. Their best friends, Phillip Smithson, and his wife, Andrea, were there now insisting she have a seat on a nearby bench. Where was Tom McAdams anyhow? Oh, yes, he had excused himself and gone to the restroom. Paul had assumed he needed to be alone for a moment to be sick.

Now there was a commotion in the mass of people behind him in the hall, reporters mostly. Apparently the paperwork had been completed and Andrew Travis Johansen was about to join them in the hallway. Paul was suddenly terrified and he knew he knew why and knew just as clearly that he wouldn't be able to do anything about the reason why, because somehow whatever it was had already happened. He began to turn toward the commotion and he felt like his body was made of ice. He felt frozen and as he struggled to move, he thought his body would shatter from the stress he was exerting on it. He tried to force himself to move and he completed his turn. There were fifty or sixty people in that part of the hall, reporters extending microphones and beginning to shout questions. There were lights and TV cameras, and although the man was among those farthest away from him, Paul immediately focused on Tom McAdams. Tom's attention, like that of everyone around him, seemed to be riveted on Andrew Travis Johansen, and as he closed the distance between himself and his daughter's murderer, Paul was sure, from the look on his face, he needed to be stopped.

Paul took three steps toward Andrew Travis Johansen, then quickly glanced back at his partner to see if he had spotted Tom McAdams and saw Harvey attending to the seated Shirley McAdams along with Andrea Smithson and Adam Carbone, who was the only one of the four looking toward the commotion. Carbone looked Paul in the eye and began to say something. Paul was wondering what Carbone was doing there, as he strained to listen to what the man was saying, when a phone rang, the dream was gone and Paul opened his eyes and rolled over to answer the phone. It turned out to be a wrong number and Paul lay back on his pillow mentally cursing the caller, trying to fathom why Adam Carbone had appeared in the dream in Phillip Smithson's place and wishing he knew what Carbone had been trying to tell him.

80.) Politics and Power

Orion and Gary Knayler were on their way to the airport to fly to Louisiana in one of Knayler's planes on a bright and beautiful, hot, desert morning. They were in Knayler's vintage Willys Jeep, that he had completely restored from the ground up, and Knayler was driving. The two men saw eye to eye on most things of importance, but one habit of Knayler's that truly annoyed Orion was his listening to talk radio. He had the radio on now, as they rolled along the highway, and it was tuned to a call-in show.

"Well. I don't think that by ignoring politics, you should be thinking that you will not be directly affected by the continuing economic turbulence," said a caller to the show's host.

"You got that right!" responded Knayler, shouting over the response of the show's host.

A nerve had been touched. Orion reached over, switched off the radio, looked at his friend and said, "What's far more more disturbing than what that guy just said is that, these days, even having tremendous awareness of politics only seems to give people the knowledge that they are powerless to do anything at all about getting screwed in all the ways in which they are perfectly aware that they ARE being screwed. They think they're blessed to live in a so-called democracy, but the vote only empowers them to vote for those who will do absolutely nothing to improve their situations and they know that taking up arms will only lead to imprisonment or death. Meanwhile, any group protest or dissent is regulated and then ignored. Unfortunately, knowledge is not power, Bird, though the propaganda spun by the politicians and repeated ad infinitum by the mass media does help to further dis-empower those who are already virtually powerless. Only power is power, Bird. Only power is power. And political awareness amounts to nothing without real power."

"Amounts to nothing, eh?"

"Fucking A right! Think about 9-11. We've talked about this before. We know what the FAA and air defense protocols called for on that day and for a long time beforehand and if nothing else is obvious, we know that protocol was not followed on 9-11 and that that could only have happened on orders from someone powerful enough to give the orders and be obeyed and then not be held accountable. We know this, a whole lot of other people know this and have known it for a long time and more people, including pilots, scientists, law enforcement, firemen, military and ex-military people, are becoming aware of it every day. And what are any of us, or all of us put together, able to do about it except talk about it, huh?"

"Fuckin' A," said Knayler.

"Power, Bird. Everything is about power."

81.) Baton Rouge

When Orion and Knayler had landed in Baton Rouge and were en route to the car rental office, they began to overhear conversations about the arrest of a suspect in the disappearances of women from the area in the past couple of years. Orion insisted they stop and sit down a moment, opened his iPhone, got on the internet and went to the homepage of The Advocate and WBRZ News, Louisiana. Sure enough, the first article on the page reported that the Louisiana State Police had taken one Michael Albert Landis into custody just after dawn and were questioning him regarding the disappearances of eight women. The article said that Landis was a twenty-seven year old carpet cleaner from Zachary with no police record and that his fingerprints had matched one found at the home of Betty Reznick, the most recent woman to have gone missing. It further stated that Landis was known to have recently cleaned the carpets in the home of one of Ms. Reznick's neighbors and that police were checking his work records to see if he had cleaned carpets in homes near those of the other missing women. Police stated that Landis was thus far being fairly co-operative, but had, as yet, not actually confessed.

"Well," said Orion, "I guess we'll just have some lunch, keep the appointment with our real estate salesman and fly home this afternoon."

"We could still do a little boar hunting, Sport," suggested Knayler.

"Yeah, but it seems pointless now. If I like this piece of land, I'll buy it and the trip won't have been a total waste of time, but there's no need for a recon mission now, so let's just enjoy a good meal, see if the acreage is worth the investment and call it a day."

"Fair enough," said Knayler. He could see the disappointment in his friend's eyes. "Hey, at least SOMEONE got the guy."

"Mmm. At least someone got him, but will they execute him, or will they allow him to win?" asked Orion, but his mind was already drifting to thoughts of Alexander Michael Dunlop.

82.) Thanksgiving

When Thanksgiving came, Paul and Joan were very happy that Jeff, Alvina and Kurt had flown to Virginia the day before and would be staying until Sunday morning. The four adults all shared a love of Thanksgiving that applied to no other holiday, because it lacked the commercial hype and concern with gifts that accompanied Christmas, but, moreover, because it was a day of sharing a wonderful feast with loved ones (Jeff's favorite food was turkey, while Paul believed the sweet potato must be the finest tasting vegetable in all the world) and a focus on gratitude. When Jeff was a child, his parents had always emphasized that Thanksgiving was a uniquely American holiday and that Americans were similarly unique in the good fortune they enjoyed in terms of wealth, affluence and freedom, but especially in terms of opportunity, and they stressed that when one was born into an environment that offered so much, it was easy to take it for granted, so Thanksgiving was a time to remember to be grateful for everything that life in America afforded one.

When they'd finished desert, Alvina put Kurt down for a nap and then joined her mother-in-law in the kitchen loading the dishwasher, while Paul and Jeff lingered over second cups of coffee.

"I ate too much," said Paul, as he loosened his belt a notch.

"I always do at Thanksgiving. I could have done without a second slice of pie, but I couldn't decide between apple and cherry, so I had to have both!" laughed Jeff.

"Ah, you never put on a pound. Enjoy it while you're young. I used to eat like that, but now over-eating really makes me uncomfortable."

"So shall we take the traditional after-Thanksgiving-dinner stroll, then?" Jeff asked.

"It's a good day for it. Unusually warm Fall we've had. Let's ask the girls if they'd like to join us when we've finished this coffee, hmm?"

When their coffee was gone, they carried their cups and saucers to the kitchen and first inquired of their wives whether they could be of any help and were told that all was done, then Jeff said that he and his father thought they might go out to walk off some of their dinner and asked if the ladies might like to come along. Alvina asked if they might wait until Kurt had slept a while longer, Joan offered to stay with him and Alvina said she'd prefer to take him along, so they agreed to wait a bit and then Paul asked Jeff to come out to his studio.

When they'd arrived in the studio, Jeff spied the work in progress on his father's drawing table and asked him, "How's that case coming along?"

"I'm having a recurring nightmare..." began Paul in response.

"I've heard."

Paul looked quizzically at his son, then said, "Of course. She would tell you about that. Well....the thing is I've been thinking that it's trying to tell me something that I can't put my finger on...and then the other night a man I've only met once, Adam Carbone, the assistant D.A. in St. Louis, who I was going to be working with last month until the man he was about to try changed his plea, he suddenly appears in the dream and tries to tell me something, but the phone rang and woke me up and he never got to say it, but I can't get the idea out of my mind that it was going to be something important."

"Damn. That sure sucks," exclaimed Jeff sympathetically. "Well it's your dream. Have you thought about what you'd have him say?"

Paul rolled his eyes. "I'D have him tell me who my killer is, but Carbone wouldn't know and I don't either, so..."

"How about the things he DID say to you? Have you thought about that? Could it be something he said to you in St. Louis?"

"I've tried to recall everything he said. We had one meeting and then had lunch together. The thing that stands out is that he expressed the opinion that serial murderers are 'vermin' and that they should be exterminated like vermin."

"You don't think HE'S your killer do you?" asked Jeff.

"Oh no," Paul replied. His son raised his eyebrows in question and the elder man said, "I've checked out his travel schedule. Hasn't left the St. Louis area since he and his wife vacationed in Hawaii last winter."

"Maybe he was going to tell you that Johansen should be exterminated."

"Maybe." Paul was now looking down at the drawing, hundreds of little lines of ink. "Your mother told me you'll be moving that big sculpture from L.A. to Chicago next month."

"Yeah. Oprah wants to bring it closer to home."

"Would you have time to do me a favor while you're in Los Angeles?"

"Depends on what it is."

Paul looked at his son with a furled brow.

"Hey, that's the answer you taught me to always give to that question, Dad!" laughed Jeff and, indeed, his father had taught him to never commit to doing a favor until the person asking the favor divulged just what that favor might consist of. "But of course I'll make the time to do whatever it is."

"There's a place in Beverly Hills called The Museum Of Television and Film. I want you to see if you can find all the news footage from the hallway of the Las Vegas Courthouse when Johansen was killed, everything you can, and send it to me."

"Will they let me send it to you?"

"I've called them. Yes, they will."

Jeff knew better than to ask if his father had inquired about having the museum staff send the video footage to him. "Sure thing, Dad. I was going to make a weekend of it anyhow. Anything in particular I should be looking for?"

"No. Just try to send everything they have that was shot by anyone from every angle," Paul answered. "I think someone may have caught something that might jar my brain."

"I would think most of that footage might jar the brain. I mean you've had nightmares about it for years now."

"I'm sorry to have to ask, Jeff..."

"Oh, no. Not at all, Dad. I'll be fine. Really. My generation was reared on ultra-violent video. And I'm prepared for this. I know what happened. I won't be shocked."

"Still..."

"Hey, Dad...fuggettaboutit!" Jeff said, in his best imitation of a goodfella, laughed and patted his father on the back.

83.) Son Of A Bitch

On Monday morning Paul called Adam Carbone. His secretary asked who was calling, then put him on hold and he listened to Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers singing the chorus to Islands In The Stream before Carbone picked up.

"Hey, Paul. How was your Thanksgiving?"

"Just great, Adam. My son and daughter-in-law and grandson were here from New Mexico. Couldn't have been better. And yours?"

"Excellent. Ate like a bear. We had a full house. My parents, Morgan's parents, her twin sister and her husband and their two kids. So...I suppose you're calling about Dunlop."

"Well, yes I am," said Paul. "And I know how you feel about him, Adam, so this may seem like a strange request, but is there any way you can use your influence to let it be known that he's got to be watched out for so that he doesn't meet with 'an accident' in prison?"

"Oh...," there was surprise in Carbone's voice. "You haven't heard then."

" 'Haven't heard'? Haven't heard what?" asked Paul, anticipating the worst.

"I thought you may have heard the news already, thought that's why you were calling. He was shot this morning during his transfer, but not before he wounded a deputy sheriff, who's now hanging by a thread. Made a grab for the man's gun. There was a struggle and the deputy got the worst of it. Then his partner dropped Dunlop before he got five feet."

"He's dead?"

"Unfortunately, no. He's in the hospital, under heavy guard by a bunch of guys who wish he was, but no. Had a collapsed lung from a through and through, but he's gonna be fine. Wish I could say the same about the deputy."

"Pretty bad, huh?"

"Caught it under the chin. Exited the top of his head above the right eye, which he lost. I hope he makes it, but frankly...," Carbone trailed off.

"Oh, man."

"Yeah. Young guy. Wife. Two little ones."

"I'm sorry, Adam."

"Yeah, well. These things always suck, don't they? How's your ex-partner by the way?"

"He's still comatose, but he's reacting to his wife's voice. They think he's going to come around. Thanks for asking."

"Hey, I'm glad to hear that. Really."

"So Dunlop's under heavy guard."

"Don't you worry about Dunlop, Paul. Nothing's gonna happen to him...unless the man he shot, God forbid, doesn't make it. And if that should happen, then he'll fry like he should have to begin with."

"Of course," said Paul.

"And justice will be served."

"Yes, of course."

"Hey, why the concern over Dunlop in the first place, Paul?"

"Oh. Well, this is going to sound silly, but....well...I had this bad dream the other night."

"About Dunlop?"

"Yeah, about Dunlop," lied Paul. "But it doesn't matter now, I guess."

"Don't worry about Dunlop, Paul. Just say a prayer for the deputy, huh?"

"Sure, Adam. I will."

"Okay. Well, gotta be in court in about fifteen, so..."

"Thanks, Adam. Be good."

"I always am. See you, Paul."

"See you," said Paul and he hung up wondering why he was concerned over the safety of a son of a bitch like Dunlop.

84.) Desire and Acceptance

"My shrink told me that I'm a narcissist.," said Andy Everly to his audience at the Comedy Store. "I said, 'Thanks a lot Doc. Tell me something I don't already know.' "

Jeff Warren laughed along with most of those in the audience, though the greater percentage of them didn't really get the joke and his own thoughts had begun to drift back to an idea he'd had earlier in the day for a new sculpture.

Jeff, like many college students, had done his share of partying and the accompanying indulgence in drinking and drug use before meeting Andy years ago at a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, when they were still students at The University of New Mexico at Santa Fe. There they had become familiar with the Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Jeff had taken an interest in Buddhism while still in high school. Buddhist philosophy teaches that desire is the root of all suffering. One desires that things be different than they are or, conversely, that change will not occur and feels the pain of disappointment in either case. Buddhism maintains that happiness lies in acceptance, in learning to be content with what is as it is. Jeff had become reacquainted with a spiritual path via the teachings of AA. He'd latched onto a line he'd noticed in The Little Red Book of AA that read, "The more one follows a spiritual path, the more it reveals itself." After a couple of years of following his personal path, he'd ultimately found that A Course In Miracles best suited his desire for spiritual contentment.

A Course In Miracles, like Buddhism, teaches that "the world of appearances" is deceptive. It says that reality is as it was created, that change is an illusion and, therefore, the key to happiness is forgiveness of all that appears to occur. All day today, from the time he had first begun disassembling his sculpture at The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, through his sojourn on his father's errand to The Museum of Television and Film, which he had found had been renamed The Paley Center for Media, and finally through his collecting of Andy at his Hollywood apartment and their drive to The Comedy Store, Jeff had been thinking about how A Course In Miracles espouses that there is no time except "the eternal now". He imagined his new work as being a functioning clock standing six feet high and fabricated of his favored titanium. It would have no numbers. In place of each number would be the word NOW. Its title would be "Eternity".

"I saw Uri Geller on TV last night," Andy was saying. "You know, the guy who likes to bend spoons with his mind? Reminded me of a coke dealer I used to know . . . except that guy could bend your mind with a spoon!"

Jeff had never heard this joke before. He tilted his head back and laughed and then thought of how he'd often thanked heaven that he had never liked cocaine, how he'd always been too naturally hyperactive to enjoy stimulants, so his drugs of choice had always been alcohol and marijuana.

"I saw on the news recently that The Museum of Modern Art in New York is planning to auction off some of their inventory in order to raise funds, including a urinal that they're hoping will bring in a million dollars. Please! A million dollars for a modern art urinal? I guess they don't think it'll be all that hard to find someone who loves modern art so much that he's willing to piss away a million dollars on it."

Jeff took a pen from his pocket and wrote the words "Octin Sports" on a cocktail napkin having thought this would be the font he would use for the NOWs on his clock. While still at The Paley Center he had sent his father all the TV files he'd requested. He wasn't quite sure why, but now he thought that when he got back to Andy's apartment, where he'd be spending the night, he'd email him about the clock and how he'd come to conceive of it.

"We all know that former President Bush isn't all that bright . . . "

"That's an understatement!" shouted a man in the audience, which brought considerable laughter.

"Yes, it IS an understatement," agreed Andy, "But when compared to some of the other men who held the job, it's absolutely shameful what a dope he is. I read the other day that JFK's I.Q. was actually measured to be twice what Bush's is . . . and this was after Kennedy had been shot in the head!"

85.) Blood

After the video footage of The Las Vegas Courthouse hallway arrived, Paul spent several hours reviewing it and for the most part he saw that things had transpired much as he'd remembered them. However, one thing that surprised him was, though he had glanced back to see if Harvey had also noticed that Tom McAdams was approaching Andrew Travis Johansen, he had not immediately turned to see Harvey's reaction after McAdams had slashed Johansen's throat. He concluded that his memory of the event must have been altered by his repeatedly dreaming that he had done so, but the video showed that he had been among the first persons to wrestle Tom away from Johansen and pin him to the floor, that in fact he had been the one to disarm Tom of the broken paper towel dispenser handle and only after that had he looked to see the horrified reactions of Harvey, Shirley McAdams and the Smithsons and Harvey was hastening to assist in the struggle that was now nearly under control, while Shirley McAdams had fainted and Phillip and Andrea Smithson were holding her upright in her seat and attempting to create some breathing space around them by ordering the few others who were focused on her to step back and give her some air.

Paul had also never dreamed, though he remembered it clearly now, that when Tom McAdams was grabbed and jerked away from Johansen, Johansen's attorney, Hugh Twillen, who had bear-hugged Tom from behind, had impacted a glass display case, which was set into the wall behind him, and it had spider-webbed, but thankfully not fallen apart and caused anyone to be injured.

What were perhaps most difficult to have to be reminded of were the animal-like wails of Tom McAdams, from the moment he was first seized until they subsided into whimpers after he had ceased to resist and was lying face down on the dark red carpet of the hallway, barely audible beneath the screaming and shouting of almost everyone, some now hollering for an ambulance for Johansen, others urging care that Tom not be hurt and, of course, the news crews barking questions and directives as they jockeyed to get better shots of the aftermath of the madness that had erupted.

Tom McAdams was eventually lifted to his feet and, barely able or willing to stand, was carried away to a holding cell in the basement. A damp handkerchief had revived Shirley McAdams, but she wept and babbled until finally she cried out and attempted to stand as they carried her husband away, only to fall into a dead faint again. An angry looking Phillip Smithson's gaze was diverted from the removal of his best friend to the face of one of two arriving paramedics and he loudly insisted that the man call for another ambulance for Shirley. The paramedics lowered their gurney, its wheels standing in a pool of blood seeping into the carpet next to the dying Johansen, gave each other looks that said, "This guy is a lost cause," and then the one at whom Smithson had shouted radioed for a second paramedic team, before joining his partner in futilely administering to the mortally wounded man.

All the while, courthouse staff tried to hustle people from the scene, yelling, "Clear this hallway!", "Everyone proceed to the nearest exit!" and "This is an emergency; everyone out now!", at which the news crews objected repeatedly that they had a right to be there covering the story, but eventually they too were driven from the hallway with the not-too-gentle reminder that admittance to the courthouse was a privilege, not a right.

Now, in his den, having watched it all several times non-stop over the course of the afternoon, Paul found himself looking at his sweaty hands, as he wiped them together. Among the other things he had not recalled until now was just how much of Andrew Travis Johansen's blood they had been covered in that day.

86.) Injustice

Orion was drinking gin and tonic and glaring through his office window at the night sky and the lights of the city below it. He was furious. He could feel his ears burning. Alexander Michael Dunlop had tried to escape while being transferred to prison three days ago. He'd shot a Missouri deputy sheriff in the attempt and Orion had seen on the news three hours earlier that the lawman had died this afternoon. He was thinking over and over: when were they going to learn that these animals were not worth the powder it would take to blow them to hell? It wasn't enough that this scumbag had murdered six women and admitted it? They had to give him the opportunity to kill a young deputy and leave his widow and two young kids without a husband and father? And they call it a justice system! Where's the justice in that? They'd execute the bastard now of course, but they should not have allowed him to get off with life in the first place simply because he'd pled guilty to six murders! Damn the insanity of that!

He looked at his watch, saw that it was nearly nine o'clock, turned to his desk and picked up a remote control from it. He flicked on the television, which was mounted on the wall opposite the desk, and tuned it to the GBCNews. Then he walked to his liquor cabinet, mixed a fresh drink, returned to his desk and sat down.

When the editorial show came on, he turned the volume up louder than it needed to be and listened while the station editor, Wayne Bender, sternly lectured about Alexander Michael Dunlop, his crimes, the leniency of his life sentence, his escape attempt, the shooting of the deputy, his death, the deputy's widow and children and the tragic injustice of it all. Bender concluded by looking into the camera lens and sighing, then with evident disgust asking, "Now do I really have to ask what's wrong with this picture?"

Orion turned off the television, then swiveled his chair clockwise to sit and stare out the window again.

87.) Reflection

The night after he'd examined the courthouse video, Paul was having the dream again. He was standing in the hallway of the courthouse with Harvey Turner, Shirley McAdams, and Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Smithson. Just as it had been on that swelteringly hot day four years ago, the air conditioning wasn't working in the dream and Shirley looked like she might faint. Phillip and Andrea Smithson were now insisting that she have a seat on a nearby bench. Where was Tom McAdams? Oh, yes, he had excused himself and gone to the restroom. Paul had assumed he had gone there to be sick.

Now there was a commotion in the mass of people behind him in the hall, reporters mostly. Apparently the paperwork had been completed and Andrew Travis Johansen was about to join them in the hallway. Paul was suddenly terrified and he knew he knew why and knew just as clearly that he wouldn't be able to do anything about the reason why, because somehow whatever it was had already happened. He began to turn toward the commotion. He felt like he was frozen solid and as he struggled to move, he thought his body would shatter from the stress he was exerting on it. He forced himself to move.

As he completed his turn, out of the fifty or sixty people in that part of the hall, reporters extending microphones and beginning to shout questions amid the lights and TV cameras, and although the man was among those farthest away from him, Paul immediately focused on Tom McAdams. Tom's attention, like that of everyone around him, seemed to be riveted on Andrew Travis Johansen. Paul glanced back at Harvey and saw that he, along with the Smithsons, was focusing on Shirley McAdams. Still trying to move toward Johansen, Paul once again turned his attention on Tom McAdams. As Tom closed the distance between himself and his daughter's murderer, Paul was sure, from the look on his face, he needed to be stopped. Paul started to shout, knowing it wouldn't help and he saw McAdams lunge at Andrew Travis Johansen from behind. Tom's left hand grabbed Johansen's hair and his right hand, which held the broken off, plastic handle from a men's room paper towel dispenser, in an instant came over the man's right shoulder, the makeshift blade found the left side of the man's neck and he slashed his throat in one stroke.

Now everything seemed to be happening in slow motion. Paul saw the horror and amazement in those closest to the spray of blood from Andrew Travis Johansen's jugular veins. He saw that Hugh Twillen, Johansen's attorney, had thrown his arms around McAdams from behind, had his arms pinned to his sides and was pulling him backwards away from his wounded client. A court officer had slammed into Tom from his left side just as a reporter did the same from the front, sending them all towards the glass display case, which was set into the wall behind Twillen. Paul had just stepped past Johansen, now on his knees clutching his profusely bleeding throat, when he saw in the glass of the display case the reflection of Adam Carbone, who looked him straight in the eye and said, "He's so obsessed with winning..."

Paul's eyes popped open. He was looking at his bedroom ceiling now, but what he was seeing in his mind was Carbone's reflection clearly saying what he had just said in the dream and he knew that Carbone was not referring to McAdams. He was sure that his own subconscious had just clarified for him what Orion's obsession was.

88.) Right and Wrong

"Fruit of the poison tree they call it," said Orion to Gary Knayler, who was at the controls of his blue and white DeHavilland Canada DHC-3 Otter seaplane, as they climbed into the crystal clear sky southwest of Lake Mead. The plane had been a gift from Orion three years earlier. "One can't help but be reminded of the tree of knowledge in The Garden of Eden and how the eating of its fruit is supposed to have given Adam and Eve the knowledge of right and wrong, for which they were banished from The Garden by God."

"Mmm-hmm," was Knayler's response as he scanned his instrument panel then gently began to bank to starboard.

"We consider the understanding of the difference between right and wrong to be the difference between sanity and insanity, which makes you wonder what kind of god would punish his children for becoming sane."

Knayler thought about that for a moment, then, as he leveled off, said, "It's also referred to as 'the loss of innocence', Sport, which I guess would mean innocence by reason of insanity."

Orion looked down through the window beside him at a tiny boat towing two waterskiers and pondered Knayler's words for a few moments before saying, "Yet there's so much insanity in the world and here we are, cast out from The Garden, left to sort out all of the rights and wrongs of the world."

Knayler said nothing.

"And, of course," said Orion, "left to deal with those who knowingly do what is obviously wrong, only to have our justice system let them go free by means of things like the insanity of fruit of the poison tree rulings."

89.) Warning

Paul couldn't really sleep the rest of the night after Carbone appeared in his dream, so he got out of bed before dawn, showered and went downstairs to his den where he began reviewing the courthouse videos looking for a shot that might allow him to see what he actually may have glimpsed reflected in the glass of the display case. When he found that the NBC footage revealed that a KLAS cameraman shooting Shirley McAdams had panned to catch Andrew Travis Johansen coming down the hall, he switched to the KLAS video and soon saw himself stepping into the frame.

He had, of course, watched this video twice the previous afternoon, but had not concentrated on it heavily because so much of the action was blocked by people in the hall when the cameraman was unable to get close enough to shoot an unobstructed view, but as he watched it now he saw that, as Tom McAdams got within reach of Johansen, his own reflection and the crowded hallway was visible in the case's glass and, as McAdams grabbed Johansen, the camera came into view for a moment before the bright light on it caused a glare that washed out the entire video momentarily. Then the cameraman must have stepped to his right, because Paul could now again see himself approaching the bleeding Johansen just before McAdams was pulled away from him and in the reflection he again saw himself and the crowd in the hall behind him, including Harvey, who had taken a step or two toward the action, and Phillip Smithson behind Harvey. Then Hugh Twillen managed to pull McAdams free, the court officer and reporter slammed into McAdams, Twillen impacted the glass of the case, it broke and there was no longer any reflection that could be seen clearly in it, before the picture became a chaotic mass of rapidly moving people, as the cameraman struggled to get a shot of Johansen on the floor and the display case was no longer visible at all.

When Paul watched the video again, he stopped it when the glare occurred, then he copied the following ten seconds and opened the copy in a video application he had first used at the bureau, which allowed him to zoom in on the reflection. He advanced it a mouse click at a time. When he got to where he could see Harvey and Phillip Smithson, he saw that Smithson seemed to be reacting to Tom's attacking of Johansen and, unless Paul was mistaken, he appeared to be saying something. After several more viewings, Paul was quite sure that he knew just what Smithson was saying and now he knew that he had to have seen him saying it in the reflection of the display case when it had actually occurred, though he hadn't consciously realized it, yet his dream had been a warning and had been trying to tell him about it all these years.

Why is it, he asked himself, that so often when you finally become aware of a truth, it seems so obvious that you wonder why you hadn't realized it all along?

90.) Rendition

Paul had gone out to his studio by the time Joan awoke and came down to her kitchen with Rufrak, but not before he'd called Backdoor Bobby and asked him to run a thorough check on the past three and a half years of Phillip Smithson's travels. Knowing that would take a good deal of time, he'd poured himself a second cup of coffee and then strolled across his frozen back lawn to the garage. Rufrak found him at his drawing table while Joan was toasting an English muffin and adding cream and sugar to her coffee, but she soon followed in the dog's tracks and, when she arrived in the studio, was surprised to see that Paul's drawing had become a rendition of a sunset over a Southwest American desert.

"Amazing!" she exclaimed.

"Thank-you," Paul replied, adding a short straight line of ink to the sky's upper left corner.

"So, I take it you've solved your case."

Paul arose, kissed her on the cheek and taking her hand began leading her back to the door to the yard saying, "Come with me. There's something I need your expert opinion on." Then he led her outside.

"I got an email from Jessica last night," said Joan, as they crossed the lawn toward the house. Jessica was the woman Joan's father had married a year ago, eight years after her mother had died following a thirteen year long battle with cancer. Randall Cook and Jessica had been constant companions for over five years before marrying. Her first husband had been an oilman and had left her a king's ransom when he had passed away the year after Gina Cook's passing. Jessica was twenty-two years younger than Randall and he said she made him feel like a kid again. Since the day they were married, the two had been traveling all around the world like wealthy vagabonds.

"Oh?"

"They're in Hawaii and they're seriously considering buying a house in Maui; can you believe it? But she said they'll be joining us in Santa Fe for Christmas!"

"That's terrific, Joanie. It'll be great to see them," said Paul, as he opened the door from the yard to his den. He bid her to enter, followed her inside and closed the door. "Now sit down here, please." He indicated the chair at his desk. She sat down and he flicked the spacer bar of his computer's keyboard, bringing the screen to life. It was obvious to Joan that he had put the computer to sleep while waiting for her to awaken, as he said, "Now watch this and tell me what this man is saying, please." Then he entered the command for the video program to run and Joan watched several seconds of Phillip Smithson's reflection until the glass case was broken.

"Yes," she said without hesitation, then turned and looked up at him. "He's very clearly saying 'yes'."

Paul nodded.

"Was that Phillip Smithson?" Joan asked.

"Yes," he nodded again. "Yes, it was."

Yes. Yes it was.

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The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

Bringing Chicago circa 1893 to vivid life, Erik Larson's spellbinding bestseller intertwines the true tale of two men--the brilliant architect behind the legendary 1893 World's Fair, striving to secure Americaâs place in the world; and the cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their death. Combining meticulous research with nail-biting storytelling, Erik Larson has crafted a narrative with all the wonder of newly discovered history and the thrills of the best fiction.

 
Rampage: The Hillside Strangler Murders
Rampage: The Hillside Strangler Murders

Based on a true story, prepare to relive the terrifying rampage of the Hillside Strangler as psychiatrist Samantha Stone (Brittany Daniel, White Chicks, Joe Dirt, Club Dread) interviews Kenneth Bianchi (Clifton Collins, Jr., Mindhunters, Tigerland, The Rules of Attraction) to try and decipher the motivations behind his frightening reign of fear.

 
Art of Murder: FBI Confidential - PC
Art of Murder: FBI Confidential - PC

Art of Murder is the new title from the creators of the bestselling Schizm: Mysterious Journey; Mysterious Journey II, Sentinel, and Reah, critically acclaimed games renowned in the gaming press and by players around the globe. This is the story of rookie FBI agent Nicole Bonnet, whose first assignment is to solve a grisly series of murders that target prominent and wealthy members of the community, with the killer's M.O. featuring a disturbing calling card: the apparently ritualistic removal of the victim's heart with an implement more suited to display in a museum than use for amateur dissection. The gruesome trail begins in New York City but the clues soon lead the intrepid rookie agent to the distant Peruvian city of Cusco, the ancient seat of the Inca Empire on the border of the forbidding Amazon Jungle. Art of Murder has an exceptional combination of classic solutions with innovative ideas, such as the possibility of the heroine's death. This game is incredibly detailed and varied pre-rendered sceneries, enriched with background animation the graphics are designed by some of the best graphic artists and art directors in Poland. You will find a gripping atmosphere, created through the combination of an extraordinary storyline, beautiful graphics, three-dimensional characters who move in a natural way and cast realistic shadows, 5000 dialogue lines, original music and realistic sound effects. Art of Murder is a point-and-click adventure, features a simple user-friendly interface coupled with a classic form of gameplay that has been optimized with the latest in cutting edge innovations, as well as allowing the possibility of the central character's death, point previously unseen in classic adventure games.

 
The Serial Killer Files: The Who, What, Where, How, and Why of the World's Most Terrifying Murderers
The Serial Killer Files: The Who, What, Where, How, and Why of the World's Most Terrifying Murderers

THE DEFINITIVE DOSSIER ON HISTORYâS MOST HEINOUS!Hollywoodâs make-believe maniacs like Jason, Freddy, and Hannibal Lecter canât hold a candle to real life monsters like John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and scores of others who have terrorized, tortured, and terminated their way across civilization throughout the ages. Now, from the much-acclaimed author of Deviant, Deranged, and Depraved, comes the ultimate resource on the serial killer phenomenon.Rigorously researched and packed with the most terrifying, up-to-date information, this innovative and highly compelling compendium covers every aspect of multiple murderersâfrom psychology to cinema, fetishism to fan clubs, âtrophiesâ to trading cards. Discover:WHO THEY ARE: Those featured include Ed Gein, the homicidal mamaâs boy who inspired fictionâs most famous Psycho, Norman Bates; Angelo Buono and Kenneth Bianchi, sex-crazed killer cousins better known as the Hillside Stranglers; and the Beanes, a fifteenth-century cave-dwelling clan with an insatiable appetite for human fleshHOW THEY KILL: They shoot, stab, and strangle. Butcher, bludgeon, and burn. Drown, dismember, and devour . . . and other methods of massacre too many and monstrous to mention here.WHY THEY DO IT: For pleasure and for profit. For celebrity and for âcompanionship.â For the devil and for dinner. For the thrill of it, for the hell of it, and because âsuch men are monsters, who live . . . beyond the frontiers of madness.âPLUS: in-depth case studies, classic killersâ nicknames, definitions of every kind of deviance and derangement, and much, much more.For more than one hundred profiles of lethal loners and killer couples, Bluebeards and black widows, cannibals and copycatsâ this is an indispensable, spine-tingling, eye-popping investigation into the dark hearts and mad minds of that twisted breed of human whose crimes are the most frightening . . . and fascinating.

 

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    • Bob Druwing profile image
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      Bob Druwing 7 years ago from Van Nuys, CA

      [in reply to vikkism] I've been a student of "the phenomenon" for decades, beginning with living in Boston when the Boston strangler was active.

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      vikkism 7 years ago

      Before I start reading this, I was wondering if this based on any factual serial killers, do you have a forensic psychology background of any kind or just the interest? I plan to read it later today or tonight. (didn't realize it is almost 3 am here!) Looking forward to reading it and sharing my input.

      Vikki Shaw