Chapter 26: A long road ahead

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Lights were flashing, like a thunderstorm had reached Washington. There were no dark clouds present, however, only a crystal blue sky. The searing fluorescence was courtesy of a pack of media gathered on the front steps of the Prosecution building. They were standing impatiently waiting for a news conference planned for 3:00pm. This month had already been great for them so far, but the biggest story was still yet to reach the front page of the papers. The top dog, Mayor Simon Thomas was locked up, awaiting charges of murder, corruption, fraud and kidnapping. If this story was not big enough already, two other dignitaries Chief Justice James Mahoney and Assistant Commissioner Frank Hardy were also involved in the sordid activities. This saga would fill the pages of newspapers and feature on TV bulletins for the next year, such was the magnitude of the people involved and the gravity of the crimes. The filth lurking in Washington's highest positions had just been cleaned and the media could not wait to hear the DA'S reaction to it.

A slight murmur wrestled with Max's heart while he nervously waited inside his building. He was a consummate orator, having delivered many a closing argument and news conference, but for some reason this impending one was leaving an uncomfortable scratchiness in his throat. He found it hard to fashion a breath and was weighed down by thoughts of confronting the angry herd outside. There would be hard questions asked, maybe even about the legitimacy of his own department and he needed to answer with clear, concise answers. He could not allow vagueness to creep in, because it would only add fire to reservations about his own involvement, so any accusations needed to be skillfully deflected. The media were circling the blood in the water.

There had been ten others arrested in the sting, besides the three mentioned. Fellow policeman, like Argus, as well as politicians and public figures had all featured in the "Murder tapes" - a term the media had affectionately named them. Seven more public figures were currently being questioned while other names surfaced out of the pile of stagnant betrayal, unearthed by the tapes. The name Max Crawford had been thrown around, but no mud had stuck. He had instead come out of this saga as a shining light, a moral crusader, instead of one of the "Murder Tape Mob," another media tag line being used. There were very few names left which had avoided scrutiny, apart from the DA and the Police Commissioner, charged with leading an investigation into the matter.

They both needed to show strength, a collective resolve to get this city operating honestly again. It would not be easy to restore the public's faith. The four key departments of city hall, prosecution, courts and law enforcement had all been tainted by bad seeds, rotting the city from within. They needed now to find new seeds, honest citizens to regrow the roots and once again make Washington into a strong, oak tree. A city which was looked upon and admired by all who visited and resided in it.

"How you feeling?" the Commissioner asked, appearing from a nearby corridor.

"I'm nervous as hell," Max admitted.

"Just tell them the truth. They can sense lies, like a dog can smell fear in someone."

Max one again looked out the large window where the media vultures were stirring, like a filthy plague. Their faces were laced with purpose while questions bounced around their brains, like a pin ball. Max wished he could gain access to them, so he would not be walking into a trap and could at least know what to expect.

"I was up all night thinking about what to say," he admitted, "but it's all just a jumble of words now."

"It's best it doesn't come off as scripted,' his colleague suggested, "just answer each question on its merits. Don't give them any reason to question your motives."

"That's easier said than done,' Max lamented, suddenly looking perplexed, "aren't you coming with me?"

"This is your show Max," the Commissioner revealed, "it's best we do this individually. It would be stupid to give them two targets to aim at."

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