Out Of The Ashes – Chapter One

Roland Burke was a broken man.  Not because of a failed marriage or a relationship that had soured.  Not even because he had lost his job.

He had never really returned to work.  Captain Meade and Powell had tried to engage him but the Burke they had known didn’t exist anymore.  He was sullen and defiant.

Even though Captain Meade told Burke that Pittman had been cleared, Burke was obsessed with the idea that he had something to do with Slaughter’s death.

He seemed to have taken on parts of Pittman’s personality.  When he did come to work, he came when he felt like it and he started treating people like they were less than human…and people started complaining.

Captain Meade finally had to let him go but with the promise of a revisit of his decision, should Burke get himself together.  Although their friendship had basically ended, Powell had tried to reach out to him but his efforts were futile.  He stopped by Burke’s apartment with frequency and although he knew Burke was there, his knock was never answered.

Burke had allowed himself to become too attached to Slaughter.  She was not the love of his life nor was she likely to have ever been but she had left an indelible mark.  It was almost as if she had been seared to his very soul but now she was dead and her death had left him devastated.

He felt responsible somehow and his guilt was overwhelming.  He had never disclosed the extent of their relationship to anybody but from his actions, it was clear that it had progressed far beyond friendship.

For three months, he had been lost in a world of self-destruction and self-loathing.  Booze had become his best friend and seemed to be the only comfort he could find.  He gradually retreated into a life of a self-imposed solitary confinement.

His nights were spent fitfully sleeping for a scant few hours and his days were spent in a hungover, hazy fog.  During the few hours he was sober, he cursed himself.

Untouched mail had piled up in front of the door and his power had been turned off two weeks earlier but he didn’t seem to care.  Darkness was his friend and made it easy to hide from the outside world.

Powell made the decision to stop by once more and in an uncharacteristic gesture, Burke opened the door.  The sickening smell of stale booze permeated the air.  Powell could tell that Burke was inebriated.  In an unapologetic voice, Burke said “I’m having breakfast.  Want some?”

Powell politely declined.  He was taken aback when he saw that Burke was as unkempt as his apartment.  Burke was holding a piece of paper in his hand and sat down in his favorite chair.  He showed it to Powell and said “isn’t this some kind of shit?”
Powell looked at the “final eviction notice” and asked Burke what he was going to do about it.
“Nothing,” said Burke.

Powell looked around, as if assessing a crime scene and just shook his head. There were half-eaten pieces of pizza and empty fast food bags and boxes scattered all over the room.  Beer and liquor bottles decorated the table tops, counters and even the floor.

Dishes were piled up in the sink and Powell recoiled as he watched a roach scurry by.  He said “Jesus, Burke. You’ve got bugs crawling around.”
Burke said “that’s Charlie.  He’s my buddy.”

Burke was in his pajamas and when Powell asked him how long it had been since he bathed and got dressed, he smiled, popped open another beer and said “I don’t even remember.”

This 6′ 4″ man who had been such an imposing character was now just a shell of his former self.  He was rumpled and slovenly.  His face was puffy from all the booze, his hair looked like it had been coiffed by Albert Einstein and his once well-groomed mustache looked like he was ready to audition for Duck Dynasty.

Powell asked Burke if he realized what was happening to him.  “You’re obviously not paying your bills.  Your apartment’s a wreck.  You’re a wreck. What are you going to do, just sit around here until you die?”
His questions were answered with “my life is none of your fucking business.”

Powell clearly made a mistake when he asked Burke what he thought Slaughter would think if she knew what he was doing.  Burke unsteadily stood up but still towered over Powell.  He snarled when he said “she isn’t thinking anything because she’s dead!  Now get the fuck out of here.”

Powell begged Burke to let him help but his offer was met with hostility. Burke, in an almost scream said, “I don’t need your help.  I don’t need anything from you.  I don’t need anything from anybody.”

He sat back down, opened a pint of Vodka, raised the bottle and said “cheers.”

 

To be continued________________

 

 

The Ice Pick Killer – Chapter Fifteen

Burke was at the Lounge, anxiously awaiting Slaughter.  She had figured out who the killer was and he was wondering just what the “cause for celebration” would entail.  He was hoping for a little more than a drink and an exchange of information.

She had certainly lived up to her reputation.  She was everything he had heard she was but he had discovered a softer side…a more human side and he had acquired a tremendous respect for her.  She had left her mark on him.

He smiled as he thought “never before have I met a woman who is so commanding, so intelligent, so driven and so beautiful.  She is certainly one for the record books.”

He knew he had become infatuated with her and somewhere deep down, he knew it was a mistake.  He also knew he had to face the reality that, just as Powell had warned, she would be going back home.

Did he dare think that she might entertain the idea of staying?  She was a big city player from the town some called “the Paris of the West” and he was a small town detective, living in a city that didn’t even appear on most maps.

Daydreaming made the time pass quickly and before he realized it, an hour had gone by.  Slaughter should have been there.  He gave her a call but it went straight to voicemail.  He didn’t give it much thought because it had happened before.

After a few minutes, his phone rang.  Expecting Slaughter, he didn’t even look at the number.  He was surprised when he heard Captain Meade’s voice.

“Where are you?” he asked.  Burke hesitantly told him that he was at the Lounge, waiting for Slaughter and asked “what’s going on?”  Captain Meade said “meet me at Slaughters’ place” and then abruptly hung up.

Burke felt sick to his stomach as he got up and headed toward the door.  His mind was racing as he lit up his car and sped over to her place.

When he arrived, Captain Meade and Powell were waiting for him.  He could tell by the expression on their faces, that something was wrong.  Powell told him he might not want to go any further but Burke pushed by him and walked up to Slaughters’ car.

Her head resting on the steering wheel.  A stream of blood was running from her left ear.

All Burke could think was “how?  How had this woman, a woman who could lay you all the way down with a single fiery glance, be dead?  How had a complete stranger been able to get that close to her…or had it been a stranger?”

Burke asked Captain Meade how he knew to come to Slaughters’ place. Captain Meade said “we got an anonymous tip.”
“When?” Burke asked.
“About half an hour ago.”

Burke’s thoughts immediately turned to Pittman.  Slaughter had in every sense of the word, turned him into a eunuch and he wasn’t the kind of man to let somebody get away with that, particularly when that somebody was a woman.

As he considered the possibility, he couldn’t help but think that somehow, he was responsible for Slaughters’ death.  If he had only gone to her instead of meeting at the Lounge, she would still be alive.

Burke could feel his rage almost reaching critical mass and it was showing. He was screaming like a caged animal and had to be physically restrained.

It didn’t take long for Captain Meade to understand that Burke’s reactions were more than just investigating another murder.  He told him to back off and leave the scene and that order infuriated Burke even more.

While scouring Slaughters’ car, the crime scene was the same as all the others.  Her purse was still in the car, along with her weapon.  Her files were still on the front seat.  The keys were still in the ignition.

The only thing they found was what looked like the burned remains of an envelope.  Powell gingerly picked it up and put it in an evidence bag, although he believed the chances were slim that anything was going to be found in the ashes.

Burke stood in silence as the coroner took Slaughters’ body away.

Quietly to Powell, he wondered aloud if she had thought about him before she died.  Powell put his hand on his shoulder and said “I don’t know which would make you feel worse…if I said yes or if I said no.”

It was a sleepless night for Burke, Powell and Captain Meade.  As dawn broke, the three of them walked to the lab to see if they had managed to find anything in the ashes.  The tech showed them the only thing he could salvage, which was a tiny sliver of paper.

On that tiny piece of paper, they were able to make out four words.  “They turned their backs.”  The tech asked Burke what he thought that meant.  Of course, their reports reflected that the victims had been killed, while supposedly having “turned their backs” momentarily but this piece of paper hadn’t come from a report.  It had been typed and Burke felt sure that it hadn’t been typed by Slaughter.

Where had Slaughter gotten this letter and more importantly, who had sent it?

Burke, in a fit of anger, threw up his hands and said “she knew who the fucking killer was.  Why didn’t I make her tell me?”

Powell tried to comfort him by saying he couldn’t have known what was going to happen.  Burke slammed his fist down on the desk and said “it was that goddamn Pittman!  I know it was that goddamn Pittman!”

Captain Meade shook his head and said “no it wasn’t.  We’ve already checked and he was out of town.”

Captain Meade patted him on the back and said “we’ve got a tough phone call to make and we can’t put if off any longer.”  Burke and Powell followed him into his office and sat down.  Captain Meade wiped his forehead with his handkerchief and picked up the phone.

Emotionless, Burke stared at nothing as he listened to Captain Meade.  He took a deep breath and started to walk out of the room, in an almost robotic way.  He paused and said “if it takes the rest of my life, I am going to find out who did this.”

The death of Slaughter changed Burke.  He lost focus and became almost insanely obsessed.  He started showing up late for work, if he showed up at all and was often seen sitting at the Lounge, staring into his drink.

Powell tried everything from the soft approach of offering a comforting shoulder to cry on, to the school of hard knocks prediction of becoming a homeless alcoholic.  Burke resented Powell’s attempts and his response was hostile when he accused him of interfering in his personal life.  It wasn’t long until their friendship basically ended.

Captain Meade eventually had to call Burke into his office and order him take an extended leave of absence.  The man Captain Meade and Powell had known was no longer there.  Only the shell of a broken man was left.

As Burke slowly walked out of the station, Captain Meade looked at Powell and said “kiddo.  We’re going to have to keep an eye on him.  The only thing more dangerous than a man who has everything to gain, is a man who has nothing to lose.”

 

Endirinn.

 

The Ice Pick Killer – Chapter Fourteen

Slaughter had found a common thread.  Ten murders and all the victims were friends of Pittman.

The reasonable suspect would of course, be Pittman but this wasn’t going to be Occam’s Razor.  The simplest answer wasn’t necessarily going to be the best or the right answer.  That was far too easy.

It was pure speculation and hearsay about what their relationships really were.  If the test of a real man is measured by the way he treats those he has control over, then Pittman had failed miserably and true accounts would have to come from him or the victims.  He had already proven to be less than honorable and the dead don’t talk.

Had there been confrontations over the price of advertising that could have possibly resulted in harsh feelings?  Was Pittman jealous over the meager but nonetheless, obvious success of Ludlow?  Had he harbored ill feelings toward his mother for divorcing his father?  Had somebody told him what Mulder said about him?

Had any or all of these victims at some point, diminished Pittman or assaulted his manhood, as Slaughter had so effectively done?

Some might believe that even with a man like Pittman, those scenarios would seem far-fetched but in Slaughters’ experience, she had seen people murdered for motives far less ridiculous.

Karl Pittman was clearly a psychopathic narcissist but he didn’t strike Slaughter as the type to “get his hands dirty.”  Still, because he thought the majority of people were “children of a lesser God,” there was something about him that led her to believe that murder to him, would be tantamount to swatting a fly.

Could Ellison Caldwell figure somehow figure into the equation?  It was a well known fact that he had a burning hatred for Pittman.  Their rivalry had spanned decades and although neither were still in the business, there’s the old adage, “revenge is a dish best served cold.”

Why didn’t Caldwell kill Pittman?  Killing his friends and mother made no sense and apparently had no impact, given Pittman’s insouciant attitude about the murders.  It was also abundantly clear that the only person who was important to Karl Pittman, was Karl Pittman and of course, his numerous “parasites.”

Could there possibly be another person in the mix, who also had a motive to kill the victims?

While still at the Lounge, Slaughter started reading everything in the files. Something had to be there, maybe hiding in plain sight.  She combed through Burke and Powell’s reports, looking for something…anything that could have been overlooked.

Ten victims.  Page after page of information and interviews.  There had to be a correlation, some connection, other than to Pittman and it had to be somewhere in those files.

Slaughter took the files to her place and spread them out on the floor as if she was trying to piece together a puzzle, which of course, she was.  She sat and stared, drawing mental lines and reading reports of conversations.  The word “unsolved” had never been in her vocabulary and she was determined that it was not going to insinuate itself into her flawless record.

After several hours, she took a break and began to open mail that had accumulated over a period of days.  An envelope with no return address caught her eye.  Inside were three pages that looked to have come from an antique manual Remington typewriter, complete with floating letters that were so common with those ancient machines.

She was mesmerized while reading.  Everything was spelled out in great detail…who, what, where, when and why…and to Slaughter, it made perfect sense.  Although unsigned, she immediately knew who the author was. How had this person been overlooked?  Had it been sloppy detective work? and yes, she included herself in that criticism.

She quickly called Burke.  As soon as he answered, she said “I know who the killer is.”  When he asked her who, she said “meet me at the Lounge and I’ll fill you in.  I think we have cause for celebration.”

Burke said “I’m on my way.  See you in twenty.”

Slaughter had just gotten into her car, when she heard a tapping on the side window.  She leaned forward to lower it, while hiding her right hand as it slipped into her purse and onto her service weapon.

A voice said “I think you’ve been looking for me.”

 

 

To be continued________________

 

 

The Ice Pick Killer – Chapter Thirteen

The next morning, the detectives met in Captain Meade’s office.  Burke gave his report on his visit to the upstate.  “Mulder’s ex-wife and son had air-tight alibis.  I gathered there was no love lost between them and Mulder.  The son thought his father was an asshole for what he did to his mother but said he didn’t want him dead…he just him out of their lives.”

Captain Meade turned to Powell and said “how about that warrant, kiddo?” Powell had a satisfied smile when he said he had obtained a limited warrant.  “That will allow us to search any work product or documentary materials but that’s all.  Due to the Privacy Protection Act of 1980, unless we have reasonable suspicion of possible incriminating evidence or of course, suspicion of child pornography, our hands are tied as far as his computer or phone.”

“So, what we’re likely to find is a bunch of post-it notes with chicken scratch on it,” said Captain Meade.  “Alright, go on over there and start looking.”

“What about you, Slaughter?  What’s on your agenda?”
Slaughter smiled and said “I’m meeting with the inimitable Mr. Pittman. From what I’ve heard about him, I’m sure he’s going to whip it out…and I’m going to point and laugh.”
Captain Meade shook his head and said, “Jesus, Joseph and Mary.”  After he picked up his Bible and cigarettes, he looked at Slaughter and said “remember what I said.  Try to leave him intact.”

Slaughter had arranged to meet Pittman at the Lounge.  When he strolled in, she immediately recognized him.  His swagger was dripping with haughty, high-handed superiority.  She smiled as she wondered to herself, why she wasn’t hearing “hail to the chief.”  As she extended her hand and introduced herself, he gave her a broad smile and said “Karl Pittman.  I understand you want to talk about Stan Mulder.”

Slaughter immediately took the upper hand when she said “yes, but before we talk about him, tell me a little about yourself…which is something I imagine you like to do.”
Pittman was not amused and contemptuously said “I’m retired.”

Slaughter continued stalking her prey when she said “and that’s probably a good thing.”
Before Pittman could respond, she continued.  “I understand you had a sometimes rather rocky relationship with Mr. Mulder.”  Pittman gave his best sneer when he said  “I don’t know what you’re talking about.  We were good friends.”
Slaughter said “well, I heard that you butted heads on more than one occasion and I also understand that you and Mr. Mulder shared, shall we say, certain qualities.”

Pittman said, “I don’t know what qualities you’re talking about but I gave him a job after he was fired and then I arranged for him to be elevated to the top position when I retired.  He’d probably be homeless now if it hadn’t been for me.  I saved his ass…and I saved his career.”

“Yes,” Slaughter wryly said.  “I’ve heard you are quite the humanitarian and consider yourself to be a true asset to the community.  I’ve also heard that you have…a rather unsavory past.”
With a snarl, Pittman started to get up and said “okay, I don’t know what you’ve heard but I’m not going to sit here and listen to anymore of your sarcastic bullshit.  We’re through talking.”

Slaughter looked him dead in the eye and said “sit down.  We’re through talking when I say we’re through talking.  So, we can either talk here or we can talk after I haul your ass down to the station.  You choose.”

Pittman sat back down and said “okay.  Just what the fuck have you heard?”
“I’ve heard that you are ruthless, arrogant, volatile, supercilious, self-important, self-centered, self-serving and you treated your associates and employees like they were less than human.  I’ve also heard that you cheated on your wife numerous times.”

Pittmans’ rage was showing when he said “I am not going to discuss my wife with you.”  Slaughter said “funny you would refer to her as your wife.  I understood she divorced you.”

Pittman leaned toward her and said “you know, I don’t much care for your passive-aggressive, ‘queen of the bitches’ approach here.  That kind of shit doesn’t sit well with me.”

Slaughter said “well, you’d better get comfortable because you’re about to care a lot less for it.”

Pittman, struggling with the fact that Slaughter was not going to be intimidated, angrily asked, “what does any of this have to do with Stan?”
“Nothing,” said Slaughter as she smiled.  “I was just trying to determine if you had been accurately portrayed by your colleagues and I will say that I think you were.”

Pittman was seething when he asked which colleagues she was referring to. She ignored him as she said “okay.  Moving on.  Do you know of anybody who would have wanted to kill Mr. Mulder?”
“No,” was the succinct, abrupt answer from Pittman.  “And if you think I had anything to do with it, you’re wrong.”

Slaughter said “okay.  It’s been established that you knew Mr. Mulder but tell me this.  Did you know Marvin Jackson?”
“Yes.”
Slaughter was momentarily taken aback.  “How did you know him?  Was he a friend?”
“Yes.  He was a friend and he advertised in my paper.”
“How about George and Lisa Moore.  Friends?”  asked Slaughter.
“Yes.  We were friends.  George advertised in my paper, too.”
“And David Ludlow?  Did you know him?”
“Yes.  He came to several of my journalism seminars.  He fancied himself a writer, heard about me and sought out my expertise.”

Slaughter briefly suspended the questions and asked “you knew all of these people.  They were your friends.  Did it never occur to you to wonder why these people…these people you knew…these people who were your friends…were being systematically murdered?  I mean, these murders were not random and they were not without motive.”

“Never gave it much thought,” said Pittman.
Slaughter said, “I’m sure of that but did you ever wonder if you might be next?  I’ve heard that you are the most hated man who has ever been in the profession and I’ve heard you had enemies.”

“I’m not worried about it,” said Pittman.
“Because you’re so important?” asked Slaughter.
Pittman responded with a sarcastic “yeah.  Because I’m so important.”
Slaughter couldn’t help herself when she said “and that’s why you retired from a small town, no-name newspaper…the only newspaper that would give you a job after you were fired from the newspaper in the upstate?”
Pittman looked at her and said “you’re a real piece of work, you know it?”
“Thank you,” said Slaughter.

She continued as she asked if he knew Østergaard.
“Yes.  He sold the computer system to the paper where I worked at the time and yes, we were friends.”
“How about Mrs. Forney?”
“Yes.  She was my mother.”
“She was your mother?  And she had a different last name?”
“Yeah.  She and my daddy were divorced and she took back her maiden name.  You got a problem with that?”
“Not at all,” Slaughter said.  “If he was anything like you, I can certainly understand her reasoning.  Tell me something.  Were your parents by any chance brother and sister?”

Pittman was outraged by her remark and smirked when he said in his slow, Southern drawl, “now you tell me something, sweetheart.  Do you have penis envy?
Slaughter smiled as she looked at him and said “no.  Do you?”

Pittman drew every eye in the Lounge when he raised his voice and said “fuck you.”

Slaughter, laughing loudly said “fuck me?  Who are you trying to kid?  You probably can’t fuck anybody without the help of some little blue pills and I’d be willing to bet that before you needed them, you were about as satisfying as a leg cramp.”

She had just done to Pittman what she had been told he spent his entire career doing to other people.  She had systematically and publicly eviscerated him and now she was laughing while he left a trail of blood as he quickly stormed out of the Lounge, screaming “if you have any more questions for me, call my fucking lawyer.”

 

 

To be continued__________________________

 

 

 

 

 

The Ice Pick Killer – Chapter Twelve – Part Two

“Wow,” Slaughter said.  “He sounds like a real peach.  Tell me, how did he come to work for the Daily Ledger?”

“Well, that’s an interesting story,” said Foote.  He finally managed to get his foot in the door of an independently owned newspaper, with the promise of being put into the top position as soon as the current editor retired.”

“That was the paper where he and Mulder met?”
“Exactly…and like with Caldwell, he and Mulder immediately started butting heads.  The only difference was that Pittman was already Mulder’s boss.”

“Pittman didn’t waste any time immediately making everybody in the place hate him, either.”
“What do you mean?” asked Slaughter.
“Well, there was this woman named Caroline, who was in line to be Pittman’s managing editor once he was promoted.  Unfortunately, a few days after Pittman arrived, she was killed on her way to work.”

“The next day, Pittman was ready to dig in and make his mark but it was like everybody was in a fog.  He was getting more and more frustrated and finally asked what the fuck was wrong with everybody.”
“One of the clerks said ‘I think everybody’s sad about Carolines’ death’.”

“Word has it that he exploded and screamed ‘I don’t have time for stupid shit like death.  Just do your fucking jobs’.”

“He got his promotion but that didn’t stop him from pretty much treating everybody like they were less than garbage.  He would fire somebody just because he didn’t like them and he seemed to enjoy it when he made the women who worked for him cry.”

“Mulder started sucking up to Pittman.  He was lobbying hard for Carolines’ job but Pittman had always intended to give the position to Linda, until they had a falling out.”
“And why did they have a falling out?” asked Slaughter.
“Because she realized that Pittman wasn’t going to leave his wife and children for her.”

“Speaking of his wife and children.  There’s a story about his wife calling him to tell him that one of their children had been injured.  Everybody heard him scream at her, ask her what the fuck she expected him to do about it and then tell her to just fucking handle it.”

‘People started leaving the paper en masse and after several complaints, the publisher strolled down to the newsroom to pay Pittman a visit.  The altercation that ensued is legendary.  In the middle of the newsroom floor, Pittman pointed his finger in the publishers’ face and screamed ‘listen, you fucking idiot.  You have one person in this entire place who can win you a Pulitzer Prize and that’s me’.”

“As you would expect, he was fired.  It took him a long time to find another job because he was considered poison.  But, then he met Mr. Robinson, who was the former publisher of the Ledger.  The paper was struggling and Pittman charmed Mr. Robinson into hiring him to ‘fix it’.”

“In the meantime, Pittmans’ wife found out about his affair with Linda.  It seems Pittman had given her a ‘gift’ he got from Linda, if you know what I mean.  She left him and moved to another state but Pittman never took his wedding ring off and acted like they were still married.  When the staff asked when they were going to get to meet her, he would come up with some excuse, like she had to stay behind to sell their house.”

“After a few years, we were surprised when he started bringing this woman to the office and then to all the functions.  Everybody hated her.  Quite frankly, she looked and acted like trash.  She walked around, hanging all over him like a cheap suit and people wondered what was going on.  We all knew he was married and we all knew that this woman wasn’t his wife.”

Foote laughed when he said “we all took to calling her the ‘parasite’.”

“He finally started telling everybody that his wife had left him because he had gotten fired from his high-profile, high-paying job.  In other words, he wanted everybody to think she was a gold-digger and nothing more.  It was a shame really…the portrait of her he painted.”

“When he would run into somebody he and his wife had known in the past, he lied and told them he was divorced, so he didn’t have to explain why he was with another woman.”

“The worst thing was that he was still making regular trips to see his wife and playing husband to her.  She didn’t have a clue what he was doing.”

“So,” Slaughter said.  “He and Mulder were cut from the same cloth.  Both were cheating on their wives and keeping a mistress on the side.”

“Yep…and Mulder knew his wife…and he knew they weren’t divorced but she got the last laugh, you might say.”
“How so?” asked Slaughter.
“She found out about this latest woman and filed for divorce…and she filed for adultery.  Then, she wrote letters to all of their friends and all of his co-workers and told them everything.”
“Pittman was spitting nails.”

“Did you get a letter?” asked Slaughter.
“Yes, I did and he knew it.  He wanted to read it but I told him I wasn’t going to let him.  That really pissed him off and I worried that he might fire me but he didn’t.  He just tried to get me to believe him when he said ‘you can’t believe anything she says.  She’s an insane, vindictive bitch and she’s trying to make me look ridiculous’.”

“He did everything he could to make everything look like her fault.  He wrote a letter to the judge, blaming her for the failure of the marriage.  He said she was an uneducated woman who had ‘an unreasonable sense of injustice’.  He even blamed her for ‘destroying his career’.  I don’t know if this is true but I heard that the ‘parasite’ tried to get some of her male friends to say they had…”

“Had what?” asked Slaughter.

“Had been with her…in the Biblical sense of the word, if you know what I mean.  The parasite knew that charges of adultery would be voided if there was any doubt about reciprocation on his wifes’ part.”

“Mr. Foote,”  said Slaughter.  I think I have all I need.  Thank you for talking with me.  You have given me a great insight into what kind of man Mr. Pittman is.  I’m looking forward to chatting with him.”

“Be careful,” Foote said.  “He’s a great manipulator.  He will cut you open and laugh while you’re bleeding.”
Slaughter smiled as she said “yes, I have heard that about him.”

Foote started running his finger along the rim of his coffee cup.  He finally looked at Slaughter and said, “you know, Mulder’s dead and we’re talking about Pittman.  If you ask me if I think Pittman is capable of murder, I would say yes…absolutely.  But I would qualify it by saying that even though he’s a bully, he’s basically a coward and I don’t believe he’s capable of physical murder…just emotional murder.”

To be continued_________________

The Ice Pick Killer – Chapter Twelve – Part One

Slaughter made a call to Mr. Foote and asked for a meeting.  Foote, a little confused told her that he had already told detective Burke everything he knew.

Slaughter said “yes, I know but I want to talk about Mr. Pittman.”  She could sense the hesitation in Foote’s voice as he reluctantly agreed to meet.
“Why don’t we meet at the Lounge?” Slaughter asked.
“I’d rather not,” Foote said.  “I’m known there and people might start to get suspicious.  How about we meet at the Waffle House, around seven?”
“Sounds good,” Slaughter said.

After Foote arrived and sat down, he said “I feel a little like Judas.  I mean this man gave me a job when nobody else would.”  Slaughter assured him that their conversation would be confidential.
Foote asked if she thought Pittman had something to do with Mulder’s murder.
Slaughter explained “we just need to gather as much information as we can and I know that he and Mulder had a past.  I’ve also heard that Mr. Pittman can be a rather mercurial man.”

“Yes, to both of those statements,” said Foote.  “What do you want to know?”

“Why don’t you start with when you first met Mr. Pittman.”

With a sigh and the same hesitation, Foote started.  “Well, I first hired him as a cub reporter when he was fresh out of college.  He was cocky and arrogant but he was a damn good reporter.  He was already under the impression that he was the best out there and I think he thought he was above following the rules.”
“What do you mean?” asked Slaughter.

“Well, like everybody, he had set hours but he came to work when he damn well felt like it.”

Slaughter said “and you allowed that?”

“He was just so damned talented, I overlooked it…for a while.  We finally came to blows and he quit and started freelancing.  Not long after he quit, he married his high-school sweetheart, who had moved to the area after she graduated.”

“After he got married, I guess he thought he needed a more stable job, so he came back to work for me.  He did a good job but he would leave work and go the local college hang-out bar every night and stay until it closed.  His wife finally left him after two years.  I imagine she got tired of being alone all the time.”

Then, he met another girl who worked at the bar.  He talked to me about her now and then.  He said she was ‘sweet and innocent’ and he hoped he wouldn’t end up shitting on her.  I remember saying…well, don’t.”
“They got married and he started looking for a better job.  He found one and they moved to another city.”

“I knew from the first day I met him that he was hell-bent on climbing his way to the top and making a name for himself…and he wasn’t going to let anything or anybody get in his way.  I dare say he ultimately reached his goal, although the name he made for himself was synonymous with being the most hated man in the profession.”

“I followed his career, which wasn’t hard.  You know, we all hear about what everybody’s doing…good, bad and indifferent.  Now and then, I would get a quick message from him, telling me how he was doing and announcing the birth of another child.  It occurred to me that he never once asked me how I was doing.”

“His career took him to several different states and he always left a mark. He won numerous awards and sometimes, led the papers to some notoriety but he just couldn’t seem to get the top.  He was constantly clashing with upper management…the very people who could put him in the position he so desperately wanted.”
Foote shook his head and grinned…”he once said ‘these motherfuckers need to get their heads our of their assholes and realize that I am the smartest person in the room’.”

“In the eighties, he made a critical error in judgment when he took a job in Georgia.”

“Why was that?” asked Slaughter.

“He ran into…shall we say…a formidable enemy.”

“Was that by any chance,  Ellison Caldwell?” asked Slaughter.

“It sure was,” Foote said.

Slaughter smiled and said “I actually had the displeasure of talking to Mr. Caldwell and he certainly made an impression.”

“I have no doubt,” said Pittman.
“Anyway, he and Pittman hated each other at first sight.  They were two ‘type A’ personalities and the A stood for assholes.  They were both up for a promotion and Caldwell got it.  I hear that he got it by using underhanded methods but he still got it and it didn’t help that Pittman treated everybody like shit.  Nobody wanted to work for him.”

“Word soon got around that Pittman was having a fling with a reporter named Linda, who was involved with Caldwell and when Caldwell found out, he was enraged.”
“Caldwell set out to ruin Pittman and having just been crowned king, he damn near did.  He reduced Pittman to nothing more than a week-end reporter.  It was like he sat him in the corner and all but put a dunce cap on his head.”

“So, Pittman was cheating on his wife with Caldwell’s girlfriend?” Slaughter said.

“Yep, and Linda was a consummate game-player.  She had added fuel to the fire by successfully played them against each other until it was announced who got the promotion.”
“Shortly after Caldwell found out about the relationship between Linda and Pittman, he got rid of her and started seeing another woman, who he eventually married.”
“After that, Linda focused her attention entirely on Pittman and was thrilled when he announced that he was going to another paper.”

“Why was she thrilled?” asked Slaughter.

“Because when he left, he took her with him.”

“Then…there was the famous Pittman swan song.”
“What so you mean?” Slaughter asked.

“A local man was running for office and as punishment from Caldwell, Pittman, while working out his notice was tasked with interviewing him. Being a good reporter, Pittman dug up some dirt on him.  When he confronted the man with it, he begged and pleaded with him to not divulge the information.  He said ‘I have tried to lead a good life since then and now all I want to do is serve my community.  If you publish this, it will destroy me’.”

“Pittman didn’t care.  His said his view was that the public deserved to know the truth and told the man he should grow some balls and not hide behind purported good intentions.”
“I’m sure he was still burning over Caldwell’s treatment of him and maybe felt like he now had to power to completely extirpate somebody elses’ life.”
“Anyway, this man looking for anything that even remotely resembled compassion from Pittman was left wanting.  He never stood a chance.  Pittman more or less told him to stop crying like a little girl and said he was going to run the story.”

“And did he?” asked Slaughter.

“No, he ran a story about the man’s suicide instead.”

 

To be continued_________________

The Ice Pick Killer – Chapter Eleven

After Foote left the Lounge, Burke tried Slaughter again.  When she answered, he asked where she was.
“I’m on the way to my place,” she said.

He asked how it went with Pittman.
“I didn’t talk to him.  When he finally returned my call, he said he was on the golf course so we’re going to meet tomorrow.  How about you?  What did you find out?”

“A lot,” Burke said.
“Okay, you can fill me in tomorrow…or you can stop by my place but you should know…I never discuss work there.”

Burke was already half-way out of the booth when he said, “I’ll be there in a minute.”

What, if anything happened at Slaughters’ place that night would be known only to Slaughter and Burke.

The next morning, Burke met Powell in the interrogation room.  Powell was waiting to give his report to Captain Meade and was surprised when Burke entered the room, whistling.

Powell took the opportunity to ask Burke what was going on with him and Slaughter.
“What do you mean?” asked Burke.
“I mean you two seem to be buddy-buddy and now, you’re….whistling.  Is there something going on that I don’t know about?”

Before Burke could answer, Slaughter and Captain Meade came into the room.
“Okay, kiddo, what have you got?” asked Captain Meade.

“Well, his wife was understandably beside herself with grief and she seemed to be sincere,” he said. “She said that she wasn’t aware of anybody who would want to hurt him.  She gave me ‘he’s the finest man I have ever known…he was the love of my life’, you know the usual rigmarole.”

“She referred to his ex-wife as ‘that crazy ex-wife’ but said she had never met her.  She said she knew Mulder resented having to pay alimony and that this crazy ex-wife had done everything she could to ruin him financially.”

“I asked about his friends and read a few of the other victims’ names.  Her answers ranged from ‘I don’t know, to maybe, to possibly’.  She did say that she knew he and Pittman were friends.”
“Apparently, he was a genuinely ‘nice guy’.”

Burke said “well, I may have been given a different opinion from somebody else.  Mulder didn’t seem to be as pure as the driven snow, if you know what I mean and I think it would be worth a shot to take a closer look at Pittman.”

“What do you mean?” Powell asked.
“I mean, depending on who you talk to, their relationship ranged from being best buds to a couple of outlaw cowboys trying to shoot each other in the back.”

Powell said “that’s interesting, because Mrs. Mulder did say that although she considered Pittman to be a friend, she resented the fact that he took credit for ‘saving Mulder’s career’.”

“What exactly did she say?” asked Burke.

“Well, she said that Pittman bragged to everybody about how he had given Stan a job and made sure that he was promoted when he retired.”
“Her view was that Stan had earned that promotion on his own merits and it had nothing to do with Pittman.”

Captain Meade asked Burke if all the information he got about Mulder was from Mr. Foote.
“From Mr. Foote and from the publisher” Burke said.  “I talked to a few clerks and reporters but they all sang the same song…”he was a nice guy.”
“The publisher is either blind or is an expert at being politically correct. Foote however didn’t seem to be shy about saying what he thought, even though he was a bit fearful that somebody might find out that he had talked to me.”

Slaughter asked if Burke thought Foote was telling the truth or did he think that maybe he was holding a grudge and seized the opportunity to get revenge by trashing his character.

“I’m pretty sure this guy was being honest,” Burke said.  “He doesn’t have anything to gain.  It’s not like he’s next in line to run the paper and from what I can gather, the newspaper business can be very political.  I think that’s why he was a little trepedatious.”

Burke filled in Slaughter, Captain Meade and Powell about the rest of his conversation with Foote.
Slaughters’ immediate response was “I’d like to talk to Mr. Foote and I’d like to talk to him before I meet with Pittman.  I think there’s more to his story.”

Captain Meade asked Powell how the warrant was coming along for Mulder.
“I submitted my request to Judge Grantham and I’m waiting to hear.”

Captain Meade infuriated Powell when he suggested that he get Slaughter on it.  “She seems to have a way of getting things done,” he said.
“Fine,” Powell said as he picked up his folder and stormed out of the room.

“What kind of bug has kiddo got up his nose?” asked Captain Meade.
“I think he’s starting to feel a little like a third wheel,” Burke said.

Captain Meade wiped his forehead and said “for crying out loud.”
“Okay, what’s on for today?”

Burke said “I thought I’d take a drive upstate and talk to Mulder’s ex-wife and son.  You know, exes and children are more likely to offer a different perspective when it comes to a former spouse.  I think it’ll be worth it to talk to them.”

Captain Meade looked at Slaughter and said “and you?”

Slaughter said “first, I’m going to do a follow up with Mr. Foote and then, I’m going to meet with Mr. Pittman.”

Captain Meade looked over his glasses and said “you will try to leave most of him intact, right?
Slaughter smiled and said “I’ll do my best.”

Again, wiping his forehead, Captain Meade shook his head and said “oh, Lord.  What was it Clubber Lang said about Rocky?  Oh, yeah.”

“I pity the fool.”

 

 

To be continued____________________