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_________________