Chapter 12: Publicity
Larry Burke had survived two days since Mr. Boddy placed the bounty on his head. Larry was busy counting his blessing, because he wasn't entirely sure what Miles' plan to save him was. All he knew was that his only chance for survival rested on his plan, and he just had to wait it out until Miles returned to the police station and explain what he had been doing in the last two days.
In the meantime, Larry had been allowed to roam the police station freely like Steven Alley was still doing. Larry didn't know that Steven Alley was the contact that the coma guy spoke of, and Steven never mentioned his meeting with Ms. Peacock, either of them. Larry just ignored the weird little man who routinely reapplied eyeliner but made no attempt to get new clothes after taking a shower.
It was Friday afternoon and Larry Burke was once again getting tired of watching Gary Derceto waste time watching television in the game room while Steven Alley placed the PlayStation connected to the other television. He wanted to know Miles Westin's plan, because whatever it was it was clearly working.
Larry walked by the front lobby area, and sat down where the front desk clerk would sit if they had one. The man spied a car parking in the front parking lot. He didn't recognize it, but he recognized the young man stepping out of the passenger seat. Miles came out with his brother Chuck coming out of the driver's seat. Another car pulled up behind Chuck's. This one no one except Chuck recognized.
Doug Danson stepped out of the other, cleaner car and followed the Westin brothers into the building. “Get Gary,” Miles ordered. Larry put two fingers in his mouth and whistled. Within seconds, Gary joined the conversation. Steven opted to remain behind.
“Here's what's going down,” Chuck began to explain. “Since Donna is still missing in action, Doug and I have a lot of free time on our hands. Unfortunately, I had to tell Doug everything about the investigation for him to go through with this. Luckily, he has no interest in it, so he won't be a bother.”
“It won't matter soon enough,” Miles pointed out. Chuck nodded accordingly.
Doug continued. “In case you didn't know, I'm a reporter for the Channel 8. Star reporter actually, so I have friends in high places. One of those friends includes police captain Charles Embry. He and an army of police officers from Providence will be here momentarily to transport you to the courtroom in Providence.”
“Police transport?” Gary mused. “Don't you guys ever watch movies? That’s when the main villain sends his best assassin to take out the prime witness, which just so happens to be Larry Burke. The assassin usually takes out all the cops there too, so if that's the plan we're going with, I'm going to stay back here with Steven.”
“The kid makes a point,” Larry continued. “Miss Scarlet is a trained assassin. She knows that the transport will be the perfect place to strike. She probably hasn't stroke here yet because she thinks this place is swarming with cops still.”
“That's where I come in,” Doug said as he opened the door that led to the parking lot. From the distance, a large array of vehicles could be seen approaching. As they came closer, most of them were clearly identifiable as police cruisers from Providence, but a handful weren't. They were vans. They were vans filled with television crew. Doug had to yell so his voice could be heard over the racket of automobiles behind him. “I told you I have friends in high places. Every single news outlet in the state knows that Larry Burke has been arrested in connection to the Polar Shift and as soon as his trial gets underway, so will the entire world.”
“You guys have to take the day off,” Allison pleaded. Drake and Jamie gave her a look of disappointment, as if she came all the way to the hospital to ask a question she could have asked on the phone. In addition, she asked a question she knew she was not going to get a favorable reply to. She continued to try anyways. “You two work every day of the week. You guys have to take a day off, and what better day than the crossroads of the investigation? The whole world is about to know that we're investigating the Polar Shift. The least you two can do is be there when we mention all the help you've done for the investigation.”
“Someone has to keep an eye on the coma guy,” Jamie pointed out rightfully. “We can’t very well take him with us. Granted, with all the publicity, Miss Scarlet would be wise to back off for a while. Still, we have to stay vigilant. Miss Scarlet was in this building two days ago, but Drake never saw anyone leave the building that he didn't recognize.”
“I can vouch for that,” Drake added. “I was there.”
“I should hope you were,” Allison replied. “If you change your mind, we'll be at the state courthouse. The immediate proceedings will begin as soon as Larry Burke arrives in Providence. He should be on his way now, which means I should be following. Are you sure you guys don't want to come? Even Chuck and that Doug Danson guy are taking the day off from searching for Mrs. Westin and Donna Murphy to witness this. Hell, they orchestrated this.”
“Pass,” Jamie repeated. The expression on Drake face showed he agreed with the blonde to his left.
“Your loss,” Allison finished before leaving the hospital.
Across town, there was still one more person in preparation to arrive at the state courthouse for the event. Miles felt comfortable with Ashley Brock being in the loop enough that he politely offered for her to share the limelight when the investigation became a world-known. Ashley clumsily threw on her sneakers as she hopped out the front door. To her dismay, Michael Ross was waiting for her. “I hear you're headed to Providence.”
“Where'd you hear that? Same place that told you Gary Derceto had knowledge of the investigation?”
“I was right about that, wasn't I?” Ross smiled as he leaned even more against Ashley’s Suburban. She didn’t reply to his question. “Anyways, I took the liberty of siphoning off the gas you had in your tank. Gas prices there days. What are you gonna do?”
“Get a more energy-conscious car right after I kick your ass for trying to ruin my chances for meeting up with Miles in Providence.”
“Of course,” Ross replied. “The Polar Shift investigation is second to being with your prospective boyfriend, right?” Once again, she didn’t respond to his question. “I didn't siphon the gas so you couldn't go. I siphoned the gas so you'd have to go with me. Clearly blackmail has no effect on you, so I'm trying to friendly approach.”
“My gas tank is empty. The friendly approach isn't working so well so far.”
“Can we just go already?”
“Fine. Let's go.”
It was about two hours later until the police transport arrived at the courthouse in Providence. Larry Burke himself was in a police car driven by two experienced cops. Four other police cars surrounded the one the Larry was in. Just around that were two SWAT team vehicles. Chuck and Doug followed close behind that while a police helicopter monitored it all from above. The news crews were just behind Chuck and Doug. Allison was a good five minutes away, but she arrived just in time to see the police officers take the handcuffed Larry Burke out of the backseat.
“The transport was impressive,” Miles told Allison. “There's no way Miss Scarlet could have crashed the party even if she wanted to. Of could she didn't want to since I orchestrated it that her appearance could prove harmful to secrecy of CATS.”
“You're feeling smart right now, aren't you?” Allison asked.
“Of course he is,” Gary interjected. “I have to admit, you deserve the title of valedictorian.” Gary paused to see that Miles had a “don’t' remind me” look on his face before he continued. “The plan was genius if I do say so myself. If Larry Burke is arrested for an act of God, that gets a lot of publicity. Not everyone believes it, though. However, if he were to die under mysterious circumstances, people would be more inclined to believe that there really is a conspiracy. Killing Larry Burke now could only prove harmful to CATS.”
“I bet Mr. Boddy didn't see this one coming,” Chuck added. “I just wish Donna were here. She did help, you know.”
“You're not the only one that wishes she'd return,” Doug reminded him. “Come on. The police are waving us over.” The group began to follow the police inside as Larry was being led down the sidewalk. Cameras flashed and Larry wanted to make sure that every camera got every side of his face on film before being brought inside. Miles paused for a second as he saw The Devil's pickup truck pull up. Out stepped The Devil along with Ashley Brock. Miles shook his head disapprovingly before joining the others inside.
Larry and the two police officers escorting him led the group down an empty hallway. “The courtroom is all ready for you,” the police officer pointed out. “Camera crews from every news station from Channel 3 to CNN is in there just like you requested Mr. Danson.”
“Thank you,” Doug replied. “I'll make sure to thank the judge himself when we play golf next Tuesday.”
“The police officers suddenly stopped walking. Miles kept walking until he stood adjacent to the officers and Larry so he could see why they had stopped. A heavyset black woman wearing a colorful blouse and matching pants was standing at the end of the hallway. She had a disgruntled look on her face that put most of the group in an uneasy mood.
“Relax,” Larry told the rest of the group. “She’s not Miss Scarlet if that's what you were thinking.”
“Damn right I'm not,” she said. “I think you guys are taking the right to a speedy trial thing a bit too seriously. I have the legal right to meet privately with my client before any proceedings begin.”
“Who are you?” The first officer asked.
“Coretta Smith. Mr. Burke's lawyer.” Miles could see the slight smirk on Larry's face when she introduced herself.
Miles jumped in. “You don't go anywhere with Leisure Suit Larry without me.”
“I can handle it,” Larry assured them. He nodded at the police officer that slowly unlocked his handcuffs. Gary grew increasingly nervous as Larry calmly walked over to the woman with a stern look on her face. Allison, Doug, and Chuck all seemed indifferent.
Miles, however, was intent on figuring out what Larry and Coretta were going to talk about. He stepped forward to follow, but Gary extended his arm to stop him. “Can't do it,” Gary warned him. “She's his lawyer, and she has the right to speak with him privately.” Miles gave him a look. “I know. I'm thinking the same thing. She's from CATS. We're just going to have to hope she doesn't kill him in there or worse, he joins back with CATS.”
“You think you're so smart, aren't you?” Coretta asked Larry after locking the door behind her. In the room was only a solid black table with two chairs on opposite sides. Larry took the chair on the left side, but Coretta chose to stay standing.
“I don't think I'm very smart at all,” Larry replied, putting his feet on the table. “You're the smart one, Mrs. White. Coretta Smith is a good alias. Isn't she the lawyer who Miss Scarlet killed a few months back? Personal business?”
“We're not here to talk about the past, Mr. Green,” Coretta explained. “You know I don't like coming out here and bailing out my associates. CATS is supposed to be the best and brightest and yet, here I am again. This is the third time I had to bail someone out of jail. Quite frankly, I couldn't care less if you rotted in jail. It's more humane than letting Miss Scarlet kill you, and let you rot along the side of the road. Mr. Boddy wants you out of here.”
“Tell him to take it up with Miles Westin. Diplomatically, of course. The whole world will know about the investigation very soon. If anyone connected to the investigation winds up dead, and Miss Scarlet does have a pension for mysterious deaths, it'll make people more inclined to believe that there really is a conspiracy. Then everyone gets involved.”
“Mr. Boddy doesn't want that.”
“Mr. Boddy is just going to have to deal with it.”
“If you wind up in jail, you're going to tell the authorities about CATS. If you die, that'll fuel interest in CATS. I am your lawyer, so you are to do everything I tell you. Under no circumstances are you to take the stand during the trail. I will convince the jury and the world that you have no connection to CATS because CATS doesn't exist. Then Miss Scarlet can kill to her heart's content.”
“You underestimate Miles Westin's intellect. Do you really think you can beat him in this trial?”
“You know O.J. Simpson's dream team of lawyers? They called me for advice. I can do anything.”
Back in Hyde's Park, Jamie noticed that Drake had varied in his general schedule. He was still running his rounds, but he had a false expression of sadness expressed on his face. Every time he passed Jamie, he sighed heavily to make sure she heard him. Five minutes later, Drake passed her again and sighed heavily again.
Jamie knew exactly what he wanted. “Go,” she told him before he could sigh heavily again.
“You mean it?”
“Yes. I'll watch the coma guy. You can catch up with the guys in Providence.”
“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” His thanks continued for a few more seconds as he jumped up and down. He grabbed onto Jamie's hands and forced her to jump up and down in happiness with him. Suddenly, he stopped jumping, kissed Jamie on the cheek, and ran off towards the elevator. Jamie watched him leave in stunned silence.
Ashley was feeling depressed after being denied entry at the courthouse. She was told that Miles ordered she remain outside unless Michael Ross wasn't with her. The Devil seemed honestly willing to try friendship, so she didn't want to ruin it by ditching him. Although she would wind out missing all the important action in the courtroom to videotape, she chose to stand beside Ross, and the two went to a restaurant down the street for dinner.
The two sat at a table outside under a red and yellow striped awning. The napkins were a vibrant azure wrapped around three pieces of silverware. The waiter, dressed in a white tuxedo shirt, black pants, a black apron, and a red polka dotted bow tie came and poured the two some water. He came back with rolls about three minutes later and promised the two that he would take the order as soon as he had a minute to spare. Ross told him that they weren't in a any rush. He regretted saying it, as he knew that the waiter would probably take his time.
Ashley still had that depressed look on her face. “Miles is mad at you,” Ross observed. “I've been mad at you and you didn't care. It's something about Miles.”
“It's not because I like him, if that's what you're thinking.”
“That's exactly what I'm thinking. I'm not just thinking it, actually. I'm right. I know I’m right just as much as I know that you're not a lesbian. I have three sisters. Two of them are lesbians, so I know how to tell women apart. I know you like Miles, because I convinced my sister to ask her friend out already. Now they've been married for two years now. Don't dismiss my observations. I'm right.”
Ashley looked at Ross for a few seconds. He was a taking a drink from his water. Then she looked down at her hands folded at her lap. “Okay, let's say for the sake of the argument that you're right. Let's say that I do like Miles. Why are you trying to get me accept that? Weren't you trying to blackmail me with that information?”
“I was,” he said with a sigh. “A few weeks ago, Miles got on my bad side. I thought I needed to get even with him, but he proved to be unafraid of physical pain. I decided I would ruin the only thing he seemed to care about. His precious investigation. Eventually I realized that was just selfish. I was manipulating you just to get to Miles. I don't want to do it anymore. Despite being rude, he's actually doing something good for the world. I don't want to be the villain here.”
“Noble of you. I just wish Miles would see that.”
“It's all right,” he assured her. “I would forgive me either if I was in his position. I just don’t wan him to see me as his enemy anymore.” Ashley nodded in approval. Michael continued. “I think you should tell Miles the truth about how you feel.”
Ashley paused. She mused over her answer before she said anything in reply. “I can't. Like you said, Miles is a jerk. I told him I was a lesbian in my desperation to get rid of him. I can't just go to him and say, 'Hey! Remember when I said I was a lesbian and told you to get lost? What I meant to say was that I really like you.' He would hold that over me for the rest of my life. I can't admit that I was wrong.”
“You're going to lose him.”
“Don't care. I don't like him that way, remember?”
“Yeah. I remember.”
The meeting in the courtroom had moved over to Judge Harrington's office behind the courtroom. It was a small office with a simple oak credenza and a bookcase against the west wall. Three chairs were in the room. Judge Harrington occupied the one behind his desk while Miles Westin and Larry Burke sat comfortably on to two chairs on the opposite side. Allison, Chuck, Doug, and Gary all stood at the left side of the room while Coretta Smith stood against the door on the right side of the room.
Judge Harrington, a white mustachioed man in his late fifties, didn't look pleased. He pulled a lot of strings to get the trial underway as soon as possible, but Coretta Smith was trying to delay the trial as much as she possibly could. “I'm sorry, Joe,” Doug apologized to his friend. “I didn't expect some crazy-eyed lawyer to come in here and ruin what we planned on.”
“Crazy eyed?” Coretta question in offense. “I think you better watch your little smart mouth. I can have you arrested, too right after this.” She turned her attention to Judge Harrington. “Your Honor, every person has the right to a speedy trial. I'm not here to argue against that. However, they also have the right to a fair trial. Something thrown together like this can't be fair. It would probably collapse under it's own weight if the news crews weren't holding it up.”
“The trial will begin as soon as possible,” Harrington replied. “Nothing will change my mind about that. We will, however, postpone it for a few days so Mrs. Smith may prepare her defense with Larry Burke.”
“A few days is hardly enough,” Coretta continued to argue.
“Take what the man gives you,” Miles interrupted. “You're not getting anymore than that.”
“Fine,” she replied. “What your smart mouth, too boy. We'll take the few days, but I want to issue a gag order on the media. Everyone wants to put a face to tragedy and the Polar Shift is no exception. People, especially the jury, are inclined to believe that the Polar Shift was caused by a man or a group of people because they want to blame them for all the problems the Polar Shift caused them.”
“You're asking for way too much, woman!” Allison interjected. “You're on the losing team. You can't expect to get everything you ask for.”
“I don’t believe I was asking you that question, blondie,” Coretta shot back. “Your Honor. About the gag order?”
“I'll have to think about it,” he said.
“You can't be serious,” Miles yelled. “The media is the only thing keeping this trial alive. It's the only thing keeping Larry Burke alive. You can't ban the press. She'll win. CATS will win.”
“I'll think about it,” he repeated. “Now I want everyone out of my office. Sheriff Derceto, tell the police officers to start clearing out my courthouse. They'll receive an invitation to the next trail if I decide to pass on the gag order. If not, they'll know why. As for you Mr. Burke, you'll be spending the next few days in lock up.”
“I don't think so,” Coretta argued yet again. “I paid bail for him already. He's coming home with me.”
“Just because you're the lawyer doesn't mean you can make the rules,” Harrington replied, clearly annoyed. “You can pick him up from the jail after the bail's been cleared. Coretta kept a smug look on her face as she departed from the room. Two seconds later, two police officers came in and escorted Larry Burke from the room.
Chuck and Doug left the room promptly after. Allison watched Miles, who hadn't left his seat. Gary was waiting as well. Judge Harrington was the first to get up. “I'm leaving. Try not to steal anything while I'm gone, children.”
Harrington passed Miles and headed for the door. Miles spoke up before he left the room entirely. “You can’t issue that gag order.” Judge Harrington ignored him and left the room. The three remaining teens stood in silence before leaving the room as well.
A few more minutes passed over Providence. Gary had his hands busy leading the reporters like cattle out of the courtroom and heaving to deal with irate journalists who spent the entire day on a waste of time. The only think he enjoyed was that he had limited power over the other cops in Providence for the time being.
Chuck and Doug stood by their respective cars waiting for the teens to catch up. Ashley and Michael Ross had already left for Hyde's Park. Miles and Allison waited with the other two until Gary finished in the courtroom. He finally came out exhausted as Drake arrived in his car. He was going well over the speed limit and didn't even try to park properly. Drake popped out of the driver’s seat and approached the group. “Has the trial started yet?” Drake realized that he hadn't met Chuck prior to this. “Oh! You must be Chuck Westin. I can’t tell you how happy I am that Jamie took the job. I really needed it.”
Chuck didn't reply. Miles took it upon himself to reply to his first question. “Trial’s been postponed thanks to Coretta Smith, or Mrs. White if you prefer. I'm sure that's not her real name. There she is leaving right now.” Miles pointed to Coretta walking over to her lime green two-door car.
“Coretta Smith,” Drake asked. A deadly silence loomed over him as he observed her getting into her car and driving off. “I recognize her from somewhere,” he finally said.