Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Orangeberry Book of the Day – Tainted Waters by Maggie Thom

Chapter Seven

“We need to come up with a plan. It’s time to make a move.” He knew what the answer was going to be. It was the same one he’d been receiving for almost eighteen months. At some point those higher up had to get it.

“We’ve had this conversation. We have the opportunity to bring down a lot of players. A lot. So I’m not going to let you screw this up just because you’re getting a little antsy. Stick with it. Keep doing the job you were hired to do. Suck it up, in other words. This is too big for you to mess up now. You’re in there. The last two guys didn’t make it out. I’d hate for the same to happen to you.”

After a few more minutes of lecture about how important this operation was, he hung up before his asshole contact could say anymore. Like the guy would put his life on the line. Throw away all his morals, just to catch a bad guy.

He flung his cell phone across the small, flea-infested motel room and watched as it splintered into twenty pieces. It wasn’t exactly how he was supposed to get rid of his burn phone but it felt good. His boss, well, on this assignment anyway, was just looking to get his name in lights. To retire after having brought down one of the biggest dope rings in the area, maybe even the country. He was focussed on what he’d get out of it. His men, it seemed, were expendable. It was bring the son of a bitch down or die trying.

And all I stupidly want is an end to this. An end to the drugs. The killing. Driving his hand into the tattered wallpapered wall, he felt a little bit of satisfaction at the hole he’d left. Especially since he imagined it was a certain someone’s face. His boss may want him to continue as planned. To keep playing the game. But he’d had enough. He was in, tight. Had been in for a long time, but it was now time to figure out who, all the people involved were. He had some names but he’d made sure not to do too much digging. He had not wanted Ozz to be suspicious of him. But the time was now to figure out who they all were. At this point, all he wanted to do was to bring down the man who was as cold and as ruthless as they came.

He grabbed the pieces of his phone and strode out, distributing the small chunks in ten different dumpsters before heading back to the lake.


Keegan rode alone up to the fifth floor. The elevator opened into an expansive and expensive area. There were two solid cherry wood doors directly in front of him. He let out a long low whistle as he looked around. It felt more like he was in a lawyer’s office building in New York than a newspaper office building in the small city of Bentley. The large wall to his left caught his attention. Artfully framed plaques and photos adorned the cherry colored wall with brass inlays. Several things caught his attention immediately. His gaze was caught and held by a large blow-up picture of Mr. Tennison, the man who had built this dynasty but who had died way too young. In the picture his hair was dark brown and swept over to the side, leaving a big swoop in front. Keegan couldn’t help but smile. Even when his hair had turned white, he hadn’t been able to control that wayward curl. The plaque with the newspaper’s mission caught his attention.

“The Truth shall be told... by us.”

I’m working on that, Gramps. I’m working on that.

He pulled out his cell phone and snapped several pictures before turning around to get his bearings on where he needed to go. He walked back past the elevators to the large receptionist desk on his right. There was no one sitting there and the desk was clean as though no one had ever worked there. The computer was shut off. There was no one around. There were some faint rustling sounds but other than that the floor was almost silent. He moved around the counter, reaching to open a drawer, when he heard someone bellow.

“Corrine. Get in here.”

It appeared she’d forgotten to tell the boss she was gone for the day.

Keegan followed the voice and walked towards the cherry wood door, several feet behind the desk.

“Uh. I’m not–”

“Who are you?”

“Your receptionist downstairs called up, said I could meet with you.”

The large man behind the desk straightened from his slouched I-don’t-have-a-care-in-the-world-and-no-one-can-touch-me-position to sitting up and resting his arms on the desk. He straightened his wrinkled and stained tie. “You must be that author. Are you looking to do a local piece? An article on CEO’s? An article on running a paper? Being in the media?” He took off his glasses, tossing them on the desk, looking slightly embarrassed at being caught wearing them.

Keegan hunched his shoulders slightly before walking forward and sitting down in the plush leather chair, situated in front of the desk.

“Yes. How did you know? I know I’m being presumptuous but I’d really like to know about your life. About how you rose to be in this position? What training do you have?” What butts did you have to kiss? Or kill? And just who in the hell are you?

Mr. Donner’s chest puffed out. “I have no problem with that. However I want to make it clear that I want to have final say on what’s written. You’re not putting anything about me in a book that I don’t get to see. I pride myself on not being blindsided.”

Keegan slouched down in the chair. “Oh. Well. I’m not really going to write about you, I just need to get to know your story so that I can write a fictional story about a man like you. I can’t–”

“Oh. Oh. You’re just looking for some information?”

“Yeah. I mean I’ve heard so much about you. You’ve been in this position for almost ten years, haven’t you? That has to have been tough. What did you do before you got this position?”

“Well... I... well just like anyone else, I had to work my way to the top. I did most of the jobs here – from grunt work, layout, reporter. You name it, I did it.”

Yeah. And should have been fired from most of them. If his suspicions were correct, he’d done a whole lot more than that. He kept his smile in place. “Could you tell me what it was like when you first started as the CEO?”

He leaned forward resting his forearms on his desk. “It was damn hard when I started. The previous CEO died of a heart attack. Left the place a mess. Why, it took me weeks, months to scrap most of what he’d been doing and clean this place up...”

Keegan kept this head bowed. His fingers tightened on the pencil but he didn’t slow down the pace of his writing as Mr Donner droned on and on about himself.

“I had to let a lot of the staff go. They were just too loyal to the old guy. Wouldn’t take orders from me. Had to start fresh. I wasn’t going to put up with that. You know what I mean?”

“What happened to the previous CEO? I’m assuming that would be Mr. Tennison?”

“I already told you he died. Of a heart attack. Don’t you listen? What did you say your name was again?”

He winced at his mistake. “Wow, you had to take over just like that. The guy dies and you’re expected to come in and take over. Wow, that must have been something. I’d have been so scared I would have... well... you know. You sure are bold.”

“Well, it does take a certain kind of man to be able to do that. Let me tell you it wasn’t easy. It was a lot of hard work. Lots of meetings. Making it clear to people what was going to happen from now on. I’m not one to speak ill of the dead but the previous CEO didn’t know how to run this place. No sir. I had to straighten many a person out. Nothing gets printed in this paper without my say so.” The man continued on for another ten minutes without taking a breath.

He scribbled as fast as he could but then he pressed too hard and snapped the lead. He looked up. “Uh. I hate to interrupt but would you have a pencil sharpener or a pencil I could borrow? Wow, what about this pen?” He reached up and grabbed a gold pen mounted on a black onyx stand. “Mr. Tennison. Is that what it says? It’s hard to read, it looks like some of it’s been scratched out.” He looked up expectantly.

“Give me that!” Mr. Donner stood up and reached over the desk.

He leaned forward fumbling the pen, it fell to the floor. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. I’ll get it.” As he stood up he placed his hand on the desk and then went down on one knee to get it. He bent way down so that he could reach under the desk. His hand slid along the desk and the black onyx stand flew off the desk, narrowly missing his head.

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Genre – Suspense

Rating – PG13

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