Radio Riley

"I don't care what you say George, I'm calling in Riley," the young woman in the thousand dollar business suit said.

"You can't do that, it will undermine everything we have built up here," he said.

"And what exactly would that be?" she asked.

"You know damned well what we have done. We have taken an idea and made it a reality," George said.

George is much to slick, Heather thought. He had convinced himself that what they had done was not only legal, but moral as well. "George dear, you know the idea wasn't ours. The fact is

"We didn't steal anything. The court has already ruled that he did nothing with his idea until he met us, so it was fair game. You can't copywrite an idea, you have to actually do something with it," George said angrily.

"George dear, you know we stole his ideas and his company. Why don't we just admit it. Riley was the sole of this company. When we squeezed him out, we lost more than a writer," Heather said.

"Riley is a hack, he never could get anyone to buy any of his novels. He would never have made a dime from his writing, if we hadn't marketed those adaptations," George said angrily.

"Well love, we have sold and resold the adaptaions of his novels to every radio station willing to run them. We have nothing else worth selling," Heather said.

"What about those new writers we hired?" George asked.

"What about them? Between all of them they can't come up with one decent play. We are going to go under without Riley and you know it," the woman said.

"What makes you think he would come back to work for us. You know he threatened to kill me?" George said nervously.

"I know and he probably should have," Heather said. "If he had gotten away with it, my share of this company would be worth a lot more."

George ignored her comments. "You don't even know how to find him."

"Of course I do love, I have kept in touch with him," she said.

"Why on earth did you do that?" George asked.

"Covering all the bases," she said simply.

"I think we should just fire all the writers we have and hire new ones," he said.

"Where are we going to find writers who will work for what we pay them?" Heather asked disgustedly. "This isn't television you know."

"We found these didn't we?" he asked.

"And they haven't written a single thing worth a damn," Heather snapped.

"They will, we just have to give them time," George commented.

"Look George, I know you are screwing Aaron. I really don't mind that so much, but if she is a writer, then I am the pope," Heather said reasonably. "Admit it love, you are going to drive us into bankruptcy over a piece of ass."

"You can't bring him back without my approval. I own as much of this company as you," He said shortly.

"That's true, you own forty percent and so do I, but George, Riley owns twenty. All I have to do is convince him to return and you are out voted." she said.

"If you do this Heather, I am through with you," he commented.

"George, we have been through for months. If you are going to threaten me, then have then at least decency not to insult my intelligence," Heather said.

"You really aren't serious about bringing Riley back?" he asked in defeat.

"Not only am I serious about doing it, I have done it. Riley should be here any minute," she said.

"So, if Riley takes over, what an I supposed to do?" George asked.

"Get your ass back on the road and sell the product, or retire," she said.

"You know there is no way I could retire. Not without the income from the company. We agreed for years to pay almost all the profit out in saleries, and bonuses," he said.

"Remind me again why we did that?" she asked spitefully.

"Okay, it was to keep Riley from getting anything for his twenty percent. You know he is going to be angry as hell?" George asked.

"I would expect so," Heather said thoughtfully.

"Maybe I should take the day off?" George suggested.

"You are going to have to see him sometime, that is unless you retire," Heather reminded him.

"Miss Wilson, a Mr. Riley is here to see you," the metalic voice of the intercom said.

"Show him in Lucy," Heather demanded. "You really should have run sooner."

George had a con man's nerve. "Riley old man how are you?" he asked as he walked to greet Riley just inside the door.

Riley was a big man. He was six feet tall and thirty pounds overweight. On him the bulk looked managable. As his name would imply Riley was Irish, though a couple of generations from the old sod. His hair was red as was his full unkept beard. Riley was cursed with piercing green eyes which intimidated everyone. He could never give a friendly or inviting look to a stranger, he always looked menacing. Everyone knew his nose had been broken at least once in a bar fight. Even if you hadn't know how,. just one look would tell you it was crooked. Riley could best be discribed as dangerous looking. A man constantly on the verge of violance.

The next thing that happened surprised no one. Riley punched George in the nose. Not a round house that would have taken his head off, just a short quick jab. It was just enough to bloody George's nose. The blood dripped onto his Itallian Silk shirt, then onto his Itallian silk suit.

"I can't say I blame you for that," George said as he tilted his head back.

"Good, because I won't be apologizing for it," Riley said.

"So Riley, are you going to punch me in the nose as well," Heather asked.

"No my dear, but I may, one day, return the screwin' you gave me," he said with a wicked smile.

"I suppose this makes us even," George asked.

"Not by a long shot laddie," Riley said.

"Why don't you drop that fake Irish accent. Everyone knows you were born in Greensboro," George said keeping a close eye on Riley's movement. George had already picked out his excape route.

"George old son, the fake accent helps me pick up women," Riley said.

"So Riley?" Heather asked, "What have you been up to, since you left here?"

"Mostly hanging around waiting to see how long it would take you. and that fag you call a husband. to screw up the business totally." Riley said.

"So why didn't you just open one in competion?" she asked.

"I didn't want to compete with you dear, I wanted to take over again. So, I suppose you called me because you are out of product?" Riley said.

"I guess that's what you expected to happen," she said.

"It is my dear," Riley said.

"I always said you were physcic," Heather said with a smile.

"I understand you had sixteen trash tapes in a row. I guess you have sold and resold my tapes as many times as you could?" he asked.

"I'm afraid so," Heather admitted.

"So how long before you are unable to meet the payroll?" Riley asked.

"Thirty days, maybe a little longer," she said.

"Well I guess we better get to work, but first we get a couple of things straight," Riley said.

"Like what?" George asked.

"Like you two go on a salery based on your worth to the company, not the companies sales. You George get your ass back out selling the product. It's what you were supposed to be doing from the start. You Heather, go back to the actual production of the shows. This stops being a passenger train," Riley said.

"I am the CEO of this company. You can't come in here and talk to me like this," George gave it one more try.

"Heather, I need your vote to have George replaced with someone who can actually get this company off it's ass," Riley said.

"You want to be CEO?" she asked surprised.

"No, I want you to be CEO. George is a pretty good salesman, but he is a lousy businessman. There is probably only one worse in the whole world, and that would be me," Riley admitted.

"In that case George you are fired," Heather said with a large smile.

"Draw up a contract giving me full authority in the creative department, and then make damned sure my lawyer can prove I'm not getting screwed again," Riley said.

"The contract has already been drawn," Heather said. She had secretly been working on Riley's return for weeks. First she had to convince Riley, then meet his terms.

"Good, then let's go shake up the creative department," Riley suggested.

"You know Laura quit," George said smugly.

"Just goes to show she has good taste," Riley commented. "Maybe she will come back since I am going to be in charge again."

George stayed in the office while Heather led Riley to the writer's office. Riley recognized everything about the office, except the people in it. "Now who the hell might you be?" he asked a young man of twenty five, who had his shoes off and his feet proped on the cocktail table.

The kid jumped to his feet at the sight of Heather standing just inside the door. "Uh, I am Robert Adams," the kid said.

Riley turned his attention to the attractive young woman standing in the small kitchenette area. "And you?" he asked of her.

"Aaron Thomas," she said simply. She gave Heather a questioning look.

"So where is the third member of this asylum?" Riley asked with a smile.

"Joel had car trouble this morning," Aaron volunteered.

"What time do you start work?" Riley asked.

"Eight," Robert answered.

Riley looked at his watch. "It's ten o'clock. Do you have any idea when the last member of this team might arrive?" he asked.

"Probably not till after lunch, the car had to be towed to the shop," Aaron said nervously.

"Call this Joel on the phone, tell him that his ass is here by eleven or he is in the unemployment line at nine tomarrow," Riley said angrily as he turned to leave the room.

"Come on Heather, lets you and I go out for coffee. I think I have begun to put the fear of God into your writers," Riley said once they were in the hallway.

"Don't you think you were a little hard on the kid? I mean the one with the broken down car," Heather asked.

"You have a point," Riley said returning to the room. "Tell this Joel to have a tow truck reciept, or not to bother coming in at all." he shouted through the open door.

"God you are a prick," Heather said with a smile.

"What in the hell has gotten into you people?" Riley asked.

"What do you mean?" Heather replied.

"You have kids trying to write for an adult market. You are never going to get anywhere like that," Riley said.

"So, are you going to fire them all?" she asked incredulously.

"Not really, I am going to teach them how to write first, then I may have to fire them," Riley said with a laugh.

When Riley and Heather returned an hour later the missing Joel had been added to the group along with George. Riley began to seeth. He stood in front of the sofa where the writers sat.

"George get your ass out of here. I don't ever want to see you bothering my writers again. If I do, I am going to kick your ass," Riley said dangerously.

When George had gone Riley began on the writers. "Now there are a couple of things we need to get straight right up front. Number one, I will accept the resignation of anyone who doesn't think they can work for me. You might hate my guts, but we are going to produce some decent, or indecent radio plays from this office. Everybody is starting brand new as of now." he said looking at the bloodshot eyes of Joel.

"If any of you are going to have car trouble again, then get the number of a good cab company. Better still call a fellow writer for a lift," Riley said.

"Anyone want to leave yet?" he asked. No one said a word. They knew writing jobs were hard to come by.

"I read some of the tripe you guys wrote. If this were the college newspaper it would probably be fine. The difference it we are writing for the clerk in some trucking company, and her boss at the sametime. Everybody understands simple words and actions. If you need a college degree to understand your writing, then you need to go back to writing college papers. You are writing for John and Jane Lunchbucket. So lets begin by adapting a novel, then we will begin to write original plays." Riley said tossing a computer disk onto the cocktail table.

"Robbie, that's your project, now Aaron, this is a novel by a unpublished middle-aged housewife. I paid two hundred bucks for the play rights to it, so you get to adapt it. As for you Joel old son, you come with me," Riley said dangerously.

He allowed Joel to pass in front of him, then said over his shoulder. I expect you two to be hard at it when I return." Riley said.

Once in the hall with the door closed, he pointed the kid to the exit door. "Am I fired?" Joel asked.

"Not yet," Riley said as he led him into the grass lawn of the buildings front. "Now laddie it's like this, if you were celebrating last night, or if you drink like this everynight, I personally don't give a rat's ass. But if you take my money, then you are damned well going to do my work. Now the next time you are feeling so poorly you need a day off, plan it a week or two in advance. If you stay home drunk, then you are going to be fired, if you come to work too drunk to write, I am going to kick your ass. If you need a drink to write, then take a drink. It's your life you will be screwing up not mine. But you will do the work you are paid to do. If you are man enough to follow those rules, then come on back in. I have an assignment for you." Riley said as he walked away from Joel.

Riley returned to the writers office, went directly to the coffee pot. He poured himself a large styrofoam cup, then went to sit at the round dinning room type table. Directly in front of him Aaron and Robert were busy trying to adapt the two novels Riley had given them.

He watched the two of them work while he sipped his coffee. They were having great difficulties with the novels. Since they each had only one desk type computer, they were constantly switching between screens. He drank his coffee in silence while he watched them work.

After ten minutes Joel entered the room. Riley appraised the blonde young man. Joel was handsome in the classic way. Riley was far from handsome in anyway. Joel approched Riley then said, "Mr. Riley, I'm ready to go to work now."

"Good, find yourself an empty computer and begin writing me a story. Not a play, a story. Make it interesting, and I don't give a happy damn how long it is," Riley said. "By the way, drop the mister. It's just plain Riley."

Joel nodded, then sat at his computer and began punching keys. Riley watched them work for a while longer then stood to leave the room. "I'm gonna be gone a couple of hours, then we are going to take a look at what you have done," he said turning to the door.

When Riley returned two hours later he had the company hand cart loaded with four medium sized boxes. "I want each of you to take a box," he ordered.

Inside each of the boxes was an identical laptop computer. "Personally, I can't type worth a damn on so small a keyboard, but you can read from it while you adapt the novels," he advised them.

"Okay Aaron, make me a disk of what you have so far. Then come over here and let's take a look at it together.

She stood beside him five minutes later. Riley read the five pages she had finished. "You didn't do half bad," he said.

Aaron didn't look pleased by the compliment. "This story is garbage," she said.

"Of course it's garbage, but it's what the women out there want to hear. You need to use a narrator to cut down on the number of parts, and to move the story along as it does in the novel. This is not a stage play, people can't see her expressions, you have to narrate them. For instance, the narrator should say something like, "Dunwitty manor was a large drafty old house on the coast of North Carolina. It should have been remodeled years before and would have been, had it not been for Aunt Hattie. The Aunt Hattie says the line, 'I don't like things to change. things should stay the same, else there is no continuity in life.

"And Aaron," he said as she walked away. "Try to write like people talk, not like they write."

"This is bullshit," Aaron mumbled.

"Sure it is, but if this company folds, all the beautiful prose in the world won't bring it back to life," Riley replied.

"Okay, Robbie lad, let's see what you have," Riley said. Most of the same things he told Aaron he repeated for Robert. "One last thing, you handle the dialogue well. Try to remember some poor actor has to read the lines. Try to keep them short so that his poor brain and that of the listener can comprehend them."

"Okay Joel, you turn in the barrel," Riley said with a small laugh. Riley was quiet while he read the six pages Joel had written. When he finished them he said, "Son now this is truly crap. I'll bet you thought this was great literature, and it might be, but it is crap in my humble opinion. Tell you what kid, let's do a gut check. Write me a story about what you did last night. Try to be as honest as you can."

"Are you kidding, nothing much happened last night. It would be a boring story," Joel commented miserably.

"Tell you what kid, we are going to do it together," Riley said. "You tell me what you did and I am going to write you the first five pages. From there you just let it flow anywhere you want, okay?" Joel nodded.

"Okay when you left here were did you go?" Riley asked.

"I went home," Joel said.

"First of all our audiance is a little older than you, so we are going to have to age you a little. We also are going to have to make you a little more interesting. If you weren't a writer what would you have wanted to be?" Riley asked.

"I don't know, I guess I would have wanted to be a cop," he admitted.

"Good, now there is something we can sink our teeth into," Riley said as his fingers began to fly over the keyboard. He wrote.

It had been a miserable shift. Eight hours in a squad car is about six hours more than anyone needs. You see the most amazing things, most of which you don't want to talk about. My shift had ended and I just wanted to get the hell out of the blue suit. I wanted to be just one of the guys again. I wanted to pretend I saw things through someone else's eyes for a while. Eyes that didn't see hidden motives in everyone. A man who saw a kind gesture, as a kind gesture, not a trick meant to lull you to sleep, so that something evil could be slipped past you.

Riley turned the laptop to Joel to read. He waited until Joel looked up signaling he had finished reading. "Now kid where do you live?" he asked.

"In an apartment complex by the interstate," Joel answered.

"Okay write me about the character you want to be, coming home to the apartment he would have," Riley demanded. "Make it as long or as short as you want. Let the story write itself don't force your college education on it," Riley advised.

Joel wrote while Riley went to the bathroom, then to the coffee pot again. When he returned Joel had finished. His part read.

The apartment was cold, it was always cold when I returned from work. Cold and empty, just like my soul.

Riley stopped reading. "Son I am going to rewrite this for you, now pay attention. You have got this thing way to artsy for a man driving down the road."

When I arrived home the apartment was cold. It was always cold in the drafty old building. I knew, that one of these days I was going to need to move to something more modern. I put it off because I hated the idea of loading boxes again.

I went into the kitchen to find something to eat. I found only a frozen pizza. It was one of those things that promise to be delicious, but acutally is so bad that I wondered if the box wouldn't have been better.

"Finish it," Riley demanded.

I decided to hell with the pizza. It was time for me to visit Marie again anyway. Marie ran a road house outside town. Once I left the city limits, I could just be me again. Sometimes I missed just being me.

Riley read the paragraph and nodded his approval. "Is there a Marie's?" he asked.

"No, it just sounded good," Joel admitted.

"Then when he gets to Marie's discribe a place you have been. If you make it up, you will trip yourself up in the details," Riley said. "Don't even think about where the piece is going just work on moving it along. Hell son, it may not go anywhere, most of the things I start don't."

When five o'clock came, everyone stood to leave. Riley watched them file out without saying goodbye. He didn't mind, he hadn't returned to be loved. He was working on a cup of coffee when Heather entered.

"So Riley, will any of them do?" she asked.

"I expect they can at least adapt stories. I don't know if any of them can ever forget how talented they think they are," he said.

"So, should we fire then all and bring your cronies back?" she asked.

"Ah that it were possible," Riley said.

"Why isn't it?" she asked.

"Mike and Roger are no longer with us," Riley replied. "As for Laura, we might get her back, but I doubt her husband would allow it a second time. I think maybe we can buy a novel or two from her, but I wouldn't count on her ever working a nine to five gig again."

"What happened to Mike and Roger?" Heather asked.

"What happens to all the hard drinkers, who thing they are Mario Andretti?" Riley asked.

"Did they hurt anyone else?" she asked.

"Just an old oak tree," Riley commented sadly.

"So, do you know anyone else?" she asked.

"Not a living soul, love," he admitted.

"Have you been writing," she asked.

"I have been writing like hell for the last two years. I had nothing else to do," Riley admitted.

"Did you sell anything?" she asked.

"A couple of short stories," he said.

"Can you turn this place around in a month," she asked.

"I can get you some new product in the pipeline, but you are going to have to get it out," Riley said. "You get us the scripts, I will see to the rest of it," she promised.

"How about George, is he going to sell it like he did before?" he asked.

"You bet, George has gotten comfortable in thousand dollar suits. I don't think he will be ready to give those up just yet," Heather stated.

"Well then, let me get to work," Riley said removing yet another disk from his pocket.

"Is that the novel you are adapting?" she asked.

"It's almost finished, I started on it when you first called me," Riley advised her.

"How long before we can go into production with it?" Heather asked.

"A few of days," Riley answered.

"How many parts?" she asked.

"Thee major women and two major men, probably a half dozen bit parts," he replied.

"I can double up on the bit parts, are you going to do the narration?" she asked.

"I guess so," Riley replied.

"I'm leaving George," she said.

"When?" Riley asked.

"Tonight, I'm going to stay in the hotel." She noticed the look on Riley's face. "Don't get that look. This has been a long time coming, it has nothing to do with you," she said.

"Good, I got enough on my plate already," Riley said.

"Can I get you anything before I leave," she asked.

"Not really, I will probably call for a pizza later. Right now I am fine," he admitted.

After she had gone, Riley went to his truck. From the glove compartment, he removed a bottle of Jim Bean bourbon. Riley carried it into the office and began to work on his adaptation. He took a break around eight to order a pizza delivered.

After the pizza he wrote and drank until two a.m., at which time he stretched out on the sofa and fell asleep. He awoke at five as was his custom. He drove to his camper for a quick shower before immediately leaving for breakfast again. He had slept three hours which was about average for him on a weekday.

Over the course of the next week, things began to take on Riley's personality. The adaptations moved along with only minor revisions by Riley. Lunch was ordered in every day. the others left around five, Riley however wrote and drank until he fell asleep on the sofa. After a few hours sleep, he would drive to his camper where he showered and started all over again.

Riley sat at the dinning room table drinking coffee when Joel approached. "Riley, I'm stuck for an ending. I have this thing about as far as I can take it," Joel confessed.

Riley had been reading the piece all week. He knew it as well as the kid. Joel had moved the cop through the night and then through a week. Along the way were some interesting events from both the cops job, and the women in his life.

The last paragraph read. 'She was a beautiful women. Laying there in the snow all broken, ever that didn't deminish her beauty. It was really a shame, death is so much easier to take for an old, or plain person. In her case it was enough to make you want to cry.'

"I just don't know where to go next," Joel admitted.

Riley pulled Joel's laptop to him and wrote, 'The old cop turned to the rookie who had filled in on the call. He said almost inauditably, "God, I hate the cold," then turned to walk away. the end.

"Yeah that works," Joel said softly.

"Now lad, go adapt it for the radio," Riley said.

"Yes sir," Joel said happily.

At five everyone began moving toward the door. Riley notice Aaron hanging back. He waited for what he knew was coming. "Riley can I talk to you?" she asked.

"Anytime," he said.

She took a seat across from him. "You know about me and George don't you?" she asked.

"I expect so, I don't know the details and believe me I don't want to know them," Riley said with a smile.

"Is that why you have me adapting that horrid novel, while Joel is writing his own story?" she asked.

"Not at all, even though I can't imagine why you would get involved with George, it has nothing to do with your working for me." Riley said.

"Then tell me why?" she asked.

"First you answer a question for me," Riley demanded. "Are you going to have that adaptaion done by next Friday?"

"I don't see why not. I am over half through with it now," she explained.

"Okay, that novel and your adaptation is going to make a hell of a drama. You are going to have to write stories like it," I said.

"Please don't make me write that kind of trash," she begged.

"What makes you think it is trash," he asked.

"Come on it is just a vehicle for some sublimital pornography," she said.

"That's exactly why the women listeners love it," Riley admitted.

"I don't think I can write like that," she said.

"Do you want to find out if you can?" Riley asked.

"I don't know," Aaron admitted.

"You need to know whether you can cut it here or not. You know this may not be for you," Riley suggested.

"Okay, how do I find out?" she asked.

"Do you have a computer at home?" he asked.

"Of course," she answered.

"Then go home tonight and write a pornographic short story. Be as graphic as you can possibly be. Make it somewhere between a thousand and two thousand words," Riley suggested.

"Is this like homework?" she asked with a smile.

"Maybe, but if you do it and you still feel the same way about the adaptation, then maybe you should think about changing jobs," Riley advised.

"You mean, that if I don't write you a pornographic story, I am fired?" she asked.

"No, you aren't writing the story for me, you are writing it for you. I don't even want to see it. I just want you to try to write it. Write about your feelings. Then if you can't get a feel for how it should go, I will do all I can to find you another job," Riley said.

"I don't know, this somehow seems like sexual harrassment," she said.

"Now, that's what I expected to come along somewhere during this conversation. You have obviously been talking to George. Let me put it to you this way, I gave you something to try to make this work easier on you. If you don't want to do it, then don't. I could frankly care less." Riley said calmly.

"I will write your crap over the weekend. I really do want to keep this job. I would hate to think of going to work on a newspaper," she said.

"Do what you think is best," Riley repeated.

Riley left the office at eight that evening. He returned to his trailer, which was parked in a tourist park. Riley didn't know how long he would be staying, so he didn't bother putting down any roots. He frankly wasn't sure that he could save the company he had started.

Riley was in bed by ten p.m. and awake at ten a.m. It was his habit to sleep twelve hours at a stretch over the weekend. He would awake take care of all his chores around the house, then begin to write and drink. On that particular Saturday, he had been grocery shopping. When he returned her found Heather waiting on the picnic table provided by the park.

"What in the world are you doing here?" Riliey asked.

"I came to talk to you before you were too drunk to make any decissions," she informed him.

"Well come on in," he said as he balanced the grocery bag while unlocking the front door to the 'Air Stream' knock off.

Once inside he began placing his groceries into the cabinets. Heather took a good long look at the cracker box.

"I guess it was a good thing you kept this," she said.

"I expect it was at that. I actually held on to it because I like living in it," Riley informed her.

"I can't imagine why," she commented.

"It just suits me," Riley replied. "So what is so important that you had to run me down?"

"Money, what else," Heather said. After a short

"He isn't going to find a buyer right now, and if he did, he wouldn't get anything. Forty percent of a failing company isn't worth much." Riley replied.

"I know it's a great chance to pick up the rest of the company for a song," she said.

"It won't do you any good to buy him out, he will just get it back in a divorce settlement," Riley informed her.

"I know, but you could buy him out after we reach a settlement," she suggested.

"Heather, I have to admit something to you," Riley began, "Frankly honey, I never liked this company. That's why I allowed George force me out."

"Then buy it for me, I will repay you when the company gets on it's feet," she begged.

"That would be fine, if we didn't need George," he said.

"Why the hell do we need George?" Heather asked.

"Because George knows how to sell the shows. He may be an ass, but all the station people know him. I doubt that they trust him much, but he can get in to see them," Riley explained patiently.

"If you want to keep George, then fire Aaron," she said.

"Come on, stop thinking like a jealous wife, start thinking like a CEO. You don't fire people until you know what you are going to do to replace them," Riley informed her.

"Aaron is a lousy writer. We can replace her tomarrow," Heather said.

"Okay, she wrote some lousy stuff, but if I can turn her around she will be fine. Sure we can hire a new writer. In six months she will be where Aaron is right now. The company can't afford a six months lag right now," Riley stated simply.

"She may quit when George talks to her over the weekend," Heather said.

"If that happens, then we have no choice but to invest in someone else," Riley agreed.

"So, you won't buy George out, and you won't fire Aaron, then how about Robert. He sure as hell can't write a decent peice," Heather said.

"Maybe I can turn him around. If not then you can fire him, since you are so hot to fire someone,"

" This seems to have been a totally wasted trip," Heather said staring at the wall.

"Maybe not, we can have a drink while we have our Monday morning status meeting. It would save me a hell of a lot of time on Monday. I could use the time with the writers, they are going to need a lot of help." Riley said.

"If we are going to do that, then I am going to the store for liquor. I absolutely refuse to drink bourbon," she said with a warm smile.

"I have a couple of things to do around here, so help yourself," Riley said seriously

When she returned twenty minutes later she found Riley seated at the banquet located in the front of the trailer. "So, you seem to be ahead of me," she said.

"Only in the drink, I expect no one really gets ahead of you," Riley said.

"Flattery will get you nowhere, at least not about my business acumen," she replied.

"Okay then, you haven't changed a bit in three years," Riley said seriously. "You are still georgous."

She knew it was true. It should be, she spent hours and hundreds of dollars to maintain her looks. Her hair was done every week by a man who kept her true color a secret from everyone. She worked her body three nights a week in the gym on Main Street. Even without the sugical help, she would have been a knockout. That couple of extra inches in her bust line, had turned her from a knock out, to drop dead georgous.

"Thank you Riley, but at the moment I am more worried about this company than my looks," she said hoping it were true. She sat across from Riley with her Vodka and Orange Juice thinking about Riley for the first time as a person. She had always considered Riley as something less than a real person. In some ways he was bigger than life, but in others he had been a patsy. She couldn't fully respect him because of it.

"Let's get on with the meeting," he said with a grin.

"First answer one question for me," she demanded. Riley nodded his agreement. "Why in the world did you let George steal your company." Riley laughed. "What is so funny."

"What did George steal?" he asked.

"For three years he has taken money that should have been yours," Heather said.

"If George had left well enough alone, his share of the profits would have been two or three times what he stole from me," Riley said with a laugh. "Besides, I was tired of writing radio plays."

"So how have you lived since leaving?" she asked.

"You know for someone as smart as you, I can't believe you don't know." He saw the blank look on her face. "Surely you remember the contractual requirement you have, to offer the novel on which the play is based for sale to the public?"

"You mean that silly tag line we put at the end of every episode," she said.

"That's the one, while George was out selling the plays, he was also selling my novels on tape. There is a little processing company in South Carolina who recieves the orders and produces the tapes for me. I recieve a nice little check once a month from them," Riley explained.

"Do you mean to tell me, the whole time George was bragging about screwing you, he was actually selling your novels?" Heather asked with a hearty laugh. Finally with tears in her eyes she asked, "Can I please tell him that?"

"Sure, but I would wait until he helps get us back on track," Riley said with a chuckle.

"Speaking of that, where do we stand with the new material?" Heather asked still smiling.

"My adaptation of the new novel will be complete by Wednesday. The piece I put Joel to work on, will be completed no more than a week later." Riley explained.

"How about the other two," Heather asked.

"They are going to need some more time," Riley explained.

"Why is that? They have been working on simple adaptations for a week. They should be about ready to can," she suggested.

"They would be, if they were allowed to finish," Riley replied.

"Why are you going to pull them?" she asked.

"Because they are adapting the first two novels we ever did together," he said.

"You mean you have wasted a week of their time?" Heather asked heatedly.

"How could I waste their time, when they weren't producing anything anyway," Riley reminded her.

"Talk about waste, I heard you bought them new computers. What was wrong with the ones they were using?" she asked.

"Nothing, you know damned well we always wrote with two computers," he said.

"Well, you didn't get them approved first, and I can't pay for them," she said.

"Have you seen a bill for them?" Riley asked after taking a deep breath to lower the temperature in the trailer.

"No, but I expect I will," she snapped.

"Not until the company gets off it's knees," Riley said.

"It not, then what?" she asked.

"Then I guess I own four laptop computers," he informed her.

"Did you sell that many novels, that you can give away six grand?" she asked.

"I also sold a few things I wrote over the last three years, and I can always get most of my money back reselling the computers," Riley informed her.

Heather took a deep breath before continuing. "So, I'm going to have two peices next week?" she asked.

"One for sure and probably the second," Riley agreed.

"So how long is the one you did?" she asked.

"Six or seven hours," Riley admitted.

"That should do for a fourteen episode series. That will go a long way to starting us again. That is if it's any good," she commented.

"It it was any good, I would already have it in New York. Besides if it were really good, it wouldn't be worth a damn for radio," Riley stated flatly.

Finally Heather lightened up. "You have a point," she said with a smile.

"Why didn't you ever make a pass at me?" she asked changing the subject completely.

Her question took Riley by surprise. He had to think about that one. He might have said because she was married, but they both knew it would have been a lie. She would have known it was a lie because of Doris, if for no other reason. He tried to press the memory of Doris from his mind before it grew. "I expect it was because you were out of my league," Riley said. "Just too gorgeous."

"Come on, George didn't have a problem with that," she said.

"George, in spite of everything else, is a handsome and charming guy. Me, I'm ugly as sin, and a clutz to boot," Riley admitted.

"You really believe that don't you. I mean about your being ugly and clumsy?" she asked.

"You know even thought I have a beard, I do see myself in the mirror or occassion," he said.

"You might look into the mirror, but I doubt you see yourself," Heather said.

"Whatever, lets finish our business, then discuss our personal lives," Riley suggested.

"Riley, that wasn't an invitation. I was simply curious," she said saving face.

Riley nodded innocently. "So who are you using for the tapes these days?" he asked as much to change the subject as any real curiousity.

"Gilbert does the engineering, that is when we can get him," Heather said.

"Gilbert is a good man," Riley stated.

"Over the last three years, the actors have changed quite a bit. A lot of them quit when you left," she said.

"Do you have enough actors?" Riley asked concerned.

"Sure, I have plenty from which to choose. I have the school of the arts, and the community theaters of three towns from which to recruit," Heather said.

"If you are going to hold auditions, I can give you a few pages," Riley offered.

"I need it all, if I don't have anyone, I can call for a particular part, I may have to hold auditions. I would prefer to hold them just once, if at all," Heather said.

"So that pretty well brings you up to speed," Riley said.

"All except when you plan to put the other two writers to doing something constructive," she said shortly. Riley knew her attitude was more about Aaron than Robert.

"First of the week, I am going to explain my little trick to them. If they stay after having wasted a week, then I am going to have them begin writing something original." Riley suggested.

"So how long before the plays start coming out regularly?" Heather asked.

"You know as well as I, that I can't tell you that," Riley admitted.

Heather didn't ask for an explaination because she knew there was none. She sat at the table to finish her second drink. After a long silence, she said, "I think, I need to go home."

"I know," Riley said. "I need to get to work on the next great novel." He was laughing at himself, Heather liked that about him.

Heather drove her BMW from the shabby tourist camp. She couldn't help smile at the memory of the bear of a man. She had always liked Riley, she had just never gotten close to him. Not during the two years they had worked together. Riley had begun the little company on his own, but soon realized it needed more talents than he had.

He hired George from a newspaper advertisement. In lieu of a salery, he gave George forty percent of the profits. He didn't realize that he also gave George forty percent of the compnay.

He and George ran the company for a few months. Heather had actually been an actress. She was still in school when she read the plays. George and Riley had agreed they needed someone to coordinate the actors and the production people. Riley was too busy with the writing and George was on the road too much. When she graduated college, she asked for a fulltime job with the company. As was the case with most things in life, she has simply been in the right place at the right time.

Riley had offered her the same deal as George. He put himself on a reasonable salery and allowed George and Heather to split the profits with him. Soon she and George were making more money than Riley. He never seemed to mind. Heather knew Riley didn't care much about money.

When the company began to make money, his first real purchase had been the used travel trailer, were as her's had been her first and only BMW. She and George married after six months of working together. Slightly over a year later, George began to manipulate the business. He finally managed to have the courts declare that he and Heather owned eighty percent of the business. When that was accomplished, he fired Riley. He also worked out a salery and bonus plan, which left almost nothing to split at the end of the year. Riley was for all intents and purposes dead and gone.

She told herself, that she had gone along with George because she loved him. There was some truth in that, but some of it was pure greed. She and George had both gotten fooled. They sold and resold the work that Riley and his cronies produced. When Riley left his cronies stopped writing for the company.

The new plays came slowly from the new writers. Once a play was finished, Heather produced it and George sent out his small salesforce with it. For a while the company's reputation sold the product, but only to one or two stations before they found out how poorly the public recieved the new dramas. After that nothing sold without a trial run. After the trial runs nothing much sold at all. There had been one well recieved drama. Laura, one of Rileys cronies, had decided she wanted to make the down payment on a house for her daughter. She wrote a screen play, then sold it outright to the company. Heather had produced one more winner, then it all went to hell. The drama seemed to remind the station owners how good the old plays had been. Nothing from the current writers would do.

George and Heather hired and fired writers regularly. It took anywhere from two weeks to a month to get a play from them, then they were trash. Not really trash, she thought, just not suitable for a radio audiance.

She pulled into the parking lot of her condominium, before she finished her thoughts. She walked through the empty house for a few minutes, then poured herself a large drink. She carried the glass with her into the living room, where she found the old cassette. She slipped it into the machine. After a couple of second of tape noise, her voice came through the speakers loud and clear.

"Yes Honey, I met him."

"No I didn't tell him. He is an old man now." the voice explained.

"We talked about the past some. I reminded him of the night he sank the Volkswagen," The voice, her voice, seemed lost in memories,

"Yes. he remembered me being pregnant with you. He even remember Robert."

"He remembered seeing you as a child. It was while Robert was in Viet Nam. You were wearing a little yellow dress my brother sent you." The voice had a far away quality.

"He is doing somekind of show on the coast." the voice stated matter of factly.

"I showed him the pictures of you and the kids. He said you had cute kids," the voice said sadly.

"I know I should have told him, but it's been thirty years. What difference could it make now?"

"He doesn't love me. He never loved me. He doesn't even really remember the days before he went to Viet Nam."

"I told you he was shot in the head over there. When he finally came home, he could barely remember his name. He barely remember me, but nothing about you."

"Of course he remembered meeting you off and on over the years. It's just the years before the war he has trouble remembering." Heather could recognize the sadness she had allowed to slip into her voice at that point.

It was a short piece, one written by Riley for her college drama class. The drama teacher had somehow gotten Riley to allow her to use the piece every year since. Heather remembered her drama teacher. Heather smiled, then said to herself, "I'll bet the slut slept with him." The idea intrigued her for a few more minutes, before she dropped it to return to the kitchen for another drink.

Heather returned to the living room, then began running the early tapes on her cassette player while she drank the afternoon away. The beautiful and glamourous Heather fell into a drunken stupor on the sofa before dinner.

"Come on Aaron, you don't have to write at home. That's why you have a job." George complained.

"George, go play golf or something, I have to finish this," Aaron said.

George stood in the doorway of the spare bedroom of Aaron's apartment. He watched her as she sat hunched over her computer keyboard. Maybe, George thought. I am actually seeing her for the first time. He had never really compared her to Heather, since he had them both why should he? Now that he was left with only Aaron, he took a good look at her.

Aaron appeared to be several inches taller than Heather. George knew that it was an illusion created by her thin body. Aaron was actually taller by no more than a inch or maybe two. She had long brown hair, but the color was mousy. Aaron was chic, but would ordinarily be too thin for his taste. If he really loved her, it had to be for her mind. She was witty and bright as hell, he thought.

Of course, Heather was bright, but in a totally different way. Heather could organize a chinese fire drill, where as Aaron would be lucky if she found the exit door. The only thing the two of them had in common was George. Even then, he had lost Heather and Aaron was just too damned busy for him at the moment. It was all Riley's fault, he decided. If Riley hadn't come back with his bully boy ways, everything would have worked out. George thought it for only a second. 'I may be an idot,' he thought. 'But I am not a complete fool. If my share of the company is ever going to be worth anything, it will only be because Riley came back. Without Riley's writing skills, the company had floundered. I can wait him out, I can even go back on the road to sell his stupid shows. Hell I have to, or loose everything.

"Come on Aaron, give it a break. Why don't we go to the antique mall?" he suggested.

"George, go find someone else to play with. I have to get this done," she said.

"What are you writing anyway?" he asked.

"Nothing you would be interested in, just go outside and play," she demanded with a smile.

George didn't go outside at all, he went into the living room where he began consuming a very large amount of alcohol. While he drank, he imagined himself on a beach spending Riley's money yet again. He smiled as he feel into a dreamless sleep.

At the office, Joel sat with the laptop beside his desktop monitor. He read each line of his story, then converted it to narration and dialogue. It was slow tedius work, but he intended to have it finished by Monday morning. He had no idea why the self imposed deadline was so important to him. Probably something to do with his anger toward Riley, mixed with a certain grudging admiration. He had found the disk by his computer along with a note from Riley. If you decide to work over the weekend read this. It might explain how you wrote your story.

"Joel," the disk began.

"If your characters are one of your thousands of alter egos, and they are placed in an interesting situation, then the story will write itself. One situation will lead to another and each one will be easy to write, since you just write what you would do in the same situation. Riley

At first Joel had been angry at the basic lesson, then he was amused that Riley had expected him to come in over the weekend to work on the adaptation. Riley seemed to know what he was thinking, Joel thought.

Robert spent the weekend working on his resume. He expected it to be a matter of time before he was pounding the pavement again. Robert first tried to tell himself that he was just to creative for the job. After a couple of plays which failed miserably, he blamed the audiance. He had finally gotten down the the point where he doubted his own abilities.

Suddenly he cleared the resume from his home computer. He realized that if he couldn't make it with the company, he had nowhere else to go. He might be able to land an entry level reporter's job on some local paper. What a miserable way to make a living he thought.

"I think, I would rather drive a cab. At least then I could work on my novel," he said to the small empty apartment "My novel would have to be better than the piece of crap, I am adapting."

"I have to admit, that it has a hell of a story, even if it is poorly written," he said out loud. "I wonder if Riley knew someone like that. God knows he could have. Heather seems to think the sun rises and sets in his ass. Maybe he has done all those things."

Eight a.m. Monday found them all entering the office, where Riley sat at the table behind two boxes, which bore the Krispy Kreme donut shop logo. "Come on in kids, we are about to have a staff meeting. The coffee is on and the donuts are warm," he said with a smile.

The three of them looked from one to another. They didn't have any idea what had parcipitated the change in Riley. Their thoughts ranged from, 'He must have gotten laid,' to 'He must have finished the piece, he was working on,'

The three of them proceeded to orderly fill their coffee cups, they each seemed shy as they took a donut before being seated. They waited expectantly while Riley drank his coffee while devouring a jelly donut. No one said a word for the longest time. After eating three donuts, Riley returned to the coffee pot.

When he was again seated at the table, he asked, "Does anyone have a comment to make?" No one said a word. "Then I declare this meeting adjourned."

They were all too shocked to speak. "Actually, I have something to say," Joel said.

"You have the floor," Riley said with a smile.

"I have finished an original piece, and I think it may be what the company wants," he said. "Would you be so kind as to read us a few pages of it," Riley asked.

Joel removed the laptop from his desk, then began reading the play he had written. He read for twenty minutes before Riley stopped him. "Son that is very good. Do either of you two know why it is good?" he asked.

"It is simple and not too intelligent," Robert said sarcastically.

"That Robbie lad, is exactly right. Joel geared it to the audiance. He wasn't jacking himself off, he was writing what people wanted to hear." Riley said looking at Aaron as he spoke.

"So congradulations Joel, you have now sank to the lowest common demoninator," Robert said. It was obvious to everyone that he was looking for a fight.

Riley remained absolutely calm. "You know laddie, there is something to be said for that. Let me ask you a question, do you speak Gaelic?" Riley asked.

"Of course not," Robert replied.

"Then, if I noticed smoke in the hall, and I informed you in Gaelic, you would probably die," Riley said.

"It's not the same thing at all," Robert said.

"Oh, I thought that it was our job to entertain people with words. If they don't understand the words, we can't be very entertaining, now can we?" Riley asked the assembled crew.

"Good writing should enlighten," Robert said repeating something he had heard in creative writing classes.

"That may be true laddie, but it would be more likely to be accepted, in a story than a sermon. Even your Christ taught in parables," Riley reminded him.

"So what is the lesson in the crap I am adapting?" Robert asked.

"That is up to the reader wouldn't you say?" Riley asked. "If you have to beat them over the head with it, it becomes a sermon."

"Well to me it is crap," Robert said. "You are most certainly entitled to your opinion. As a matter of fact, let's ask Aaron her opinion of the piece she is working on," Riley said.

"Well, I have just recently done a rethink of the piece. It is still crap, but I understand it a little better now," she said. It was obvious to everyone that something had happened over the weekend to change her mind about the project.

"Then you wouldn't have any problem writing something with that same tone?" Riley asked.

"I don't know, if I can make it that bad, but I can try," she promised with a warm smile.

"That my dear is the most anyone can ask of you. Now let me add just one thing before I change your assignments. The stories you have been working on were adapted previously," Riley said tossing a disk in front of each of the two writers who had been working on the old novels. "Read the previous adaptations and compare them to your own. It is not a critisism, since yours may well be better than the one I just gave you. However you might want to keep in mind, that the one I gave you was a big hit with the radio audiances."

He stopped long enough for each of them to realize they had just wasted a week of their lives. "Now I want you each to write me a story. It doesn't have to be a long story or a short story. Just write whatever is comfortable for you. When you finish submit it for review, then if it gets the go ahead, you will adapt it to a play," Riley said with a broad smile.

The round table discussion, which had almost no discussion, broke up. Everyone except Riley went to a computer to begin his or her new piece. Riley left the room.

He walked to Heather's office, where he walked past the receptionist's empty desk. Heather had let her go, right after she let George go. Her explaination was simple, she didn't need, nor could she afford either of them.

Riley knocked on her open door. "Riley, you don't have to knock, come on in. So what do you have for me?" she asked noting the two computer disks in his hand.

"The kid Joel finished his piece over the weekend," Riley informed her handing over both disks.

"Wonderful, maybe I can record them both at the same time. Gilbert promised to call be with an evening he can work. After I hear from him, I am going to start on the actors." Heather said excitedly.

"Good show," Riley said turning to leave.

"Riley, are these any good?" she asked.

"That love, is for the station managers and the audiances to decide," he said as he walked away.

"Damn you Riley," Heather demanded. "Give me some encouragement."

"I think the kid wrote a dynomite piece," Riley said. When Riley had gone Heather brought up the disks on her computer. She read them while she waited for Gilbert to call. Gilbert called, when she was twenty pages into Riley's play. She like it alot. She had decided after six pages that it would sell.

Gilbert agreed to Wednesday evening. After the call she began on the novel again. She made notes about actresses, as she worked her way through the piece. In the end she decided on three women and two men to play all the parts. If necessary she could fill in for the women's bit parts. Riley was going to do the narration, so she had to get him on it immediately. The narration had always been taped without the actors present. The naration tape served as the cue for them. It cut down on the amount of time the actors were employed.

Heather made her calls. She tried to avoid using Dora. She knew that Riley and Dora had a history, she tried everyone she had on her list. It finally came down to using Dora or auditioning new people. She chose to use Dora. Riley and Dora would just have to work out their problems. Of course, Riley might not even be at the tapings, she decided.

As Heather had hoped, the taping came and went without Riley even being aware that Dora had been in the building. Even Heather had to admit, Dora looked striking even after three years. Dora was one of the country club set. When boredom set in, instead of taking to the bridge table, she had begun working with her father. Dora's father had been the towns number one slum lord. Far from improving the poor's lot, Dora had followed in her fathers footsteps. When her father died, Dora turned over the real estate to a professional management company. In her ten years of work with her father, she tired of the constant complaints. She chose to insulate herself from her responsibilities through the use of the realty management company.

Since Dora was hardly the type to spend her time at the country club, she volunteered to work for the fine arts counsil. When Riley's company first started, she had allowed Riley to have his first audition in the Arts Council's practice hall. He not only recruited his first small company of actors, he also recruited Dora. At first Dora was a voice in the plays, then she narrated the women's plays, as Riley called them. She soon was spending a lot of time in Riley's trailer. The story, she and Riley shared, was that she was recording the narations. Everyone knew it hardly took all night to record narrations.

When the company went through it's termoil, Dora chose not to act in their plays. Then after a year she was convinced to return. Not even her elequent, if somewhat husky, voice could save the over written plays. Whenever Dora worked, she asked about Riley. Heather refused to reveal the information she had. She thought, if Riley wants her to know where he is, then he should tell her.

Eventually Dora stopped asking. If she knew Riley was back, she hadn't even hinted at it during the taping. The taping took three nights of very intense work, but they were finally finished up on Saturday. Gilbert called Heather at home when he had finished with the tapes. Heather rushed over in order to hear the tapes. When she had heard a half hour of each tape, she drove to Riley's trailer.

"Yes?" Riley asked at the door.

"Damn you Riley, why did you let George force you out?" Heather asked.

"What the hell are you talking about?" Riley asked.

"I just came from listening to the new tapes. They are quite marvelous, I don't mean they are great literature, but they will play well on the radio. I think we are back in business," she said.

"I hope so, but two tapes do not a company make," Riley said with a drunken laugh.

"Unless you have company in there, I brought my own vodka, and I would like to celebrate," Heather said.

"Bring the vodka and come on in," Riley said expansively.

"You are way ahead of me, but I will do my best to catch up before you pass out," she said with a hearty laugh.

Two hours later Heather was as high as Riley appeared to be. "Riley answer a question for me," she demanded drunkenly.

"If I can," he said,

"They tell me you are working like hell on a novel. One I assume you are going to adapt for me?" she asked.

"That's right," he said.

"So, what have you been doing the last three years. I mean you came in with one novel. That isn't much for you. You can write a novel a week," she said.

"More like two weeks, but you are right, I haven't been writing novels," he said.

"So, what have you been doing?" she asked.

"I told you love, I wrote a couple of short stories," Riley said.

"How may is a couple?" she asked.

"About a hundred," he said.

"Did you get them published?" she asked.

"Each and every one of them," he said drunkenly. He didn't seem to be a bit more drunk than he had been when she entered the trailer.

"Where did you get a hundred short stories published?" she asked.

"Oh, here and there," he said evasively.

"Come on Riley, who supported you while you were in exile?" she asked.

"You mean other than your husband?" he asked.

"Yes, other than the audio novels. Who bought your short stories?" she demanded.

"Eden House Publishing," Riley said. He was surprised by her recognition in her eyes. "So you have heard of them."

"Well, I have seen some of their trash," she said playfully. "So, not only do you write trash novels, you write pornography."

"Whatever it takes to get by," Riley admitted.

"I don't suppose you have any samples laying about?" she asked.

"The computer disks in that blue box are filled with them," he said pointing to a small storage shelf above the computer.

Heather didn't even ask permission, she simply staggered to the shelf. She removed the blue box with the exagerated care of a drunk. She chose a disk at random, then flopped into the office chair in front of the computer. Whenever Riley settled into a place for more than a day, the computer was never turned off. Heather touched the mouse and the starburst pattern on the screen switched to the opening page of the word processor program. She inserted the disk, then picked a story.

Riley knew there was no way, she was ever going to remember the story. Heather viewed the story with one eye closed. She managed to read through it, but really got nothing from it.

"At least you didn't starve," she said leaving the computer.

"No I didn't starve, but thanks for being concerned," Riley said with an out of place smile.

"I know, we treated you shamefully. I still don't know why you agreed to come back," Heather said.

"If you don't sell the tapes my audio novels, business drys up. I mean, there are just so many ways to discribe sexual intercourse," Riley said.

Heather nodded, but didn't answer. The two of them continued to drink for another hour, finally Heather asked, "Riley are you too drunk to get it up?"

"I'm way past that point," he said with a drunken chuckle.

"Good, then let's go to bed," Heather said.

Riley might have been too drunk to get it up, but he wasn't too drunk to appreciate Heather's well cared for body. He lay on the bed watching as she removed her clothes. She removed everything except he panties. Riley was surprised by exactly how beautiful her body was. Most women hide a little flaw somewhere under their clothes. Not so Heather, she looked perfect to the drunken Riley. It wouldn't made any difference had he been sober, Heather was perfect, except for the fact that her breasts were a little to large. Even there she had gotten what she had paid for.

When Riley awoke the next morning, just before noon, she was gone. He couldn't be sure she had been there at all. At least not until he found a half filled glass of vodka on the banquet. Then he wasn't absolutely sure when she had gone. After a breakfast of instant oatmeal Riley began working on his novel.

Around seven that evening a neighbor of Heather's was out walking her dog. As was her habit, since she was the official gossip of the project, she looked to see what Heather was up to tonight. She looked at every neighbor's doors and windows, everynight. At first she wasn't quite sure that anything was wrong at her neighbors house. She knew something wasn't quite right, but she didn't see anything unusual. It was what she didn't see that finally made her curious. First of all there were no lights in the condominium. She looked back quickly to make absolutely sure that Heather's white BMW was in the drive.

Mrs. Amos knew about the marital breakup the morning after it happened. She almost past it off as Heather being out whoring around. It finally dawned on her exactly what seemed wrong at Heather's condominium. The red front door wasn't to be seen. There was only a large black area where the red door should have been. It took her a moment to realize that the door was standing open.

When she added the no lights, the door open, and Heather's car parked in the drive, she knew something dreadful was wrong. She almost dragged her poor beagle as she hurried home. She immediately called the police. Mrs. Amos waited impatiently for the cops to arrive. You took your own good time, she thought as they finally drove into the complex.

Mrs. Amos went out to meet the officers. The officers turned out to be a lone female police person. Mrs. Amos hid her disappointment as she told her story. She stood outside as the young officer went inside to check. At first all the Amos woman saw was a flashlight playing around inside, then the overhead light in the upstairs bedroom illuminated the ceiling of the room. The young woman came back to the parking lot, then began asking Mrs. Amos questions.

Eddie Macon recieved the call shortly after seven thirty. He arrived at the Oakmont Terrace Condominium complex shortly after eight p.m. on that Sunday evening. As he stepped out of his car, he was met by officer Jennifer Marlow.

"Detective Macon," she said.

"Hi Jenny, so what's up?" he asked. "Female upstairs in her bed. Looks like she was murdered," Jennifer stated officially.

"Got any idea what happened?" he asked. Eddie liked to get the beat cops opinion, then prove them wrong.

"All I can tell you for sure, is that she is up there with a bra around her neck," Jenny said.

"Rape," he asked hoping it wouldn't be. Those were the absolute worst homicides.

"I doubt it. It looks like she has all her clothes in place. She is even wearing her bra," Jennifer said.

"Then maybe the bra belongs to the killer," Macon said.

"Could be I guess," Jenny said. She had learned from previous expierence not to make any suggestions to Macon. Everybody knew he was a prick.

"Well, let's me and you go take a look," Macon said. He was familier with the department rules about detectives not entering a crime scene without a partner or a patrol officer tagging along. There had been too many acusations of evidence planting in the press lately.

"Damn," Macon said when he entered the room.

"Looks like her bowels released when she died," Jenny said.

"I'll say," Macon replied. "So who is she?"

"Neighbor, who called, said her name was Heather Wilson. The neighbor said the husband moved out about a week ago. Heather and her husband owned some kind of radio business," she said.

"You mean like an electronics store?" Macon suggested.

"No, something to do with program productions, the old lady wasn't quite sure," Jenny replied.

"Don't look like the place has been ransacked," Macon said.

"I know," Jenny caught herself before she offered an opinion.

"Okay, let's go outside and call the lab and the M.E." Macon suggested. Macon made the radio calls from his car. He stood outside while using the radio. He thought it made him look like a TV detective. His first call was to the lab. He ordered a crime scene unit to report to him. Then he called the Medical Examiner. Eddie was a lot less badge heavy when he spoke with the ME's office. "Give them any shit," Eddie had once said, "And you can wait all night for an ME." Eddie didn't want to wait all night, he had other plans. His plans would only take an hour or so, but he couldn't leave the crime scene until the body had been carted off to the morgue. More orders from the chief, the dectective had to be present when the body was taken away. Why that particular rule was in force, no one quite knew. Maybe if you were following up some hot clue, you could be forgiven for leaving. But he doubted the chief would call getting laid a hot clue.

Eddie paced around the parking lot like a man with better things to do, than stand around waiting for some pokey assed lab crew and ME to finish their processing of the scene. When the lab crew finished the middle-aged supervisor approached Eddie.

"Nothing much up there Macon. There was a shit load of prints, and a load of shit but nothing else much to take into evidence. Maybe the ME can give you something," the womans in the red blazer said.

All the lab workers dressed in those silly red blazers and navy blue slacks. The chief thought it made them look more professional. Eddie had no idea who the hell the chief was trying to impress. It was his opinion that unless the lab workers whent naked no one would remember them anyway. People at a crime scene just didn't care about anyone but the cops. At least that was Eddies opinion which he often shared with anyone who would listen.

"I imagine it is all goin g to be a great waste of your time anyway. It seems she tossed her old man out last week. I expect his prints are all over, and he is number one on the suspect list."

Madge nodded, she didn't want to enter into a conversation with Eddie. Everyone knew Eddie was a back stabbing prick.

The body came out as Madge began replacing her equipment into the van. Her underlings had most of it in already. Madge cared for the really sophisticated equipment. She placed a box into the bed of the van, then strapped it down with bungie cords.

"Well boss," one of the young men in a red blazer asked, "Eddie is on the case. That means it will never be solved."

"I don't know. He must do something right. After all he made it to the defective, detectives," she said. "Besides there is a good chance her husband did it."

"Eddie better hope so. He couldn't find his ass with both hands," the young lab man said.

"Mike, you know I can't say anything bad about a detective. I like my job," Madge said with a grin.

"Well I like my job, but Eddie Macon should have stayed with the dog unit," he said.

Eddie was leaning against his car when the patrol officer approached. "Well Jenny, did you learn anything on the canvas?" he asked.

"I have the name of the company she owned," Jenny said flatly. "It is something called, Drive Time Productions."

"Did you happen to find out where the husband went?" he asked pointedly.

"No but I got his name for you. His name is George Wilson," she said.

"I guess I can find him through the company tomarrow," Macon said. "Did anybody mention a boyfriend?"

"No but old woman who called it in, said she spent the night somewhere else Saturday." Jenny said.

"I don't suppose anybody knew where she had been?" Macon asked as though Jenny had missed something. It was his habit to blame the uniforms for any problem he had with an investigation.

"I asked everyone and nobody knew. They all agreed that she and George kept pretty much to themselves," she added.

"This could get complicated. Let's hope it was the hubby." Macon said to himself.

"No one noticed any cars around here today," Jenny added just to finish her report on the canvas.

"Okay, you can clear the scene, just as soon as we secure the door. Let's go find her key ring," Macon suggested. He had suddenly realized that he hadn't searched the scene. When they entered the apartment, he began looking for anything which seemed out of place. He found nothing on the first floor. In the bedroom, the smell assaulted him so badly he wished only to grab her purse and leave. Which is exactly what he did. In the hallway he opened it, first making sure that Jennifer was watching. From the purse he removed the keyring, and her wallet. Inside the wallet was nothing more than her credit cards. Eddie didn't even find a note or phone number amoung the business cards.

"Okay, let's lock this place up. There is nothing more we can do until morning," he said to Jenny.

Eddie waited until Jenny had left the parking lot before he called the station to report himself off duty for the evening. It was already after midnight, his normal shift had ended twenty minutes before. He could have worked longer on the case, but it would have done no good.

In his haste to meet with Lola, the topless dancer at Monte's, he had forgotten a small detail. One which would cause the chief a great deal of grief the next morning. It would therefore case Eddie a great deal of grief. Eddie forgot to notify the next of kin.

Heather had a mother living in town. Eddie wasn't even going to be able to plead distance as an excuse. When the night reporter from the local newspaper called the police station for a wrap up of the days news. He was told there was a murder investigation in progress. The desk sergeant didn't see any hold notice on the file, so he read the sketchy information to the reporter. The name of the victem was listed in the report Jennifer had submitted.

Over coffee the next morning Mildred Everheart discovered her daughter Heather Everheart, Wilson had been murdered in her condominium by person or persons unknown. It took her a second reading of the article to completely understand the article. She immediately called her son Bobby, who never read the morning paper. He was much too busy for such a time wasting persuit.

Even though it was seven a.m. Mrs. Everheart reached her son at his office. After weaving her way through a dozen receptionist, Mrs. Everheart finally spoke to Bobby. Almost in hysterics she informed Bobby of his sister's death. Bobby had never much liked his younger sister, but she was family. Add to that the shameful way his mother had gotten the news and you had the circumstances which turned a mild manner tax attourney into a livid lawyer.

After he calmed his mother, he called the chief of police. "I'm sorry the chief isn't in today," the receptionist said, adding fuel to the building blaze.

"Then just who is in charge down there?" he asked angrily.

"Please lower your voice sir," the receptionist said.

"Lady, I want to talk to whoever is charge of the police department, and I want to talk to him right this minutes," Bobby said angrily.

"Sir, if you are going to take that attitude, I am going to stop talking to you," the receptionist said as she hung up one Bobby.

Bobby was livid, he left his office, then walked to the senior partner's office. "Mike," he said as he entered. "I have a problem." Bobby spent the next twenty minutes crying on Mike's shoulder.

The older man, who hated the city government since a client had lost a zoning request, asked Bobby. "Did you make that call from your desk?"

"Yes sir," Bobby said bewildered by the question. Mike pushed the button on his intercom. "Miss Adkins please change the telephone tape and bring me the used one." There was no reply. Mike didn't need a reply, he knew at that very moment Miss Adkins was on her way to the coffee lounge to pull the tape.

Mike didn't speak again until the lovely young woman handed Mike the tape. He placed the tape into the player on his bookcase. The tape played almost word for word as Bobby had said it would.

Mike immediately called channel eight. He explained about Heather, Bobby, and Mrs Everheart. Immediately after, the tape was played for the television reporter.

On the News at Noon show, hell was unleashed on the police department. The whole sorry business, including an interview with the grieving mother, who still had no idea where her daughter's body might be. Or even if it were truly her daughter.

It seems that in his haste, Eddie hadn't thought to have the body officially identified. All that had been taken care of by the News at Noon show. The tapes had already been made before any of it happened. The cops looked inept to say the least.

Eddie Macon knew nothing of all that. He checked on with the dispatcher at eight. The crap didn't hit the fan until noon, so Eddie was oblivious as he approached the office of Drive Time Productions.

The receptionist desk was empty so he waited. After a very few minutes, he walked toward the only sound he heard. I poked his head into an office with four people busy punching computer keys, "Excuse me," he said. "Who is isn charge around here?"

"Go back to the front and turn right, Heather Wilson will see you," the middle-aged man with the red beard said.

"Maybe you could help me?" he asked.

"Look laddie, I am busy as hell as are these others. We don't have time to listen to your sales pitch. If Heather isn't there, then come back later." the man said gruffly.

"I'm detective Macon of the police. Heather Wilson won't be coming in today or anyother day," Eddie said enjoying their reactions. Each of them stopped punching keys to look at Eddie.

"So what happened to her?" the read beard asked.

"I have some questions to ask you first," he said.

"I don't think so laddie. If you want us to cooperate, then tell us what happened to Heather," he said again.

Even Eddie knew that a confrontation wouldn't help him. "Heather Wilson was found murdered last night around seven," he said. "Now will you please tell me where I can find her husband?"

Riley turned to the others, "Any of you know where the Brit can find George?" he asked.

The writers waited to see what Aaron would say. "He should be in his office in an hour," Aaron informed Eddie.

"So where is he at this moment." Eddie asked.

"My guess is that he is out having breakfast," Riley suggested.

"If you don't mind maybe we should all have a talk while we wait," Eddie suggested.

"Why not, you seem to have the floor constable," Riley said with a condescending smile.

"You don't much like cops do you?" Macon asked.

"Not at all, coppers perform a needed service. I just never cared much for badge heavy pricks like you Mr. Macon," Riley said.

"Do we know each other?" Eddie asked.

"We have met, I am sad to say," Riley replied.

"When was that, I have no memory of you at all," he said. "What is your name anyway?"

"Timothy Riley, at your service," Riley said nastily.

"And how do we know each other?" Eddie asked.

"Five years ago, you and your only slightly more intelligent partner were searching for a friend of mine. One who had wondered into the woods," Riley replied.

"I suppose something bad happened to your friend and you blame me and the dog?" Eddie suggested defensively.

"Not the dog, he was actually quite well behaved. You on the other hand Mr. Macon were then and I expect still are, a loud obnoxious prick," Riley said looking hard into Macon's eyes. Everyone of the writers noticed Eddie look away first.

"I'm sorry we got off on the wrong foot, but I hope you will cooperate with me. Your cooperation might help me find Miss Wilson's killer," Eddie said calmly. He actually wanted to knock the assholes teeth out.

"Any information I have is yours for the asking," Riley said.

"So when was the last time you saw Miss Wilson," Eddie asked.

"It is Mrs. Wilson, and she was at my house Saturday night," I said.

"Oh, what time did she leave your house?" Eddie asked.

"I have no idea, I passed out drunk. When I awoke she was gone," Riley informed him.

"And what time was it that you noticed her missing?" he asked.

"Early Sunday morning," Riley replied.

"You didn't go to her house later for an encore, did you?" Eddie asked.

"Mr. Macon, I find that question offensive. For encore to be the appropiate choice of words, there would have needed to be a performance. I assure you there was none," Riley said dangerously calm.

Eddie turned his attentions to Aaron. "So, was Mr. Wilson with you last night?" he asked. He realized he should have seperated them. Aaron had taken on Riley's tone.

"Mr. Wilson has been sleeping in my spare room, since he and his wife seperated," she snapped.

"Then you wouldn't know for sure where he was last evening?" Eddie asked.

"Actually I would, he was with me at the movies," she replied. She even went on to give the name of the movie as well as the theater.

He asked the two young men, who both replied that they had not seen either since Friday afternoon.

Eddie turned his attention back to Aaron when he asked, "So how was the seperation going?"

"I have no idea, that is something you should really ask Mr. Wilson," she informed him.

"I will, so where did you say his office was located?" Eddie said.

"Around the corner," Riley replied shortly.

"Miss Thomas could I see you in the hallway please?" Eddie asked.

"You don't have to go out there," Riley informed her.

"It's okay Riley, I don't mind," she said with the first warm smile she had ever given him.

Once out of Riley's hearing, Eddie asked, "What is it with that guy?"

"You mean Riley?" she asked. Eddie nodded. "Riley seems to hate everyone. He does seem to dislike you even more than most," Aaron said. She had to admit the thought pleased her just a little.

"So was Mr. Wilson really with you last night," Eddie asked.

"All day actually," she replied. "I couldn't get rid of him."

"Why were you trying to get rid of him?" the cop asked.

"I was trying to do a little work at home. While I was working, he kept distracting me," she said.

"So he wouldn't leave you alone?" Eddie asked.

"Something like that," Aaron admitted. "You surely don't believe that George had anything to do with Heather's Death."

The phone in Macons pocket chirped. "Hello," he said.

Aaron could hear only his side of the conversation.

"You don't say, well I guess I will be right down," Eddie said into the phone. "It seems as though, George walked into the police station a few minutes ago."

"Why would he do that?" Aaron asked.

"I have no idea, there is no way he could have known about his wife's death, unless he was involved somehow," Eddie stated. He didn't know about the newspaper story, because no one he had met that morning read the papers. Eddie sure as hell never read a newspaper.

When Aaron returned to the office, she noted that no one was working or talking. Everyone, even Riley seemed to be lost in thought. She walked to the dining table which Riley used for a desk. She changed her mind just before she seated herself. She walked to the coffee machine, filled her cup then returned to sit across for Riley. A couple of moments later Joel moved to the table, then Roberty joined them. No one spoke for a few moments, then Robert asked, "So what now?" He was asking anyone in particular.

"In what respect," Riley answered since he was the de facto leader of this band,

"I know this going to sound heartless, but what happens to us?" he clerified.

"That lad is up in the air," Riley said quietly.

"How could you even ask such a thing with Heather being killed? The body isn't even cold yet," Joel asked.

"Actually, the body is very cold by now," Riley said. "But your point is valid nonetheless. It is a bit early to be worring about ourselves."

"I'll bet George did it," Joel said.

"He couldn't have," Aaron snapped. "He was with me all day."

"Then he hired someone," Robert added. "How about it Riley, do you think George did it?"

"Actually, I have no earthly idea. The only person I know for sure who didn't do it, is me," Riley said.

"Well, I sure as hell didn't kill her, I haven't seen her since Friday," Robert said.

"How good is the detective working on this?" Aaron asked looking to Riley for an answer.

"I don't know," he said honestly. "But, I can find out," Riley dialed a number, then put the call on the speaker phone.

"Greenpoint police," the metalic voice said.

"Sergeant Paula Ward please?" Riley asked.

"One moment please," the voice said.

A few seconds later a female voice said, "Sergeant Ward."

"Paula, this it Timothy Riley, I need to ask you a question," he said.

"Riley, when the hell did you get back in town?" the voice asked.

"Three weeks ago," Riley answered.

"Why didn't you call?" she asked.

"I've been a little busy out here at Drive Time," he explained.

"I know why you are calling, and I don't know a thing," she said. "You didn't have anything to do with this did you?"

"How could you even ask that?" Riley said.

"Come on Riley, they did screw you. This would be the perfect revenge. Do the woman and get her husband convicted of it." Paula said.

"Paula love, I'm not that smart," Riley replied.

"Sure you are," she said with a laugh. "So what is it you want to know?"

"How good is this Macon chap?" Riley asked.

"Don't worry he is only fair. If you did it, you have a fifty, fifty chance of getting away with it," Paula said it as a joke.

"Actually, I was hoping he was better than that," Riley said.

"Sorry, but he isn't," she said.

"Well thanks for the input," Riley said.

"How about you and I go to dinner one night soon?" she asked.

"Sure, let me see how this shakes out. I will call you when I know what's what," Riley promised.

When the phone was again resting in it's cradle, Riley said, "Well, it looks as though we may be in for a long investigation."

"So what exactly does that mean?" Robert asked.

"It probably means the company is through," Riley admitted.

"Why, we can continue writing," Joel stated. Everyone nodded their agreement.

"Except, if we don't have a way to get the tapes produced, it won't matter. If the tapes could be produced. we have no way to sell them without George. Even if we sold them, we could do nothing with the payments. The money belongs to the company and the company belongs to George. I doubt, he is going to be up to running the place alone."

"How about the two tapes we finished last week? Surely George can sell those?" Joel stated.

"If George isn't in jail," Riley commented.

"But I tell you he had nothing to do with it," Aaron said coming to George's defense.

"I hope you are right," Riley said. "You guys might be able to keep him straight, especially you Aaron."

"What about you?" Aaron asked.

"Me, I'm through here," Riley said. "I can't work for George."

Everyone became very quiet. For several minutes nothing was said. It was Riley who finally broke the silence. "Would you all mind cleaning the hard drives in the laptops. I think I will pack up my truck and be moving on down the road."

"I don't think the cops are going to like that idea," Aaron said.

"I definately am not going to leave town. I am just going to go home and get roaring drunk," he admitted.

"How about, I stop by the liquor store then join you?" Joel asked.

"Sure, why not?" Riley agreed.

"Why don't we leave a note on the door, and all go," Robert suggested.

"Not me," Aaron said. "I am going to wait here for George."

"Good, then we won't need a note," Robert commented.

"Get you liquor lads, then join me at the Trails End campground. Just look for my old truck. It will be parked outside a giant thermos bottle," Riley advised them.

Macon walked into the converted school building. The police had outgrown their share of city hall, so the abandoned school was renovated for them. Eddie walked to the forth grade classroom, which now housed his office. Eddie's cubicle was one of six in the converted classroom. Eddie imagined he could still smell the chalk dust in the air. Even though it had been a long time since he attended class in the room.

"Eddie," the clerk said. "George Wilson is waiting to see you."

Eddie looked at the young man sitting in a chair at the front of the old classroom. This isn't going to be easy, Eddie thought. The man looked slick, sitting there in his fancy silk suit. Well first things first, Eddie thought. "Mr. Wilson, I'm afraid I have some bad news for you," Eddie said.

"Worse than my wife having been murdered?" George asked.

"Some someone has already notified you?" Eddie asked a little confused.

"I read it in the God Damned paper. What the hell kind of operation are you running here. Not only did I not get notified, nobody bothered to call Heather's mother." George screamed.

"Calm down Mr. Wilson," Eddie said in an even voice.

"Calm down hell, I want to know what the hell is going on here?" he demanded.

"Let's go somewhere a little quieter," Eddie suggested leading George to the rooms next door. That particular classroom had been divided into several small interrogation rooms.

When George was seated at the old library table Eddie began, "Your extranged wife's body was found last night around Eight. None of the neighbors knew how to contact you, so I planned to inform you of her death at your office. That is where I was went you came in. As to the newspapers getting the information, I have no idea how they found out your wife's identity. Since I didn't know about you, I hardly could have known about her mother." Eddie said trying to put as good a face as possible on his deeds.

"I want to know what happened?" George asked with some of the edge gone from his voice.

"Let me ask you first, where were you yesterday afternoon?" Eddie demanded softly.

"What time, oh hell it doesn't matter, I was with one of my writers, Aaron Thomas," he said.

"Are you currently staying with Miss Thomas?" Eddie asked.

"I am, but that hardly has anything to do with my wife's death," George explained.

"How long have you been staying with Miss Thomas?" Eddie continued as if he hadn't heard a word.

"A couple of weeks, why?" George asked.

"Just curious," Eddie answered. "So how did you get along with your wife. I mean after she tossed you out?" Eddie asked.

"We got along just fine. Am I a suspect?" George asked unbelievingly.

"Not really, I just have to ask you these things?" Eddie countered. "So, what was the arrangement about the business?" Eddie asked.

"Look, I don't much like these questions," George protested.

"Believe me it is all routine," Eddie said.

"You really should be talking to Riley. He hated me and my wife. He thought we cheated him out of the business," George informed him.

"Don't worry, I'm going to get around to Riley. Did you know that your wife spent Saturday night with Riley?" Eddie asked watching his reaction closely.

"No, but it doesn't surprise me. I knew she had some reason for asking him to come back," George admitted.

"Then I guess I need to talk to Riley, but first tell me about the business. What exactly was the arrangement over there?" he asked.

"I might as well tell you, Riley will anyway," George said. "I own forth percent, Heather owned forty percent and Good old Riley owns twenty. When Heather brought Riley back they had the controlling interest. They forced me out as CEO," George admitted.

"So now I guess you own eighty precent. I suppose you will be forcing Riley out. When you put it that way, Riley had even less reason to kill Heather," Eddie commented.

"Wait a minute, I have told you already I had nothing to do with Heather's death," George said.

"Tell you what, why don't we do it this way. I'll read you your mairanda warning, then you take a polygraph. That way I can concentrate on Riley," Eddie said. br>

George began to look a little nervous. "I think I better call my lawyer," he said.

"That's up to you, but if you want to clear this up quick, I would take the polygraph," Eddie advised.

"Let me call my lawyer and I'll do whatever he says," George said.

"One thing, let me read you the Miranda warning before you call him. Just in case he tells you to take the polygraph," Eddie suggested. He began reading without waiting for George to answer.

"So the phone is in my office, just follow me," he said as he led the way to his desk. He left George alone in his cubicle since he would have been in trouble had he listened to a lawyer client conversation.

George stepped out of the cubicle, then said, "My lawyer said to stop talking to you. He said that if you wanted to hold me, I should call him back. Otherwise I am to leave right now."

"That's up to you George, but I would think you would want to help me out here," Eddie said.

"I'm just doing what my lawyer suggested," George said with a sheepish smile.

New at noon came on TV just about the time George left the detective's office. Eddie didn't see it, but the chief who had been home nursing a cold saw it. Two minutes later he was on the phone to the assistant chief for public affairs, and twenty minutes later he was in his office awaiting Eddie Macon.

When Eddie walked in it was to a fire storm. "What the hell were you thinking. Why didn't you put a not for release tag on this case. We are up to asses in citizen complaints. For a change they are justified. We will be damned lucky if this doesn't get national press," the chief screamed. The chief was one of those modern lawmen who understood the value of good press. What he was looking at wasn't good at all.

"Chief, I can go on the TV and explain that it was because we couldn't find the extranged husband," Eddie said to try and calm the chief.

"Eddie, you keep your fucking mouth shut. If I see your mouth moving anywhere near a TV camera, you will be walking the downtown beat until you retired." The chief said. He blew his nose noisily, then turned to the asst chief for public affairs, "Happy. what's the containment look like on this one?" he asked.

"Depends, if we solve it quick, it shouldn't be too bad. If not, the TV may well crucify us. You know once they do a piece, they almost always follow it to the end. Their audiance demands it." Asst chief Hap Armfield said.

"So what's the first thing you are going to do?" the chief asked.

"I'm going out there and lie my ass off," Hap said with a grin. "Meanwhile we need to charge someone PDQ."

"How about it Macon, what do you have?" the chief asked.

"The extranged husband has an alibi, but it is some broad he is dirty dancing with," Macon said.

"How about physical evidence, can we put anything on him?" the chief asked.

"Not yet chief, the lab has just started on the evidence," Macon said.

"I'll call up there and light a fire under their asses," the chief said.

"To tell you the truth, I don't know how much good any of it is going to do. He lived in the house up until a week before. His prints could be on everything in there and we couldn't prove anything with them." Eddie commented.

"Eddie, make this work," the chief said threateningly.

"Yes sir," Eddie said only because he didn't know what else to say.

When Eddie left the chief's office he went straight to the lab. The shift supervisor from the night before was off until four, so he had one of the day people pull the evidence. The young man removed the evidence from the community evidence locker. He signed his name to the custody tag, then opened the clear plastic bag.

"Okay Matt, let's have it," Eddie said as the kid sorted through the evidence bag.

"I have approximately," the kid stopped while he counted. "Twenty three finger print lifts, and one ladies plain white cotton bra. Also the contents of an ashtray found by the victems bed. I'm afraid that's all there is," the kid said.

"Well frankly, I wasn't expecting much," Eddie admitted.

"Is there a label in that bra," Eddie asked.

"No sir, but I can do some tests on it, if you like," Matt suggested.

"Just tell me what size it is," Eddie asked. "There doesn't seem to be anything special about it. Probably a K mart model."

"When you asked about a label, I thought you wanted a maker. There is a size marked on a tag inside. It is a thirty four B cup," Matt said.

"Unless I miss my guess, it is way to small for our victem. When her clothes get here from the ME, check her bra size for me," Eddie demanded.

"When do you think I'll have them?" the kid asked.

"Shouldn't be too long, they are cut her this morning," Eddie stated.

"Okay, I'll give you a call," Matt said. He turned his back on Eddie as he packed the evidence into the bag, then double sealed it. What a prick, he thought.

Eddie returned to his cubicle. He sat at his desk trying to sort out what he knew. It came to a big zero. True to his nature, he had already forgotten the stir he had caused by not stopping the release of Heather's name.

After a few moment's of thought, he called the Medical examiners office. The woman who had cut up Heather came on the line. Eddie asked her about the time and cause of death.

The autopsy revealed she had eaten a couple of hour before her death. My gues is time of death is between noon and three p.m. The cause of death was strangulation with a ligature of some type," she said.

"Bra," Eddie said, "She was strangled with a bra."

"The woman had her bra right were it should have been," the woman said. "There was also no sign of forced sex. As a matter of fact, it didn't appear that she had engaged in any kind of sex for the last three days."

"Do you still have her clothes?" Eddie asked.

"Sure, I'm preparing to bag them now," the woman answered.

"Check to see if there is a tag in her bra. I need to know what size it is," Eddie explained.

"Hold on," the woman said with a sigh. She came back a few minutes later. "Thirty eight D cup," she said.

"That's what I thought. One more thing, did you find anything under her nails?" Eddie asked.

"Nothing, she didn't struggle at all," the womans said. "No sign of any bruises or anything other indication that she put up a fight. It looks as though, she just laid there while someone strangled her. I expect to find either a shit load of alcohol or drugs in the tox screen," she informed Eddie.

"Okay, thanks," Eddie said hanging up. He didn't hear the woman say, "Prick."

While Eddie was interviewing George and being interviewed by the chief, the three male writers had assembled at Riley's trailer. Joel and Robert had stopped by the grocery as well as the liguor store.

"So lad's what's it to be," Riley said pouring himself a generous drink. "Should we slice our wrists or write our resumes."

"Ah, too young for the warriors way out," Riley said.

"So boss, what are we going to do?" Joel asked.

"Allow me to ask you this lads. What would you like to happen?" Riles asked.

"I would like for this to have never happened," Robert said.

"Ah, not that we can not change. So what would be your second choice?" Riley pressed them.

"For the company to continue and make money for a change," Joel said.

"If George is convicted of this crime, he can not inherit Heather's forth percent. I suppose it would go to her mother. Who by the way is a charming woman." Riley said.

"Would she allow us to run the company?" he asked.

"I would imagine so, but George may not be the culprit," Riley said.

"Then who could it be?" Robert asked.

"Almost anyone," Riley said.

"Lads, what we have to do, is to find a way to continue operating while this whole thing shakes out. George is going to be in charge unless they arrest him. Which is likely, but even then he is the only partner with power of attourney. In other words, even though I am a partner I can't do anything at all. I can't sign checks, nor can I sell merchandise under his lable," Riley admitted. "Besides which George own the last tape and anything else you two write."

"Why don't you buy him out, I mean the company is worth nothing," Robert said.

"It was worth nothing before Heather made that last tape. Now even George has to know the company is worth something," Riley suggested.

"Maybe not, she just heard the tapes on Saturday, maybe she didn't get a chance to tell George," Robert said.

"Possibly," Riley said.

"Well lads, I think I should go back and talk to George, Maybe we can work something out after all," Riley said.

Riley found George at his desk, in the empty office. "Riley, were the hell is everybody?"

"I have no idea about Aaron, but the other two are at my place getting themselves roaring drunk. They seem a little concerned with the future," Riley admitted.

"Riley, what am I going to do. The cops think I killed Heather," he said.

"One thing at a time. What are you going to do about the company?" Riley asked.

"I don't give a damn about the company. I am looking at being charged with Heather's murder. My lawyer says that I am the number one suspect," George complained.

"Don't worry old son, I am number two on the list. Although you do have the better motive," Riley said.

"Yes well, they think I killed her for the company, what a joke. The company won't even exist in a week or so," George said.

"George, do you want out of all this. I mean the murder charge and the company?" Riley asked.

"Yes," George said. "Can you help me?"

"I don't know what the motive was, but I know who killed Heather. If you will sign the company over to Heather's mother, I will tell the cops what I know," Riley said.

"You would leave me twisting in the wind?" George asked.

"George did you give a damn about me when you squeezed me out?" Riley asked.

"I guess not. If you can give the cops the killer, I will sign over the company," George agreed.

"Call Heather's mother right now. I want all this in writing and properly notorized," Riley demanded.

Two hours later Heather's brother had the paperwork done. "This is awfully rough, but it will stand up in any court," he informed George.

"How about it Riley?" George asked.

"Call the cops," Riley said.

Macon arrived a half hour later. "So what's this vital information?" he asked.

"Mr. Macon, I am about to make you a hero," Riley said.

"Really, and how are you going to do that?" Macon asked.

"I am going to tell who killed Heather Wilson, I can not tell you why or even exactly how, but I can tell you who. I imagine even you can find the proof if you know where to look," Riley said.

"And who might the killer be?" Eddie asked.

"Mr. Robert Adams, one of my writers," Riley said.

"What evidence do you have to support that claim," Macon insisted.

"None really, I just know that he did it. He let something slip when he and I were having a drink. You see, we make our first new tape last week. At least Heather made it. She and Gilbert our engineer worked on the tape until late Friday night. Heather came back to the office on Saturday after being summoned by Gilbert. From the office she drove directly to my trailer where we got roaring drunk together. She left my house sometime Sunday morning.

Robert told you he hadn't seen Heather since Friday, but he told me that Heather had heard the tape on Saturday. Obviously he saw or at least talked to her on Sunday. My guess is that for reasons, I can't even imagine, he killed her on Sunday," Riley said.

"That's interesting but awfully thin," Macon said.

"Well you are the detective, why don't you go detect," Riley said scornfully.

The first hard evidence came from Heather's cell phone records. She had called Robert from the car on her way home from Riley's house. The next piece of the puzzle turned up when it was discovered that Robert lived only two miles from Heather's condominium. Robert was also an avid bicycle rider.

Macon was stumped by a couple of things, Motive and why Heather hadn't fought back. The motive came when he learned that Riley and Heather had discussed firing Robert. It was Macon's theory that Heather had called Robert from the cell phone to fire him. She had heard the tapes and knew the company was back on track without him.

The how of it was pretty simple. Robert waited a few hours, then drove to her house. According to his statement, he wanted to talk Heather into one more chance. When he arrived Heather was again drunk, the toxicolgy report confirmed it, she acted as though nothing had happened. If she remembered firing Robert it never came up. At least not for a while. Heather was drunk enough to get one of her pre surgery bras to show Robert how much she had 'grown'. When she finished the demonstration, she left it on the sofa.

"So I guess you are going to give me another try?" Robert finally asked.

"You mean the writing?" she asked with a giggle.

"Sure the writing," Robert responded.

"Of course not, Robert you just don't have it, but we might work something out. That is if you do for me what Aaron does for George," Heather said drunkenly.

Robert got angry, he had also been drinking. "I'm a damned good writer. I don't have to screw the boss to keep my job," he said.

"Honey, you are a lousy writer. If you aren't any better at screwing the boss, you aren't going to have a job," Heather threatened while she laughed hysterically at her own joke.

Robert lost it, he move toward her. Heather thought it was a game, so she ran to the bedroom. Robert picked up her old bra, then went after her. When he entered the bedroom, Heather had already passed out. Robert wrapped the bra around her neck then strangled her with it. He put both their glasses into the dishwasher, started it, then walked out the door. He removed his bicycle from her open garrage, then road away.

Joel became a first rate writer. He and Aaron carried the company after Riley disappeared a couple of months later. Aaron also began writing porn aimed at women. She was quite successful at it.

George stayed on as the salesman, but Aaron threw him out after a couple of months. Her writing became a passion. She just didn't have time for George.

Heather's mother and brother became quite good at operating the company. The two of them had the company in good shape before Riley drove his pickup into the sunset or whatever.