Mainly, it was Miss Lavinia Thornton who taught me to love Dolores Morgan.
– Like hell it was, Tony says. Tony thinks he can see through anything and everything these days.
– Keyword equals mainly, I tell Tony.
– No way Mr. Faulkner. Key words, plural, equal Lavinia Thornton equals poor, black maid who works for, more key words here, Dolores Morgan equals rich woman of many sorrows. You are so full of shit, Allen, but whatever keeps you moored in pseudo-Faulkner-land, go for it.
Tony thinks he’s my alt. It’s fashionable enough these days to have one or two alts for yourself. Some even have, like, fourteen of them. But actually being one? All on your own? Tony believes he’s setting a trend that will soon push him onto the cover of GQ.
I have no idea why I allowed Tony to sub-let the spare bedroom in my rented bungalow on Quiet Street anyway. The idea, for me, was to work fewer hours at the cafe in town and have more time for my literary pursuits. But…
…it just hasn’t worked out that way.
At first, I tried to be nice. Obviously, Tony was on the ropes financially. Not only had his wife and pit bull left him, but his bulldozer was repossessed, too. By some very rough-looking Romanian guy who did not wear a banker’s suit; who just one day pounded up the seashell driveway in greasy coveralls and those heavy black logger boots that add three inches to your height and ten pounds to your ankles. No nonsense. At. All. Like he owned the place. Just drove the Caterpillar straight down the driveway and clean out of sight. Since this was Tony’s only transportation, I took pity and said sure, you can stay another month if you have to.
Dumb. Just so fucking dumb.
Tony has now been here – surprise, surprise – another five months. In which time he has revealed himself to be a literary critic of the very highest order, I assure you.
I tried to tell him that the story about Dolores Morgan was important, not just literarily, but also politically. I mean, how often do you stumble onto someone whose gay escort was used by a military contractor in order to blackmail McGeorge Bundy into pushing the Vietnam War during his time in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations?
Ronny, Dolores’s Cape Cod escort during the summer, and really her only local pal to speak of, first met Mac when they served together under Admiral Kirk – Sicily in ’43, then 1944 in the English Channel, right at the very middle of things as Operation Overlord developed. What stories Ronny could tell after a few drinks on Dolores’s porch overlooking the Atlantic!
Turns out, as he later confided in me, a third officer burst in on him and Mac one afternoon in private quarters just after the war had ended – with a camera! Once out of the darkroom, those 8×10 glossies were stored for over two decades in a wall-safe behind an unsigned Matisse. Had it not been for Ronny, there may well have been no war in Vietnam. That alone is worth whatever first sentence the storyteller wishes to start out with.
Jesus fucking Christ.
To say that these two Massachusetts State Police detectives look a little icy would be a compliment.
They look like diabolical aliens from an evil planet on the dark side of outer space. And it’s totally a deliberate look on their part. It’s meant to intimidate, not keep their scalps clean from occasional contact with dirty felons. To say their appearance is Nazi-like is to say they look like sissies. Their appearance is way beyond Nazi stuff, and way beyond anything needed for occupational hygiene.
Murphy and Egan surely must know that their appearance is intimidating, not only to bad guys but to a huge chunk of the general, law-abiding, everyday public; not 100 percent of whom exactly warms up to bullet-headed cops, even when they’re way down aisle seven of Walmart. (Oh wait. At an income of $150K-$200K a year, much of which comes from no-show, grant-funded traffic patrols and the strenuous job of playing war games on their smartphones while sitting in a heated/air conditioned state-owned SUV for eight hours on the side of the road, well, probably not too many of them, unlike the rest of us, can be found in Walmart these days.)
Their deliberately ugly looks just keeps on driving good people away. And yet cops like this keep on telling the public how much they need our help in solving crimes, which, supposedly, keeps everyone safe.
If these cops really did want people to chat with them, in order that we might provide useful information about a crime, thus helping everyone, then cops like Murphy and Egan would drop the I-hate-everybody-and-everything look. They would stop scaring people away. They would be approachable, like normal people. Which just might result in a better image and thus better encourage help from an understandably skeptical general public, thereby leaving the public safer. Isn’t that the point?
Take the Molly Bish case, for example. Say there’s a church janitor who comes across some relevant information stashed among various documents in a rectory basement. He reasonably thinks it could be really helpful. But he’s intimidated by these hyper-predatory goons who always look like they want to kill you. After the torture part.
Of course, mindless cop-groupies will immediately say that if the janitor is so easily intimidated by the appearance of these cops, then he forfeits his chance to help them out. This is what cops and cop-groupies actually think. It is how they think – as if it’s the janitor’s loss, not the public’s loss. In their minds, if you don’t like the way these cops look, then you don’t deserve to help them. In other words, cops would rather look unapproachable than solve crime.
A janitor like the guy in this example will take one look at guys like Murphy and Egan and think, nope, I got other things to do, not talking to anyone who looks like them. Not to mention that cops have a long history of shooting the messenger.
It’s well known that news outlets of all kinds have a quiet give-and-take relationship with police, politicians, business leaders, etc. That’s how news works. As everyone knows, stories are often strategically leaked to reporters eager for a scoop. Press conferences are scheduled around a news cycle. Cops call reporters and reporters call cops. They depend on each other. But it’s not a 50/50 deal. Cops have the upper hand most of the time.
It could not have been a surprise to Murphy and Egan that a photographer would be there to represent them to the public. And I doubt the reporter/photographer simply made a wild guess that these guys would show up at the Harvard MA police station.
The whole idea behind the Murphy/Egan appearance was to get publicity, presumably favorable publicity. They didn’t want to just talk with a small group of people for a while in a conference room, then go home. Egan and Murphy want the story, complete with the photos, out there, in the news, seen by the hundreds or thousands that read this paper so that someone will come forward. And photos are an integral part of a news story.
How a public official, or an authority figure like a cop, portrays him/herself to the public when asking for its assistance is really, really crucial to receiving the information they themselves keep saying they want to receive. But here, in what they know will be their public moment, Murphy and Egan seem more interested in projecting intimidating looks, which discourages the public from offering the very assistance detectives say they want.
Murphy and Egan apparently want to show dominance – quite physical dominance – more than approachability. It’s not like they were completely unaware of how their heads would make them look. They project this image for a purpose, which is at cross-purposes with fighting crime.
Criminals must just love it when detectives who look like this scare off the public. Sure, these cops may be rough and tough, and maybe that comes in handy during interrogations, but with kill-kill-kill looks like this, they’re not fighting crime as much as pushing good people away.
There will always be a certain, unavoidable tension between civilians and the authority to whom we, the general public, must be accountable. It cannot be otherwise. No society can continue for long without someone in charge. But Murphy’s and Egan’s appearance degrades what should be a more or less agreeable, informal, daily connection between authority figures like cops and the general, civilian population. We cannot afford to drift into opposing camps, especially over shaved heads and scowling faces. Some may laugh derisively at this opinion, but they should remember that our world is safer when it is more inclusive, when authority is regarded as accessible, as springing from the people, as it constitutionally does.
To substantiate that I know what I’m talking about here, I have in fact tried to help in a high profile murder case by providing a (now excommunicated and possibly deceased) priest’s pertinent phone records that came from his storage unit – about fifteen years after he was convicted of having raped two Worcester County teenage girls. But if a couple of guys like Murphy and Egan ever showed up at my door, which, according to the note below, they likely did, there would be exactly no conversation. Door closed. Immediately. The “please” part of the note does not cut it.
Can the public feel good about the way Worcester County District Attorney Joe Early, Jr. oversees his office, including the appearance of the cops who rely on the public – all of the public – in order to gather and process the evidence he needs to properly prosecute crimes committed against the people of his jurisdiction? If Joe Early approves of the way cops like Egan and Murphy look, then he’s not doing his job. Law enforcement has, with the steadfast help of the news media, replaced solving crime with belligerently telling us who’s boss.
All of which is not hard to believe once you realize that the discrediting, diabolical image of me so easily found online was, in fact, not spread around the internet by me. It was cleverly acquired and re-packaged by affiliates of cops like Murphy and Egan who are, as their own heads clearly demonstrate, experts at making anyone, even themselves, look crazy and dangerous. That seems to be what they do best in Wormtown these days.
One of the more dramatic and controversial moments in the 2017 Oxygen Media series, The Disappearance of Maura Murray, occurred when Maura’s father, Fred Murray, was asked by journalist Maggie Freleng whether he had ever sexually assaulted Maura.
Both Maggie Freleng (MF) and Art Roderick (AR) asserted during a subsequent True Crime Garage (TCG) interview that Fred himself had neither heard nor ever been told about these rumors of sexual assault, which have been floating around the internet for nearly a decade.
While Freleng said she was “taken off guard” by Fred’s answer, Roderick said he “kinda knew the answers [Fred] was going to give us.”
Here’s a transcript excerpted from the TCG interview posted on You Tube 25 October 2017.
TCG: What was the hardest question you [Freleng and Roderick] had to ask during the interview process and to whom?
MF: …definitely asking Fred if he sexually assaulted Maura… We also thought he knew about that rumor. We were both even surprised at [Fred’s] reaction.
MF: I thought [Fred] was ready for that question. Turns out he had never actually heard that before. And it was pretty difficult because I was very caught off guard. I just thought [Fred] was going to go, “absolutely not, that never happened, you know, that scumbag James Renner…” and I was caught off guard by [Fred’s] reaction.
AR: But his reaction was completely genuine. I mean, there was no doubt. I mean, he had never heard that before.
AR: And [Fred] was completely taken aback. That was probably by far the toughest question. And his reaction, I thought, was completely genuine. And he was really upset about it.
MF: This is a question that needed to be addressed because people would not stop talking about it, and it was out there. And he had never been asked that.
TCG: While we’re on the subject of talking to Fred Murray… Art, one thing I noticed throughout the documentary was that when you are asking questions, you are very busy with pen and paper, jotting down notes, taking notes, and when you spoke with Fred, there was a much different approach. You put the pen and paper aside and you were really focusing in on his face and his eyes. We all know that Fred’s an animated character and that he talks with his hands. What was your strategy there?
AR: We probably sat down with [Fred]… three or four times for different interviews and this was going to be the toughest one. And I just wanted to look at his reaction to all this. And I kinda knew what he was going to say anyway.
AR: In this particular case, we kinda knew the answers he was going to give us to these questions, and, you know, if something different had came out, then of course I would have written something down. But, you know, I kinda knew [how] he was going to come across and I just wanted to, to look him in the eye, and, and, you know, get his true reaction and I think that’s exactly what we got.
On 15 March 2016, at least several months before the interview with Fred Murray, John Smith posted on his blog a statement apparently written by Fred, a short excerpt of which appears here:
I’ve recently been shown two very early comments by the author of a blog about my daughter, Maura, that represent the most insidious and reprehensible tactic that I can possibly imagine. This is from November 3, 2011, “she came to his single bed motel at 2:30 in the morning,” and was reinforced on March 19, 2012, with “sleeps in the bed.” Again, the bed reference is singular, indicating two people in one bed. The insinuation here is one hundred percent clear and could be interpreted as an obvious ploy by the blogger to create a scenario in which the reader can be influenced and encouraged to envision something unspeakably horrible. To contrive an allusion to the worst thing that a person could possibly be accused of in the history of mankind is beyond despicable. Is the blogger trying to create a sinister character to embellish the “narrative” he hopes to peddle? Is he attempting to shape his “story” toward the direction he wants it to go for promotional purpose?
The above statement of 15 March 2016 was followed on 13 October 2017, also on John Smith’s blog, by “Fred Murray’s Updated Statement.” The updated statement, published by Smith six days after the “tough question” interview aired, omits any reference to the “something unspeakably horrible” that was mentioned in the original statement.
(The actual text of the “Updated Statement” contains the date-header “June 30, 2016,” yet the WordPress date stamp reads “October 13, 2017.”)
Did Freleng, Roderick, and Texas Crew Productions do all their homework? Did Art Roderick “put the pen and paper aside” because he was scouting for law enforcement? Was Art watching for Fred’s “true reaction?” What, exactly, did Art mean when he used the words, “true reaction?” Was Art expecting Fred to express a false reaction beneath which Art could determine a true reaction?
Fred said he turned down James Renner’s request(s) for an interview because of his, Fred’s, opinion of a previous book by Renner (presumably, Amy: My Search for Her Killer or The Serial Killer’s Apprentice). It appears Fred may not have spent as much time reading Renner’s more recent book, True Crime Addict, a book about Fred’s own daughter – at least not the part Fred seemed so upset about and, apparently, unacquainted with.
Just so there’s no mistake by either the Left or Right, I think Donald Trump is a fascist pig. There is no doubt in my mind that he wants to destroy our American freedom. But that does not mean I think his supporters are a basket of deplorables. Almost all of them are our normal, hard-working American brothers and sisters. Let’s never forget this.
Now to Trump’s reaction to the recent pipe bombs.
I don’t follow the news like I did years ago, when I was a real news hound. It got too fatiguing and repetitive. As I departed middle age, I lost my thirst for the latest. I viewed it as – yes, I prefer clichés these days – old wine in new bottles.
But the pipe bomb mailings caught my attention. And, as seems to have happened with most liberals, Donald Trump’s reaction caught my attention, too; almost as much as the pipe bombs themselves, maybe more.
Oh, how short the memories of the Left are. I could be wrong on this because I’ve stopped buying those MSM rags like the Wall Street Journal and New York Times every day. If, however, memory serves me correctly (and these days I’m not always sure), I recall a similar reaction from the Left about, you know, those bombings of entire buildings (Sterling Hall), the mail-bombings (Ted Kaczynski), those bank robberies, and those real, true murders. Yes, actual murders. By the fringe Left.
People didn’t just get packages in the mail that were screened out. They lost hands, vision, their lives, their loved ones. These were real bombs that really exploded. In a real person’s actual face. I’m not down-playing the fear, the panic, aka the terrorism, created by the recent pipe bomb mailings, but the real thing is different. It sure doesn’t deserve an explanation.
Yet liberals then, as I recall, did the same thing that Trump is doing now; maybe not to the same offensive, exhaustively passive-aggressive, apparently tone-deaf extent, but they did it. They, like Trump, didn’t condemn it outright as strongly as they tried to explain it – as an unfortunate, misguided consequence of the times. Poor, misunderstood Bernardine Dohrn. It was John Mitchell’s and Richard Nixon’s fault. If only it hadn’t been for John Erlichman and Bob Haldeman.
If there’s one thing that will get me back into following the news again – and there sure are, at my age, better things to do – it will be not just pipe bombs, which are scary enough, but it will also be the hypocrisy of the Left. (What’s on the Right is at least obvious.)
As much as I now believe Trump is, step by step, leading this nation, consciously or not, down the path toward dark authoritarian times, I do not believe for one minute that the Left is any less inclined to do the same.
It’s really simple. Fringe movements – first intimidating with their voices, then their fists, then their guns – are the necessary predecessors, and reliable predictors, of tyranny. And tyranny respects no Left or Right. Tyranny is all about imposing excessive authority. Period. It’s about controlling the many through the murder of the few – sometimes a few million.
Tyranny knows no red or blue, no fly-over or bi-coastal. It’s an equal-opportunity force of history. Hitler or Stalin, Idi Amin or Pol Pot, take your pick.
So when the Left goes all crazy about Trump’s disgusting reaction to the pipe bombs, let’s remember something.
Both the Left, back in the day, and Trump, now, are trying, in their arrogant, self-serving ways to explain the violence. But neither side holds a monopoly on virtue. Both sides would veer, after praising these bombs with faint damnation, steadily toward some form of excessive authority. And that all starts with what amounts to a justification, dressed up as an explanation, for why these intolerable acts occur.
These violent acts must never be explained or rationalized. They must be condemned. Without restraint. By everyone. These assholes must be apprehended, prosecuted, and thrown in jail until they die. End of story.
Once we pass a certain indefinable point down the road to tyranny, a road paved by pathetic excuses dressed up as explanations rather than relentless, unforgiving condemnation, whether from Left or Right, there is no going back except by force of arms. And then these pipe bombs will be the least of our concerns.
If a militant Mainstream does not find and use its too-absent voice soon – now would be a good time – instead of running for the cover of either the far-Left or far-Right, or simply sitting it out, there will be no safe place for anyone. There will be no Middle. There will be no sitting anything out anymore, not for anyone.
Philip Jenkins, in his 2003 (copyright year, so presumably composed, at least in part, one or more years earlier) book, The New Anti-Catholicism: The Last Acceptable Prejudice, writes the following:
Meanwhile, the mass media reported sympathetically on extreme charges about the sexual abuse of children, including numerous instances in which abuse was first recalled in adulthood. Whatever the truth of the charges (and most would today find them shaky)…
I like a corner booth. It’s a good place to spread out the morning paper and eat a breakfast sandwich. But most people on this planet, throughout its history, cannot even imagine such a luxury. Yet most of the stories I read are, one way or another, about them.