the college murder case (part thirteen)

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"Doug," she said, "there are two things you need to remember as a reporter. One is that you always need to be aware of when you're starting to annoy the person you're interviewing. Which is me. The other is that this isn't supposed to be an interview at all. You're writing an article about the speech I'm giving tonight, the background, the scene, the audience, the reaction. That's what you should concentrate on, those are the things you can't get again if you miss them today. If you realize later that you need to get something from me, I'll be available." She smiled. "Is that clear?"

He nodded.

We were in a limousine, heading for the college. I was in the passenger seat, since I had the directions and the map. Jan, Christy, and Doug were in the spacious back seat. Doug was a reporter for the U-town newspaper, assigned to cover the speech. He was nervous – apparently this was his first big assignment – and my employer was a bit tense as well, so she was lecturing him on his responsibilities, just because he'd made the mistake of asking her a question.

Stu was going to meet us at the college. He hadn't been able to drive for several years, so his wife was going to bring him there. They lived in a suburb north of the city, about a half hour from the campus.

Doug appeared to be about eighteen, tall and gawky, wearing a workshirt and jeans. I had a feeling that this was probably the best outfit he owned. I was wearing a dark suit. Christy was in her usual black skirt, black sweater, boots, and leather jacket. Unlike Jan and Doug, she seemed very calm. I wondered if she was armed. On one hand, if we did run into trouble, it might be helpful. On the other hand, we were now in the land of concealed-carry laws. I decided I was just as happy not knowing.

My employer was wearing a black suit, with a gray shirt and a charcoal tie. This was her traveling outfit; she had another suit (three piece, dark blue pinstripe, with an ivory shirt and a red tie) in a garment bag. She would change before the speech, since there as no way to keep her suit from becoming wrinkled from sitting in the car. Once she changed, she wouldn't sit down until she was on stage.

Old-time movie stars used to have a slanted board to lean against so they could rest between takes without rumpling their clothes. She had considered asking for one of those, but I had talked her out of it.

An hour later, we arrived at the college. Two hours after that, after a dubious dinner, my employer started her speech to a packed auditorium. Two hours after that, as the speech neared the end, I saw the first police officers enter the back of the auditorium.

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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