“It’s too good to be true!” Treestat tells him over the phone.
“What do you mean?” responds Harris.
“Have you any idea what you’re onto? Philly is eating up your Elvis shit. And now you’ve got murder? I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s all over the East Coast and out West, too. This is bigger than anything since OJ. Our clients are calling us and bidding up ad space, trying to kick each other out of contracts! We’re running special editions for the next three days. This is really big-time shit, Harris!” Treestat sends a barking snicker into Frank’s ear. “I sent you off as a punishment and now you’re in the middle of the most perfect story of the century. This is bigger than King Jones, bigger than Madonna, bigger than OJ. I mean, you’ve hit pay dirt. Just don’t fuck it up, man.”
“I still don’t see what—“
“You know, your only drawback is that moral veil you cover yourself in whenever you’re actually in the field. It’s why you want to come back here. You know you can’t do your job without some sort of distance.”
“Right. You keep telling me. But I don’t see how the murder of this Amish kid is at all related to the reappearance of Elvis Presley.”
Treestat snickers again. “Who the fuck knows? That’s the beauty of it. You may be one of the only people who understands the details of this whole thing right now. And you know that the FBI is there, too. I mean, you got it all, you son of a bitch.
“So here’s what we do. You got Elvis showing up and causing a riot, plus a death. You got a religious kid blown away the night before. You got the woman saying the Elvis at the revival meeting is a fake. You got the fake Elvis disappearing right after showing up. You got the FBI hanging out incognito.” Treestat pauses. “It’s simple math, Frank. Death equals Death equals Elvis equals FBI equals Conspiracy. Un-fucking believable!”
“Aaron,” said Harris. “I don’t know. If I start writing that shit, no one will talk to me here. This is a small town.”
“Oh, they’ll talk to you, all right” replied his boss. “You break a story hinting at a link between Elvis and those murders and bring in the FBI, you’ll have the local reporters beating the bushes for you within a day. I’ll make sure of that. Even better, though, I want you to look up a friend of mine. He’s a professor in the J-School, Hugh Croft. We go way back to my days at Reed College. He’s got good contacts in the Columbia area without doubt. I’m going to call him right now. You contact him late in the afternoon and he’ll be ready for you.”
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