The Butcher’s Son, a Dick Hardesty Mystery by Dorien Grey
At the moment, I was being rather embarrassingly overpaid by a
small public relations firm, Carlton Carlson & Associates. The
reason for the high salary was that CC&A was run by the rear end
of a horse with a monumental ego, and the only way he could keep
help was by paying them so much they couldn’t afford to go
He had, thanks to his rich wife’s family connections, passably
juggled the careers of one or two fairly well-known clients over the
years. Now, he had volunteered his—that is to say, his staff’s—
services in the promotion and setup of a press conference for the
chief of police’s contemplated assault on the governor’s mansion.
His magnanimous gesture was hardly altruistic, since C.C. viewed
it as his key to taking over the chief’s entire campaign.
The task wouldn’t be an easy one, as anyone with his head a
little less far up his behind than my boss would readily have
recognized. The chief’s political beliefs fell considerably to the right
of Attila the Hun’s, and he ran his department like Vlad the
Impaler. Need I add that he loathed homosexuals? His tact,
diplomacy, and delicate handling of any problem involving the gay
community had, among some gays, earned him the nickname “The
But his methods, however reprehensible, had kept the local
crime rate in check, and he had, until now, maintained an extremely
low personal profile.
If the chief managed to win the primaries—his opponent was
one Marlen Evans, a moderately popular but lackluster state
senator—he would be pretty much a shoo-in, since the incumbent
governor’s wildly liberal policies had alienated the most powerful
lobbying groups in the state.
The first step in humanizing the inhuman, my boss decided, was
to play up the chief’s warm and loving family life. Guess who got
stuck with gathering homey bits about this little nuclear holocaust?
Yep, yours truly. The fact that, up until now, very few people had
any idea, or the slightest interest, that the chief had a license to
breed, let alone that he had exercised it five times, left me a pretty
We started by building a rather anemic file of newspaper photos
and articles. The chief’s wife Kathleen was always on hand at
functions that required the presence of a spouse, but she generally
blended so well with the wallpaper she was almost impossible to
pick out if there were more than three people in the picture. Of the
children, there was almost nothing known except that the eldest son
was a minister, and the chief had recently become a grandfather.
It was, therefore, decreed that I, together with a freelance writer
noted for never having met a subject she didn’t like and a
photographer selected for his Vaseline-lensed portrait work—both
handpicked by C.C. himself—would be sent out to meet with the
entire family. The object was getting a feature story into the Sunday
supplement of the city’s leading newspaper. My purpose for being
there was a bit vague, other than to ride herd on the writer and
photographer and to steer them clear of the unlikely possibility they
might touch on anything that could smack of controversy.
I viewed the entire project with the same enthusiasm as I’d
anticipate a root canal, but I had little choice.
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