“Act calm as to not alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are,” I paused to look around the newsroom and see if any coworkers were attempting to see my reaction to this silly joke but all I saw were frantic journalists on talking loudly on telephones while simultaneously typing on their Mac desktop computers. I then continued to read. “You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.” -Everything You Know is a Lie
I had made my way to the back of the movie theater building in town and met up with this “friend of a friend” passing along information in a file. I walked back to my car in the parking lot looking for anyone that could have seen the exchange and locked the car doors as I quickly climbed in. I received a text right afterwards from my editor telling me to come back in to the newsroom. And I had realized in that moment that I couldn’t trust anyone if I took on the story. Someone had already gone missing after looking into the case, and I didn’t want to be next.
I remained in my locked vehicle taking photos on my phone of the file’s documents and skimming over its contents. I backed up my phone to a personal drop box account and kept reading the files. The missing friend of Mark and mine was on his way to speak with me last week when he disappeared. It was safe to say that I was most likely going to be followed from now on, if I wasn’t already, so I needed to play it safe and not say a word to anyone.
When I did get back to the newsroom I walked into my editor’s office with a thinned out version of the file. I left out the evidence tying any one person to the case as well as the issue of my friend disappearing. I did, however, leave in the financial information documenting that there may be some minor-sized misallocated funds unaccounted for.
“So what does this mean, Jamie?” my editor asked as she looked through the file.
“I don’t know,” I shrugged. “I don’t think that there’s much of a story here.”
“I’m not for sure either. We have a lot of feature material coming in on the budget and this information looks to be a little thin.”
“I think you’re right. I’ll just set it aside for now and work on the boardwalk piece.”
I walked out of my editor’s office with the hope that I placed myself a little ahead of those involved in this case. I’m sure they knew that I was on to them, and that I still wanted to write the story. But if they believed that I still trusted my editor and that I didn’t have a lot to work with initially, then maybe I had a chance of coming out of this alive.