Monday, January 22, 2018

Judge Jury

“Let me see if I’ve got this straight,” said Russell Anderson, 60 Minutes co-producer and bureau chief for CBS News. “You’re saying that Thomas Sidon, a rancher from Naco, Arizona, captured the head of the Calli cartel on his property the day before yesterday, and has offered him to the Border Patrol in exchange for what, again?” 
There was a momentary silence on the speakerphone, which was ghosted by background noise. Then the White House press secretary replied evenly, “Anything he wants. And I mean anything. Including what he did choose, which I will agree is highly unusual. The President wants a victory in the drug war, and we believe Raoul Gasparta is the key.” 
“Go over that part again, will you? The part I’m not understanding. I understand about Gasparta. . . his full disclosure on Sidon’s interrogation transcript, the record of kickbacks and the reparations promised to avoid the death penalty. That’s obvious, and---may I speak frankly?--- boring. Tell me exactly what the President promised him again.” 
The press secretary sighed. “I thought I made that clear. Didn’t you hear me, Mr. Anderson? Maybe you should wait for the press conference in one hour, and ask that question again.” 
Anderson coughed. “I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t mean to imply that Gasparta is not important. But you can understand what it is people will be asking about, surely. So I have to ask you several things, just to be clear. One more moment, please, just to verify?” 
The press secretary sighed again. “Very well. As I said, a deal was struck with Sidon, whose ranch in Arizona is some five thousand acres.” 
“Straddling the border?”
“That’s right. Property on both sides.” “And the President has agreed to the terms of this agreement by signing an executive order into law?” 
“That is correct.”
“Two hours ago, in the Oval Office. In exchange for Mr. Sidon’s cooperation in acting as agent for the U.S. government, he has been granted carte blanche for one year, effective immediately.” 
“And that means. . ?” 
“It means that as of today, Mr. Thomas Sidon has the legal right to enter any private home in America at any time he chooses. He cannot remove anything, nor can he take photographs. He may only enter and observe at his leisure. No U.S. citizen may refuse him entry, under penalty of law. He is free to come and go as he wishes for the duration of one year.” 
“And this is specifically what he requested?” 
“Not a million dollars, a new red Porsche, or an ambassadorship to Mexico?” 
“Yes, Mr. Anderson. He didn’t want my job either, thank God. Although it was offered to him.” 
“But. . . why? I mean, what’s his motive? What’s he hope to gain by--” 
“There has been some speculation on that point here. Perhaps the power or the novelty of it is attractive to him.” 
“Or maybe he’s a voyeur?”
“Please don’t use that word, Mr. Anderson.” 
“Why not? Haven’t you walked down your own street at night, and looked at the windows of your neighbors’ homes? Imagine being able to legally enter any home you want at any time, and the owner of that home can’t bar your entry. What I want to know is how? What about rights to privacy? How can the President do this?” 
“Privacy rights are waived solely on behalf of Mr. Sidon, and only for one year. He is exempt and immune from any violation, and Congress has been unable to prevent it as they are deadlocked in other matters. So for the duration of Executive Order 1482-421 no homeowner may prevent Mr. Sidon from coming into their home and observing, or searching.” 
“Searching?” Anderson stood and circled his desk in awe. He placed a palm on his forehead, and did a pirouette, like Ted Danson in Body Heat. “Oh. . . now I get it! He’s going to be cooperating with you guys, isn’t he? If he finds drugs, they’ll be admissible in court because he has the sole right to enter without a warrant! That’s it, isn’t it?” 
The voice on the line tried to evoke calm. “I have no comment on that point, Mr. Anderson, except to say that Mr. Sidon will have the full cooperation of the law enforcement, including an escort if he desires. Police must remain outside, however. They do not possess his rights. And whether Mr. Sidon chooses to reveal what he finds is entirely up to him.” 
Anderson cleared his throat, and steadied himself with his free hand on the chair. “Oh my God. . . he does want money. Millions. People will pay him a fortune not to tell. He’ll be as rich as Midas! Won’t he? Where’s he go first, Beverly Hills?” 
“Again, that’s up to him.” 
“’Up to him,’” the 60 Minutes producer repeated in a daze. “Holy Hopscotch. What’s he gonna wear, though. . . Kevlar?” 
“He will be protected by both police and by the fame he achieves via executive order.” 
“And. . . and if this is true, that’s who he is, right? He’s God!” 

JUDGE JURY: Hybrid Stories by Jonathan Lowe: Revenge can be sweet or surprising. Here are tales of mystery and fantasy, science fiction and romance. The theme is revenge, but the twists are unexpected. First up, a hybrid that is both story and script, including artificial intelligence, beliefs, and fears. It begins with a drug unlike any other: a shocking disruption of the market. Next, a prequel to the movie Collateral. Who was Vincent? Where did he come from? The Key to Vincent lies in the Florida Keys. Cigar smuggling involved. Bonus tales will beguile and amuse, from the award winning author of The Methuselah Gene. Now in both ebook and trade paperback formats, not audio.
Story collection finalists for the audiobook Audie Awards from 2017 (awards given in May 31, 2018 in NYC:)  Difficult Women by Roxane Gay, narrated by Robin Miles, published by Audible Studios
Good Behavior by Blake Crouch, narrated by Blake Crouch and Julia Whelan, published by Brilliance Publishing
The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo, narrated by Lauren Fortgang, published by Audible Studios
Tales of Ordinary Madness  by Charles Bukowski, edited by Gail Chiarrello, narrated by Will Patton, published by Audible Studios
You Don't Have to Say You Love Me, written and narrated by Sherman Alexie, published by Hachette Audio Books

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