Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Sunshine City Chronicles, The Freshmen- Part 12: The Media Firestorm


June 14, 2018,
19:19 local time,
The Oval Office, The White House,
Buffalo, Roman New York

Over in Sunshine City, Neena Thurman examined Martin Coleman's phone and, while finding he labelled “The Beaver” in his phone as “Tom Kirkman”- whom he had messaged without success before Kirkman got elected- Thurman couldn't find anything of substance that could help identify The Beaver. Bullock's check of his personnel's phones also revealed that no one contacted Kirkman or his staff in any way.

So the Sunshine City Police were hoping that April O'Neil, who was broadcasting her interview with Raven in prime time on June 12, could help further the case along. Raven recounted her story almost word for word that she did for Bullock and his crew, which predictably launched a firestorm that North American President Kirkman couldn't help but get caught up in, watching video clips of the interview and its reaction in the following days.

“The President has a lovechild,” said world renowned gladiator The Miz on his pop culture recap show, MizTV. “Colour me shocked...shocked I tell you. I know myself and our fellow gladiators...we're colourful people and we've had our fair share of drama...but, let me tell you...this is crazy stuff even by our standards...and the fact that the President may have murdered someone to cover this whole thing up...I'm telling you...you just can't make this stuff up. President Kirkman, you've got some explaining to do.”

“The President hasn't just backed himself into a corner,” said Canadian Broadcasting Corporation political pundit Rex Murphy, “he's awkwardly contorted himself into one while wearing a straitjacket. Make no mistake...there's no way out of this one. We were all there when he revealed the manner of death of Martin Coleman, a small fact that no one, not April O'Neil nor the Sunshine City Police Department, had ever shared before, making it extremely odd the President knew about it. I don't care that the President explained the faux pas- I'm not buying it, because the President has shown time and again that he always has a 'convenient' answer for his troubles and that's just too convenient for me.”

“The President killing someone,” said EA News anchor Kent Brockman in an opinion piece. “I know there is a lot of evidence...and a lot of things that just don't add up...and, frankly, a lot of things the President needs to give answers to...but this whole thing is just too absurd to be believable. There must be a more reasonable, mundane explanation for Martin Coleman's murder- is there?”

“Tom Kirkman,” said renowned pro-Federalist pundit Stephen Colbert on his podcast, The Colbert Report, “isn't just a killer by my count, he's a rapist. I really don't know how much more I can condemn him than I already have. I know we haven't seen eye-to-eye many times, but...really, no matter where you are on the political aisle, I just don't know how you can defend this guy anymore.”

“In a year where we've had 'MeToo' and 'Time's Up',” said newscaster and pundit J.B. Dickson, doing his trademark rant on the 2K Network's renowned news show, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, “it's obvious that Tom Kirkman's time is up. Folks, there's just no other way of putting it- Kirkman's string of lies, twisted facts and yet even more lies shows us that he's no longer capable of leading this continent. How many more times do we have to go through with his half-baked non-explanations and forced pleadings before we wise up and say, 'enough's enough'? Hey, Tom- maybe a 'non-answer' answer works when you're trying to wiggle your way out of having to explain how devastating your tax cuts are going to be or how you really couldn't provide an adequate argument for running a pipeline through sacred Native land- but it sure it won't work when you've got a rape and a murder to explain. The time for a recall election is now.”

Kirkman let out a heavy sigh before angrily pounding his fist on his desk.

“How could things possibly end up this way?” said Kirkman, trying his best to hold back his tears. “I'm a good man...I've done good things...I'm the highest rated President in history...where did I go wrong? Where did I go wrong?”

He angrily slammed his laptop shut and collapsed over it with his arms and his head, crying audibly. His friends had told him not to enter politics because it would ruin him...he didn't want to believe them, but they were all right now.

Alexandra still hadn't bothered to come back to him, and now his political career lay in ruins.

Still, Kirkman vowed to fight on, knowing that everything that aired was still all just talk. No one had any real evidence other than some tabloid piece and some flub he made at a ceremony.

You can't convict someone on that, thought Kirkman, can you?

He then had some choice words for his next guest.

“Madam Speaker,” said Kirkman sternly. “Have a seat.”

Kimble Hookstraten did so, but didn't lose her composure or her glare into Kirkman's eyes.

“I don't know what game you're trying to play-” started Kirkman before he was interrupted.
“I'm not here to play any games, Tom,” said Hookstraten with a smirk. “It's you that's playing all the games with your tortured explanations and your non-answers. In fact, the only reason I'm here is so that you can verbally bully me into backing down from whatever campaign I'm going on.”

Hookstraten then chuckled before continuing.

“What's your angle going to be today, Tom?” she said with a snarl. “Is it going to be 'do it for the better of the country'? Or are you going to offer to help me on some legislation in exchange for dropping my investigation into you?”

Hookstraten then knowingly wagged her finger.

“Oh I know what it will be,” said Hookstraten. “It will be blackmail...yes, blackmail. It's always about stabbing people in the back with you, Tom- because you think if you can kill everyone, there will be no one left to take care of you.”

Kirkman then angrily slammed his fists on his desk, which startled but didn't faze Hookstraten.

ENOUGH!” he shouted at the top of his voice, his eyes wide with rage. “If you think you can go after me, let me tell you- you have no bite in your bark.”

Hookstraten could only shake her head.

“Barking, huh?” she said. “Are you implying that I'm a dog...a female dog? How typical of you...I'd say you show a distinct lack of respect for women but you really don't respect anyone at all- just those who are willing to go along with your game.”

Hookstraten then got up and started to leave.

“You know,” she said, “I'm done with this meeting. I should have known better than to come here at this hour...it's not like I'd get anything fruitful from you.”

She started to walk away before Kirkman grabbed her on the arm and forcefully turned her towards him, causing her to yelp in shock.

You're not done here,” snarled Kirkman, holding on to Hookstraten with all his strength. “You have some explaining to do.”
“If you don't think this isn't going before the House Ethics-” started Hookstraten.
SILENCE!” said Kirkman, tugging at Hookstraten's arm and squeezing it, which would form a bruise later. “What made you start your investigation?” Kirkman then tugged at Hookstraten again before continuing. “Answer me!

Hookstraten did all she could by now to ignore the excruciating pain that Kirkman was applying to her arm, taking several deep breaths before she answered.

“I took it upon myself!” she said, angrily. “When you had that flub in Montreal I had to look into it.”

Kirkman angrily let go of her arm, tossing it aside as if it was garbage.

“You're lying,” said Kirkman.
“Believe me,” said Hookstraten, “or don't believe me...I don't care. I just know that if you get a victory on this it'll be nothing but Pyhrric. You have much bigger questions to answer to...and believe me, I'm going to make sure you answer them.”

Hookstraten then walked out purposefully, making sure her high-heeled shoes made as much noise as they could as she did so.

Monday, July 2, 2018

The Sunshine City Chronicles, The Freshmen- Part 11: Hook, Line and Sinker

June 10, 2018,
14:02 local time,
Sunshine City Police Headquarters,
Sunshine City, Sonora

“Harv,” said Morgan on the phone with Bullock as he drove to the station. “Harvey...listen to me. I know what you're feeling...but you're feeling it all wrong...Kirkman fed that info to April O'Neil to throw us off and undermine our investigation...I watched that press conference...April didn't goad Kirkman into anything...that was all him...trust me, man...no one leaked anything.”
“Yeah, well,” said Bullock, unmoved. “I don't care what your profiling mumbo-jumbo tells you...I can't leave this to chance. Just leave me your phone when you get here...I gotta look through it.”
“Harv,” said Morgan, “you're overreacting. I mean, I'll play along, but...you're going after the wrong fish.”

Just then, Bullock hung up the phone as he had to ring in an unexpected guest.

“Hi April,” said Bullock, pleasantly surprised that April O'Neil had paid him a visit.
“Hey Harvey,” said O'Neil, shaking his hand and then taking her seat. “Long time no see.”
“Thankfully we haven't had a 'notorious' crime for you to cover in a while,” said Bullock with a smile. “Of course this one is...quite a doozy.”
“Tell me about it,” said O'Neil. “The President has been so odd lately...I'm beginning to think he had Martin Coleman killed.”
“Really?” said Bullock, intrigued by O'Neil's words. “How do you figure that?”
“On Tuesday,” said O'Neil, “I read about Martin's death and started to do some research on him...he posted a screenshot of his high school yearbook on his social media accounts and noted he went to high school with Tom Kirkman. I found that quite interesting...so, on Friday, I went to Montreal to visit Tom while he was self-indulging himself by unveiling that horrible statue of him in that park and...I asked him about Martin.”

O'Neil then leaned forward and looked Bullock in the eye.

“Do you want to know what the funny thing is?” she said, Bullock's interest really piqued at this point.
“What is the funny thing?” said Bullock, eagerly anticipating O'Neil's answer.
“I asked Tom about Martin's death,” said O'Neil. “I didn't mention anything about him getting murdered, and I didn't say anything about how Martin died because I couldn't find that information anywhere. Yet there was Tom, revealing to me that Martin was poisoned, right on the stand for all to hear. He tried to tell me after the event that he misspoke and accidentally revealed classified information but I saw through that...it was a total excuse. He's hiding something.”

Bullock was momentarily relieved hearing O'Neil say she didn't have a source for her question, but his gut told him to verify the statement.

“So, wait,” said Bullock, “you didn't hear from anyone that Martin was poisoned?”

O'Neil smiled and relaxed her demeanour, hoping it would relax Bullock.

“I know what you're thinking,” said O'Neil. “You think you have a leak at the station...but I can assure you that you do not. At least no one leaked to me...I'll even show you my phone if you don't believe me.”
“No no,” said Bullock, who was now fully relieved. “I believe you...I don't need to see your phone.”
“Now, of course, someone could have leaked that info to Tom,” said O'Neil. “Why they would do that, I don't know.”
“We have some supporters on staff,” said Bullock. “I'll still have to investigate the leak...which will take time. I know that in my official communique to the President's legal counsel I did not mention that Martin was poisoned. In fact, I didn't even mention that it was Martin who was killed...just that we were conducting a murder investigation and that it required a DNA sample from Kirkman.”
“Oh?” said O'Neil, her eyes and ears perked up. “You asked for his DNA? Why?”
“Crazy story,” said Bullock. “A woman came to us a few days ago telling this story that she's Tom's biological daughter, conceived on the same night her mother was raped. Tom, Martin and a few other friends had stayed at the Paradise Resort and one of them raped this woman's mother, which led to the conception of the woman. Martin had come down to Sunshine City for research, upon which we think Tom- or, more likely, a lackey- came down and killed Martin, using poison to do it.”
“What kind of poison?” asked O'Neil.
“That we're going to keep under wraps,” said Bullock. “It's a highly specific M.O., so I hope you understand.
“I do,” said O'Neil with a smile.

She then pondered for a moment before continuing.

“So Tom Kirkman has a lovechild,” said O'Neil, finding this information interesting, “and Martin was murdered to cover this up.”
“Basically,” said Bullock.
“Where is this lovechild?” said O'Neil. “Do you mind if I get in touch with her?”
“By all means,” said Bullock. “Her name is Raven...she's staying here at the station, I'll lead you to her. Maybe you can interview her and bring her story to the wider public.”
“I'll do it on live TV,” said O'Neil. “It'll have more impact...and it may pressure President Kirkman into providing that DNA you need, just so that part of the story 'goes away'.”
“That's a great idea,” said Bullock. “I always knew you were an asset, April.”
“I care about justice as much as you do,” said O'Neil as both she and Bullock got up from their chairs. “I'm always here to help.”

Just as Bullock escorted O'Neil out of his office and started to lead her to Raven, he saw out of the corner of his eye an interesting person at the front reception.

“Kimble Hookstraten​?” he said, making O'Neil turn to look as well.
“It is Kimble Hookstraten,” said O'Neil, just as shocked as Bullock was. “What's she doing here?”
“I don't know,” said Bullock, who decided to usher O'Neil to Raven before dealing with Hookstraten.

Once he was finished with O'Neil, he met Hookstraten himself at the receptionist's desk and brought her in.

“Madam Speaker,” said Bullock, extending his hand. “I'm Police Chief Harvey Bullock.”
“I was ready to ask for you,” said Hookstraten, shaking Bullock's hand. “I have some important information on a case you're working on.”
“Tell me inside,” said Bullock.

The two then made their way to Bullock's office.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams that I'd be getting a lead from the Speaker of the House of Representatives,” said Bullock, still in shock.
“It's a bizarre situation,” said Hookstraten, “but this is a bizarre case. I was tasked to it by Aaron Shore, who was worried the President may not be telling the truth about his dealings with Martin Coleman.”
“Right,” said Bullock, “because if he looks for it, he's 'undermining the President', whereas if you look into it...well, it's your job to undermine the President.”
“I wouldn't quite put it in those terms,” said Hookstraten, “but, yes, there will be less eyebrows raised if I push back on something the President does or says.”

Bullock chuckled in acknowledgement before getting back to business.

“So I understand you have a lead,” said Bullock.
“Yes,” said Hookstraten. “Or, rather, a concern that I was hoping you'd clear up for me. See, I took it upon myself to interview both Jim Zack and Cory Fellows...both of them denied having raped Nancy Simpson but they confirmed that Kirkman and Simpson both met and went back to their motel rooms, where 'the deed' supposedly happened and Kirkman impregnated Nancy. Jim and Cory assert that Kirkman raped Nancy...they say they actually saw Kirkman do the act.”
“They saw him?” said Bullock, not hiding his shock.
“Yes,” said Hookstraten. “The four of them went back to Kirkman's motel room along with Nancy and they all drank heavily...which eventually led to Kirkman raping Nancy.”
“Well, if we've got witnesses,” said Bullock, “looks like we've got an ironclad case.”

Bullock chuckled and then offered a restrained smile.

“Problem is,” said Bullock, “when I talked to them, they asserted that no one raped Nancy...everything that happened that night was consensual. So it's odd they changed their story.”
“Interesting,” said Hookstraten, intrigued by Bullock's words, “but that's not what I found odd.”
“Oh?” said Bullock.

Hookstraten leaned forward and looked Bullock in the eye.

“No,” said Hookstraten. “Though I find it interesting they changed their story for me, what I found interesting is that they both told me that they had to deal with someone called 'The Beaver', who contacted them for over a year, essentially since Kirkman got elected. This 'Beaver' never left any explicit threats...but he kept asking them about Nancy and if they'd ever speak up about her. At one point, The Beaver even offered a monetary settlement so that neither would talk about her. I'd be curious to know if Martin Coleman also heard from this 'Beaver'.”

Bullock looked on, his interest piqued.

“We reviewed Coleman's phone records,” he said. “I never once saw him refer to a 'Beaver'...but 'The Beaver' could have been stored under a different name in his phone.”
“It could be,” said Hookstraten. “I just want to know who he is.”
“It could be two things,” said Bullock. “One, it's a reference to female genitalia, which would be an odd alias to use but it's not out of the question. Or-”
“It's Kirkman,” said Hookstraten, realizing where Bullock was going. “Tom is Canadian...and the beaver is their national animal.”
“I doubt Kirkman personally contacted them, though,” said Bullock. “He wouldn't have the time...he likely hired someone to threaten Jim and Cory, and likely Martin as well, eventually killing Martin as well. Tom Kirkman is a smart guy...he wouldn't get his hands dirty.”

Bullock leaned back and let out a sigh.

“Well, we've sure got a lot of questions,” he said.”
“Questions Tom Kirkman are going to have to answer,” said Hookstraten pointedly.

The Sunshine City Chronicles, The Freshman- Part 10: When A Word Means So Much More


June 8, 2018,
11:16 local time,
Tom Kirkman Square,
Kirkland, Montreal, Quebec

“Thank you everyone for joining me today for this special ceremony honouring a very special man,” said Quebec Premier Justin Trudeau, waving his arms as he spoke in his usual exuberant style. “Most of you may know Tom Kirkman as the President of North America, but I know him as a longtime and most cherished friend. We met when we both studied at McGill University, and since then our bond has been unbreakable. Tom, you are like a brother to me, so you couldn't imagine my joy to see you get elected as President.”

As the gathered audience- mostly press, staffers and members of Trudeau's Liberal Party- applauded in appreciation, all Kirkman could do was nod his head and smile in appreciation of their gesture, which helped elevate his spirits after the previous night.

“This is why,” continued Trudeau, now speaking with a triumphant tone. “I am most honoured and humbled to name this square, known for its architectural masterpiece, 'Tom Kirkman Square'.”

The audience cheered and clapped as Trudeau took down the drapery from the monument that would be central to the square, a statue of Kirkman as well as a plaque commemorating his years of public service. Trudeau and Kirkman then both hugged and exchanged words of platitude towards each other before stepping forward to their respective podiums.

“You know Justin,” said Kirkman, turning to look one last time at his statue, “I can't tell you how many times I look at sculptures of me and they get it so completely wrong, so I am happy that, finally, your people have got it right.”

Trudeau and the audience laughed, though Trudeau mostly just played along, feeling Kirkman's comment was a backhanded compliment. Kirkman did win Quebec by 32 percentage points and still enjoyed a continent-wide approval rating of 83%, near his Presidential average.

“Turning serious for a moment here,” continued Kirkman, “I too am most honoured and humbled to count you as a friend, Justin. I thank you for your kind words and all the help and support you have showed me throughout the years...and, who knows, maybe in 2025, I will be honouring you as President of North America.”

The crowd was whipped into a frenzy by that remark, letting out loud boisterous cheers that visibly humbled Trudeau. He had often said the Presidency was never in his sights, believing he was too polarizing a figure to win a majority of votes across the Union. Of course, a lot could change in eight years...

“I have to say,” continued Kirkman, “that today truly is a humbling day for me. Never in my wildest dreams would I ever think I would be honoured as I am today, an honour that is especially special considering that I was born and raised here, in Kirkland. I used to come to this park many times as a kid, so to know that this park has been named after me is truly and specially a great honour. May this park have many more great years ahead of it.”

Applause followed Kirkman's remarks for several minutes before proceedings were opened up to questioning. Several mundane questions came from the reporters that allowed Kirkman and Trudeau to play up their camaraderie but offered very little of substance- until Electronic Arts crime reporter April O'Neil posed her question.

“President Kirkman,” said O'Neil as Kirkman beamed a smile at her.
“Yes Ms. O'Neil,” said Kirkman, dialing up his charm.
“A few days ago, a man by the name of Martin Coleman was found dead in Sunshine City,” said O'Neil, getting right to business. “As I understand, you and Martin were also college friends, just like you and Justin, so I'm wondering if you have any comment on Martin's death.”

Kirkman hesitated before answering, doing his best to retain his composure.

“I do offer my condolences to the Coleman family,” said Kirkman, smiling often as he struggled to rein in his emotions. “What happened to him is a very terrible and heartless tragedy, and whomever poisoned him we hope will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I spare no recompense in condemning this tragedy and our government is prepared to help the Coleman family in any way that we can. I personally haven't spoken to Martin in over 25 years but he was a childhood friend, so I'm saddened by the news. I hope he gets the justice he deserves.”

Kirkman then stepped away from the podium and sent Seth Wright, his press secretary, to end the gathering immediately, catching Trudeau off guard. Kirkman didn't even bother to acknowledge Trudeau as he exited the stage and gathered with his handlers, where he looked very cross.

“How in the world did April O'Neil know about Martin Coleman?” said Kirkman, angrily lashing out at his staff.
“It was in the Sunshine City press,” said Wright. “Other news agencies did pick it up.”
“...but none of them knew I had a connection to him,” said Kirkman. “So why April would ask me about his death is a mystery to me.”
“Sir,” said Shore. “I do find it interesting that O'Neil simply asked you about his death and you said he was poisoned. The police didn't say anything about Coleman's cause of death in their report to me.”

Silence befell the group while Kirkman's face filled with rage.

Aaron!” he said, angrily pointing at Shore, who didn't flinch. “Who's side are you on?”
“The truth,” said Shore, unrelenting. “Mr. President, with all due respect, if you've got something to hide the rest of us need to know about it.”
“No,” said Kirkman, angrily waving his hands. “No...I have nothing to hide...dismiss this preposterous notion that I killed Martin Coleman or had anything to do with it. I am the President...I am not going to risk my career by committing a murder.”
“There will be people,” said Wright matter-of-factly, “who will think because you have Presidential immunity that you can do whatever you want, bolstered by the fact you don't have to contest another election.”
“I get an eight-year-term,” said Kirkman, turning his death glare to Wright, “that, yes, upon completion I cannot run again...but, at any moment, I face the threat of a recall election, which can be summoned only if 3% of the North American population requests it via a signed petition. Considering I'm not yet in Year 7.5, it would be ridiculous to even assume I would do something to risk triggering an election, let alone doing it anyway, because once I'm finished my term I can be prosecuted...my immunity runs out.”

Kirkman threw up his hands and let out a heavy sigh.

By Jove,” he said, “why do I even have to remind any of you of this?”

Kirkman's overzealous remonstrance seemed enough to placate his fellow staff, including Shore who, despite still having his doubts, thought Kirkman had to have been innocent if he made such a show of defensiveness.

“Now,” said Kirkman, hoping to get the conversation back on track, “April O'Neil.”
“I'm not sure why you are so worried about her sir,” said Wright. “She's just doing her job.”
“I need to know her source,” said Kirkman. “If it's one of you clowns you better fess up now.”
“Sir,” said Shore, “I'm not sure she's committed any crime. She just asked a question...your answer is what troubles me.”

Kirkman threw his hands on hips and turned to Shore.

“...and why is that, Aaron?” said Kirkman.

“Because,” said Shore without skipping a beat, “April simply asked for your opinion on his death, noting that you two were former friends. That's information anyone could have gathered, at least if they looked up your old high school and perhaps asked for a yearbook. However, you revealed a cause of death that no one knew about before and confirmed that he was, in fact, murdered, something April didn't say. You certainly sound like you know more about this case than someone who says they weren't involved.

“So...tell me what it is. Were you involved in Martin Coleman's death or did you simply let slip some classified information?”

Kirkman looked at Shore and patted him on the shoulder.

“That's why I like you,” he said with a broad smile, his angry mood relieved. “You always know the right political answer.”

Kirkman then looked for O'Neil amongst the throng of reporters still gathered and invited her over.

“April, April, April,” said Kirkman, extending his hand to shake O'Neil's hand. “I was a little curt with you earlier so I hope you will accept my deepest apologies.”
“Of course I do,” said O'Neil, confused as she shook Kirkman's hand. “Though I didn't think you were curt at all...just odd.”
“Listen,” he said, “I have something I need you to hear...you can print this.”

As O'Neil took out her phone the rest of Kirkman's staff looked on, puzzled at what was happening.

“This is not going to look good on me,” said Kirkman, forcing a restrained smile that didn't go unnoticed by O'Neil, “but I accidentally let slip confidential information...a friend of mine from Montreal told me about Martin's death, so I read about it online and contacted the police department there and they told me he was murdered and that he was poisoned.” Kirkman then forced some uncomfortable laughs in as he continued. “Though I had completely forgotten I wasn't supposed to mention that...it was just so bizarre a case that...that...um...that detail...it just sticks with you. So I let it slip, so I apologize.”

O'Neil smiled as she put away her phone and again shook the President's hand, thanking him for his comments. As she walked away, she sensed there was a lot more to the story than the President was letting on. She found it odd that the President would read a police report about what appeared to be a rudimentary murder in a faraway town, considering that Coleman wasn't a close friend of his, or so he claimed. Even still, she continued to think, Kirkman wouldn't likely know anything more than the public did, especially considering he didn't need to know anything more about his death- nothing about Coleman's death suggested it was a national emergency.

Then, O'Neil realized, Kirkman himself was forthcoming with the information that he supposedly let slip- she didn't ask him anything that would spur him to reveal the manner of Coleman's death. O'Neil conceded it's not proof that Kirkman didn't get his info from a police report and let slip that information, but O'Neil further thought that if Kirkman was tasked with keeping a secret, he wouldn't be so quick to reveal that information, and he wouldn't reveal it without provocation.

Either he's just really cavalier about police reports or...

The more she thought about it, the more O'Neil thought the unthinkable and believed that Kirkman had a role in Coleman's death. What role that is, she didn't know- but she did realize what her next move would be: a trip to Sunshine City.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Sunshine City Chronicles, The Freshmen- Part 9: The Admission


June 7, 2018,
21:24 local time,
Executive Residence, The White House,
Buffalo, Roman New York

Tom Kirkman wasted no time as soon as he got home. Before his wife Alex had started to say “hey honey” Tom grabbed her close and locked in on her lips. He kissed her with such a fierce but dedicated fashion, making Alex so overcome with arousal that her body melted into his, making Tom pick her up and carry her to the nearest couch, all while still kissing her.

Once he was on that couch, Tom could barely contain himself, wildly stripping away at Alex's clothes while she did the same to him. He then moved his lips and ran his hands all over her body, making Alex gasp and moan several times for joy. She clutched her husband as close to herself as she could, moving as Tom moved while so overcome with passion and emotion.

Things were so frenetic, Alex could hardly keep up with what Tom was doing. Before she knew it, they were having sex, with Tom ramming her so hard and so fast that her senses went into overdrive.

It was all such a blur. A tense, exhilarating blur...but very much a blur.

Then it was all over, over very quickly but Alex still emerged with one of the most mind-blowing orgasms she ever experienced. Both she and Tom needed several minutes to catch their breath afterwards, both of them very sweaty but very hot messes.

Once both of them had finished taking their showers and got into their actual bed, Alex couldn't help but reflect on the sex she just had.

“Wow,” she said, still beaming. “Where did that come from? I'm at a loss for words...”

All Tom could do was kiss her forehead and smile. It'd been a while since he made love to her quite as passionately as he did, and, being so overcome with emotions himself, he too was speechless, just wanting to enjoy the moment.

After several minutes of the two of them looking into each other's eyes and trading lip kisses and back rubs, Alex felt something was amiss.

“Is there something you need to tell me?” she said, first with a smile but it soon abated the longer Tom took to respond.

Tom then let out a sigh before tears began to form in his eyes. He then sat up on the bed and really let loose with his crying, causing Alex to get up herself and console him.

“Honey,” she said, rubbing his back. “What's wrong? I want to help you...but you gotta tell me what's up.”

Tom got up, having composed himself enough to speak, but he still couldn't bear the thought of actually looking Alex in the eye.

“This could be my final night with you,” he said, still overcome with emotion, “and it probably should.”

Alex could only look on with bewilderment.

“Tom!” she said. “What are you talking about?”

“That time I went to Sonora,” he said, “halfway through my freshman year...I...I...”
“Spit it out, Tom,” said Alex, getting restless.
“I wasn't truthful with you,” he said. “I went to Sunshine City...I had a night with my friends...I know I told you at the time I got into an argument over their partying habits and cut them out of my life because of it...but...”

Tom then let out another sigh before more tears came from him.

“...but that wasn't the truth,” he said. “We had a night on the resort and...and...they raped this poor, innocent woman. Gang-raped her behind my back after I had left to get some sleep...I tried to stop them...but...I couldn't. It was all over before I had a chance to get there and make things better. I checked out of the Resort that night and kicked them all out before driving and finding another resort where I could clear my mind. I was so upset and devastated...I...I just couldn't believe my friends- or people I thought were my friends- could do what they did.”

Alex was overcome with shock, just as disgusted at what happened as Tom was.

“Tom,” she said, getting up and wrapping Tom in a tight embrace. “That's awful...I can't believe you've carried that burden for so long...you don't need to be ashamed of it...I'm always here for you...always. Never forget that. I'm proud of you for bringing it out.”

Tom didn't respond, deciding instead to let go and pace, crying some more.

“No,” he said. “I'm not courageous...I'm pathetic.”
“No, no, no, Tom!” said Alex, who tried to get closer to Tom but he kept pushing her away. “C'mon...you're not pathetic...you're not the first one to witness a traumatic event and keep it bottled up for so long...many people do, and they struggle to talk about it, just like you did. There's no need to be ashamed.”

Tom then collapsed back onto the bed.

“No,” said Tom, tears still in his eyes. “No Alex, you don't understand...”
“Then make me understand!” said Alex forcefully flailing her arms forward.

Tom lowered his head and cried some more, before a few deep breaths allowed him to say what he needed to say.

“Alex,” he started, still breathing heavily. “The woman they raped...earlier that night...I...I had sex with her. I didn't want to...but she tackled me on the bed, aroused me and my friends egged me on...I was too young and stupid to say 'no'...though I know I should have...”

Tom collapsed his head into his hands, sobbing uncontrollably as Alex could only look on in horror, unable to comprehend what she just heard.

“No,” she said, still shocked. “You...you didn't...I mean, you couldn't...tell me this is some kind of a joke...” Alex then let out a half-hearted laugh before souring again. “'Ha ha, fooled you'...please tell me that's it...please?”

“No joke Alex,” said Tom. “I really did...and I've found out that I gave her a daughter...a beautiful girl named 'Raven'. A girl I have never met and one I had no intention of ever meeting because I wanted to forget that night...I...I still do.”

“...and you kept this from me for twenty five years?” said Alex, now starting to cry herself. “When were you going to tell me that you cheated on me.”
“No Alex,” said Tom, “it wasn't like that.”
“Oh what was it then,” said Alex, “she tripped, fell and landed on your dick?”
“Not exactly,” said Tom. “I was young and stupid...I let my penis control me instead of my head...by Jove Alex, I was 18...I didn't know the things I know now...I didn't have the control that I do now...I did a lot of stupid things then that I wouldn't do now. Every 18-year-old does that...I'm sure you have.”
“Of course,” said Alex, as if the answer was obvious, “but none of those involved whipping out my vagina and thrusting it onto some stranger's dick just because he got me wet...I had a lot more control than you did, and so do a lot of guys, so don't give this crap that you couldn't control yourself...you could but you decided not to.”

Tom then got up and tried to place his hand on her shoulder before Alex skirted away.

Don't touch me,” she said, reacting as if he was a leper. She then walked into her closet and put on a T-Shirt and sweatpants before walking back out.

“Alex,” said Tom, confused. “Where are you going?”
“I'm going to stay in the Queen's Bedroom tonight,” said Alex. “Don't try to contact me...I'm going to come back to get Penny ready for school but I am not going to deal with you unless it's official business.”
“Alex, come on...” said Tom, pleading though he knew it was futile.
“Don't 'Alex' me,” snapped Alex. “You're lucky you're the President or else I'd be out that door for good.”
“...but what does that,” said Tom as Alex walked out of the bedroom and slammed the door, “mean?”

Tom then sat back down on his bed, dejected and forlorn. He knew Alex would react the way that she did, but it didn't make the pain any easier to bear.

He then decided to lie down in a vain attempt at getting sleep, since Tom could sense things were only going to get worse from there.

The Sunshine City Chronicles, The Freshmen- Part 8: The Pasquinade of Justice


June 7, 2018,
10:12 local time,
The Oval Office, The White House,
Buffalo, Roman New York

“Lieutenant Mayhew,” said President Tom Kirkman to Lieutenant Alfred Mayhew (U-Va), the House of Lieutenants Majority Leader, “thank you for taking the time for meeting with me.”
“You're welcome, Mr. President,” said Mayhew, getting comfortable in his chair.

Kirkman wasted no time getting down to business.

“Look I'm going to be brief,” said Kirkman. “There's no way I am going to restore the Behavioural Analysis Unit. Their crimes against the people are too egregious and for me to extend any kind of clemency to them would be to make a mockery of our justice system. I trust the analysis of the Department of Justice and their conclusions, so the decision is final.”
“I knew you would say that,” said Mayhew. “I'm just going to ask that you forget the technicalities and consider the results. The BAU acted in good faith...the reasons that Linda Barnes imposed on them for not investigating Kevin Peck were frivolous and frankly arbitrary.”

Kirkman could only chuckle and shake his head before responding.

“Yet the BAU knew they were violating her orders,” said Kirkman, “and the other former members that tagged along to the case also knew they were violating orders and protocol. As I understand, Penelope Garcia was strictly forbidden by her new boss to investigate Peck as far as she did, and David Rossi was technically retired yet he somehow gained clearance to interview a suspect in prison, of which only Federal agents are allowed to do. Emily Prentiss also knocked down the door of a dwelling of which she did not have a warrant to enter, and the BAU also gained access to Peck's apartment without a warrant as well. Not only that, but Luke Alvez intimidated a hotel clerk into divulging guest information by waving his badge in his face.”

His voice grew angrier and more forceful in tone as he continued.

“...and this is just one case,” Kirkman said. “Garcia herself has pulled countless records- especially medical records- as evidence in cases despite not obtaining warrants to gather such information, Jennifer Jareau once put an arrest at risk by refusing to see the obvious solution, Prentiss allowed a suicide to take place right in front of her, and Matt Simmons- when he led the International Response Team- allowed Zoe Hawkes to rot in a Jalisciense jail because he refused to challenge the assertions of the authorities in Jalisco and even suppressed evidence by deleting a cognitive interview he did with her. She suffered for three months getting regularly beaten and raped by the prison guards and needed a further six months off the job recovering from the trauma of her experience, mentally and physically. Zoe is all that is left of the BAU because she refused to assist Prentiss when the 'team' went rogue, and while I am open to giving her assistance, that assistance will not come from the ranks of the old BAU that Prentiss was so sloppily in charge of.”

Kirkman then leaned forward and looked Mayhew right in the eyes, his steely glare rattling the Lieutenant.

“Do I make myself clear, Lieutenant?” said Kirkman unrelentingly.

Mayhew sat in his chair and shuffled, stewing over what he had just heard. He took in a few deep breaths to gather his thoughts before he responded.

“Emily Prentiss has been in charge for hardly a year and a half,” said Mayhew. “She's still learning...truth is, if Lieutenant Milner didn't write the report that effectively ended Agent Hotchner's career, the BAU wouldn't be in this predicament.”
“...and you would be correct,” said Kirkman, “but that's not going to absolve the BAU of any of the wrongs they have committed.”
“Doesn't the fact that Hotch personally recommended Prentiss for BAU Chief mean anything?” said Mayhew. “Prentiss may have made a lot of mistakes and her leadership style is different than Hotch's...but she's a distinguished agent, she shouldn't be thrown under the bus like this.”
“No, she should,” said Kirkman, “because she regularly made mistakes no one in any police academy would ever make...we're talking about Hollywood levels of incompetence, the kind of mistakes lazy screenwriters make detectives do in order to add pointless 'drama' to their shows...no one should ever make those mistakes in real life, but here we are, with Prentiss have demonstrably made those inconceivable errors. Aaron Hotchner never once made those mistakes.”
“Elle Greenaway,” said Mayhew, folding his arms.
“Elle Greenaway went rogue,” said Kirkman. “She took actions into her own hands and put Hotchner in a tough spot. While I grant that Hotchner should have made a better choice with the security detail on Agent Greenaway's home, that's hardly the same level of mistake as kicking down a door without a warrant and allowing the seizure of scores of unauthorized evidence and subjecting her own teammate to months of torture because she could not be bothered to look for evidence that would exonerate her teammate. Hawkes was only released because a drug runner ran his mouth and forced Jalisciense authorities to investigate him- if it wasn't for that, Hawkes may still be rotting in a jail.”

Kirkman then decisively took off his glasses and again looked Mayhew straight in the eye.

“Don't even bother trying to make a response,” said Kirkman, “because I am tired of dealing with your nonsense. I do not care what excuses you have for the BAU- they have proven, time and again, that they have no interest in following the rules and regulations that so dearly help maintain and preserve a civilized society. I have to put my foot down and stamp out this maverick ridiculousness, because society cannot function if those who are paid to uphold order do not follow that order themselves.

“The BAU have made a pasquinade of the justice system...there is no further discussion on their continuance. Special Agent Ritter will see you out, Lieutenant. Good day!”

Mayhew left in a huff, offering a few choice words for the President who was unperturbed by the display. Kirkman was too busy dealing with the multitude of notes on his desk to be bothered by his belligerent Lieutenant.

Moments later Kirkman's Chief Legal Counsel, Aaron Shore, walked into the Oval Office alongside Kirkman's Chief of Staff, Emily Rhodes, both of whom were young and slender individuals.

“Aaron, Emily,” said Kirkman, noting his guests' demeanour. “What can I do for you?” It was odd for both Shore and Rhodes to enter his office at the same time, so Kirkman knew they had something important.

“Sir we've received a request for a paternity test from you,” said Shore in his usual sternly deadpanned delivery.
“A paternity test?” said Kirkman, scoffing at the suggestion. “No- I'm not going through with it. How many do I get in one week? A dozen? Fifty? Fifty thousand? No, absolutely not.”
“You had 4833 last week,” said Shore matter-of-factly, “including 9259 people who have claimed they are your cousin.”

Kirkman threw his hands up in the air and smiled with glee.

“See?” he said, “I rest my case.”

“Sir,” said Rhodes, unrelenting from her serious tone, “we've got reason to believe that this request may actually have some merit. There was a murder in Sunshine City sometime in the early morning hours of June 4, and he was a former friend of yours.”
“Who?” said Kirkman, confused.
“Martin Coleman,” said Shore, opening Kirkman's high school senior yearbook to the page with Coleman's picture, which Shore circled.

“Pfft,” said Kirkman, pushing the book away. “I haven't spoken to Coleman in 25 years...we graduated high school and lost touch. I'm sorry for his family but I have nothing to do with his murder...and what does this have to do with a paternity test anyway?”
“The records contradict your words,” said Shore. “Paradise Resort in Sunshine City has a record of you staying there on December 16, along with Coleman and two other men named Jim Zack and Cory Fellows. You checked out in the early morning hours of December 18, along with Zack, Fellows and Coleman.”
“That's very interesting,” said Kirkman, “I apologize that my memory isn't perfect, especially after twenty five years.”
“...but that's not all, Mr. President,” said Rhodes.

Kirkman reacted with mock surprise before chuckling hysterically.

“Oh, it gets better!” he said. “What is this, a bad soap opera?”
“We have a woman who claims you raped her mother that night in Sunshine City,” said Shore. “Based on her gestational period, the timeline actually fits that she was conceived when you were in Sunshine City.”
“OK,” said Kirkman, deciding to play along, “so there may be something- but, who is this woman I supposedly raped? How do I know this daughter that I have was even conceived in Sunshine City? It's not like a fetus has a marker indicating where she was born. What's her proof that she was born in Sunshine City?”
“Conceived,” said Shore with a frustrated sigh.
“Whatever,” said Kirkman. “You know what I mean.”
“Martin Coleman told her,” said Rhodes.
“The dead guy,” said Kirkman, “whom we can't ask for verification.”
“Yes,” said Shore, “but statements given by both Zack and Fellows to Sunshine City Police confirm Coleman's account...they even gave the mother a name, Nancy Simpson, who we can confirm also stayed at the Resort the same time you did.”
“Jim and Cory are both still alive,” said Rhodes, “so we can ask them to confirm their statements.”

Kirkman shook his head and laughed.

“This is all just poppycock,” he said. “Just some people looking for attention...we really have bigger problems to worry about than some blowhards who can't understand their best days have long since gone.”
“So I take it the answer is 'no',” said Shore matter-of-factly.
“Yes,” said Kirkman forcefully. “My answer is an emphatic 'no'. Is there anything else?”
“One thing,” said Rhodes. “Quebec Premier Justin Trudeau wants to know when you can come back to Montreal to formally commemorate the street he's naming after you in Kirkland.”

Kirkman hemmed and hawed, flailing his arms as he pondered a response. He'd been leaving Trudeau hanging on that matter for quite some time.

“You know what,” he said, “Tomorrow. “I'll fly up first thing in the morning.”
“All right,” said Rhodes, “I'll make the arrangements.”

With that, Rhodes and Shore left the Office, upon which Rhodes asked Shore to walk with her outside of the Office premises to a quiet alleyway, where their conversation could not be recorded.

“What's wrong Emily?” said Shore, grabbing Rhodes' shoulders and rubbing them. Now that he was outside of the Office he could more properly show affection to his girlfriend, a relationship both hid from Office workers.

“I don't believe Tom at all,” she said. “See how dismissive he was?”
“I saw it too,” said Shore. “He knows he did something wrong and he doesn't want to admit it to us.”
“So what are we going to do?” said Rhodes, clutching Shore's hand. “I don't want to think that he raped Nancy Simpson...but we can't let that go.”

Shore then brought Rhodes close to him in an embrace.

“I don't want to let it go,” said Shore. “The problem is, how can we investigate this without the President knowing?”
“I could take an emergency day,” said Rhodes. “Blame stress or something...then I could go talk to Jim and Cory myself.”
“I'll go,” said Shore. “You need to be with the President...it would raise too many suspicions if you took a day off. Besides, you don't know where they are...I do. At least I have the capability of finding them.”
“I have a better idea,” said Rhodes.

Rhodes then pulled out her personal cell phone and sent a carefully coded text message. Within twenty minutes, Speaker of the House Rep. Kimble Hookstraten (F-Mis.) met the pair in the alleyway looking to get down to business.

“Hey Kim,” said Rhodes. “I'm sorry for doing this to you on such short notice.”
“It's no problem,” said Hookstraten. “As you know, I've been looking for something like this.”
“That's why we thought you were perfect,” said Shore. “If we investigate, we look like we're undermining our boss...if you investigate...”
“I do risk turning this into a partisan affair,” said Hookstraten pointedly.
“...but the difference,” said Rhodes, “is that if we sent Haylie Modine or another Unionist then when the story comes out it becomes easy to dismiss as 'part of their politics', since they're all about 'rape culture' and things like that. You're actually on record as being dismissive of the idea of 'rape culture' and you and many in your party have stood up for due process rights...if you come out and find Jim and Cory's story has credibility, then the wider public might believe you more than a Unionist who's 'pushing their narrative'.”
“Plus both Jim and Cory are constituents,” said Shore. “You'll just look like you're helping your district.”
“All right,” said Hookstraten, “I'll do it- but I won't be able to fly out until this weekend, when I'm supposed to go back to my District anyway.”
“Thank you Kim,” said Shore, bringing relief to both him and Rhodes.

Hookstraten then started to walk away before she turned around and addressed Shore and Rhodes one last time.

“I just have one question,” said Hookstraten pointedly.
“Shoot,” said Rhodes.
“Why are you so interested in bringing down the President?” Hookstraten asked. “You work for him...shouldn't you be loyal?”
“This is a serious allegation,” said Shore, “one that we think actually has truth in it. This could cost him his Presidency, upon which we won't be working for him anymore.”
“Besides,” said Rhodes. “How many times has Tom gone on one of his self-righteous rants to some poor soul and you just want to tell him, 'no, you're wrong' but you can't because Tom is right? He can't claim the moral high ground forever.”

Hookstraten laughed in acknowledgement.

“OK,” said Hookstraten. “Get me their contact info and I'll have the information to you by Monday.”

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Sunshine City Chronicles: The Freshmen, Part 7- Raven's Story


June 4, 2018,
17:02 local time,
Sunshine City Police Headquarters,
Sunshine City, Sonora

“Hey, Raven,” said Bullock, greeting Raven as he entered the interview room. “Thanks for coming down to the station.”
“No problem,” she said with a smile, looking on as the rest of the SWAT team- including Deadpool now- got comfortable in their chairs.
“Is there anything we can get you?” said Bullock. “Water? Coffee? A sandwich?”
“A water bottle would be nice,” said Raven. “It's getting hot out there.”
“Finally,” said Morgan. “I was wondering if it was ever going to show up.”

Raven gave Morgan a confused look.

“First day in Sunshine City,” said Morgan with a laugh. “Touched down and there was nothing but rain.”
“I see,” said Raven.

Bullock then came back with the water and the team was ready for the interview.

“So I'm not sure where to begin,” said Raven.
“Start wherever you feel like,” said Street. “This is just about information.”

Raven took in and let out a deep breath in a bid to calm her nerves, doing it a few times before while the team encouraged her before she actually began.

“I'm going to start with what I know,” said Raven. “I was born in an artificial womb in Arizona on September 24, 1994, and the only person who take care of me was the doctor, Julia Jimenez. Unfortunately for me, she was too swamped with work to really take care of me, so I had to bounce around foster homes in my youth. I had a few good experiences, but many more were bad, and by the time I was 14 I hitchhiked to Alberta, where I was promised riches in the oil industry.

“As you might expect, I didn't actually get a job in the oil industry- I was hired as an 'entertainer' for oil workers in Wood Buffalo, of which Fort McMurray is a part of. Sex and lap dancing were regular parts of my duties, and while my handlers were actually nice to me, took real good care of me and protected me from the more overzealous men, I couldn't help but feel degraded and deceived. I mean, I didn't flee home to have sex with random strangers.

“One day I learned about a professional wrestling circuit in Fort McMurray and I became interested in participating. One of my sexual clients became interested in training me, and I soon began to enjoy trading workouts for sex- at least I was getting something out of the arrangement. I worked with him for many years, and by the time I was 20, I quit the sex trade for good and became a fighter. I soon graduated to the wider Alberta circuit and even got to participate at the main event at the Calgary Stampede, a match I won handily.

“I was on top of the world- but then, somehow, Alberta found out about my prostitution days so I had to run- so I took on the name 'Becky Salisbury' in an attempt to evade the Albertan authorities. The same man who trained me as a fighter found me a job here, in Sunshine City, so I took it...I work as his executive assistant for his private investigation firm...or at least I did.”

“What happened to your employer?” said Alonso as the team's interest was piqued.

“You guys found him today,” Raven said. “Dead.”

“Martin Coleman was your trainer?” said Deadpool, his eyes wide with shock. “What an amazing coincidence...this must be a crime novel or something...”
“Life imitates art many times,” said Raven with a smile. “That's why I wanted to talk to you, Deadpool...because I saw Martin earlier and thought I could help. I also thought you weren't a cop then, so couldn't turn me in.”
“Well we can't turn you in now anyway,” said Bullock, looking on a database on his phone. “Your record is clean in Alberta, I can confirm that. It's clean everywhere, in fact.”

Raven smiled, acknowledging the news before continuing her story.

“Anyway,” said Raven. “Martin took an interest in me because he told me I reminded him of an erstwhile friend of his, Tom Kirkman. Martin says Tom blamed him for raping my mother, but Martin believes Tom did. One of the reasons Martin came here was that he wanted to investigate the circumstances of my mother's rape and understand what really happened...he wanted to write a book about it, implicating Tom if he was indeed involved.”
“There'd be a lot of money there,” said Thurman. “The President accused of rape? That's a story the public will eat up.”

A thought came to Street.

“Do you think the President had Coleman killed to keep him from exposing the truth?” said Street.
“I'd say right now it's a very good possibility,” said Morgan. “I can't think of anyone else with the manpower and the resources to be able to track down Coleman here and kill him, especially with such a highly specific M.O.”
“Don't you think, Derek,” said Bullock, “that perhaps Kirkman would cover his tracks a bit better? Why down him with Valium? That's going to arouse suspicion. Wouldn't it be better just to shoot him?”
“You do have a point,” said Morgan, “but, right now, we don't have any other leads.”

“Martin stayed in Sunshine City with people he named Jim and Cory,” said Raven. “I never learned their last names, unfortunately.”
“What do you know about the night your mother was raped?” said Morgan.
“Not much, unfortunately,” said Raven. “I just know someone in that quartet did it and likely gave birth to me...I'm willing to submit my DNA test to see if Tom Kirkman really is my father...might give some closure on that part of my life.

“You know,” said Deadpool, “I think the Toronto Maple Leafs have a better chance of winning the Stanley Cup than we'll ever have getting the President of North America to submit to a DNA test.”

The group chuckled sardonically.

“What about Martin?” asked Thurman. “Could he have produced you?”
“No,” said Raven. “We checked...believe me, we checked.”
“Which leaves the other three,” said Morgan, “and one of them will be one major pain in the rear.”

Bullock then took a look at his watch.

“Well,” he said, “it's 6:30...I think it's time we call it a day. Raven, thank you for your information.”
“That's it?” said Raven, shocked at the development.
“See this is the time where life doesn't imitate art,” said Bullock. “You've given us great information...but, as far as we can tell, there's no one in immediate danger and we're still not ready to make any additional moves...besides, rest is essential to reset the brain so it can focus on the task at hand at a later time.”
“Oh,” said Raven with a restrained smile. “I see.”

“Is something wrong Raven?” said Morgan.

Raven let out a sigh and struggled to respond.

“I'll be fine,” she said unconvincingly.
“That doesn't sound like someone who is going to be 'fine',” said Morgan pointedly.
“Are you sure you're fine or are you just telling yourself that?” said Thurman with a smirk.

“Look,” said Raven, still struggling. “When I saw Martin dead...my brain's been going through a whirlwind...I've been thinking so many thoughts that I have no idea how to keep any of them straight.”
“That's expected,” said Morgan. “You and Martin were close...I wouldn't expect you to not take his death hard.”
“It's not just that,” said Raven. “With him dead, I'm not just unemployed I'm homeless...part of his office was converted into an apartment space for me...I was hoping to tag along with the case so I didn't have to worry about this part of my life...at least not yet.”

Raven then broke down and cried, burying her head in her arms to muffle the sound of her sobs, though they were still loud.

“Raven,” said Bullock, “there's a couch in one of our break rooms you can use for the time being. We've got food vending machines and coffee and milk that you can use. You can stay there for the night and tomorrow you can go back to Martin's business and claim your stuff.”
“...and then what?” said Raven.
“We'll figure something out for you,” said Morgan. “We're probably going to need you on this case still...and you've been through a lot. We don't want to leave you on a lurch.”

Raven was relieved, though still sombre.

“Thanks guys,” she said, sheepishly.

Alonso then left with Raven to show her where she would be staying as Morgan and Bullock retired to Bullock's office.

“Do you believe anything she's said,” said Morgan after closing the door.
“I've got no reason to doubt her right now,” said Bullock. “We've got no other credible leads...as crazy as it sounds, the President conspiring to murder Martin Coleman makes a lot of sense.”
“She certainly looked like someone who had a connection to Coleman,” said Morgan. “She pursued us, and there aren't any contradictions in her story.”
“We'll just need proof that Tom Kirkman was in Sunshine City around the time Raven would have been conceived,” said Bullock. “As much as our suppositions hold up, the President isn't going to submit to a DNA test unless we've got some ironclad evidence that links him to the scene of the crime.”
“True,” said Morgan. “I just want to know how we're going to find records from 25 years ago.”

Bullock smiled.

“You're in luck,” he said. “Paradise Resorts keeps a record of every patron that has stayed at the resort since it opened in 1969. They do this because they have a deal- stay there for nine trips of a similar length-”
“-get your tenth one for free,” said Morgan with a smile of his own.
“How'd you know that?” said Bullock.
“I've taken advantage of it,” said Morgan, “and my dad tried to...one year, we stayed at Paradise for nine trips of a single night and then tried to book the tenth for a whole month...Paradise said 'no', pointing us to the part of their policy that states for the 'tenth' trip to count, it has to be a of a similar length to previous trips, judged at Paradise's sole discretion. My dad was mad...screamed they were being racist but my mama put him in his place...because it's a perfectly reasonable rule.”
“Anyway,” said Bullock, “for Paradise to know this, they need a record of everyone who has been there, because it's a lifetime policy. So we'll just need to get Paradise's records and then we can prove that President Kirkman was there- or not.”

Morgan nodded before getting a sullen look on his face.

“Unfortunately,” said Morgan, “I'd ask my friend Penelope for help...but she and the entire BAU- a new one created by Emily Prentiss- are under investigation by the Department of Justice for multiple abuses of the law, including illegal searches of which Penelope has done...”
“Many,” said Bullock with a sigh. “I know.”
“I guess we have to do it the old fashioned way,” said Morgan. “The good ol' fashioned search warrant...”
“Paradise is usually pretty good about helping us,” said Bullock. “They know how important it is to keep the crime down...so we may not need a warrant.”
“OK,” said Morgan. “After dinner I'll go down and get the list. It should be small...we're looking at 1993 and 1994, and only for one name.”
“It still could be quite lengthy,” said Bullock. “Thousands stay at the resort daily.”
“At least we'll know what we're going to do tomorrow,” said Morgan with a grin.