“Pardon me, Miss…”
“Brock,” Natalie said as she took a seat in front of Cole’s desk.
“Brock,” Sharon said. “I’m sorry, but do you have any press credentials?”
Natalie pointed to the press badge with her photo. It dangled from a chord around her neck.
“I thought Network News One only…”
Gordon interrupted with his best impression of the Network News One announcer. “The Hottest Blonde Chicks! The biggest titties!”
A plastic shopping bag sat on Natalie’s lap. She pulled out one of the melons that she’d been stuffing her bra with and a blonde wig. “Have fake titties will travel.”
“My condolences,” Sharon said. “And here I thought law enforcement was a sexist field to work in.”
“It’s a new development,” Natalie said as she packed her plastic bag. “The bra stuffing. Hopefully it won’t be forever.”
Gordon held out his hands as if they were a frame and peered through them at Natalie’s face. “I know where I’ve seen you before.”
“Where?” Sharon asked.
“NN25,” Gordon said. “Miami’s Top Station for News, Sports, Weather and blah, blah, blah.”
Sharon wagged her finger at Natalie. “Now I can place your face. You did that story about the bum that built a life-size replica of the Statue of David using only tin cans. Can man, they called him.”
“That’s me,” Natalie said. “And I have to admit, I’m not used to working on a big story like this. I was covering Countess Cucamonga’s concert when…well, pardon the expression but when, ‘the shit hit the fan.’”
“What did you want to see us about, Miss Brock?” Sharon asked.
Natalie pulled up the mysterious text messages on her phone, then passed the device to Sharon. “I received these messages, one alerting me to the murder in Boca Raton and the other telling me about Sitwell.”
Gordon stepped around the desk to look of Natalie’s shoulder as the agents reviewed the texts.
“Damn,” Gordon said.
“Come to think of it,” Sharon said. “I did wonder how NN1 found out about the second and third murders so quickly.”
“Do you think it could be the killer?” Natalie asked.
“It’s an angle we’ll have to look into,” Sharon said. “I hope you understand that we’ll have to take your phone for the time being in order to figure out who texted you.”
“That’s fine,” Natalie said. “It’s a station issued phone. I don’t have any personal information on it. I do have a request though.”
“I’m all ears,” Sharon said.
“If the person who did send me those texts is the killer, I want the exclusive,” Sharon said.
“That’s a lot to ask,” Sharon said.
“And I’m giving you a lot,” Natalie said. “This information could potentially lead you to the killer. My cameraman and I want to be there if this helps you in.”
“‘Network News One Reporter Helps Catch the Toilet Murderer,’” Gordon said. “I’m sure that headline wouldn’t be bad for your career.”
“Nope,” Sharon said. “But really, aren’t we birds of the same feather? Won’t a good headline help your career too?”
“We aren’t anything alike,” Sharon said.
“Pardon?” Natalie asked.
“Agent Bishop and I track down the dregs of society and stop them from harming decent, hardworking people,” Sharon said. “You and your network…”
“Inform the public?” Natalie asked.
“Try, ‘cause mass hysteria,’” Sharon said. “Do you know we’ve been fielding calls all day from people who are afraid to go to the bathroom?”
A devilish smirk took over Natalie’s face. “People are afraid to shit?! I think I just found tomorrow’s angle.”
“This is serious business,” Sharon said. “In fact, I need your network to not say a word on air about these text messages. If he finds out we know he contacted you…”
“He’ll run,” Natalie said. “I understand. I have to go straight from here to fill the network in but I’ll do my best to apprise them of your concerns.”
Gordon folded his arms. “Don’t try. Do.”
“What about my exclusive?” Natalie asked.
“If there’s a way I can help you, I’ll let you know,” Sharon said.
Natalie grabbed the handles of her plastic bag and stood up. “That’s all I ask.”
“Are you proud of what you do, Miss Brock?” Sharon asked.
“Come again?” Natalie asked.
“Sensationalism,” Sharon said. “Scaring people out of their wits to drive up ratings, to advance your career.”
“That’s one way to say it,” Natalie said. “Another way would be that we’re telling people what they need to do. Maybe people are right to be afraid to shit. Can you honestly sit there and tell me that anyone who takes a shit tonight will be safe when there’s a Toilet Killer on the loose?”
Sharon appeared flustered. “Well, I…I…”
“People have a right to know the information they need to make important decisions about their lives,” Natalie said. “Suppose this was all kept quiet and someone makes the uninformed decision to sit on a toilet tonight to take a shit…and then they’re murdered. You’re going to tell me that person didn’t have the right to save his life by choosing not to sit on a toilet?”
Sharon sighed. “When you put it that way…”
Natalie grabbed the door handle. “You do your jobs, agents, and I’ll do mine.”
The reporter let herself out. Gordon took her seat.
“This shit storm never stops,” Natalie said. “What do you make of St. John?”
“He’s probably right,” Gordon said. “A good team of lawyers will be able to talk a jury into believing that his theft was just a pay dispute.”
“The security guards both stated he was with them when the Countess was killed,” Natalie said. “He did speak to us and there’s no way he could have made it to Boca Raton and Sitwell to kill the other victims. The serial killer as a cover up angle by way of hired goons was a good way to rattle his cage but we didn’t get much out of him.”
“I say we let dildo boy chill in holding for awhile while we get a bead on the number those text messages came from,” Gordon said.
“Agreed,” Sharon said.
Sharon pulled out her personal cell phone and dialed Cole. Cole’s phone rang…and rang…and rang…then went to voicemail. “Cole, it’s Sharon. There’s been a development in the case. Call me.”
“The hell are you calling him for?” Gordon said.
“He’s the local police chief,” Sharon said. “He needs to be kept in the loop.”
Gordon shook his head disapprovingly. “Mmm hmm.”
“What?” Sharon asked.
“Girl,” Gordon said. “I think you just want to keep him in your loop.”
“That’s absurd,” Sharon said.
“Is it?” Gordon asked.
“Yes,” Sharon said. “Don’t be ridiculous.”