Chapter Five: Conflict of Interest

Cheviot collapsed into his chair in the Boardroom back at Network 23. Those who were already there knew about Parker's death, though none knew who it was who had killed the man or why.

"Carter's late," Ashwell pointed out.

"He's probably already off investigating the murder," Cheviot pointed out. "Get Bryce online. I need to go over that research report he handed in yesterday with him."

"We don't know where Lynch is, sir," Lauren told him. "I tried to contact him when I got in to say 'good morning' and he wasn't in. You don't think he was also killed, sir?" there was fear in her voice as she spoke. Bryce was only sixteen, after all. It was bad enough when an adult was killed. But a teen, even one who was technically an adult, or a child being killed was two hundred percent worse.

"I hope not," Cheviot said. He contacted the control room. Instead of Murray, one of the controllers answered the call. "Where's Murray?"

"He and Carter's team left about fifteen minutes ago, sir."

"Tell him to call me as soon as he gets back," Cheviot replied, hanging up as soon as he'd finished. He returned his attention to the rest of the board. "Last nights ratings look good. However, our three to five a.m. block ratings were only thirty one percent higher than Network 66. Let's hear some suggestions on how we can improve that."

"Murray," the controller told him as the producer of the 'What I Want To Know' show returned along with Edison Carter. "Cheviot's been looking for you. I think it's about the Parker murder."

"Great," Edison groaned.

Murray picked up the phone and contacted Cheviot. "Sir," he said, praying that the controller was wrong.

"About time you showed up," Cheviot scolded. He knew Murray had probably been in the field with Edison. But appearances and discipline were necessary when one was the chairman of the board. "I want you and your team to find out who killed John Parker last night."

Edison frowned and shook his head. Cheviot noticed this and raised an eyebrow. "Is there a reason you don't want to investigate this murder?"

"It would be a conflict of interest," Murray explained.

"You mean Bryce killed him," Edwards guessed, having been present when Bryce had begged Cheviot not to hire Parker.

"Don't be ridic..." Cheviot began. But the look on Murray's face told him that Edwards was right. "I don't believe it. Bryce isn't a killer. There must be some mistake. Bryce is one of the most docile teenagers I've ever met. He's a kitten, not a mountain lion."

"Kittens have claws, too, Mr. Cheviot," Lauren pointed out.

"It was self-defense," Edison assured them. "Though I suspect a touch of revenge was mixed in. How could you hire that man? You know what he did to Bryce in the past!"

Cheviot looked crestfallen. "I knew what he did, yes. But I didn't know Bryce was one of his victims. Bryce didn't tell me."

"But to hire a sex offender in a building where a teenager is sleeping!" Edison argued.

"On a level that isn't even listed or supposed to exist," Cheviot countered. "How the hell did he find out about level thirteen."

"Bryce believes he requested Network 23 in order to get at him a second time."

"Did Parker...?" Cheviot began, but could not finish.

Part of Edison wanted to refuse to answer. He wanted to give Bryce a little privacy. But Bryce's privacy was a small price to pay for his exoneration. He remembered the blood on the floor in Bryce's bathroom as well as that one the wall. That must have come from Bryce being injured at the time of penetration. The thought made him ill. "Yes. He raped Bryce. Or at least started to. Bryce fought back this time."

"I see," Cheviot said. "Mr. Carter. I know it's hard to confront a friend, especially in a situation like this. But you must remember what you are. And what you are is this network's best reporter."

"If we interview Bryce the metrocops will be on him like wet on rain. He'll be arrested and have to stand trial. And you know that as Network 23's employee, he cannot be tried by our network courts. He would probably stand trial at Network 66 or World One. Network 66's courts would chew him up and spit him out just to make for the opportunity to make us look bad."

"I'm sorry, Edison," Cheviot said. "And I'm sorry for Bryce. But this network made a promise to always be truthful to its viewers, and that is what we're going to do. You will cover this incident and you will do so to the best of your abilities. Who knows, it might be your interview that turns the jury to Bryce's favor."

"Yes, sir," Edison agreed, a dark look in his eyes.

Back                         Home                              Max Headroom Main Page                              Next

Your Name or Alias:      Your E-mail (optional):

Please type your review below. Only positive reviews and constructive criticism will be posted!