[previous chapter] [start from the beginning] Jason was at the Starbucks around the corner from the courthouse when he saw Frank Boone of the Montreal Star. The normally gregarious reporter was so intensely focused on his phone he didn’t even see Jason.
“Hey, Frank, how are… Oh, wait…” His own phone was ringing. It was Michael, his producer.
Frank hadn’t even turned to see who was greeting him; he was too busy composing a tweet. BREAKING: MURDER-LINKED SUSPECT FOUND DEAD IN JAIL, MORE TO COME. #Toussignant
“Jason, where are you?” Michael’s voice was as close to the sound of panic as Jason had ever heard. That was his first time working a breaking news story that involved death, he wasn’t sure what to do.
“Around the corner getting coffee. Want some?” He knew that was an inane thing to say, but he didn’t have anything better.
“Get your ass back here pronto. They found Bédard-Lellouche dead in his cell. Murdered. We need to be on air in five. I need your ass here right now!”
“Uh, OK. Coming!” Jason was not a runner, but he became one right there on the spot. Holy shit, he thought as he struggled mightily to get there in time with his latte mostly unspilled, who would murder this loser?
Our favourite cub reporter was about to get a lesson in Real Life.
“OK, here you are,” Michael said as he grabbed the coffee from Jason’s hand and started fixing his hair and brushing his suit simultaneously, while the chase producer played makeup girl on the fly. “Quick, get that earpiece and mic on. They found the guy dead in his cell sometime around 7 this morning. They have not released any details on the cause of death but they did say it was not accidental and did not appear to be a suicide like Jean Simoneau before him. Stick to that script and do NOT speculate on air about the details of his death. Just say you will let us know more as soon as the information becomes available. Focus instead on the fact that the two men who were suspected of running this ‘assisted suicide’ business that Toussignant used to get his parents killed are now dead. This suggests ties to organized crime but don’t say that on the air even if the anchor asks you. Just say it’s too early to speculate but already there are lots of questions being asked about that.”
“Who’s asking the questions?”
“Doesn’t matter. Just assume they are being asked. Got it?”
“Uh, yeah, I think.”
“90 seconds,” came the voice in his ear. How control-room folks always managed to remain calm was one of those mysteries Jason would have loved to investigate. But not now.
Michael grabbed his young reporter by the shoulder and steadied him a bit hard on the spot on the ground where the masking tape was marking his on-camera position. “Listen, kiddo, this is where you show the world you’ve got what it takes to be in this business. There’s a lot of information to process and no time to process it. There’s even more information that’s missing right now. But you’ve got to make it sound to the people watching at home like you know exactly what’s going on and will keep them thoroughly informed of all the latest developments. But you can’t lie! It’s a very fine line you’re walking, and you’ve got to make it look easy.”
“Uh, OK, I’ll try.”
“Oh, no. There is no try…” He handed him a sheet of paper his chase producer had just printed with the latest information on this recent, ghastly development just as the voice in his ear said, “15 seconds”.
“… For the latest on this shocking development we are now joined live by our reporter Jason Martel on the steps of the Laval courthouse. Jason, what can you tell us?”
“Well, Marion, authorities at this point are not releasing very many details, since they need to investigate this affair thoroughly. Here is what I can tell you: Earlier this morning, just before 7 am, the body of Abdul Bédard-Lellouche was found in the isolated cell where the prisoner had been placed for his protection. The cause of death has not been disclosed but sources say it does not appear to have been an accident. I must tell you, Marion, that there is all manner of speculation as to the cause of his death and who might be responsible for it if it does turn out not to be a suicide or an accident, but I will refrain from adding to this confusion and simply tell our viewers we do not at this point know exactly what killed Mr. Bédard-Lellouche but as soon as we do get that information we will tell you. We do know a former associate of his, Jean Simoneau, was also found dead in his cell at the same jail a few days ago. His death was first described as suicide by hanging, but now maybe authorities will review that case more thoroughly.
“Now a more promising line of discussion in light of this dramatic turn of events, Marion, is what this might mean for the trial of Jean-François Toussignant and that of others like him accused of hiring the services of Bédard-Lellouche and Simoneau. It is too early now to know for sure what impact, if any, the deaths of those two men will have on the rest of the legal proceedings against their accused clients, but this will no doubt add a dramatic twist to the proceedings we are watching here today in the Laval courtroom.”
“Right. So tell us, Jason, what is on the agenda for today?”
“Today Marion we expect to hear more from the prosecution laying out their evidence against Toussignant. We might hear from the investigator who uncovered this underground network, but as far as we can tell the proceedings today are liable to be less exciting than whatever it was that happened overnight in that jail.”
“And probably a very good thing, too,” said the anchor, unable to suppress a smile. “We look forward to hearing your report later, Jason, thank you.”