TSoA: Chapter 29: Dark Girlfriend
Remember Stephanie Kovacs, Dark Mistress to puppet-of-The-Seven Shane Barrington? Well, LaHaye and Phillips are on board with this description, calling Stephanie
…the mistress of one of the world’s most powerful media magnates.
I suppose, like TV Tropes, they see the word “mistress” as far more dirty than the word for what Stephanie really is: girlfriend. Seeing as how Stephanie is single and Shane has been divorced from Ambiguously-Gay-and-now-unambiguously-murdered Arthur’s mother for many years.
Shane assigns his girlfriend to cover the murder of Hank Baines, which is inexplicably being called “a random drive-by shooting.” Stephanie’s initial report, which went out one full day after the actual shooting, “had once again given Barrington Network News the jump on all the competition.”
A report given one day after the event gave BNN the jump on everybody else? Even the local TV news reporters, who could have been there in minutes and gotten footage of the emergency workers and, no doubt, an on-the-spot interview with Michael Murphy, who surely would have been sticking his face in every camera he could find and expounding on his Biblical theories about the shooting?
Okay, I could understand if Stephanie’s was the first in-depth, investigative report. Perhaps The Seven could have told Shane some exclusive-but-false fact, something to make BNN stand out and simultaneously throw both reporters and officials off the scent. But that’s not what we’re told here.
A mere forty-eight hours after the shooting, Hank is being buried, which seems super fast for the victim of a crime which is no doubt an still being investigated.
Stephanie sets up “as close to the graveside as possible without upsetting the mourners too much.” She sees plainclothes officers keeping an eye on everything, and Pastor Bob Wagoner giving the service, which seems odd because Hank’s wife and daughter were the ones who attended his church, not Hank.
Okay, maybe that doesn’t seem so odd, after all.
After the service, Stephanie starts to walk in the general direction of Hank’s wife. Murphy, who never learned what a fake-out is, intercepts her to self-righteously expound on the press “hounding” people.
It is all as Stephanie planned. She wanted to talk to Murphy in the first place, and knew just how to get him in front of her fastest: act as though she wasn’t interested in talking to him at all.
I know that statement analysis is not hard science, but it’s still kinda interesting to read Murphy’s responses while considering it.
“Professor Murphy, you were the last person to see Hank Baines alive, is that right?” [Stephanie asked]
“I was present when he tragically lost his life, yes,” he said.
WHO TALKS LIKE THAT?? This was a simple question, why not just give a simple answer? Yes, he was the last person to see Hank alive.
“Would it be correct to say you were friends?”
See? Simple answer to a simple question. Was that really so hard?
Now, in all fairness to Murphy, Stephanie then spits out a rapid-fire series of questions, culminating with:
“Tell me, do you feel any sense of responsibility for his death? Do you think it was appropriate for you to be here today? Can you explain why your fingerprints were on a gun found at the scene?”
Well, at least the last question is an easy one to answer: “My fingerprints were on a gun because Hank was shot, so I grabbed his gun to shoot at the shooter.”
Plus, Talon was shooting at them with a sniper rifle, so there’s no way Murphy could ever be implicated in Hank’s death.
But let’s see how Murphy answers:
“I’ve come here to pay my respects to a fine man and a good friend. I think it would be tasteless and inappropriate to speculate about the perpetrator of this tragedy at his graveside, don’t you? I have given the police and FBI the fullest possible statement. Perhaps you should ask them. Thank you very much.”
Geez, Murph, a “no comment” would have sufficed.
Murph turns to stride away purposefully, but Stephanie has one last question to ask his retreating form, this one about his “clandestine expedition” to find Noah’s ark.
Ha-HA!!! Zing, Murphy!
He tried not to looked [sic] fazed by the question. “Like many archaeologists, I’ve been fascinated by stories of the ark since I was a boy,” he said. “It would certainly be a great adventure to try and find it. Now I’m afraid I have to go.”
Huh. Well, Murph, I guess speculating about the cause of Hank’s death is tasteless and inappropriate, but speculating about great adventures by his grave is just peachy.
And wow, what a denial, eh? Surely Stephanie’s viewers will now assume that Murphy is not planning a clandestine expedition after all, right?
Stephanie rocks. I do so love when people make Murphy look like a fool.