Friday, November 09, 2007

Chapter Twenty-Seven

The homicide detective had listened to his story, but Mosby got the impression he was just humoring him. He was quite certain that Jacoby was going to file his statement away, label him as a “crackpot” and continue pursuing his investigation against the woman they had found in Lilly’s shop.

Mosby walked the fourteen blocks from the Bladensburg Road police station to his apartment. Walking always helped him sort out his thought. It was a beautiful late September evening in Washington DC. It was a Friday. Under normal circumstances he would be sitting at Truro’s enjoying a Foster’s and watching the National League Playoffs. He had no interest in baseball. All that seemed like another lifetime. His friend was dead and the bastard that was responsible was going to get away with it. Unless, he suddenly thought, I do something about it. Sure, he thought. The Vigilante Fifth Teacher will avenge the death of the Romani Tattoo Artist. He smiled in spite of himself. It sounded like something out of Murder She Wrote. Except of course, Jessica solved her mysteries within the friendly confines of Cabot Cove.

As soon as he got home Mosby goggled Senator Jaffe. It seemed to him the best way to start.

The Senator’s official website showed a smiling Stuart Jaffe. He looked very distinguished and likeable. Wavy salt and pepper hair, blue shirt, yellow tie – the ubiquitous American flag on his lapel. Nothing like the murderer that Mosby was certain he was. His official bio read like the great American success story. Jaffe was born in Enterprise, Oregon on February 5, 1949. His father owned several lumber mills around Enterprise. He went Oregon State University where he was a star tackle on the Oregon Ducks football team for three years before graduating with honors in Political Science. He subsequently earned his law degree from the University of Virginia. After his father died in 1972, Jaffe returned to Enterprise where he served two terms as mayor before being elected to the state senate in 1980. In his first term in the Oregon Legislature he was selected by the Governor to complete the term of Republican Senator David Minot who was killed in a boating accident. In January 2001, Jaffe was named chairman of a newly formed Government Reform Subcommittee. In February 2005, he was appointed to serve on the Homeland Security Committee. He had married his college sweetheart, Bonnie Kraft. The couple had four children and two grandchildren.

Several blogs painted a somewhat different story. The Senator’s wife had returned to Oregon with their youngest child in 2001. The official story was that following the events of September 11th, the Senator and his wife decided to give their daughter a less stressful environment. Unofficially, it was reported that his wife had left him as a result of his flagrant womanizing. There were unsubstantiated reports that the Senator had been romantically involved with a model, a well-known Maryland dog breeder and a popular actress.

More interesting to Mosby were some of the allegations that surrounded Jaffe’s first campaign for mayor of Enterprise. At that time there were rumors that one of his aids had used questionable tactics to damage the reputation of Jaffe’s opponent. There was even one report that the same aid had resorted to violence to intimidate his opposition’s key supporter. None of this was ever proven.

There had been a lengthy inquest into the accident that took the life of Senator Minot. The Senator had been on vacation in Cozumel, Mexico, swimming with his wife when they were both struck and killed by a speedboat. The operator of the boat was never apprehended.

It was becoming clear to Mosby that Jaffe would do whatever it took to eliminate obstacles in his path, but he needed something concrete if he was going to convince Jacoby that Jaffe was involved in Lilly’s murder. He was about to close his laptop when something caught his eye. It was a reference not to Stuart Jaffe, but to his father. It was in an article about the Oregon timber industry. It was a tough and dangerous way to make a living. Men worked deep into the winter. The timber was deep in the back county. The men worked ten hours a day for low wages. At night they slept in bunkhouses infested with vermin. The conditions were not much better in the lumber mills

There, too, the workers toiled long hours for low pay. Long hours, exposed blades and cruel foreman often resulted in severed limbs. Unfortunately for these workers organizing was exceedingly difficult. Judicial rulings limited the ability of all unions’ abilities to fight management making labor organizing of any kind arduous. The lumber industry itself held additional challenges to organization. The tycoons of the industry were stubborn and resisted any attempts to improve working conditions and wages. Even reaching the workers was often a challenge. Although some mills were in towns, many were located in the forest. In the mid-sixties the Jaffe Mills were the target of an organizing effort by the International Woodworkers of America. A confrontation between the union and Jaffe’s goons resulted in several injuries and thirty arrests. At one of Jaffe’s more remote mills one of the organizers was found dead. Both of his eyes had been gouged out. Jaffe was never implicated and the killer was never apprehended. There was a grainy photograph of Lindsey Jaffe and a diminutive dour young man. The caption read “Lindsey Jaffe, shown here with his driver Carl Benson, leaves the inquest after being absolved of any involvement in the death of union organizer Ted Vatrino.”



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