The first four chapters of this novel, Eminent Domain, can be found by clicking on Fiction Projects in the top menu bar.
The News Room
Tuesday, Feb. 9, 1988
The news room of the Adamsford Chronicle was empty except for one lone copy editor who was typing an article into her word processor.
As she finished she glanced up at the clock — five minutes to five — and stretched. People would be straggling in soon and she could go to dinner. She got up from her desk to go look out the window at the storm and thought how glad she was she had brought her dinner tonight so she didn’t have to go outside. She walked back and gathered together the articles she had typed, drew a long red line through them, and put them on the editor’s desk.
Carl, the sports editor, stomped the snow from his boots as he reached the top of the stairs. They had just finished exchanging comments about the weather when the police scanner blared, requesting police cars, a firetruck, and an ambulance to the scene of an accident on Rte. 592. Instinctively they both walked over closer to find out what had happened.
Each new arrival to the newsroom saw people grouped around the scanner and walked over to join them. When Bill Clancey, the editor, walked in at a quarter past five, they all knew that there had been a serious accident on Rte. 592 near Prices Corners General Store. One fatality, a trucker from Youngstown and possibly a middle-aged man from Hattiesville — his status was still in question. The man’s wife was trapped in the car, which had been pushed off the road and rolled over from the force of the truck. The semi-truck had jackknifed across the road and the road was closed. No blame had been leveled yet. It had happened on that treacherous curve coming down the hill just beyond the store — Digby’s Bend.
Everyone listening in the news room knew exactly where it was. Yes, it was bad curve on a steep hill on a terrible road. They all agreed.
“How many accidents will it take to get the state to work on that road?”
“There were five people killed on that road last year, and who knows how many accidents?”
The copy editor who was missing her dinner hour sat down at a Dialog terminal and punched in a few keys. Within a minute or so, the machine began to type back to her: “Sixty-seven accidents on Rte. 592 between Adamsford and Hattiesville last year. Five fatalities, twelve seriously hurt, and the rest minor injuries.” She pulled the printout from the machine and waved it at Clancey.
Carl said what they were all thinking. “That’s more than one a week…”
“Damn it!” the editor said quietly. “I’m writing an editorial tonight. We’ll run it tomorrow with the article about the wreck. Linda, can you do a feature story on past accidents on that road? Use that machine again and find as many statistics as you can.”
She nodded. She might as well eat dinner at her desk.
Pat, the photographer, hadn’t even taken off his down jacket, and he already had his gear packed into an insulated bag.
“Rob, you go with him for the story — and get a couple of good shots!” he yelled, as they hurried downstairs and out into the blizzard.
“Carl,” the editor barked. “Get me PennDot on the phone. I want to talk to Alex Goddard — I think he’s the chief engineer now. And Linda, when I’m done — I’m going to warn him about the editorial — you interview him too and see what you can find out. See if they’ve got anything on the back burner for 592. And get some good quotes.”
He sat down at his desk. Ah, this was just what he needed: a good local issue to get things stirred up. Who would dispute the fact that this road needed to be taken care of? He gulped some coffee and turned on his word processor.