Darkest Fear Page 70

“I heard that, yes.”

“Why? If he planned on killing him, why go to the trouble of donning a disguise?”

“He kidnapped Jeremy off the streets,” Stan said. “Someone might have been able to identify him.”

“Yeah, okay, that makes sense. But then why blindfold Jeremy once he was in the van? He killed all the others. He would have killed Jeremy. So why worry about him seeing his face?”

“I’m not sure,” Stan said. “He might have always done it that way, for all we know.”

“I guess,” Myron said. “But something about it all just rings wrong, don’t you think?”

Stan thought about it. “It rings funny,” he said slowly. “I’m not sure it rings wrong.”

“That’s why I came to you. All these questions have been swirling in my head. And then I remembered Win’s credo.”

Stan Gibbs looked over at Win. Win blinked his eyes and lowered them modestly. “What credo is that?”

“Man is into self-preservation,” Myron said. “He is, above all, selfish.” He paused a moment. “You agree with that, Stan?”

“To some degree, of course. We’re all selfish.”

Myron nodded. “You even.”

“Yes, of course. And you too, I’m sure.”

“The media is making you out to be this noble guy,” Myron said. “Torn between family and duty and ultimately doing the right thing. But maybe you’re not.”

“Not what?”


“I’m not,” Stan said. “I did wrong. I never claimed to be a saint.”

Myron looked at Win. “He’s good.”

“Damn good,” Win agreed.

Stan Gibbs frowned. “What are you talking about, Myron?”

“Follow me here, Stan. And remember Win’s credo. Let’s start at the beginning. When your father first contacted you. You talked to him and you decided to write the Sow the Seeds story. What was your motive at first? Were you trying to find an outlet for your fear and guilt? Was it simply to be a good reporter? Or—and here’s where we’re using the Win credo—did you write it because you knew it would make you a big star?”

Myron looked at him and waited.

“Am I supposed to answer that?”


Stan looked in the air and rubbed his fingertips with his thumb. “All of the above, I guess. Yes, I was excited by the story. I thought it could very well be a big deal. If that’s selfishness, okay, I’m guilty.”

Myron glanced at Win again. “Good.”

“Damn good.”

“Let’s keep following this track, Stan, okay? The story did indeed become a big deal. So did you. You became a celebrity—”

“We covered this already, Myron.”

“Right. You’re absolutely right. Let’s skip to the part where the feds sued you. They demanded to know your source. You refused. Now again there might be several reasons for this. The First Amendment, of course. That could be it. Protecting your father would be another. The combination of the two. But—and again Win’s credo—what would be the selfish choice?”

“What do you mean?”

“Think selfishly and you really have only one option.”

“That being?”

“If you caved in to the feds—if you said, Okay, now that I’m in legal trouble, my source is my father—well, how would that have looked?”

“Bad,” Win said.

“Damn bad. I doubt you’d have been much of a hero if you sold out your father—not to mention the First Amendment—just to save your hide from vague legal threats.” Myron smiled. “See what I mean about Win’s credo?”

“So you think I acted selfishly by not telling the feds,” Stan said.

“It’s possible.”

“It’s also possible that the selfish thing was also the right thing.”

“Possible too,” Myron agreed.

“I never claimed to be a hero in all this.”

“Never denied it either.”

Stan smiled this time. “Maybe I didn’t deny it because I’m using Win’s credo.”

“How’s that?”

“Denying it would harm me,” Stan said. “As would boasting about it.”

Myron didn’t have a chance to look before he heard Win say, “Damn good.”

“I still don’t see the relevance of any of this,” Stan said.

“Stick with me, I think you will.”

Stan shrugged.

“Where were we?” Myron asked.

“The feds take him to court,” Win said.

“Right, thanks, the feds take you to court. You battle back. Then something happens you totally didn’t foresee. The plagiarism charges. For the sake of discussion, we’ll assume the Lex family sent the book to the feds. They wanted to get you off their back—what better way to do that than to ruin your reputation? So what did you do? How did you react to the charges of plagiarism?”

Stan kept quiet. Win said, “He disappeared.”

“Correct answer,” Myron said.

Win smiled and nodded a thank-you into the camera.

“You took off,” Myron said to Stan. “Now the question again is why. Several things come to mind. It could have been because you were trying to protect your father. Or it might have been that you were afraid of the Lex family.”

“Which would certainly fit Win’s credo,” Stan said. “Self-preservation.”

“Right. You were afraid they’d harm you.”


Myron treaded gently. “But don’t you see, Stan? We have to think selfishly too. You’re presented with this serious plagiarism charge. What choices did you have? Two really. You could either run off—or you could tell the truth.”

Stan said, “I still don’t see your point.”

“Stay with me. If you told the truth, you would again look like a louse. Here you’ve been defending the First Amendment and your father and whoops, you get in trouble and you sell them out. No good. You’d still be ruined.”

“Damned if you do,” Win said. “Damned if you don’t.”

“Right,” Myron said. “So the wise move—the selfish move—was to vanish for a while.”

“But I lost everything by vanishing.”

“No, Stan, you didn’t.”

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