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George Pollock

State Kid
Issue 44
Student of Machiavelli

“Billy, wake up,” said David Weatherall, shaking one sleep-deprived young guy. ”You
have to come. It's unbelievable what's happening,”
“What? What?” Billy asked, blinking. “Was I asleep?”
“Out. Almost an hour. Listen, it's the lead story on all the channels. Your face is
everywhere. The phone is ringing nonstop.”
“How are they covering it?”
A smile spread over Weatherall's face. “Come on, see for yourself. It's almost time for the
one o'clock news.”
They headed for the day room with Billy's entourage, led by Johnson Johnson and Billy
Ruggieri, falling in step.
“Has Waters gotten anywhere?” Billy asked.
“He had two long talks with the governor. You can tell they're tight. He got right through
and it was all ‘What's going on, buddy?’ and ‘How ya hittin 'em?'’”
“Where were their heads?”
“You can sort of tell the governor knows what's going on; he's just not saying it. Waters
isn't saying it, either; he's just trying to cover his___.”
“In other words, wait until the media and civilians leave, then squash us.”
“I'd say that's about it.”
“Nothing on releases?”
“They're still in the 'what is in it for us' phase.”
“Slimy snakes.”
“What else?”
“You got a zillion calls. Vera took them -- I was busy with Waters. She got the names and
numbers. Did a good job. Feisty, too.”
“There's Billy Stone!” a voice shouted.
***
The press swarmed, thrusting microphones and cameras and shouting questions. Billy
thought, Why do they do that?
“Do you deny that you killed Julio de Cruz?” asked a young reporter. The reporter
seemed not much older than himself.
“This morning we presented overwhelming evidence pointing to Roger Stansky as the
killer of Julio de Cruz. Please, can we move on?”
“Do you know that Joy Stojak ran away?”
“Yes.”
“Do you have any idea where she is?”
“I can tell you this -- she's in a safe place. She has formally charged her father, Frank
Stojak Sr., of repeated assault. A letter containing these charges has been hand-delivered
to District Attorney John Conroy. Incidentally, her statement completely exonerates me.”
The reporters wrote in their notebooks.
“Why don't you tell the truth, Stone?”
It was the skeptical officer, Sgt. Frank Tancredi, grisly, hard-edged, a veteran with many
years of service. Pushing his way through the reporters, he stood on the perimeter of
Billy's guards and said, “Why don't you tell them that you orchestrated this whole day to
talk your way out of here?”
Billy grinned wickedly. “Ladies and gentlemen of the press, don't waste your time with
me. Interview the good officer here. Sounds to me like he has a great scoop!”
The reporters laughed.
“Why don't you ask Mr. Stone why you haven't been able to talk to Director Carson?”
Billy made a mock serious face. “You're right, officer. It's time I got serious and told the
truth. The reason you have not been able to interview Director Carson is that we are
holding him prisoner in his office with a gun to his head. Congressman Waters is also a
prisoner. And also Father Colahan and Dr. Bridges and Dr. Kurlan. Seriously, Director
Carson asked me to tell you that he will be holding a news conference later this
afternoon. At the moment, he and Congressman Waters are having extensive discussions
with the Governor, juvenile justice officials, social services and others. He's eager to meet
with you and answer all your questions.”
“When are they going to let you and the others out?”
“Soon, very soon. I'm very happy.”
“Have you talked to the Governor?”
“No, I haven't talked to the Governor myself, but Congressman Waters and Director
Carson have done so on my behalf. I'm very grateful to them for that.”
“Did they talk about a release time for you?”
“I believe they did. All I know is that the Governor is very pleased with what Director
Carson has done and wants to do the right thing. Now, if you will excuse me, there will
be a press conference this afternoon. Also, we expect a statement from the Governor
soon. Thank you.”
Billy and his entourage plowed through the press gantlet.
***
“Now Conroy has to act,” David Weatherall said.
“How can he not?”
“Judge Salera, too.”
“How can she not?”
“Diabolical. My compliments.”
Arriving at the dayroom, they found it packed with people eating lunch, talking and
watching TV. They were the same oil-and-water mix of humanity from the dining hall:
East Side mothers, inmates, Fairview students and a few police officers. Billy chatted all
around, except with the officers, who eyed him stone-faced.
“Good job handling that cop,” David Wetherall whispered into Billy's ear.
“That reminds me.”
Billy spoke softly to Johnson Johnson and Billy Ruggieri, and they hurried off.
“What was that about?” David Weatherall asked.
“I told them to take care of that cop.”
“What?”
“Don't worry. We're just uninviting him.”
“You know, you're a ruthless tyrant -- downright Machiavelian.”
“Look, this is war. This is not Fairfield against Amherst on a Saturday afternoon where if
you lose, so what, it's just a game. If I lose, I get living death. I don't intend to lose.”
“I must tell you, my good friend, that your methods are nevertheless frightening. More to
your credit, so is your clarity.”
One troublesome officer soon had an iron glove laid upon him. Five inmates jumped him
in an out-of-the-way spot on his way to Carson's office and hustled him away to solitary
confinement. His abductors left him gagged and bound, but with the consolation of
knowing that he had been right.
The TV news came on. All attention turned to the black and white television high up in a
far corner. Sure enough, Granite City was the lead story. A chirpy young woman anchor
said:
Good afternoon. We have an inspiring story today, which is ongoing at this hour, from the
Granite City School for Boys, a maximum security juvenile detention center in Fairview
where a fatal stabbing took place just three days ago. Senior Correspondent Kelly
McGee is on the scene.
The camera panned around the outside of the school and the crowds, then went to the
dining hall. There, with the panel in the background and Billy standing beside Mrs. de
Cruz as she spoke, the reporter said:
Behind me is a scene from Community Dialogue Day here, an event that few would have
thought possible -- inmates and prison officials cooperating openly in a search for truth
and justice. Billy Stone, the fugitive who was captured last year after eluding police for
months, has been offering information before a panel made up of School Director
William Carson and other community leaders.
Stone presented the panel and press with numerous eyewitness statements saying that the
killer of Julio de Cruz was another inmate, Roger Stansky, who subsequently escaped.
Stone, dressed in a tailored suit and acting and talking like an attorney, stunned the panel
and an audience of inmates, inmate parents, Fairview University students and police
officers with even more startling information. He presented evidence of police having
planted drugs and guns on Julio de Cruz, eight other inmates and himself.
In the day's most dramatic moment, Mrs. de Cruz identified the police officer she says
planted drugs on her son. On the orders of a police department representative on the
panel, Captain Wally O'Toole, the officer was searched on the spot and found with three
bags of cocaine and a concealed gun. The officer was arrested and led away for booking.
Later, a second officer met the same fate. Mrs. de Cruz's testimony was highly emotional
and there was not a sound as she spoke.
The screen cut to a close-up of Mrs. de Cruz with excerpts from her outpouring. The
broadcast went on to show Billy asking if the officer was in the audience ... Mrs. de Cruz
pointing out Officer Collins ... the officer being searched and led away ... officer Lee also
being searched and led away ... Billy presenting the eight inmates he said were innocent,
plus Emiliano Cervantes ... Vera slapping Cervantes ... Billy prowling the stage and
dominating the entire hall.
The rest of the segment featured short interviews with people in the audience, all of
whom praised Community Dialogue Day. Wrapping, the reporter said:
The most remarkable thing, however, had to be the willingness of Director William
Carson to convene such an open inquiry and to give Billy Stone an apparently free hand
in conducting it. Stone praised Director Carson for his support and encouragement of
Community Dialogue Day and the Director received a rousing round of applause.
The screen showed a beaming Carson standing and acknowledging the cheers, with Billy
clapping enthusiastically. The reporter concluded:
Stone said that Director Carson and Congressman Waters, also on the panel, have been
talking with Governor Richardson about a possible release of innocent inmates. He said
that there will be a news conference later this afternoon with further details. We will be
bringing you that news conference live. From Granite City School for Boys in Fairview,
this is Kelly McGee.
***
“I can live with that,” Billy said. “Only negative was Vera slugging Cervantes. That won't
hurt us. He had it coming.”
A Special Report banner flashed across the screen. The anchor said:
This just in. We have learned that Joy Stojak, whom Billy Stone had been accused of
molesting, has formally charged her father with repeated assault. Her statement is said to
completely exonerate Stone. Miss Stojak has run away from home and is said to be under
police protection at an undisclosed location.
“Have a good day, Stojak,” Billy said.