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George Pollock

State Kid
Issue 62
Justice and Injustice

In the end, Billy Stone turned snitch -- and was proud of it.
Based upon testimony by Billy and investigative reporting by the Sentinel, District
Attorney John Conroy and Nicholas Narchos were both indicted under federal
racketeering laws, convicted and sentenced to long terms in Walpole State Prison. Mrs.
Conroy filed for divorce and could not face her friends for the longest time.
The Sentinel ran pictures of the two felons on their perp walks in downtown Fairview. As
a precaution against their trying to kill themselves, federal marshals had removed their
belts, ties and shoelaces. Conroy concealed the handcuffs with a sweater. Narchos hid his
head under an overcoat so that hit men could not see his face.
Congressman Waters, figuring that he had lost the police vote as well as the votes of his
traditional conservative supporters, did not even bother to campaign. He cleaned out his
Washington office and began looking for jobs for himself and his staff.
To his astonishment, he won re-election.
He swept the populous East Side, which turned out in record numbers to vote for him. He
picked up the unions, the considerable liberal votes with ties to Fairfield University and
many crossover Democratic votes. He also learned that he was in line to be the next
commencement speaker at Fairview University.
Billy sent him a congratulatory note. The newly re-elected Congressman responded with
a personal telephone call and the two chatted warmly about the strange turn of events.
“Now that you're free, what are you going to do?” Congressman Waters asked.
“Everybody asks me that. My answer is always the same. I'm going to live.”
“Good for you.” After a pause, “Uh, Billy ... everything that went on behind the scenes is
confidential, isn't it? Wasn't that what we agreed?”
“We didn't agree on anything, Congressman ... but I want only greater success for you in
the future. Anyway, it seems we're on the same side these days. What's this I hear that you
might go over to the Democrats?”
“As we said, strange things happen, don't they? Listen, I want you to come to
Washington. I'll show you around and introduce you to a few people.”
“I'd like that, Congressman.”
***
Billy did go to Washington. He flew with the Congressman on his return to Washington
after Waters had given the commencement address at Fairview University and had
received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
“Pretty good,” Billy said in the Congressman's limo on their way to the airport, “for
somebody who scraped by as an undergraduate and almost didn't graduate.”
“Shhhh.”
In the nation's capitol, Congressman Waters took Billy everywhere. He visited every
hallowed hall and monument, including the White House where he shook hands with the
President and had his picture taken with him.
On the floor of Congress, he sat behind Congressman Waters during a debate on
extending to juveniles accused of crime the same privileges accorded to adults. Billy kept
handing the Congressman notes.
“No more,” the Congressman finally said. “You can testify at the hearing.”
He had said this only in exasperation, but once he had said it, Billy kept him to it. Billy
ended up testifying before the congressional subcommittee on criminal justice on which
Congressman Waters served.
The Congressman's executive assistant, a young man a few years out of Yale and full of
himself, gave Billy a statement that had been prepared for him. Billy handed it back to
him.
“Thank you, but I'll write my own statement.”
“If you insist, but I'll have to see it.”
“I'm afraid not. A little too undemocratic for me. My prison background, I guess. Of
course, you wouldn't have learned about democracy at Yale, would you?”
“We'll see about the statement.”
But when the executive assistant raised Billy's “stubbornness” with Congressman Waters,
the Congressman shrugged. “Can't help you. No way am I going there.”
When Billy was called to the microphone to give a statement before a subcommittee of
the United States Congress, neither Congressman Waters nor his staff had any idea of
what he was going to say. But when he had finished, all were smiling and vying to shake
his hand.
“Excellent presentation,”the executive assistant said.
Billy shook hands with members of the subcommittee while flashbulbs popped.
***
Director Carson, after running hard for two years, won the Democratic nomination for
Governor. In the general election he ran a close, but losing, race.
While Carson failed in his bid for Governor, his celebrity wattage was so bright that he
became in great demand as a well-paid speaker. He spent most of his time traveling
around the country giving the same basic speech entitled, “A New Approach to At-Risk
Juveniles.” He never ceased to be amazed that people were willing to pay him a lot of
money for the same speech over and over.
Mayor Harper lost his bid for re-election. The loss seared his nerve-endings, but in
Massachusetts, defeated politicians go straight into the warm embrace of a high-paid
patronage job. In Harper's case, he went to a sinecure at the Massachusetts Turnpike
Authority, where he could rest up and replenish his bank account.
Police Chief Bronson survived, but with diminished authority. For example, he had to
think twice in his dealings with Captain O'Toole, whose political clout outside the
department had grown. The media played up his role in the Billy Stone affair. A Boston
tabloid ran a story about him with the big front-page headline: COP WITH A
CONSCIENCE.
Captain and Mrs. O'Toole had become fond of Billy Stone and missed him, even though
only Mrs. O'Toole would admit to it. Before Billy and Vera split up, the O'Tooles even
had Billy over for Sunday dinner -- something that Billy had thought would be as likely
as getting struck by lightning. When Mrs. O'Toole asked about Billy, Vera shut her up.
“I'll let you know when I'm ready to take him back,” she said.
***
One officer in the department did not fare as well as Captain O'Toole. He was Officer
Mark Wynette, the young rookie who had helped subdue Officers Lee and Collins, who
had delivered evidence to District Attorney Conroy's home and who had taken part in the
arrest of Frank Stojak, Sr. He would also testify against both Officers Lee and Collins,
who were convicted of falsifying evidence and sentenced to five years in prison,
suspended, and dismissed from the force.
Remember the deposition that sealed the fate of Officer Collins? The signature on it was
that of Officer Wynette. Around the department, everybody under the rank of sergeant did
not say his name or speak to him or even look at him. Officer Wynette was referred to
only as “the snitch.”
When he walked into the squad room, officers got up and walked out. When officers
passed him in the hallway, they looked away and walked by him as if he didn't exist. No
officer would agree to be his partner and Officer Wynette was taken off patrol and given a
desk job. The brass spoke to him only when necessary and did nothing to halt his
ostracization.
After months of this, Officer Wynette quit.
Billy called him to see if there was anything he could do. “I owe you,” Billy said.
“You owe me nothing.”
“Without your courage, I wouldn't be free. I want to pay you back.”
“My father used to tell me that corruption begins with three little words, I owe you. He
said, ‘Something is given. Something is expected in return. Something is given back. Two
people break the law.’ Thanks, but no thanks.”
Determined to help, Billy spoke to David Weatherall and arranged for Officer Wynette to
be offered a job in security at Weatherall Industries. Wynette turned it down. On the
application that had been sent to him, he wrote, “Would somebody please tell Billy Stone
that I am not for sale? I will make my own way without his insulting assistance.”
Billy tried and failed to reach Mark Wynette by phone. The former police officer did not
respond to messages asking him to call. Finally, Billy left a message on Wynette's
answering machine: “This is Billy Stone. I owe you an apology which I hope you will
accept. I am well rebuked.”
***
Dr. Sam Bridges rediscovered his roots. While continuing as Chief of Emergency Surgery
at Fairfield Hospital, he opened a clinic in an East Side storefront a few places down
from the De Gusto convenience store where Mrs. de Cruz still worked. On opening day,
Billy showed up saying he didn't feel well and asked if he could could get a check-up.
“Certainly,” Dr. Bridges said, “but you can see that we have a lot of patients here, most of
them in urgent need of medical attention. It may be quite a wait.”
“I will wait.”
“If we do get to you, it will cost you a fortune. Our patients have no money and cannot
pay -- so we ask patients like you to help by paying more.”
“Willingly,” Billy said, surveying the tiny, cramped quarters jammed with patients.
“Quite a bit more modest than what you are used to, doctor.”
“That is true,” Dr. Bridges said, leaning over a disheveled and disoriented older man.
“But I have never done more important work. This man is homeless and suffering from
AIDS. He recently had a multiple hemorrhage. His acute drinking problem makes it
impossible for him to go into a nursing home. He is belligerent and violent. He is too sick
to be here, but not sick enough to be admitted to a hospital. He runs the risk of dying
within six months.”
“Can you help him?”
“I don't know, but I have to try. He has nowhere else to go. ”
Billy watched as Dr. Bridges went from patient to patient. A man moaning in pain with
his leg up had broken his ankle when a dumpster fell on him while he was collecting
returnable cans and bottles. Dr. Bridges examined him and gave him over to an assistant
to set the ankle and fit him with a cast.
Another man, who was coughing badly, had pneumonia and needed antibiotics. A man
had a groin infection that had been let go for too long. A woman had hepatitis C, was
blind in one eye -- from an assault by her drunken boyfriend -- and was addicted to crack
cocaine. The doctor made her laugh and said he could get her into detox if she was really
serious. She smiled and later left happy.
Most of the problems related to mental illness, HIV, hepatitis, and liver disease from
drinking and drug addiction. Dr. Bridges treated each patient with respect, without
judging or lecturing. When Billy remarked about that, Dr. Bridges said, “They don't get
any respect anywhere else. Why not here? We need to put a human face on homelessness,
addiction and poverty and arouse the compassion of the entire community.”
Billy began going to the clinic for all his medical needs. Each time he visited, he left a
large check.
Dr. Bridges persuaded other physicians to volunteer their services. The East Side Open
Medical Clinic expanded rapidly to become a major health-care provider in the area. The
clinic treated anybody who walked through the door. It began receiving support from
both federal and state governments and from foundations, including the Caulfield
Foundation. In order to devote more time to the clinic, Dr. Bridges gave up his post as
Vice Chair of the Caulfield Foundation with Billy's full approval and support.
“Go,” Billy said. “You are needed on the front lines. God be with you.î
***
Debra Florsheim was promoted to Richard Goode's old job, Executive Editor of the
Sentinel. Billy and Debra regularly met in her corner office on the 19th-floor of the
downtown Kurlan Building. There, sipping coffee -- for which he had now acquired a
taste -- he admired the great view of the city's heart, while they discussed ways to
preserve the rights of the accused and serve the public's right to know. They agreed that
both rights could and should be protected.
“Well, Billy,” Ms. Florsheim said, “excuse me, Lord Caulfield the Sixth, aren't you a bit
young to be living happily ever after?”
“Yes.”
“So we can expect that you will be causing further trouble?”
“Most definitely. Where I came from, there are many others. Should I make believe that
they are not there? When I know how they are living, if you can call it that, should I say
nothing, do nothing?”
“Well, you don't have to bite my head off.”