I finished typing the last line to the story I had just spent the last six months of my life researching. In it described a one Victor Lopez. As I leaned back in my chair, I stretched out, thinking about how I got to this point.
Six months ago…
Lopez was an up-and-coming politician, jumping from the state legislature to a possible seat in Congress within a four-year span.
“Victor Lopez for Congress 1998! I believe in the people!” In the process of campaigning, he spurned my editor’s help through some thoughtless action. It didn’t matter to Les though. The insult would be paid back in full. He picked up his phone and dialed my number.
“Victor Lopez,” he said. “Burn it all down Q.” He only ever used my number when he was out of options, and he only used my nickname when he really wanted someone burned.
I wasn’t one of his daily rotation writers. I didn’t ever bother trying to cover boxers like Murdoch or going down to Texas and doing a write-up of that flood it had. I don’t kill people, at least not literally. One call from my editor is his version of loosing the hounds of hell. At least that’s my name down at the office: The Hound. Once I find a lead, I don’t stop until I have an answer. My value is not in my sleuthing, it’s my ability to put it all down on paper and make it readable. This was the first time however, I’d been asked to burn it all down.
My investigation required me to spend copious hours following Lopez, tailing him everywhere, learning his habits and behaviors. By the end of the first day I could tell you he liked peanut butter and bananas, only drank at parties and that he was allergic to avocados. It’s amazing what people throw in their trash.
By the end of the first month I knew his password to his laptop and Blackberry. “Rosalie.” Was she a secret lover? Lopez was a family man, with a wife and kids, none of whom were named Rosalie. I had to find the connection. Perhaps my greatest strength was seeing the connections between two seemingly unconnected events where others only saw darkness. In the meantime I took to airing some of his dirty laundry, starting with the small things, like childhood friends, disgruntled former employees, an ex-coworker, all of whom were more than eager to share stories about the real Victor Lopez.
Lopez must have known someone was watching him. With the campaign heating up, he was beginning to look like a legitimate candidatefortheHouseseat. Leswas calling daily, demanding updates. I told him to wait, that I couldn’t be rushed. I had already sent him most of my material anyway and Les had been printing it for weeks, feeding the fire to Lopez’s burning, eroding his support and undermining his foundations. To give him credit he hadn’t broken under the strain, but this would be the coup de grace: a final blow to a flawed man’s campaign and career.
I could have easily went on my gut reaction and assumed that Rosalie was a mistress, but it was a mark of professional pride that I had evidence to back up my theories. Les could wait. One night I followed Lopez to a political fundraising event at the Sheraton. Dressed in my usual coat I normally wouldn’t be able to gain access to this black tie affair.
But these snobby upper-class yuppies would never think to look at a servant twice. I had already purchased a hotel uniform weeks ago. I grabbed a decanter of wine andproceededtoservemembers of the party. I tried to find Lopez for an hour and was nearly going to give up when I saw him head upstairs, leading me to follow him.
He was looking extremely anxious, constantly checking his back for followers. He opened a door with key and moved inside. I quickened my pace, but I wasn’t going to be able to catch him before he closed it, so I “tripped” destroying the decanter. He turned and before he could stop her, a little girl came out of the room, curiously walking toward me, a dead ringer for the candidate.
“Rosalie!” he called to her, as I stared into the girl’s eyes. I saw the connection. Lopez approached, but I excused myself and left. He knew though.
I finished my story and leaned back. I couldn’t help but wonder what my role was in this anymore. As I had gotten more and more involved in his life, I could only feel pity for Lopez. Disgraced, humiliated, divorced, wounded, finished off and rejected on what should be his crowning moment.
Les called asking me to send the final write-up.
“Is this my purpose?” I thought. I couldn’t tell anymore. The cursor wavered over the send button and moved to the delete button. I pressed it.
“I’m not your hound anymore, Les,” I said, and hung up.
We all make choices, but in the end our choices make us.