Roger Bainbridge, using personal narrative, interviews Billy Weatherford, a serial killer, soon to be executed in Florida's electric chair. He wishes to confess to the murder of young women, for which he was never charged. His revelations will soon rock he and Roger's hometown, Brooksville. The interviews allow Roger to explore the mind of a prolific serial killer and, at the same time, achieve long overdo justice.
As I leaned against the window, sipping my first morning cup of office coffee, I looked out at the gray, overcast sky and the streets of Chicago twelve stories below. I could see white caps on Lake Michigan over the tops of the barren trees and the lower buildings along the shoreline. I saw the marina, still clogged with ice that undulated with each successive wave that made its way through the opening in the breakwater. On the streets below, the slush was being pushed toward the center of the street by the passing cars. The wind buffeted the building and pelted the windows with air- borne snow pellets. I looked at the indoor-outdoor thermometer that sat on the window sill - minus 15. I automatically shivered inside. Even though I had become inured to the cold, this winter had seemed exceedingly long and tedious. I had finally come to a decision, a decision I had not known I was even making.
The sign on the door read, Ned Harrison, Chicago Sun-Times, City Editor. Ned stood outside his office giving instructions to one of the other reporters. When he finished, I said, "Ned, I need to talk to you. I need some time off. I'm worn out. I find I'm having to drag myself to the office every morning. You know, that's not me. Usually you can't keep me away. I'm just burned out."
"Why don't you just take a few days off? And then you'll be alright." said Ned, but he saw it in my eyes. He knew I was done being a journalist, no matter how prize-worthy my work had been in the past. The years as a crime reporter had finally taken their toll. "What's really bothering you? Do you want to step inside and we can talk about it?"
"No. That won't be necessary. What I have to say can be said here. I've been working the crime beat steadily for nearly twenty years straight. I've seen and heard things no one should ever see or hear. I'm beginning to lose my objectivity. I'm starting to judge instead of being an unbiased observer. I need time to come to grips with the carnage I've seen. At first, it didn't seem to get to me. I wrote about it and just forgot about it. I simply moved on to the next story. Even though I wasn't aware of it, all that I have seen has been accumulating inside me, accreting, and I'm finding myself uncomfortable. I need to sort through it all and make some kind of sense of it. And, I've been toying with the idea of writing a book - anything other than murder and serial killers. Maybe a peaceful history of something."
"How long do you think it is going to take you to find yourself?" asked Ned, sarcastically emphasizing the last two words of his question.
"At least a year, maybe a little longer." Ned's sarcasm had not been lost on me.
Ned knew, intuitively, that I would not be back but he maintained the charade. He had experienced this same scenario with some of his better journalists in the past. Each, eventually, got to point where they began questioning what they did for a living. In reality, it was a mid-life crisis but for those who lived by the pen, it was almost always the allure of writing 'a book.' Ned knew the cycle from personal experience and watching other journalists succumb to the temptation of 'the book.' Once the bug had bitten, there came the rationalizations, then came the inevitable personal sab- batical. Some journalists returned from the break refreshed. Some just never returned. Those that did not return were either broken men, who often left writing completely, or those who fulfilled their literary dreams.
"Where will you go? I'm assuming you're leaving Chicago," said Ned.
"To be honest, I haven't given that much thought. I know it just has to be some place warm. I was just looking out my window this morning and I knew I'd had enough. Usually, I head for Miami or Boca but right now they don't seem all that appealing. I really don't know where I want to go. All I know is that I have to go."
"Very well. Leave a number where we can contact you and keep in touch, okay?" asked Ned. "We're going to miss you." Not even waiting for a response, Ned turned and walked away. He was defi- nitely not one to take part in maudlin goodbyes.