The day after getting the ax, I sit in my bedroom, at my laptop, stewing. I still can’t believe my professor came in at one in the morning to do someone else’s bidding and forbade me from even entering the building where the studio is. I have never been in trouble with an authority figure in my life. Macy flies so far under the radar, she may as well be in Wonder Woman’s invisible jet.
But that pales before my biggest problem.
People will expect my next show and it won’t be there. I can’t just vanish—not when I’m certain the Carlisles’ and their friends’ donations to the university had, oh, everything to do with my getting kicked off the radio. I can’t prove it, but I don’t need to in order to post about it on Reddit.
Heads up: It’s not as easy to silence people as it used to be, great and mighty powers that be.
I don’t want to quit. I don’t think I can quit. I feel a responsibility to see this through.
But . . . I’m awfully close to crossing the streams of my life: Mackenzie and Macy. So I have a new question to ask—of myself and everyone else.
Well, not everyone. I know exactly what my mom would say. This is getting serious enough that it may follow me after I graduate. Getting fired from the radio station will, especially if I talk about it online.
That’s the only way to find the answer I need, though. And I’m all about answers these days.
Topic: The Future of Dead Air
MisforMurder: Hey gang,
This is Mackenzie here, host of Dead Air on UK college radio—or it used to be. Now the university is insisting on actual dead air during my time slot. Yes, listeners, they fired me. They told me they’ve had complaints. I’m not even allowed in the building. But I have my theories about the real why—the source of these mystery complaints. Am I getting too close to the truth? Making wealthy donors uncomfortable? All of the above?
But I turn to you to answer the essential question I’m left with: Does what I’m doing matter? Is it worth risking my future for? Should I continue with a weekly podcast? Or are we done here?
I don’t think we are, but without you, I’m nothing, dear listeners.
I hesitate—but not for long—before I send the post live.
My phone buzzes and I grab it and answer as quickly as I can when I see the caller ID: DEPT OF PUBLIC ADVOCACY.
“Yes?” I say. “This is Mackenzie Walker.”
“And this is Greg Duncan—I defended Brandon McDonal, or at least I tried to . . .” a man’s voice says. He talks fast. “You’ve worn me down. Can you meet me outside the county courthouse at noon today?”
Two hours from now. “Absolutely!”
He laughs at my enthusiasm. So much for my cool journalistic professionalism.
“Have your phone on, and not on silent,” he says. “See you then.”
He hangs up before I can ask about the bizarre directive.
I don’t have time to wait for the Reddit responses to come—or not come—in. I’ll find out their verdict later. No way I’m going to risk being late to this meeting, not after the revelations about McDonal’s family back home in Ireland suddenly bathing in money around the time of the murder. The conspiracy theorists are in love with the idea that it was either the nanny or Irongate Farm’s Cox, but I’m not feeling either as real possibilities. I need more intel.
The administration and/or Ryan’s family wants to shut me down? Fine. Then it’s time for Mackenzie to go to war and dig up whatever they’re hoping to hide.
The courthouse plaza smack in the middle of downtown hosts a wide cross section of people at lunch hour—lawyer types in suits, defendants and plaintiffs in the closest thing they have to suits, homeless guys hanging out, people who work in offices downtown . . . A smattering of reporters are hanging around across from the federal courthouse up the street.
I get a little thrill from knowing I’m one of them, with or without a station to host me. This may not have started out as straight-up journalism, but it is now.
A little research quickly explained why it was so hard to convince Greg Duncan to squeeze me into his schedule. Almost every story about public defenders in Kentucky is about how overwhelmed and underfunded they are. They handle a ridiculous number of cases as a whole, more than 150,000 per year, and almost eighty percent of criminal circuit cases, aka the bad ones. He’s now in charge of the local office rather than just an attorney on staff like he was eighteen years ago, but apparently that still means plenty of court time. Which is why I’m meeting him here instead of at his office.
My phone trills just as a knot of people exit the building, and I answer....