When I drove in to work this morning and reached the heart of downtown, where our office is, traffic had begun to back up. After I parked the car and walked to our building, I saw a TV station truck with one those spiral broadcast towers fully extended, looking like an alien invader from War of the Worlds.
As soon as I saw it, I got that familiar sick and sinking feeling. If you live in an urban area, you know that seeing an extended TV van antenna always means bad news. It’s like waking up in the middle of the night and seeing the Grim Reaper standing in your bedroom, holding his scythe and pointing a bony finger at you. You know that the spiral tower means somebody is making a live report, which means that they’re covering the scene of a crime, and they only dispatch the truck if the crime is a serious and probably deadly one.
Sure enough, about a block from our office a body had been found, of the victim of an apparent robbery and stabbing. The remains were covered with a sheet and partially shielded by low fencing, of the kind you might see around a manhole when the Sewer Department is doing some work. It was an ugly, shabby scene, a disturbing sight at the beginning of another workday. When I saw the TV tower, I should have known, and I shouldn’t have looked.