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     Seattle Quake 9.2      

 Michael frowned and folded his arms, "I'm sure, she's just sleeping on her side again. The system only works when the necklace is flat on her chest, you know, and we wouldn't have this problem if you'd let me put a microphone in her bedroom."

"And how would I explain that to Mister Cole? We promised not to invade anyone's privacy and we've already put in a lot more equipment than he authorized. Besides, what if she finds it, panics and runs?"

"Okay, I get the point." He unfolded his arms and typed a new command on his keyboard. Instantly, the aerial map changed to a close-up of a necklace, "By the way, the necklace matches the ring perfectly, except for the slightly altered mounting we had our guy put in when she wanted it cleaned. Mister Cole had the necklace and the ring made by a jeweler in London."

"That's wonderful, Michael."

"So tell me this. Why does a woman fake her death to get away from a husband, and then faithfully wear the necklace he gave her?  She only takes it off to shower. And I found something else, she's got scars around both wrists -- like maybe she's been tied up."

"Tied up?"

"Yes. I wish I could think of some other explanation."

Jackie turned in her swivel chair and thoughtfully looked out the window.  "You think she's been abused and that's why she faked her death?"

"Maybe. Our background check on Evan Cole didn't indicate anything violent, but I think I'll have a little chat with his second wife's sister. If anyone knows his history, she does."

"Good idea, the last thing we want to do is find a wife for an abusive husband."


In the summer afternoons, when it wasn't raining, sixty-six-year old Sam Taylor liked sitting on the end of a West Seattle pier with his legs dangling over the edge.  His milk-white hair complimented his blue eyes, and more often than not, he wore headphones connected to a transistor radio in his shirt pocket.  His favorite was KMPR, a new talk radio station owned by his son, Max.

Behind him, homes and apartments dotted the hillside where thousands of people enjoyed an impressive view of the water and Greater Seattle. On both sides of the pier, rows and rows of moored pleasure boats sloshed with the rhythm of the sea.  To his right, in the wide southern curve of Elliott Bay, Harbor Island's multiple docks displayed huge land cranes capable of lifting full railroad cars off enormous cargo ships. Overhead, airplanes of varying sizes passed every three minutes, completing their final fifteen-mile descent into Boeing Field or SeaTac Airport.

Further around the curve tugboats, cruise ships, dinner ships and the Victoria Clipper dotted piers jutting out from shops and restaurants. And behind the waterfront lay the colorful and magnificent city of Seattle. Eight blocks deep and twenty-six blocks long, downtown Seattle loomed high on a hill, with graduating levels of glistening sky scrapers. Among them, the impressive Winningham Blue Building stood forty-seven floors high, covered an entire city block and was a mere three blocks from the waterfront.

On the northern end of the twenty-six blocks, an enormous water fountain and the Space Needle marked the middle of The Seattle Center. And just northeast of the Seattle Center, the ground sloped upward toward the top of Queen Anne Hill. Named for a time when the weight of one trolley going downhill pulled another trolley up, the steep grade of the nine block "counterbalance" ascended four blocks, leveled off, and then continued up the next four blocks.

From where Sam Taylor sat, the view was magnificent. The air was fresh and free of pollution, the "Emerald City" was its usual green, and never did he have to wait more than an hour to see something new or unexpected. Sam opened his box of order-out fried chicken, set it on the pier beside him and popped the pull-tab on a can of soda. He took a sip, put it down and reached for a chicken leg. Wearing an old brown fishing hat, he laughed at something said on the radio and started to watch two tugs maneuver a freighter toward Harbor Island.

Something unique caught his attention. A loud clapping noise signaled the slow descent of the largest chopper he had ever seen. And there was more -- there was some kind of a disturbance in the water.


Queen Anne Hill was only ten minutes from downtown by Metro bus and sported three and a half vital communication towers on her top. Vital that is, until 60 and 70 story skyscrapers were built downtown. After that, radio and television had a higher place from which to transmit, and after that came satellites and satellite dishes. Still, the towers on top of Queen Anne Hill were useful for other things such as cell phones, weather and traffic cameras, and one Amateur Radio repeater. Between two of the towers, in the attic of an old two-story house, Sam Taylor's son, Max, built his talk-radio station, KMPR.

A tall man with shoulder length blond hair, Max spent weeks putting in a plaster ceiling, adding three coats of lusterless paint and setting up the soundproof booth with an adjoining studio. The control room was small and housed the "board" with inputs for each mike. Cartridge players ran commercial spots, promos, show intros, and news sound bites. In addition, the board held a four-track tape deck, a CD player and a computer complete with monitor. On the opposite side of the control room sat a 5 kW transmitter the size of a phone booth with more equipment on both sides. Overhead, a long florescent light hung from chains and offered a pale white glow. The console, dotted with tuning dials and switches held a ten-line telephone and faced a large, soundproof window overlooking the studio. In the studio, another console sat lengthwise with its own hanging light, a ceiling fan, a ten-line phone, various switches, dials, and a second computer monitor.

As soon as Max put the finishing touches on his station, he began scouring the countryside for an energetic, fun loving host willing to work long hours.  Finally, he lured Collin Slater away from a small station in Denver, Colorado.   For two weeks, handsome, African American, Collin Slater's picture was splashed across TV screens, appeared on billboards, in newspapers and filled every inch of advertising space on the sides of fifty percent of the city's metro buses. In the background, on separate pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, was an artist's rendition of the rest of Seattle's radio and television commentators looking bored and listless. The caption read -- "KMPR, expect the unexpected." 

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