Governor Rockland’s Office
“The governor will see you now.” The crisp tone of the Governor’s personal secretary contrasted with her soft skirt and peach angora linen jacket. She smiled at DCF Commissioner Frederick Fractor as she opened the door to the governor’s office. On the polished tufted leather couch against the left wall sat two men, the governor’s press secretary and the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections. Governor Rockland stood and walked from behind the oak desk. Several pictures of Rockland’s son and daughter sat among the neatly stacked piles of documents. Off to one side of the paperwork sat a glossy photograph of Rockland’s new bride. (There were rumors floating throughout the capital that his former wife had been battered beyond recognition.)
“Good morning, Fred.” The governor extended his hand.
“Good morning, Governor.” Fractor shook Rockland’s hand.
“I believe you know Jack Armadi, our new DOC Commissioner. And of course you’ve met Bill Pressler, my press secretary.”
“Yes, we’ve already met.” Fractor nodded to the two men.
“Please have a seat.” Rockland pulled a chair opposite the three men. “I’ve asked you to come here this morning for two reasons. First, I have the final report on the Baby Emily case, and I want to review it with all of you. Pressler, I want you to figure a way to put a positive spin on the flack that’s gone to hit when the Courant gets this report.”
“Yeah, that damn liberal Courant’ll have a field day when they get a hold of it,” said Pressler.
Rockland nodded. “Fred, could you review where we are now, in light of this report?”
“As you know, the Baby Emily case was splashed across the Courant when the police picked up the mother’s boyfriend for sexual abuse charges on her nine month old baby. I brought a copy of the coroner’s report with me. It’s not a pretty picture.” Fractor squirmed in his seat. “Anal intercourse, ripped colon, multiple bruises, severe internal damage with broken ribs and left leg. I’ll spare you the details.”
“Please do.” Pressler shuddered. “What kind of animal is this?” Pressler looked at Armadi who appeared motionless. “This doesn’t seem to affect you.”
Armadi looked at Pressler. “If I seem insensitive, it’s because I see this almost every day. My prisons house over 1,400 sexual offenders. This goes on all the time; the difference here is the press found out about it.”
Rockland stood and paced to the back of his desk. He picked up a copy of the morning Courant. “The problem is that this reflects on my administration; it makes me look bad. Makes us all look bad.” He tossed the paper back on the desk. His face assumed an arrogant, sallow look. His voice was controlled, almost tight. “I will not have me or this administration look bad. Pressler, I want you to find some kind of positive spin on this.” He glared at Pressler, who nodded. “Armadi, what’s the status of this goon now?”
“He’s in the Hartford lockup, waiting for arraignment. That should happen shortly. Eventually, he’ll end up in one of our prisons; most likely Somers.”
“Commissioner,” Rockland turned to Fractor. “I want a complete investigation on the social worker in your department who is responsible for letting this happen. We need to make an example of them.”
He turned to Pressler. “When we find out which person or persons neglected their duty, we’ll make a big splash about reforming state government, lazy overpaid workers, the need to turn over these duties to the private sector—you know the pitch.”
Pressler nodded. “Done.”
“The next thing I wanted to go over,” said Rockland, “are the Program Review and Investigation Committee hearings starting this morning. How does it look, Fred?”
“I think we have all the bases covered; I don’t anticipate any surprises. There is one new complication though. One of the parents of a kid at Ashbury Group home, Andy Paterson, is scheduled to testify. You remember that case a few years ago? Mother was gang raped and shot. Her daughter, Bonnie, witnessed the whole thing and had an extreme form of a conversion reaction. She simply froze up, and can no longer speak or walk.”
“So?” Rockland stood and walked back to his desk. He reached toward the drawer.
“The director’s told me that Paterson’s spent a lot of time visiting his daughter. He’s been asking a lot of questions.”
“What kind of questions?” Rockland stopped, riveted in a half-bent position over his desk drawer. He slowly rose and looked sharply at Fractor.
“Oh, the usual. Questions about funding; how was Ashbury going to afford Bonnie’s expenses and that kind of thing.” Fractor sensed a sudden tension in the air. He stiffened his spine.
Rockland turned toward the other two men. “Bill, Jack, I won’t need to take up more of your time, now. Thanks for coming. Fred, could you wait for a couple of minutes? I need to go over some things with you.” The other two men stood and left.
After the door closed behind them, Rockland sat opposite Fractor. “Fred, we may have more of a situation here then you know about. Get Ashbury’s director on the phone; I want to talk with him.” He handed the phone to Fractor. “I’ll be back in a minute.” Rockland left.
When the Governor returned, Fractor handed the phone to him. “Could you please give me a moment, Fred? I’ll call you back in when I’m done.”
Shortly, Fractor was called back into the office. The tension was gone, and the governor smiled. “Thanks for letting me know about Paterson; I don’t think there’s anything to worry about, after all. For now, we’ll move her to another group home. That should handle Paterson’s concerns. Now, there’s one more thing we need to discuss. That’s is the downsizing of Long Lane; what progress have you made?"
For the next hour the two men discussed plans for downsizing the facility. The institution would become a maximum security facility with 131 beds. The rest of the residents would be farmed out to community settings. Requests for proposals had already been sent out to interested parties, and funds would be granted to those proposals that seemed economically feasible.
“I think we made a lot of headway this morning, Fred.” The governor sat back with a sigh. “We’re agreed, then, that Long Lane will have to begin moving some of these kids out.”
“There’s only one problem that I can foresee,” said Fractor. ”Some of these kids will not be appropriate for a community setting. For example Roger Grogan, the one that raped Paterson’s wife and put all those staff out on comp, will have to be placed somewhere. I don’t know how that’s going to go over.”
“Well, they’ll just have to deal with it. We have ways of dealing with those that refuse these kids,” answered Rockland. “Pull funding, repeal licensing, you know the score. After all, that’s what we’re paying them for.”
As Andy Paterson backed out of the drive, he turned on the radio for the morning news. The major news item was a weather alert. Traffic reports warned of hazardous driving, due to the unusual fog in the area. As Paterson drove toward Hartford, rain and pockets of fog limited his visibility. A sudden cloudburst splattered against the windshield. The wipers were useless against it. As the rain increased in intensity, he grew increas-ingly nervous.
When he approached the intersection Rt. 6, Rt. 44 and I84, a large semi with blinding headlights pulled behind him. Reflecting off the mirror, they created white spots in his eyes. It was beside him, a huge tandem trailer heading up a dangerous incline, passing and throwing up spray. Andy swore and screamed as the truck suddenly swerved toward his car. A loud crash, the crunching of steel, and a shuddering impact caused the car to spin to the right. The vehicle slid down an embankment, twisting and spinning. Then, everything stopped.
(Note: Any similarity between Governor John Rowland and the Governor in this scene from The Castlereagh Connection is purely coincidental:)
Reader Reviews for
"Excerpt from The Castlereagh Connection"