Monday, December 26, 2011

One Tough Ride (Part Two)

III. Investigation
   Tunny arrived at the NTSB hearing a feeling little better than he had in the morning while at court. He had attemted to soothe his stomach with some Tums he bought from a vending machine in the lobby outside the Civic Auditorium where the investigational hearings were being conducted. These were not exactly working. In fact the acid in his throat and the chunks of Tum were mingling and refusing to cooperate with each other. Every moment he felt a new lump and half-swallow in his throat. This was exceptionally uncomfortable.
    Because he knew they would call on him, he took a seat at the front of the arena facing a table of tired, weary, but professional-looking investigators. He scanned their faces from left to right. There was one whom seemed most interested in him, perhaps he had mistaken Tunny for the kid Frank they were out looking for. Tunny turned his eyes to the far right. A female panel member was filing her nails. She took a sip from a glass of water at  her side (the panel were all equipped with a pitcher and indvidual water glasses) as the man on the far left began to speak.
     “We’re here today to covene an joint official investigation of the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aereonautics Administration into the accident of April 7, 2012, at Waldfetter Amusement Grotto in the city of San Bernardino California. The purpose of this panel is to ascertain the cause of this amusement park fiasco, the end result of which were the fatalities of four California citizens. We are empowered with the ability to request all and any documents held by parties in question which may be applicable to the speedy and satisfactory jugement of fault, if any, and to recommend legal actions, if any should be necessary, against all and any parties involved which manifest gross negligence.”
    A panelist in the center, who appeared older and the most world-weary of the group, now read from a printed page.
    “The Waldfetter Amusement Grotto runs an attraction kown as Fly Your Own Car. This attraction is registered as US Patent # AUG 1284573459 and is a remote controlled air vehicle comprised of two parts- a moveable airframe, which contains a computerized programmed guidance system, and the second part being any automobile which is secured to this airframe. We have ascertained from the blueprint provided by the Patent Office that this plane bears a locking system comprised of screw-type bolts that attach to the fender and side panels of the automobile and a bottom set of clip fasteners which attach to the undercarraige. These fasteners and bolts, in the incident in question, were most obviously left unsecured. It is in the interest of assessing liability that we have subpoenaed a material eyewitness, an employee of the company, and are seeking to contact another employee who was charged with the operation of the ride. This other employee, so far as we can tell, has not made voluntary contact with this panel, and we are requesting that the District Attorney of this county prepare warrants for his posible arrest if he does not show before this panel as it has convened for the time period we are concerned enough to be visiting this fair city.”
    The fourth member mentioned that they were already thoroughly done with comparing the plans and patent designs and blueprints. What would remain would be to call someone in from the contractor who built the ride for Waldfetter. They had been to the site. They had made a preliminary decision- that there had been operator error. And so it came that the obvious would be to call the witness at hand. All eyes were now on Tunny.
He felt the Tums reflux surging again. But he gathered his courage and resolve and somehow through a haze of adrenalin made it to the panel’s witness seat.
    There was the buzz and the pffft and zzzzzr of flashlights again, from the photographers who sat and kneeled around the edges of the gallery. And then he heard the panelists tossing him questions. All he could manage was to begin speaking when he heard their introductory.
    “I’ll tell you what happened, at least to me anyway. I was sweeping. I heard the countdown over the loudspeakers. I looked up and saw the plane going up and when it got up high, all of a sudden it tilted over and the car came flying down. I mean I saw it drop. Because it was gonna blow up I figured I would duck. So I did. And a piece of it stuck in my shoulder or went through mostly and that’s why I am in this thing. Sling.
I got up cause I didn’t even notice it really, and ran to see like all them other people. I got there and the whole thing was mashed up. I already told people this morning at court was it like. A paramedic fixed me up he said there was nothing he could do for them folks in the car but I was gonna be OK, he’d see to it. Then he told me apply for workman’s comp. So I hope I get it. After the doctor dude helped me I turned around and walked over to the control booth looking for Frank. I didn’t see him. I don’t know him too well, I think maybe he barely gave me more than twenty “good mornings” the whole time I been there. I looked into the control room again and nobody else was there either. But there was Frank’s hat and stuff. It seemed he just took off and split.”

IV. Apprehension
The panel took his word for it, and said they would refer to the court testimony overnight.
They dismissed Tunny. Once more he walked his way out through a crowd of flashbulbs and stumbled his way home.
   Overnight he dreamed that the street he lived on had been flooded out by a huge failure at the sewage control plant at the far end of his street. Water two feet high swamped everything. He grabbed his ghetto blaster and whatever clothes he could salvage out of his dressers. As he managed to wade his way out of the house, the alarm clock rang and he woke up. Another day at the courthouse was to happen.
    Same sort of scene, he stood up with everybody else for Judge Fisk. This time however, the Judge was not going to be calling him to take the stand again. Instead, he looked toward the front tables and there was Frank, along with another lawyer, who had joined Waldfetter’s lawyer. Waldfetter picked his nails with a small file and looked both nonchalant and annoyed.
    “We have actually made some progress I see, Bob. You have managed to apprehend the chief suspect in this case.”
   Flynn looked up, a puppydog’s eager smile on his face. “Yes your honor. It wasn’t all that hard. The suspect left so much evidence on the scene that we were able to easily pick out the pieces. It turned out he had a flyer for one of those “DJ rap-rave” events he left on the control panel. It was dated the night of the incident. We went back to the nightclub they held it at and over the surveillance camera tapes from the front door. It was not hard to find out his name, he actually was someone that the owners knew. They identified him as an employee of Waldfetter’s, that he came there often, and so we checked his name and ID photo on Waldfetter’s employee records. There was a match. We picked him up around seven o’clock last night. He’s been a guest of the Sherrif’s office ever since.”
“Do you wish to proceed with qeustioning of Mr Bachlund or the new subject?”
   “I think we will cut to the chase and so, without further ado, the court calls Mr. Frank Delgado.”
    Frank Delgado, smirkng and hearing an audience’s applause going off in his head at the very mention of his name, slowly drew himself up and walked to the witness box. He slumped into the chair and looked toward the judge. “State your name for the ourt, oung man”
    “Frank. Frank Delgado. I work for Waldfetter’s. Ten years almost now. Yeh, I know why I am here. I fucked up…”
    “Young man! I would remind you such language is not permitted in my courtroom.”
     “Right. Well I messed up.”
    “Proceed, Mr Flynn.”
    Flynn took a pen from his portfolio pocket and a yellow notepad, got up, and walked to his usual spot near the center of the courtroom. He drew himself up as tall as possible. There was no such corresponding gesture on the part of Delgado.
    “Mr. Delgado, please do, tell us what you did that afternoon, before the incident we are concerned with?”
  “Let’s see. We had two rides go on in the morning. Those went off like always. I buckles them in and I ships ‘em off. No problems.”
    Tunny grabbed at his pocket for another Tum. He popped it into his mouth, and glared back at Delgado. It was his fault he had his arm in a sling. His fault he was losing pay and working hours. Delgado looked back at Tunny and seemed to chuckle to himself. But the grist was on the grindstone. Flynn had him by a collar and was not going to let off easy.
    “Mr. Delgado, what were you doing when the accident happened?”
     “The truth is, I walked out to get a pack of gum from the vending machine just in back of the control shack. I was peeling off the wrapper when I heard this weird sound and then the explosion. It startled me so much, I just walked off the job and didn’t look back. I’m sorry.”

    “Well you ought to be, son. Four people are dead because you took your mind off of things, apparently. And the good name of your boss-” (he paused for a second with one eye to Waldfetter just to make sure he got the idea…) “is now in jeopardy, perhaps even the future of the company you work for. And at least one other person is suffering for your casual selfishness.” He didn’t have to say who. Delgado and Tunny were now locked into a vicious staredown.
    Now Tunny could swallow his Tums.

     “Did it ever occur to you, Mr. Delgado, that something had not been done correctly?”
     “Well, obviously I guess I left something out when I had them back their car in. I guess I forgot to finish up once I put the bolts on. Usually there’s a strap, and I hook it to the driveshaft. It’s supposed…” (he started choking) “… it’s supposed… to be insurance.”
    “Ah yes, that inconvenient word again. Insurance.” Flynn couldn’t keep himself from shooting another stankeye at Waldfetter. “So now we are, indeed, at the heart of the matter. No further questions your honor.” Delgado got off the witness stand. His lawyer (and the bailiff) made it clear he was going nowhere.
   “As there are no further questions for the witnesses then I wish to ask if counsel for the defence would like to proceed.”
    “Indeed. Please to recall Mr. Tunny Bachlund to the stand.”
    Tunny felt a lot better about himself now. He was beginning even to show the start of a smile. This was rather an irritant to Betinsky. He jabbed right on ahead.
     “Tunny. Tunny. That’s a kind of a funny name, isn’t it. Did your parents get some kind of thrill after naming you for a fish?”
    “You will desist from this line of questioning, Mr. Betinsky! The court is not amused.” Davenport Fisk was turning a subtle shade of lobster.
   Wearily, Betinsky shook it off. “Mr. Bachlund, how well do you know Mr. Delgado?”
    “Hardly at all.”
    “Did you know he is the father of three himself, and divorced, and attempting to put his own life together, working as hard as he can to provide for them?”
   “Nope.Can’t say I know much about him at all.”
   “Yet you seem to have had some kind of prior contacts beyond just what you have told us.”
   “Maybe so. There was one time he got all pompous on me about how I was just the janitor and he was so much more important because he was a Ride Super. I told him buzz off- it was me that made sure the friggin’ johns were swabbed out. A dirty john is the bottom line on decline in park atendance. So I always made sure it was nice for all the customers. The rides will come and go. Looks like maybe this one too.”
   “I object our honor. Witness is speaking above his rank and authority.” Betinsky came up closer to the witness stand. But Davenport Fisk was on the ball himself.
   “Mr. Betinsky, this is a courtroom where I honor the opinions of witnesses. Clerk will note that the defence was baiting witness.”
     “Mr. Bachlund, how are you so aware of the profit margin of the Grotto?”
     “Well I read the business section, Mr… Betinsky. Never know how long I might be working there. Have to keep my eye open on anything better that might come up. I seen how the Grotto and all the  other stuff comes from the genius of the Boss makes a tidy sum. Someday maybe I’ll get a business of my own and leave the custodian stuff behind”
    “Well I wish you luck, Mr .Bachlund. No further questions, Your Honor.”
    Judge Fisk now requested a discussion at the bench with all three attorneys.
   To Be Continued...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Le Surrealist apprécie vos pensées, comments et suggestions. Continuez-les venir ! Doigts Heureux !