confrontation with dad

by Susie Applegate

Okay, Painted Hills 4ten weeks holed up in my apartment is over the top, even for a recluse like me. I was so pissed at my dad and mom for perpetuating this falsehood about the Arlingtons that I could hardly stand it! I don’t care if The Germaine Truth goes to hell if, in the end, it’s just a baby version of the California rag I left behind. For crying out loud, I will not sign some faustian contract with Satan for $500 a month and Mom’s tuna casserole. A girl’s got to have standards.
 
    I just don’t get it. All of my life I have been taught about journalistic integrity. It has been the foundation of my family culture. So what went wrong? I can understand The Washington Post or The Los Angeles Times, or any of the big corporate media swimming in millions of dollars of investors money. I can fathom that kind of corruption. But what does Dad have to possibly gain by echoing the government line? Hasn’t it become obvious by now that the current cabal of thieves in power are just pulling our chains with this terrorism crap? We cannot afford to cower in fear, especially we journalists, each time the government or the big money folks say ‘boo!’
 
    So, the Arlingtons –whom, I might add, are sometimes known in the Applegate household as Sue and Cousin Al– have ‘gone missing’ and there is no investigation by The Truth, just a series of regurgitated DHS memos. WTF, as we say in the blogosphere.
 
    I had lunch with Dad yesterday, and I confronted him with the evidence. “Dad,” I said, “you can’t deny this. First you print that the Arlingtons have gone missing, then they are seen in Idaho, then you hint that they are on vacation in Arizona. But somehow, it never quite makes it into the paper that they are, in reality, under ‘federal protection.’ You never question or even speculate about why this might have happened.”
 
    “Susie,” Dad says in his most patronizing voice, “you just don’t understand.”
 
    “Well, Dad,” I snapped, “I am trying, so why don’t you help me out.”
 
    “Susie,” he says again, this time sounding a little defeated. “They threatened your mom and me. They said it was national security.”
 
    “And you just accepted that?”
 
    “I know. I know. But times have changed. This isn’t the world it used to be,” he explained with an odd mixture of shame and self-righteousness. I didn’t have the heart to press him much further, but I did have to make one thing clear.
 
    “Dad,” I said, “I can’t continue here at the paper, unless you can promise me you will never force me to swallow a story. Ever.”
 
    “Sweetheart,” he said, “this is your paper too. You are the future of The Truth.”
 
    I took that as an assurance. And now it’s time for the test. “I’m going to track down Al and Suzanne,” I told Dad, “The government be damned!”
 
    “Now, Susie,” he replied, “don’t be hasty. You don’t want put the Arlingtons in danger.”
 
    And, of course, that’s the problem with that plan. But I sure the hell can make some inquiries, and if there’s a safe way to contact Cousin Al, I will find it. The truth here is that something big went down at the Restin’ Easy. We have a right to know what the hell is going on in our town.
 
    That’s my job.

This entry was posted in Chapters. Bookmark the permalink.