Tom Ley's Tuesday had taken a nosedive upon his arrival at the office, and now it rested somewhere between whale shit and the bottom of the ocean. After the Bruce Damon rant, he just wanted to crawl into a hole, but now Craggs had him and Barry trawling Dr. Matt's email and drafts—such as they were—in search of clues for the doctor's death. We don't even know what we're looking for, lamented Tom as he contemplated a Yale football helmet on McCarthy's desk. Matt Skiba's rasp bounced around in his head: I dragged this lake looking for corpses ...
"Oh wow," Barry muttered. He was hunched over the doctor's computer reading what looked like an unpublished Regressing story. "I think this is important; give it a look, Tom." Ley leaned over the desk and read:
Report: NFL Knows More About CTE Than Previously Thought
Potentially damning information reveals that the league office has obtained a study purporting to estimate the chances of psychotic episodes on the part of NFL players. The study—conducted by the American Brain Foundation, and secretly requested by the commissioner's office—reached out to 50 current and former players, asking that they submit to updated CAT-scan imaging technology. The results are scary, if accurate.
What a fucking lede. Ley stood aright, exhaled, and ran fingers through his hair. "Christ, BP," he said and stared at his colleague.
"I know," Barry replied to no one in particular, looking at the ceiling. "And the shit of it all is that McCarthy's email reads like a frenetic conspiracy. No one uses a real name, not even Matt. He goes by Encephalopedia Brown, if you can believe it." Petchesky half chuckled and went on: "Mostly he's talking to the Mason—like Craggs said—and someone calling himself 'Deep Threat'. This guy has got to be in the league office—or very close to it. Like, check out this last one to Matt. It's from 3:34 this morning." Ley peered again at McCarthy's computer:
From: Deep Threat
To: Encephalopedia Brown
Our masonic friend now holds the nut of your story. Should you run with these initial four, expect vehement denial from commish et al. Also, I can guarantee litigation from the league office. I should also stress my warning from last email: it's becoming dangerous for us to maintain correspondence. I respectfully ask that next week's drop be our last communiqué. -DT
Ley massaged the bridge of his nose and wondered, "What was McCarthy into? This is crazy."
Barry stared back wearily and shook his head. "It gets worse. Matt replied but didn't send. Here." Petchesky motioned at the screen once more.
From: Encephalopedia Brown
To: Deep Threat
Thanks for all your work, DT, and I agree we need to cut ties. Sir Valiant-8 hasn't checked in and I'm getting worried. He's two hours past due. I've
Tom blinked and exhaled again. He checked the time-stamp on the saved draft: 3:41 AM. Was McCarthy murdered mid-email? If so, did the killer see any of this? Would they know what they were looking at? Petchesky jerked Tom out of his reverie with a touch on the wrist. Tom looked at Barry, who was staring across the writer's pool. "What's up, Bar—" but Petchesky cut him off with a hard glance.
"Let's go up to the roof," said Barry—darkly, quietly. He shut down Dr. Matt's computer and walked to the ascending stairwell.
Rain came down in torrents on the glass awning of the roof patio, so that the writers huddled together to be heard. Wind whipped the pea coats around their legs and thunder shook the building.
"Listen," Barry began, "have you talked to Callie Beusman today?" Ley shook his head, confused. Barry continued, "She was staring at us the whole time we were at McCarthy's desk. At first I didn't think anything of it, right? But after ten minutes, it's pretty obvious. Like she knew we had a secret, feel me?"
Ley stood dumbstruck. If Petchesky was speaking the truth, it was very out of character for Callie. She hardly paid attention to the sportswriters, with the notable exception of Eifling, who was unconscious in B-Side's basement right now. Oh God, Ley panicked. "Barry, she and Sam …" Tom trailed off.
Petchesky was nodding, earnestly—angrily. "She knows something, Tom. Whoever got to Sam got to her, I know it." The words tumbled out, Barry's mouth a clumsy obstruction to his thoughts. He raced on: "We need to call Craggs now. I mean, shit, two moles? Who knows what's running around out there? We don't even have the whole picture!" screaming this last.
"Calm down, BP!" Tom shot back. Barry's temper couldn't get the better of him, not here, not now. "We'll call Craggs," slower now, "You're right: he's got to know about this." Tom was playing Sam's short tenure at Deadspin in reverse, trying to place him and Callie together. The problem was, they were always together. The reasons for their initial tryst seemed apparent: both aspired to fiction writing, with Callie probably the more talented of the two; both had been assigned to fashion week coverage last month; and both loved the terrible Indian place around the corner. What were they talking about? Ley ruminated.
Petchesky had turned away and was staring at the rain. "This is worse than the Daulerio fiasco," he said absently. "With A.J. our enemies were known. You piss off enough people in Trenton, and you pay up sooner or later. Hell, I wasn't even surprised when they came for him. God he was a prick." Barry shook his head and turned to Ley. "But of all the writers in all the world, I never would've pegged McCarthy a muckraker."
Tom stared across the ten feet between them. He called out, "We need to see this through, BP. That report reeks; biggest scoop since Dickey and Burke."
Barry nodded. "Let's call the chief," he said, turned, and trudged back to the stairs through pounding rain.