Eggsecutive Orders

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Authors: Julie Hyzy
slapped him playfully.
    I focused on the television, where the scene changed again. Ruth Minkus stood behind a gaggle of microphones. I couldn’t figure out where she was until the cameras pulled back enough for me to see the hotel logo on the lectern. She was talking, but we couldn’t hear her. The news anchors were giving updates as a lead-in. “Ruth Minkus has agreed to make a statement and to bring us up-to-date on her husband’s death. She’s speaking to us from a local hotel to keep camera crews and reporters away from the family home.”
    Ruth’s voice now joined with her image. “Joel and I . . .” She paused to compose herself. A couple of people behind her placed comforting hands on her shoulders. “We wish to thank everyone who has been so supportive at this difficult time.”
    Reporters shouted questions at the weeping widow.
    My mom made an unladylike noise. “Vultures.”
    Joel Minkus leaned sideways, toward the microphone. The man was about my age and tall, but otherwise took after his mother. From what I’d heard of him, he was a strong proponent of environmental issues, and despite his relatively young age, he inspired cooperation between opposing factions. He was a golden boy, and apparently deservedly so. “Please,” he said. “Can’t you see how hard this is for us?”
    My mom shook her head. “They should leave the poor woman alone.”
    “My husband,” Ruth continued, “would have been overwhelmed by all this attention. He was a determined man who loved this country very much. If there was one thing he always told me, it was that he hoped to die in the service of the United States.” Tears streamed down her face. “I . . . I suppose he got his wish.”
    The tension in my living room was tight. No one spoke.
    An off-camera voice shouted: “Do you think he was a target because of his investigations?”
    Ruth’s eyes widened as she turned to her son. “Target?” she asked.
    Joel stepped up to the microphone again. “Please. Let’s wait until the medical examiner gives his report.” He licked his lips and made pointed eye contact with audience members. “Have some compassion. My father just died. He was the finest man I’ve ever known. He was strong, well-loved, and most of all, patriotic. Let’s not make assumptions until all the facts are in.”
    The news anchor interrupted to resume commentary. “The White House has prepared a statement.” With that, the scene whisked away from the grieving family to a press conference in the Brady Briefing Room. White House Press Secretary Jodi Baines stepped up to the microphone. I felt for her. There wasn’t a rule book for this situation. As she expressed the White House’s condolences for Special Agent Minkus’s demise, the elderly people in my living room fidgeted. Caught up in the story, myself, I’d almost forgotten they were there.
    Jodi said: “Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Isham just finished briefing President Campbell and will now take questions.”
    Slim, though not particularly tall, Isham had a long, pleasant face, and dimples so deep they looked like implanted studs. The dimples stayed prominent even though he didn’t smile. Another somber face in a day of sad solemnity. He blinked several times, canting his head slightly to avoid the bright lights’ glare.
    “He looks like a morgue doctor,” Mrs. Wentworth said.
    I turned, wanting to ask what she meant, but thought better of it. Stan patted her on the knee. “Shh.”
    “Good afternoon,” Dr. Isham said, with a deadpan gaze into the audience. “As you all know, Special Agent Carl Minkus was declared dead at approximately one fifteen this morning. His body arrived at the morgue shortly thereafter and we immediately initiated an autopsy. The cause of death is undetermined at this time. We are waiting for test results.”
    “What kind of tests?” a dozen reporters shouted.
    Isham held up his hands and both rooms fell silent—the briefing room and my living

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