Sweating for a story.

Posted: August 7, 2010 in The job

It was only 85 degrees. That’s what my phone told me. But I watched a photographer sweat through both of his shirts and a detective dripping like a high school wrestler trying to make weight. My glasses slipped toward the end of my nose.

Hot means something different in the South. This is the first place I have lived where it’s not a random curiosity when you find yourself drenched in sweat just standing still.

It wasn’t even 9 a.m.

This was one of Little Rock’s nicest neighborhoods. The kind of place where nothing violent or strange happens — until it spectacularly does. Crime-scene tape and a coroner’s van in a driveway definitely qualify as out of the ordinary.

This was the same neighborhood where perhaps the most incredible killing in Arkansas history happened. This one.

This wasn’t as insane a thing as that. Murder-suicide. He was 81, she 75, which already makes it a little odd. Nobody at first wanted to tell me the dead people’s names, so I called up the assessor’s records for the house on my phone and showed the owner’s name to someone who might be helpful.

Non-verbal confirmation. Much obliged.

I pulled their marriage license and found they had just passed their 20th anniversary. A little more checking and it appeared this might be a somebody, a man who had co-owned and helped run a newspaper not far away during its glory years. Even had a patent for a printing-press add-on he invented.

So I dug and I called and I dug and I called.

Came up finally with this story.

After it ran, I got a very nice e-mail from my boss’ boss telling me how much the executive editor liked it — the reporting and the writing. And I got a note saying the same from the projects editor. And two or three others like them.

I’ll take that. Means it was all worth the sweat. Good times.

  1. Ian Demsky says:

    You and your context. Always turning perfectly good briefs into impeccable news features.

  2. Matt Davis says:

    Jake: Didn’t or doesn’t your wife work at the Pine Bluff Commercial?

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