I’m a reluctant fan of CBS’s drama, “Cold Case.” Reluctant because while the show’s concept is awesome and its production unmatched, I can’t get over how everybody involved in every 50 year old case happens to still be alive and conveniently living in the Philidelphia metro area. It also bugs me that the show’s lead character looks like a ghost.
If you’ve seen the show, you know the drill: Somebody bites the dust in days gone by. For whatever reason, the case goes cold for X number of years until Casper the Friendly Ghost and crew chance upon it. They start interviewing friends, family, witnesses– all of whom, of course, still live just down the block.
Events are pieced back together, stories recounted. And in the end, Casper gets her man. The show ends with a lot of feel-good reconciliations set to emotive pop songs, with a lot of slow-mo edits for dramatic flare.
Well, queue the Sarah McLachlan tunes because I’ve just had my first “Cold Case” moment.
You see, these newspaper columns require a massive amount of research each week. I wish it were as simple riding a new trail and posting a travelogue. Maybe someday I’ll be able to crank out stories in just a couple hours like the pros, but I’m still new to the writing scene.
The research process is often frustrating because information is scant or the one person I need to contact happens to be out of town until the day after my deadline, or multiple sources from normally reputable outlets contradict each other (source A says the peak’s elevation is 9,045 ft. and source B says it’s 9,077. Joe Reader won’t care but Joe Climber will, so ADD-riddled Joe Outdoors Writer can’t sleep until he gets to the bottom of it). It’s maddening.
Last weekend’s case could have followed that trend, but it didn’t, and man was that refreshing! The case wasn’t “cold,” per se, but the way it played out would have made Jerry Bruckheimer proud. Here’s the story in a nutshell:
A few weeks ago a reader calls the Tooele Transcript Bulletin’s editor with a burning question: Those black towers behind the truck stop that lead up the flanks of the Oquirrh Mountains– what are they?
Now you tell me, dear reader– who wouldn’t want to know that?
I start with Google News, which leads me quickly to my first witness, who after 47 years conveniently still lives down the block! And he’s home when I call. And he’s amiable, his memory is sharp as ever. His story happens to be documented in type. He happens to have it right there on the bookshelf, and he faxes it over promptly (a digital copy was preferred, it being 2010 and all, but I wasn’t complaining). I’m beginning to find the puzzle’s edges.
His stuff leads me to my next witness, who has sadly passed away, but who kept a detailed journal that is made fully available to me that very day. The puzzle is coming together nicely. Boom, final witness.
Conveniently, he still lives down the block and is home when I call. He’s 90 years old, but he recounts the story like it happened yesterday. His testimony is the final piece in the puzzle.
Case closed. Get me the box and the black Sharpie marker.
I know this euphoria will be short-lived, but I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.