The editor on the phone was being pragmatic. "Denny, I don't for a minute believe that this is The Knife, but I'm not going to be the National Enquirer editor who passed on the biggest story of the century either, so you better do whatever you have to. If I'm right, we'll be OK, if I'm wrong, then we'll be riding high. I've been on the phone with two guys who claim that they disposed of something for OJ the night that he was in the hotel in Chicago."
Another wild goose chase I thought to myself. Here was one more Enquirer editor sending me off again. But it was work, and close to Christmas, so I tried to sound interested as he spun the tale.
"Disposed of something?" I asked lighting a Marlboro with my free hand.
The Editor was going on, getting more excited by the second.
"It's just enough. They claim it was the murder weapon! One of the guys works at the hotel where OJ stayed the night he was in Chicago."
"The murder weapon?"
"Yeah, I know he said. It's like the second-best poker hand. You got to chase it. I don't believe it, but I haven't been able to disprove it either yet. How soon can you move on this?"
I looked at my watch and told him I could meet the men in about two hours.
"They supposedly dumped it behind a high school near the Cabrini Green housing complex," said the editor. "They want money, but supposedly they're going to show you a lagoon were they dumped it first."
"Let me get this straight, you want me to meet two strangers, who are going to take me to a lagoon by Cabrini Green, so they can get some money? Why doesn't this sound like a fun-trip to me?"
He ignored the sarcasm.
"What I want is for you to sit down with these guys, somewhere relatively safe, and see if we can tie these guys to the hotel someway, so they're believable, and then go and find the bag with the knife.
"Now that's going to be a big operation," he said. "And I don't want to do that until we know for sure we've got something."
I shook my head.
"Meet these guys, talk to them, and see how much they want, and then go take a look at the knife. We'll go from there." He gave me their number.
More than two years earlier, person or persons unknown had slaughtered Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman on the steps of her Brentwood California condominium. The victims had been slashed and stabbed and left to bleed to death together on the sidewalk. Nicole's husband, O.J. Simpson, was a suspect almost at once after the bodies had been discovered. His alibi was a business trip to Chicago on the night the murders took place, it started to unravel as he stepped off the plane at O'Hare International. Despite other evidence at the scene of the crime, no murder weapon was ever discovered. L.A. Police theorized that the killer took the knife with him when he fled the scene.
I hung up and dialed the number of the informant. The source 'Call me Julius' agreed to meet me at the Union Station train terminal in an hour. He never showed up. From a pay phone at the station, I contacted the source again, then I called my editor on The Enquirer's 800 number.
"I set up a meeting. I was supposed to meet with these guys around four o'clock today, then they got cold feet," I told him.
"Can you call them back?"
"I did already, and then I got the guy's beeper. He called me back here a few minutes ago, these guys are all screwed up. I told them that they were going to have to talk to somebody, that we were the only people that could help them. I pointed out that if they were somehow involved in this double murder they were going to need all the help they could get."
"Well, when the guy called me back he told me he has it! It's supposedly a seven-inch dagger, brown handled, in a shaving-kit bag with the NFL logo on it."
"When are you going to meet with him?"
"Well, He wants to give it to me! The other guy is scared to death, apparently." "I think we got to meet with this guy," urged the editor, "just so maybe he'll relax and let us know who the other guy is. But whatever you do don't touch that knife. I've been talking with the lawyers down here and they say whatever you do just don't touch it."
"I don't know what to think. I'm going to tell him, 'Ok, you meet me with the knife,' I'll get a look at it, and I'll call you from there. It's about all I can do."
"I think you're right."
I dialed up the man's number and he answered after the second ring.
"Hi Julius, this is Denny calling back."
"What do you say, you meet up with me and I get a look at this knife?"
"Well, it's up to you, how do you like sitting on it?"
"I don't," said Julius. "To tell you the honest to God truth. I don't."
"OK," I said calmly, "I can help you, but the bottom line is we need to know the other guy, we need to have a direct link with the hotel where OJ stayed. It's the only thing that gives this knife any credibility at all."
"He wants to stay away," said Julius. "I shouldn't have gotten into this in the first place, I wasn't listening to my first mind."
"I'm tired of the whole thing," said Julius.
"Do you think it's the murder weapon?"
"Then we have to move. If nothing else we need to contact someone so they know we've got this thing.
"Well, I don't know Julius, you tell me what we should do at this point."
"Somebody like who?"
"First off, before I can even call my editor and get something going for you, like some money, I've got to see this thing. Do you know what I mean?"
"Because so far I've been going on faith with you, and before I can convince someone else, I've got to at least know we got something here. Otherwise it's going to make me look stupid."
"And I don't want to do that. It sure strikes me strange that your friend would have come in contact with a murder weapon some 2,000 miles removed. It seems odd, doesn't it?"
"Yes sir, very odd."
"He must be nice fellow you're friend."
"He's just scared?"
"He's a coward, I don't like cowards."
"We can still make a deal, you know."
"Yes, sir, what kind a deal are you talking about?"
"I need to get a story from your friend as to how he got this knife. Either you got to talk to him or I got to talk to him, or he's got to call me. In the meantime, what do you think we ought to do with the weapon?"
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