Murder was the last thing on my mind the Saturday they held our company picnic at Assateague Island. Yes, I suffered from Toxic Boss Syndrome. Yes, I had wished our newspaper's editor, Scrod Hitchins, dead, once.
Okay, more than once. But I hadn't killed him. Yet.
Scrod may have had a toothpaste-ad smile, and looks that could pass on the cover of GQ, but I certainly didn't hold the record for death threats when it came to our peerless editor. He was peerless because nobody else would sink that low. And he had a bad habit of hanging his reporters out to dry.
We're an evening newspaper. We go to press at 9 a.m. and hit the streets before noon, so I made it a point to file my stories mostly at night. I left them on the mainframe for Scrod to find when he laid out the front page in the morning. If he didn't like what I wrote, or if he had questions, he was free to call me on my cell. Caller ID is one of the blessings of the universe. I knew he'd change the facts to suit himself, anyway. And leave my byline on the story so I'd be the one to take the heat when it was inaccurate.
I figured staying out of Scrod's way at deadline removed us both from temptation. It kept him alive and me from being fired. Given a choice, I wouldn't have selected his company anywhere, especially on an empty beach in the middle of a hurricane. So it was with no little shock that I found myself that afternoon picnicking with the Scrod and the rest of our staff.