Early September was not much different than late August in Llanview. It was still hitting the upper seventies in temperatures, even as kids were whining as parents did back-to-school shopping. Sam and Jack were little different from that, with the exception that it was Starr who got to hear the moaning and groaning. Blair asked her to do the runs with them when Todd asked her to join him for his meeting with Carl Peterson.
They sat in Todd office when his assistant buzzed in. "Mr Peterson is here to see you, but he doesn't have an appointment. Should I still send him in?"
Todd smiled at Blair as he answered. "Yes, by all means, show him in."
The man in question was escorted into the office and immediately approached Todd, hand extended. "Mr Manning, you have no idea how much I have been wanting to meet you," he said in a rather excited tone. Then, he seemed to notice they were not alone. "Ms. Cramer, I didn't know you would be here."
"That's Mrs. Manning," Todd corrected, "And of course she would be here. She's my partner in all things." He turned and smiled at Blair then returned his gaze to see a measure of unease in the older gentleman. "That won't be a problem, will it, Mr. Peterson?"
The moment passed and a pleasant smile appeared on his face. "No, I don't see any problem with that," he answered as he took a seat across from Todd and Blair. "Well, I see you have made quite a name here in Llanview for yourself, despite a, how can I put this, a rough start?"
"Well, I could say I had a rough start at the start. Being an unwanted bastard of Victor Lord then thrown to the wolf known as Peter Manning, wasn't all rainbows and sunshine," Todd mused.
"Well, Victor Lord was a complex man. I don't know much about Peter Manning, but I'm sure he did his best," Carl replied.
Todd chose to not comment any further on Peter. "Was there anything else besides my fathers you wanted to discuss with me?"
"Well, when we spoke last night, this was mentioned as a 'getting to know you' kind of meeting," Carl reminded him. "I must admit, I have always found Victor Lord, Sr., well, very interesting. A man who fought his own demons and sadly, never won."
Nothing disgust Todd more than the thought of his biological father. He'd spent the last couple of decades playing out the similarities between him and the old man. "There really wasn't much that complex about him. He was a perverted old man who prayed on younger women and little girls," he answered as calmly as he could muster. "Including one who you are spending much of your time with, from what I can tell."
"Dorian is a fascinating woman herself. Intelligent, witty, all the finer traits a woman should have," Carl replied. "I am honored to be allowed to spend time with her." Then he looked to Blair. "She did want me to give you a message. She would like for you to come over. I know she misses you terribly."
"Well, if she hadn't put her foot in her mouth several times over about my husband, I would probably still drop in to see her. As it is, I would need an apology from her before I'd go visiting," Blair explained.
"Still and all, she asked me to pass on that message," Carl replied.
"Tell me, Carl, why are you interesting in Victor? Most of this town is rather happy to not give him two thoughts, led by his greatest victim, my sister," Todd asked.
"Yes, when Tea announced the name of her child, I remember Viki shuddering. There is no one in town who cares to remember him," Blair said.
"Well, he should be remembered as a patriot. He was involved in the hunt for the Nazis after World War Two. He sent Banner researchers and reporters to the concentration camps and the Nuremburg Trials. Have you ever looked up the old issues of the paper? He was one of the first newspapermen in the country to report on the anti-Semitic laws the Nazis were instituting," Carl listed. "Did you know that?"
Todd didn't. "As I said, I really don't care to know about Victor-" Todd began.
"You should read Sloan Carpenter's book on him. After that, I did my own investigation and found a lot that was in not it," Carl pressed. Then he looked at his watch. "I am sorry, I just forgot I have a call I need to make shortly. But read the book and get back to me." With that, the man left.
Todd was glad for it. "Can you believe that guy? It's like he didn't even hear a word I said. Like Victor's crimes were nothing to him." He turned around to find Blair dialing her phone. "What are you doing?"
She held up a finger. "Hey, Jack, when you get home, wanna do a little more hacking?" Todd couldn't hear what his son answered, but it didn't sound bad. "Don't worry, you won't get into any trouble from either of us. And I don't think it'll be that difficult. The records are probably nearly eighty years old by now. Yeah, it's The Banner archives. See what you can find about the paper's work in Germany from, I guess, it's beginning to the end of the war. And ask your sister if you need help." Whatever Jack had said, Blair had to rip the phone away from her ear. When she replaced it, she said, "I'm not doubting your skills, but she's done he share of fooling around with it in the past. Just, trust me on this. Okay, work on it until we get back to Llanfair. Love you. Bye."
"Starr and The Banner?" He asked.
Blair shrugged her shoulders. "It was a phase shortly after 'Walker Flynn' appeared in town. She figured out how to get into the system and she enjoyed tweaking the mock-ups. A number of them made it to press, actually."
Todd felt a burst of pride. "That's my Shorty. But why did you want to have Jack go through the archives?"
"Did you believe anything he said?" she questioned, waving her hand in the direction of his office door. "Look, this whole town knows the whole sordid history of Victor Lord, but you have actively avoided anything about him any time his name is said. I think we just need to see how true Carl's comments were."
Todd took a deep breath. From the start, he'd never really seen anything good about the man who sired him. It was bad enough that he had dumped three kids on a young, unwed woman. It was just, things had snowballed for him the night he learned the truly dark secrets of Llanfair. It was hard to go back to square one about anything regarding Victor Lord Senior. He picked up his desk phone. "How do you feel about having lunch with my sister?" he ask Blair as the phone rang.
"Viki? You sure you want to ask her anything? She tends to get as wigged out as you," Blair told him.
He shook his head. "No, not Viki," he said before the other end picked up. "Tina? Meet Blair and I for lunch. I need to know everything you do about dear old dad."
Jack sulked as he stared the the computer screen. He'd had such an easy time getting into the hospital's mainframe a few weeks ago. How was it that an antiquated print media publication was giving him such a hard time? Hadn't Aunt Viki just been scoffing at the idea of the digital age a few months ago?
"You know, you look like Dad when you're annoyed," Starr said as she sat on the couch opposite him. "What's the matter?"
He looked up at his sister. She was always the perfect one, even if she had just as big a penchant for getting into trouble as he did. He was loathed to ask for any of her help. "Mom gave me a project and it tougher than I thought."
"What is it?" she asked.
The last thing he wanted was to admit he needed his big sister's help. He wanted to chuckle. When he really thought about it, there wasn't a whole lot of difference between him and his sister and his father and aunt. He knew how reluctant Todd and Victor were to go Aunt Viki for help. And Aunt Tina? Yeah right. But then again, he also knew he wasn't exactly like his father. And although he grown to love Todd Manning, he still wanted to rebel a little, pull something unexpected, as long as it didn't put him in jail. Maybe actually asking for his sister's help was at least a little different enough. "Mom needs me to hack into The Banner's archives. She wants me to look up stories that probably predate even Aunt Viki."
"I guess this is part of the 'keep Aunt Viki out of the loop', right?" Jack shrugged his shoulders at that. "So what's the problem?"
He also hated admitting failure to Starr. "I think the paper must have upgraded its security because I'm having a hell of a time getting in. I mean, who really cares about old news stories?"
"Why did Mom need you to look there?"
"She didn't say," he answered distractedly as he tried another route. Finally giving up, he said, "Mom said that I I had problems, I should as you for help."
A triumphant smile appeared on her face. "I guess you know I did have some talent with this… without getting pulled in by the police."
"Yeah yeah," he muttered as she tapped away at the keyboard. He groaned louder when it took her maybe five minutes to get in. "Now, you said the archives? How far back?"
"How far back do they go?" he asked. "Mom said the paper's work in Germany. I guess where talking anything to do with the Nazis."
A few more keystrokes and the entire page was filled with result. Just hitting the scroll button, it was obvious that there were hundreds, if not thousands of article available. The two siblings looked at each other. "We're going to need another computer."
Starr scurried up to her room and came back with her own laptop. Following the same path she had done on her brother's she gained access to The Banner's archives and they started parsing through the article together, Jack working his way back and Starr going from the beginning forward.
"Looks like they had a numbers of reporters embedded with the Army as they made their way through Europe," Jack said. "And it looks like they were heavily involved as witnesses at Nuremburg."
"I think I remember reading in a history class somewhere," Starr said, "that the American press didn't really believe that there was anything happening to the Jews in Europe. But it seems The Banner had those stories going back to, 1936."
"That was the first year there was a European headquarters was set up," Jack noted, remembering seeing that date somewhere. "You got a name for the reporter?"
"Uh, Nathan Siegel, it says here," she answered.
Jack opened another window and did a quick search. "Nathan Siegel…yeah, I got a hit on him. He was from Llanview and had a brother who was a lawyer in town." Jack searched further. "Not many of them are still alive. Nathan, David, Tim, who seems to be David's son, all dead. The only other names listed are an Eileen Riley Siegel, also deceased and a Julie Siegel Toland, who seems to be in Florida."
"Riley? Like Joe Riley?" Starr asked.
"And Joe Riley would be…?"
"Aunt Viki's first husband. He's Kevin and Joey's dad," she answered slowly, as if explaining to Sam.
Jack kind of forgot that Aunt Viki had been married to anyone before Charlie, Ben and Clint. And he knew Victor never really like Kevin, so he never really thought about any other cousins besides Jessica, Natalie and maybe Sarah Roberts. "Okay…?"
A smirk appeared on her face. "Didn't you say you have a history project you have to turn in for school?"
Jack shook his head. They only summer work he had was a few books and he'd just downloaded them the night before. "I don't have any project."
"Yes Jack, you do. And you need Aunt Viki's help with it…" she replied, her smirk growing.