Yes, yes, it's true. The conscientious reporter sets aside his personal views when reporting events and tries to emulate the detachment of a camera lens, all opinions held in harness, but the man with whom this narrative deals did not adhere to this dictum, at least when it came to the subject of murder, a subject with which he had had a personal involvement in the past. Consequently, his reportage was rebuked in certain quarters of both the journalistic and the legal professions, which was a matter of indifference to him. He never hesitated to speak up and point out, in print or on television, that his reportage on matters of murder was cheered by much larger numbers in other quarters. "Walk down Madison Avenue with me and see for yourself how often I am stopped by total strangers," he said in reply to a hate letter he received from an enraged man who wrote that he had vilified O.J. Simpson "through the pages of your pretentious magazine for two and a half years."
His name, as it appeared in print or when he was introduced on television, was Augustus Bailey, but he was known to his friends, and even to those who disliked him intensely, because of the way he had written about them, as Gus, or Gus Bailey. His name appeared frequently in the newspapers. His lectures were sold out. He was asked to deliver eulogies at important funerals or to introduce speakers at public events in hotel ballrooms. He knew the kind of people who said "We'll send our plane" when they invited him for weekends in distant places.
From the beginning, you have to understand this about Gus Bailey: He knew what was going to happen before it happened. His premonitions had far less to do with fact than with his inner feelings, on which he had learned to rely greatly in the last half dozen years of his life. He said over the telephone to his younger son, Zander, the son who was lost in a mountain-climbing mishap during the double murder trial of Orenthal James Simpson, "I don't know why, but I keep having this feeling that something untoward is going to happen to me."
Certainly, there are enough references to his obliteration in his journal in the months before he was found dead in the media room of his country house in Prud'homme, Connecticut, where he had been watching the miniseries of one of his novels, A Season in Purgatory. The book was about a rich young man who got away with murder because of the influence of his prominent and powerful father. Getting away with murder was a relentless theme of Gus Bailey's. He was pitiless in his journalistic and novelistic pursuit of those who did, as well as of those in the legal profession who created the false defenses that often set their clients free. That book, the miniseries of which he was watching, had brought Gus Bailey and the unsolved murder in Greenwich, Connecticut, which, to avoid a libel suit, he had renamed Scarborough Hill, a great deal of notoriety at the time of its publication, resulting in the reopening of the murder case by the police. Gus had fervently believed that the case remained unsolved because the police had been intimidated by the power and wealth of the killer's family, which extended all the way to the highest office in the land.
"It was exactly the same thing in the Woodward case," said Gus, who had written an earlier novel about a famous society shooting in the aristocratic Woodward family on Long Island in the fifties called The Two Mrs. Grenvilles. "The police were simply outdazzled by the grandeur of Elsie, whom I called Alice Grenville, and Ann Woodward got away with shooting her husband."
As always, when Gus's passions were involved in his writing, he ruffled feathers. Powerful families became upset with him. He created enemies.
"You seem to have annoyed a great many very important people," said Gillian Greenwood of the BBC, as a statement not a question, in the living room of Gus Bailey's New York penthouse, where she was interviewing him on camera for a documentary on his life called The Trials of Augustus Bailey.
Use of this excerpt from Another City, Not My Own by Dominick Dunne may be made only for purposes of promoting the book, with no changes, editing, or additions whatsoever, and must be accompanied by the following copyright notice: Copyright© 1997 by Dominick Dunne. All rights reserved.
Blood at the Root
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