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Summary of Armageddon, Part 1
By Angela Stockton
Edited by Elizabeth Eccher
Lily is preparing breakfast when Rick strolls into her kitchen, dressed only in his boxers. They cuddle affectionately until Grace and Zoe walk in, forcing Rick to hurriedly grab a cereal box and hold it in front of him at waist level. As nonchalantly as he can, he moves into the laundry alcove and pulls his khaki slacks out of the dryer. To his chagrin, the slacks are now pink, the result of having been accidentally washed with a red shirt in the same load. He doesn't share in the amusement of Lily and her daughters, pointing out that he has to wear the pants to work. Grace teasingly suggests that the Atlantor people might appreciate seeing a different side of him. "Yeah, the pinker side," Zoe chirps.
Karen takes a telephone call at her office from District Attorney Robert Dumanjik. "I understand you're representing that suit against Atlantor," he begins. He asks to meet with her about her Atlantor lawsuit, but offers no details except that "there are some things that are in our mutual interest to talk about." Puzzled, Karen makes an appointment with him for the next morning.
At his office, Rick works on an Atlantor design, enduring gibes from his staff about the pink pants, until his receptionist announces the arrival of Miles Drentell. "I thought I smelled sulfur," his associate Amanda quips.
Miles sounds like his mordant self at first, saying of his recent vacation, "Vacations can only be judged by the degree of discomfiture upon one's return. In this case, the vacation was a grand success." But once he asks, "Do you believe in portents, Rick?" this is no longer a typical visit. Every question by Rick is unnervingly answered by Miles with a cryptic question or comment of his own: "How's your filing system here?" "You don't keep a lot of old useless paperwork around, do you?" "I have found shredders to be quite useful in eliminating clutter."
"Miles, what are you talking about? What's happening?" Rick asks anxiously.
"Did I say something was happening? If I knew something was happening and I told you, then I might be seen to be conspiring with you, which of course I never would," Miles says, making an elaborate show of examining a scale model of the Atlantor complex.
"Conspiring with me -- about what?" Rick asks.
"Conspiring with you -- about what?" Miles parrots.
Bewildered, Rick demands, "Miles, are you trying to scare the bejesus out of me?"
"Hard drives are particularly vexing when it's time for spring cleaning, though I understand there's software available for that purpose," Miles continues with his eerie detachment. Saying that he has to leave for a lunch engagement, he departs with a final comment, "I just thought I'd stop by and say hello and let you know I'm thinking of you." Rick stares after him, alarmed and not understanding what has just transpired.
Bob shows Karen into his office the next day. Although she is consumed with curiosity, he frustrates her with bad jokes and meaningless conversation about sports before finally explaining that he's doing "DA stuff" on Atlantor. Bob is aware that her ex-husband is the project architect, and she's astonished when he discloses that a grand jury has been impaneled to investigate Atlantor. He asks her to share "in a neighborly way" whatever information she has. "I need to know what you are trying to do," she says.
"What we always try to do, put bad guys in jail," he answers. "Including my ex-husband?" she demands. "I have no idea, and that's the truth," he replies.
"And if I don't cooperate?" Karen asks. "To tell you the truth, I don't know what I'd do if you don't cooperate," he says, smiling to blunt the sting of his answer.
Rick goes to Karen's that night to pick up Jessie. "So, how's it going?" Karen asks, trying to sound banal but clearly uneasy. "You're asking me that?" Rick retorts. They spar with each other, Rick trying to prod Karen into revealing what she knows and insisting that she has a responsibility to tell him if something is happening, Karen nervously refusing to admit that she knows anything and insisting that her only responsibility is to her clients. Jessie interrupts their argument when she comes downstairs. Fuming at Karen's obstinacy, Rick leaves with Jessie.
At his apartment, Rick jots the word "shredder" on his grocery list, then crosses it out. He hears a knock at the door and goes to answer it. As he returns, Eli and Jessie, horsing around with each other, don't notice his worried expression, but Lily does and is immediately concerned. He shows her the paper in his hand and says he's been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury on the Atlantor project.
In his bedroom, while Lily looks on, Rick calls Walter, his attorney, only to be told that Walter can't represent him because the Atlantor investigation is a potential criminal matter. His nerves frayed, Rick snaps at Lily until she reminds him, "I'm not the enemy!" He apologizes and shares his suspicion that Karen is behind the investigation. Trying to call Miles, he only reaches his voice mail. Lily tries to reassure him that she knows what kind of person he is, and that he's going to be OK, but he can't stop worrying.
The following day Rick meets with criminal-defense attorneys Stephanie and James. They give him a short course in the grand-jury system, saying that a grand jury is impaneled to investigate rather than to judge, "a fishing expedition with a really wide net." When he admits to his bewilderment over what the grand jury may be fishing for, Stephanie guesses that it's looking for evidence of bribes, kickbacks, extortion and safety violations. Rick is upset when Stephanie tells him that he's not entitled to have his attorney with him during questioning.
Asked to disclose what he knows about Atlantor, he begins, "In the real world and certainly in the construction business, there's a difference between what's legal and what's ethical. I would never and have never done anything, or would let anyone near me do anything, that would jeopardize another human being or line my own pockets, period. But there are times in business when you cannot move forward unless you play by somebody else's rules."
He admits that he looked the other way when safety permits came through in record time, trucks somehow delivered the needed loads of concrete even when other jobs must have had priority, and work was begun although the crafts unions had not supplied the requisite number of mechanics. "Am I going to be indicted for doing my job the way every architect does his?" he wonders.
"We don't know. All we can do is prepare you for the possibilities," Stephanie replies.
"Do you want me to admit what I just said if I'm asked?" he asks.
"Our president gave us all a great lesson in that a couple of years ago," James reminds him. "The dumbest thing you can ever do is lie to a grand jury." Dark circles under Rick's eyes attest to his mounting apprehension.
Bob visits Karen's office, asking to continue their conversation. Karen coyly replies that he can continue his part and she'll decide whether to respond, a lawyerly evasion for which he compliments her. He mentions the temporary restraining order which she tried to turn into a permanent injunction against Atlantor, but failed to obtain because the judge ruled in favor of Atlantor. After Bob drops several hints, she connects the dots and exclaims in shock, "They bought the judge!" However, while pacing her office, she vehemently insists that Rick would not have been a party to bribery.
When she worries that Bob will go after Rick unless she cooperates, Bob insists that he's not making any threats. He asks if he can see her files, remarking that he's heard she doesn't throw anything away. "Well, I've been called a pack rat on occasion," she admits.
"By your ex-husband?" Bob asks. "No, that would have been the pot calling the kettle black," she replies flippantly. To Bob, it seems clear that she still likes Rick, but when he says so, Karen takes offense. Backtracking, he again asks if he can see her files. When Karen is still reluctant to hand them over, he thanks her for her time and says, "This is a good thing you've just done." Taking his outstretched hand, she stammers, "Well, I -- I hope so."
From his office, Rick again attempts to call Miles. Knowing that he has already called him "seven hundred times since yesterday," Amanda can't understand Rick's urgency about reaching him. He shares with Amanda his suspicion that Miles may be a fugitive from justice. "Should I put a hold on the concrete?" she asks half-jokingly.
In her office at pagesAlive, Christie tells Lily that the magazine is going to print a story about the grand-jury investigation and tries to pump her for information by implying that the story will report that Rick has already been indicted. Lily is furious and refuses to discuss Rick, vehemently arguing that he has done nothing wrong, she won't do anything to hurt him, and she won't put the magazine in a position to be sued for libel. "OK, I'll get corroboration from another source," Christie replies coolly.
That night, Rick sits Eli and Jessie down in their living room. He explains that "something has happened at work," and that a grand jury is investigating Atlantor. From his grave demeanor, they immediately infer that he's in danger of being arrested. He doesn't rule out the possibility, conceding that anything is possible and some people might be arrested, but he insists that he hasn't done anything to be arrested for. Unheard by the family, Lily enters through the front door and overhears Rick explain that there will be talk about the investigation, which they may hear about at school, and he wants them to be prepared for it. "It's possible some people connected with this project did bad things," he says. "That you didn't know about," Jessie finishes, distraught. Hard as they try to be brave for their father's sake, the children's anxiety is obvious, as is Lily's.
Next morning, while Lily is fixing breakfast at Rick's, Karen arrives. She is surprised to see Lily there so early and offers stilted congratulations on Lily's engagement. When Rick comes downstairs, he speaks only to Jessie and Lily, not acknowledging Karen at all except for a cold stare.
Later, while talking to Judy, Lily complains that she can't get Rick to tell her what's going on. Judy wonders if he's hiding something, but Lily suspects that he's actually terrified and ashamed and doesn't want her to worry. When she sardonically tells Judy, "You're the one who thinks he's been a criminal the whole time," Judy protests. In surprise, Lily exclaims, "I thought you didn't trust Rick!"
"I didn't trust him emotionally. You don't get sent to prison for that," Judy replies, shocking Lily with the word "prison." Judy speculates that someone connected with Atlantor, not necessarily Rick, has "cut corners" with inspectors, and that this may be the focus of the investigation. She calls bribery a cost of doing business and informs Lily that their father used to bribe restaurant inspectors. Judy's speculation that Rick may have commited bribery startles Lily as much as the disclosure about their father's shady dealings. "Don't worry, I hear those white-collar prisons are OK. You get to play golf with millionaires," Judy jokes bleakly.
Rick arrives at the courthouse and parks across from a limousine. When the rear window of the limousine rolls down, Miles stares at Rick, his face a silent invitation. Rick climbs in beside him.
"Why didn't you return my calls?" he asks angrily.
"To protect the innocent," Miles answers calmly.
"Who does that include?" Rick snaps. "Do you realize how much I have riding here "my career, my whole life? This is really scary for me, Miles, and I need to ask you -- do I have anything to worry about?"
"Did you do anything wrong?" Miles counters.
Rick starts to ask about the same irregularities he discussed with his attorneys. Miles turns on music as if to foil eavesdropping devices, but oblique as ever, he gives Rick no direct answers. Furious, Rick climbs out of the limousine. When Miles serenely reminds him, "All things pass away," Rick slams the door on him.
While Rick waits to be called into the grand jury chamber, Eli suddenly appears, confessing that he "ditched" school. "I thought you might need some company," he explains, taking the adjoining seat. Although Rick the father is upset, Rick the nervous witness is touched and grateful.
Once Rick is inside the grand jury chamber and is sworn in, he is interrogated by Bob, who asks him about sales taxes which may or may not have been paid, and permits that were inexplicably issued in record time. [In black and white, Rick recalls that he lied to his father once, three months before he died. Rick "borrowed" the car keys and took the family car for a joyride around the block. Next day, his father noticed the car was a foot back from where he had last parked it. "And when my Dad asked me, the look on his face was so scary that I lied right to his face: 'No, Dad, I didn't take the car.'" His father didn't look at him or talk to him for a week afterward. "It was the longest week of my life," he sighs.]
When he thinks he's being accused of paying a bribe, Rick heatedly answers, "If you're accusing me of paying a bribe, I'd like to know it and I'd like to see your evidence."
"The room's a little small for a high horse, Mr. Sammler," Bob replies mockingly. He informs Rick that the judge who ruled on the temporary restraining order was caught on videotape accepting a bribe. Shocked, Rick denies any knowledge of the crime. Later, Bob asks Rick if he keeps hard copies of Atlantor-related e-mails, to which Rick replies that he does, and that they've all been provided to the DA's office. When Bob questions his forthrightness, Rick offers to search again for any missing records, and to turn them over if they exist. "That's all right, I understand you're something of a pack rat," Bob says patronizingly. His use of that familiar epithet leaves Rick so stunned that he can't concentrate on the rest of Bob's remarks.
That evening, Rick wearily snuggles in Lily's arms and tells her the five hours he spent in front of the grand jury felt like five days. He refuses to go into details, and when Lily tiptoes around the subject of his being indicted or going to prison, he irritably tells her she should be thinking about it, and how it may affect their future, "because I'm sure as hell thinking about it!" Though frightened by his mention of prison, she urges him to spend the night with her, but he insists on going home. Next morning, while Grace and Zoe are talking about the wedding and Lily is stirring the contents of a saucepan on her stove, she can't talk for her sobs. The girls do their best to comfort her.
Karen goes to Bob's office, carrying her Atlantor files. As a condition for assisting him, she demands to know what his intentions are toward Rick and is exasperated when Bob puts her off with more of his lame wisecracks. "We both know he had nothing to do with conspiring to suborn judges or anyone else!" she snaps. Finally serious, he reminds her that it's up to the grand jury, not him, to decide who's going to be indicted. His disingenuous response doesn't fool Karen, who retorts that he can influence the grand jury. To her astonishment, Bob blurts out that he likes her, but that he swore an oath which he's spent years upholding and he can't stop now; however, he would understand if she refused to hand over her records. Wordlessly, she drops the files on his desk and stalks out.
In Rick's darkened office, Amanda says good-night to Rick. As she leaves, Miles walks in, reciting, "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings. Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!" While looking over the mockup, Miles says he's sorry, a word that he concedes he doesn't say very often. "What are you sorry for, Miles? The payoffs, the bribes? Or are you just sorry you got caught?" Rick asks bitterly.
"I'm sorry that my sepulcher may be too late," he replies. "Your sepulcher," Rick repeats, puzzled. "We may not have many opportunities to speak in the near future. I owe you an explanation," Miles continues.
"You're losing me, Miles," Rick says coldly. "No, you're losing me," Miles corrects him.
"Well, where the hell are you going this time?" Rick snarls. With a hint of black humor, Miles comments, "That is actually quite funny. I'll send you a report once I get there."
"Are you telling me that you know the outcome of this investigation?" Rick demands, moving closer to Miles.
"I know my outcome. Fourth stage pancreatic carcinoma," Miles announces, so matter-of-factly that Rick is stunned. To Rick's question about a cure, Miles admits that his disease is incurable -- as incurable as his ambition. "Why did you come here, Miles?" Rick asks.
"To tell you that what you did was remarkable, even if no one ever sees it but me," Miles declares with uncharacteristic thoughtfulness. He gives the mockup one last admiring once-over and silently walks out, Rick watching him in speechless rage and frustration.
From the office, Rick goes to Karen's to pick up Jessie. He waits for her on the porch rather than step inside, and although he is his usual doting self with Jessie, he again says nothing to Karen. Under his icy glare, Karen picks nervously at the cuffs of her sweater.
At his apartment, while Lily prepares dinner, Rick tries to help Jessie with her homework, a report about the Roman empire. In a feisty mood, she argues that the Romans don't deserve credit for any contributions to civilization, pointing out that while they devised a system of laws, they imposed it by military force on the barbarians, and that the other famous features of Roman culture -- art, philosophy, even their deities -- were borrowed from other cultures. Bursting with a mixture of pride, affection, and worry over his future, Rick impulsively hugs her so tightly that she squeals for Eli to rescue her.
Just as Lily announces dinner, there's a knock at the door. When Eli opens it, uniformed deputies stalk in, one announcing "Cook County Sheriff's Department," and waving a warrant to search the premises. They start rifling drawers and carrying out the family's computer equipment. When a deputy knocks over a lamp, Eli dives to catch it, only to be crowded back against the wall by the officer. In helpless fear, Lily, Jessie and Rick huddle together and watch the ransacking.
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