Chapter 15

Amy King

The media had a field day reporting the demise of Jezek’s reign at the top of the most wanted list. As is their nature, however, they soon found something else equally absorbing, and moved on. One reporter didn’t.

Somehow Amy King found out that Jezek had been arrested at a property owned by DöhmCorp. When she began to ask questions, Errol made a statement acknowledging our ownership of the property but making it clear that it had been used illegally and without our knowledge or approval.

The statement was published, but the reporter kept digging and began asking more questions. Eventually she discovered the involvement of the three property division staff, and then started asking questions about the property itself. She found that it was one of our takeover acquisitions and wondered why DöhmCorp had left it idle. That got her digging deeper. She apparently searched the federation property register, identified all Döhm properties in the city, and found that all of the facilities obtained through takeovers were idle.

She also chanced upon the fact that, only a few months earlier, DöhmCorp had bought an old factory complex and was refurbishing one of its buildings. It seemed that what really caught her attention was discovering that a scallies pack was living in the building. She wondered why they had not been evicted, which led to her trying to understand how Döhm and the scallies were linked. She identified the pack as Breaker and attempted to interview Kashuba, but he was never available. She approached some of the boys but they told her (politely, they assured me) to get lost. She then began pestering our media unit for details of DöhmCorp’s involvement with Breaker, and requesting interviews. When her requests were politely declined she resorted to what amounted to blackmail.

Ms Amy King was a fiery redhead with an Irish accent. Everyone had seen her on news broadcasts, but she hadn’t been in town long and no one really knew her. We hoped that she would tire of our attempts to put her off, but she was nothing if not tenacious. Our media unit did some digging of its own and found that Amy King had a reputation. She was fiery in temperament as well as looks, and very persistent. She was building something of a name for herself as an investigative reporter.

Eventually she forced our hand by putting to air a piece with segments filmed outside DöhmCorp headquarters and on the street in front of Breaker One. She didn’t say much of substance, since she had very little concrete information, but she claimed there were lots of unanswered questions around the link between Breaker One and DöhmCorp. “Whatever is going on here,” she ended stridently, “Döhm Corporation is up to its neck in it.”

Reluctantly, realising that she was not likely to give up the chase, Errol and I sat down with our media unit staff to discuss what we should do. The media guys suggested we preempt Ms King by producing a short video about HI and how it was helping the scallies packs. That had merit, but so far, to our surprise, Ms King had never mentioned HI, so we thought she probably did not know of its existence. Another idea was that we could invite Ms King to interview some of the Breaker boys so that she could get their stories directly from them. Errol wasn’t keen to involve the boys, reasoning that they’d had enough drama in their lives without subjecting them to someone like Amy King. He suggested that he grant her an interview, with the questions provided in writing prior to the interview, and with the proviso that DöhmCorp have power of veto over any portion of the interview before it was broadcast. The media guys doubted King would accept those conditions.

“She’s a terrier, not a poodle,” one of them said, giving us all a much-needed laugh.

“No,” I said. “I’ll do it. She apparently doesn’t know about me. She’s mentioned Errol in her pieces and she’s mentioned the media unit, but she has never mentioned me. I know everything there is to know about HI. I am probably the best person to answer her questions about Döhm’s involvement, and I’m sure I’m the best person to answer her questions about our reasons for setting up HI. She won’t be expecting a kid to grant an interview, and she won’t expect a kid to be in control of a division of DöhmCorp. It might even get her a little flustered. Most of all, though, she might actually like the idea of a kid helping other kids. I can answer her from my heart, and that might get the audience on side even if it doesn’t count for much in her book.”

“Echo, that’s brilliant,” said Jason, the media unit head. “It might just work. How do you feel about actually doing it, though?”

“Scared stiff!” I replied, “but I have everything in my head because HI means so much to me. I reckon I can do it.” I grinned. “And I’ll try not to stuff it up.”

Errol laughed. “Don’t underestimate this kid,” he said to the others, “He interviewed me after my arrest and I felt like he was looking right into my soul. I think he can do this.”

“Okay,” Jason said. “We’ll set it up. When is a good time for you?”

“No, don’t set it up. Just get me her contact details and I’ll call her myself. She won’t be expecting that.”

Errol opened a folder and handed me a printed sheet which listed several ways to contact Ms King.

I set my communicator so that it showed the call as originating from DöhmCorp, put it on speaker, and smiled as I dialled the network switchboard.

“News Network, how may I help you?”

“Amy King, please.”

“Who may I say is calling?”

“The head of DöhmCorp. I wish to speak to Ms King about an interview.”

“One moment, please.”

There was a delay of several seconds before we heard the familiar Irish brogue. “Mr Daventry, you’ve seen the light at last.”

“This is Lucien Döhm, Ms King. I am the owner of DöhmCorp.”

“Yeah, right, kid. You’re what, thirteen?”

I grinned. The others gave me nods and winks.

“Fourteen, actually. I have information you might not be aware of regarding the link between DöhmCorp and Breaker. I was going to offer you an exclusive interview, but if you’re not interested…”

“You’re just a kid! How can you possibly have any information about DöhmCorp?”

“It’s evident you have not done your homework, Ms King. Ask around the newsroom. Someone should be able to confirm that I own DöhmCorp. Now, do you want an interview or not?”

“Sure I want an interview, but I’m not interested in talking to some kid pretending he’s DöhmCorp.”

“Goodbye, Ms King. You had your chance. I’m afraid you’ve blown it. If you broadcast any further speculative pieces about DöhmCorp we will simply counter that we offered you an exclusive interview and you declined it. You should look nice with egg all over your face.” I ended the call.

“Two minutes, I reckon,” said Jason, “and she’ll be calling. You handled that very well, Echo.”

“Yes,” Errol said. “I have every confidence you will pull this off.”

Errol’s communicator buzzed. He answered the call, listened, smiled widely and gave me a thumbs up sign. He put his communicator on speaker and put it on the table. We waited a few seconds.

“Mr Daventry?”

“Ms King, how nice to hear from you.” The sarcasm was almost visible in the air.

“Mr Daventry, I am afraid someone in your company is playing tricks. I received a call a few minutes ago from a kid who claimed to be the owner of DöhmCorp. Now, are you going to stop playing silly buggers and give me an interview or not?”

The old attack-is-the-best-form-of-defence approach. I guess she thought she didn’t have anything to lose. There were grins all around the table.

“Nice try, Ms King,” Errol replied. “You did indeed speak to the owner of DöhmCorp. Have you changed your mind about the exclusive interview?”

“Well, are you granting me an interview or not?”

I jumped in before Errol could respond. “We certainly are, Ms King. With me, Lucien Döhm.”

“But you’re just a kid.”

“True, but a kid who happens to own DöhmCorp. You can have an exclusive interview with me… or nothing. It’s your choice, Ms King. If you are not interested I’m sure one of your rivals will be…”

There was sigh. “All right. Where and when?”

I thought quickly. I wanted to keep the upper hand. “Breaker One. Sunday. Live on your evening newscast. DöhmCorp staff will monitor the broadcast so that you don’t pull any tricks. If you do, the interview will be terminated immediately. I will also have them film the interview.”

“I can’t agree to that! I don’t even know if you’re genuine.”

Errol spoke up. “Oh, that he is, Ms King. Take it or leave it.”

There was a pause. When she spoke again she had lost some of her bluster. “Well, I’ll need to clear it with the news director. And we will need to set up well ahead of the news bulletin. How can I contact you to confirm and to arrange access?”

“Our media unit will assist with access and setup. Contact them to arrange that. They are listening as we speak, so they will be expecting you to call. If you need to speak to me DöhmCorp will pass on any messages, and I will call you if necessary.”

“I don’t leave messages!”

“Good day to you, Ms King.”

I terminated the call. Errol looked pleased. The media guys gave me high-fives. “Sorry, guys, I just lumbered you with working on Sunday. You’d better take a day off during the week.”

Jason laughed. “Oh, it will be worth it, believe me. I can’t wait to see how she handles this.”

It was just after five on Thursday afternoon, so Amy King had plenty of time to get everything organised.

The Interview

Friday I had schoolwork most of the day, but I made time to call Kashuba to tell him what I had done. He roared laughing when I recounted the phone calls. I told him that the Breaker gang were welcome to sit in on the interview and he promised to let them know. I asked where he thought the interview should take place, keeping in mind that someone from DöhmCorp would be filming so we would need space for their equipment as well as that of the news crew, plus any spectators. He suggested the living area, because it was the largest room available. We had a conference room planned for the new HI offices, but they were not ready for use. We would just have to ensure that there were no distractions.

By Saturday I was a wreck. Darm and his parents tried to reassure me and encourage me, but without much success. In the end Darm organised a young guard detail and took me to a fun park for the afternoon. No one recognised us and we had a great time. The distraction worked and I was in a much better frame of mind when we returned to the palace.

Over dinner the emperor told me to concentrate on what I wanted to say, and to stay on topic. “Never treat the media as a friend,” he advised. “They are only interested in the story, and as far as they are concerned, the more sensational and controversial it is, the better. They will exaggerate, they will twist words, they will turn your words back on you, and they will try to trick you into saying something you don’t want to say. You have nothing to hide, so Amy King shouldn’t be able to do that. HI is close to your heart. It’s your baby! You are the one who knows most about it, so go into this interview and simply speak from your heart.”

I got up and hugged him. “Thank you, Marcus. All I can do is try. I got myself into this, so I can’t even blame Darm.”

The emperor and empress laughed. Darm managed to look hurt.

I never heard from Amy King. I didn’t know whether that was good or bad.

On Sunday I woke feeling strangely calm. During the day I went over various scenarios in my head. I checked and double-checked that I had in my mind everything I knew about HI and that I had a clear view of my hopes and plans. Eventually I was satisfied that there was no more I could do, and I left for Breaker One in the middle of the afternoon.

The DöhmCorp media guys arrived just after me, and set up two cameras. I left them to liaise with the news crew when they arrived, and asked them to let me know when Amy King showed up. Kashuba got the Breaker gang together and I explained what was happening and how DöhmCorp had been more or less blackmailed into revealing HI and its operations. I invited them to sit in on the interview and was surprised when they all enthusiastically said they would. “We’ve met this chick,” Haza explained. “She needs to be taken down a peg or two, and if you’re gonna do that I want to be there to see it!”

Amy King arrived about thirty minutes before the interview was to go to air. Jason Fels introduced me as Echo Menier, spokesman for Breaker.

“Would you like to have a look around Breaker headquarters, Ms King?” I asked.

“I would prefer to meet Lucien Döhm,” she replied. The way she spoke my name made it sound like she had stepped in a cowpat and couldn’t get rid of the smell.

“And you shall. He will be here in time for the interview.”

“Who does this kid think he is?” she complained. “I have better things to do than to play games.”

“Ms King,” Jason said, quietly, “might I remind you that Lucien is the owner of DöhmCorp, perhaps the largest private company in the federation? You annoyed him no end with your incessant questions and unfounded allegations. Had he wanted to he could have bought your entire network and sacked you. He’s smarter than that, however. Instead, he chose to grant you an exclusive interview to show you the truth. If you’re saying you have changed your mind and no longer want that interview we will call it off.”

The reporter grimaced. “That will not be necessary.”

I tried a different tack. I took her to the kitchen, got her a cup of tea and a piece of pavlova and sat her down at the table.

“Are you always this on edge before an interview, Ms King?”

She looked daggers at me. I held her gaze.

After a few seconds she looked away. “You’re just a kid. You wouldn’t understand.”

“Try me.”

“Oh, what the heck! I have been trying for weeks to get an interview with someone at DöhmCorp. Every request was refused. Then, when I finally get somewhere, I find that the interview will be with some fourteen-year-old.”

“What do you have against kids, Ms King?”

“What?” She stared at me again. I returned her stare.

She looked away. “I don’t have anything against kids, except that they remind me of my own childhood. My father is a drunk who has always told me I’m hopeless and will never amount to anything. Ha! A fat lot he ever amounted to.”

“So, kids can’t possibly know anything because your father always reckoned you didn’t know anything?”

She looked surprised. “Yes, I guess that’s what it boils down to.”

“And you always feel like you have something to prove? You have to show that you aren’t hopeless?”

She nodded.

“That’s sad,” I said, “but, you know, you really don’t have to prove anything. Your father is wrong. You are not hopeless. Perhaps he drinks to deaden his own pain, or to hide his own insecurities. I’ve seen you on the news, Ms King, and you are good at your job. I don’t think you have to prove that; the evidence is already there for everyone to see. Stop trying to please your father, because you’re no longer a child, and I doubt he will ever be pleased, anyway. The problem is his, not yours. Just get on with doing your job. The details will take care of themselves.

“What’s more, in my experience kids are pretty capable. I’ve seen kids who have amazing abilities. I think you need to stop viewing kids through your father’s eyes. Let the kids speak for themselves.”

One of the news team stuck his head in the door. “Two minutes to live, Amy!”

I stood. “Shall we go do this interview?”

Her jaw dropped, but she stood and we made our way to the interview set.

The news crew got us seated. The Breaker kids were all present, and the DöhmCorp cameras were already running.

“Three. Two. One.” We were on air.

Amy spoke to the camera. “Welcome to a live interview with Lucien Döhm, owner of DöhmCorp.” She turned to me. I had seen a softer, vulnerable side to Amy King a few minutes earlier. Now I experienced the ruthless reporter side.

“Welcome, Lucien Döhm… or is it Echo Menier?”

I smiled. “It’s both. For ten years I lived in an orphanage, where I was known as Echo Menier. I only found out a few months ago that I am actually Lucien Döhm. Most people call me Echo because that’s what I have known for most of my life.”

“To save confusion I will call you Lucien. Is that okay?”


“Lucien, what is DöhmCorp hiding?”

“Why do you think we are hiding anything?”

“DöhmCorp wouldn’t answer my questions or agree to an interview.”

“I see… and that automatically means we have something to hide?”

“Well, when someone refuses to talk it usually means they’re hiding something.”

“It doesn’t occur to you that there might be other reasons—perfectly valid reasons—for our reticence?”


“Well, Ms King, the Döhm family have always kept a low profile, right from the founding of the company about a hundred and fifty years ago. Your research should have shown you that.”

She nodded.

“That’s not because we have anything to hide, but because we are not interested in publicity for publicity’s sake. We want to live our lives and go about our business without making a fuss about it. We are simply not interested in saying, ‘Look at me! See what I am doing!’”

“But the public has a right to know.”

I chuckled. “I wondered how long it would take for you to trot out that old chestnut. Ms King, do you believe that the public has a ‘right to know’ every time a private citizen makes a donation to charity?”

“Well, no, but—”

“Ah, so the public’s ‘right to know’ is really what you think they ought to know—what you decide is newsworthy. Ms King, I’m sure I speak for a lot of people when I say that what you broadcast under your right to know mantra and what the public really wants to know are often two different things.

“Now, in broadcasting your piece that implied that DöhmCorp had something to hide, you pi– er, annoyed, me and you did a disservice to yourself, your network and the public. You annoyed me because there was no basis to your allegations and because you more or less blackmailed me into responding.

“Ms King, I offered you an exclusive interview, with the added enticement of information known only to the people involved. I would like your viewers to know that you dismissed my offer because I was ‘just a kid’. I’m pleased that you changed your mind because I want to set the record straight.”

I stopped to take a sip of water. Amy jumped in.

“Lucien, do you have anything to say about the DöhmCorp staff who were sacked recently? How were the sackings linked to the arrest of Jezek, the notorious criminal?”

I gave her an ingratiating smile. “Yes, I have something to say about the sackings, and I will explain the link to Jezek’s arrest.”

“Please do…”

I ignored her sarcasm. “The property where Jezek was arrested is owned by DöhmCorp. It is one of several in the city acquired through takeovers nearly twenty years ago. My parents, for reasons that will become clear shortly, put a stop to any sale or redevelopment of those properties because they had something in mind for them. They created a section within our property division to administer them. About a year ago the manager of that section had run up a considerable debt to an associate of Jezek. When he couldn’t pay, Jezek’s associate saw another way the manager could help. He pressured our staff member into making the property available to one of Jezek’s ‘businesses’.

“Now, these properties are inspected every six months and a report on their current condition is compiled. They are all vacant, not in use. In order for Jezek to use the property on a long-term basis, the inspection records had to be falsified. The manager, the clerk who falsified the records, and her supervisor, who was also involved, were all arrested and charged. They were dismissed immediately. That is the link between the sackings and Jezek’s arrest.”

“So there is no other link between Jezek and DöhmCorp?”

“No. That the property was being used by Jezek was known only to the three people who have been sacked.”

“How was the illegal use discovered?”

“Ah, now we are getting to the real story here, the one that made you think DöhmCorp was concealing something. Have you heard of Help Incorporated?”

She looked surprised. “Er, no…”

“As I mentioned, around twenty years ago DöhmCorp acquired a number of businesses through takeovers. The company closed down most of those businesses and retrenched the people employed by them. In doing that it helped to create a huge social problem, because many of those workers became destitute.

“The company met all of its legal obligations—in fact it went further than it was obliged to—but my parents believed, and I believe, that DöhmCorp had a moral obligation to do more to help the retrenched workers. It failed to do so. My parents wanted to address that, and their first step was to put a stop to sale or redevelopment of the properties acquired through the takeovers, while they figured out a way to help those workers. My parents vanished before they were able to do much, but the hold on development remained in place.

“When I took over the company and discovered what my parents had wanted to do I took up where they had left off. After consultation with a number of people I decided to begin with the scallies packs. A friend who had been a member of Breaker helped me to contact Kashuba, the Breaker leader, and we explored ways in which DöhmCorp could help the scallies. After much discussion DöhmCorp and Breaker signed an agreement. We set up Help Incorporated as a division of DöhmCorp to manage the whole thing, and transferred control of the takeover properties to HI. We began work to refurbish this property, Breaker One, which we had recently bought, and began inspecting the others to assess their current state. When our buildings manager went to the property where Jezek was arrested he found it in use when it was supposed to be vacant. The rest of that story you already know.”

“Lucien, let me get this right. You are saying that DöhmCorp owes the community something?”


“I must say that is a refreshing change from the line I hear from most big corporations.”

“Well, it’s a line you would have heard from my parents, and it’s a line you will often hear from me if you hang around me long enough.”

“And this is why you want to help the scallies packs?”


“Why the scallies packs, though? How do they fit into the retrenched workers scenario?”

“The scallies packs are pretty much a direct result of the retrenchments. Many of the scallies had parents who were directly affected by DöhmCorp takeovers and closures. A lot of the kids lost their parents to suicide, alcoholism or illness. Most of them have been on the streets for years. At least one that I know was forced to fend for himself from the age of eight. I guess I’m taking the easy way out here, because helping the scallies is the easiest way to make a difference fairly quickly.” I gestured to our audience. “These guys are all scallies. They all have stories to tell. They have been living here in this building for several years, but life was pretty rough for them until a short time ago. I think they will tell you that HI has made a difference for them. I should add that these kids are helping themselves, though. HI has made a difference in their lives, but they are making the biggest difference themselves. HI has simply enabled them to make a fresh start.”

Amy looked around at the Breaker kids, all of whom were smiling. “Anyone care to comment on what Lucien just said?”

Haza put up his hand.

“Yes, what is your name?”


“What would you like to say, Haza?”

“Echo… Lucien… is right. My father was laid off when DöhmCorp took over the company he worked for. DöhmCorp paid income support for the five years it agreed to. When that stopped federal social security was available but it never seemed to be enough. My parents both died when I was ten and then I had to survive on the streets. I managed on my own for a few months, and then came to live with Breaker. That was heaps easier than bein’ on my own and these guys became my family.

“It was still hard, but, because we had to go lookin’ for food every day, and we had to make sure there was always someone here to guard the place because we had no way to lock it and someone else would always be lookin’ for a good place to live.

“Then Echo turned up wantin’ to help us. I thought he was some spoilt little rich kid full of bull. But he turned out to be the real McCoy. What I liked most of all was that he asked us how he could help; he didn’t just throw money at us and hope the problem would go away. Sure, DöhmCorp, through HI, has paid for the buildin’ work and a lot of other stuff, but Echo has left us plenty of room to help ourselves. We’ve done some of the work ourselves, and now that we don’t have to use up so much time and energy just survivin’, some of the guys have started online courses. I’m hopin’ to join the buildin’ team as an apprentice.” He smiled. “We don’t expect HI to provide everythin’, but it has given all of us a new start. That’s all we needed, really, and we’re grateful to Echo because he made it possible.”

A couple more boys said a few words, mainly to reinforce what Haza had said. Then Tyras told a brief version of his story.

Amy King surprised me by showing compassion. “Tyras, I can see you miss your brother and sister. What if we tried to find them for you? Would you like that?”

Tyras’s jaw dropped, but he nodded.

“What are their names?”

“My sister is Abi, and my brother is Esben, but we always called him Ben.” I was sure Tyras was finding this hard. He rarely talked about his siblings because losing them was too painful to think about.

“And how old would they be now, Tyras?” she asked gently.

He fought back tears, but managed to say, “Abi would be ten, and Ben would be eight.”

Amy turned to the camera. “I would like to see if we can reunite Tyras with his siblings. Abi and Ben, if you’re watching now, or if anyone watching knows Abi and Ben, would you please contact News Network?”

She turned back to me. “Well, those are pretty enthusiastic endorsements, Lucien.” She paused for a moment, then asked, “What is the structure of Help Incorporated? What sorts of checks and balances do you have in place? How can you ensure that the money you are throwing at this is well spent?”

I laughed. “Ms King, please stop trying to beat this up into more than it is. I am not ‘throwing’ money anywhere. First, HI is a division of DöhmCorp. It is subject to all the legal and financial controls that apply to every other division of the company. As for the structure, well, there is a head of the division and a chief executive officer. I am the division head and Kashuba over there is CEO. We have access to the company secretary and to the senior executives, who give us advice and oversight at the corporate level. Kashuba has an office here in this building and he has a personal assistant who is based at DöhmCorp headquarters. His PA liaises with the executives as necessary and provides as direct a link as we could manage with Kashuba based here. We put him here because we believed he would be somewhat out of touch if he was up on the Döhm executive floor. To help us on the ground we have a consultative panel. Most of the kids you see here are on that panel, and we call in specialist help as needed. That is the structure of HI. In addition I have my own personal advisers and mentors, and they know everything there is to know about HI.”

“Let me get this straight. You’re telling me that Help Incorporated is run by kids?”

“I guess you could say that. They are pretty smart kids, though!”

Our audience laughed.

“Ms King, do we have enough checks and balances for you?”

That brought another laugh. If looks could kill the one I got from Amy King would have fried me.

She recovered her poise quickly. “So, is Breaker just the beginning? Or are you concentrating all of your efforts on them?”

“I’m planning to help as many scallies packs as want help. I’m not going to force it on them, but I hope they will take up the offer. A wing of this building, Breaker One, will become HI’s headquarters when the restoration work is complete, and there will be a free medical clinic for scallies and other needy people in another wing. The HI chief executive has begun contacting other scallies packs. We’re already helping one of those, and we hope to add others soon.”

“So, why all the secrecy?”

I smiled. “As I said earlier, I am not into beating my own drum and neither is Döhm Corporation. We simply want to get the job done to the best of our ability, without any fanfare. I don’t see any benefit in announcing everything we do to the world. I’d rather spend my energy on making sure the help gets to where it is needed.”

“Do you have plans to go beyond the scallies packs?”

“Not at present, but that may change. You will be aware of the corruption scandal which involved regional governors and other officials who syphoned off millions of credits of social security payments. I understand that federal funds have begun to flow now, and that the federation has begun to seek out those affected in order to help them. If there is any way in which DöhmCorp can help we will do so, but I have been advised that there is no need for our involvement there at the moment.”

“Lucien Döhm, thank you for your time.”

“Thank you, Ms King.”

She turned to the camera. “You have been watching a live interview with Lucien Döhm, owner of DöhmCorp. This is Amy King at Breaker One.”

I gave Ms King my sweetest smile.

“You sneaky little so-and-so!” she said as soon as the cameras were off. Then she grinned. “I like your style!”

I laughed.

She took on a serious look. “You meant what you said, didn’t you? About my father, I mean.”

“Yes, I did.”

“How does a fourteen-year-old get to be so wise?”

“I read a lot,” I said, smiling.

She laughed. “I’ll bet you have some stories of your own. If I still have a job after tonight I’d love to do one on your transition from orphan to boy tycoon.”

I groaned. “Oh, man! Please, no!”

She laughed. She was much more pleasant when she laughed. “Just winding you up, Lucien. It’s nice to see you have a vulnerable side, too. You were so cool during the interview I was beginning to wonder. You really don’t like being in the limelight, do you?”

“Ms King, I’ve grown up as a nobody. I didn’t choose to be head of DöhmCorp, but I’m stuck with that. I did choose to set up HI, however. I am passionate about it, and I am absolutely committed to it. I would like to be able to get on with running it. The fewer distractions there are the more people I will be able to help. Is it too much to ask that I be left alone so I can concentrate on that?”

“No, it’s not, Lucien, but I hope you will come to realise that the media is not always your enemy. The public may not always need to know, but some stories beg to be told. I’m sure yours is one of them.”

“Maybe one day, but I guess I’m simply following my parents’ and earlier generations’ examples with my aversion to publicity. It must be in my genes.”

“Well, if you ever change your mind, let me know.”

She said goodbye then. Her news crew had already left.