Park RangerrnColumbornbyE. Christian KopffrnThe Vince Foster AffairrnAscene from an unpublished teledramaiTfternOval Office of the WhiternHouse. Behind the desk, the President ofrnthe United States. He speaks into an intercom.rnBill Clinton: Arc there any more appointmentsrntoday?rnVoice from the intercom: There is justrnone more. The park ranger in charge ofrnthe investigation into poor Vince Foster’srnsuicide would like to make his reportrnto you.rnBC, grimaces, but responds pohtely: Sendrnhim right in, please. From a door, stagernright, emerges a middle-aged man withrnslumping shoulders, wearing the uniformrnof a U.S. Park Ranger and a worn raincoat.rnHe looks confused as he enters, thenrnsees the President and brightens up.rnPark Ranger: Oh, Mr. President, therernvou arc. So good of vou to meet withrnme, Sir.rnBC: Not at all, Park Ranger. I’m happyrnto see you.rnPR, shaking hands: This is a real pleasure.rnSir.rnBC, looking at his watch: This will onlyrntake a few minutes, won’t it. ParkrnRanger?rnPR: Oh, yes. I think so, Sir.rnBC, beckoning to a chair in front of hisrndesk: Please make yourself comfortable.rnPR, sitting down: Thank you, Mr. President.rnIt’s quite an honor to meet vou.rnSir. I am afraid I am very nervous. Sir.rnCould I ask you a favor? Would yournmind if I smoked a cigar while we talked,rnSir? It would help mc concentrate.rnBC: Well, technically the Oval Office isrna “smoke-free zone,” but I guess whatrnthe First Lady doesn’t know won’t hurtrnme. Will it. Park Ranger? As they bothrnlaugh, the ranger takes out a cheap cigarrnand lights it.rnPR: No, Sir. I don’t suppose it will. Although,rnto speak frankly, smoking lostrnme my last job. I used to work for thernLos Angeles Police Department, for 20rnyears, Sir, but I was let go for violatingrnthe “smoke-free zones” too many times.rnSo I am rather sensitive on the point.rnAnd vou mentioned your wife. Sir. Beforernwe begin, I want to say one thing.rnMy wife thinks your wife is sensational.rnThe First Lady can do no wrong in herrneyes. She is going to be tickled pink thatrnI got to meet you. Suddenly looks embarrassed.rnAnd you are no small potatoesrnyourself, Sir, if I may say so.rnBC, smding benevolently: Thank you,rnRanger. Very kind of you. Eh, could wernget down to business?rnPR: Why, of course. Sir, I don’t mean torntake up much of your time. Takes out arnpocket notebook and stares at it, then looksrnup nervously.rnBC: Are there any problems. Ranger?rnPR: Oh no, Sir. Nothing serious, that is.rnIt’s just that I have a mind that is botheredrnby little details, and I write themrndown in my notebook. If I could just gornover a few of them with you, Sir?rnBC: Certainly, Ranger.rnPR: For instance, Mr. President, there isrnthe matter of the fingerprints on the suicidernnote, the one Mr. Foster ripped uprnand threw away. Sir.rnBC: What fingerprints?rnPR: Exactly the point. Sir. I have triedrnagain and again to rip up a piece of paperrnand leave no fingerprints on the pieces,rnbut I just can’t do it. Mr. Foster rippedrnup his suicide note into more than 20rnpieces, and the FBI found no fingerprintsrnon it. I just can’t figure it out.rnSir.rnBC, smiling: I believe I can help yournthere. Park Ranger. I remember thatrnback in Arkansas Vince often helped dryrnthe dishes after he had finished workingrnon the finances with the First Lady. Myrntheory is that he had just finished dryingrnthe dishes when those awful Wall StreetrnJournal editorials finally got to him andrnhe wrote down his intentions and thenrnripped up the note, still wearing the rubberrngloves he wore to do the di.shes. Thatrnwould explain the lack of fingerprints,rnwouldn’t it. Ranger?rnPR: Yes, it would. Sir. That would explainrnit well enough. Tell mc. Sir, didrnyou help with the dishes back inrnArkansas?rnBC, chuckling: To tell the truth, Ranger,rnIVe never been very good with figuresrnand my evenings were pretty busy, evenrnback then.rnPR: Of course. Sir. I understand.rnBC: Is that all, Ranger?rnPR:Yes, it is. I believe so. Sir. Looksrnback at his notebook. Oh, yes, Mr. President.rnThere is one little matter. Thernpowder burns, Sir.rnBC: Powder burns. Ranger?rnPR: Yes, Sir. There were no powderrnburns on Mr. Foster’s face or clothing. 1rnjust can’t figure out how he did it. Sir. Arnman committing suicide usually puts therngun right up to his face or even inside hisrnmouth. Sir, I’m having a problem imaginingrnhow he did it. Holds his hand atrnfull length away from his face and wagsrnhis thumb vigorously. You don’t usuallyrnhold the gun so far away that there are nornpowder burns. In fact, I don’t know howrnyou can do it.rnBC: What are you suggesting. ParkrnRanger?rnPR, looking baffled: Suggesting, Sir? I’mrnnot suggesting anything, Sir. I am justrnhaving some problems figuring out exactlyrnhow he did it.rnBC, looking impatiently at some papersrnon his desk: Is there anything else. ParkrnRanger?rnPR: Oh no. Sir. I don’t believe so. Sir.rnPages through his notebook as he speaks.rnOh yes, Mr. President, there is one morernthing. The position of the gun. Sir.rnWhen Mr. Foster was found. Sir, therngun was in his hand with his fingersrntightly wrapped around the grip. Normallyrnthe force of the explosion willrnknock the gun right out of a suicide’srnhand. It’s all very puzzling. Sir.rnBC: Really, Park Ranger, I would like tornhear more of your interesting speculations,rnbut I am expecting an importantrnphone call from, er, Boris Yeltsin. I hopernthat ou will excuse me.rnPR: Why, of course, Mr. President. I’mrnjust grateful you could spare me thisrnmuch time. Gets up and walks to therndoor. As he reaches the door, the Presidentrnspeaks to him and he turns around.rnBC: Before you leave. Park Ranger, Irnhave a little question for you.rnPR: For me. Sir?rnBC: Yes. What did you say your firstrnname was?rnPR: Oh, Sir, nobody calls me that butrnmy wife. Sir. Just call mc Park RangerrnColumbo.rnBC: Park Ranger Columbo, you mentionedrnthat you used to work for thernLAPD. I didn’t realize that they had arnParks Division.rnPR: Oh no. Sir, they don’t. I used tornwork in Homicide, Sir. I was a lieutenantrnin the Homicide Division. Well, I’ll justrnleave you alone now, Mr. President. Andrnthank you again for your time. Exitsrnstage right through the door by which hernentered. When Columbo is gone, the Presidentrnstares after him, and what he hasrnheard begins to sink in. He presses thernJULY 1994/43rnrnrn