And there the story collapses of its own terrible weight. In the comparative calm that followed Simpson's arrest, friends groped for anecdotes that might begin to explain how such an admired man could possibly become an accused killer. "He charmed his way out of any situation," says the former NBC Sports employee. "Two years ago, after the AFC Championship Game in Buffalo, the plane was loaded and sitting at the gate when word came over the speaker: 'We'll be leaving momentarily, but we have to wait because O.J. Simpson is running a little late.' " Who could be mad at him?
Assigned a story on Buffalo nightlife the week of that game, Simpson amazed his colleague by becoming part of it in a most demonstrative way: "There he was in the back of a white limousine, in the parking lot of a bar, doing it with some woman. I couldn't believe it! Right in the middle of the parking lot.... He was always in the bars, in the clubs. He loved the limelight, the highlife."
But another coworker remembers how gracious he was with fans. "Idiots would walk up to him in Buffalo, and he'd be drinking beer and eating wings," he says. "His hands would be greasy and his mouth would be full, and they'd ask him to sign something.... O.J. Simpson was Michael Jordan before Michael Jordan."
In short, he suffered everybody, more likely enjoyed them, in his fortunate life. He never lost his temper....
If we are to believe that the right man has been charged, we must then assign some extraordinary motive to the killings. We must make sense of it. And it's nearly impossible. Could O.J. have been in such financial trouble that the $24,000 monthly alimony and support had become, if not a motive for murder, a flashpoint in his relationship with Nicole? Was he anxious about his $400,000-a-year contract with NBC, which was to come up for renewal in 1995, or his $550,000-a-year deal with Hertz, which was to expire in 1997?
Sources say the arguments with Nicole were, in fact, often about money. And within the last year O.J. had told a close friend and coworker that he hoped Nicole would marry again so that he could be relieved of the alimony. But would he murder for money?
And if he wouldn't murder for money, would he do so out of some sense of aggrievement? What if this product of the San Francisco projects, part of whose charm was his lack of bitterness, saw a handsome young man tooling about in a white Ferrari, a car he had bought for his former wife? Would he succumb to a tremendous feeling of unfairness that until now he had been careful to damp? Would he murder then?
It's a tangle of suppositions, confounded by public knowledge of a man so upbeat that he signed his "suicide" note with "Peace and love" and put a smiley face inside the O of O.J. And the case against Simpson becomes even unlikelier when we consider that some of the reported evidence—the glove allegedly found at the scene, for example—could indicate premeditation. Could Simpson have plotted one or both of these murders, climbed into a plane and played out an alibi that had been arranged days before? And then could he have returned home, assumed a dissociative state and attended a visitation for the woman he murdered and then, with his children by his side, her funeral? Could he have done that? Could anyone?
Whatever circumstantial evidence the state has arrayed to prove that Simpson enacted this violence cannot possibly explain why these victims were murdered so brutally. Short of a confession, no reason can be assigned. To solve the why of it we must impute some enormous passion to the killer. To satisfy the state's case we must impute it to a man who not only seemed just like us but also seemed better—richer, more handsome, more popular, an overwhelming success who somehow entered a final, life-ruining rage.
That's a troubling idea. It might mean this could happen to anyone. Or at least to someone who loved a woman so much or so badly. The movie industry unreels on just such ideas. This will be the state's case, as articulated by the NFL player and friend who meant only to support Simpson, and it is the synopsis of many a poor plot: "He was obsessed with her. He loved her to death."