A Short Story by Ernie Whitenack

Copyright © Ernest N. Whitenack 2018
All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored in, or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, printing, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.

Chapter Eleven

“I don’t want to meet the same fate. Not a pipe in the world, regardless of its significance, is worth my life. Can you get me out of this, please?” Abby pleaded.
“Now don’t you panic, Scott admonished. Between the police and FBI, you will be perfectly safe. Tell Smyth you can get the money but it will take an extra day. Try to make an appointment with him at your home a couple of days after that. We need time to work out a capture strategy while keeping you safe at the same time. There will be some security assigned to you first thing in the morning. You will probably see some strangers on your property. They will be either police or FBI; perhaps both. Eventually, they will make themselves known to you. Call me anytime if you need to, OK?”
“Yes, I am much relieved. Thank you. Please keep me informed.”
Scott, is elated at the prospect of turning Smyth over to Karl von Ropp and Interpol, and the pipe to Jodh Sing. Immediately, Scott called Harry Malison and told him what has transpired.
“I’ll get on it immediately with the police. Please call Dick Taranto, tell him what is going on and I might need some special cops. Have him meet me at FBI headquarters as soon as he can tonight. I’m going in immediately. You can come if you wish or we can talk in the morning. I’ll try to contact Karl von Ropp and Jodh Sing at their hotel and give them the news. They are becoming very impatient. I don’t think they understand what we are attempting. Interpol would be a lot more forward in their actions against Smyth and worry about the pipe later.”

“I made arrangements to take Nancy and Mic Mitchell to dinner this evening. I feel I should be at the meeting but hate to disappoint Nancy. It has been quite a while since we’ve been out, and I’m sure Mic needs a bit of socializing. He must be getting tired of the hotel and your agents being at his side. I would rather see you in the morning unless you think it essential I be there tonight.”

“Not at all Scott. Try to be here about seven-thirty tomorrow morning. I will fill you in then. Please take time to call Chief Taranto though. I’ve got to hustle to get the message to my guys as well as contact von Ropp and Jodh Singh. See you tomorrow.”

The Parker House dining room wasn’t very crowded and it was easy to talk. Mitchel, dressed in a conservative suit, white shirt and silver-gray tie seemed transformed into the perfect gentleman. Conversation flowed smoothly and Scott was surprised that Mic was so knowledgeable and with a fine command of the English language. He was a total turn-around from the street hustler façade he projected earlier.

As the conversation slowed, Mic asked, “Any new developments in the pipe case, Mr. Wadsworth?”
“Yes, as a mater of fact. There is a meeting tonight at FBI headquarters to plan the apprehension of Smyth and the recovery of the pipe. If Ryan were more involved, he could be included in the arrest. Unfortunately, he isn’t but he is next in line if Interpol and the FBI can figure a way. They are determined to get him off your back and behind bars.”

“That’s encouraging. I’m anxious to resume my life,” Mic said. “There is something you and they should know. Smyth has a lot of underworld contacts all over the world that he contracts with for help and protection. Those in the arrest team should know that several of them will be in the shadows, so to speak, whenever Smyth consummates a deal and large amounts of cash are involved. The team should be large and attempt to neutralize Smyth’s bodyguards before taking him into custody. Otherwise, the team will be in for a gun battle.”

“Very interesting, Mic, and extremely helpful. I’ll pass that on to Director Malison in the morning. You’ve been very helpful and cooperative. It is appreciated and steps will be taken to get your life back and find some employment for you; but only if that is what you want. However, we can discuss that later.”
In the morning Scott walked to FBI headquarters while puffing DPE in a large bent apple. He mulled over the information Mitchell gave him and imagining what could happen should an all-out fire fight be necessary to get to Smyth, and how to protect Abby. He related all of this to Malison over morning coffee.

“I’m concerned too but all we can do is set up a plan and execute it without a hitch. Abby will have to take part by signaling somehow and the get to the safest place in his house. I understand he has a concealed vault where he keeps his pipe collection and some art pieces. If he can get there he will be out of harms way. I will have to call him soon and set it up”

“Sounds good to me,” Scott said. “It will be natural for him to keep such a large amount of money in that vault. The vault is in the cellar. When he goes to get the money, he could do something with the cellar lights as a signal and then scurry into the vault. Of course, whatever backup Smyth has will have to be negated at that point. What have you and Dick Taranto come up with for an attack force?”

“We thought about the South Hancock police but they just don’t have enough men with the kind of experience needed and neither does the county Sheriff. Dick feels that Hancock is too far out of his jurisdiction to dedicate any men to it. Dick and Karl von Ropp have a meeting with the State Police Commissioner this morning to hopefully get an elite squad of troopers to make up the remainder of the team. Dick has a request letter from me which will help. We should have an answer today – don’t see how he can refuse. I also have two men looking over Abby’s property and taking measurements today. It will help in positioning our team and give an indication where Smyth’s guys might be secreted.”

Scott quickly ran all of this through his mind looking for possible faults. “It might be wise to have a couple of men in Abby’s house for some close protection for Abby. Smyth might just decide he will take the money and keep the pipe, which will mean harming Abby. Interpol suspects him of getting paid to steal the pipe for Alfred Kunz from Augsburg Austria and them murder him to sell it himself.”

“You have a point, Scott. I’ll ask for volunteers for the inside work.”

“You have me. I convinced Abby to help us out with this. I’d like to make sure he doesn’t get hurt because if it.”

“Are you sure? I don’t want to explain to Nancy if you get shot or knifed – never mined killed.”

“I can still take care of myself, Harry, so don’t worry,” Scott answered.

“If you insist, have it your own way. You always seem to come out on top in these things. I remember vividly how crucial you were in that Nazi espionage case and the rescue of Abe Müller. That encounter with the SS Lieutenant in front of your house was something. It is still talked about, by those who were around then, both FBI and police. This office has a couple of young, tough agents I will hook you up with a couple of days before we go to Abby’s.

“Good, thanks. Now, tell me particulars of last night’s meeting.”

“I have about covered it for now. I have heavy surveillance on Smyth and have asked Albany for immediate reports about anything heard on the phone taps that seems even slightly important, and in particular any conversations between Abby and Smyth. I will keep you up to date on this. In fact, it will be helpful if you take over communications with Abby. He seems to trust you and looks like he has put himself in your hands anyway.”

Scott smiled at Harry for a long couple of seconds and with a small chuckle said, “I’m glad I convinced you.”

“Oh, shut up, smart ass, and get the hell out of here. There will be another meeting. Make sure I can get you by phone.”

Scott got to his office by eight-thirty and was surprised by the silence. He normally arrives on the dot of nine, or a couple of minutes later and is met by the noise of typewriters and voices. As he entered his private office he flipped the wall light switch, and the phone rang as the lights went on and startled him.

“Scott, old buddy, in a bit early aren’t you,” Frank Gray’s voice boomed through the receiver.

“Just a bit,” Scott replied. “What can I do for you this morning, Frank?”

“I’m looking for news, pal. What’s happening with the pipe case? I haven’t heard a thing locally or from internationally news services. The last I heard from you was about the Indian and the Interpol guy coming and you wanting to know the poop on Smyth.”

“Well, Frank, it’s about to come to an end. The FBI, because of the case’s complexity and sensitivity along with the possibility of harm or death coming to some of the people, put a news block on it. However, I might be able to get you in on the end and an exclusive for you and Consolidated News Services. There is an element of danger and might include gun-fire.”

“Nothing new about gun-fire to me and you. We both faced a little in the first war, and you just before the last one with that bunch that grabbed Abe Müller. Count me in. By the way, how is Abe? He is getting up there in years. Is he well?”

“Seems to be,” Scott replied. “He recently went to Germany for a nostalgic vacation – said he had a great time. I’ve planned to have him to dinner but just haven’t been able to fit it in. He is very fond of my boys, you know, – brought them gifts from Germany and is waiting to deliver them personally. I’m glad you asked. I’ll have to check with Nancy for a date and call Abe today. Would you like to come?”

“Absolutely! I haven’t seen him, or Nancy, for quite a while. Give me a call, please.”

Scott hung up and opened his briefcase, removed some folders and an Ehrlich large apple. He stuffed it with Royal blend and fired it up before opening the first case folder.

Scott managed to get three hours of work before the buzzer on his phone sounded.

“Harlan Abby on line two, Scott. Can you take the call?”

“Yes, put him on.”

“Good morning Harlan. What can I do for you?”

“Nothing. I just wanted to let you know that Smyth called looking for a date to bring me the pipe. I told him there is a delay and I won’t have the money for another week. He was furious but calmed down when I insisted it was completely out of my hands and I am at the mercy if the buyer of my pipes.”

Scott checked the date and made a note; then said, “Good job Harlan. We’re well under way with a capture plan. This additional time will allow us to give the plan a couple of good reviews. Not only will this allow us time to iron out anything that needs it, but get it ingrained in our memories. It should go very smoothly and safely. Thanks for the call. I’ll be in touch soon and run through the plan with you.”

Chapters:  Ch 1 | Ch 2 | Ch 3 | Ch 4 | Ch 5 | Ch 6 | Ch 7 | Ch 8 | Ch 9 | Ch 10 | Ch 11Ch 12Ch 13

Ernie Whitenack was born in 1928 in Springfield, Illinois and moved to Massachusetts in the mid 1930's. He is a Korean War veteran, worked as a photographic illustrator for 43 years and is now retired.

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