A Short Story by Ernie Whitenack
Copyright © Ernest N. Whitenack 2018
All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored
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Scott managed to get three hours of work before the buzzer on his phone
“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 of 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.”
Shortly after lunch Scott put in calls to Frank Gray and Abe Müller,
with an invitation for dinner.
“Frank, I’ll call you with a date and time. Come about
an hour-and a half early. We’ll have a couple of drinks and I’ll
go over the capture plans with you. It’s important you know where
we want you located for your maximum viewing and safety. Also, when
you can move into Abby’s house. I expect to hear from Harry today
about the next meeting. I’ll talk to him about you being at the
capture. I don’t think it will be a hard sell. He knows of your
“Thanks Scott. It means a lot to me. Being in on a big international
story like this, and with a scoop, will be great for the business. It
means a lot of prestige in the news game.”
Before getting back to work Scott immediately called his wife and asked
her to think about a day for Abe and Frank to come to dinner. He worked
straight through until four-thirty to finish several briefs, straightened
his desk and filled a small matt-finish poker for the walk home. As he
closed his briefcase the phone rang and his secretary immediately announced
the FBI is calling.
“Scott, Harry here. I just heard from the Albany office. Smyth
made four calls today; one to Montreal, two to New York City and one
to Ithaca. He’s recruiting help for his visit with Abby. Smyth
told them the same date Abby told you. I have little doubt there is
skullduggery on his mind, and it doesn’t look good for Abby. Also,
the State Police Commissioner called. He has a squad of eight highly
trained troopers. They are experts in military tactics and hostage situations.
He wants to send them to the meeting. I’ve called the meeting
for tomorrow at 1P.M. No sense in putting it off. If needed, alterations
can be made if the situation changes any. Allow four or five-hours for
“OK Harry, I’ll be there. Oh yes, Frank, since he helped
us with some inquiries, asked about the case and suggested it will be
good for business If he can be on hand and get a scoop with international
"Well, I’ll have to think on that one. We can discuss it
tomorrow after the meeting.” Harry responded with trepidation
in his voice.”
On the walk home, Scott contemplated Frank being at Abby’s and
what Harry will have to say about it.
As usually, the boys met him at the door followed shortly by Nancy. After
incessant questions from the boys and all hugs and kisses subsided, Scott
settled on a stool in the kitchen with Scotch in one hand and pipe in
the other to marvel at Nancy’s dexterity at cooking and her beauty
that seems to never change.
With the boys finally quieted down and in bed, Scott and Nancy settled
on the large leather sofa with cognac listening to Beegie Adair’s
soft jazz rendition of Night and Day on the HiFi.
“Nancy, have you decided on a day to have Abe and Frank over?”
“I guess any time is OK. We don’t have much going on socially
right now. How about tomorrow?”
“Not tomorrow. I have a lot going on and can’t really
predict when I will be home. Let’s make it day after tomorrow.”
“Fine with me,” Nancy said as she reached for the decanter
of Cognac on the coffee table and Scott lit his pipe.
“Great piano isn’t it?” Scott commented through
a cloud of smoke.
First thing at the office, Scott called Abe and Frank to confirm dinner
at seven tomorrow. Abe’s voice showed excitement about seeing the
boys again and Frank simply said, “OK pal, I’ll be there at
five-thirty and you can bring me current on the plan for Smyth’s
capture and what you want me to do.”
“If the FBI approves you being there,” Scott added. “I’ll
let you know after the meeting.”
As Scott entered the large conference room at FBI headquarters, he was
surprised to see Mic Mitchell in attendance and found a seat next to him.
“I didn’t think I would find you here, Mic. After all
that has been done to protect you, they can’t possibly subject
you to the dangers of the raid. I’ll have a talk with the Director.”
“I don’t know what I’m here for, Mr. Wadsworth.
My minders just brought me here after Lunch without a word.” Mic
The meeting at the FBI started promptly at one-o’clock. Harry
introduced each attendee, except Mic, and then turned to the large map
of Abby’s property. He pointed out each group’s assigned area
and then went into detail regarding timing and movement. The meeting lasted
two-hours and there were few questions. As they dispersed, each man took
a smaller map, detailing positions and movements, from a pile at the door.
Scott and Mic remained seated until other completely left.
“Now to you Mitchell, Harry said. By the time Smyth is in custody,
the property will be ablaze with lights. You will be hidden, for safety,
near the front door, with your two guards, to make an identification
of Smyth. This is necessary because he has seldom been seen without
a disguise. You will sign an affidavit swearing the man taken in custody
is Smyth. The affidavit may or may not be used at his trial. You will
not have to appear.”
Scott stood and said, “Now, hold on a minute, Harry. Speaking
as Mic’s attorney, I must object to this activity. You haven’t
asked him if he is willing to participate in this raid. You have assumed
so and almost dictated what he must do. Mic is a free man under the
protection of the US government. After everything that has been done
to protect him from Ryan, you now want him to endanger himself without
“I see your point, Scott. Knowing the importance of an identification
affidavit, I guess I got a bit eager to have it. Mic is the only one
beside Abby and my agents to see him, and he could have been disguised
when he met Abby at the Albany library. I’m sorry if I offended
you Mic. I’m more used to giving orders than asking.”
Mic quickly stood and replied, “Mr. Wadsworth, Mr. Malison,
I’ve sat here being attentive to this plan and to the questions
and answers. I know the plan as well as anyone, and the dangers. I’m
very willing to participate and sign that affidavit. Don’t think
I don’t appreciate your concerns and interest in my safety."
“Mr. Wadsworth, I intend to stay in this country, leave the
gray past behind, get a job and become a citizen. I will consider it
a privilege to assist in the conviction of this international crook
and murderer. I’ll testify if needed. I know a lot about Smyth’s
activities. By the way, whoever Smyth has contracted to be with him
at Mr. Abby’s house, and you can be sure there will be there,
will be concealed outside waiting for a signal to burst in if necessary.
Smyth normally has them in place a half-hour or an hour before hand.
If you can, neutralize their presence as quickly as possible.”
Both men expressed sincere gratitude for Mitchell’s input.
“When the time comes for your application for citizenship, The
FBI, and I personally, will certainly sponsor you. If you stay out of
trouble, that is.
“Don’t worry about that. I’ve seen the other side
of the coin since knowing Mr. Wadsworth; the good side I have never
seen in my life before. That’s my aspiration from now on.”
Scott and Mic stopped in the coffee shop off the lobby of the Federal
Building. The agent bodyguards took a booth behind them.
As they sipped coffee and talked about Mic’s part in the capture
plan, Scott interrupted and asked, “Mic, what kind of work are you
“Well, I have several years’ experience, on and off, at
plumbing. I’d like to do that if I can find a job.”
“I have a client who owns a large plumbing and steam-fitting
company in South Boston. I’ll talk to him about it.”
Mic’s eyes went wide and he stammered, “I don’t
know what to say other than thank you. I’ve been on my own, scheming
for existents and dodging trouble for so long it’s hard to believe
anyone cares about me. Why do you”
“You are a human being, to start with, and you are obviously
very intelligent. When you drop the facade of a street punk and finagler,
you are a young gentleman. I saw that side of you the evening you had
dinner with Nancy and me. It seemed more natural for you than being
a punk. I saw your helpless side at the Cambridge Arms when Ryan’s
men tried to abduct you. You are well worth helping. Your declaration
of hopes and ambition earlier today proved that to me.”
Mic, his eyes being diverted to the table, slowly raised his head
to look at Scott, his eyes red and watery, “My Da used to bring
tears to my eyes back in England by cuffing my ears several times a
day. This feeling of gratitude and friendship is a first for me. Thank
you for this moment of great happiness.”
Scott stopped at his office on the way home and found a large black
envelope on his desk; no address label or return address. Out of curiosity,
he opened it to find a typewritten note saying, “I want Mitchell.
He is holding out on me. I have questions. You let him go or you will
be sorry. I know a lot about you and I can find you or your family if
Scott immediately called Harry Mallison’s private line and told
him about the note, stating it has to be from Lucky Ryan.
“Don’t worry about a thing, Scott. I’ll have your
home under surveillance within twenty-minutes. Put the note I your safe;
we can now add extortion to Ryan’s charges. If you still have
that “45”, I want you to start carrying it. Michell is well
covered. I’ll talk to Dick Taranto to get an unmarked BPD patrol
car in your neighborhood for added safety.”
“Thanks Harry. Scott responded.
“I’ll be glad when the Smyth case is over, Harry said,
and the bureau can concentrate on Ryan. He’s due for a long stretch
in prison. I think he can be prosecuted federally and end up in a federal
prison without parole. Extorsion and international smuggling pull long
sentences. And, who knows what else we will find out to add to those
The next day was routine for Scott other than a call from BPD Chief Taranto
informing him that two unmarked patrols will be circling his home and
the surrounding two blocks. That, and the FBI surveillance, will establish
continuous safety for his family. He left a little early in order to help
his wife prepare for dinner with Abe Müller and Frank Gray.
That evening Frank arrived promptly at five-thirty and sat on the couch
with Scott to go over the plan to apprehend Smyth. After pouring a couple
of Scotches and unfolding the map of Abby’s property, Scott began
to explain the plan.
“You can see that Abby’s property is, for all intent and
purpose, a square. It is four acers and sets back from the road about
one-hundred-fifty yards. His house sets about in the middle of the property
and has thirty feet of lawn and garden on each side. The rest is woods,
and a river is his rear property line. It is expected that Smyth will
have men hidden in the woods but close enough to observe the house should
Smyth signal for help.
The first step of the operation is to get agents into the woods early
and neutralize the threat imposed by Smyth’s hooligans. You and
I, and three special state police, will be hidden in the house long
before the meeting time in case Smyth gives Abby any trouble. The rest
of the state police, a squad trained in invasion and rescue tactics,
will be stationed for easy access to the rear and front doors, as will
be the FBI agents who earlier grabbed Smyth’s men in the woods.
Those in the rear will stop Smyth should he try escaping that way.
When Smyth arrives, Abby will insist on seeing the pipe before presenting
the money. He will then hand the pipe back to Smyth and go to his vault
in the cellar for the money. On the way he will flip a recently installed
switch which will turn on a blue signal-light above the front door and
remain in the locked room containing the vault. Upon the signal, the
agents and police will enter the front and grab Smyth and the pipe.
When we hear the commotion of the police coming in, we will join them
as a further distraction for Smyth. You will have a first-hand seat
for the arrest procedure and an opportunity to interview Abby, if he
is willing. Any questions?”
“None. You explained it adequately. Frank said. You will let
me know when and how we will go to Abby’s?”
“Yes, I’ll call you. I know we will be riding with the
FBI; the time has not been set.”
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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
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