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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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.”
Smyth, from his room at the Regal Hotel, picked up the phone and dialed
Abby’s number. The phone rang several times and Smyth was about
to hang up when a puffing Harlan Abby answered.
“I was about to give up on you and hang up,”
Smyth said angerly.
“I just came in the door and ran to the phone. What is it you
“What do I want? You know! Are you going to have the money for
me? Time is up day-after-tomorrow, you know.” Said Smyth with
even more anger in his voice.
“Yes, I’ll have it. My buyer is coming tomorrow and I will
put it in my vault immediately after he leaves.”
“In that case, let’s move this up one day and I’ll
see you tomorrow night.”
“That is impossible, I am busy elsewhere and can’t change
the appointment.” Abby said while hoping Smyth doesn’t hear
the tremble in his voice.
“Ok, OK. Then I’ll be at your home at eight-thirty in the
evening day after tomorrow. Let’s not have any slip-ups.”
“Fine, then. I’ll be expecting you. Good-by.”
Smyth hung up and turned to the four men seated around his room. “You
heard that, so I want you at Abby’s house as soon as possible
after the sun goes down. Hide in the woods just as deep as to give you
cover but can still see the front room windows. I’ll give you
a signal when I want you to bust in; probably when Abby gets up the
stairs from his vault. I’ll do something that is obvious –
like accidently knock over a lamp or step in front of a window. You
will know what when you see the signal.”
As soon as Abby calmed down, he called Scotts private number and the service
immediately transferred the call to Scott’s home. Scott was just
ushering Abe and Frank to the dining room as the phone rang.
“This is Scott Wadsworth. Who is calling Please?”
“It’s Harlan Abby. Sorry if I’ve interrupted
you, but I just heard from Smyth.”
“No interruption Harlan. Glad you are calling.
What news do you have?”
“Smyth is coming here day after tomorrow at eight-thirty
in the evening. He is bringing the pipe.”
“Wonderful, Scott exclaimed. The plan is all set.
I’ll call you tomorrow morning and go over it with you. I assume
the FBI men have installed the light above your door and the switch
in your vault room”
“Yes, and we tested it – works perfectly.”
“OK, Harlan, Talk to you in the morning. I have
to call the FBI Chief now.”
Scott said nothing about the call during dinner, but as
soon as the boys were in bed, he went do his den and placed a call to
Harry Malison while Nancy entertained Abe and Frank with Brandy, music
and stories of the boy’s antics.
He related everything Abby said before Malison replied, “Great I’ll
be contacting all police and agents involved with hopes of getting them
all together. There will probably be reams of reports waiting for me from
the Albany office about Smyths call to Abby. Thanks for giving me a heads-up.
I’ll talk to you before noon tomorrow.”
Scott replied, “OK Harry. By the way, you never gave me an answer
about Frank being with me. He is here tonight and I would like to give
him an answer.”
“Oh yes, I guess it’s all right. Frank is
an intelligent man with military experience, and I’m sure you
won’t let anything happen to him.”
“Thanks, Harry. He will be delighted.”
Scott joined his guests and they had a pleasant evening,
Especially Abe who couldn’t stop mentioning his joy at seeing the
boys, and how much they liked the gifts from Germany. Scott made a mental
note to have more contact with Abe. Just before they departed, Scott took
Frank aside and gave him the good news from the FBI.
The next day, just before eleven A.M., Malison called
Scott. “All the wiretap reports from Albany confirm exactly what
Abby told you. My prime concern now is the four guys Smyth has hired.
It is feasible they will not immediately go into Abby’s home but
will be available should Smyth need them. Considering this, they will
have to be neutralized early on”
“I agree totally, Harry. The state cops, with their
special training, can certainly handle that. There are eight of them
to Smyth’s four, so it should not be a problem to search them
out and apprehend them. When do you think your next meeting will be
to finalize everyone’s plan of action; early tomorrow or just
before leaving for Abby’s?”
“Early afternoon; say one-thirty” Harry replied.
“That way the state troopers can get there early enough to scout
the woods and find positions. They will have to be deep enough for cover
but close enough to quickly move when Smyth’s goons arrive.”
Scott made a note to clear all appointments for tomorrow
afternoon, Called Harlan Abby, as promised, and went over as much of
the plan as he knew. He stressed that things could change and not to
panic. “There are enough highly trained men on the case to handle
Scott started to thumb-through reminder notes scattered
across his desk and quickly came across one to call Bill Swenson at Swenson’s
Plumbing Service, after checking his Rolodex, dialed the number.
“Hello Bill. Scott Wadsworth calling.”
“Scott! How long has it been? Seems like years.”
“Come on, Bill. Be kind. You know it’s only
been a couple of months since we had lunch at the Red Coach Grill.”
“You’re right pal. What can I do for you?
Is your sink stopped-up?” Swenson asked followed by a booming
“Nothing like that. Fact is, I have a client who
is trying to turn his life around and needs a job. At one time he worked
with his father, a master plumber. For years, he has jobbed himself
out on occasion to whomever needed an extra plumber. I immediately thought
“Do you think he can keep his nose clean, Scott?”
“Positively! In the short time I’ve known
him, I see a vast change in attitude. I’m as sure as I can be
that he is sincere.”
“That’s good enough for me. Have him come
around with a note from you and we will do some testing and see just
what he knows. If he can hack it, I’ll put him on as an apprentice
and let him work his way up. As you know, we do large building and new
construction plumbing. It’s a far cry from household work. Perhaps
some of the work he has done can shorten the apprenticeship and get
him unionized faster. I’ll take a personal interest in him, moving
him along as fast as I can.”
“What more can I ask? You’re a good man,
Bill. I’ll talk to him soon and get back to you. There is no big
rush on this. Oh yes, his name is Michael Mitchell.”
Scott immediately dialed Mitchell’s hotel but he
was not in. He told the hotel operator to Please leave a message for Mister
Mitchell to call Scott Wadsworth.
At one-fifteen Scott entered the conference room at FBI
headquarters and immediately spotted Mitchell standing by the windows
looking out on State Street, and walked up to him. “Oh! Mister
Wadsworth. I received your message to call but you just left for this
Scott told Mitchell of his call to Swenson Plumbing Services,
and the positive results. “As soon as this operation is over and
Ryan is in custody also, I’ll give you a letter of introduction.
Swenson said you can drop in any time.”
Mitchell grabbed Scott’s hand, shaking it aggressively, and with
a huge smile said, “How can I ever thank you! I won’t let
you down, sir. Your kindness gives me a future.” Mitchell’s
expression turned from total joy to one of seriousness as he finished
talking and Scott thought Mitchell was about to shed a tear or two.
“You just stick to it and succeed and I’ll
be happy,” Scott replied just as the FBI chief loudly asked those
in the room to find a chair.
The meeting went without a hitch and lasted just over an
hour; at which time all were issued a newly released short range transceiver
for total communication during the raid. The State Police will leave in
time to get to Abby’s just at sunset. All others will leave from
FBI headquarters at six-thirty P.M. and enter Abby’s property immediately
after Smyth goes in.
As they waited for a down elevator, Scott asked Mitchell
“What are your plans now?”.
“Nothing special. Why do you ask?”
“I thought you might come to the office while I
take care of a few things and then go to Jake Wirth’s for an early
dinner.” Scott suggested.
“Sounds good to me.” Mitchell answered.
As they approached Jake Wirth’s restaurant, Abe
Müller walked toward them.
“Scott, my boy, what a pleasant coincidence. Are
you going to Jake’s?”
“Yes, looks like you are two. Let me introduce
Michael Mitchell. Mic, this is Abe Müller, an old friend of mine.”
During dinner, Mitchell and Abe got on like old friends, much to Scotts
At six-thirty P.M. sharp, a caravan of three cars pulled
away from the FBI’s building. An agent driver,
Scott, Frank Gray, Michael Mitchell and Karl von Ropp of Interpol settled
in the last car. Soon, and for just an instant, the issued radio hissed
before the radio checks started. All units checked in OK before everyone
settled in for the ride to South Hancock and Harlan Abby. The lead car’s
blue flashing lights came on as soon as they left Boston and all three
cars increased speed. On the way, Scott thought of Abby, fearing he might
panic before or during the raid.
Quill-Hammer Village, South Hancock:
The Special Troops of the State Police took up positions in the woods,
three on each side of the driveway and two at the rear of the house; the
sergeant in charge taking cover behind a large tree that gave him a clear
view of the driveway in both directions. Just at dusk he heard voices
coming from the street end of the driveway. Shortly, he saw four men walking
past him. They split, two on each side of the drive and entered the woods.
All radios buzzed briefly and the sergeant said, “attention, bogy
alert – bogy alert,” while moving quickly toward the house
and parallel to the drive. He soon spotted the other troopers and quietly
keyed the radio again, “Stay sharp and report when you have a bogy
Thoughtfully, or out of fear, Abby began turning lights on in every
room of the ground floor. At the onset of darkness, the light streaked
across the grass and gently light the edge of the woods, making it easier
for the troopers to spot their men silhouetted against the window light.
“Number one spotted,” came through the radio followed
briefly by reports of numbers four, two and three. And then, “None
at rear; moving to sides.”
“OK, take them as quietly as possible. Move to the driveway
and proceed to the street. Out.”
“Van moving in,” was heard by all as they walked the prisoners
down the drive and into the police van.
The long-range radio in the three FBI cars came alive with the news
of the eventless capture of the Smyth’s four hired men, and Scott
turned to Karl von Ropp saying, “Phase one out of the way. The
rest should go just as smoothly.”
Just before eight o’clock, Scotts car traveled up the driveway
and the four men went in the house.
“I’m very glad to see you all,” said Abby after
introductions; the super-sized full-bent billiard resting on his chin
wobbling as he spoke. “This is the door to the dining room. I
have set up a large privacy screen just inside the door where you can
hide in case Smyth insists in looking. The door locks from the dining
room side, but it is doubtful he will want to open it. In case he insists,
are you armed?”
“Both Inspector von Ropp and I are armed. Don’t worry
about a thing.” Scott replied. “Do you have any questions
about exactly what you are to do”
“No questions. I’ve been rehearsing the actions you outlined.
I’ll be OK.?”
“I’m happy to hear that, Harlan. Have you heard anything
from Lucky Ryan lately?”
“Oh yes. He has called me a couple of times about the gourd
pipe. I keep telling him I’m not interested in it and don’t
know if Smyth has a buyer or not. I guess he has given up. He hasn’t
called me in weeks.”
Suddenly, they could hear the sound of a car coming up the gravel drive.
Scott and his party stepped into the dining room and locked the door.
Mitchell stepped behind the screen and sat while Scott and von Ropp stood
as close to the door as possible in hopes of hearing what transpires in
the living room. Scott wished he knew the FBI were in place and waiting
for Abby’s signal to enter the house.
The doorbell rang and Scott heard Smyth complimenting Abby on his
lovely home. After a few pleasantries, Smyth is heard saying. “Ok
Mr. Abby, lets get down to business. Do you have the money?”
“Yes, I have, in my vault. May I see the pipe?”
Smyth produced the Teak box from a shoulder bag and opened it. Abby
looked in and observed the gourd nestled in red velvet. He thought to
himself it could be just another piece of discarded Summer Squash if it
weren’t for its historical significance.
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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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