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 Thirteen

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 want?”
“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 any situation.”

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 laugh.

“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 of you.”

“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 meeting.”

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 delight.

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 spotted.”

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.

Chapters:  Ch 1 | Ch 2 | Ch 3 | Ch 4 | Ch 5 | Ch 6 | Ch 7 | Ch 8 | Ch 9 | Ch 10 | Ch 11Ch 12Ch 13Ch 14

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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