A Short Story by Ernie Whitenack
Copyright © Ernest N. Whitenack 2017
All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored
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Carlson and Hoyle went back and sat down and just stared at Mitchell who
looked stunned and pale. He was sweating and wringing his hands.
“I don’t know anything about murders. What are you guys trying
to do to me? I’ve been trying to keep clean since I came to America.
I hustle darts, do some plumbing and a few favors. I’m even trying
to get in the union.”
“We told you, go willingly and a lot of this will probably be forgotten.
Why don’t you get packed and we can be on our way?”
“I’m already packed,” Mitchell said. “I’d
figured things with Ryan are getting too hot and decided to get away for
a while. I’ll have to cancel my rental car.”
“Good decision, Mic. Anything else you need can be taken care of
in Boston. You will be well cared for there.”
As the car pulled away from Mitchell’s building, another, holding
Ryan’s men, took its place. The two “heavies” came to
put more physical pressure on Mitchell regarding people interested in
When Lucky Ryan learned Mitchell wasn’t and his men related evidence
of his packing, he ranted, yelled and slammed things around his office.
His face became redder as his rampage increased.
“Find that weasel and bring him to me. Knock him around a bit,
if you must, and tie him up. I have to find out more about that pipe
and who else wants it beside me and Harlan Abby.”
About he same time in Albany, Gerald Smyth consulted his notes containing
information about Ryan and Abby. He decided Harlan J. Abby to be the safest
with whom to do business. His gut told him Lucky Ryan, being deeply into
smuggling and other crime activities, would no doubt want the pipe but
might pay him with a bullet rather than the million-plus he is asking.
He dialed the number in Hancock, Massachusetts and Abby answered after
In the cellar of the Royal Hotel, An FBI agent quickly flipped a switch
and he and an Albany detective put earphones on and listened, as a tape
recorder ran almost silently in the background.
“Harlan Abby here. How can I serve you?”
“Mr. Abby, this is Gerald Smyth, I believe Michael Mitchell
contacted you regarding me and a product I have for sale. I’m
just confirming that you are still interested.”
“Well,” Abby replied. “That depends on several things,
Mr. Smyth. First off, if I can afford the item and secondly, who else
will be bidding on it. Naturally I would want to see it first.”
“There is one other person interested, but considering his background
and present business practices, I am reluctant to do business with him.
Right now, you are the buyer of interest” Smyth said emphatically.
“When and where would you like to meet, Mr. Abby?”
Abby thought for several seconds and said, “If you are driving,
there is a rather isolated diner not far from Albany. It’s frequented
mostly by locals and truck drivers. The booths have high backs that
provide good privacy.”
“I am keeping a low profile in the US and don’t venture
out very far. Is it possible for you to come to Albany?”
“Yes, if necessary,” Abby replied reluctantly. “I
can meet you at the Washington Avenue branch of the Albany public Library.
There are private study rooms where we can talk, and it is just a short
cab ride for you. You name the day and time.”
“That sounds good, I’ll call you later today,” Smyth
said and hung up.
Abby’s heart beat rapidly and excitement welled at the thought
of obtaining the Calabash gourd pipe. Suddenly, Lucky Ryan popped into
his mind and he settled down. He knows how angry Ryan will be at not even
being allowed to bid on the pipe. And, that he can go to any means to
obtain it. This frightened him.
The following morning, Harry Malison got busy calling Karl Von Ropp
and Jodh Sing to bring the up to date. “We have Mic Mitchell in
a safe place here in Boston. He became very disenchanted and fearful
over his dealings with Lucky Ryan, and with Smyth because of the murder
associated with the pipe and it not bothering Smyth at all. Also, Albany
called last night and informed me Smyth phoned Harlan Abby to set-up
a meeting. We will know when and where soon. I’m hoping to hear
from Abby, if he cooperates as he promised."
"I think you both should be present at our first interrogation
of Mitchell – which should be this afternoon. Scott Wadsworth
will be there also. I’ll let you know the time.”
Jodh Sing came on the phone and asked, “Has anyone seen the
pipe, or even know where it is?”
“Not to our knowledge,” Malison replied. “We might
know about that when we talk to Mitchell. If Mr. Von Ropp has any questions,
put him on the phone.”
“I just wanted to inform you that I have a request into Home
Office-Interpol regarding Mitchell’s status with them. I can make
the arrest If he is wanted,” Von Ropp said.
“I can’t consider that right now. We need Mitchell’s
help with this case and he seems willing. If he gets even a hint that
arrest is eminent, he will tighten right up. I will be grateful if you
will be pleasant to him and not mention anything like arrest or any
There is hardly a word spoken as the FBI Town Car crosses the bridge
into Cambridge that afternoon. At the Cambridge Arms Hotel, Von Ropp and
Singh were waiting in the lobby expecting to travel somewhere to meet
with Mitchell and were highly surprised that Malison went directly to
the elevator and told the operator, “Ninth floor, please.”
The two guards outside room 903 examined everyone’s identification
before unlocking the door and allowing Malison’s entourage to enter.
“Well!” Mitchell said when he saw the four come in. “How
nice to see you all. I’ve been going stir-crazy cooped up in this
bloody room; however opulent and comfy it is. How about sending for
Scotch all around.”
Malison replied, “Ok Mic, you have your Scotch. Anyone want
I am forbid alcohol so I will have Coca-Cola,” Singh said as
Malison went to the door and gave the guard an order for room service.
“Now let’s get down to business, Mic.” Malison said
before introducing the men with him. “All of these men have questions
about your association with Smyth and the pipe. We need straight answers
to help us get Smyth, and perhaps bring Ryan to trial for racketeering,
or worse, and return the pipe to Mr. Singh and the university museum.
And last, but not least, to keep you safe. As a minor figure in this
case, either Ryan or Smyth can put you in a grave just to close your
mouth. This case is important enough to bring about a full FBI and Interpol
cooperative investigation that includes the New York and Massachusetts
state and local police. Scott Wadsworth is a respected Boston attorney
and a highly skillful counterespionage agent in two wars and noted crime
investigator. He is here to ensure your rights are not violated. To
sweeten this, there is a twenty-thousand-dollar reward for information
leading to the conviction of Smyth and the return of the pipe to Mr.
Singh. You could be eligible for this, plus other advantages for full
Mitchell liked the straight-forward attitude of Malison. He turned
to each in turn and looked each man straight in the eye; finally saying,
“I’m all yours gentlemen.”
Scott put his Scotch on a side table, stood, relit his pipe and turned
to Mitchell. “I know you have been told this but I personally
assure you there will be no mention of you in any reports and you will
not be prosecuted for any crimes, real or technical, associated with
this investigated. However, you will have to endure certain lifestyle
changes. You will be given a new identity and be required to change
your residence to elsewhere in the country or in another country. Now
remember, all this depends on Smyth being convicted of the murder and
theft and the pipe being returned to Singh. We will talk more on this
when the time comes. I will represent you on all issues of this case.”
Mic sat motionless other than lifting his glass of Scotch. He heaved
a large sigh, downed the last of his drink and lit a cigarette. “All
right gents let’s get at it. I’m as anxious to get these
two guys as are you. I know the dangers and was packing to get out of
New York when the agents came calling.”
The first question came from Von Ropp. “Mr. Mitchell, in your
past contacts with Smyth, can you think of any instance where a murder
occurred during, just before or after one of his thefts?”
“Now, first off, I never participated in any crimes with Smyth.
That stuff is too big, and the penalties to strong for me. Anything
I say on this will be what I heard or read about in the news, not first
Mic went on to relate the murder of an art dealer during a robbery and
a couple of seamen on a freighter the day before it was to haul very valuable
antiques from Rotterdam to somewhere in America. That the street talk
indicated that both were Smyth’s jobs. The next question centered
the names and dates.
Mitchell’s head ached and he downed several more ounces of Scotch
during the following four hours of questions about Smyth and Ryan. He
was sweating when he finally stood and walked to the bathroom where he
doused his head with cold water and downed a couple of aspirin. He returned
eventually and sat again just as Scott rose and called a halt to the interrogation
for that day. He explained the mental strain Mic must be suffering after
four hours and they must consider his welfare and his ability to think
correctly under the strain.
Scott said as they were about to leave room 903, “I think I’ll
stay around for a while if Mr. Mitchell doesn’t mind. I want to
take him to dinner here at the hotel and learn about his personal life;
if that is all right with the FBI.”
“It’s OK by me, but the guards will have to be there too,
Malison said. I’ll set it up for two tables with the front desk
on the way out. It is a good idea, and on the FBI. Call the office when
you finished and they will send a car for you.”
“That’s very considerate of you Mr. Wadsworth. I don’t
have much to tell about myself,” Mitchell said. The dinner consisted
of broiled steak smothered in caramelized onions, baked potato and Cesar
salad. Mitchell washed his down with two scotches, while Scott preferred
red wine. The talk was amiable and Scott learned that Mitchell really
wasn’t the hard case he pretended to be; but rather the product
of a poor family and inadequate schooling in a bad neighborhood. Had
it not been for the game of darts and a plumber uncle, he would have,
more than likely, turned to crime and be sitting in some English jail
The Buzzer sounded at the front door of European Consolidated Imports
and a man was ushered to Lucky Ryan’s office.
“Hello Sal. How is everything going?” Ryan asked while
shaking the man’s hand across his desk. Sal Concetta owned, on
paper anyway, a trucking company that worked almost exclusively for
European Consolidated Imports and its clients. It is one of Ryan’s
holdings carefully hidden among many others.
“I have a job for you Sal. I need you to haul come antique furniture
to L.A. and pick up another of Spanish Colonel Furniture. Karl will
have the pick-up address and be careful of the Spanish. It’s about
three hundred years old and worth a fortune. Wrap it good and secure
it in the truck.” He said as he put a match to a large and deeply
colored Meerschaum pipe.
“You can count on me Mr. Ryan. I’ll put my most responsible
men on it. And by-the-way, I saw that runner or errand boy, whatever
you call him, Mic Mitchell in a hotel in Cambridge, Mass, the Cambridge
Arms, having dinner with another guy. Was wondering if you have him
on full time now.”
“You sure it was him, Sal? I’ve been trying to find that
bum. Do you know who he was with?”
“Never saw him before. He was well dressed, graying hair. They
were sitting so can’t tell you how tall he is.”
“Thanks Sal. There will be a bonus in the job for you It’s
a good piece of information – very timely.”
As soon as Concetta left the office Ryan called in his two guards and
told them, “Mitchell is in Cambridge at the Cambridge Arms. Get
up there and find out what I want to know. If he gets stubborn, get rid
of him. He is no use to me now.
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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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