Case of the Riverville
A Short Story by Ernie Whitenack
Copyright © Ernest N. Whitenack 2019
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
“Chief, this is Dr. Scott. Glad I caught you still
there. I have some news. The technicians discovered a cleaver hidden pocket
in our Chandler’s Point corps’ wallet. From an ID folded in this pocked
we have determined the body to be of an ATF agent. The ID does not contain
a name, however. I thought you would want to know this information immediately.
A report will follow tomorrow.”
“Thanks Doc, that is certainly important. Can you lift any fingerprints
or is he too far gone”?
“We have applied a mild desiccate to his fingers to hasten drying.
If the swelling isn’t too great, we might have a good chance. I’ll let
you know if we’re successful, and then I’ll run them through the usual
agencies. We might have an answer before the end of day tomorrow.”
“Let’s hope for the best, Doc. Good-by.”
In the morning Kelly set out for work as usually. The walk is about four blocks and, other than in very bad weather, she enjoys it, often leaving home early and walks slowly. She followed routine this morning and took a deep breath as she turned onto the sidewalk, completely unaware of Frank Sullivan across the street and twenty feet behind her. Or, of the two off-duty cops, one on each side of the street, and noting Sullivan as the only other person close to her. Kelly decided to stop into a doughnut shop before entering her building and one officer followed. The other stopped and lit a small cigar as he kept an eye on Sullivan, who slowed down until he was across from the shop. He bends over and feigns tying his shoe then turns to look in an antique store window. He stayed that way until he saw Kelly, in the store window reflection, leave the doughnut shop and enter her building. The officer in the shop sat at a window table and watched Sullivan take a small notebook and pen from his inside pocket and start writing, presumably about Kelly, then start across the street toward the doughnut shop. The officer tossed his coffee cup in the barrel by the door and leaves just before Sullivan enters. The two officers walk toward the yacht club, where out on the public pier, they sit on a bench about half way to the end of the pier.
“What do you think of that guy who seems to be following her,” one asked.
“I got a good look at him from inside the doughnut shop. He stopped across the street and made notations in a book. We will have to pass along a description to the other units. I think they will be seeing a lot of him for a while. I’m just not sure if it is enough to bring him in for questioning. Detective Hendersen will know and it doesn’t have to be us who nab him. Now what do we do until lunch when she might come out?”
“I can head back to the station and look up Detective Hendersen, and find out what else might have come up in the case. You hang out close by in case something causes Kelly to leave work before her lunch time. If these two bums are into gun-running, this whole thing is going to get bigger quickly.”
At the police station, he moves through the crowded desks and the detective cubicles, and spots Detective Hendersen as he enters the squad room, and follows him in.
The detective, at the podium, looking at the new arrival, said, “I didn’t expect you here, but as long as you are, sit down.” Turning to the other two men in the front row, “OK, anything to report?”
The older of the two stood, “Yes sir; we followed Kelly to the home of her friend Mary. It appears another guy tailed her as well. After Kelly went in Mary’s house, he concealed himself behind the bushes, along the edge of the park, across the street. I stayed a half block back while my partner entered the park to watch this guy. We waited until ten forty-five. Watched the guy leave the park and follow Kelly home. We took up positions on both sides of the street and followed. The man made no attempt to approach her but did pause long enough to write something in a small notebook before he went on his way.”
“Thank you. Could you see this man well enough to describe him?” The sergeant asked.
“Yes sir, he is about five foot-eight, fair complexion. Wearing a shabby tweed jacket, brown cord pants and a green Trilby hat. As best we saw him, he wears no facial hair and no noticeable markings or scars.”
“Good job, you two. I’ll have your description circulated to the rest of the volunteers. I’m pleased to know your training stuck with you. Your surveillance is right by the book. Now, you in the back, come forward.”
“Why are you here? Aren’t you and your partner supposed to be on watch right now?”
“Yes sergeant, and my partner is watching Kelly’s work place and the man who follows her. From the description I just heard, our man today is the same man who was described following her last night. I came here primarily to ask if anything has come to light regarding the two men overheard at the All Erin last Saturday night.”
“There isn’t much I can discuss at the moment, but I’m pleased to know you are interested in the whole picture. What I can say, is that we are beginning to think there is a correlation between them and the body Patrolman Hendersen discovered at Chandler’s Point. The coroner is trying to get fingerprints from the body to substantiate identification.” Hendersen continued, “Are you sure the man described is the one you have been observing?
“Without a doubt, sir. I observed him in perfect light, and at one time passed within three-feet of him. Without seeing their man, I will bet my pension on it. One thing, sergeant, whomever he is, he can’t continue on the job putting in the hours he is. Soon there will have to be a change and we should all be highly aware of that. If the man described isn’t seen, that won’t mean there isn’t one tailing Kelly. Also, if they do take turns, they are idiots to wear their same clothing. I can’t believe they will not vary their wardrobe drastically, even resort to disguises and wigs. Wearing the same clothing leads to familiarity, and makes one wonder about the person.
“Good point, patrolman, the sergeant responded. Your thoughts will be included, and emphasized, with the description hand-out.”
Hendersen, indicating the first two men, says, “You can go now.” Then, pointing to the other patrolman, “You stay, please.”
As the door to the squad room closes, Hendersen moves away from the podium, steps down to the floor and takes a seat next to the remaining man.
“What’s your name, patrolman?”
“Begging your pardon, sir, that’s corporal; Corporal Anthony Michael Marzano.”
“Thank you, corporal. Your initiative and interest in this case is commendable. Keep it up. That’s where promotions come from. Have you thought about taking your sergeants exam?”
“Naturally,” he answered. “I’m studying but I’m not quite ready yet.”
“That’s good, Anthony. I’ll be interested in your progress. Feel free to call on me if I can be helpful with your studies, or anything. Now, get back on the job.”
Back in his cubical, Carl Hendersen checks his mail and phone messages and reaches for the telephone. It rang before he touched it.
“Good morning, Carl,” the familiar voice of his father getting his attention. “Can you come to my office right now, please? I have some important news.”
“Be right there, sir.”
“Carl, I received a call from Dr. Scott. He told me it took all night to handle the finger-printing of the Chandler’s Point body. They successfully lifted a thumb print from the left hand and an index finger from the right as well as a partial from the small finger of the same hand. They were photographed, and scanned by a Wirephoto machine to the FBI fingerprint division in D.C. over the telephone The prints confirmed the body is that of FTA Special Agent, Clarence, Anderson. I’m waiting for the ATF director to return my call. Hopefully he will be cooperative and talk about Anderson, and what in hell he was up to in this area. I hope I don’t have to remind him that it is our murder investigation.”
“Dad, if he does balk, dangle the armament waiting in Portland and the connection to Somerville. Of course, he might be aware of it all. They are quite close-mouthed about things, unless they need local help.”
“You are so right.” Where the heck is Katie with our lunch? Oh, I ordered for you, Carl, an early lunch.”
As the two men come to the end of their lunch, Katie announces that patrolman Francis Hendersen would like a word with the chief.
“By all means, send him in. Hello Francis, what can I do for you?” The chief asked in an uplifting tone.
“Well sir, I was just thinking; now that we have a description of the guy keeping an eye on Kelly, that if we can keep an eye on him, when he isn’t watching her, we might just find his partner and get his description. It might help identify them by name and ultimately gather any evidence related to the Portland shipment.
“Good thinking my boy. I don’t know why this hasn’t been instituted already. What do you think, Carl?
“Yes, of course. That stage of the investigation may be just a little premature, but right on the nose. How do you propose this be accomplished, Francis?”
“If those two are really studying Kelly they will, more than likely, be together and looking for her Saturday night at the Sommerville pub rather than following her there. Although she won’t be there, I’ll be there, an unknown entity, with the possibility of getting close to them and even talking to them. I’ll have my Minox camera, the miniature spy camera. It can be attached to me so it looks through a buttonhole and is operated from a pocket. The pictures will be very valuable and this camera takes good high-resolution photos under poor lighting conditions. I would like some back-up there as well, just in case.”
“Who do you have in mind for back-up, son”? his father asked.
“Tony Marzano is my choice, a corporal on my shift.”
“Yes, I’ve met Marzano. A very bright young man, Chief. I want to talk to you about him sometime. Well, the plan seems solid,” his father replied, “But it’s the decision of the chief. I will be in favor of a bit more back-up however. Perhaps a sergeant named Hendersen.”
The chief laughed for several seconds, then said. “I’ll let you know later in the week. I’d like to talk to the FTA as well as see if the surveillance of Kelly continues and how many different people are involved.
Outside the building where Kelly works, down the street a half
block or so, Frank Sullivan sits at a table outside of a sub shop finishing
a small Italian sub with pickles and tomato. He washes it down with the
last swallow from a can of Mountain Dew. He tosses the can and napkins
in a large rubbish barrel and fishes his pockets for his pipe.
Corporal Tony Marzano, as he walks back from the station house to meet
his partner, spots Sullivan and crosses to the opposite side of the street
while removing his jacket and hat to reduce recognition. As he passes
Sullivan, he notices he appears to be asleep at the table with his arms
crossed and his hat somewhat forward over his eyes. A smoldering pipe
is on the table in front of him. Marzano found it amusing and thinking,
that’s what over-work will do to you. He can’t possibly keep it up. Cpl.
Marzano and his partner meet across from Kelly’s work-place at eleven-fifty;
then take up separate surveillance positions, suitable to follow in either
direction and wait to see if Kelly leaves the building.
Sullivan can be seen still sleeping in front of the sub
shop, but not for long. An ambulance passes along the street with siren
howling and jolts Sullivan awake. He jumps from his seat, somewhat disoriented
and starts off in the wrong direction. After several steps he turns back,
picking up his pipe as he passes the sub shop. He starts to panic as he
notices the time and the increase in pedestrians, several heading to the
sub shop. He frantically scans the faces looking for Kelly but does not
find her. Increasing his gait, to get to Kelly’s building quickly, he
thinks; Heaven help me if I lose her. Hurley will have my skin. Hope I
can pick her up when she returns to work. Just before one o’clock, people
are crowing into the building and Sullivan is glancing from one to another
in search for Kelly but never sees her. By now he is shaking with fear
and praying she has not left for the day. I’ll just have to wait ‘till
quitting time and see. Lord, I can’t keep this up forever, he tells himself.
Hurley has got to swap off with me or go to hell.
The officers, knowing Kelly did not leave the building, watched Sullivan
with great amusement at the panic on his face and his erratic actions.
“Won’t he be relieved when she walks out of there at closing,” Marzano says.
Laughingly, his partner replies, “I feel a little sorry for him. This kind of error isn’t tolerated in the gangs. But then, it was funny and he is a fool to accept one sixteen-hour day after another on his feet.
Hurley meanders up the stairs to the second floor of the building where he and Sullivan share an apartment. He hears the phone ringing and takes the stairs two at a time, turns the key and bursts through the door to grab the phone.
1 | Ch 2 | Ch
Puffing, he blurts out, “Jim Hurley here. Who be you?”
"Gus Malone, you idget. Who are you running from that makes you out of breath?”
“Didn’t want to miss the call, puff-puff, I, ran up the stairs.”
“Two things; did the money get to you OK and who in hell did you get to take care of that agent Anderson? They sure screwed this one up.”
“Don’t know his name. I called a friend in a South Boston bunch to find someone to take care of Anderson; paid him eight-hundred. Why do you ask, he’s dead?”
“That he is and is making headlines clear over here, as it must be there as well. My God, man, his body washed ashore not twenty miles north from you. A stupid and sloppy job. Any investigation will certainly be centered in Riverville and cover all of New England. He should have buried or burned or, at the least, dumped Anderson far at sea.”
“Gus, I don’t know what to say. The Southie bunch are considered the experts in this area.”
“Well, if you must say something, tell me the shipment is on its way.”
Hurley cringed and started to sweat, then replied, “It’s the weather, it is. They tell me it could be two more weeks. There is bad weather stirring to the north and heavy North East winds coming from the south and bringing rain. They say, if the two fronts meet, there will be nothing small moving from New England to the North Sea for a while.”
“That shags it then. I’ll have to spread word of the delay. A lot of Provisionals will have to change their plans and lay low. They aren’t going to be happy, and I have to notify the freighter’s skipper. This will definitely cost more money for his delay. You be sure to let me know the minute that boat leaves Plymouth. Anything else I should know?”
Hurley thought several seconds about the Adams girl and replied, “Not a thing. All else is calm here. I’ll check on any investigation of Anderson’s death and keep you informed.”
“I’ll probably see it in the newspaper here in Ulster, or on the tele, before you know what’s going on.” The phone went dead.
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. Oh, and in case you didn't notice.... he's a pipe smoker
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