Case of the Riverville Murder
A Short Story by Ernie Whitenack
Chapter Thirty Six
“Chief Cosmo Natali. In a hundred years, who would suspect him of being dirty! A sad ending to an illustrious career,” Matt said. “Time for this department to move on and concentrate on getting all of those crooks in jail. The DA and his crew have a huge task ahead of them.”
“I just started to wonder what is happening in that regard. I’ve been so busy rounding up offenders, I haven’t been able to keep up.”
“The best I can do is give you an abbreviated summary of charges and convictions. Thanks to the team from the Steno pool who went beyond the request you gave them and with unbelievable speed.” Matt Said.
“You already know that Goddard is serving one hundred and ten years.”
“About one-third of those arrested, here and in Somerville, has been turned over to federal custody. Several have been deported for processing elsewhere in International Court or by the country receiving them. Callan is fortunate to be in FBI hands and be charged under federal laws – money laundering and gun-running. I doubt he would last a week in a Mass. state prison. Of course, he could be tried and convicted for state offenses while still in federal jail but must finish federal time before serving a state sentence. Those state charges are hefty; murder, racketeering, prostitution, illegal gambling, and probably several I can’t think of now. He’s sixty-two years old, so I doubt he will live that long.
“The remainder, those doing the street work for the gangs, will be going through district courts rapidly when the DA approves the compilation of charges the steno pool worked out. Another couple of weeks should be the end of that.
The cases against Albert Nunsay for murder and Jerry Mc Dougal and John Byrne, as accomplices to the murder or attempted murder of two FTA agents, are in progress in Boston Federal Court. As it was discovered, all are in the U.S. illegally. That’s good for deportation, but I think they will be required to serve the murder charges first. Nunsay will get a life stretch if he is lucky. Either way, he’ll never be deported. James Hurley has already been deported to Interpol in Dublin. What charges Agent Sullivan will bring is not yet known.”
“What about Gustloff Hofstadter, Jason Atkins, and his father, Danial Atkins?” Scott asked.
“The two Atkins men are in FBI custody and will be charged with interstate racketeering. Danial has a Rhode Island charge as well, consorting with known felons for personal profit.”
“Looks like Hofstadter is in the same boat, but with a possible accomplice to an attempted murder charge. He hired the guys that made a try at you on the highway. This office will get a report on every trial, state, or federal, and I’ve left instructions that you be included in the distribution.”
“Matt, I hope you can arrange for some kind of an award for the steno pool folks who did the work.”
“Oh, yes!” Matt replied. “I’ve already talked to the lieutenant Governor about it. He promised to pass it by the Governor. It will be good for morale, he thinks.”
“In any case, I will personally see that they are rewarded in some way. Please call me if anything comes to light about the impending charges,” Scott said as he left Matt’s office.
Qualter and Guatino showed up as Allan and Scott were heading out for lunch. “Sorry it took so long, Boss. We had difficulty hunting down the state police Salinger phone.” Qualter said. “Give me yours, and we’ll return everything.”
“OK, leave everything on the table and join Allan and me for lunch. We’re going to walk down to the Parker House and have lunch at Parker’s Bar. It’s on the state’s attorney’s office.”
During lunch, Al Guatino asked Scott if he has another assignment for Qualter and him, mentioning how hard and unexciting it will be to return to regular detective duty.
“Not at the moment, I’m sorry to say. You two are perfect partners, and you’ll be the first I’ll call when I need help. It would be great to bring you on board, but Mark Simmons has the one opening I could get, if he still wants the job, that is. But I might arrange something for you both. I’ll try.
Frank Gray entered Parker’s Bar and immediately spotted Scott’s party. “They told me you would be here. I hope you don’t mind me butting in.”
“Of course not,” Scott said. “Pull up a chair. What can I order for you? What are you drinking these days?”
“I’ve had my lunch, thanks, but I’ll join you all in a celebration drink. Dewar’s Twelve-Years-Old on ice with a twist, please, he said, turning to the attentive waiter.”
“The real reason I decided to interrupt this occasion, other than I’ve got printer’s ink in my veins, is to confirm the rumors I hear about Cosmo Natali. As yet, I can’t believe what I’m hearing. I’ve listened to several accounts. What can you tell me, Scott?”
“Let’s hold off on that until we get back to the office. I have something interesting to show you and another scoop for Consolidated News Service.”
Frank nodded in agreement, and Scott ordered another drink all around. It was another hour or so before they returned to Scott’s office. Qualter and Guatino left to return the loaned Salinger equipment and then report in with their old commander, while Allan settled in his usual spot by the window.
Scott lit his freshly filled pipe, reached in his desk drawer, and retrieved Cosmo Natali’s note. “Here, read this,” Scott said, as he handed the paper to Frank. “And hold onto your seat.”
Franks jaw dropped open, and his face drained of color as he plopped into a chair and read Natali’s suicide explanation. He let his arms flop into his lap, sending the note floating to the floor, and looked up at Scott with blank glazed eyes.
Scott hurried around his desk and put a hand on Frank’s slumped shoulders while Allan poured a glass of water from an insulated pitcher and handed it to Scott, then picked up the dropped note.
“Frank, drink some water, then put your head between your knees. You look terrible – like you’re going to pass out,” Scott demanded, as Allan put the note on Scott’s desk and then refilled the glass.
Three or four minutes later, Frank slowly raised his head and shook it vigorously, as if to make the blood return quickly. He looked at Scott and Allan and said, “Thanks guys, I don’t know what came over me. I knew he was dead and probably killed himself. But as I read the letter, it was like listening to him speaking to me. I wanted desperately to talk Cosmo out of it.”
“I should have prepared you for the letter. I’m sorry.” Scott said. “I simply forgot what good friends you and he became over the years. We were all looking out for Abe Müller then, remember? Cosmo was a rookie cop attempting to fathom the plans to capture the Nazi punks. I, of course, have seen and talked to Cosmo over the years, but seldom socially. The last time was at that big party the force had for him when he was appointed Chief of Police
“I’d like a copy of that letter, please,” Frank said, “I need it as a news reference, and then I’ll put it in the family Bible until I get over his death. Please don’t let his family see the letter. I’ll explain it to them.
“It’s not my place to show the letter to them. That chore belongs to a Priest or friend, preferably a Priest. On another track, Mark Simmons is home, so I’ll set up an interview day for you. He might not want any publicity, you know, but I’ll ask him to do it. Is my law office OK? You’ll have a room to yourself, and Annie takes shorthand if you need her.”
Allan returned with a copy of the letter, “You know, those Xerox machines are popping up everywhere. I spotted this one in the greeting card shop down the block on my way to the library. You could save money if you got one Boss. It would pay for itself if you sold copies to the people in this building.”
“Good Idea,” Scott responded. “You can run the concession for a percent of the business. It won’t be hard for me to find a new driver. Naturally, that percentage will be after the monthly payment is made from the proceeds.”
“Forget I mentioned it,” Allan said, shaking from silent laughter, and retreated to his spot by the window.
The next morning Annie told Scott, as he opened the outer office door, “The Lieutenant Governor called. He’s waiting for your return call. Better get on it before doing anything else.”
“This is Scott Wadsworth. I’m returning the Lieutenant Governor’s call. Yes, I’ll hold on.”
“Good to hear from you, Sir. What can I do for you?”
“The Governor is planning an award ceremony for the actions culminating in the clean-up of the gangs in Boston and Somerville. He wants you to make a list and get it back to him. He wants to send personal invitations from The Office of the Governor.
“I’ll be happy to, but I’m not sure how many will want public recognition of their work. You see, it is often essential to maintain anonymity in investigating and detection work. That and the recent demise of the Boston chief of police hasn’t left us in a celebrating mood. Please pass my thoughts along to the Governor. Oh, yes, I’ll include those people in Riverville. That’s where it all started.” Scott answered.
“Yes, Sir, I’ll let him know your thoughts. He will be disappointed, considering he’s looking for a public display of his commitment to and the recognition of law and order. He might reject your remarks. Between you and me, you should put them in writing. Thank you, Mister Wadsworth.”
“Well, what do you think of that, Allan? The Governor wants to give us a medal!”
“Without a lot of press, I hope. But I guess that’s asking too much with an election in the wings.”
Scott laughed for a minute, thinking, “That boy has an uncanny ability to correctly appraise a situation almost immediately – wish I could do that.”
At that, a gentle knock came to Scott’s door, and Annie came in with Mark Simmons. “He just showed up, Sir, but I thought you would like to see him,” Annie said.
“You’re right, Annie, thanks. Have a seat, Mark. I was about to call you. I’m a bit anxious to know your plans, but I’m not pushing you into a decision. I want you to be sure.”
“It has been a struggle, Sir. The folks in Riverville are some of the finest I’ve met, and I’m sure they like me. I’ve been offered a spot in the police department, a desk job, out of respect to being shot. It has a sergeant’s rank that will come in time. I’m tempted.”
“On the other hand, my family is here along with many friends. I’ll be forever grateful to you and Allan for your efforts to protect me after the hospital visit. That was far beyond your job description. During our recent joint action, my association with you and the state policemen has inspired a greater respect for law enforcement. And, my family likes you both as well. Watch out for my sister, Allan. Sarah took a real shine to you.”
“So, what are you telling us? Are you staying or going, or are you still ambivalent?” Scott asked. “I’m not pushing you but would like an answer within a week.”
“I’m staying, but only if you still want me, now that the case is closed, and there might not be much for me to do.”
“There will always be something to do,” Scott emphatically said. “Being Chief Investigator is not a full-time job, and the State’s Attorney, Matt Hart, understands that I have a law practice to look after. Aside from investigating, I want you at the statehouse to act for me. We will discuss the limits on that later. Oh, yes, if I didn’t mention it before, I’ve managed to have you come in at your old sergeant wage. Your first increase will be to state police sergeant’s pay. Also, I can use your help within my law business on occasion. I’m quite sure there will be no objections to that. You will still get paid by the state when that happens, and I’ll look into some additional remuneration for that -- if I can determine it isn’t illegal
“Now, you have only been home a few days, so you won’t start for a week. I want you to relax and enjoy your family. I’m sure they will like you being around.”
“I’d like that, Sir. I wasn’t expecting to start at my old pay and then step-up so much with my first raise. Frankly, I’d be happy with whatever you offered. I owe you, Sir,” Mark humbly replied.
“That’s enough owe-me talk. Also, forget the Sir unless we’re in a meeting with our uppers. Allan, Qualter, and Guatino call me Boss -- you do the same. You’ll be Mark unless someone hits on a good nickname.”
Mark smiled, looked at his watch, and said, I have to get going. I have a check-up scheduled at the hospital. Doctor Colligan says I’m well overdue.
Scott went to the door with Mark and, after he left, said, “Annie, see if you can get Judge Millstone on the phone, please.”
“Make it fast, Scott. I have a meeting very soon.”
“The governor wants an award celebration for the closing of this case. He wants a list of recipients from me. Where you were so interested and supplied all the warrants, I thought I’d include you, Sir.”
“I get paid for my work and do not need awards to find satisfaction in it. The answer is no. If it is a public ceremony, the governor is nuts. He should slow down and let the whole thing cool off. All he is doing is introduce some fine, hard-working policemen to the world. I’d think they would rather remain unknown to all the crooks out there. I’m going to talk to the governor – let him know it’s a lousy idea.
“Got to go now – we’ll talk later.”
Scott spent the rest of the day making a list of possible recipients for the governors and calling each. The majority of those called said no that they didn’t think an award is necessary. Others said they didn’t care one way or the other; they would go with the majority.
Annie typed the list putting a No after those declining. And an X after those who didn’t care. Annie included a line explaining the X.
Scott dictated a letter reiterating his objections. He pointed out that most of his selections considered it unnecessary and unwise to publicize individual policework. The next morning, Allan hand-carried the manilla envelope to the Lieutenant Governor’s office.
“We just had a call from a Federal Judge who Wadsworth selected. His objections alone were enough to have the governor abandon the idea. He sort of chewed out the governor,” The Lieutenant Governor told Allan.
“Well, what’s next,” Allan asked Scott while driving him home.
“We are going to just float for a while, Scott replied. Everyone needs to get their minds cleared of the Riverville murder case and everything it brought to light. Then, I’m going to rent Angelo’s Restaurant for an evening and have a party for the key figures who helped bring the case to an end. I’ll even invite the Governor of Massachusetts.”
As he pulled up in front of Scott’s gate, Allan snickered at Scott’s last remark and said, “Maybe he’ll bring some medals.”
“Wouldn’t be surprised,” Scott said. “Now, come on in and have a drink with Nancy and me. We might as well start relaxing tonight.”
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 too.
Copyright © Ernest N. Whitenack 2020
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