Case of the Riverville Murder
A Short Story by Ernie Whitenack
Chapter Twenty One
No sooner than he entered BPD Headquarters, than Captain Callan stepped up and shuffled him aside saying, “Do you have the reports? I’m kind of anxious to see them.”
“Yes, naturally, but the chief gets them first. I’ve tagged a set for you and the chief will pass them on if he wishes,” Scott replied, somewhat aggravated.
Before they passed through the double doors to the office area, Scott noticed Sergeant Mark Simmons had been watching through one of the door windows. As their eyes met, Simmons frowned deeply and gave a negative shake of his head that was almost imperceptible.
Upon leaving, Scott again found Simmons standing in the hall, obviously waiting for him, and said, “Is there something you want, Sergeant?”
Yes, sir, I’ll walk you out – can’t talk here.”
“OK. My car is waiting. You walk down the block and turn the corner. We’ll pick you up.”
Simmons quickly entered the back seat of Scott’s car, seconds before Allan put the accelerator pedal half way to the floor and the powerful town car sped off.
Scott turned to Simmons and asked, “What is this all about, Sergeant Simmons?”
“Well sir, I might lose my job over this, but you have worked too hard and have treated me so well, I just can’t hold certain facts from you, so here goes. Norman (Baldy) Riley has been murdered. Not an hour after he was transferred to the county jail, his throat was cut. This is being hushed-up by the department, although I doubt it will last, seeing it is a county facility, and the newspapers will be all over it. Thankfully, they have a way of knowing things and have no reservations about making them public. The interesting part of this is Captain Callan. Remember, he joined you immediately after you finished with Ryan. Anything you told him, he probably assumed came from Ryan. Also, I’ve been with the captain through most of his interviews with the prisoners. Not once did he ever ask about the leaking of your raid plans, or Goddard’s lieutenants. I understand he told you he couldn’t get anything out of the prisoners. Another odd thing; that first day he came with me, he told you he was just an observer. Now, he is into everything and is asking you for reports.”
“That’s right Sir. Allan interjected as he sped toward the Federal Courthouse, Mark and I briefly talked about Callan saying he was just an observer over coffee on Friday, and wondering how he became so involved.”
“Well, he did mention Judge Millstone’s office as a possibility, Scott replied. I’m on my way there now to discuss it with him. I’ll have to follow up, but I’ll also have to be very tactful. Just what are you trying to tell me Simmons? Do you suspect Callan might be attached to Goddard somehow?”
“Frankly, I’d bet on it. I guess I already have placed my bet by talking to you right now. When we were all cooped-up in Goddard’s bar, he made short, quiet visits to a few of the prisoners, and made several hushed phone calls – but only when you weren’t there. The visits were what got me thinking. I’ve been more interested in his activities since then. I think he is running the C Street gang, now that you have Goddard. His lying to you is what caused me to approach you with what I’ve observed. Hope I did the right thing.”
“I’d say so. If you are right – you’re a hero. If you are wrong – no harm done, and no one will know about it, other than we three. Frankly, I hope news of Ryan’s murder does get out. I can turn it around and use it as another tool against the incarcerated gang members. Then they will know that any one of them can be next, and only I can protect them.”
Scott grabbed his briefcase and exited the car in front of the court house. “I’ll make this as short as possible, so don’t go far.”
“No sir. There is a spot just ahead, Allan said, that is out of this restricted area. We’ll wait there.”
Allan and Mark, watching Scott ascend the steps to the court house, and suddenly saw chips of concrete fly up around his feet. Each chip was immediately followed by the report of a high-powered rifle. Allan and Mark jumped from the car with weapons drawn, and quickly scanned the rooftops across the street for the shooter. At the same time, Scott leapt from the right edge of the steps into a sheltered lower entrance, his Webley Mark VI in his hand. Soon, guards ran out of the court house entrance; a couple with machineguns.
Not seeing anyone, Allan and Mark ran across the street and up three floors to the roof. Nothing was found there other than an empty Coke bottle and three thirty-caliber shell casings, they quickly returned to the street.
Scott was on the car radio when Allan and Mark returned. Placing the microphone in its cradle, he said, “I’ve reported the shooting. This area will be full of cruisers soon. Did you find anything up there?”
“Three cartridges and a Coke bottle, Mark replied. Do you want them now?”
“No, later.” Scott said and started back up the stairs to the distant sound of sirens approaching.
“Good to see you Scott, Judge Millstone said. What was all the ruckus outside?”
“Someone took three shots at me with a rifle. I guess he didn’t want me to see you, judge.”
“I know you’ll find out who did the shooting – probably connected to this Goddard thing you have on your hands. You have plenty of resources and manpower, and you can call on this office any time you have a need.”
“Thank you, sir, and I want to get after him as soon as possible. So, I’ll get right to the point and be blunt. Is there anyone associated with you personally, or with this office, you suspect of leaking information regarding the recent raids?”
“In my mind, I have examined everyone having any knowledge of the warrants or the raids. There is one person, and I stress one because everyone else has been with me for eight-years or longer. I trust them completely. The one is Carlton Mason. Mason works for the Harbor Courier Service and has been assigned to the Federal Court for six years. He serves all judicial officers in the court, which, theoretically, puts him in a perfect position to have access to valuable information. Now, I’m not saying I have proof, or even that I suspect him of any wrongdoing. He is just in the perfect position to pass-on information.”
Scott absorbed the judge’s statement for a minute and replied. “Thank you. It’s about what I expected your answer to be, other than that pertaining to Mr. Mason. I’ll put one of my men on investigating him. If he is clean, we’ll know it soon. I’ll keep you informed. I want to get onto the evidence from the shooting you heard, so if you will excuse me, I’ll be on my way.”
“Off you go, Scott, and good luck with it all,” the judge said while dismissing Scott with a wave of his hand.
“Back to Charles Street, Allan,” Scott said as he entered the front seat of the car.
“Allan, get on the radio and get me a phone connection with Hancock-5535. That’s Harry Malison’s number. I’m going to see if he will put the cartridges and bottle through FBI forensics for me.”
Harry Malison, waiting in Scott’s inner office, turned from the window as Scott entered. “You beat me here, Harry! Good to see you.”
“Yes, I rushed right over after you called, because a minute later I heard the news report of the shooting. What is this about you being a target? Do you know who it was?”
“It made the news already, did it? I don’t know who did the shooting, but I have an idea who is behind the attempt. You will hear more later if you are called in on the trials, and at this stage of the case, I’m positive you will be called. This started out with us thinking we were dealing with a small bunch of gun dealers and one murder. It evolved into a problem for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Boston, the towns of Riverville and Sommerville, Interpole, the ATF, FBI and the U.S. Coast Guard. We are right at the end, or were, until someone decided to kill me. Anyway, I have a couple of favors to ask of you that I don’t want run through normal channels, and no reports that will be given out until I give you the OK. One is forensic testing of these three casings and this coke bottle. The other is a complete run-through on Captain Claud Callan of the BPD. I would like a deep look into his personal life as far back as possible, as well as his police records.”
“That sounds like you think he’s dirty.”
“I just want to be sure before I move on him, Scott said emphatically. Oh, and while you are at it. Do a preliminary check on Carlton Mason. Mason works for the Harbor Courier Service here in town. He might be involved with some leaks we have discovered. If anything comes up, we can dig deeper into him later.
“You’ve got it, my friend, and it will be our secret until you say otherwise.”
Scott turned to Allan and Mark saying, “Harry and I go all the way back to high school, served in the Army at the same time during the first war, me in Army Intelligence in France, and Harry in Washington catching spies. He’s been a gumshoe ever since. Jointly, we have been involved in several interesting cases over these many years.”
“Don’t get me going about that stuff, Harry said laughingly, I’ve got work to do. See you all later.”
The phone started ringing just as Harry closed the door. “Nancy, calm down. There is no proof that the shots were meant for me. There were several other people on the steps,” Scott lied, in an effort to dispel Nancie’s fears.”
“I was about out of my mind trying to locate you. The radio commentator made it sound so grizzly. I imagined you crumpled up on the steps bleeding.”
“Believe me, I’m fine and in one piece. Now take a deep breath and try to relax. I’ll try to get home early today,” Scott said before hanging up.
Scott turned to Allan and Mark. “Mark, I think I would like a tail on Claud Callan for several days. Do you know anyone skilled enough to do that and not be detected?”
“Yes, but I don’t think anyone from the BPD can tail someone from his same force and not be found out. I think we should look elsewhere. From the short time I’ve known him, Detectives Lloyd Qualter could fill the bill. If you recall, he was one of the guards, along with Al Guatino, who controlled the prisoners at Goddard’s bar as they were brought in. I had time to talk to him at Goddard’s. He’s a Mass. State rookie detective by rank, but has several years of work in that capacity as a patrol sergeant, having been called on when the detective squad was thinned-out with too much work. He impressed me with his intelligence and knowledge of detective work. Under the circumstances, it is my opinion he will be anxious to help you.”
“Thanks Mark. How about you Allan? Any suggestions?”
“I wish I did, boss. I’m with you most of the time, so I have very little contact with other state policemen. For all intent and purpose, I might just as well be a civilian.”
“Thanks for being forthright with me. I appreciate it. I’ll get ahold of Qualter later and find out if he is interested. Now, let’s get out of here. I’m anxious to get home and show Nancy that I’m not injured.”
“Mark, do you want to be dropped off at your headquarters?”
“Yes, thanks. I have to get my car. I just stopped in at the BPD to get something out of my locker. It’s actually my day off, so I don’t have to explain where I have been – unless I’ve been mentioned on the news.”
Scott looked at him for several seconds before saying, “If you were on the news and are asked for an explanation, politely say it’s confidential and decline. Then, refer them to me. I’ll take care of an explanation.”
At home, Scott finally proved to Nancy that he was totally in one piece with no wounds.
After diner, Scott settled into his big leather chair and called the Cosmo Natali Boston, Police Chief, at his home, “Cosmo, sorry to bother you at home, but I’ll excuse myself in the name of friendship. I have a request you will not like, but believe me, it is critical to this South Boston effort. Please do not, under any circumstances, give Claud Callan his copies of my reports.”
“Are you going to tell me why I shouldn’t pass them on? What in the world is going on, Scott?” the chief asked.
“Some information came to me, just hours ago, that is causing me to suspect the captain is colluding with Goddard’s organization. The murder of Norman Riley and the attempt on my life today affirms the Goddard gang is very much alive and functioning. The information I have indicates Claud Callan is, more than likely, running the show. That is about all I feel comfortable divulging. I hope you understand.”
“Of course. I know you well enough to trust what you say, and believe you have more than a suspicion about Callan or you wouldn’t be telling as much as you have. I’ll have to pass this request by the Commissioner, you know. Other than that, you have my word. Please keep me in the loop, and call if I can help. Give my best to Nancy and the boys.”
As Scott cradled the phone, a loud thump emanates from the front door. Investigating, Scott finds a bottle with a smoldering rag fuse stuck in the neck. Removing the rag, gasoline fumes rising from the bottle assault his nose. He carries his findings to the front fence and empties the gas into the dirt by the fence, then places the bottle and rag near the gate thinking, “I’ll pick that up in the morning. One more thing for the FBI to look at.”
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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