Case of the Riverville Murder
A Short Story by Ernie Whitenack
Chapter Thirty Five
Time went slowly until someone found the coffee machine that Qualter found when the bar was used on the previous raid. Bottled water and coffee were still in the storeroom. Playing cards were found under the serving bar.
The four-hour wait ended when the Salinger Radio squealed, and Qualter said, “Everyone is in the building, Boss. The two FBI agents following Hofstadter have taken positions on the left side of the building. I waited ten minutes before contacting you to see if anyone else came. None did. You can come ahead.”
Scott shouted for attention, then said, “We have the go-ahead, men. Get to your vehicles and proceed to the Italian Club. Do not park in the lot. Find spots on the street and go directly to your assigned positions. When you hear the car horn signal, Move quickly through the front door in the given order – FBI first.”
Guatino, agents Bud Strome and Newt Gates moved quickly from the checkroom and separated inside the club. Callan jumped from his chair, knocking it over, turned, and reached for his revolver.
“Not a good idea, Mister Callan,” Newt Gates shouted as he lifted an Uzi machine gun, under evaluation by the FBI, with a twenty-five round magazine in Callan’s direction. “This weapon will cut you in half before you can disable the safety.”
Callan froze, then quickly raised his hands over his head. “OK, OK, take it easy, will ya!”
When Harry Malison and his men rushed through the front door, He saw the subjects all standing with hands on their heads. Sergeant Guatino and the two FBI agents were out of the coatroom and standing in the main room. They had taken positions at nine, twelve, and three o’clock with weapons drawn.
Malison is in the process of handcuffing the arrestees when Scott applauded by saying, “Great job, you three. Sorry, I don’t know your names, FBI agents, but you and Al Guatino are positively instrumental in this operation’s safe conclusion. Had we known it would go as it did, we would not tie up all of this manpower.”
Charging and booking the four men took the rest of the day and into the evening because of the combination of authorities involved, Massachusetts, FBI, and Boston, charges overlapping in many cases.
Later that evening, Scott, Allan, Harry, Frank, and John Guilford sat in a large booth at Jake Wirth’s Restaurant. “To bad Commissioner Taranto was too busy at BPD headquarters to be with us,” Allan said.
Frank Gray sipped his beer before saying, “Boy! This is like old times, being here with my longtime friends. Too bad Abe Müller isn’t here – he enjoyed these get-togethers so much.”
Scott, blowing bluish pipe smoke at the ceiling, remarked,” Yes, it was unfortunate for Abe to get out of Germany only to be accosted by Nazi spies in this country. And almost losing his life. After that, he extracted every bit of joy he could get from life. His friends were one of those joys. My boys, as young as they were then, still talk of Abe.”
As they relaxed after dinner, Harry Malison said, “Nice compliment you gave the inside men at the club, Scott, and I agree. But I believe in being safe rather than sorry and would have insisted on heavy manpower. And, I don’t mind bumping heads with you, old friend.
In the morning, and before Allan came, Scott called Mark Simmons at Carl Hendersen’s home in Riverville. “Mark, it’s over. We made the last raid on Callan and what was left of Goddard’s gang. They are all behind bars awaiting trial. You can come home.”
The telephone was silent for a while before Mark spoke. “I don’t know what to say. I’m undoubtedly happy at the thought of returning home, but sorry to leave my new friends.”
“I can understand that, having known the Hendersen clan for many years. I’m sure you will be welcome to visit at any time. What do you say I pick-up your Mom and Dad tomorrow and come for you? That will give you time to pack and say goodbye.”
“Great,” Mark said with a smile in his voice. I have missed my family deeply. I’ll be ready whenever you get here, Mister Wadsworth – guess we’ll finally have our meeting without gunfire.”
Scott laughed, then replied, “See you tomorrow – late morning, I estimate.”
“Where to this morning?” Allan asked as Scott entered the car.
“Let’s go see Judge Millstone. I promised him I would keep him current, and he has some time set aside for me this morning.”
The judge got right to business, telling Scott the latest recordings clinched the case for him, that he can unequivocally say the arrests were made on concrete evidence. He would see that the proper warrants are written and delivered to the court officer in charge and again asked Scott about Alice Nadeau. Scott went into as much detail about Nadeau as he felt necessary and explained her association with the Boston Police and Massachusetts Department of Revenue.
After Judge Millstone’s prodding, Scott then related Mark Simmons’s story and the charade he and Allan pulled off to protect Mark.
“A feat of pure ingenuity,” the judge said. “I’m happy to know the boy is well. Will you hire him now?”
“If that’s what he wants. I can sure use him.” Scott replied.
“Scott, the arrest of Callan will undoubtedly cause an upheaval in the Boston Police department. Do you think, considering your friendship with Taranto, the commissioner’s office can handle it?”
“Dick Taranto is already on it, vowing to clean out the crooked cops and the deadwood. In six months to a year, he plans to have a highly efficient and honest department working for the Boston people.”
“I hope you’re correct. When the newspapers start talking about the case, and it comes out that Callan ordered the shooting of Simmons and the two attempts on your life, the public will be up in arms and demanding reform. And, there is the chance of them losing trust in the police. We don’t need anarchy in our streets,” the judge asserted.
On his way to the door, Scott said, “Thanks very much for your help and support, Judge Millstone. As for the Boston people, I hope they are more trusting of authority than that and look to the police department to clean its own house. Time will tell.”
Later, at the statehouse, Scott is in Matthew Hart’s office discussing the charges and who is to be charged with what. “Scott, this is mighty complicated. Can you think of an easier way than trying to remember who did what crime.?”
Scott replied, “I think it should be to find a crime in the transcriptions and tie it to a name. Get a couple of workers from the steno pool, have them put down the four names, then go through the transcripts and when a crime is associated with a name, write it in next to that name. In the process, they can also mark any crimes or activities they can’t associate with a person or have a question about. It will then be up to my people and me to answer those questions and associate crimes with people. Once in a rough stage, it can all be typed up and given to the proper prosecuting authority. It might take a couple of days, but will not be guesswork, and perhaps faster.”
“You were closer to this than anyone else, so I’ll accept your theory and give the steno pool a call right now. You hang around and explain it to the people from the pool, Please. Maybe Allan can help.” Matt said with relief.
“I’ll get Qualter and Guatino on it if needed..” Scott said. “They’ll want to see the results of their hard work in an orderly and useful form. I need Allan all day tomorrow.”
Things quieted down for a while until three people, two young ladies and a gentleman, showed up from the steno pool. They bucked at the idea of doing work outside of their job description, stenographers.
Allan stepped in and talked to them. He stressed the importance of the work and the contribution they will be giving to the state and nation. Allan poured on the charm. Being closer in age than Scott, he used all the day’s buzz words and social attitude. He won them over, and the stenographers happily started to work.
“I can have the two detectives who did the recording come in and help you out,” Scott offered.
“No thanks, We’ll figure it out and devise a system of working. I estimate twelve hours to complete. If we hit a block, I’ll be in touch for help. I suppose Mister Hart will know where to reach you,” said one of the stenographers – obviously, the leader as she packed up all the material and moved to the door.
Allan made his usual mid-afternoon trip to the coffee room, sat the cup on Scott’s desk, and asked, “What’s on for the morning, Boss? Do we go directly to the Simmons home or elsewhere?”
“As of this moment, we’ll be going to Charles Street South. That could change, though, depending upon what the rest of today brings. I’ve been neglecting my practice -- must call Annie and see what’s happening.
“You do have a couple of things that need your attention,” Annie said, “The Cleaver Candy contract with International Sugar needs a final going-over, and you need to set a date to deliver it. Two other items should be in their final stage and aren’t. I also have a stack of calls. A couple of them need return calls, but the rest of them may or may not be important, but I’ll leave that up to you.”
“Thanks, Annie. I’ll see you at nine tomorrow, and we’ll sort it all out. I’m due in Riverville early tomorrow afternoon. Mark is coming home, and I am going to pick up his parents to go with me. I’ll want to leave the office by eleven-thirty.”
“So, it’s to the office,” Allan said. Are you going to walk, or shall I pick you up?”
“Better pick me up. I tend to dilly-dally otherwise, and I don’t want to be late. Now I need to talk to Matt for a few minutes about checking on the stenographers’ progress. Then we can leave.”
Scott stands to leave when the leader of the stenographers comes in. “Do you have a minute, Mister Wadsworth?”
Scott motions her to a chair, and she says, “Here is a preliminary example of how we will organize your information. You will see on this graph paper that we have not put violations after the names. Crimes are listed across the top—the offender’s names down the left. Checkmarks are placed in the violation columns to the right of individual names. Each mark associates that crime to that offender. This is the fastest way to complete the project. We have done a time test on both methods. This one is twenty-five percent faster.”
“My goodness, you sure work quickly. It’s only been a couple of hours. How did you do it?”
“I must confess, I put the whole pool, those that weren’t busy, on it. If you approve, I’ll go back to only the three of us and get it done. Actually, the other two are working on it right now. That’s how confident I am that this is the best way, from the standpoint of compiling and using the information.”
“How can I dispute that?” Scott asked. “Great job, and I’m delighted. Convey my thanks to your people, please.”
The next morning, Scott went over his unattended contracts and letters with Annie, then met with the rest of his staff to answer questions and thank them for performing so well in his absence. As he returned to his own office, Annie stopped him to say, ”Frank Gray is on the phone.”
Scott lit a pipe, picked up his phone, and said, “Frank, what can I do for you this morning.”
“I have some disturbing information. Apparently, one of the Providence papers got wind of the raid at the Italian Club and called me to ask if it was true. I danced all around the question until he realized I wasn’t going to give him a straight answer. He then told me if the rumor is true, the authorities will have to look higher than Callan before they end corruption. I tried to get more from him, but he refused to elaborate.”
“That is disturbing. I thought we were finished with a case that was too extensive in the first place. Now I’ll have to start a whole new sub-section of the case. I’m wondering if Mark Simmons should come home. It’s a little late to change plans, so I’ll talk to his folks when I pick them up, and we will decide when we get to Riverville.”
“From what I know, I wouldn’t make a hasty call on that,” Frank said. “Your investigation was extraordinarily complete and didn’t pick up anything beyond Callan. The guy I talked to could just be blowing smoke out of his ear.”
“You’re right, Frank. I’ll talk it over with the family but underplay any danger to Mark. If I were a crooked cop allied with Callan, and considering all the arrests, I wouldn’t make any moves to disclose myself.”
Mark Simmons and his family agreed to Mark returning home. Mark had let his hair grow and was sporting a neat Van Dyke beard and put on some weight. The beard was a little hard for his mother to accept.
“Keep that look for a while,” Scott said. “You won’t be easily recognized, although, at this time, it is doubtful if anyone is out to harm you. There is no one left to pay them for the job, and it appears all of the attempts at you and me were hired out by Callan.”
As Allan loaded Mark’s belongings into the car’s trunk, Mark was saying his goodbyes to the Hendersens. There were hugs, tears, and kisses until Carl loudly said, “OK, that’s enough. Let the poor guy go home. Mark, get in the car with my sincere hope that you return soon. You are family now, and please consider this your second home. You and your family are always welcome.”
Chief of Police Hendersen stepped up to Scott, car window and said, “ I’d like to have that young man on the force here, Scott. I might just steal him one of these days when you’re not looking.”
Scott laughed while Allan pulled away from the curb, leaving the Hendersen and Adams folks standing on the sidewalk waving.
In the distance ahead, a darkening sky and increasing winds caused Allan to say, “Rain ahead,” as he directed the car toward Boston. “At this hour in the afternoon, it’s bound to slow us down. I hope no one has anything important to do this evening.”
It wasn’t long before pounding raid made a drum-like staccato on the car’s roof, and the windshield wipers struggled to do their job. “The road is really slick,” Allan said, “I think we should pull in somewhere and wait. This is a passing squall that should be over soon.”
“There is a steak house at the top of this hill. Pull in there, Allan,” Scott ordered.
Marked watched as two cares followed them into the parking lot. “Those two cars that came in after us haven’t been far away since we left Riverville. I don’t like the look of it,” Mark said. “They have been taking turns at being ahead and behind us all the way.”
Scott turned in his seat, smiled at Mark, saying, “They are my protection – state police provided by the Mass. State’s Attorney. With me twenty-four hours a day, everywhere I go, they go – even patrol my neighborhood all night. I have to find out just how many troopers are assigned to this duty and their names. I need to thank them personally. And, Mark, I’m glad your senses haven’t dulled from leading the soft life.”
After delivering Mark and his parents’ home, Allan went directly to Charles Street South, where Annie sat in her raincoat waiting for them in the outer office.
“Annie! It’s six-thirty. Why are you still here?” Scott asked.
“I waited to give you an important message – thought it the best way to make sure you receive it. Commissioner Taranto called just before five. He stressed how important it is to talk to you the second you return. He said to hunt him down no matter what time it is. Now, do you need me anymore?” Annie asked.
“No, please go home, and many thanks.”
Dick Taranto was at his home when Scott called. “I have some terrible news, Scott. BPD Chief Cosmo Natali was found dead in his office lavatory, sitting on the toilet. His service revolver was on the floor, and half of his head is blown away. Pinned to his shirt was an envelope with your name on it. Naturally, we had to take it for fingerprints. Cosmo’s prints are the only ones on the envelope or its contents.”
Scott, trying to absorb it all, finally asked, “Do you have the note?”
“Yes, I walked it through the forensic process to make sure it didn’t get lost. You will need it to conclude your investigation. Do you want me to read it?”
“No,” Scott replied emphatically. “I first have to accept that a good guy is dead. I liked him despite what the note might say. And I’d bet a week’s pay that I know exactly what it says. Please messenger it to my statehouse office in the morning, and thanks for your consideration.”
“You OK, Boss?” Allan asked. “You’re as white as a sheet. Do you want some water? What’s happened?”
“We just had this case concluded for us. Chief of Police Cosmo Natali has killed himself and left a note for me. We’ll get it in the morning. I’m exhausted, so let’s go home, my friend. I’ll walk to the statehouse tomorrow. You take your time coming in. You’ve earned a late morning.”
Dear friend, Scott:
I just couldn’t stand the guilt any longer. I’m the last of Nathan Goddard’s associates. You have cleaned out the two organizations he headed. In a few minutes, there will be no more.
For years, Captain Callan and I have been covering up, alerting, and aiding the C Street gang’s propagation. We were well paid. It is only a matter of time before you discover my traitorous activity.
Now, in retrospect, I look at my early days as a patrolman, proud to serve the residents of Boston, and wonder what got me to this point. Geed is my only answer -- The greed for money and faster promotions. Suddenly I realize that none of it was worth the harm I have inflicted or the overpowering shame I feel at this minute. I thought of surrendering myself, but I cannot face the humiliation or the incarceration I face.
Cosmo Natali, Chief of Police
Allan came in with two cups of coffee and immediately noticed the grim expression on Scott’s face.
“I guess you already have the note, Boss,” as Scott pushed the letter across his desk for Allan to read.
Allan read Natali’s message, folded it, and handed it back to Scott. “That’s a tragic story, Boss. Was he a good friend?”
“I respected him,” Scott replied. “He was a good cop when he walked a beat – friendly and helpful to everyone. His climb to Chief of Police was comparatively fast – nothing to complain about. I would never suspect him of being in league with Goddard. Of course, it would eventually come to light. Someone would give him up in an attempt to help themselves. I’m really shocked, though.”
Scott continued, as he rose from his desk, “I have to show this to the State’s Attorney. While I’m out, Allan, please get ahold of Qualter or Guatino and get them here. Make sure they bring the Salinger Radio equipment and all the recording wire. Oh yes, the radio as well. Try to find out who in the state police has the radio now, and instruct them to get it to this office. We’ll take them back to Salinger later.”
“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.”
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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