Case of the Riverville Murder
A Short Story by Ernie Whitenack
Byrne takes a swallow, puffs on his pipe and says, “Seems there is a suspected mole working here. according to the C street boss. His name is Sean Keogh, or so he says. Could be anything, really. We are to keep an eye on him and investigate his background, as much as we can, without raising suspicion with any authorities. I’m to pick up a dossier on him tonight. We’ll meet here tomorrow at one-o’clock, look it over and decide where to go with it.”
“I suppose they will want us to arrange his disappearance should we find out he’s dirty,” Mc Dougal responds.
“Now, let’s not be think’n of that as yet. A heap of work must be done first. Then it’s the boss’s decision not ours, thank the good Lord.”
Monday morning, amidst a drenching rain, Scott Wadsworth made the trek, so often made before, from his home on Beacon Hill, down Walnut Street, across the common and on to his office at Charles Street south. A large umbrella, protecting him, and his Oom Paul pipe, from the weather.
As Scott entered the office, Annie rushed to help him shed his raincoat and hat, took the umbrella to an ornately tooled brass stand and wiped the moisture from his briefcase.
“No calls this morning, Annie, unless it’s the governor. I have some heavy thinking to do.”
“Yes sir. Shall I bring your usual coffee later?”
“Oh yes, please. I think I will need it,” Scott said with a smile and sat at his desk. He lifted a yellow legal pad from a desk drawer. Methodically, he retrieved three, newly sharpened, number two, pencils from a ceramic mug and placed them next to the pad. He sat there for several minutes staring at the rain making abstract patterns as it as it ran down the glass. He looked away and selected a pipe from the rack on the credenza behind his desk, then returned attention to the window while fumbling with the pipe. Scott puffed, tamped and relight several times over the next ten, or so, minutes. Finely, he placed the pipe in an ash tray, picked up a pencil and started to write.
Annie gave a quick knock on the door and walked into Scott’s office with his mid-morning coffee. Scott glanced at the wall clock across the room and was surprised that the clock read ten-thirty.
“Thanks, Annie. I sure lost track of time.”
“From the look of your pad, you’ve been writing steadily for two and a half hours. You need a break.”
“You’re right, Annie. Thanks for remembering the coffee,” Scott said, as he removed a dozen pages from the pad and handed them to her.
“Please transcribe these for me; double spaced. I’ll have more by noon.”
“What do you have against the Dictaphone? It’s brand new and you have had lessons using it.”
“Old-fashioned, I guess. I just can’t get used to talking with no one listening.”
Annie smiled and retreated, with the pages from the legal pad, to the outer office.
Scott continued working on a plan to rescue the ATF investigator and save his life. The hope is, the extraction can be executed within a couple – three at the most – days and without any fuss or conflict. Finally, he removed another pipe, long since without embers, from between clinched teeth, laid down his pencil and pressed the button used to summon Annie. Glancing at the wall clock, he was surprised to see the day had passed and the clock read five-thirty.
Annie appeared almost immediately and handed Scott the typed transcription from the morning.
“Oh Annie, I’m so sorry. I know I told you I would have more by noon. The day just slipped away from me, and here it is a half-hour after your quitting time.”
“Well, its nothing I didn’t expect. I know how important this is and I don’t mind staying late for something like this. You are forgiven,” Annie said with a smile. “It looks like another hour, or so, to transcribe what you have in front of you. And, you should call home and let Alma know you’ll be late.” Annie said as she swooped the pile of papers from Scotts desk.
“I owe you, Annie, and don’t let me forget it,
The next Morning Scott, and his driver Sgt. Allan Rockford, arrived at the Riverville Police Station, as promised, to go over the plan with Carl Hendersen and AFT investigator, Henry Reichmann.
After discussing the plan several times to extract agent Martin Wolfe from South Boston, Scott interjected:
“As you can see, I have called on the state police detective squad exclusively to execute this operation. This doesn’t mean you aren’t welcome to participate. However, it’s essential, to totally pull off this charade, that uniformed officers, and plain-clothed detectives, make the arrest. Starting last night, detectives are observing Wolfe’s movements in an effort to determine just when and where the phony arrest will be made. Unfortunately, this will take a couple of days. Even then, there is no guarantee agent Wolfe will not change his pattern at the last minute.”
“What safeguards will be in place to react to a change in pattern by Wolfe?” Henry Reichmann asked.
“Radio communication,” Scott answered. “All cruiser and personnel radios will be tuned to an exclusive radio frequency that cannot be detected by a scanner. This way everyone can move instantly. It’s like a last-second signal change by a quarterback. All involved will know just where to go, and do so on command. The only difference is that the quarterback can be anyone who spots a change in Wolfe’s movement.”
Henry Reichmann stood from his chair and stretched. “Seems as if you’ve covered all contingencies, he said as he walked around the room. “I, for one, want to be there. I’ve worked with Wolfe several times. It will be reassuring for him to see a friendly face, and will quickly understanding what is happening.”
“Fine with me,” Scott replied. “How about you, Carl. Do you want in as well?”
“I don’t see the need, and there is a remote possibility that I might be recognized if there are civilian observers. Having someone connected see the arrest, and report the incident back to the gang, is the whole point in the arrest. I don’t want my presence getting back to the Somerville bunch. It might just put too many questions regarding the whole thing in the minds of the wrong people.”
“I’m glad you see that, Carl. That thought came to mind last night as I was going over the operation. The possibility is quite remote, as you say, but remote possibilities have a way of coming to life. I can recall several that almost destroyed careful plans.”
“OK, where do we go from here, Scott?” Reichmann asked.
“I’ll call and give you a report daily. When the time seems right, I’ll have you picked up here by Sgt. Allan Rockford, whom you know. I suggest you be armed. We will be in one of the detective’s cruisers for the operation.”
Carl Hendersen escorted Scott to the parking lot, said hello to Sgt. Allan Rockford.
“Carl, how is it going with Kelly?” Scott asked as he was about to get in the car.
“She has permission for a leave of absence from her job, and her father and I will be getting her to Vermont very early Saturday morning. Those goons following her don’t show up until late on Saturday. We hope they will think she is just staying home. By the time they discover she isn’t around, she will be well entrenched at her aunt’s house and well protected by four male cousins. The boys are all six-foot bruisers. Three did military police work in the U.S. Marines at one time or another. The fourth, and oldest, served 12 years; most of them as a hand-to-hand combat instructor. Farm work, along with a small lumbering operation, keep them in top shape.”
“Sounds like an ideal hide-away. I hope she enjoys her stay in Vermont.”
Scott returned to his office at the state house to find a pink phone message on his desk telling him Detective Cpl. Mark Simmons called, and a number where he can be reached after three o’clock. A second message sheet, from Michael Mitchell, asking him to meet for lunch at the Parker House, that he has important information.
Scott made a few necessary calls, before leaving his office and making his way down to the Parker house.
In Parker’s Restaurant, filling rapidly at twelve-ten, Scott spotted Mic, about in the middle of the room, at a table for four. The two exchanged greetings, placed their order and waited for the waiter to bring their drinks, Parker’s Single Malt, a famous fifteen-year-old single malt from Islay.
“So, Mic, what do you have”
“I’ve been keeping my eyes and ears open on the Commercial Street job; even been hanging around for the second shift. Yesterday, just as the first shift was ending, Albert Nunsay, one of the men from the list with a record had a couple of visitors. They stayed talking after the second shift came to work. I selectively asked around to see if anyone knew who Nunsay was talking to. A person I trust said, “No one you want anything to do with.” I pressed him and he told me they were Jerry Mc Dougal and John Byrne, a couple of Southie hoods and suspected killers. I casually walked close to them but could not hear a thing because of work and traffic noise. I asked Nunsay if he is working a double shift and if the two with him were new on the job. He told me he was through for the day and his friends just happened by.”
“Good work, Mic. The more names we can gather and investigate the closer we will be to solving one murder and preventing a couple more. The ATF is attempting to track the arms shipment and the money that paid for it. If a discovery there coincides with arrest here, we might just clear up everything. I’ll get moving on these three names this afternoon. Let’s eat.”
At three-ten Scott called the number for Detective Cpl. Mark Simmons, “Cpl. Simmons, Wadsworth here. What do you have for me?”
“I’ve been observing Martin Wolfe, alias Sean Keogh, for several days regarding suspicious activities. This is prior to your request for an observer. Naturally, I did not know he was under-cover. Well, his movements have changed considerably. Previously, he was all over Southie, moving from business to business and occasionally visiting several bars, as if running errands. For the last three days, he has been late leaving his apartment and only a couple of times has he repeated any visits. Mostly, he goes out to take meals, and then lingers longer than usual. He hits a pub or bar in the late afternoon and nurses a couple of drinks. Sometimes he eats where he drinks and other times he goes to a cafeteria or a Chinese restaurant. It appears to me that he has been cut him off by whomever he was doing erands. I’m thinking the mob is getting suspicious, and thought you should know about this change.”
“Good work, Simmons. This is exactly the type of info we need. I’ll see that you stay on this job. Soon you’ll be issued a radio and given instruction regarding the frequency. We are about to enter into a rather large operation to extract him, via a phony arrest, out of what has turned into a dangerous situation for him. We are afraid the mob will assonate him. You will be notified of a strategy meeting in the next couple of days. In the meantime, stay with him and be aware of anyone else who appears to be observing him. An attempt on his life can come anytime. I received some information earlier today that will hopefully shed some light on other aspects of this complicated case.
“Yes, Sir. I’ll stay with him and keep my eyes open for anything else. I have a better picture of the situation now. Thank you. I look forward to the strategy meeting.”
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 2019
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