Kelly Adams boarded the bus from Riverville to Boston. She was finely dressed in a Irish tartan wrap-around skirt, a blue Angora sweater, and with minimally applied makeup. Her auburn, shoulder length, hair held in place by two barrettes, gently bounced as she made her way down the isle of the bus, attracting admiring glances as she went. At Twenty-three, Kelly edged just over five-foot two with sharp, yet attractive, facial features. She was born in Riverville to Agnes Murphey and Stanley Adams; Agnes being the sister of Kathleen, the wife of Detective Sargent Carl Hendersen.
Kelly reached up and pulled the cord as the bus approached her stop in Summerville, on the fringe of Boston. She exited the bus and walked the two blocks to the All Erin, an Irish Pub shipped piece by piece from Dublin in the late twenties and reassembled. She could hear the thump of a drum and the high pitch of a penny whistle mingled with a guitar as she approached the Pub. She started to skip to the music, throwing in a fancy jig step or two. She spotted her friend Mary as soon as she entered the pub. The atmosphere, music and people made her heart jump with happiness; the happiest she is all week considering she feels her life and job somewhat humdrum.
She and Mary sat opposite each other in one of the high-backed booths, ordered amber ale, and proceeded to bring each other up to date since last being together a week ago. A second ale later and Mary excused herself to visit the lady’s room. The band was also taking a break and for the first time Kelly heard two men in the booth behind her arguing in muffled tones. She paid little attention until one man raised his voice.
“Frank, I’m tell’n you. The shipment must leave Portland on schedule for two reasons; the weather is promising, and those arms are frantically needed by the movement. It has taken too long already to acquire the proper weapons and ammunition. And then there is the slowness of the small trawler and time to transfer the shipment to a larger vessel.”
“You’re the boss, Hurley. I just wish we had the remainder of the payment in hand. But if you have the faith that we’ll be getting paid, so be it.”
Mary returned to the booth and the girls continued their conversation just as the band started playing again. It was a fast jig and the girls got up, joined several others and started to dance with great skill. At the same time, the two men, surprised that the next booth was occupied, quickly left and went to the bar.
“Do you think she heard us?” Frank asked.
“How could she not; the little one in the blue sweater. I thought the booth was empty. The other one was away when we argued.”
Hurley called the bartender over, slipped a twenty across the bar and asked, “Who is that little girl in the blue sweater dancing so well?”
“Oh, that’s Kelly Adams. She’s a regular every Saturday night – not a local, comes all the way down from Riverville.”
“She must have been taking lessons for a long time, wouldn’t you say.”
“I’d say,” the bartender replied, and walked away.
On his beat, Patrolman Francis J. Hendersen walks the very outskirts of Riverville, Massachusetts; a medium size community about fourteen miles north of Boston on what is locally known as the “North Shore”. He is a twenty-two-year-old rookie and the fifth Hendersen to proudly serve his community in that capacity. The fact is, his grandfather is Chief of Police and his father a Detective Sargent. His Great Grandfather retired as Chief four years ago. There are two younger brothers, one thirteen and one nineteen waiting in line, their father says. However, the boys have other ambitions and are frankly tired of the tradition. To them it seems everyone brings the police department home at night. There is seldom a conversation about anything else. Gang Busters, This is Your FBI, Official Detective and Calling All Cars are about the only radio heard in the home; other than the morning and evening news.
As Hendersen treads his way along Chandler’s Point, a strip of land about fifty feet wide separating tidal mud flats, he wonders if he will ever get used to the acrid smell of the flats at low tide; especially in summer. He generally walks to the end of the point scanning the flats on his right, and on the other side going back to the road. Today, halfway along the point, something about fifteen feet into the flats caught his eye; a roughly triangular muddy-white shape breaking up the monochrome grey-black of the mud. Wood walkways jut out over the flats about every twenty feet, a relic of earlier clam digging days before the flats became “sour”. Hendersen put one foot over the edge of the walkway and tested the mud. He touched solid ground about three or so inches down and brought the other foot down.
Laboriously, he worked his way to the object, each step making a sucking sound as his boots broke free of the mud.
The object, as he freed it from the glue-like mud, appears to be a sea bag with barely discernable letters, USN, stenciled near the top, a six-foot rope securely tying the opening closed. Hendersen, pulling on the rope, puffed and strained to drag the bag over the mud to the walkway. Once there, and greased with mud, it was relatively easy to move the bag along the wooden walkway. He estimates it weighs a hundred pounds or better. Once off the walkway, he made a quick inspection of the contents by feeling through the canvas and detected what appears to be a leg with a foot attached. A cold shiver came over him as he moved the sea bag to the tall grass bordering the flats, scrapes some mud from his boots and trots back to the road and the nearest police call box.
After calling in his discovery, Hendersen leans on the telephone pole, fishing his Canadian from inside of his uniform jacket, pulling a pouch of Prince Albert from his hip pocket and a match from his pistol belt. After packing the bowl, he raises his foot, out of habit, to strike the match, but thinks better of it after seeing the amount of mud still stuck to the bottom of his boot. He uses the pole as an alternative striker, and puts fire to the P A. Lingering against the pole smoking, he wonders if it really is a leg and foot, he felt in the sea bag or just his mind playing tricks on him. He popes back to the present with the whine of a siren coming into ear-shot; knocks his pipe against the telephone pole and stuffs it into his uniform jacket just as the police car, followed by an ambulance, approaches Chandlers Point.
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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