Riverville Murder - Chapter 23

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Case of the Riverville Murder

A Short Story by Ernie Whitenack

Chapter Twenty Three


“Good. What do you think of bringing him into the Chief Investigator’s office? I can use him. Also, if all about Callan proves true, Simmons is through as a cop in Boston, or any place else. I hate to see good talent wasted.”

“I think you are right on with this one, Boss. He and I have kind of bonded. We’ll work well together. Other than that, I don’t see how you hold it all together; what with maintaining a large law office and being Chief Investigator for the state. It will be good for you.”

At his law office, Scott ran through his Rolodex to find the phone number of Mark Simmons.

“Mark, I’m glad I caught you at home. I would like you to drop by my office on Charles Street South about ten in the morning. Can you do that?”

“Yes, Sir. Anything at all, if I can help. See you then.”

At nine-forty-five, the traffic being heavy, a taxi dropped Mark Simmons at a corner close to Scotts building. As he casually walked along, he felt a sharp sting in his left thigh. Mark limped into an alley to his right and fell, just as a window broke and he heard two ricochets bounce off the brick wall above his head. He quickly pulled his “38” from its belt holster and hugged the ground close to the wall. No more shots ensuing, he removed his necktie and applied it as a tourniquet, while fighting the darkness that flooded in.

Soon, Scott and Allan heard the sirens draw close and stop. “They stopped right out-front; Allan exclaimed.”

“Go see what’s going on, Allan. Flash you badge if necessary” Scott ordered.

Allan ran up the stairs and burst through the office door. “It’s Mark. He has been shot in the leg and is laying in the alley. City cops are there and an ambulance is on the way. He’s unconscious.”

Scott bolted out the door and down the stairs and into the alley. An older officer, cradling Mark’s upper body, recognized Scott, gave a half-hearted salute, and said, “Chief Inspector, he’s just coming around, he is. It’s not a bad wound – looks like it went right through his leg, about two inches from the edge – bit of a shock, it appears.

Scott knelt beside him saying, “Mark, can you hear me? – speak up, boy.”

“Oh, Mister Wadsworth! Guess I blacked-out. Sorry to mess up our meeting,” Simmons said, with a slur and glazed-over eyes.

“Did you see who shot you?”

“No, and I didn’t even hear the shots. I heard a window break and a couple of ricochets. Lucky I was down after the first shot,” he replied, while making an effort to sit up, his eyes starting to clear. “Who put my necktie on my leg?”

The officer laughed, more out of relief than humor, while saying, “Sure and it must have been yourself, lad. I was the first one to your side. Good that ya had your mind about ya and did that.”

Another officer entered the alley yelling, “All right now, every one, out with ya’. The ambulance is here.”

As the ambulance pulled away, Scott turns to Allan, “Allan get the car and meet me here. I have to close the office because Annie is off today. They are taking Mark to City Hospital.”

Scott and Allan, sitting silently outside the ER of City Hospital, await news from the doctor attending Mark Simmons. After a bit, Allan askes “How did they know?”

“I just hope it isn’t another leak. I had to explain my plans to too many people. I’ve been sitting here filtering them out and can’t believe any of them, by any stretch of the imagination, could be in with Callan. And, this has to be his work. I believe it was simply coincidence that it happened outside my building. I think Callan didn’t trust his getting friendly with us, so rather than take a chance, he decided to eliminate him – probably been                                                         tailing him for several days. The question now is, was the shooter another bad BPD cop, or a Goddard lieutenant.”

The two men sat for another few minutes before the doctor approached them. “He’s doing fine. The bullet went through the fleshy part of his thigh. Fortunately, he applied a tourniquet before passing out, or he would be in much worse shape from loss of blood. He can probably leave here tomorrow afternoon, barring an infection”

“That’s not a good idea, Doctor. I’m Chief Investigator Scott Wadsworth, out of the State’s Attorney’s Office, and I want him here for a week, at the least. I can get a court order if necessary. Please inform your administrator. Also, there will be state police protecting him twenty-four-hours a day. I need this time to figure out how to give him protection when he does leave.”

“I understand Mister Wadsworth. You have my full cooperation, and I’m sure, that of the administrator.”

“Thank you doctor. You’ll be hearing from me very soon.”

Back at Scotts law office, Scott made a call to Matt Hart informing him of the shooting and requesting twenty-four-hour state police protection for Simmons, and adding, “No visitors, including Boston Cops. Naturally, his family can visit to the extent of hospital rules. He’ll be ok, but I have to find a place for him after the hospital. Also arrange with the papers to print a false story of his death, and a fake funeral. I want him as safe as possible until this mess comes to trial, and if he has to testify, or until the trial is over, if he doesn’t.”

“You’re asking a lot, Scott. Do you think all this is necessary, or are you now working on emotion?”

“No, I’m not, even though I’m as angry as I have ever been. I want this exceptional young man to be safe.”

“Ok. I’ll take care of the police protection, and the visiting matter. You do your thing. I’ll keep it to myself.  Just keep me informed.”

Next, Scott informed Simmons’s parents of the shooting, and assured them he is in excellent condition. Then said, “I’m working on a plan to keep him safe until the case we are working on is over, and those involved are put away. I’ll explain that part to you later. I hope this eases your mind. Official notifications of this type are often too blunt, with little explanation as to severity. Mention my name if the guards give you trouble about seeing Mark. Only family will be allowed to get near him, per-order of the State’s Attorney.”

Back at his Rolodex, Scott quickly found the number of Frank Gray office at Consolidated News Service.

Frank Gray, a school and military friend of Scotts, went with Consolidated in 1944 from the Boston Post. Wooed away primarily because of his vast connections at foreign news services.

“Well, if it isn’t Scott Wadsworth, Esq. Long time no see, buddy. What kind of a muddle are you going to get me into this time, as if the Nazis and that odd pipe weren’t enough?”

“Come on, Frank, you loved it, and look where it got you, Just into the largest news service in the world.”

“You’re right. I thought I might be hearing from you, considering what I’ve been reading, and you getting shot at twice.”

Scott went on to explain the situation, and the secrecy needed, before talking about the false death report and funeral. “The shooting happened right in front of my building. If it hasn’t been on the radio yet, it will be soon – in the papers also. I’m hoping you can get any more newspaper reporting on it killed. Also, in a week or so, you can plant the story of Simmons death and funeral. By then he will be tucked away somewhere safe. I’ll do the write-up. You edit it if necessary. I would like it in Boston and New York papers.”

“I thought you were going to ask for something difficult! Of course, I’ll do it. I think I still have enough pull with the local press to be granted a favor occasionally. If I hear of anything I think pertains to Goddard or his gang, on the wire, or elsewhere, I’ll buzz you.”

“Thanks, Frank. How long since we’ve done Jake Wirth’s? Never mind, it doesn’t matter. Just let’s do it again soon.”

“Absolutely. I sure wish Abe Müller could be there, Frank quietly said.”

After a short silence, Scott replied, “Yea, me too.”


Michael J. Hendersen, Somerville Chief of Police noticed his son, Carl, passing his door. The chief caught Carl’s attention and motioned him to come in.

“Carl, did you hear about the shooting outside Scotts law office?”

“No, I didn’t. Was Scott the target again?”

“No, it was a BPD Detective Sergeant, Mark Simmons. But it occurring practically at Scott’s door is the odd thing, don’t you think?”

Possibly. Why don’t you call him? The way he helped with Kelly’s problem, and it turning into a big murder, and local, as well as, an international case, we owe him. Maybe we can help in some way.”

“Perhaps, Carl. I’ll call him this evening to see if we can be of help. Anyway, I want to congratulate him on the clean-up of Somerville and South Boston. When we were at all together last Sunday, Kelly was asking me about him. She holds him in high regard for helping her, and the department.”

“Call me and fill me in on your conversation.”

Charles Street South:

Scott pulled a legal pad from his desk and a new pencil, thinking he should do a draft of the death and funeral article, but saw Allan gazing out the window looking bored.

While fishing his pocket for money, Scott said, “Allan, it’s time for an afternoon break. How about you get us some coffee and a couple of doughnuts?”

“Glad to, Boss. I need the exercise.”

Allan barely shut the door behind him when the phone rang again.

“This is Chief Hendersen, Scott. I have been reading about your exploits of late; the Nunsay thing with you getting shot, the raids and the attempt at you at the federal court. And now the BPD cop near your office. Are you OK? Is there any way we can help you?”

“I’m fine Chief. How is the Hendersen clan doing these days? Has Kelly settled back into a normal life?”

“Oh yes. Young people are quite resilient, you know. And, the rest of us are just fine, thanks. Now, about you?”

Scott hesitated before speaking and asked himself if this was the time, then said, “As a matter of fact you might be able to help. That officer who was shot outside my building was on his way to see me. I was going to ask him to come to work for me. Why, is a long story I won’t go into now, but it is important he go into a secure situation when he leaves the hospital. I was hoping you might have a place for him within the family until this South Boston case is finalized. I estimate that will be in a month or two at the latest. Riverville and a police family will be perfect for him, and I think you all will like him.”

“I can’t see where that will be a problem at all, Scott. I’ll talk to the family and get back to you. When will he be discharged?”

“His wound is not serious and he could leave tomorrow, but I’ve asked the hospital to hold him for a week or two. That’s about all I can tell you for now. I look forward to hearing from you, and thanks.”

Scott, filling his pipe asked Allan, upon his return from the coffee run, to pull up a chair, that he wanted to run something by him.

“What is it, boss,” Allan asked.

Scott explained the Hospital and false news report first; then said, “I’ve asked Chief Hendersen in Riverville to take Mark in for a month or so, in order to provide a secure environment for him, while we clean up this Callan problem. What do you think of the idea and do you think Mark and the Hendersen family will be a good mix?”

“Off hand, I can’t think of a better one. For the most part, my association with them was as a bystander, but my impression is that of a fine upstanding family, as I believe Mark’s is. And, a police family as well. I doubt you can find a better match.”

“Thanks, Allan. Now finish your coffee and take off. I won’t be needing you the rest of the afternoon. I’ll take a slow walk home and call you in the morning if I don’t decide to walk to work. Otherwise, take whatever time you need for yourself in the morning, then come to the law office when you have finished”

“Is that wise, boss? Looks like Callan is after you too.”

“They’ve done one deed today. I think they are lying low for now.”

The door closed behind Allan and Scott sat trying to mentally construct a plan for moving Simmons. His head was a stir-up of ideas that mostly conflicted.

South Boston:

Claud Callan pulled into the parking lot of the Italian Club. He unlocked a side door and walked through the empty corridors to the locker room. He sat on a bench and turned to the man leaning against a bank of lockers.

“What happened?” Callan asked. “That cop snitch-bastard is still alive. I thought you were a pro.”

“I got him with the first shot, but he fell into the alley. I popped off a couple more into the alley. He was on the ground and people were crowding around. I did all I could. I had to put the gun away. Shooting from a doorway on a busy street, isn’t very wise to start with, ya know.”

“Ok, Ok, calm down. So, you did your best. Now, we have to cool it for a while. Later, we’ll put three or four on Wadsworth. With him gone, the whole thing might cool off and be forgotten. Then we can start rebuilding the gang.

“Where do you expect to find the people? There is me, and the other two lieutenants. The rest, of any value, are in jail, and will be for some time to come, if the Feds get ahold of them. The rest are punks and have probably scattered anyway.”

“You will have to recruit locally first, and then try New York and Rhode Island. I’m not going to be able to help much. I’m sticking my neck out as it is, right now. I want to hand this job off to someone and get back in the shadows.” Callan responded with finality in his voice.


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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