Case of the Riverville Murder
A Short Story by Ernie Whitenack
“Two things; did the money get to you OK and who in hell did you get to take care of that agent Anderson? They sure screwed this one up.”
“Don’t know his name. I called a friend in a South Boston bunch to find someone to take care of Anderson; paid him eight-hundred. Why do you ask, he’s dead?”
“That he is and is making headlines clear over here, as it must be there as well. My God, man, his body washed ashore not twenty miles north from you. A stupid and sloppy job. Any investigation will certainly be centered in Riverville and cover all of New England. He should have buried or burned or, at the least, dumped Anderson far at sea.”
“Gus, I don’t know what to say. The Southie bunch are considered the experts in this area.”
“Well, if you must say something, tell me the shipment is on its way.”
Hurley cringed and started to sweat, then replied, “It’s the weather, it is. They tell me it could be two more weeks. There is bad weather stirring to the north and heavy North East winds coming from the south and bringing rain. They say, if the two fronts meet, there will be nothing small moving from New England to the North Sea for a while.”
That evening at the Adams home, Kelly is sitting on the sofa in deep thought, her brow furrowed and her arms crossed hugging her body. Her father, looking over the top of his newspaper at Kelly, drops the paper to his lap.
“What’s bothering you, daughter of mine?” he gently asks.
Kelly pops back to reality and replies, “I’ve been thinking about this whole thing; murder, illegal guns and the Protestant – Catholic thing in Ulster. Daddy, I just cannot understand it. It’s beyond me why people hate each other like that. Don’t they both believe in the same God?”
“It isn’t so much about religious beliefs, but one of cultural and social differences” he replies. “It just happens that the two sides of the political fight worship a little differently. Northern Ireland was always Irish but immigrants from Scotland and England, both predominately Protestant countries, settled there in great numbers and are in the majority, as they have been for a long time. Because of the links to, and support of, England, the Protestants control most of the business, have the most opportunity and best jobs. This causes a great difference in the economy and social aspect of the two people; the Catholics generally are poor and oppressed and are in favor of the area becoming part of the Irish Republic. The Protests want to maintain the status quo.”
“But that was so long ago, Daddy. The United States has had emigration problems with certain nationalities not being accepted, and it all went away either by law or attrition. Why can’t they just get together and work it out?”
“Because there are those who just keep it boiling. When the Republic gained its independence in 1921, the IRA went right on fighting to include Northern Ireland. Over the years the English thought it necessary to have a military protection there because of assassinations and bombings by the Catholic and Protestant terrorists; which unfortunately killed many civilians. When the IRA became a parliamentary body, favoring diplomacy to gain unification, the Provisional IRA emerged and became violent in Ulster. Not having the support of the Irish Republic, they looked to underground sources to obtain weapons and ammunition. Most monies, and weapons, come from sympathizers in the Republic and in the US through phony charities and businesses. Of course, that’s all illegal under federal law in the US, but continues.”
“Well I don’t like it,” Kelly angrily responded. “If they have to fight and kill, it shouldn’t be effecting us. Can’t they keep all that at home?”
“I’m afraid not. It seems whatever happens in the world ends up with political and personal turmoil here. The US tried isolationism after the first world war. When the second world war came along, twenty-five years later, about all isolationism did was create unpreparedness, with a skeleton military force and no budget for increasing it.”
“Have you talked to uncle Carl about all this? How long does he think it will take to clear up this whole mess? I sure don’t want to spend much longer with police following me everywhere I go, and wondering if they can really protect me if they have to. I want my life back.”
“I haven’t, but I am positive he and the force are doing as much as they can, as fast as they can. And, please don’t worry about your safety. Carl and the chief have hand-picked the cops following you because they are the most capable for the job.”
“O.K. Dad, I’ll try, but I sure would like to know how much longer this will go on.”
The next morning, after roll call, Sergeant Carl Hendersen and his father the chief, sat on the podium to bring each other up to date, as they do most mornings.
“Dad, I had a call from Stanly Adams last night asking how long this murder case will take to be finalized. He told me of a conversation he had with Kelly. She is frightened and wants to get her life back and have some freedom. She even wonders if the cops following her can really protect her. What kind of an answer can we give her? I know these cases can’t be put on a schedule, but I feel for the poor girl. Is there anything we can do?”
“I suppose she could get a leave-of-absence and go visit her aunt Helen in Vermont. However, I doubt that is something she will want to do. You have a talk with her and explain the situation. Tell her what we now know. Let her know how much faith we have in the men assigned to her protection; and how important it is to ID the Somerville guys tailing her every move, and that we are close to doing just that, thanks to her protectors. Maybe, if she can see the whole picture, she’ll feel better about being so restricted. Also, ask her if there is anything else we can do for her.”
“I’ll call Stanley and ask if I can come over tonight to talk to Kelly. Now, to another subject. Francis is making preparations for Saturday night; checking out his Minox sub-miniature camera, cleaning and checking his 32cal. ankle revolver, and who knows what else. I’m convinced a visit the All Erin is a good idea and trust him to handle it. I think we should have other photos for comparison. I’m going to enlist one of the department photographers to discretely photograph the guys following Kelly, if you approve.”
“Absolutely. It will also give us a head start by running them through the State Police ID division. We might get lucky. Better notify the men assigned to Kelly so they won’t grab the photographer should they not know him.”
The chief returned to his office where his secretary told him he has a guest from the FTA, a John Guilford.
He opened the inner office and said, “Mister Guilford, I’m Chief Michael Hendersen. Very happy, but surprised to see you. I guess you are here about the demise of your agent, Anderson.
“That’s correct, Chief. I’m the district supervisor from New York. Washington asked me to make a visit to see if there is anything we can do to help.”
“As a matter of fact, there is. We have two things going on here; the murder of Anderson and some information we obtained about a couple of Somerville hoods and a shipment of illegal weapons being shipped from Portland Maine. We are assuming the two are linked but do not know how.”
“Anderson was under deep cover in the Compton Hill gang in Somerville, and collecting information on this very shipment. Unfortunately, he was murdered before he could pass the information along. The one thing we do know is how tightly the gang is linked to a mob in South Boston. The Somerville gang is not prone to much violence, so we must believe someone from Boston did the job for them.”
“Well, that makes the connection, then. We have been reluctant to call in the Somerville police or our own state police until we knew more about Anderson. Perhaps the time is now.”
“The FTA hopes you won’t do that yet. This case reaches much farther than you might expect. The CIA is on it in North Ireland, both sides, trying to find out where these guns are going should they not be intercepted before that. Also, we would like to stem the flow of money from around the country, mostly California, New York and Massachusetts, that is purchasing the weapons. We are close to proving that most, if not all, of the money is channeled through a dummy financial institution, probably in New York. The big question, which one of the hundreds of institutions is it? FTA accountants in conjunction with the IRS are working on that problem. We know that not all the money contributed to charity groups, helping the poor in Ulster, is getting where it’s intended. So, you can see the need for a bit of secrecy about the whole tangled case. Now, Chief, tell me just what you know and what your department has been doing about this matter.”
The chief first told the story of Kelly overhearing the men in the Somerville pub, and how the police are protecting her while hoping to get a line on the men following her. He went on to tell of the plan for the pub this Saturday and the police photographer being assigned to photograph the different men on Kelly’s tail.
“I understand your predicament. Can you utilize the State Police ID Division with a feeling of security that it won’t go beyond them? If not, we can put both the FBI and CIA on it. There could be an international connection to these men. A lot of people come to the US on a student or visitor’s visa and then disappear. God knows what they are up to.”
“I don’t see why we can’t do it all. One of the organizations is bound to come up with something on these two. I feel fairly safe having the State Police run the photographs. I have a couple of old friends I can depend on to handle it in secrecy,” the Chief answered.
“I won’t take any more of your time, Chief. I’m glad we had this talk. It gives us both a better understanding of what is going on. I left my card with your secretary. Please call me about anything, no matter how small you think it is. I’ll do the same, at least for a while. Washington will be sending an agent to work with you. I hope you can find desk room for him.”
“He’ll be very welcome,” the chief responded as John Guilford left the outer office.
About the same time, Detective Sgt. Carl Hendersen walked through the door of the police photo department.
“Sergeant,” a deep voice boomed from behind the counter. “What, are you lost or something? I haven’t seen you in the photo department for a couple of years.”
“No, Charley, I just figured it was time to check up on you and see if you are any uglier,” the sergeant said with a smile. “There is something else I need to talk to you about. Let’s go to your office.”
Charley Maxwell and Carl Hendersen met in the third grade and have been friends ever since. Maxwell bought a second-hand Leica camera while in junior high school and drove every one crazy with it. However, in his junior year of high school he contributed many activity pictures to the senior year book. That book won a national year book competition due largely to Charlies photos; for which he received a separate award. He became an instant celebrity at school and around Riverville. He started freelancing pictures to the local and Boston newspapers. Eventually, the Boston Globe hired him as a local stringer. This gave him the opportunity to hang around the Globe’s regular photographers once in a while. Charlie watched, listened and learned. The men liked Charlie and gladly answered all of his questions. The Globe took him on full time after a couple of years and he made a name for himself as a fearless news photographer and his dramatic pictures.
Carl followed Charley through the studio, used for police portraits and forensic photography, to Charlie office on the far side. Once in the office, Carl explained Kelly’s situation and lightly touched on the murder and gun-running problem. He also told him of the plans for the Erin Pub on Saturday night.
“Now, we would also like some professional photographs of the men tailing Kelly. I’m asking you to go on a special assignment for me and get some long and close-up photos of these men. We think there are only two of them right now, but only one at a time, swapping-off every other day. This could change so you will probably be tied-up for a week or two; either mornings, on her way to work, or evenings when she comes home. It’s your choice. I doubt it will take more than an hour or an hour and a half each day. Less if they stick to only two men. The two cops who are protecting Kelly have a routine. One follows the bad guy and the other is on the opposite side of the street and parallel to Kelly. You will probably recognize the officers. In any event, I’ll instruct them to make themselves known somehow, just in case.”
“Carl, I’m so glad you came to me. Kelly, and more so you, have been a part of my life in this community for too many years to keep me out of it. I will devote as much to this as is needed to get a complete profile on these guys. I have a great staff here and have no qualms about being away from the studio. When do I start?”
“Start tomorrow. I’ll inform the volunteers watching out for Kelly to expect you. Don’t go overboard on this. We are anxious to get the pictures to the State Police ID group and the FTA. The profile might be handy but time is important. Thanks Charlie. I know you will do a stand-up job.”
“It’s doubtful that your volunteers will even see me, most of the time anyway. I’ll be using long focal length lenses that allow me to shoot from cover and at great distances. Of course, there may be times when I will have to be in the open, but I’ll look like a tourist,” Charley told Carl.
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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