Case of the Riverville Murder
A Short Story by Ernie Whitenack
“Start tomorrow. I’ll inform the volunteers watching out for Kelly to expect you. Don’t go overboard on this, 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.
“We are anxious to get the pictures to the State Police ID group and the FTA. The profile might be handy”
That evening, Carl Hendersen walked to the Adams home where he sat down with Kelly and went over everything being done to protect her, explained who the men following her are and their qualifications.
“They are the best men on the force, Kelly, and all volunteers. So, you can see they are dedicated to a job they obviously want to do. I understand your frustration with the process. The only other thing we can do is put you up in a hotel somewhere away from here, or send you to Vermont and your aunt Helen.”
Kelly gave her uncle a hug while saying, “Thanks Uncle Carl. I guess I can stand it for a while, now that I understand it better, especially feeling I know the men and better appreciate what they must be giving up to help me. Most of them don’t even know me.”
Frank Sullivan and James Hurley, after a late supper at a Somerville diner, Walked, without conversation, to the All Erin for a nightcap and found an empty booth. They sat there, sipping whisky without a word to each other.
“What in Heaven’s name are you brooding about Sullivan? You haven’t uttered a blessed word since you got home from Riverville,” Hurley blurted out.
“I’m tired, James. It’s a long, hard day on my feet keeping an eye on that girl, and to say the least, damn boring. I’m through unless you start swapping off more days than one a week. It’s not fair. Besides, she hasn’t changed her routine since we started this bloody thing.”
“You can’t quit on me now. She is bound to change soon.”
“The hell I can’t. I don’t see the point. If she was going to say anything to anyone, it would have happened by now,” Sullivan came back sternly.
“You don’t get it, do you? The point is to find a way for one of the South Boston boys to grab her, you ninny. Of course, she has talked. Now she has to pay for it.”
“You’re kidding. A nice young girl like that! How come you’re just telling me. I want no part in it.”
“You better change your mind, boy-o, or you’ll be answering to the boss his-self, or maybe someone he appoints to bring you in tow. I don’t think you will like that. And I’m talking as your friend now.”
“OK, OK, but I still need some relief. You should be swapping every other day with me, or get someone who will.”
“There isn’t anyone else free to do it, so It is up to me. I’ll start tomorrow. Now, shut up about it and start acting normal,” Hurley snapped.
Rain started falling lightly, as the two men left the pub, and quickly turned into a downpour.
“Devilish miserable weather, Hurley said as he turned up his collar. If it doesn’t clear soon, that shipment waiting in Portland will be worthless. The weather in the newspaper, says this is just the beginning. High winds are coming and a low-pressure system covering the country from Florida and Northeast for several hundred miles to sea, and heading across the Atlantic. Not good.”
The next morning, under a gray and threatening sky, Charley Maxwell rose a little early and pulled a large suitcase from under his bed. From it he selected several baseball caps, each having a different sports team’s insignia on the front. These were followed by T-shirts displaying various team names or mottos. Next came several brightly colored light weight wind-breaker jackets. He put everything in a small duffle bag. Then, he opened a drawer in his dresser and retrieved a plastic box containing several styles if mustaches and a small make-up kit, and put the box in the duffle.
By the time people started arriving at Kelly’s work building, Maxwell was settled in his car, about fifty yards away, and facing the direction from which Kelly will be walking; his Cannon thirty-five-millimeter camera, fitted with a five-hundred-millimeter telephoto lens, at the ready.
Maxwell whispered to himself, “OK, here we go,” and started scanning the faces with the Cannon looking for Kelly. He spotted her almost immediately and continued to scan beyond her. He spotted officer Mike Marzano, so went back to Kelly and started over, trying to spot which one of the men is following her. It didn’t take long, as he was bobbing right to left and back again trying to keep an eye on Kelly between the heads of others in front of him. There is a shadow on his face from the Irish slouch hat he’s wearing. Charlie adjusted the aperture of his lens to account for the shadow and grabbed several shots of the man walking toward him.
The sidewalk being almost deserted and Kelly in the building, James Hurley crossed the street and went into the coffee shop while Maxwell was slipping into a yellow T-shirt with Eagles printed on the front, a bushy eighteen-hundreds gray mustache and a cap with a large P on the front. A green jacket topped it all. Maxwell followed Hurley into the coffee shop and saw him seated at the counter. After ordering a coffee, Maxwell left, crossed the street and sat on a bench waiting for Hurley to come out. He quickly raised his camera and got three close-ups of Hurley, who had yet put on his hat.
Hurley could not help but see Maxwell and directly approached him.
“Sure, and you’re taking a picture of me, are you?”
“Oh no, I was taking a shot of the big coffee shop sign above the door. You see, my wife has never been to this area and I’m going to Newburyport on business. She wants me to take slides along the way. She couldn’t come because she sits the grand kids during the week. I have no deadline to get there so decided to take the costal rout. Fact is, I didn’t even see you there.”
Hurley sits on the bench and wonders if he can believe this guy. “Nice camera you have there. That’s a bloody big lens. What’s it for?”
“It lets me take shots from far away. This way I can get pictures of the beaches I see without taking the time to find my way to them. The wife also likes boats. I can shoot them at sea from a pier or beach, if not too far away. Well, guess I should get going -- never know when I’ll see a nice scene to take for my wife.”
“Yea, now, you drive carefully,” Hurley replied.
Maxwell, coffee in hand, strolls to his car, does a U-turn and heads down the road. He notices the sign pointing to the Public Pier and makes the right turn. The parking lot is almost empty and he parks right at the entrance to the pier. Retrieving his camera and coffee, he heads down the pier and recognizes officers Marzano and Hendersen standing with their backs to the railing.
“Good morning, gents. How are you today?”
Surprised at the stranger, Marzano answers, “We are just fine, how about yourself?”
“Well, I’d be just great except this thing is driving me nuts.” Maxwell answers while pulling off his phony mustache.
Gales of laughter erupted from the officers. As Charlie Maxwell removed his baseball cap.
“We were told you would be around photographing the bad guys. What’s with the disguise?” Hendersen asked.
“Just a precaution. I talked to one of your bad guys today after I took his picture leaving the coffee shop; a real tight head shot. When he asked if I took his picture, I told him I was photographing the sign above the coffee shop. I followed it with a cock and bull story of why I was taking pictures. I think he swallowed it. If he should talk to anyone about the incident, I’ll be just some eccentric old guy from Philadelphia that will never be seen again.”
“Very cleaver,” Marzano said. “Are you through here for today?”
“What is Kelly’s routine? Does she go out for lunch, or take a walk. Anything unusual before she goes home?”
“Not generally. She brings her lunch most every day. We are there at lunch break, just in case. This is rather routine stuff. However, we have to be aware that they could attempt to snatch her at any time.”
“I guess I’m through for today, then. I was hoping to do a photo essay on each bad guy, sort of a profile. It just doesn’t seem feasible – too much down time. But I’ll give it a couple of days before deciding. I need to know what they do during the time Kelly is working.”
“I wish we could help you there but we try to avoid any contact at all. We don’t want to be recognized a couple of days from now.” Marzano said.”
“Understandable. Guess I’ll go back and get this film in the soup. The Chief is anxious to see some results and get them to the State Cops for ID. I’ll be around for a few days, although you might not see me. If you want to talk about anything, leave a note on my car. I’ll hang a tattered Confederate flag from the antenna. The car will be within seventy-five yards of the coffee shop, and on the other side of the street.”
Frank Sullivan leaves the diner after lunch, with a toothpick dangling from his mouth, and walks a half-block to a phone booth. Once inside, he searches his jacket for a slip of paper, and places it on the shelf beside the phone. He inserts a dime in the coin slot and dials a number. After inserting another dime, as instructed by a mechanical sounding voice, the phone started ringing.
“Riverville Police, may I help you?”
“Yes, I have important information about a pending kidnapping, and perhaps murder, of Kelly Adams of your city.”
“What is your name, sir”
“Now, you never mind that. Just put me through to the chief or a detective, or I’m hanging up.”
“This is Detective Hendersen. I understand you have some information you wish to give us.”
“And that I do” Sullivan said and went about telling how some people think Kelly should pay for telling what she heard in the All Erin pub.
“Is there anything else you want to say; like who intends to make her pay or who killed the ATF agent and dumped his body in the Atlantic?” Hendersen asked.
“On my mother’s grave, I don’t know. I know the agent was murdered but I don’t know exactly who did it; perhaps one of the hit-men from Southie,” Sullivan replied. “I’m not let in on a lot of stuff,” he continued and quickly hung-up.
Carl Hendersen immediately walks the short distance to the chief’s office and told him about the call.
“We have got to do something more to protect her, Dad. I don’t think two men, keeping an eye on her is enough. And, any objections she has are certainly nullified by that call.”
“I totally agree,” the chief replied. More men can be added along with a couple of two-man un-marked cars. That will make it eight men and a means of pursuit. Unfortunately, it offers no protection to a drive-by shooting. The best bet is to get her out of town to her aunt Helen in Vermont or somewhere equally remote. I’ll bet we can get some of Helen’s brothers-in-law, she has five, to watch the place. They are all hunters and crack shots.”
“I think you should put this to her, Dad. It will carry a lot more authority coming from you. Besides, she adores you.”
“OK, I’ll stop over and talk to the family after dinner tonight. If it’s a go, I’ll call her company in the morning, explain the situation and request she be given a leave of absence.”
The chief sits forward to retrieve a full bent apple from the stand on the corner of his desk and sets a match to it. To restrict himself, he fills three pipes each morning before leaving the house. These last him through the work day.
Leaning back in his old wood office chair, he blows smoke rings at the ceiling and tries to fight the feeling of fear that comes each time he thinks of his grand daughter being in eminent danger.
Carl, on the walk back to his office his office, suddenly realizes he must ramp-up protection between now and when Kelly leaves for Vermont. It could take several days to two weeks, depending on her employer’s needs.
Frank Sullivan, wandering the streets while waiting for the All Erin to open, wonders if he has done the right thing.
“Should anyone find out I snitched, my life will be taken with dispatch,” Sullivan says to himself. “Should I leave here and head west or hop a flight to Dublin and disappear somewhere in the Republic?”
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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