The Adventure of the
Dead Man Walking
The man walked along the sidewalk, he needed to clear his head, and this seemed to him the best way to do. He was oblivious to the cold rain that was more sleet than rain. He hunched his shoulders, and slightly tipped his head letting the accumulated water drip off the brim of his hat. He hunched his shoulders as he shoved his hands deeper into his coat pockets and moved slowly on, no destination in mind. He was barely aware of the black car slowly moving down the street its tires making almost no noise in the rain slick street before he could turn and look the car turned downtown and disappeared into the fog. He looked up at the brownstone buildings, some still had the heavy wartime black out curtains pulled, others had a thin, gauzy curtains upon which black human shaped forms could be seen. Pausing at a corner he looked around trying to decide which way to go, when a pair of headlights suddenly appeared out of the gathering fog. He waited to see which way the car turned. It paused briefly at the corner, then turned right and continued down the street. For no reason he could explain to anyone, he decided to follow the car. The red lights were easy to see in the gathering gloom. Moving on, his shoes making a wet leather slap as he moved through the fog and drizzle his mind cataloging which brownstones, had lights on and which one had cars parked in front and even which street lights were brightly lit. He came to another corner and saw dimly ahead the red tail lights of a car. He could hear the engine still running as he crossed the street and moved closer. Suddenly, he heard a loud bang and he flinched, nearly falling down a set of steps which lead to a garden level apartment. There was a second, very loud bang that sounded like someone slamming a heavy wooden door, then a third bang like the back fire of a car or maybe even a gun. A male form came cautiously down a set of steps two or three homes ahead of him he paused briefly looking both ways up and down the street making sure that there was no one around to see him. He had paused long enough for the watcher to see his face shadowed by his fedora. The man hunched his shoulders setting the trench coat better on his stocky frame. He was holding something in his right hand, that to the watcher looked like a gun. He moved to stand up right and the figure ahead of him, whirled pointing the business end of the gun in the watcher’s direction. The watcher thought he might recognize the shooter, he was a well-known figure in the Irish Mafia, one of their top assassins in the city. The watcher didn’t move or even dare to make a noise as the shooter returned his attention toward their surroundings, suddenly there was a crash of trash cans and the battle cry of a pair of cats fighting from a near-by alley. The man shoved his weapon into his pocket and dashed across the sidewalk and got into the car. The engine reeved and with a squeal of tires it moved up the street, the driver of the car looked back in his rear-view mirror just before turned a corner and he recognized the watcher just as they fled up the street to disappear around another corner.
The watcher, shook his head, not believing what he had just witnessed. What would Liam Owens be doing on the west side of the city, he belonged on the waterfront, not uptown. Slowly the watcher, shook his head, then moved toward the brownstone he had seen the man come from. The front door was closed, and he could see shadow images on the curtains from the light cast inside the room. He shook his head watching the figures moving around as if nothing had happened, and maybe nothing had happened. He decided that he was imagining things, so he continued up the street to the next corner and turned upward toward eighty seventh street. He continued to try and figure out what he had seen, but the fog, drizzle and cold had driven all his thoughts right out of head, all he wanted to do was get home and warm up.
In a bar on the waterfront a large, beefy man, with hair the color of an Irish setter, and emerald green eye glared across the table at Liam O’Rielly. “Why’d you have to go and get stupid, Liam? Huh?” He slowly shook his head and continued, “Now, I gotta go and fix the mess you made of this and that ain’t gonna be easy, let me tell ya, the cops are already gonna be all over this one. They and the D.A. don’t like their witnesses getting dead,” The speaker a man known in the Irish Mafia as Big Red continued to shake his head. He was one of the leaders of the Callahan Mob and their fixer. He looked up at Owens and instructed, “You, go and get yerself lost, go somewhere, say, Boston, is my suggestion and stay there until we this taken care of, understand?”
“Yeah, boss I got it,” Liam slowly rose and grabbed his trench coat and looked down at the boss, “What am I supposed to tell my missus? She ain’t gonna be happy I just go and disappear.”
“What I haft’a make all your decisions for ya? Take your silly woman with you, say youse gonna visit your brother or sister or something like that, just stay away for a couple of weeks, until this thing blows over, got it?”
“Yeah, I got it. I’ll give my sister a call and let her know we’re coming,” the Mafia hitman said as he slung his coat over his broad shoulders and headed to the back of the bar and the payphone located between the men’s and women’s restrooms. Once he finished talking, he hung up and left the bar heading home to get his belongings and his wife and get to the train to Boston on time. Once O’Rielly had left the bar, Big Red let his gaze move over the faces of the men gathered around the different tables, bar, and pool tables. He finally spied a man sitting in the farthest corner of the bar, he was slowly finishing his beer and looking around the large open room. A waiter came out of the back carrying a plate which he set before a youngish man sitting at a corner table. The young man looked up at the waiter, thanked him, picked up his utensils and began eating. Big Red, got up and stopping to speak to different me, slapping one or another on the back or shoulder as he moved across the room toward the young man. Big Red, pulled out a chair, and slowly lowered his bulk onto the chair and waited patiently for the man to finish what he was chewing on. Once the man stopped chewing, took a swallow of his beer, set the glass down and drawled, “Yes, can I help you?”
“I’ve never seen you here before, you new in the city?” Big Red questioned as he leaned forward and rested his elbows on the table.
“That’s right, I arrived from Dublin on the first, staying with my uncle and brother. My uncle got me a job working with him on the high-rise construction jobs in the city. Same thing I did in Dublin,” He took another bite of his steak, chewed, grabbed a few of French fries, chewed them thoroughly, drank more beer and “So, what you want from me?” he inquired suspiciously.
Big Red leaned back, sighed, and responded, “I suppose your brother told you this is Callahan territory, didn’t he?”
“Yeah, so what, don’t want nothing to do with any mafia or gangs,” the new immigrant stated.
“Well, in this case you ain’t got a choice in the matter, Callahan’s run everything around here, “I’m called Big Red by everyone around here,” he swung his hand around the bar indicating the bar and everything surround it. “And I can make your life real interesting, if you get my meaning?” Big red leaned back in his chair, crossed his arms over his chest and regarded the younger man. “You know things can happen to you or your family, at first just trivial things, but then those things get bigger and bigger until, maybe you, your uncle, or your brother end up swimming with the fishes,” Big Red informed the younger man.
“You threatening me?” the Irishman inquired as he finished his dinner.
“No, just stating the facts,” The large man stated, then raised a hand and indicated for two additional drinks to be brought to the table. A waiter quickly appeared with the indicated drinks, set them down then disappeared as quickly as he had appeared with the drinks. Big Red reached out with his large beefy hand wrapped his fingers around the beer mug and took a large drink, draining half the mug in a single swig. After setting the glass down on the table he continued, “Now then, let me give you some information. If you want to keep your job here in the States, you gotta be part of the Union and you gotta get a green card stating that you are legal to work here. By the way, why did you come here?”
The younger Irishman gulped down his beer, paused, then answered, “The war made things really difficult, you know food shortages, fuel shortages, things like that and my parents couldn’t afford to feed all of us, I got six younger brothers and sisters at home, and I’m expendable as was my older brother. He came here in ’46, so I came here to join him and there is nowhere else to go, Europe is a mess and will be for a long time to come and if your smart you don’t want to go there,” he took another swig of his beer.
“Yeah, I heard about it, you do any fighting?”
“Nope, too young, my brother too, James, that’s my brother, he just turned 19 and I just turned 18. We live with our uncle Paddy, my father’s youngest brother. He’s an iron worker on one of the big jobs in Manhattan, said he could get me on, since I’m journeyman already, having worked in both Ireland, and England during the war.” He took a final swig of his beer and set down the empty glass.
Big Red indicated for two more glasses then nodded. “You got your paperwork?” he asked as two beer glasses were set down in front of the two men. He waited for the waiter to disappear, then took a big swig of his beer, set the glass down and continued.
“Not here with me, the paperwork’s at my uncles,’ I could bring it with me tomorrow. I gotta to go to the Union Hall and bring them all my paperwork, so I can get reregistered, and get assigned to a job. Could we meet here for dinner tomorrow night, the food is really good here, my brother’s and Uncle’s cooking is terrible, and I certainly do not want to eat my own cooking, I’m worse than either of them.”
Big Red burst out laughing and grabbed a napkin and wiped the beer he spit out when he laughed. “Sorry, ‘bout that,” he stated slightly embarrassed. “Since I got myself a good woman who can cook, I don’t eat out much, but your lucky tomorrow my wife is visiting her sister and since I don’t get along with my wife’s sister, dinner here sounds good. My cooking is nonexistent. Be here around six, I’ll see you then,” he rose then paused, “By the way, what is your name?”
The young man looked up and responded, “Finn Michaels, my brother is Oisian Michaels and my Uncle is called Patrick or Paddy Michaels,” Finn informed Big Red.
Big Red nodded his head, “know them both, good men,” then turned toward the pool table seeing someone he wanted to talk to, leaving Finn to finish his meal in peace.
“Ellery! Ellery!” Inspector Richard Queen shouted. He shouted his son’s name several more times before he finally saw the younger man peer around the kitchen door.
“Of course, I yelled,” he grumped as he swung his arm around indicating the small cooking space. “It looks like a tornado hit this place, get in here and clean up your mess.”
“Dad, I’ve got to get this book finished,” he started looking at his wrist watch, “Oh, jeeze, I’ve to get it to the publishers now,” He pulled out of the doorway and quickly disappeared into his study.
The small, gray-haired man followed him snorting in disgust. “I expect you to clean the entire kitchen, living room and this pig sty you call a study when you get home from the publishers and no excuses!” he snapped, and he pulled opened the front door of their apartment.
A young man stood at the door his hand raised as if to knock on the door, “Uh, Inspector you ready to go?”
Without saying a word to the young detective, the Inspector moved past the taller and younger man. “Isn’t the Maestro, coming?”
“No, he’s got work to do,” the small man, pulled the door closed and headed down to the outer door and outside the building.
Ellery sighed and looked at his watch returned to his study, which he admitted to himself that the study could use a good cleaning. He sighed sat behind his desk, faced his typewriter, and began typing. Two hours later, he pulled the final page out from under the roller placed it on the large stack of paper and flipped the whole stack over, stuffed them into folder, grabbed his jacket and hat, then left the apartment locking the door behind him.
Inspector Queen sat behind his desk going over various reports on working cases, cases waiting to go to the D.A., and multiple open but cold cases, ones that have run out of clues, or witnesses have disappeared or various other reason for being on hold. There was a soft knock on his door and Grace, his secretary opened the door and peered inside. “Excuse me, Inspector,” she began, but was interrupted as Deputy Commissioner Hayes moved passed her and into the room. “Richard,” he began as the smaller man rose to greet him.
“Deputy Commissioner, how can I help you?” he inquired.
“I just came by to make sure that you are planning to attend the FBI conference on new methods regarding crime scene investigations,”
The smaller man nodded reluctantly and responded sweeping his hand over the top of his desk indicating the stacks of files and individual papers, “I was, but I have to get caught up on all of this paperwork.”
“Never mind the paperwork, I need you at that conference, Q,” Hayes ordered the older man. “They are going to be talking about evidence collection, using something called a fluoroscope, and sterile techniques for blood collection and how to make better use of tire tread impressions. There are other items as well, but those are the highlights.” Hayes looked at his wrist watch and stated, “You need to get going, now, Q. The opening demonstration is in a half-an-hour at the Algonquin,” Hayes turned the paused in the doorway, “And Dick, take copious notes.” He turned left the door open and disappeared down the hall.
Richard heaved a sighed, shook his head and called, “Grace I need note pads and I need a lot of them!” He bent over and picked up an old battered briefcase, set it on the top of the desk and opened it. Pulling open the center drawer on his desk he took a handful of pens, dropped them in the bottom of case and looked up as his secretary brought a dozen or more steno pads and held them out to her boss.
“Are twelve steno pads enough?” she inquired, “They’re all I have, I’d have to go to general supply and get more, if you think you might need more,” she stated.
“I certainly hope a dozen will be enough, I’m not sure about how good a note taker I am,” the Inspector said as he closed and locked the case, picked it up and headed out the door.
At a fifteen-story building, Ellery Queen paused at the main doors making sure he had the correct address. He pulled out a piece of paper, peered closely at it and compared it to the address etched in the brick facade of the building. He knew the publisher had just moved into the building as they had grown exponentially over the past year and needed much more space than their old building provided. He opened the door and stepped into the marble tiled lobby, looked at the listing of the occupants found his publisher’s name and headed toward the elevators. A couple of minutes he exited and walked over to the reception desk. “Excuse me, my name is Ellery Queen and I’m here to deliver my latest novel.”
He held the large folder tightly against his chest, just to make sure that none of the papers had slipped out or could get lost.
A woman looked up from her typing and inquired, “Do you know the name of your editor?”
“Umm, yes, I its Jenny Lange,” he responded. He watched as she touched a button on the intercom and announced, “Miss Lange, a mister Ellery Queen is here to see you,”
A disembodied voice responded, “Send him on back, if you would, Miss Dinear,”
The receptionist looked up and instructed, “Go down this hall to the end, then turn right Miss Lange’s office is the last one on your left.”
“Thank you,” Ellery replied as he followed his instructions, a few minutes later he opened the door to a well-appointed office and said, “Hi, Jenny, here’s the latest novel, am I on time?” he asked as he crossed the room and laid the folder on her desk.
“Yes, Ellery, you’re on time. How many pages this time?” She inquired opening the file folder.
Seating himself he responded, “About three hundred fifty.”
“Why so long, you’re not usually so long winded,” she began looking as the neat, clean typing.
“It’s a complicated case, took Dad and I three and a half months to finally get the killer. Lots of red herrings, and several unexpected twists and turns which even lead to more complications and far too many suspects.” He answered leaning back the hard-wooden chair.
“Sounds interesting, I presume you have all the pertinent facts and evidence in files at home?” Jenny asked as she continued looking through the pages.
Ellery gave her a hard look and then looked askance at her and saying nothing.
She looked up and said, “Sorry, I should know better by now, this is not a first novel.”
“No, it’s not. In fact, it’s my twenty fifth,” the middle-aged man said as he slowly rose.
“Has it been that many?” Jenny inquired looking up. “I’ll sent it to the proof reader, after I finish looking through this.”
“Good, if you have any questions you know my number,” he turned strode across the room and waived as he exited the room.
Finn Michaels entered the waterfront bar and looked around for Big Red. He spotted the older, bigger man seated in the gunfighter’s chair at the back of the bar. There was an empty beer glass in front of him. Finn moved across the room, indicated to the barman for two mugs of beer, pointing to himself and Big Red. The man behind the bar nodded and moved his head toward the Mafia’s fixer’s table. Michaels pulled out a chair and seated himself as two beer mugs were set down on their table. Finn looked up at the waited and inquired, “Can I have a menu please?”
“Sure, give me a minute, will you.” The waiter turned away, then turned back and asked, “You want me to start a tab?”
“It’s on me,” Big Red informed the waited. “We’ll have two strip steaks, French fries,” the fixer ordered.
The waiter nodded, wrote the order on his order pad, then disappeared through the swinging doors into the kitchen.
“Thanks, but you don’t have to buy me dinner,” the immigrant said.
“Not a problem as I own this joint, it doesn’t cost me all that much, besides you look like you could use a few good meals.” Big Red looked the youth up and down.
Finn, reddened and nodded, “Yeah, I am skinny, always have been, probably always will be, all the men in my family are skinny and not that tall either.”
“Just how tall are you?”
“Five foot nine,” the youth answered.
Big Red chuckled and shook his head, before he could say something the waiter set their dinner plates down, the disappeared and returned with two full beer mugs, set them down and asked, “You need anything else, boss?”
“Not, now Mikki, thanks. If we need anything I’ll let ya know,” Big Red said as he picked up his utensils and cut a piece of meat and put it in his mouth and began to chew. The two men ate in silence until they were both finished. A second mug of beer was placed before them, while the waiter removed the empty plates and mugs.
“Finn, you thought about doing something else besides construction?” Sean Calhan inquired as he took a swig of beer.
“Like what” Michaels asked suspiciously.
“Like police work. You wouldn’t be the first Irishman on the force. I need someone on the inside keeping me informed on what cases the cops are investigating and who they suspect. I’ll augment your pay and make sure no one is the wiser. You’re just the right age to enter the academy. It should easy for you and I know several cops and I’ll have one of them contact you and help you through the academy.” Big Red leaned back in his chair and regarded Finn Michaels.
“Besides, it’s far safer being a cop than being an ironworker, less risk to your life actually. Haven’t heard of any cops getting killed lately, while over a dozen ironworkers have died in the last month.” Sean informed the youth.
“Can I think about it?” Finn asked as he finished his beer.
“Sure, the academy doesn’t start until after Labor Day, which is the first Monday in September. So, while you’re thinking about it, I’ll find something else for you to do to earn money instead of risking your life.”
“Thanks, Big Red, but I ain’t afraid of height,” Finn said leaning back in his chair. “I do have one question.”
“Why are you doing all this?”
“You’re a fresh face, you aren’t known anywhere in the city and because you’re a fresh face, you don’t get a police record, and no one is gonna suspect you working for me.” The large Irishman answered.
“Okay, I understand that, makes kinda good sense ya know,” Finn responded. “How long do I have to think about this?”
“Ya got two weeks. There’s a lot of paperwork to do before you get accepted at the academy. I’ll get in touch with one of my boys and get the ball rolling.”
Finn nodded his head, thanked big red for the dinner and departed the bar.
Big Red looked up as one of his bought and paid for cops entered the bar and spotted the big Irishman, the police officer came over and sat down across from him. “I got news, about the Walsh case, precinct 92 got the case and the place is swarming with cops asking neighbors, anyone they come across about the killing of Brian Walsh,” the informant stated.
“You know if they’ve found anything?” not according to my contact, “he does say that there might have been a witness, who seen O’Rielly coming out of Walsh’s place, but my contact says that’s only a rumor at least for right now. That’s about all on the Walsh case. The O’Sullivan ain’t going nowhere as there are no witnesses, at least live ones, and the evidence ain’t much to go on. As for the other two they are currently stalled as well for much the same reason. Nothing else to report, boss. Any new orders?” the police officer inquired. “Yeah, see if you can find out whether there really was a witness to the Walsh killing and if there was who exactly was the witness. Otherwise, good job and keep up the good work,” Big Red raised a hand, two finger pointing straight up indicating two mugs of beer.
After the mugs were placed before the men and the waiter had left them to attend to another table, “What about Center Street?”
The cop wiped the foam off his mouth with a napkin and responded, “Nothing new there, Deputy Commissioner Hayes sent Inspector Queen to some FBI conference being held at the Algonquin. That’s all I know, Velie had me doing nothing but catching up on paperwork all afternoon,” he shook his head in disgust.
Big Red nodded as he finished his mug of beer. After setting it down, he sighed and continued, “Keep me informed, Aldan. If there was a witness find out who it is and where that person lives, I want that business with Walsh forgotten about by everyone, especially any witnesses.”
“Right, no problem, if I can’t get away, I’ll send a message making sure you get.” The police officer rose, saying, “I gotta get out-a-here, don’t want to get caught talking to you or anyone else, gotta make them think I’m clean, ya know?”
“I know, get-outta-here,” Big Red waved his hand in a shooing motion.
The cop quickly left the bar and headed back toward Center Street headquarters.
Inspector Richard Queen leaned back in his chair exhausted, he had spent, more like wasted the entire day at the FBI conference and really hadn’t learn anything that he didn’t already know. He taken copious notes, which he would have Grace, his secretary types up in the next several days and have the transcriptions and his notebooks sent on to Deputy Commissioner Hayes.
Rising slowly, he dropped the last notebook and pen into his briefcase, looked around at the nearly empty room, spotting no one he would want to speak with, then turned and headed out of the room and the hotel. It took a long time, for some reason known only to cab drivers, they all seemed to disappear when it started to rain and getting one to stop was nearly impossible. Finally, after trying for more than hour, a uniformed doorman stepped up beside him and asked, “Do you wish me to call a cab, sir?”
“Yes, they all seem to be ignoring me,” the Inspector snapped irritably.
The doorman stepped to curb, whistled very loudly, and indicated for a cab to stop. Once the yellow vehicle stopped where the doorman indicated, he opened the back door and Inspector Queen dropped down on to the back seat, gave his home address and the doorman closed the car door and the yellow vehicle sped off into the traffic filled lane.
Richard didn’t even look at his watch as he entered the apartment he shared with his son. “Ellery?” called as he dropped his briefcase beside the hat stand, closed the door behind him and locked it. There was a wonderful smell coming from the kitchen and he paused as he looked at the living room. It was spotless, not a thing was out of place, he couldn’t even see any dust anywhere. Continuing, he pushed open the kitchen door and stepped through the doorway.
Ellery turned his head as he finished putting the finishing touches on dinner and said, “Have a seat dinner’s ready,” The younger man moved around the kitchen table, sat down, and looked at his father still standing beside the stove. “Is there something wrong, Dad?”
Ellery asked as he took a fork full of mashed potatoes.
“What?” Richard asked as his attention was brought to the kitchen table, dinner waiting for him at his usual place and his son looking up at him. “Oh, sorry, I thought I was in the wrong apartment, I usually smell something burning,” he remarked as he sat down.
“Now, that’s just not fair Dad, since I’m the one who does most of the cooking around here as you usually don’t have the time,” Ellery stated a fact between bites of his food.
The much shorter man picked up his knife and fork, cut a piece of roast and put it in his mouth. He chewed happily and once he had swallowed, he said, “This is great, all I got for lunch was a slightly stale sandwich and soggy French fries.”
“Which diner did you eat at this time?” the younger man inquired as he stuck his fork into the Asparagus on his plate. Before he could bite off the pieces his father answered, ‘The Algonquin, food should be better in a place like that,” the old man grumbled especially considering the price they charged me.
“What were you doing at the Algonquin, besides eating lunch?”
“Attending a conference on new crime scene evidence procedures, including the use of tire tread prints, how to handle blood spatter and pooling without contaminating it, the use of the fluoroscope in finding bullets in things like walls, tree trunks, that sort of thing. Deputy Commissioner stopped by my office just to make sure that I went to this thing. There wasn’t a single thing I hadn’t heard before,” he groused “It was a complete waste of time. But those were my orders and I went, I didn’t have to like I just had to go taken notes, have them typed up by Grace and delivered to him, so I went. Oh, by the way who did you pay to clean this place?”
Ellery chocked briefly on his food, drank a gulp of milk, swallowed, and responded. “I didn’t pay anyone to clean anywhere, I did all the cleaning, the entire apartment, including your bedroom. I even took all your and my dirty clothes to the laundry and Hi, said that he’ll have it ready by tomorrow afternoon around one,” the writer replied smugly.
The Inspector snorted and continued to eat. Once he had finished, he laid his utensils on the plate and said, “That’s the best dinner I’ve had in quite a while. Thank you, son. I’ll do the cleanup, since you did the cooking. Did you even clean your study?”
“Of course, I did, I even found things I have been looking for months for. I even reorganized my case files, cleaned the fish tank, and put everything that didn’t need to be out away and labeled all of the filing cabinets, and labeled the storage spaces as well,” Ellery informed him as he put his dished in the sink, went to a drawer, pulled it open and pulled out the saranwrap, covered the roast, and the rest of the dishes, then stuck all the food they hadn’t eaten into the refrigerator. He put the salt and pepper on the shelf above the stove, turned to his father and moved around the older man, picked up a towel and began drying the dishes as his father handed them to him. “You have been busy, get your latest novel to the publishers on time?”
“Yes, Jenny’s sending it to the editors tonight, it’s probably already in their capable hands. I already have an idea for the next one. Dad, do know that I have twenty-five novels published?” Ellery queried as he dried a glass and put into the cupboard.
“I didn’t realize it was that many, but considering the number of files you had laying around the house, I’m not surprised,” he finished the last glass and handed it to his son, then pulled the plug out of the bottom of the sink and let the dirty, soapy water flow down the drain.
“Let’s ago listen to The Lone Ranger,” Richard said as he left the kitchen heading toward his son’s study.
“Sounds good to me,” he hung up the towel on the bar above the drain board and followed his father into the study, turned on the radio found the radio drama and dropped down into his chair behind his desk and his father settled on to the chair next to the radio. They were just in time to hear the opening for “The Lone Ranger, in the early days of the western United States, a masked man and an Indian rode the plains, fighting for truth and justice. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when from out of the past come the thundering hoof beats of the great horse Silver! The Lone Ranger rides again.” The William Tell Overture and a man’s voice could be heard “Hi-Ho Silver! Away!” and the narrator began the night’s episode. They listened in companionable silence to two more shows, then the Inspector stood, stretched, and said, “I think I’m off for bed, I’ll see you in the morning, son.”
“Good night Dad,” Ellery responded as he picked up a yellow legal pad and began writing notes for his next novel, not realizing that the notes he was writing were prophetic in their description of what was about to happen to his and his father’s lives in the not too distant future.
The commanding officer of the ninety-second precincts’ report of the murder of Colum Walsh, was sketchy a best, just the bare bones of the case. Extraordinarily little evidence, no fingerprints, footprints, a single bullet in the police officer’s chest, and single bullet, shot point blank into Walsh’s chest, thus silencing their protected witness. The D.A. was not happy and the CO of the ninety-second sincerely hoped he would take his anger out on Center Street and not on him. He countersigned the report, put it into an interoffice envelope and walked out of his office gave it to his secretary and instructed, “Get this to Center Street, to Deputy Commissioner Hayes. I don’t care who takes it, just make sure that it gets there. I’m going to lunch, be back in an hour,” he said as he left the area.
The secretary grabbed the nearest officer, instructed him to deliver the stack of envelopes to the Deputy Commissioner, grab some lunch and be sure to get back before the Lieutenant returned from lunch.
Two hours later Inspector Richard Queen’s office door opened, and Deputy Commissioner Hayes entered the room followed by Sergeant Thomas Velie and Grace. Richard rose to his feet, Commissioner Hayes, how can I help you?”
“Q, did you know anything about the Colum Walsh murder?” the man asked as he held out a manila envelope.
“No, that’s the ninety-two’s,” Richard responded as he opened the envelope and looked down at the top piece of paper. He lowered himself into his chair and quickly scanned the small stack of papers.
The Commissioner sat down in one of the wooden chairs while Velie took the other one. Grace moved behind and to one side of the Inspector, opening her steno pad. Queen looked up and asked, “Where was the safe house located?”
“Not too far from your place, down on eighty-fifth in the middle of the block. He was killed during that rain storm we had three weeks during that strange cold spell,” responded the Commissioner.
Both Velie and Grace were taking notes, which they would compare later to make sure that they and the Inspector would all be on the same page.
“Seems to me that Pete Jermain’s done all he can with what he’s got.”
“Q, take that the overly smart son of yours, go over there and see if he can find anything, we might have missed, also have your people requisition the neighbors, do whatever you need to do to find out who was responsible for Walsh’s murder. He was scheduled to testify against Callahan Junior. I want answers Q, get them for me, I don’t like having the D.A. breathing down my neck. And, you surely don’t want me breathing down yours,” The Commissioner rose turned and left the office.
Richard sighed, “Velie go get Ellery and don’t take no for an answer, then meet us at the safe house, Grace could you please get these notes typed up?” he inquired as he held out his briefcase.
Taking the case from her boss, she asked, “How many copies do you need?”
“Three at least, one for the Commissioner, one for the Deputy Commissioner and one for me, please.” He rose and exited the office by the side door, “Piggott, Leggitt, Malloy, and Conroy! Let’s go we’ve got a murder on our hands,” he shouted the names of his detectives, who quickly got up from their desks and followed the old man downstairs, to the garage and the official cars parked there.
Ellery was reading over the notes he had made the previous night, an outline was beginning to form, and he began writing, not wanting to lose his train of thoughts. The front door flew open as Velie entered, crossing the small open space between the front door and Ellery’s study, “Maestro, your Dad wants you. I’m supposed to bring you to him and not take no for an answer,” the exceptionally large man stated.
Ellery looked up at his father’s number one detective, rose, then said, “Be right with you, I have to get my coat and hat. And go to the restroom, meet you at the car,”
Velie nodded assent, turned and left the apartment, got into his police vehicle, and waited only two minutes when the younger man came trotting down the stairs. After getting into the car he asked, “Did Dad say what he wanted?”
“The Deputy Commissioner ordered the Inspector to and go have a look at a murder that took place in a supposed safe house,” Velie replied and he turned on to a cross street then headed down town to eighty-fifth street. He pulled into a parking space behind several other police cars, shut off the engine and got out. Ellery followed him from the car to the middle of the bock and entered a brownstone and the ground floor apartment. He could see two chalk outlines on the floor and blood stains on the carpet. Walking over to his father he asked, “What’s going on?”
Richard looked up at his much taller son and replied, “The ninety-second sent their final report over to the Deputy Commissioner. He thinks there’s something here that could tell us who killed Colum Walsh and the officer who was supposed to protect him.”
Ellery looked at his father, “Wasn’t Walsh supposed to be testifying against Callahan Junior?”
“Yes, we have no idea who leaked the information, the safe house isn’t so safe anymore. Take a look around and see if you can find anything the ninety-two might have missed.” The Inspector shoved his hands into his pants pockets and watched as his son slowly move around the living room of the apartment.
“Dad, did anyone report hearing gun shots or maybe a car backfiring or even the sound of a heavy door slamming?”
“Nope, no one heard anything according to statements taken by the ninety-two.”
“When was Walsh murdered, there’s been nothing in the papers or on the radio about it,” Ellery paused in movements around the room.
“So far, we’ve managed to keep it out of the press, but I don’t know for how long. Walsh was killed a week-and-a-half ago. The only reason it was reported at all was that the two corpses were starting to get a bit fragrant, when someone called the ninety-two and complained. Walsh was supposed to testify in court on the Tuesday after Labor Day,” the police officer responded.
“I wonder if the killer had a silencer?” Ellery muttered to himself as he moved around the room. He paused, squatted down, and looked at a broken piece of figurine laying on the carpeting.
Noticing his son’s movements, he said, “You can pick it up, everything’s been dusted. The only prints the ninety-two found were Walsh’s and Kirkpatrick’s, the officer assigned to protect him.”
Ellery placed the broken parts of the figurine together and looked at the figurine, “Dad, this wasn’t knocked down, it was hit by a bullet,” he said rising and showing the semi-round hole where a bullet would have passed through the figurine.
“Velie, start everyone searching for a missing bullet, pay particular attention to that book case,” Queen instructed pointing to a ten-foot-tall case loaded with books and brick-a-brack in various conditions.
Velie motioned to the other detectives and began slowly going through the books and ceramic items at eye level and the shelves above and below the one at Leggett’s eye level, since Leggitt was the shortest man there not counting the Inspector who was shorter than everyone in the room. Velie reached for a book, worn, old and practically falling apart, there was a neat round hole in the middle of the binding. Carefully pulling out the book he slowly opened it, and a dark metallic object went clink on the wooden floorboard. Pulling out his handkerchief, the large man bent over and using the piece of cloth picked up the bullet, turned and said, “Found it,” he walked over to his superior and show the small object to him.
“Get it to fingerprinting, then to ballistics for comparison to the two bullets found in Walsh and Kirkpatrick.”
Velie rolled up the cloth, put it in his jacket pocket, turned to Piggott and ordered, “Piggott, drive the Inspector and the Maestro where ever they need to go. Right Sarge,” the detective responded.
While the two detectives and the Inspector were busy inspecting the bullet Ellery, moved out of the living room, and looked around the kitchen he pulled open the refrigerator door and quickly slammed it shut before the smell of spoiled food could penetrate the room. Once finished with the kitchen he entered, the bathroom and the two bedrooms, finding toiletries and clothes. He returned to the living room and asked, “Dad, are you ready to get out of here?”
“Didn’t find anything else of interest?”
“No, I’m just glad that I’m not the one who has to clean out the fridge. I thought ours was bad, but that was worse thing I’ve smelled in a very long time,”
Richard nodded, he had caught a whiff of the spoiled food and it had turned his stomach. “Come on, let’s get out of here. Leggitt, Piggott, let’s go,” he ordered, and the three detectives followed him out of the apartment and pulled the door shut, locking it behind them. They got into their cars and headed downtown to Center Street.
The night was even colder, and the rain was not just a drizzle it was a steady down pour. A pea soup thick fog clung to the pavement, hiding everything, expect the dim street lights in the middle of the blocks and at the corners. A dark colored car moved carefully through the night and the thickening fog, its’ tires making no noise on the rain slick pavement. Highlighted by the car’s headlights a short man, dressed in a trench coat, fedora, and carrying an umbrella trying to shield himself from the moisture dripping from overhead, he wasn’t quite successful. He could feel the moisture dripping off the umbrella and down the back of his neck. He readjusted his hold on the piece of waterproof cloth over his head, but it didn’t seem to make much difference, as the rain was coming down in torrents and the fog seemed to cling to everything around him. He looked at the brownstone houses and sighed, why tonight of all nights did his car have to break down half way between home and Center Street. He muttered a curse as his shoes found another puddle of water and he could feel his feet getting wetter and colder by the moment. He paused at a corner and looked around to make sure there was no traffic, but who would be out on a night like this one? He crossed the pavement, trying not to step into any more puddles than the ones he had already stepped in. Stepping up onto the sidewalk he continued walking, hoping that he wouldn’t get sick from this night’s excursions. Finally reaching his destination he slowly mounted the steps leading to the first-floor apartment’s front door. He reached into his pocket and fumbled around for his keys, finally locating them in his pants pocket instead of his trench coat. He heard a sound behind him, turned to look at the headlights coming toward him. He noticed that one of the windows was slowly being lowered, hurriedly shoving his key in the lock he quickly dived to the floor, just as bullets slammed into the Mahogany inner door to his apartment, there was a hot burning pain in his back and he could dimly hear a screech of tires as the car sped off into the fog and disappeared. The door was wrenched open and he could hear his son’s voice, but it was distant, far away. He tried to look up as he son crouched down beside him, but he couldn’t move and he was getting so cold, he felt a gentle hand on his shoulder, but he couldn’t respond to it. His vision and his awareness of his surroundings was becoming harder and harder to concentrate on. He whispered so softly the younger man kneeling beside him leaned even closer, “I love you my son,” was the last thing his son would ever hear from his father.
Ellery Queen sat bolt upright in bed, sweating, and shaking, the nightmare was far too real for comfort. Throwing back the covers, he put his slippers on, then his robe and moved as quietly as he could across the hall to his father’s door. Slowly twisting the knob, he opened the door and heard the familiar sound of his father snoring. He sighed in relief, closed the door, and moved silently into his study. It was going to take a while for him to calm down from that nightmare. He hadn’t had a nightmare like that since he was a little boy. Dropping onto the chair next to the radio, he dropped one long leg over the arm rest, stretched the other out, crossed his arms over his chest, and rested his head back against the back of the chair. Closing his eyes, he remembered having them after his mother died and he was quite sure that his father was going to go away and leave him alone. After a particularly bad one, he had crawled onto his father bed, waking him up in the process and with tears running down his face. He desperately needed reassurance that he was not going to lose the only parent he had. Richard had pulled the young boy to his side, wrapped his arms around the frightened child, pulled covers over both of them and asked what was wrong.
“I had a nightmare,” the child responded.
“What was the nightmare about?” the father inquired.
“I dreamed that you were going to go away, just like mommy did, and I’d be left all alone,” he tried very hard not to cry.
“Ellery, I am going to make you a promise.”
Sniffling, the young boy asked, “What promise?”
“I will always be with you, just as your mother is with you right now,” the man said,
“But momma’s dead, Daddy. How can she be with me and be dead at the same time?” he asked now thoroughly confused. As he pushed off the covers and he sat up.
“She’s with you because you carry her in your heart,” the father gently tapped his son on the chest right over his heart, “and in your memories, that’s how she’s always with you. As long as you live you will always remember her, and so will I. I promise I will always be with you too.” He smiled softly to the child.
“Even when your dead too, just like momma?
“Yes, just like momma. You see we always carry the people we love with us wherever we go, and for as long as we live, we never forget them, because we love them, and they loved us.”
“Daddy, do we even carry them to heaven with us?” Ellery asked.
“We don’t need to carry them to heaven because they are there waiting for us to join them.”
“So, when I die you and momma are going to be waiting in heaven for me?” the child raised himself to investigate his father’s face.
“Yes, you’re our son and your mother and I love you very much, Ellery, so we’ll both be waiting for you.”
“How long will you live?”
The father chuckled and responded, “I don’t know Ellery, no one knows how long they are going to live. Only God has that answer and he’s doesn’t tell anyone how long they will live. Most people take it on faith that they will live a very long and useful life. But some people aren’t so lucky to have long lives.”
“Like all the people who died of the Spanish flu and all those people killed in the war. My teacher Mr. Steele was telling us about the war. He said he fought in the war and it was terrifying, and people died all the time all around him. He said that there had to be a better solution to war. Some way to make the countries that are arguing to sit down and talk with each other and make a peaceful solution is stead killing people.” Ellery said as he sat up and looked at his father.
“Yes, there should be. We hope the League of Nations will be able to prevent any more wars. Now, will you please go to sleep?”
“Because, I have to go work and you have to go to school.”
“Oh, yeah. Daddy?”
“Can I stay here the rest of the night?”
Richard laughed, moved over, lifted the covers so his son could crawl beneath them, dropped the blankets over both of them pulled his son close to his side, kissed the boy on the forehead and murmured, “I love you Ellery, now go to sleep.”
There was no response as the younger Queen was already asleep
The adult Ellery was awakened by his father’s door opening and the sound of the older man entering the bathroom. Stretching he rose, headed into the kitchen, and began preparations for breakfast, beginning with coffee and dropping a couple of pieces of bread into the toaster. Half-an-hour later the Inspector entered the kitchen freshly showered, shaved, and dressed ready for another day at Center Street.
“Do you need me to come in with you?” he asked as he finished with the bacon and eggs.
“No, not that I know of. If I need you, I’ll either call or send Velie over,” the older man responded between bites of food. He drank his coffee and finished his breakfast. “I’ll be home for dinner unless something comes up. If I’ll be late, I’ll call you.” Richard said as he wiped his mouth on his napkin and rose, setting his dishes in the sink.
Just as pushed open the kitchen door Ellery, looked up at him and said, “I love you Dad.”
The Inspector looked slightly surprised, then responded, “I love you too son. See you for dinner,” A smile crossed his wrinkled face as he pushed through the door, walked across the living room and out of the apartment.
Big Red Callahan entered his bar and looked around, he knew everyone present, but the man he was looking for. Aldan Conroy wasn’t present, but he soon would be the large man knew. The police officer was young, and he was always punctual, he had known the young man for nearly three months that he had attended the police academy and was now in a patrol car under the wing of another more experienced officer. He would be a rookie for a year, then walking a beat in a neighborhood, probably on the opposite side of the city from where he lived. He would be shuffled between the different precincts to get him familiar with the Manhattan first, the other boroughs, Queen’s, Staten Island, the Bronx, and Brooklyn. He seated himself at his favorite table and motioned for a mug beer, then crossed his arms over his chest and watched the crowd. The door opened and Conroy entered the room, instead of being dressed in a police uniform, he was dressed in plain clothes, and looked around warily eyeing everyone, but not meeting their gaze. Big Red knew the exact moment when Aldan had spotted him and headed toward the back of the large open room. The younger man pulled back the opposite chair and sat down. “I’ve only got a few minutes; my new partner thinks I had to use the john. The Deputy Commissioner sent Inspector Richard Queen and his team, including the Inspector’s son to the old safe house, the younger Queen found a third bullet which had a fingerprint, it was O’Rielly’s and they are searching for him in all five boroughs, so far, they haven’t found a trace of him. Also, a couple of people in the neighboring apartments thought they saw someone standing outside their building. Couldn’t tell much about him, they all said he was tall, taller than most men and lanky, almost skinny. It was too foggy for the witnesses to recognize the man, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the man is someone who is known in the neighborhood, it shouldn’t take us too long to find out who it is, when that happens I’ll let you know,” Conroy finished his report, stood, nodded to Big Red and left the bar.
Big Red looked around the bar, noting everybody, but he didn’t see the person he wanted. Rising, he headed toward the bar and leaned on the end opposite the door. The bar tender sidled over to him, placing a beer mug in front of his boss. “Who you looking for boss?” the man asked.
“You seen Jasper lately?” owner asked taking a swig of his beer. “Yeah, he just came in,” the barman tilted his head toward the door.” The man walked over to Big Red at the far end of the bar and said, “Afternoon boys, what’s happening?”
Big Red gulped down the rest of his beer, had it refilled, waited briefly for Jasper to get his own beer, and headed off toward his table. Once the smaller man had seated himself, the older Irishman began, “Seems, we’ve got a witness to the Walsh killing, I want you to find out who the witness is and remove any chance they have of testifying against O’Rielly or anyone else in the family.”
“Got it, boss. Don’t worry I’ll take care of it,” Jasper finished his drink and left the bar.
Sean Callahan finished his beer, crossed his arms over his chest, closed his eyes and thought about this newly uncovered witness, he wondered exactly who the witness was. If the witness was just a civilian and not someone well known to the public, if it was just a civilian that person could be taken out without much fuss. On the other hand, if it was someone who was well known that would make his disappearance much more difficult. He knew he would just have to be patient and wait; Jasper would take care of everything making sure that the family could not be implicated in the whiteness’s disappearance.
After talking to as many people in the surrounding brownstones, Jasper Hagarty had come across several mentions of a tall, lanky man dressed in a tweed hat, trench coat. Most of the people he questioned had assured him that they were used to seeing the man walking around the neighborhood at all times of the day and night. They assured him that the man was the son of Inspector Richard. Queen, Ellery was a well-recognized and highly respected figure. After moving though out the entire eighties, he had located a small restaurant, a grocer, and a newspaper stand, with magazines, paperback books, and candies. He stopped and picked up a morning paper. He asked the old man sitting on a stool next to a cash register. “Hey, pops have you heard about a murder round here?”
The older man rubbed his chin, a thought a moment, “Well, there was this killing down on eighty fifth, but that was weeks ago, cops still ain’t got it figured out yet, but they will. That Inspector Richard Queen and his son don’t live so far from here that they know all ‘bout what’s going on ‘round here.” He responded nodding his balding head.
Just as Hagarty was about to leave, a tall, lanky middle-aged man paused at the newsstand. “Morning Pops,” Ellery said as he reached for the three morning papers.
“Morning, there Ellery, need anything else?”
Searching through his pants pockets, the younger Queen finally found the right amount of change and replied, “No, that’ll be all for now. I’ll see you when the evening editions come out, Dad, always wants to read both editions.”
“Yeah, I read both too, say hello to the Inspector for me will ya?” the stall holder asked as the tall man headed back toward his home and waived distractedly at the two men.
“Who was that?” Jasper asked.
“That, well that was Ellery Queen, you know the author of all them detective novels,” the older man pointer to a large selection of paperback books along one side of the stall. “He’s the Inspector’s son lives just up the street, known Ellery since he was a lad. Wish my son had been like him, then he wouldn’t be in Sing-Sing serving life for murder,” the old man groused.
“Sorry, about your kid, and thanks for the information,” Hagarty said as he paid for his paper and headed slowly up the sidewalk toward the Queen’s brownstone.
As he opened the front door Ellery could hear the radio and the familiar voice of the newsman as he segwayed into a commercial.
“Dad?” the author called as he stuffed his hat into his coat pocket and removed his trench coat and muffler.
“I’m just finishing breakfast, where have you been?” the older man asked as he stuck his head out of the kitchen door.
“Getting the papers, got copies for both of us.” Ellery responded as there came a knock at the front door. Ellery opened it and waived Velie into the small open area between the living room, the study, and the bedrooms. “Dad, Velie’s here, don’t forget your winter coat and hat, its cold out there.” Ellery said as his father walked past him and his driver, entering his bedroom. A couple minutes later, he appeared in trench coat, muffler, and hat. “Let’s go, Velie. I’ll see you for dinner,” Richard pulled the door closed behind him as he left for Center Street.
Jasper leaned against a street and watched one very large man, followed by a smaller, slighter man come down the stairs and get into an unmarked police car. The engine started and was soon lost in the morning rush hour traffic.
He waited a while, but nothing interesting seemed to be happening. Finally giving up, Jasper marked the brownstone’s number in his mind and casually strolled up the street to catch a cross town bus.
Two hours later he was seated in front of Big Red, “Boss, we got problems,” he said after a large swig of beer.
“What kinda problems?” the much bigger man asked.
“Cop kind of problems,” Jasper set his mug down on the table and continued, “I’m fairly sure that I know who the witness was, and it puts us in a real difficult place.”
“Because I think our witness was this here Ellery Queen, the son of Inspector Richard Queen he heads up the third district detective squad, and he’s one of the Mayor’s favorite cops. If there is a murder, anywhere in the third district, which as you know includes all of Manhattan, and parts of Brooklyn and Queen’s. This Ellery Queen is always consulting with the cops on the murder cases his father investigates. He’s also written over twenty-four detective novels based on the cases he and his father investigated. He changed the names and some other things, but the facts of the case remain the same. I stopped at the big library downtown and got all the information I could on this guy.” Hagarty pulled out a pocket-sized notebook, flipped it open and began to read. “Born Bellevue hospital April 12, 1912 to a Richard Daniel Queen and Bridgette Mary Queen nee FitzGerald deceased 1918 victim of Spanish Influenza. Ellery attended Harvard 1920 to 1924. Received Masters Journalism and writing and had his first novel published right after he graduated. He and his father share an apartment on eighty-seventh street on the first floor. If the cops began to suspect that Ellery or the Inspector are in danger in anyway, they’ll send them both down a rabbit hole so fast and far, that we’ll never find them” Hagarty said as put his note pad back into his jacket pocket.
Big Red sighed, the said, “Then make the hit look like an accident or better yet the result of a robbery gone wrong, just make sure that it can’t be connected to us, got that Jasper?”
“Yeah, boss I got it. Boss?” Hagarty got to his feet, pushed his chair back in place and paused.
“Can I use Conroy as the triggerman?”
“Sure, go ahead, his loyalty needs to be tested,” Sean Callahan responded, indicating for Jasper to leave.
The mobster nodded in satisfaction, turned, and left the bar.
Simon Brimmer sat on a stool behind a microphone and held his script in his left hand. Four people sat on stools to his right, each one holding the scripts and read their lines as they followed along as Simon read aloud into the mike. He lowered the paper he was holding and breathed out a sigh, “All right everyone, we will break for lunch for one hour, then go through the script once more from the top, then record it for tonight’s broadcast. The cast members rose, laid their scripts down on their stools, the women picked up their purses and headed out of the recording studio. An older man approached Brimmer, “Simon, am I getting my inflections for the character?”
“Yes, Teddy, they are precisely what I want to hear from you,” he told the retired actor in his smooth, cultured voice.
“Thank you, Simon, I will see you after lunch,” he turned and left the room, while Simon entered the control room. “How did that sound?” he inquired as his climbed the short flight of stair.
“Sounded perfectly fine to me Mr. Brimmer, I’ll be ready for recording by two o’clock will that give you enough time to do a second rehearsal?”
“Yes, that will be perfect. I’ll see you after lunch,” Brimmer said as he moved across the control booth. Just as he reached the door the phone rang, and the technician picked it up. “Hello,” he listened to the voice on the other end and he squawked, “You’ve got to be kidding? Hang on just a moment,” he ordered, put the receiver to his chest and turned to face the well-known radio actor. “Mr. Brimmer, you gotta hear this!” the tech said.
“Hear what? My good man,” Simon asked as he turned.
“According to my source, seems there was an attempted robbery at some grocer up in the eighties and several people got shot.”
“So, what does that have to do with me?”
“It has to with you because one of those victims was Ellery Queen,” stated the technician.
“Dear God, what hospital was he taken to?” Brimmer questioned.
“Bellevue,” the technician responded and before he could continue the actor was out the door and could be heard hurrying down the hallway toward the elevators.
“Mr. Brimmer, what about tonight’s broadcast?” the tech yelled.
“Explain that I had a family emergency and play last week’s episode again.” The actor yelled back as the elevator doors closed and he disappeared from view.
Frank Flanagan sat behind his desk as was about to pick up the phone when it rang in his hand. “Yeah, this Flanagan, who’s this?”
He could barely hear the harshly whispered voice, but he could understand the words very clearly. “There was a robbery at a grocer’s up in the eighties, you say. Less than 10 minutes ago, five people shot, and the owner’s dead and so are three others, one of the shooting victims is Ellery Queen and from what I overheard it ain’t good. He’s being taken to Bellevue,” said the voice over the line. There was a click as the line went dead, Frank leached to his feet, yelling “Vera!!”
His secretary appeared and he ordered, “Get Tommy and have him meet me at Bellevue, seems juniors’ gone and gotten himself shot!” he rushed out of the office, to the elevator and two minutes later was in a cab on his way to the hospital.
Sergeant Thomas Velie trotted down the fourth-floor hall heading toward his superior’s office. “Gods how am I going to tell the Inspector that the Maestros’ been shot and he in a real bad way?” wondered as he bulled past several other officers, through the swinging gate that separated the switchboard operator and Grace’s desks from the general population. He shoved the door open and was about to say something when he noticed the Deputy Commissioner Hayes and the Inspector were speaking. Richard looked up and asked, “What is it Velie?”
The big Sergeant swallowed hard, entered the room, closing the door behind him. “Sorry to interrupt Deputy Commissioner,” he said, “Never mind that, Velie, what’s going on, that’s’ you in such a bother?” Hayes snapped.
“Uh, Inspector, there was an attempted robbery at eighty-eight and Lex about twenty minutes ago. There are three dead and two shotgun victims, one of the victims was the Maestro,” Velie announced as he watched Richard turn completely white and slowly lower himself into his chair. “He was still alive and was being transported to Bellevue. I made sure of that before I came in here.”
Hayes came around the corner of the desk gently pulled the Inspector to his feet and ordered, “Velie, get him to Bellevue as fast as you can.” Gently pushing Richard in front of him he said softly into the shorter man’s ear. “Just get to the hospital and take care of your son, Q. I’ll take care of everything else.” He opened the side entrance and Sergeant Velie gently took hold of his boss and got him downstairs and into an unmarked police car.
A white station wagon like car that served as an ambulance, sirens wailing, pulled up to the emergency room entrance. The siren was suddenly silenced as two orderlies opened the back door and pulled the gurney out raised it up and quickly trotted into the E.R. A tall blonde man dressed in medical scrubs, ordered the two orderlies, “Take him straight to O.R. one, my team will get him prepared there.”
“Dr. Alton, gunshot wound to the chest, pulse is thin and thready at one hundred, breathing labored at 10 and blood pressure has dropped to ninety over fifty,” one of the ambulance drivers said as he trotted behind the gurney.
Without turning, the doctor held the elevator doors open as the gurney with it’s’ critically injured patient into the small space.
The tenth-floor button was pushed, and the doors closed as it began to rise. The doctor was the first out and headed toward the locker room, while the attendants took the gurney, and its’ patient to the surgical prep-room. By the time, the surgeon had completed his scrub, his patient was placed on the surgical table and was being anesthetized. He put on his cap, mask, and one of the nurses as he came into the operating room, took the ties to his gown, and bound it to him. He put on his sterile gloves, asking, “What are his vitals, Penny?”
“Respiration eight and labored, pulse fifty-five and thready, and blood pressure is dropping its eighty-five over forty-five.”
He looked over at the anesthesiologist who responded to the unspoken question, “He’s fully under, Jordy,”
“All right everyone, let’s get started. Scalpel,” he ordered as the knife was slapped into his waiting palm.
He cut through the skin, muscle down to the sternum, and then called for the rib spreader. Looking at the devastation under his hands, he ordered, “Call Jamie and Jays, I need both of them in here STAT!”
The nurse nodded, left the O.R. and a page could be heard calling both Doctor James Alton, and Doctor Jesse Alton to report to O.R. one STAT. The call was repeated several more times until the nurse who had called the switchboard operator, called again, and told the woman that both doctors had reported and were now present.
Several minutes later they entered the O.R. and Jays asked, “What’s going on Jordy?”
“Gunshot wound to the chest, I’ve got glass, bone, sweater and shirt fibers his chest and it’s a mess, I need both of you. Jays get started with finding all the fragments you can and see if you can get them out. Jess, I need your help over here,” Jordan ordered as his youngest brother came around the surgical table.
“What do you need, Jordy?”
“Give me a hand getting all this out of the pericardium. Damn it!” the Thoracic surgeon swore as his patient’s heart became obscured behind the transparent covering. “We’ve got Cardiac Tamponade,” Jordan stated as he quickly cut an opening into the pericardium to try to relieve the pressure on his patient’s heart. Blood gushed over the surgeon’s hands, filling the chest cavity with deep red fluid putting pressure on the lungs. There were blood clots floating in the liquid, causing more clumps to begin forming further complicating the procedure.
He ordered, “Pearl, get a stool and post yourself right at the shoulder, lay your arms from the shoulder toward the heart, palms up. Jays do two cut downs one to each subclavian vein.” Looking up he ordered, “I need as many bottles of D5W and Normal Saline as you can get your hands on. Piggy-back them using a single line. Get his blood typed and matched and get your hands on every bottle of matching blood you can get your hands on. Call all the hospitals in the city and get your hands on as many bottles of blood you can, have them brought up here and stored in coolers with ice and water.”
“Yes, doctor,” Penny said as she quickly left the O.R and went straight for the phone located in the scrub room. She spoke into the receiver and ordered both the I.V. fluids and blood for transfusion.
Jordan quickly put a stack of hemostats into the nurse’s waiting hands laying them between her fingers. “I just need you to keep your hands as still as possible while we try and get this bleeding stopped. He took some forceps and very gently moved apart some cardiac muscle exposing a deeper layer, then clamped them together and hung the finger holes of the clamp onto the nurse’s fingers. “Jess, this is going to take both of us to get these fibers other containments,” he muttered as he very carefully and slowly teased out the mixed fibers out of the wound created by the bullet.
“I’ve just found a piece of metal, looks like either bird or buck shot.” Jays said as he dropped the fragment in to a small metal bowl sitting beside his right arm.
“Gods in heaven, this is a mess,” Jordan grumbled.
“This isn’t going to be easy,” Jays muttered, using both clamps and forceps’ to try and get at a fragment of bone. “Jordy, I’m going to have to open another part of the pericardium to get at some of the damage.”
“Do what you have to Jays,” the lead surgeon replied. “Jess, how are the ports coming?”
“Got the I.V. fluids going, still waiting on the blood,” he responded as the door opened and Penny came into the O.R. carrying a half-a-dozen bottles in her arms. “How, many do you want Doctor Jesse?”
He looked at the nurse, “All of them, I’ve got the piggy-back line already blood goes into the right-side port, Penny.”
The nurse began hanging the bottles upside down and inserting the lines that would link the six bottles together. Jesse interrupted her, “I want those bottles wide open, his B.P. is at rock bottom and if it goes any lower, we’re going to lose him.”
“Yes, doctor,” she responded as she opened the I.V. line wide open and walked around the end of the operating table behind the anesthetist to check on the other I.V. line making sure that the line was wide open, which would help raise their patient’s blood pressure.
Jordan and Jays continued to gently move cardiac muscle and pericardium tissue out of the way, so they had a clearer view of their patient’s beating heart. Every time they thought they had stopped the bleeding or had removed all the foreign contaminates, they either found more foreign bodies or another place where their patient was bleeding from. Jordan sighed and asked for a stool and a wipe to get the sweat off his forehead, and Jays followed his lead as they slowly, carefully continued removing foreign objects from their patient’s heart and chest cavity.
“Jays, Josh, I have this very strange feeling that something’s not right here, from the angle of this wound,” Jordan said as he indicated the massive chest wound. “I’d really like to know how he got glass in this wound, the bone, and fibers I can understand, but not the glass,”
“You’re right, Jordy, this wound is really strange, I think he was shot with either bird or buck shot, not a single bullet,” Jays stated as he dropped a very small round pellet into the collection bowl set next to his arm.
“Josh?” Jordy asked.
“I agree. And for some reason, I have a feeling that this young man’s life’s in great danger, and we are the only ones who are going to be able to keep him safe,” Josh said he removed bone and pellets dropping in the bowl.
Turning his head, he looked at his scrub nurse, “Penny, would you get hold of the twins and tell them what is going on and get things set up, to house this young man. Also, find out if he has any family and let me know, ASAP.”
“Yes, doctor,” the woman responded as she quickly left the O.R. and disappeared.
Several minutes later she returned and began, “Our patient has a father out in the surgical waiting room. The twins will have everything ready by the time we get there. The patient’s father is named Inspector Richard Queen.”
Before Jordan could say anything further, Ellery began to hemorrhage again, and the anesthetist was quickly replacing I.V. bottles, and bottles full of blood. He returned his attention to his real job and readjusted the anesthesia and oxygen mixture deepening the effects of the anesthesia. “Sorry, ‘bout that, Penny,” he said as he turned his attention to the scrub nurse. “I need more I.V. fluid and blood.”
“Of course, doctor,” she responded as she quickly went out, and pulled a half-dozen bottles in her arms, and re-entered the O.R.
After hanging them she, left again, placed a call, to other hospitals requesting more blood for transfusion and more bottles, of I.V. fluids. The surgery continued uninterrupted an occasional clink as a piece of bone, a pellet, glass, or fibers were dropped into the small containment bowl. No words were spoken except orders softly given to the various surgical team members and the orders were silently carried out.
Out in the surgical waiting room Inspector Richard Queen stood looking out the large picture window his hands shoved deep into his pants pockets. He heard footsteps behind him and turning he spotted Simon Brimmer heading toward him. “Brimmer, what are you doing here?” he groused.
“I’m here Inspector, because Ellery is my friend and I am deeply concerned about him. I was told he was hit in the chest, have you heard anything,” the radio actor informed the shorter man.
Richard sighed and replied, “No, he’s still in surgery, he has been since they brought him in.” he turned back to the window looking out into the distance, not really seeing the buildings all around, instead he saw his memories of his son.
He remembered a nurse coming out of the birthing room and handing a small squiggling blanket wrapped bundle. “You have a son, Mr. Queen,” she said, “I’ll let you know when you can see your wife, we should be getting her into her room shortly,” the woman dressed in white said.
Once the woman was gone Richard gently pulled back the corner of the blanket and gazed down into his son’s face. The baby’s eyes were the most remarkable thing about him. He had the requisite number of fingers and toes and all the right parts in the right place. The baby just stared up into his face not making a sound, and Richard noticed that those blue, blue eyes didn’t miss a thing.
“Well, your mother and I decided to name you after your great grandfather. So, your name is Ellery Daniel Queen,” he told the infant. Ellery just lay contentedly in his father’s lap, yawned hugely, closed his eyes, and promptly went to sleep. A nurse came, took the sleeping baby, and said, “If you will follow me, Mr. Queen, I’ll take you to see your wife.” She walked down the hall and indicated a room, then continued to the nursery. “I’ll just put baby boy Queen in a bassinette so he can sleep. Go on in and see your wife,” she instructed.
Memories quickly shifted, some moving so fast through his mind that he only had time to catch a glimpse or a small fragment. Taking his pocket watch out of his vest pocket, he pressed a button the side of the watch and it flipped open. He gazed unseeingly at the face of the watch, finally noting that his son had been in surgery close to thirteen hours. He closed the case, and replaced it in his vest pocket, sighing heavily he wondered how much longer the surgery would take. Looking up and outward he saw the familiar figure of Frank Flanagan striding toward him, a photographer in tow.
“Flanagan, not you too,” he snarled as he spun around to face the Gazette’s crime reporter.
“Hey, take it easy there Inspector, I’m worried about Junior. Any word?” the red-haired reporter asked.
“No, now go away and take Brimmer there,” the short man pointed indicating the man seated in a chair against the wall, “with you,”
Sergeant Velie stepped in and not too gently grabbed the photographer’s camera, opened it, and pulled out the film thus eliminating all the pictures that had just been taken. He stuffed the film into his coat pocket, and none too gently began escorting the two reporters toward the elevator. Just as he reached the bank of elevators, he spotted a tall, well built, blonde man in surgical scrubs slowly walking down the hall.
Doctor Jordan Alton staggered slightly from exhaustion and bumped into a wall, and with careful, pain filled movements slowly got himself back into the middle of the hallway. He approached the waiting room and saw several men turning to look at him. The doctor walked over and gently laid a hand on his shoulder and whispered into the older man’s ear “How good of actor are you Inspector?”
Richard looked up at him and mouthed, “I have no idea? Why?
“I need an excuse to get you away from these people without rousing too much suspicion,” he indicated the newspaper reporter and the radio actor.
“Alright, what do you want me to do, doctor” the older man inquired.
“I want you to collapse when I tell you about your son, it’s not true of course, but act as if it is. Ready?” Jordan inquired.
Richard nodded and looked up at the much taller doctor, “My son?” were all the words he managed to say.
“I’m so sorry, Inspector, but we did everything humanly possible, we just couldn’t stop the bleeding,” the doctor caught the much shorter and older man as he eased him into a chair behind the man.
Jordan looked around spotting an orderly and snapped, “Mikie, get a gurney and help me get the Inspector into the recovery room. I’m going to have to sedate him,”
The orderly quickly brought the gurney over to Jordan and the two men gently lifted the Inspector onto it. The medical men began to make their way toward the recovery room.
Brimmer rose and moved toward them moving alongside the two men and the seemingly unconscious Inspector. “Excuse me, I’m Simon Brimmer, surely you must have heard of me. My radio program is quite well known. How is Ellery?” he asked as he stood and moved to the Inspector’s other side.
“Yeah, how is Junior?” Flanagan asked.
“Are you both member of the family?” the doctor inquired. “I’m sorry gentlemen, you’ll have to wait for an official press release from our communications department,” Jordan as he and the orderly moved the gurney through swinging doors marked, authorized personnel only, thus he prevented the other men from following them.
Once in the safety of another hall way leading to the surgical suites, recovery room and an entire new set of surgical intensive care rooms the doctor paused.
“Thank you, Inspector. My name is Jordan Alton, my surgical team and I struggled to keep your son alive. He lost a lot of blood which we have transfused, but if he starts to hemorrhage again, we may not be able to get him back into surgery fast enough. There was a great deal of damage to his heart, the thymus gland, sternum, and multiple ribs and his lungs. The damage to his heart is considerable, if he survives, it’s going to take he a long time to recover,” the surgeon said as he pushed open a door that lead into a large open room with curtained off areas containing beds, most of which were empty. The bed at the far end of the room was occupied by Ellery. A nurse was busy taking blood pressure, respirations, and pulse. She gently laid the young man’s arm down on the bed and picked up his chart from the hook on the foot board.
The two men stepped up beside the bed as the nurse handed the doctor a clipboard and he looked through it. “So far, his vitals are holding steady, if they remain steady, he has a surprisingly good chance of recovery. Why don’t you stay with him? I don’t like how restless he’s getting.”
Ellery started thrashing around, trying to pull out the I.V.’s and the doctor and nurse were busy trying to get him restrained. Richard stepped up beside the bed and took hold of his son’s hand and gently and quietly spoke into the younger Queen’s ear. Ellery stilled immediately, his fingers curling around his father’s and taking reassurance from the contact.
Jordan smiled and said, “You must have a very strong bond with your son.”
“We do. We’re very close. I raised Ellery by myself after his mother did in the Spanish Flu epidemic.”
Jordan nodded, “A lot of people died world-wide from that epidemic.” He rehung the clipboard as was turning away where there was huge bang so loud and strong that it shook the part of the building, they were in. “Pearl, go find the two Gunnies and get them in here.” He ordered and stomped on the breaks holding Ellery’s bed in place. “Help me move him into that far corner.”
Just as they were moving the bed there was a second bang, louder and closer and even more powerful than the first one. Things began falling from the ceiling and Jordan grabbed a curtain and threw it over Ellery to protect him from the debris. “Get him off the bed and put him under it,” the doctor ordered, “and you get under there with you son,” The doctor grabbed the blankets and started to pull the younger Queen towards him. Two men and a woman came running into the recovery room. “Get him on the floor NOW!” Jordan yelled as things began falling from the ceiling again as another explosion rocked the building knocking everyone off their feet. “Pearl get into all the surgical suites and make sure the oxygen and anesthesia are shut off!”
“Yes, doctor,” she spun and headed through a pair of swinging doors.
“Michael, Milan, get the Queens’ out of here,” Jordan ordered as another explosion went off shaking the building even harder. “And take Penny and Pearl with you. Get my keys, they’re in my left-hand pants pocket in the doctor’s locker room and hurry! Take them to the compound and tell Josh I ordered you to bring them there, they’re not safe here and wouldn’t be safe anywhere else either. Get going.” He looked at the Inspector. “Go with them, your presence will make your son easier to handle. Once you reach the compound and get your son settled, give your house keys to one of the Gunnies and they’ll go and pack suitcases for you.”
Richard shoved his hand into his right-hand pants pocket, pulled out his house keys and handed them over to one of the younger men, he wasn’t sure which one.
Michael laughed and said, “Don’t bother trying to figure out which is which, even our parents couldn’t. I’m Michael he’s Milan, and we’re Gunnery Sergeants United States Marine Corps. We fought in the Pacific. You’ll find the entire compound is staffed by entirely by Alton’s.’ We’ll be taking you and your son to a very secure facility. We work with military personnel who have been severely wounded, and either aren’t ready or can’t go back into society just yet. Every one of us are related, we all cousins. Our ancestor was one of the founders of the Dutch East India Company and another was the founder of New Amsterdam, they came here in sixteen-fifty-four. We own a very large property out on Sheepshead bay, so there is a lot of privacy and it is well protected by former Marines and Patton’s third. The government pays us to care for those men who are too wounded to return to their families and society.” They finally came to the street level, Milan pulled open the door and peered outside. They could hear sirens coming from all direction heading toward the hospital. The Gunnery Sergeant spotted his cousins car and they quickly got the car open and everyone inside, started the engine, backed out of the parking space, and waited for a fire truck, sirens wailing, to pass them, then car was turned into traffic and they were soon moving out of the area toward Brooklyn.
There was massive confusion and panic as people fled the new wing of the hospital People were streaming out of the building screaming, crying, and were trying to get as far away from the fire boiling out of the tenth story windows on the east side of the building. Simon Brimmer spotted Frank Flanagan and asked “Mr. Flanagan, have you seen Inspector Queen or any sign of Ellery. I can’t seem to spot either the Inspector or Ellery’s medical team.”
The reporter looked around, spotting Sergeant Velie directing frightened people to areas where they would be safe and if they had been injured could be treated.
“Sergeant Velie’s over there,” Frank responded pointing toward the massive man. The two men paused beside the next to the Sergeant. “Excuse me, Sergeant Velie, have you seen Inspector Queen or anyone on Ellery’s medical team?” Brimmer inquired.
“Doctor’s over there in the,” the cop paused, answered a woman’s question, then continued, “He’s over there in the triage tent.”
“Thank you, Sergeant,” Brimmer said as he and the reporter headed toward the triage area. Finally spotting the tall, blonde doctor he carefully moved through the large open tent. There were a startling number of people being treated for minor injuries, even some firefighters. “Excuse me, Doctor,” Brimmer began.
“Yes?” The tall, lean man turned and looked at the two men standing next to him. “Are either of you injured?” he questioned.
“No, sir,” Frank Flanagan responded, “We’re looking for Inspector Richard Queen and his son Ellery. The younger man was in surgery before the explosions. Do you know what caused the explosions?
“As for Inspector Queen and his son, I believe that my oldest brother was his surgeon. Jordy took them to a different hospital where the younger Queen would have a better chance of survival.” Jesse answered in a soft Dutch accent.
“Could you tell us were that is? I would like to send flowers and visit,” Brimmer informed the young doctor.
“I’m sorry sir, that information is classified, and that’s all I can say. Now, if you will excuse me, I have patients to treat as two ordines and two nurses pushing a gurney with an injured firefighter on it, his fire protection gear was scorched and even badly burned all the way through the cloth covering his arms, legs, and other parts of his body. Jesse began giving orders and turned his entire attention to his next patient.
“Well, what next?” Flanagan inquired as he and Simon were ushered out of the tent by an orderly, who, once they were outside the tent, returned his attention back to what was going on inside.
“I’m not quite sure,” Brimmer muttered, “There has to be some way to find out where the Queen’s were taken. He moved off oblivious of what was going on around him. Ignoring Flanagan, the radio actor, deep in thought he headed towards his chauffeured car. Getting into the back seat he ordered, “Take me back to the studio, James,”
“Yes, Mr. Brimmer,” the chauffer replied as he pulled out of the parking lot and headed downtown to studio where Brimmer recorded his crime show.
Frank Flanagan, moved through the crowd, stopping and questing people who had been caught in the explosions that had severely damaged the new wing that was being built. He wrote a down a lot of quotes, as his photographer took numerous rolls of pictures, including, inside the triage tent, people being bandaged by nurses and orderlies. Peopled sitting off to one side, uninjured, but crying and shaking from shock. He looked around looking for a pay phone, finally spotting one he dropped in a nickel into the slot, dialed his office number, and his secretary answered. “Vera! Take this down,” he ordered and began dictating his story for the evening edition.
A man sat at the bar on the waterfront and gulped down an Irish whiskey. “Oh, God, how could I have shot him? He’s my best friend, we grew up together!” he cried silently in his mind. “He’s never did anything to deserve this. What is wrong with me?” He indicated a refill of the whiskey. The man was gulping down the amber liquid trying to assuage his conscience and misery and pointed again at the empty glass. He looked into the huge mirror running the entire length of the bar. Every imaginable variety of liquor was standing on long shelves stack four high. He could see Big Red walking up behind him. A hand was set down on his shoulder, and he tried not to cringe when heard Callahan’s voice in his ear, “Good job, is Queen dead?”
“I….”he stammered, gathered his nerve. “I don’t know, he was taken straight into surgery. Velie brought the Inspector to the surgical waiting room. A doctor come out said something to the old man and he collapsed, so I assumed that the younger Queen died in surgery. Before I could get any information, there were a series of explosion and we were evacuations. The Queen’s disappeared during all the confusion, not even the department knows what happened to them. And, before you ask, I have no idea where they are.” He tried to keep the self-loathing out of his voice.
“Do you know the name of this surgeon?” Sean inquired as he slowly lowered his bulk on to a stool next to Conroy.
“His name is Doctor Jordan M. Alton, Chief of Surgery, and Department of the U.S. Navy. He’s here to present some kind of demonstration on a thoracic surgery he developed in the Pacific, saved a large number of lives.”
“What else were you able to find out?” the big Irishman inquired.
“I think there’s some kind of compound or something like that out in the farthest reaches of Brooklyn on the shores of Sheepsheads bay.” Conroy spoke flatly. Big Red nodded, stood patted the much younger man on his shoulder and left the cop to his thoughts and self-loathing.
A battered fishing boat was anchored about a half-a-mile off shore with fishing poles hang off the sides and back, three men took turns using a pair of binoculars to watch the on-shore activity. The noted the routine patrols, each man patrolling with what looked like a rifle and a holster holding a hand gun. The men in to boat could also see fencing with barbed wire going across the top and things in the water to prevent a water craft from landing on the sandy beach on the shoreline.
The man currently watching, lowered the binoculars he was using and said, “If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that,” he pointed shoreward, “that is run by the military. I’ve seen service men dressed in USMC uniforms, being a Marine myself I know the uniform blindfolded, some of the others are either Navy or Army, or Army Air Corps probably all four. They sure don’t want visitors and I’ll bet that if you do find the main gate you won’t get in unless you have the right credentials, which I sure don’t. Do any of you?”
The other two occupants nodded no and continued to watch the fishing lines, just barely keeping their cover. One of the other men said “I think this is the compound that was moved when the government bought the land that they are turning into New York International Airport. I know that there was this Dutch family that owned that property and the government traded them for this. Apparently, they’re very rich and all the people who live on the property are related. Which is all I know.”
The third man reeled in a large fish, and said, “Don’t look at me. I don’t know nothing. I’m just along to give you guys cover. I just came along for the fishing.”
The other two men turned away in degust and traded places, then one went below decks into the tiny galley, made sandwiches for the other two, included potato chips and a bottle beer. “Come and get lunch he called as he took a plate and bottle of beer and headed to the wheel house to eat his lunch as the smell of fish turned his stomach.
The other two men got their lunch and repaired to the fantail of the boat, set their plates and bottles down, the returned to the business at hand, learning as much as they could about the heavily armed camp. Until the sun began set the changes several times each one making notes on what they had observed so they could report their observations to Big Red and get further instruction.
From the top of one of the shore side trees a hidden pair of binoculars was focused on the fishing boat far too close to the shoreline for the comfort of the watcher. He pulled a hand held walkie-talkie out of his hip pocket and pressed the talk button. “Lookout one to base,” he said softly.
“Go ahead lookout one,” a female voice responded.
“There is a supposed fishing boat approximately one thousand yards off the beach, well within boundary limits. Three men on board, two fishing, one scanning the beach noting patrols, armaments noting everything. Send out recon to discourage these fishermen.” The guard in the outpost informed the base operator.
As he looked down, several armed me in wet suits and oxygen tanks made their way silently to the base of his tree. He climbed down and softly spoke to the leader. The leader nodded, then turned to his men, gave orders and they silently slipped into the water from a place hidden by vegetation which blocked them from view by the men on the boat. They disappeared below the water and swam out going under the boat, silently surfacing. Making their way onto the boat, before the three men could even react, their weapons had been confiscated, and guns trained on them. The team leader spoke, “All right gentlemen, lets’ see some I.D.”
The three men dropped whatever they were holding, the one with the binoculars actually dropped them in the water. He swore and turned with his hands up in the air to face the men behind him.
“Carefully now, use just your thumb and forefinger and give my man here your wallet.”
The three men did as they were told, each holding out in their right hands a leather wallet. One of the men dressed in wet suits stepped up to each man and opened a wallet, then pulled out a state issued driver’s license. One man said, “Braden Cullen, Brooklyn, New York.”
A second one said, “Oran Donnelly, Brooklyn, New York.”
The third and final man said, “Torren Killeen, Brooklyn, New York.”
The leader asked, “Exactly what are you three gentlemen doing in this area of the bay?”
Cullen responded, “Just fishing, sir,” respectfully as he slowly lowered his hands to his sides.
“I don’t think so, now, I want the truth, gentlemen.” The leader snapped.
“That’s all we’re going, I swear,” the youngest of the trio replied.
“You don’t just fish with binoculars, gentlemen. Now, the truth or we are going to go somewhere very unpleasant and you will give us the truth, do you get my meaning?” the leader snarled at the three men. “I am losing my patience; I want answers and I want them now!” The three men swallowed hard but remained silent. The leader shook his head and pointed to signs visible at the height of five feet above the water. “Can’t you three even read?” he questioned. The signs clearly stated property of the United States Government, do not pass area is protected. “All right since you’re going to be difficult,” he started, then ordered, “Let’s take these jokers to headquarters and get some answers out of them.” One of the men took the helm, started the engine, and headed out of the protected area and toward a barely seen dock sticking out from the land. The three men were surrounded and escorted to low concrete building and led to a long row of cells with high barred windows and concrete floors, ceilings, and walls, with steel barred doors. There was no one else in the long line of cells and each man was put into his own tiny room. It contained a narrow cot, stainless steel toilet and sink. The cot had blankets and a pillow and was bolted to the floor to prevent it from being broken up and used to try to escape their confinement. Not one of the three men could see the other, nor could they hear each other, it was as if they were in solitary confinement. The last man was shut into his cell and they were left alone. They were fed, but not spoken to by their handlers and it would be several days before their questioning would begin.
In their private room, Inspector sat beside his son’s bed trying to settle the very agitated and restless younger man. He reached out grabbed his son’s hand, leaning forward, Richard began speaking soothingly, quietly, so that only his son could hear him. “It’s all right son, everything’s all right. Just take it easy, everything’s all right. Just take it easy.” He kept repeating over and over as Ellery slowly came out of the anesthesia. But nothing seemed to settle the writer he kept mumbling something unintelligible. There was a soft wrap on the door, and it opened as a woman in a starched white uniform entered the room. “Inspector, I’m Poppy Morgan, one of the nurses here,” before she could continue, Ellery shouted something, and they turned their attention to the man in the bed.
“I’ll get Doctor Jordan,” she quickly left the room and within moments the small old gentleman could hear a voice paging Doctor Jordan to come to their room immediately. The door flew open and Jordan followed by Poppy and he whirled around ordered Poppy to get a syringe of sedative as he placed his hands-on Ellery’s shoulders and held him down against the bed. “Easy, there Mr. Queen, just take it easy,” Jordy spoke to the increasingly agitated man.
Poppy reappeared and quickly removed the needle and twisted the syringe onto the port of the I.V. line and pushed the plunger, within moments Ellery quieted and his breathing evened out. Jordan pulled his stethoscope off his neck and listened to his patient’s heart. It was labored and its beat was erratic, he looked sideways and ordered, “Poppy get O.R. one ready, he’s hemorrhaging again. Get Josh and Jays in there I’ll need their help. Get him in there STAT!” The doctor quickly exited the room and disappeared down the hall toward the surgical suites.
Richard looked up at the nurse as she opened the door and commanded two men who were passing down the hallway. “You two get a gurney and get Mr. Queen to O.R. one now.”
The O.R. door opened from the scrub room and the three Alton doctors entered and were assisted by nurses into their surgical gowns, sterile gloves and the three men began another surgery on Ellery Queen. They found more fibers, and pellets as well as bone fragments and pieces of glass.
“Where’s all of this coming from?” Jays asked as he removed several more pieces of containment into a small round bowl with clinks. Getting no response, he removed several more pieces and dropped them into the bowl.
“I wish I knew,” Jordan replied as he too removed bone, fiber and glass fragments and dropping them into the bowl. “Jays, grab a clamp and get that bleeder just above your hand, will you?” the oldest brother asked.
Jays felt a clamp slapped into his palm before he could even ask for one. He chuckled, “Penny, you’re a mind reader.”
“Nope, I just heard Jordy tell you clamp off that bleeder, therefore you needed a clamp.”
Ellery’s surgery took a full six hours to complete and he was returned to his room. The little inspector was awakened as the over-head light was turned on and watched as his son was settled on the bed. The I.V.’s were hung, and Jordan entered the quiet room. “He came through, though not easily. We found many more bone fragments, glass fragments, and fibers along with several blood clots between the pericardium and the heart and several more in the chest cavity.”
“I’m still not convinced that we got all of it this time either. He could still be hemorrhaging where we can’t see it, or even find it. Ellery is still holding on, it’s just going to take time, and we have a great deal of that, don’t give up Inspector, he just might surprise up all.” Jordan took his stethoscope place the ends into his ears, bent and listened to the writer’s heart. The beat was strong and steady, normal sounds in each of the atriums and ventricles. “Poppy, check pulse, respiration and blood pressure. I want you to record vitals and listen to his heart and if there’s anything abnormal page me or Josh STAT, alright?” Jordan ordered.
“Yes, doctor, shall I also keep an eye on the Inspector as well?” she asked softly from behind the doctor’s right shoulder. “Yes, and make sure he eats a good healthy meal and gets out of this room at least four times a day and gets some exercise. He needs a break from watching over his son. I know they’re close, but there can be times when close is too close, understand?”
Poppy smiled and quietly took over from the doctor as he left, to check on his other patients. “The doctor gave me orders to keep an eye on you too, Inspector. I am to make sure that you get healthy meals and regular exercise four times a day,” she said. “Your son isn’t going to wake until sometime tomorrow, so why don’t you and I go to the mess hall and get something to eat. We’ve got very good cooks here and I know they are having fried chicken for dinner, so will you accompany me?” She held out her hand and the old gentleman smiled, stuck out his arm and took hold of the much younger woman’s putting it through his and they quietly slipped out of the room leaving Ellery to sleep off the anesthesia.
“Alright, fill me in on what you’ve found, “Big Red instructed the man sitting across the table from him. The man took out a note pad from his inside jacket pocket. He opened it and began reading, “I have no proof that the Queen’s are staying at the military compound on Sheepshead bay. It is patrolled and there are guards on the only gates into this place. No one goes in or out of the place. Everyone who works there are related, a single family and they live on the grounds. Here’s what I found out about them. The Alton family comes from the Netherlands, their ancestors were some of the founders of the Dutch East India Company and were also the founders of New Amsterdam in sixteen-fifty-four. They originally owned the land that the government is building the New York International Airport, the government traded them the property where their clinic is presently located. The family treats men who had been wounded in the war. The men are either severely wounded and unable to return to society or are mentally unstable that they’re a danger to themselves or society. Most of the men they have there have no family to care for them or a place to go when they have recovered. So, until they recover enough to return to society there they stay. Their regular military pay is put into a local bank in Brooklyn and held in trust until they are released from doctors’ care. In order to enter this compound, you have to have an active military medical I.D. I have men posted in several apartment building overlooking the hospital grounds in case the one of the Queens’ appear, all of them have current pictures of the two men, but nothing so far.” Jasper Hagarty reported closing his note pad and replacing it into his jacket pocket.
Big Red leaned back in his chair and thought rubbing his cheek and chin. “All right, keep up the surveillance and see if you can find a way into that compound. I want to know if the Queen’s are there. Oh, and Jasper, remember that Aidan junior goes on trial on Monday for multiple murder charges and I want my nephew out from under these radicicolous charges.”
“I remember Big Red, I won’t forget, my wife won’t let me, remember she’s Aydan’s’ youngest sister.” Jasper stood, pushed his chair beneath the table edge, then turned and left the bar.
Simon Brimmer rode silently in the back seat of his limousine going over the script for the next several episodes of his radio crime show. He looked up as the limo pulled in front of the Gazette and the chauffer put the car into park, opened the door and got out walked around the back of the limo, then opened the back door holding it open for Simon to exit the vehicle. He entered the building, paused, and look at the listings on the bronze plaque giving the names of employees and the floor on which one they worked on. Finding the one he wanted, he took the elevator to the seventh floor and exited. Turning left he followed the numbers until he came to seven-eleven Frank Flanagan was printed in gold letters across the glass upper half of the door. He opened it just in time to her Flanagan shout “Vera!” a petite, dark haired woman got up from behind a desk and entered through a door behind her desk. He stepped into the office and moved toward the inner door. Just as he was about to push the door further open so he could hear what was being said the door opened further revealing the carrot haired reporter was busy talking on the phone. The woman paused, “Oh! Excuse me, can I help you?”
“My name is Simon Brimmer,” the short crime solver began.
“Oh! I love your show, Mr. Brimmer, it’s so wonderful how you solve all those mysteries every week.” She smiled as she pulled the door closed behind her.
“Thank you I am very pleased to hear that you appreciate my hard work. I would like to speak to Mr. Flanagan regarding some information I have come across and to find out if he might have the same information. Would that be possible?”
“Let me speak to Mr. Flanagan, just one moment please,” She reopened the door and disappeared into the office.
Simon remained standing in front of the door as it was reopened, and she indicated for him to enter the office of her boss.
“Thank you, my dear woman,” Brimmer said as he walked past, he and waited to speak until she closed the door.
Flanagan regarded the dark haired, dark eyed man across the desk and asked. “Well, well, well, what brings you to my parlor said the spider to the fly,” Frank picked up his cigarette re-lit the end, took a deep draft, blew out the smoke and looked at Brimmer. “Well?”
“I am wondering if you have heard or seen anything of the Queen’s,” radio actor inquired as he too lit a cigarette and put it into the holder used to smoke from.
“Nope, not a thing, it’s as if they just disappeared off the face of the earth. None of my contacts have been able to ferret out anything, if the police know where they are, they’re not saying anything. I get the sneaking suspicion that even they don’t know where Pater and Fili are.” Frank leaned back in his chair, put his feet up on his desk and continued, “All I have is the hospital’s news release concerning Junior’s being shot and the Inspector’s collapse and be sedated and under a doctor’s care. Which is hokum and you and I both know that. What I really want to know is shot Junior and why, there’s got to be a reason, I mean the kid’s harmless, he wouldn’t hurt a fly and you and I both know that, no matter how mad he, he’d never intentionally hurt anyone.”
Simon leaned back in his chair and said, “I’ve only seen Ellery really lose his temper, when some comic book, I can’t remember which one wanted to make a superhero out of him, that got nixed pretty quickly, after the editor was shot buy three of his subordinates and that was quite some time ago. I know that Ellery’s just turned in his twenty-fifth novel to his publishers.”
“What gets me is that Junior was at the local grocer’s, it appears to be a robbery, three people died, and Ellery and one woman were taken by ambulance to Bellevue. I tried to interview the woman, but the cops wouldn’t let in to talk to her. As far as I know she’s still there, my contacts are mum about that too.”
“Something strange is going where the Queens’ are concerned, and I want to know why and who’s involved. I will reach out to my own contacts and see if they can find out anything. Let us keep in touch with each other and exchange information, shall we?”
“Good idea, your contacts are completely different than mine, if I hear anything, I’ll let you know, and you do the same.” Frank crushed out the small remains of the cigarette and the phone rang, “Flanagan,” A shaky slurred voice came across the line, “I got some info for you Frankie, but it will cost you a C-note this time.”
“What! Are you out of your mind?!” Flanagan yelled into the receiver.
“It’s worth it I know where the Queen’s have disappeared to,” the voice slurred as its owner took a huge gulp of the liquid in a bottle covered by a brown paper bag.
“All, where are they?” the reporter inquired.
“You promise the C-note?”
“Yeah, yeah, where are the Queen’s?”
“They’re on the far side of Brooklyn out on Sheepshead bay where they’re building that new beltway. Right where that new beltway meets Flatbush Avenue you’ll see off to the left. The compound is under the care of the military. Seems that the doctor who operated on the younger Queen also runs this hospital for wounded military personnel, and not the physically injured either, place is heavily guarded and from I hear down on the waterfront especially at Callahan’s bar, they’re really interested in this here compound. Seems they sent three men out there to look around, and they haven’t heard of them since last Saturday. The men and their boat just vanished, no sign of ‘em. The cops, they don’t know nothing ‘bout this compound, not in their jurisdiction or some such thing like that. I heard that from the horse’s mouth so to speak. That nasty piece of work Jasper Hagarty, was talking to Big Red. It also seems that there was a witness to the Walsh killing, that would be about six weeks ago, they found out who the witness was, something not even the cops have found out. It turns out that the witness was Ellery Queen. They have someone on the inside at the third district, Queen’s bailiwick.” There was a very long pause as the informant took another deep swig on his bottle. “According to what I overheard, they had this here dirty cop to do the shooting. Guy’s name Aldan Conroy works directly with Velie and that bunch. Gotta gotta go before someone catches me, that good enough for a C-note?”
“Yeah, that real good, you come here and up to suite seven-eleven and my secretary Vera will give you the C-note, got that? I need a name to give her, so she give the C-note to the right man. What do I call ya?” Flanagan asked as he finished giving instruction to the wino.
“Franklin D.” the wino said as he hung up.
“That was a great deal of information from a wino,” Brimmer said as he leaned on the desk listening to the conversation between the drunk and the reporter.
“What say we take a drive out to Brooklyn and take a looks-see at this supposed military compound,” Flanagan stood, picked up a note pad, stepped around his desk, paused at the door, and looked at Brimmer, “You coming or not?” he asked.
“Yes, of course,” Brimmer stood and proceeded the reporter out of the room and through the reception room. They barely spoke to one another as the rode down to the ground floor and left the building and got into the back of the limo. Once both men were seated the chauffer got behind the wheel and asked, “Where to Mr. Brimmer?”
“Take Flatbush Avenue to where it meets that new beltway out in the further reaches of Brooklyn, and we’ll see what we have to see.
Chapter Twenty one
Ellery came out of the anesthesia slowly things he had heard and seen were all mixed up in his mind. His chest hurt and he didn’t understand why, and mix-up into all of his confusion was seeing his father shot and lying dead across the threshold of their shared apartment. Crying out he bolted upright and gasped in pain, his breath coming in short gasps as he tried to figure out where he was and what had happened to him and his father.
“Ellery, it’s alright. Everything’s alright, son, just take it easy,” the old man perched on the side of his son’s bed, took hold of his hand and kept repeating the reassurance, trying to help his son calm down.
“Dad, where are we and what’s going on?” the writer questioned as he leaned back against the headboard of the bed, still gasping.
“We’re under protective custody son.”
“Protective custody from what?”
Before the Inspector could answer the door was opened and a tall, blonde haired, blue eyed man wearing a medical jacket, white shirt and colorful tie entered the room. “Good to see you awake, Mr. Queen,” he said as he paused across the bed from Richard.
“I’m Ellery, he’s Mr. or Inspector Queen,” Ellery waived his hand at his father. “Oh, and you can call him Richard, Dick or Q or Inspector, take your pick, He’s been called it all, me I just call him Dad.” The younger Queen grumped.
Both older men burst out laughing at the scowl on Ellery’s face.
“Are you in a lot of pain?”
“Some, yes mostly in my chest.” Ellery reached up to rub the painful area, and before he could make contact the doctor grabbed his wrist gently and said, “Sorry, no rubbing, I don’t want you to undo all my hard work.”
The doctor turned and stuck his head out the door and requested a sterile bandage tray. “Well, let’s see what my handiwork looks like shall we?”
The tray was brought, and the doctor put on the sterile gloves as the nurse helped to open Ellery’s hospital gown. The two-medical people gently removed the large gauze bandage from the writer’s chest and looked at the stitches and surrounding tissues. Gently probing and touching the area surround the stitches and even touching the stitches themselves. “Is there any tenderness anywhere I have touched you?”
Still leaning back against the head board Ellery responded, “No it just hurts all over.”
“Well, I’m not surprised considering the speed you sat up with,” Richard commented as he moved out of the nurses’ way.
“Let me listen to your heart and lungs, please,” the doctor put the stethoscope ear pieces into his ears and listened to the normal, strong healthy beating and the deep regular sounds of lungs taking in and expelling air. “Everything sounds normal, but we’ve too hard and too long keeping you alive to take any chances. Here’s your new prescription, you can sit up, take very short walks, I want you getting some exercise as you’ve been in bed too long. For right now, take a bath, put on clean clothes, eat a good meal and take a long nap. I’ll have Poppy bring you some aspirin and make sure you take those and the penicillin pills too.” He instructed as he removed the gloves and re-hung his stethoscope around his neck.
“My name is Jordan Alton, and I am the commanding officer here and the chief of staff. This entire compound is protected by both the Marines and the Army as we treat wounded military personnel. My family owns the land as we agreed to a sway with the U.S. government. They wanted our land over Jamaica bay to put the new New York International Airport. We agreed as long as we got title to the land and the government built the buildings to our specifications. You’re in the main house because we wanted to make sure we could get you into surgery immediately if you started to hemorrhage again. We brought your father along because he was the only one who could keep you calm when you were coming out of anesthesia.”
“Thank you for all you’ve done for both of us,” Ellery shifted around the on the bed trying to get comfortable.
“Are you in pain Ellery?”
“No, I just need a long soak in hot bath, clean sheets and clean clothes.
“Not a problem the bathroom is right down the hall, there is a separate shower and a nice, deep bathtub for soaking. I’ll have one of the boys help you.” Jordan informed father and son.
“That’s all right,” the Inspector, “I’ll take care of him, I could use a shower, and clean clothes as well,”
Ellery slowly got to his feet and paused holding on to the foot of the bed frame, stabilizing himself. “Think I got up too fast, a bit dizzy,” he said to the people in the room.
“Come along L,” the old man said, gently wrapped his arm around his son’s waist and Ellery draped his arm across his father’s shoulders.
The two men moved slowly down the hallway and entered the bathroom. There was a tall, blonde man just exiting the room with the tub, “Hot water’s hot and there’s clean clothes on the hooks on the back of the door, for Mr. Ellery. For you Mr. Richard, your clean clothes are on the hooks just along the wall in the shower room. By the time, your both finished dinners will be waiting for you in your room. If you need anything just let me know, my name is Tory.”
“Are one of the innumerable cousins?” Richard asked.
“Yes,” Tory chuckled.
“Just how many family members are there?” the inspector questioned as he heard his son’s sigh as he slipped into the hot waters of the bath.
“Well, last Thanksgiving there were two hundred of us that includes those family members who aren’t in the medical field and who do not live on the compound.” Tory replied slightly embarrassed. “Those family members have children or those of us who are married and have children the kids live with the people who don’t live here. Children aren’t permitted around here, too dangerous, especially with those men who have brain damage which causes them to be dangerous to either themselves or someone else. My wife shares a large apartment on the other side of the new beltway with her sister their three children and our son and daughter,” he explained to the two Queen’s.
“If you need something pull the bell cord besides the door and someone will come immediately.
The two men finished their ablations and dressed in clean clothes. Entering their room, they could see a breeze slightly moving the drapes, then they could something even better. They turned around as one and moved over to a table set with two covered dishes in front of the fireplace. They sat down, removed the covers, and savored the delightful scent of roast beef, mashed potatoes, asparagus, and homemade rolls with fresh butter. There was coffee and homemade apple pie.
After chewing the last bite, the old policeman leaned back in his chair, took a swig of coffee, and looked silently at his son. The younger Queen had lost weight, as was paler than ever. Ellery was not noted for spending time outside, he was more likely to spend time with his nose in a book, or doing research, or writing. He set his cup down on the table and asked, “Are you sure you’re feeling alright?”
“No, I’m not feeling all that well, my chest hurts like the devil,” the younger man growled, as he leaned into the back of the chair and gently rubbed his chest. “What I want to know who shot me and why?”
“No idea son,” the older man replied. “I supposed I should check in with Center Street,” he said looking around for a phone. There wasn’t one to be seen. “Now, where the devil is the phone?” He rose and began looking around the large room. There were full to groaning bookshelves on either side of the fireplace, two beds with a night stand in-between the two beds and a night stand on the left and right of the beds, respectively. The far side of the room was full of windows from floor to ceiling. There were blackout curtains as well as thin gauzy curtains underneath the heavy dark curtains.
“No phone, I’ll be right back,” Richard said as he exited the room.
There was a nurses’ desk at the opposite end of the hallway, there was Tory seated behind the desk a book in his hand. The elder Queen approached the desk and asked, “Where’s the phone around here?”
Startled, Tory sat bolt upright and replied, “I’m sorry, Mr. Queen but there is no phone for patient’s, but let me check to see if there is an exception for you,” He picked up the intercom hand-set and spoke briefly into it. Returning it to it’s’ cradle and looked at the shorter, older man. “Uh, Mr. Queen, Doctor Jordan would rather you not call anyone, because you’re under protective custody.” Jordan walked up to the nurse’s desk and looked down at the smaller, older man, “There is some out there who want’s your son dead, and we still don’t have any idea who want’s Ellery dead, I have contacts in the police department and the Deputy Commissioner has assigned Sergeant Velie, along with a team of detectives to investigate who and why someone has targeted Ellery.”
“I still think if I were there we’d come up with some kind of lead or at least a direction to look in,” Richard stated.
“That’s not a bad idea, but you are going to have to act as if you have lost your son and you have to be convincing. As far as I know, no one in the department know what Ellery’s condition is and we have to keep it that way.”
“I agree, I will need a contact number so if the Deputy Commissioner Hayes asks too many questions, which he is bound to do,” the Inspector leaned against the desk, shoved his hands into his pockets, closely watching the much taller and younger doctor.
“If Deputy Commissioner Hayes has any questions regarding your treatment or your health or anything regarding Ellery, have him call me here and ask for me. I’ll answer his questions satisfactorily enough to minimize his curiosity,” Jordan said. “We’ll send you back home tonight, so you can start work on Monday at your regular time, will that do?”
“Yes. I’ll go and have a long talk with Ellery and get packed. I’ll also send another suitcase of clothes for Ellery, he’ll need it. So, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll have a talk with my son.” The little man turned, headed back to the room he shared with his son.
Richard opened the door and looked around the large room. Ellery was seated in a wingback chair, his feet propped on an ottoman, a blanket over his legs. There was a cheerful blaze in the fireplace, and his son was sound asleep in the chair, a book open in his lap. The old man gently laid his hand on the writer’s shoulder and spoke softly, “Ellery, Ellery, son, can you wake up, we need to talk.”
Ellery’s eyelids fluttered, then opened and he looked into a pair of familiar blue eye. “Dad has something happened?” he asked as he stretched and closed the book, lying it down on the table beside his chair.
“Nothing, terribly important. I’m going home and back to work on Monday. There needs to be more progress on the investigation of who killed you,” the father said as he eased himself into wingback chair across the fireplace from his son, and continued, “So far, the department seems stymied and the investigation is going nowhere. So, if I go back to work maybe I can get things going and find out what’s really going on and get the investigation back on track.”
“That sound good,” Ellery remarked, “What do you want me to do?”
“Nothing!! You stay right here and heal; I’m not taking going to let anyone near you until we have the person who tried to kill you under arrest.” Richard snapped as he rose, pulled his suitcase out of a closet, and began packing. “I’ll send a suitcase back with whoever drives me home. You need clothes, especially under wear, robe, slippers, and pajamas. I’ll also include other clothes as well. If I need to talk to you, I’ll call Doctor Jordan. I don’t want anyone finding out you’re still alive.”
“Sounds, good.” Ellery rose walked over to the bed where his father was packing, laid a hand on the cops’ right shoulder and said, “Please, just be careful.” Ellery you know I don’t believe in superstition, but I’ve had this same nightmare several nights in a row.
Richard paused, looked up at his son, “What nightmare?”
Ellery slowly lowered himself to the side of the bed and began, “It’s really late, even for you. It’s raining and your car has broken down about two to three blocks from home. There is a black car slowly following behind you. You stop at a corner, notice the car, but it turns to the right and it disappears. You continue on and finally arrive home. After a short search in., your pockets you find your keys and slowly open the door just as you open it a car comes down the street and the window comes down and you dive through the open door, only it’s too late as….as several bullets hit you. I just get the door open in time to drag you into the entryway. Before I can even get to the phone,” Ellery paused, gulped and continued, “You die in my arms. Maybe what happened to me was I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe, you’re the actual target, just promise me you’ll be careful, Dad. Please.” Ellery gently took hold of his father’s forearm and gave a gently squeeze.
The Inspector smiled and responded, “I promise, I’ll be careful, son.”
Ellery smiled and said, “That’s all I ask.”
Richard did something he rarely did and wrapped his arms around his son’s shoulders and said softly in the younger man’s ear. I’ll love you, my son.”
Ellery responded with a hug of his own and replied, “I love you Dad.”
They smiled at each other, the older policeman closed his suitcase, picked it up and followed his son out of the room, down the hall and out to the waiting car. After closing the passenger door of the car, Ellery leaned in through the window, he said, “I’ll talk too soon.”
Richard nodded, rolled up the window and watched over his shoulder as his son and the building disappeared from view.
Chapter Twenty two
Simon Brimmer and Frank Flanagan in Brimmer’s limo were stopped at light as a small dark car crossed the intersection and looking out of the passenger window was Inspector Richard Queen. Flanagan snapped, “Follow that car!”
The chauffer looked into the rear-view mirror and Brimmer nodded, so the limo pulled in three or four car lengths behind the small black car and followed to the Inspector’s home.
The car parked in front of the brownstone and Richard got out, opened the trunk, and took out his suitcase. He dropped it on the sidewalk walked up to the driver’s side and leaned in to speak to the driver, as he did, he saw the limo and who was inside. “Come in side and I’ll give you some clothes for Ellery.” Richard leaned over picked up the suitcase and climbed the stairs to the front door. He unlocked the door and entered the apartment he shared with his son. He dropped the suitcase in his bedroom, then entered his son’s and quickly grabbed the necessities, stuck them into a suitcase he found in Ellery’s closet, once the case was packed with toiletries, and clothes, he handed it to the driver, who quickly left the apartment and silently nodded to the two men who were standing about to knock on the Queen’s door.
“Brimmer, Flanagan, what do you two want?” the inspector snapped unhappily to see the radio actor and the newspaper reporter.
“We wanted to know how Junior was doing,” Frank said as he stepped past the driver allowing the man to take the suitcase and disappear out to his car, after getting in he started the engine and left the area.
Richard sighed heavily and moved into the study and with seeming exhaustion, he leaned his head back and closed his eyes. “My…” he choked, cleared his throat, and tried again. “My son…Ellery died in surgery. I…” he heaved a sigh and continued, “I collapsed and Doctor Jordan, thought I might have had a heart attack, so he took me to a private clinic where I could get necessary rest. After some discussion we decided that I would return home today and return to work on Monday.”
“I am so sorry for your loss, Inspector,” Brimmer said as he slowly lowered himself to the chair behind Ellery’s desk.
“Gee, I’m really sorry too Inspector, Junior is really going to be missed, and not just by the fans of his books, but by a lot of other people as well.” Flanagan said as he sat down in the only other chair in the room.
“Is there going to be a funeral or memorial service?”
“No, Ellery didn’t want one and I agreed, just thinking about it is more than I can handle right now, so if you don’t mind I need time to get used to being alone and I have to get ready to return to work,” the old man said as he rose to his feet and headed toward the door.
“Of course, Inspector, I completely understand,” Brimmer rose and walked over to Flanagan, pulled him to his feet and ushered him out of the apartment.
The suddenly, lonely, old man sighed heavily as he closed the apartment door. It was going to be a very long night and an even longer day tomorrow.
Chapter Twenty three
Aldan Conroy entered the waterfront bar owned by Sean Callahan also known as Big Red because his hair is the same color as an Irish setter. He walked over to the bar and plopped down and looking up he asked the bartender for a single malt whiskey. He gulped down the contents in a single swig, plopped down the glass on the bar top and indicated for a refill. “Hear anything new Conroy?” Big Red inquired as he sat down beside him.
“No nothing, nobody knows nothing. As far as the investigation is going it’s at a standstill.”
“Good, just make sure it stays at a standstill,” the Irishman said as he rose and headed away from the other man.
Conroy heaved a sigh and gulped down another whiskey, refusing to look at himself in the mirror behind the bar. He got another refill and sat at the bar feeling sorry for himself. “Gods, you need to get yourself together and get over this, you had a choice and you made it, if you hadn’t your mother would’ve died, and your father wouldn’t be long behind her. You wouldn’t have minded so much if it had been anyone else, but it wasn’t and you’re just going to have to live with, so get over yourself, go to confession and let the priest sort it out.” He finished his glass, dropped a bill on the bar and left the bar heading for the nearest Catholic church he could find. After making his confession, he headed to his parent’s apartment to check up on them, making sure that they had enough to eat and that they were both taking their medications. He opened the door and called, “Mom, Dad, you home?”
“Of course, we are, where do you think we would be?” he mother came out of the kitchen and kissed him on the check, “Aiden, you smell like whiskey, why is that?”
“Ah, mom, give it a rest, I’ve had a really hard day. This case I’ve been assigned is going nowhere fast, and between Sergeant Velie and Deputy Commissioner Hayes, I don’t even get a lunch break,” he complained.
“Oh, you poor baby” Oona said patting her son’s cheek.
“Mom, I’m thirty-five years old! I’m not a baby anymore!” Aldan declared.
“Dinner will be ready in five minutes, so go wash up and tell your father to do the same,” Oona Conroy ordered as she returned to the kitchen.
They finished dinner and Aldan and his father both leaned back in their chairs with a contented sight. “So, what is happening at work Aiden” the elder Conroy inquired.
“Not much, we keep hoping someone will come forward with information on who shot Colum Walsh or Ellery Queen, what we have is absolutely nothing on either case and the pressure is coming down from the top, even the Mayor wants this solved, but nobody’s got anything to work with, Pop, I mean we got nadda, nothing, not a single lead. You’d think that whoever shot Walsh would be talking about in the bars or someplace, but the snitches got nothing and as for who shot Ellery, Gods, that’s even a deeper mystery.”
“Did you ever consider that maybe Ellery was in the wrong place at the wrong time?” the elder Conroy asked.
“Yeah, the other shooting victim says she saw that nice Mr. Queen in the grocers, he said hello as he always does, such a nice young man, offered to help carry my groceries home, then all the shooting started and that nice young man turned toward noise the gun made and there was a second, then a third gunshot then another two more, there was blood everywhere and even some of it was hers, that when she started screaming. The nurse came in and sedated her. Velie and I went back the next day and asked her some more questions and no she could not remember if there was a single shooter or if there were more.” Aldan informed his parents. He rose, moved around the table, kissed his mother on the cheek, “Thanks for dinner, Mom,”
“Now, you just wait one moment, while I get you some to take home, you’re too skinny Aldan.” She rose and began gathering containers for the leftovers to go into. Once she finished, she handed her son enough food to re-heat for nearly a week. “I expect you home again next Sunday for dinner and you had better not smell of whiskey, do you understand?”
Aldan smiled and responded, “Yes, Ma’am, no more drinking on the Lord’s day, I promise.” He kissed her cheek again and said, “I’ll see you for dinner, next week.” Taking his leftovers, he left the small apartment where he grew up and headed toward his own.
Chapter Twenty four
Early Monday morning Inspector Richard Queen pushed the swinging gate that divided his offices from the hallway. The switchboard operator was at her station taking calls and directing them where they should go. His secretary was busy collating paperwork, supposedly getting it ready to file. “Morning, Grace,” he said as he entered his office and looked dismally at the stack of files, loose papers, and Sergeant Velie sitting in his chair. “Inspector!” Velie snapped as he quickly stood and moved out of the older man’s way.
“Thank you Velie,” he sighed and slowly sat down in his chair and heaved a heavy sigh. “Bring me up to day, Velie,” he looked at his lead detective.
“There’s not much to tell Inspector, we don’t have any leads on the Walsh murder, nor do we have anything on the Maestro’s shooting. How is the Maestro, Inspector?” Velie questioned as he took a chair across the desk from his superior.
Richard closed his eyes; he knew he was going to have to go through this at least once more before people would stop asking him questions about his son’s condition. “Ellery…” he began and the door to his office opened and Deputy Commissioner Hayes entered and both Velie and Queen rose to greet the man.
“Q, it’s about time you returned to work. I understand you needed to take care of your son. He must be better in order for to be here,” Hayes stated sharply as he seated himself in the empty chair.
Richard slowly sat down and looked at both men. “Ellery….” He stopped took a deep breath released it slowly and continued, “Ellery died in surgery. I collapsed and don’t really remember much after the Doctor told me they couldn’t save him, Ellery just lost too much blood. They did the best they could, but nothing had prepared me for that. Ellery’s surgeon took me to a private hospital he knew of where I could rest and recover. He released me on Saturday. Between a cleaning service it took all of Sunday to get the house cleaned and the fridge cleaned and free of the order of spoiled food.” He leaned back in his chair and sighed, pressing a hand to his chest trying unsuccessfully to slow his racing heart.
“I’m so sorry Richard, is there something I or the department can do for you?” Hayes said softly
“No, there’s nothing to be done. Ellery didn’t want a funeral or memorial service. He’s buried next to his mother,” the old man answered not really wanting to talk about it. “I’ve got to get through all of this,” he said indicating the piles of flies and loose papers on his desk. “It’ll give something to keep my mind busy, so I don’t have to think about…” he began saying when the three men were interrupted by a plain clothes detective who entered the Inspector’s office from the hall door. “Velie…”
The Sergeant turned his head and looked at Conroy, “What is it Aldan?”
The younger detective’s attention was diverted by the short, old man sitting behind the desk and said, “Welcome back Inspector,”
“Never mind that, what have you got Conroy?” Richard snapped grumpily.
“I think I might have found a witness to the robbery and shooting at Enright’s Grocery. You want to me to check it out or do you want to come with me,” Aldan asked.
“You go with him Velie. It will give me time to catch up with what is going on,” Richard ordered as he looked at the Deputy Commissioner. He raised one eyebrow and looked at his superior.
Clearing his throat D. C. Hayes rose to his feet and remarked, “I’ve got work to do as well, I want your report on my desk as soon as you get it written up, Velie, and that goes for you too Conroy.”
“Yes sir,” the two detectives replied at the same time as Velie rose and followed Conroy out the door.
“So, what’s this lead you were talking about Aldan?” Thomas inquired as the rode down in the elevator together.
“I overheard a couple of kids talking as I entered Enright’s. The reason no one had questioned them is because their school was out on Spring break and they had both been out of town visiting relatives. I called the two kids families and they agreed to allow us a chance to question the two boys. I thought that you might want to come along and see what they had to say,” Aldan said as he opened the passenger door of the police car.
“Good think’ng Conroy. Where do these kids live?” The large, heavy man asked as he got behind the wheel and started the engine.
Twenty minutes later the car pulled up in front a brownstone no different than any others on the block or the surrounding blocks.
The two detectives got out and headed up the steps to the main entry way. They found last names of the two boys on the mail boxes and went to the first-floor apartment and knocked.
A woman answered, and the two detectives showed their badges and Velie explained. “I’m Sergeant Thomas Velie and this is Detective Aldan Conroy, may we come in we’d like to talk to your son, Mrs. Duffy. He’s not in any trouble, we think he might have been a witness to a robbery at Enright’s Groceries. Is it possible to talk to him?” She stepped back letting the two officers in to the apartment and she said as she closed the door. “Alsandair is making deliveries as he works for Enright’s and Garvan is with him, they help each other do the deliveries as sometimes they can be too heavy for just one boy to carry. Please sit down, the boys should be home in a couple of minutes and you can ask them what you need to know.” Suddenly the sounds of two loud chatty boys could be heard coming up the stairs. The door opened and they entered and stopped in the middle of their conversation as the eyed the two men in suits sitting on the sofa.
“Close the door Alsandair, you come in too Gavan. These gentlemen are from the police and they want to ask you some questions about a robbery down at Enright’s. I want you both to be polite and answer their question as best as you can, understand,” Mrs. Duffy explained as the two boys took chairs facing the two detectives.
“Alsandair, can you tell me if you saw anything unusual on the fifteenth of February at around four-o-clock in the afternoon?” Velie asked.
“No sir, that’s when we make our deliveries and there were nearly a dozen that day, wasn’t there Gav?” Alsandair responded looking at his best friend.
“Yeah, I know we didn’t get back to Enright’s till nearly four-thirty and there were lots of cops and people standing round, I remember that Mrs. Lacy was hurt real bad and they were just putting her into the back of an ambulance we got to the front door.”
“Yeah, I remember hearing someone saying that three people had died including old Mr. Enright, he was ancient, and he was something like 90 or even older. And the glass of the front door was all gone, just pieces of it was still in the door when we got back,” Gavan interrupted excitedly.
“We hurried around back where we store our delivery wagons and snuck in side. There was blood and holes all over the place. It was kinda cool, but gross too.” Alsandair informed the two cops.
“Alsandair, Gavan, those two statements are completely unnecessary, those people who were killed and injured are our neighbors so please, keep with the facts.” Mrs. Duffy said as she set a tray with glasses and a pitcher of lemonade down on the coffee table.
“Yes, ma’am,” the two boys responded contritely. “Is there anything else you wanted to know officers?” They asked very politely.
“Have either you boys or even you Mrs. Duffy heard anybody say anything about the shootings?” Conroy inquired as he continued to write in his note pad.
Mrs. Duffy poured the lemonade into glasses and handed them to the officers, each one politely thanked her and took a long swallow, then set their glasses on the coffee table on a coaster, and waited patiently for her to finish, so they could finish their questioning.
“No,” the boys said, “but we don’t go back to school until Monday and we’ve been too busy delivering for Enright’s’ to really see anyone. We’ll ask around and if we hear anything can we call you?” Gavan asked as he took the glass of lemonade from his best friend’s mother. “Thank you, Mrs. Duffy,” he said as he began drinking the refreshing liquid.
The two cops finished their drinks, rose, thanked the two boys and Mrs. Duffy, then left the apartment.
“Well, that was really helpful, got nothing out of that,” Aldan grumped as he read through his notes.
“Same here,” Velie said as he turned on the car’s engine and they headed back toward Center Street headquarters.
Chapter Twenty five
Much later that night Aldan Conroy made sure that he wasn’t being followed as he entered Callahan’s bar. He walked over the long mahogany and brass bar and took a seat on a stool and ordered a whiskey. “God’s, I killed my best friend and once I’m identified as the shooter, I’m going to get fried. My parents are going to be so ashamed of me. Even I can’t live with myself,” the detective took another swig of the whiskey and stared at his reflection in the bar’s mirror. He watched Big Red heading in his direction from his usual table. Aldan hunched his shoulders even more tightly as the large, Irishman laid a hand on his shoulder.
“So, what is going on in your world?” Sean Callahan asked as he lowered his bulk on to the stool as Conroy’s side.
“Inspector Queen returned to work today, he looked awful, he told D.C. Hayes, Velie and myself that Ellery had died in surgery and according to him, the doctor who took him to a private hospital to recover from shock, and a possible heart attack,” Aldan informed the Mafia leader.
“So, the younger Queen won’t be an issue. Good, now all we have to do is find the evidence against Aiden Junior. You know the evidence officer, don’t you?” Sean asked.
“Yeah, I know him, but if you want someone to get the evidence it can’t be me, use someone else. I can’t be caught tampering with evidence, Sean and you know that my position is precarious as it is. People are starting to get suspicious,” Aldan Conroy informed the much larger man.
“Sure, I’ll keep you out of the evidence room, Aldan, you need anything else?” Sean snarled.
“Look, Sean, I’ve comprised everything about myself for you. Yeah, you paid for my mom’s operation, and believe me I’m grateful, and all that, then you go and order me to kill my best friend and I do that too, and believe me I’m having a hard time livin’ with that, let me tell you, now you want me to tamper with evidence, sure why not, I can’t be anymore compromised than I am right now, so sure I’ll remove any evidence against Aidan Junior. Anything else you want done?” Conroy said angrily as he gulped what was left of his whiskey.
“Not, right now, Aldan, but if I think of something, I’ll be sure and let you know,” Big Red said as he rose and left the angry man to his self-pity.
Aldan dropped the glass on the bar top pulled a bill out of his wallet and dropped that too. “Keep the change,” he said as he left the bar and headed toward his one room apartment.
Chapter Twenty six
Simon Brimmer once again found himself in Frank Flanagan’s office waiting for the reporter to finish his phone conversation. The red-haired reporter dropped the receiver into its cradle and looked at Brimmer. “I’ve got the word out to all my contacts and got nothing yet, but I’m sure that I’ll have something soon.” He said leaning back in his chair. After taking a cigarette out of his pocket he lit it and blew a smoke ring.
“Very fancy,” Brimmer commented as he took a drag on his cigarette holder turning the tip of the cigarette a burning red.
“Well, I have some news,” he said as he flicked the ashes off into the ashtray and rested the cigarette and its’ holder in one of the divots in the side of the round dish. “I’ve been told that the Callahan trial has been moved up and the police caught someone trying to tamper with evidence, they have him in custody. And I believe that I have all the evidence I need in order to have the person who killed Ellery Queen arrested and charged with his murder,” Brimmer leaned back in his chair, steepled his fingers and waited for Flanagan’s response.
“Well, don’t hold out on me, get on with it!” ordered the newspaper reporter.
“Not, just now I think, I need to check out some information and my own suspicions,” Simon rose and headed toward the door and opened it, gave small, polite smile, left the office, leaving Frank Flanagan speechless, which did not happen very often.
Chapter Twenty seven
In his Center Street office Inspector Richard Queen was finding that sitting behind his desk, going through routine paperwork was actually boring him ridged. It had never happened to him before, but then he’s never really been working alone since his son had graduated college and began interfering, the truth be told, Ellery had never interfered, he had provided invaluable assistance to all of his investigations, seeing things other experienced police investigators hadn’t or hadn’t recognized as evidence. He truly missed his tall, lanky son and that brilliant mind, and even more important than all of that was his son’s very presence. Ellery filled their apartment with a lively, inquisitive mind and an energy that was impossible to not to miss. He admitted to himself, he simply missed his son and returning to that empty apartment was not something he wanted to face, yet he had to face it sometime, he couldn’t sleep in his office. He sighed, gathered up the files, papers and other detritus on his desk, opened the main door to his office and said, “Grace, please forward the papers that need to go to D.C. Hayes and file the rest, please. I’m going home, I’ll see you tomorrow.” He handed the woman the stack of files and a large pile of papers to her, closed his door and was getting ready to leave when Thomas Velie threw the hallway door open and began “Inspector, you need to come down to evidence right away,”
“What’s going on Velie?” he asked as he swung his jacket around his small shoulders.
“We’ve caught someone tampering with evidence, and you aren’t going to believe who it is,” Velie said as held the door open and allowed his superior to proceed him.
“Who it Velie?” Richard questioned as the elevator doors shut and the two police officers headed toward the basement.
“Aldan Conroy, he said the only person he would talk to is you,” Velie informed him.
“Huh, wonder what this all about?” the small, fierce man harrumphed to himself.
The elevator doors opened, and the two men headed to a holding cell located on the opposite side of building from the evidence room. They approached the man and he rose and came to the bars and said, “Please, Inspector let me explain.”
“Velie, get him out of there, give him back his gun and shield and we’ll go upstairs and talk in my office,” the old man ordered.
Velie retrieved the other officer’s gun and badge, gave them to the Inspector who pocketed them, and with the two detectives following, he returned to the elevator and his office. Once the door was closed, Conroy and Velie dropped into the chairs on the opposite side of Queens’ desk. He removed his jacket, hung it on the back of his chair and dropped down on to the leather seat. “All right Aldan, what’s going on, why you were tampering with evidence.”
“I wasn’t given a choice, Inspector, please believe me. I owe Sean Callahan a lot of money, several thousand dollars,” Conroy began
“What you been gambling or something?” Velie snarled as he shook the smaller, younger man by the shoulder.
“Velie, that’s enough!” Richard snapped, let him tell his story.
“Thank you, Inspector,” Conroy said softly. “And no, I didn’t gamble. My mom need a really expensive surgery and my parents live on a small income from Dad’s retirement, it’s big enough to pay the rent and get them groceries but nothing else. I help out as much as I can, but still isn’t enough, not since my Dad got sick too. The costs of their medications is more than they can afford. Sean Callahan had heard about their troubles and he told me he would pay for my Mom’s operation and both my parent’s medications if I could either get the evidence to him or destroy it myself. So,” Conroy looked down at the floor and continued, “Both my parents would be dead now if not for the money Sean Callahan gave me to pay the hospital, and the pharmacy for the medications they need. I’m so sorry, but they’re my parents and I couldn’t just let them die, could I?” he looked up at the Inspector.
Richard heaved a sigh and leaned back in his chair; his fingers intertwined, the thumb of his right rubbing circles on the palm of his left hand. “Just how much evidence did you destroy Aldan?”
“None, it’s in a manila envelope in another case box. I thought if I hide it making it look as if had been misfiled, then I wouldn’t be suspected, but Schneider came back from break early. It was easy to pick the lock on the evidence room, too easy if you ask me,” Conroy said.
“Which case Aldan?”
“A very cold case Inspector. You remember the Zucchi murder sir?”
“That case, it’s got to be at least thirty years old, Ellery was five when…” the Inspector began, stopped, then continued. “That was my first homicide investigation.”
“That’s where I put the Callahan evidence, I really didn’t take anything or damage anything. Sean Callahan just wanted the evidence against his brother to disappear. So, I made it disappear.” Conroy continued, “I know you’re disappointed in me but what else could I do, my Mom had to have that surgery, or she would’ve died, and Dad had a heart attack and now he’s on heart medication which is expensive and my Mom’s cancer treatment is really expensive. I tried to get a loan from our union, but nothing doing, and no bank would loan me money, even though I have a steady, good paying job and a place of my own. I couldn’t get anyone to help me, but Sean Callahan stepped up. I’ve known him and his entire family because we attend the same church and we were altar boys together all the way through school. I joined the police and Sean well he joined his family. When his Uncle died, he inherited that big bar down on the waterfront and turned it around. He’s got a good head on his shoulders, really smart, good at math Sean is, really good. I’ve never seen him use scratch paper or anything, he just does it in his head.” Aldan told the two men.
“Velie can you make up a fake evidence envelope and give it to Conroy to give to Sean Callahan?” the inspector inquired.
“Not a problem, Inspector.”
“Good, then get it done and give it to Aldan,” Richard ordered.
“Aldan, you go with Velie and he’ll give you that false evidence, then you and Velie go back down to the evidence room and you give Velie the envelope you took, then go home. Velie you bring all the Callahan evidence up here and put it in my files and lock all the filing cabinets, then go home yourself and we’ll never speak of this again, understand?” he ordered.
“Yes, sir,” the both responded the left the office to do their superiors bidding.
Richard rose a second time, put his jacket, and silently left his office by the side door, heading home to an empty apartment.
Chapter Twenty eight
Ellery Queen paced around the grounds thinking, his mind going over and over the facts of the murder of Colum Walsh and Kenny Kirkpatrick. Nothing made sense, he knew that Aidan Callahan Junior was all set to take over his father’s business of running numbers, protection rackets, and various other assorted mafia like enterprises. He drummed his fingers on top of the hat covering his head as he walked. The other problem on his mind was his father and what was happening with the older Queen.
“Is there a problem, Mr. Queen?” a man nearing middle age inquired as he stepped up beside the writer.
“I, just seem to be coming up against a dead end, but I know that there’s a tunnel that goes through that road block, it’s just in my mind.” Ellery responded as he shoved his hands into his pants pocket.
“Maybe talking about might help putting your thoughts in order,” the older man suggested. “Oh, I’m sorry, I should introduce myself, I’m Reverend Justin Alton, I’m the old man around here, well that is until Jarlath, gets back from Washington D.C. He’s in meetings with the DOD, umm, Department of Defense,” Justin informed the younger man.
“Pleased to meet you Reverend, I’m Ellery Queen.” He took his right hand out of his pants pocket and shook hands with the reverend.
“Why don’t we sit down here,” Justin indicated the picnic table just outside the mess hall.
“What seems to be your problem?”
“Well, one is I’ve got too many problems,” Ellery began resting his forearms on the table top.
“All right, let’s start with the one you feel most pressing.”
Ellery heaved a sigh and began, “I’m not a serviceman, I was 4F’d.” he paused, then continued, “According to Doctor Jordan I was shot in the chest during a robbery, only Doctor Jordan doesn’t believe that, he thinks there’s something suspicious about my getting shot.”
“Did Jordy tell you anything about his suspicions?”
“No, but I think he had a long talk with my Dad,”
“And who’s your Dad?”
“Police Inspector Richard Queen, he runs the third district homicide division from Center Street,” Ellery answered easily, “Doctor Jordan and my father decided that it was time for my father to go home and go back to work to see if he could figure out who and why someone wanted me dead. Neither of them thought to consult me about this, I’m not complaining, but I’d feel more at ease at home and much happier. My father haven’t really spent any time apart except when I went to Harvard.” The younger Queen informed the pastor.
“I see, are you a police officer like your father”
Ellery began laughing, “That’s the last thing my father would want me to be, no, Reverend Justin, I write detective fiction and I make a good living at it. I also consult with the NYPD on homicide cases that my father and his detectives are working on. I know my father and his detectives are working the Colum Walsh and I suppose they’re also working on who shot me, but I’m really worried about my Dad, this is going to be hard on him, and I feel guilty about not being able to help him. I haven’t heard from him and I’m really worried about him,” he began rapping his fingers on the top of his head as his thoughts jumped from one thing to another never settling on a single item.
“What are you thinking about, Ellery?”
“What!?” The writer, his thoughts interrupted, and it startled him. “Oh, sorry, I just keep thinking about my Dad, and the two cases, I keep think that they are related, but I can’t find the link between them.”
“Wil you please walk me through both cases?” Justin asked politely.
Ellery began to speak, “Colum Walsh was scheduled to testify against Aidan Callahan Junior. Colum was Aidan Junior’s right-hand man. The D.A. had promised him a new identity and relocation after he had testified. Approximately, mid-September Colum and his protector Police Office Kenny Kirkpatrick were shot and killed, but no one, according to my Dad no one was able to identify the shooter. Then a month ago, has it been that long?” He paused thoughtfully, shook his head, and continued, “I was at Enright’s Groceries, there was a big bang, and unbelievable pain in my chest and that was the last thing I remember until I woke up here.”
“Ummm, complicated, that much is obvious, does it occur to you that maybe there is someone working on the inside providing information to the Callahan’s,” Justin suggested.
“That’s sounds right, someone has to be providing info to the Callahan’s.” Quickly rising, Ellery said, “Thank you Reverend Justin, I need to talk to my Dad.” He hurriedly walked across the patio and into the mess hall disappearing from sight.
Chapter Twenty nine
Doctor Jordan Alton sat behind his desk reading through reports on the patients who were currently recovering at the hospital and recovery center. A knock on his door and he said, “Come in.” Looking up he watched Ellery Queen enter his office and close the door behind him. “Am I interrupting?”
“No, please come in and interrupt me, I’m beginning to get cross-eyed reading all these reports. Several military hospitals are asking if we currently have space for a number of personnel that need further recovery time, and they don’t have the space available to keep them longer.” Jordy said as he leaned back in his chair. “Not that you need to hear about my problems. How can I help you Ellery?”
“I need to talk to my Dad; is there a way you can contact him without arousing suspicions?”
“Humm, let me think a moment,” the Admiral ran a hand through his golden blonde hair, then leaned forward and aid, “I think I have a way. When was the last time you heard from him, Ellery?”
The younger Queen seated himself in a chair across from the doctor and replied unhappily, “When you sent him home, that was three weeks ago,”
Doctor Alton picked up the receiver and dialed a number and waited for his call to be answered, “Hello, my name is Jordan Alton M.D. could I please speak to Inspector Richard Queen? Yes, I’ll hold,” he waited patiently for the older Queen to come on the line.
“Hello, Doctor Alton, is there something wrong?” the Inspector inquired.
“Yes, could I send a car for you to Center Street, I want to check on your heart to make sure that you have fully recovered. When should I send the car for you?” Jordy questioned.
Richard looked at the pile of folders on his desk and thought, the hell with this, I want to see my son, “How about in an hour? I should be done with what needs doing for today,” the old man said as he reached for his jacket on the back of his chair. “It’ll take at least that long to get through the traffic. I’ll meet your driver and the main entrance.”
“That sounds good, I’ll have an exam room ready for you. I’ll see you in two hours. Goodbye Inspector,” he said as he hung up. Then turned his attention back to Ellery, “He’ll be here in a couple of hours, why don’t you get something to eat, I don’t like the way you are looking. Also try to rest for a while too. I’ll have one of the nurses come get you when he gets here, all right?”
“Thank you, doctor,” Ellery rose greatly relieved as he left the office and headed for the mess hall, knowing that he could get some food, rest on the other hand was not going to be as easy to come by.
Two hours later Inspector Richard Queen entered the house like building where his son’s room was located. He walked up to the nurses’ desk and looked at Poppy in her starched, crisp white uniform. “How’s Ellery doing?” he asked her.
“I’m not sure as I haven’t seen him today, he was not in his room when I came on duty, and do you want me to page him?”
“No, thank you my dear, I find him shortly or probably more importantly, he’ll find me.” The small man headed down the hallway and opened a door in the middle of the hall. “Ellery?” he spoke softly as he entered the room. His son was in his favorite position, sitting angled in a wing back chair, one leg thrown over the arm rest, the other stretched out in front of him, his arms across his chest and his head resting against the back of the chair. Stepping up beside the chair, he gently laid a hand on his son’s shoulder and spoke his name. “Ellery,” He waited for a response, when none came, he shook the younger man’s shoulder a little harder and spoke again. “Ellery!”
The writer jerked nearly upright under his hand and looked up at his father. “Dad!” He quickly rose and embraced his father, holding him tightly.
Richard could hear his son’s quickly beating heart and they embraced. “Are you all right?” he asked as he looked up into his son’s blue eyes.
“I’m getting better, they let me walk as much as I want all over the property. I just can’t leave and believe me I want to come home.” He guided his father to a matching wingback and sat down in the one he recently vacated. “Dad, have you considered that there is an informant in Center Street?” he asked cautiously, known to be very protective of the men who worked under him.
“Yes,” Richard grunted. “We discovered Aldan Conroy tampering with evidence and he told Velie and me why and who he was working for.” Richard crossed his legs as he made himself comfortable.
“Oh? What did Aldan have to say?” Ellery asked as he rested his forearms on his knees and leaned toward his father.
“Aldan told us that he owed Seal Callahan money, because the youngest of the Callahan brothers. Seems Sean unlike his older brother and his father actually has a heart. Aldan’s mother was diagnosed with cancer and had to have surgery to save her life and Sean was the only one willing to lend him money to pay for the surgery. His mother survived the surgery, then his father had a heart attack and was hospitalized for nearly a month and that ate up was left his parents meager savings, and again Sean came to the rescue to pay for the hospital and both of his parents medications. He told us that he felt he owed Sean a big favor, so he took most of the D.A.’s evidence and moved it to a very, old, cold case down in the evidence room. I now have that evidence locked in my filing cabinets in my office. I told Aldan and Velie that what had happened was going to be between the three of us and only the three of us. And before you say anything, I do know what I am doing. I’ve known Aldan since he was in infant, you two grew up together and I cannot forget that his parents are your God Parents. So, don’t get on my case about this, Ellery.”
“What else have you learned?” the younger Queen asked as he lurched to his feet and began pacing the room. He was drumming his fingers on top of his head as he listened to the older man.
“We have a lead on the man who killed Walsh and Kirkpatrick. Do you a hitman by the name of Liam O’Reilly?”
Ellery stopped dead, whirled around, and looked at his father and asked, “Did you Liam O’Reilly?”
“Dad, what was the address where Walsh and Kirkpatrick were gunned down?”
“Eighty-five-fifty-five, eighty-fifth street, why?”
“Because I think….I think I was outside that address when I thought I heard a car back fire, possibly a gun shot and maybe the slamming of a heavy wooden door. I thought I saw a man come out of that address, he was carrying a gun, which he stuffed into his coat packet and got into a car. And, don’t ask me about the license plate, I don’t remember. I had to get out of the house, so I went for a walk. You remember that really cold streak we had in the middle of last September?”
“Yes, go on,” the older man focused all of his attention on the tall, lank younger man.
“It was raining, and the fog was getting thicker and thicker. I vaguely remember walking down eighty-fifth when this car stopped at the corner of eighty-fifth and Amsterdam and the car disappeared into the fog. As I walked along another car passed me at another corner and I had to wait for the light to change. I couldn’t tell you why, but I followed that second car and I saw its tail lights not too far ahead of me. I was standing about three doors down for the address you just gave me, and I was startled by three consecutive loud bangs. The sound startled me, and I nearly fell down a set of steps leading to a ground floor apartment. I saw the front door open and a tall, lean, man about five-feet eleven, wearing a fedora and trench coat came out of the door, pulling it quietly shut behind him the only thing I could clearly see about him was a long, narrow, hooked nose and very, dark eyes. He shoved what looked to me like a gun into the coat of trench coat, got into the car that was waiting for him and it disappeared into the fog.” Whirling to face his father he asked, “Do you think it’s possible that I saw Liam O’Reilly as he left the safe house after killing Colum Walsh and Kenny Kirkpatrick, and that’s the real reason I was shot, so that I couldn’t identify O’Reilly,” Ellery inquired as he flopped down in his recently vacated chair.
“EL, that’s a real possibility, if the Callahan’s had someone going around the neighborhood asking question and people talked to him instead of us. Someone saw you walking and realized that you had seen what happened and they in all innocence told Callahan’s man. Callahan’s brought some in from someplace like…say Boston and he was the shooter at Enright’s Groceries. It wasn’t a robbery, although they tried to make it look like one, it was a hit pure and simple and you were the target.” Richard said as he rubbed his right thumb in the palm of his left hand. “All right, Velie, Liggett and Piggott and will go over everything we have, and I’ll send people out to re-interview everyone in the area. I’ll even have someone talk to Pops at his news stand to see if talked to any strangers in the neighborhood recently, he’ll know if there were people in the area who don’t belong.” He stood, embraced his son, and led the way out of the room. They saw Doctor Jordan striding toward them, and they paused at the nurse’s desk. “Caught you, I sincerely hope you didn’t think you were just going to walk in here and back out again, without my examining you, do you?” the blonde Dutchman asked.
“Uh, no of course not,” Richard and Ellery replied together.
“I mean Richard, not you Ellery, I always know where you are and how to get my hands on you. Why don’t you go get something to eat Ellery?” Jordan suggested, the continued, “you are losing weight and I don’t like the way you are looking, so after I’ve seen to your father’s health, I’m going to give you a very thorough exam, so don’t go too far or I’ll send a detachment of marines after you, so don’t think you can leave here without my knowing about it. There are still people out there who want you dead, and don’t forget that. My brothers and I have worked too hard and too long keeping you alive, just so you could go and get yourself killed, do you understand Ellery?” the Admiral said glaring the writer.
“I understand, sir. I’ll be in the mess hall, it that all right?”
“Very good, Mr. Queen, you are dismissed,” the Navy doctor said as he smiled at the elder Queen as he gently took hold the man’s upper arm and guided him to an exam room located right next to the nurse’s desk.
Tory laughed as he peered around the corner and smiled at Ellery, and said, “Give you a dressing down, did he?”
“If that was a dressing down, that was really mild, I’ve had a lot worse from my father,” the writer said as he stepped up to Tory and looked at the orderly. “Will you join me, that way I have a witness to testify to the Admiral and my father that I followed orders.”
Tory laughed, “Jordy isn’t that fierce, even if he is an Admiral and chief of staff. His bark is far, far worse than his bite, believe me. I served under him in the Pacific. I’ll tell you something about Jordy. If you need a thoracic surgeon, he’s the best there is in the world. The whole reason he was at Bellevue when you were brought in, is because, he was supposed to be giving a seminar to all the regional thoracic surgeons and medical students interest or wanting to go into thoracic surgery. He developed a new surgery while serving on the front-line medical units. He saved a lot of guy’s lives, without him and others like him there would we would have lost a lot more men than we did. Iowa Jima and Okinawa was horrible. I stated with Guadalcanal and ended in Okinawa, which included the Marshalls, Philippines, Leyte Gulf, the Solomon’s and all the rest, but you the scariest thing I ever saw was them Kamikazes, those guys was just plain crazy; they’d do anything Hirohito told them to, them Japs considered him to be a God, now ain’t that just plain crazy,” Tory said as he picked up a food tray and got in line behind Ellery. “Every single man who is either treating or being treated was fighting either in the Pacific or in Europe. There were horrors no man should see, let alone do, but Tojo and Hitler, and Mussolini, Hirohito and to be stopped and well, we’re the ones who had to do the job.” The orderly said.
“You may not believe this, but for my father and I we are both so grateful to and all of the men and women who served, without you and fellow fighters none of us would have the life we do now. I hate to even think about what this country would be like if Hitler and his allies had won the war,” Ellery said as he took the first spoonful of his mashed potatoes.
“Thank you, Mr. Queen, you’re the first person to ever say something like that to me and it makes me feel good to have done my duty to the best of my ability and survive the war.” Tory said as he too began to eat.
By the time, the two men had finished Richard and Jordan joined the two men at one of the long mess tables.
“Tory, did Ellery eat something?” Jordan questioned.
“Yep, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, and chocolate cake, and several cups of coffee,” Tory replied as he finished the last bite of his cake.
“You mean they had chocolate cake and they didn’t make enough everybody?!” he snarled as he rose and headed toward the door leading to the kitchen.
“Opps, I think I just got the kitchen personnel in trouble; you see Jordy loves chocolate and kind of chocolate. It was a very rare treat in the Pacific.”
The three men at the table could hear the Admiral’s raised voice and a much quieter response and promises to make sure that all personnel had a chance to have a piece of chocolate cake. The door swung open and Jordan walked back to the table, seated himself and sighed, “I think I was a little loud.”
“Only just a little Jordy, maybe take it down a couple of notches when you dress them down the next time. Kind-of spoiled the dinner, you know,” Tory chuckled as he looked at the sour expression on his oldest brother. He turned his attention to the Queen’s, “You see, I can get away with teasing him because I’m the baby of the family, last born and all that. So, I give him a hard time, though truthfully, if it weren’t for Jory I wouldn’t be here, and neither would a lot men.”
The Queen’s nodded understanding, the Richard said, “I’d better get going, I don’t need someone suspicious about where I’ve been. I’ll be in touch,” he said rising and lying a hand on Ellery’s should. “Do as your told, do you understand?” the little, old man stated as he looked straight into his son’s blue eyes.
“Yes, but Dad,”
“I’m not ten years old anymore nor is this that kind of camp,” Ellery smiled.
Richard burst out laughing, “I am quite well aware of that, I still expect you to do as your told, I do not want to return here and find out that you have done something stupid and gotten yourself killed, do you understand?”
“Yes, sir,” the younger man responded, then rose and gave his father a hug and said into his ear, “Just be sure that you take your own advice and stay safe, please.”
“I’ll keep in touch,” Richard nodded to the three men and left the mess hall.
Ellery remained standing and looked at the Admiral and asked, “Do you still want to give me an exam?”
Jordan looked suspiciously up at the writer, rose, picked up his plate, set in the dirty dishes tray and indicated for the writer to proceed him out of the mess hall.
Several days later, Inspector Richard Queen entered his office to find Sergeant Velie and Detective Aldan Conroy waiting for him. “What’ve you got Velie?” Queen asked as he walked around his desk, took off his jacket and hung it across the back of his desk chair. There was no response and the Inspector turned and looked at the pair. “Well?”
Conroy responded, “I went to Sean Callahan’s bar and he didn’t even come over to the bar. Usually he comes over and speaks to me, not last night. Something’s going on, Inspector, and I think I’m being shut out, and I’m not sure if it’s because they know I’m a cop or they know something we don’t I just wish I knew which.”
“Velie, can we send someone undercover into Callahan’s organization and see what he can find out about what’s going on?” the small man asked as he sat down in his chair.
“Let me think about, for a moment chief,” Velie muttered as the Inspector’s door opened and Deputy Commissioner Hayes entered the room. All three men stood as the slender, white haired, superior closed the door behind him. “I tried to call you, yesterday, and Grace said that you were out of the office. Where were you Q?” he asked.
“I was at my doctor’s office. I have to see him every three weeks to make sure my heart is stable, and I have not had another attack,” Richard answered as he resumed his seat. “We were just discussing about putting someone undercover in Callahan’s operations, we know from some information that was overheard by a snitch that Callahan has something going on, he’s just not sure what. We need that information, since Aidan Callahan goes on trial next Monday. We know that they desperately want Aidan Junior’s to be dismissed or for him to be acquitted they’ll take either one.” The elder Queen informed his superior.
Hayes, harrumphed, rubbed his chin, and thought for some time before he spoke. “Who would send in undercover?”
“I was waiting for Velie, or Conroy might have a suggestion, when you walked in. Neither Velie nor Conroy can go, because Conroy goes to the same church as the Callahan’s and they know he’s a cop. We need a fresh face, one that any of them haven’t seen before and certainly not a rookie.” The Inspector explained as he leaned back in his chair and regarded the three men in his office.
“I think I might have an idea but let me check it out first before I make any commitments,” the Deputy Commissioner said as he rose and left the office.
Both Velie and Conroy looked alarmed at their superior and Conroy said, “If he gets someone inside Callahan’s mob, we’re going to be in trouble, I gave Sean Callahan the fake evidence you gave me, hoping he or anyone else in his family didn’t recognize the evidence as fake.” Aldan said, then continued. “We have to get someone in there before the D.C. can suggest someone who won’t be reporting to you.”
“I know, but I don’t like going around the D.C.’s back. We need to know what the Callahan’s are thinking and what they are doing.”
“Inspector, I think I can get Sean to talk to me, we’ve known each other since we were kids, we were altar boys together,” Conroy said as he stood and looked between Velie and Queen. “I’ll go and talk to him now, see what’s going on.” He headed out the door, pausing he grabbed his trench coat and fedora and headed out of the Center Street and headed toward the waterfront.
Chapter Thirty one
Aldan Conroy entered the waterfront bar owned by Sean Callahan and seated himself at the bar. He looked at the bartender indicated he wanted a whiskey and patiently waited to be served. He looked up at the mirror behind the bar and saw Big Red headed toward him. “Haven’t seen you since you delivered that evidence to me. What’s going on, Aldan? How are your parents?”
“Not, a whole lot, Sean. My Mom’s doing much better thanks to that new med she’s on. And Dad’s heart has improved since the doctor forcibly changed his diet and started a new med to lower his blood pressure and slow down his heart rate. He seem to feel much better. I really gotta to thank you for all you’ve done for my parents, they wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t stepped in and helped with all the bills and things , I certainly couldn’t have helped that was even beyond my measly salary.” The cop said as he took a long sip of his whiskey.
“Hey, that’s what friends are for. You got a minute Aldan?”
“Yeah, sure, what do you need, Sean?”
“Come with me, let’s go somewhere we can talk more privately that here,” Big Red rose and headed toward his favorite table at the back of the bar right near the swinging doors of the kitchen. The men could talk as if they were at a private table without the risk of being overheard. Sean sat down in the gunfighter’s seat and Aldan sat down across from him. “What do you need Big Red?”
“Was the evidence you gave me everything the D.A. had on Aidan?”
“Truthfully, I don’t know, all I do know is that what I gave you was what the police had stored in the evidence room at Center Street. I don’t know what the D.A. has as they have their own evidence room and no one in the department has access except the Commissioner himself, and he’s not about to give anyone access, except maybe Inspector Queen.”
Big Red crossed his arms over his ample chest and looked down at the table top. “The reason I’m asking is because Aidan’s trial starts Monday. I have a sneaking suspicion that we’re missing something and I’m not sure what it is. Do you know of any other witnesses besides Colum Walsh and Ellery Queen?”
“Nope, not that I know of, or if they do have another witness, on one has said anything about a witness in my hearing, nor have I heard any gossip about one.” Aldan indicated to the bartender for another whiskey which was quickly delivered to the table and both men ordered dinner.
They remained quiet for while each man lost in his own thoughts. “Aldan, what has Richard Queen said about his son?”
“Nothing, really. He said that his son didn’t want a funeral or memorial service and his body was cremated and the Inspector buried the remains next to his mother.”
“What else has the Inspector been up to?” Sean inquired.
“Well, he saw his cardiologist yesterday and has to go back every three weeks for testing to make sure his heart is functioning properly. That’s all,” Conroy suddenly paused, then continued, “Oh, there is one thing, and the Deputy Commissioner is going to try to get someone in undercover in your operation, who it is, I don’t know, but you should be aware of it. I presume that the man Hayes is going to send in is going to be good, very good. It could also be a woman, we have a few of them now in the department working primarily in vice and they are really good.” Aldan took another drink and stopped talking as a waiter placed their plates down on the table in front of the two men.
They began eating and talking about non-consequential things, like family, friends, and the goings on in the neighborhood where they grew up together, and recent marriages and deaths of people they both knew.
Chapter Thirty two
The day after meeting with Sean Callahan, Aldan Conroy entered Inspector Richard Queen’s office and acknowledged both his immediate superior Sergeant Thomas Velie and the Inspector. “What have you found out, Aldan?” Richard asked as the detective seated himself and began. “Sean confirmed that he received the false evidence and I warned him about the D.C.’s plan to put an informant in to his family. He was grateful to know. He was very concerned about the evidence the D.A. might have that we don’t and won’t have access to. He also asked about what you’re up to chief. I told him that your doctor was closely monitoring your heart and you had to go for testing every three weeks. He mentioned Aidan Junior’s trial starting on Monday.”
“So, do we wait until Monday as see what happens, because right now we don’t have a clue as to what evidence the D.C. might have removed prior to my moving it.” Aldan continued.
“Right now, I think the best thing for us to do is see happens when Aidan’s trial gets going, it seems to me that we’ve done all we can,” Richard said as he leaned back against his chair and looked at his two subordinates.
“I agree, we’ve got other cases to investigate, let the D.A. handle the case from now on,” Velie agreed as he rose and hauled Conroy to his feet. “Come on Aldan, we got work to do and by the stack of folders on the Inspector’s desk, so does he,” the two men left by the side entrance and Richard turned his attention to the stack of folders on his desk top.
Chapter Thirty three
On Sunday afternoon, Richard Queen sat in a comfortable chair in the library of the Alton Military Hospital and looked across the fireplace at his son. He leaned back in the wingback chair crossed his legs and said, “Aidan Junior’s trial starts tomorrow, we’ve managed to slip false evidence to the Callahan’s, and I am assuming,” he looked at the glare from Ellery. “Oh, don’t look at me like that! I know better than to assume anything. I am quite sure that Sean Callahan gave the evidence envelope that was given to him by our man to Aidan’s lawyers. I know for a fact that the Deputy Commissioner and the District Attorney have all the evidence they will need to convict Aidan and a number of other members of the Callahan family.”
“I’m going to attend the trial,” Ellery stated matter-of-factly.
“Oh no you are not!” Richard snapped.
“Don’t start with me, Ellery, you are not going to attend Aidan Callahan’s trial. I nearly lost you and I am not going to let you risk your life by attending this trial, and that’s an end to this discussion.” He uncrossed his legs and stood up and began pacing in front of the fireplace.
“Dad, will you listen to me?” Ellery watched the small man pacing across the carpet.
Sighing heavily, the little man dropped into the chair he just vacated and said, “Go ahead, give me your best argument.”
“One, there is no safer place for me, other than here. Not only are there police officers everywhere in the building, but the bailiffs are armed and both you and Velie will be as well, so that should reassure you about my safety. You and Velie are going to have to testify at Aidan’s trial. If I dress differently, no one is going to recognize me, if I wear a coat, tie, no hat, carry a briefcase and wear my glasses, don’t you agree?” Ellery explained calmly.
“Well, I agree on the coat and tie as well as the briefcase, I don’t think I’d even recognize you dressed like that,” the elder Queen snarked.
Ellery stopped in mid-stride and stared at the smirk on his sire’s face. “Thank you so much, that’s such a nice compliment,” he choked out as he tried to suppress his laughter.
Richard couldn’t control his laughter anymore and he too burst out laughing. There was a knock on the door and Doctor Jordan stuck his head in the door. “Have you two made a decision? Is Ellery going to stay with us or go to court with you, Inspector?”
Sighing heavily, the old man said, “My son as smart as he is, has decided against my better judgement to come to court. And truthfully the more I think about it the better I like the idea. He is right about the safety in the courthouse.” Richard began.
“Thank you so much about your snarky comment regarding my intelligence, Dad,” the writer said as he dropped ungracefully into the other wing back chair.
Doctor Jordan pulled up another chair and seated himself between them. “I could send a couple of men with Ellery, they’re both Gunnery Sergeants and very, very good with protecting people. “Would that ease your mind, Richard?”
“Greatly, they’ll can’t wear uniforms or people are going to wonder if they come into court dressed in full uniform.”
“I’ll have them wear civilian suits, I’ll sent Timothy and Thomas, their identical twins and believe me not even our mother could tell them apart, and for that matter neither can I. If they wear suits and carry briefcases, they could be anyone following the case. In fact, I’ll have Timothy carry his sketch pad and sketch the proceedings, he’s a very good artist.”
“Can I ask you a question?” Ellery inquired.
“Sure, what do you want to know?”
“Where are your parents?”
“Mom and Dad live in Washington D. C. Dad is the Chief of Staff for the Navy and our Mom is a housewife. Thankfully, the only one she has to worry about now is Dad. He’s going to retire sometime in the next two or three years, then they’ll move to Florida, Mom no longer wants to deal with the snow and cold, so they decided to move there to Palm Beach.”
“That sounds wonderful,” Richard said wishfully.
“What?! Don’t tell me you’re actually thinking about retiring, Dad?” Ellery looked at his father in alarm. “If you retire, where am I supposed to come up with story ideas?”
Richard snorted and said, “Velie or anyone who works at Center Street would help you and you know that. As a matter of fact, I know that all you have to do is ask anybody in any police department around the world and they’d drop what they’re doing just to tell you interesting stories, so don’t whine to me about where you’re going to get your ideas for your novels. Use that big brain of yours, that’s all you really have to do, Ellery. And we both know that most of what you write is all made up in your head, anyway, so don’t come whining to me about where you’re going to get your story ideas.”
Ellery glared at him and shook his head and began to laugh. He waggled a finger at the little, old man and said, “You don’t fool me, you old faker, you’re no more than thinking about retiring than I am.”
Richard laughing leaned comfortably back against the well cushioned backrest and looked at his son, “You know me too well, what I would do if I retired? Grow roses?”
Ellery burst out laughing, “Are you kidding? The nearest patch of grass we have is in Central Park, and I seriously doubt that they’ll let you start planting roses, the department would certainly think you went around the bend in your old age.” Ellery continued to laugh at the thought of his father down on his knees in the dirt planting roses.
The old man suddenly burst out laughing as he tried to picture himself down on his knees in the dirt and planting anything let alone roses. “You my son have a very wicked sense of humor, just be careful who you use it on.”
Ellery shared his grin and they looked at Jordan who had a perplexed expression on his face, “Are you two always like this?”
“No, it gets worse,” Ellery commented. “Dad, I had a sudden thought, what if the Callahan’s inside man isn’t who we think it is?” he asked suddenly deadly serious.
“Then I hope and pray that we catch him before he can do any more damage to the department than he has. You may not believe this Ellery, but Aldan Conroy was the officer who tampered with the evidence we had stored at Center Street.”
“For some reason that doesn’t surprise me at all, Aldan, grew up with Sean Callahan, but then so did I. Remember the three of us went all the way through school together. There was one more who ran with the three of us his name was Jasper Hagerty he disappeared after graduation and I haven’t seen or heard of him since, I wonder what happened to Jasper? Aldan joined the department, I went to Harvard and Sean joined the family business. So, it does make sense, there has to be someone else, someone we haven’t considered, someone we would over look,” Ellery said as he began drumming the fingers of his left hand on the top of his head. He got up and began pacing back and forth between the doors from the hallway to the bathroom. Suddenly he stopped dead in his tracks and asked, “Dad has there been any new detectives assigned to you or to Center Street in general?”
Richard harrumphed and thought seriously about the men stationed at Center Street and the division housed there. “Well, I don’t have any new staff, just Velie, Piggott and Leggitt and Conroy. But, now, that I come to think of it. D.C. Hayes has a new detective, just promoted a couple of months ago according to Velie, I’ve never seen him myself, at least I don’t think I have,” the cop responded as he thought about the men, he saw every day at his Center Street office. “When I go in on Monday, I’ll have Velie point him out to me, and if he’s at Aidan’s trial I’ll try to point him out to you.”
“No, that would be too obvious, just act as if you don’t recognize him or Ellery, or the twins. You need to pretend as if you don’t know each other, until the right moment, then you can spring Ellery’s rise from the dead on the Callahan’s.” Jordy said.
“All right, we’ll do that, Ellery be sure to put a sketch pad in your briefcase and try to fake using it during the trial. That will give you the excuse to be there, as cameras aren’t allowed in the court room, so try to look like you are covering the trial.” Richard said as he rose and stretched. “I’ll see you and your escorts Monday morning at nine,” Richard said as he left his son’s room and disappeared down the hall.
Chapter Thirty six
The hallway outside of the courtroom where Aidan Callahan was to be tried on multiple counts of murder, money laundering, bribery, and corruption was filled with men in suits, Ellery, and his escort just three men among many. The younger Queen wore a dark grey suit jacket and matching pants, white shirt, and grey, burgundy, and white striped tie. He pushed his glasses up his nose and tightened his grip on his briefcase. The doors to the courtroom opened and people began streaming into the room. Behind the railing that separated the actual court from the spectators were twelve rows of long hard, wooden benches which were filling up fast. In front of the railing on the right side was the District Attorney for the city of New York and his assistant. To their right was the twelve chairs in two rows for the selected members of the jury. To their right was a door that lead to the deliberation room, where the jury would retire once they had all the evidence from both sides and they would begin their deliberations. At the very front of the room was the dock, where people would sit, after placing their right hand on the Bible and swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Next to the dock was the judge’s bench which was higher that all the rest of the seating combined. A door to the right of the bench led to the judge’s chambers. There was a long-paneled wall, then the defendant’s table, with the defendant, his attorney and the attorney’s assistant. In front of the bench was a desk, behind which sat the court transcriptionist and man who handled all the evidence presented from both sides. Stationed at the back of the courtroom were two police officers in full uniform and heavily armed, while at the front were two bailiffs and two New York County sheriff’s officers who handled the prisoner.
Seated in the front just behind the railing, were Aidan Callahan Senior, Sean Callahan, and Aidan’s wife Kiera. Two rows behind the Callahan’s seated across the aisle was Inspector Queen and Sergeant Velie, the corner and his assistant and other officials who would testify on behalf of the city of New York.
Ellery and the twins were seated another two rows behind the prosecutor and his assistant and on the other side of aisle. Each man had their briefcases in their laps and sketchpads resting on top of that. Ellery looked up over the top of his glasses and noticed where everyone was in relation to where he was sitting. Looking up Ellery noticed Simon Brimmer followed closely by Frank Flanagan and his cameraman. The two men took the last available seats in the courtroom and the doors were closed.
A bailiff stepped into the empty space of the railed off area and announced, “Here ye, Hear ye, Hear ye, this court in now in session, presided over by his Honor, Judge Milton J. Harnackie, all rise!”
Everyone in the room rose to their feet as the judge entered the courtroom and took his seat behind the bench. “Be seated,” he ordered, the tapped his gavel to the bench.
“Mr. Gladstone, you may begin your opening statement,” he ordered, then leaned back and waited patiently for the District Attorney to begin. He took two hours to complete his opening statement to the jury and the audience gathered to witness the trial.
Once he was done Aidan Callahan’s attorney to the D.A.’s place and began his opening statement. The attorney refuted all the evidence the D.A. had mentioned in his statement, then he stated what he intended to do and how he would show that his client, an upstanding man with a wife and small children could not have committed all the crimes for which he was being accused of and on trial for. By the time he had finished the judge rapped his gavel and announced that the court would reconvene at two o-clock. He wrapped his gavel twice, rose and everyone in the courtroom rose with him and he left the bench. Everyone rose, then headed out of the courtroom and the three men headed out to the nearest diner for lunch. Each man put his sketch pad in his briefcase as they followed others out of the room. “Well, what do think?” Tim questioned. But before he could reply, a man stopped in front of them, looked at the tall, lanky, man standing in the between Tim and Tom, “Excuse me,” he asked, “aren’t you Ellery Queen?”
Tim stepped up and said, “I’m sorry, no he’s my cousin, only he doesn’t speak English. Elbert is from Amsterdam he came here just after the war. He just got his green card; he’s applied for citizenship. El is working for the Gazette as a reporter on court cases, he’s also a court artist. We’re teaching him English, and it’s a very slow process. If you would please excuse, we have to get lunch and back here before court starts at two o-clock. He took the lead and followed by Ellery and Tom and they headed toward the main door and the diner two blocks from the courthouse.
Simon Brimmer stood off to one side of the hallway and watched the exchange between the three men. He thought, then decided to follow the three and see where they went. He reached out and grabbed Flanagan, who was just passing him in the hallway. “I just heard an interesting conversation, let’s follow those three men. I am very interested in the man in the middle, he strongly reminds me of Ellery Queen.”
The radio actor and the reporter followed the three men to the diner near the courthouse. They caught the door as it was about to close, the looked around and found a table right behind Ellery and the twins.
“He sure looks like Junior,” Frank muttered as the waitress stopped beside their table and the two men ordered lunch and coffee.
“Have you found out anything new from your sources, Frank?” Brimmer questioned as he took a bite of his sandwich.
“No, as far as my pigeons have told me nothing new is coming out of the Callahan family. Nor have they found out anything from the D.A.’s or Center Street,” Frank replied as he took a big bite of his sandwich and chewed.
“What about you Simon?”
“I’ve had some success, but there are items that I have yet to check off before I can truly identify Ellery’s killer. I should know more by the end of testimony today,” Brimmer declared as he finished his lunch and motioned for the waitress to bring their checks. Both Brimmer and Flanagan had tried to over hear the conversation in the next table but were unsuccessful.
Ellery and his companions, gobbled down their food, not really tasting the bland food, paid their bill and quickly left the diner and headed back toward the courthouse.
Finally, after seating themselves in their former place in the courtroom. After waiting for more than thirty minutes before the Judge entered the room, banged his gavel and the trial began again. Ellery wrote notes, drew pictures, and listened closely to the evidence the District Attorney presented, and the Defense Attorney refuted the evidence and presented evidence of his own. The first day ended and he left with his escort. Followed closely by Simon Brimmer and Frank Flanagan. Somehow in the confusion of rush hour traffic Brimmer’s chauffer lost the twins car in traffic. Simon heaved a heavy sigh and order the man to take Flanagan back to the Gazette, then take him home. He and Flanagan would return to the courthouse every day of the trial.
They repeated this process for the next five weeks, and really nothing seemed to be getting done, evidence was circumstantial at best, there were no real hard evidence, but the D. A was doing a good job trying to convince the jury that Aidan Callahan was responsible for the crimes for which he was being accused.
By Friday night Ellery was quite tired of the entire thing. He dropped his briefcase down beside a wingback chair in his room and flopped into it. He felt a gentle hand on his shoulder as his father entered the room, “Didn’t want to startle you,” Richard said softly.
“Thanks,” Ellery said pushing himself upright in the chair.
“Have you been in court all this time?” he asked his dad looking up at the old man.
“Yes, and I don’t who’s dragging this out more, the D.A. or the defense attorney and the judge isn’t helping the matter,” Richard said as he lowered himself to the chair facing his son.
“Let’s go get dinner, shall we?” Ellery suggested as he rose to his feet and stretched. “I knew court could be tedious, but this…this is ridiculous. It’s more of a comedy sketch than an actual trial. And before you ask, yes, I’ve been taking notes and drawing sketches, but this is just isn’t going to accomplish anything. The D.A. needs to get this going, by presetting hard evidence not just this fluff he’s been using.”
“For some reason, I have this nasty suspicion that you are going to do something that’s going to get you not to mention me in trouble, very serious trouble.” Richard muttered as he followed his on into the mess hall.
The filled their plates, and found a place to eat, sat down across from each other and began eating. “May I join you?” Doctor Jordan asked as he sat beside Ellery.
“Not at all,” the younger Queen responded as he stuck his fork into broccoli spear.
Jordan along with Tim and Thomas surrounded the Queen’s and they all began to discuss the trial and the evidence that had been presented so far. They all agreed, that the trial was dragging and needed something startling to get it going.
“Dad, do you have any idea who the D.A. is going to question on Monday?” Ellery asked as he began eating his dessert.
Richard paused, thought a moment then said, “My best guess would be Jasper Hagarty, but then I could be wrong. He could also call Aldan Conroy, but that’s just a guess, and that’s all I have,” the police office said as he stuffed his dessert into his mouth and chewed silently.
The four men looked at him and at each other, then Jordan excused himself as he was paged to a treatment room and he quickly got up and left.
The twins excused themselves to organized their notes and sketches for Monday. As they left one of the twins asked, “What do you think the Queen’s are up to?”
His brother responded, “No idea, but I’ll bet you ten to one that they are going to something go get this trial going, and truthfully I don’t blame them. There are other cases that need their attention.” The two men left the dining hall talking about the Callahan trial.
Once they were left alone, the Queen’s looked at each other, took their plates to the collection area and left the mess hall. “What are you planning, Ellery, I know that look in your eye,” Richard question.
“I think I know who killed Colum Marsh and Kenny Kirkpatrick and who shot me. I also believe I know who ordered those hits and it wasn’t Aidan Callahan. He was in jail when Walsh and Kirkpatrick were killed.” They walked outside and began slowly moving along the paved paths and talking to each other discussing about when Ellery should make his appearance and reveal his evidence to the court.
“All right Dad, you had better get going home, I’ll see you in court on Monday.” The younger Queen walked his father to his car and held the door open for him. He closed the door and watched until the car disappeared.
On Monday, Ellery dressed in a white shirt a brand-new suit and matching tie. Finishing tying his tie, he put on his suit jacket, grabbed his briefcase, and met the twins in the hallway. The three men got into the car and they left for the courthouse. The driver dropped them off in front of the courthouse and told them to call him when they were ready to be taken back to the medical center.
The three men entered the courthouse right behind Inspector Queen and Sergeant Velie. Following them were Simon Brimmer and Frank Flanagan who seated themselves directly behind Ellery and his escorts. The three men seated themselves at the front row of the courtroom behind the D.A. and his assistant. The usual procedures began, they rose and seated themselves one the judge sat down and banged his gavel. The D.A. began his cross examination of Jasper Hagarty and finally after nearly an hour of getting nowhere, Simon Brimmer said, “Your honor, if I might interrupt the proceedings?”
The judge banged his gavel and asked, “And who are you?”
“My name is Simon Brimmer, perhaps you have heard of me?” he moved down the aisle toward the gate between the railings separating the audience from the actual court personnel. “I host a radio show, The Casebook of Simon Brimmer,” He pushed through the swing gate and stepped up to the judge’s bench. “I believe that I can bring this case to a satisfactory conclusion, if you but let me explain I will give you the criminals and the murderer of Ellery Queen,” Simon informed the judge.
“Gentlemen, please approach,” the judge asked the D.A. and the defense lawyer.
The two men stepped up to the bench and the judge talked softly and the two lawyers agreed to hear out Brimmer. They stepped back and the judge said, “Very well, Mr. Brimmer please present your evidence.”
“Thank you, your Honor, Let me take you back to the day of Colum Walsh’s murder,” Simon began his voice took on a storyteller like cadence and all of the people in the courtroom were taken back to the real reason for the current trial. He finished presenting his evidence and pointed Aldan Conroy and said, “Only you Aldan Conroy could have killed Colum Marsh and you and only you could have killed Ellery Queen.” He looked at the young police detective.
Ellery heaved a heavy sigh, took off his glasses, set his briefcase on the bench behind him and stood up. “I’m sorry, Simon, you’re wrong, Aldan was not the killer.”
“No, it’s not possible!! I shot you!! Your dead, Queen, I know I killed you. How can you still be alive?! A Dead Man Walking?! How can you still be walking?” Jasper Hagerty cried as he suddenly rose and shoving the bailiff out of his way and ran through the railing, shoved Ellery off his feet and into the third row on top of the people sitting there and burst out the doors. “I ain’t going to prison for Sean Callahan,” he screamed as he bolted through the courtroom door and he pulled a gun out from under his jacket. There was a yell of male voices, several gun shots and a police officer stuck his head in the door and said, “Everything’s all right, your Honor, we’ve got him, and there won’t be trial for him,”
“Very well, officer.” The Judge said, then looked at the people gathered in the court room. “Inspector Queen, I suggest you get this mess taken care of.”
Richard stood, looked at the Judge, nodded his head, indicated for Sergeant Velie to follow him and he left the courtroom, followed by Velie and Ellery.
Chapter Thirty seven
Several weeks later, Ellery sat behind his desk at home typing up his notes for his latest novel. He looked up his father as he flopped down in his chair next to the radio. “Well, we’ve got Sean Callahan, Aidan Callahan Senior and Aidan Callahan Junior in jail, charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and a whole long list of other charges. We searched Jasper Hagarty’s apartment and low and behold we found all the evidence we could wish for regarding all the doings of the Callahan family. It even identified the inside man in the Callahan’s pay. It was Finn Michaels, he’s a newly appointed detective assigned to the Deputy Commissioner Hayes. To say he’s more than a little embarrassed. Not to say that he doesn’t deserve it,” Richard tried not to laugh. “Hayes has been making a public ass of himself and this will shut him up for a while, the publicity hound.” The old man snorted.
Not paying any attention to his father at all, Ellery finally turned his head toward his sire and asked, “What did you say Dad?”
The Inspector threw a pillow at his son’s head.