Murphy's Law (Revised) - Part 2 - Scenes 5 - 10

Murphy's Law
Revised
Part II: Scenes V-X
By Josie

“Murphy understood the law and knew justice. He also knew that the two were often not the same. To catch the bad guy and win a confession you had to be willing to step outside the box and take chances. That’s what made him a great cop. But that didn’t give him the right to take the law in his own hands. All he had to do was have a boy examined to confirm his true gender and now his mistake was going to cost him. Maybe his job? Maybe a demotion?

But then nothing in this case was turning out like it should. He should have seen this coming. He should have known that you can test the odds and you can test your resolve, but never pit your luck against Murphy’s Law. Because sure as the devil will get his due, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong!”


 
The Legal Stuff: Murphy's Law  © 2007, 2009 by josie.

Originally written in 2007, Revised and Reposted 2009.
 
All Rights Reserved. These documents (including, without limitation, all articles, text, images, logos, and compilation design) may be printed for personal use only. No portion of these documents may be stored electronically, distributed electronically, or otherwise made available without expressed written consent of the copyright holder.
 


 

Part II: Detective Murphy

 
 
Scene V: The Search for Clues
 
 
The next morning Jack went back to Katherine’s to see Willy McGee the gardener. Protocol would have him alert Katherine of his presence so she could make the introduction. However, he didn’t stand much on protocol. He wasn’t the type. So he got out of his car and sought out the path leading to the back of the house where he hoped to meet Mr. McGee on his own terms.

On his way to the gate he spotted the mailman. He had a stack of letters in his hand and was making his way toward Katherine’s mailbox. Jack gave him a smile in passing, said “good morning” then stopped, back pedaled, and presented his badge.

“I’m with NYPD and if you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to have a look at the mail you’re about to deliver to the Kline residence.”

“Well, yes officer. I know I’ve some items here to deliver to that residence, but I haven’t separated it out as yet.” To emphasized his point, he held up the large stack of letters he held in his hand. “There are letters in this stack for other houses on this block as well, officer!”

The postman seemed thoroughly versed in the responsibilities of his job, not to exclude his legal obligations. The need for court orders and such before he could hand over the mail to anyone other than to whom it was intended was something Jack understood as well. Then again, Jack didn’t stand much on protocol and made that quite clear from the start.

“Well, I wouldn’t want to ask you to do anything outside what the law permits. On the other hand, heaven forbid something bad should happen that could have been prevented, if only . . ,” he paused, crooked a smile and looked him in the eye. “Well now, that wouldn’t look too good on the resume, would it? So if you would kindly separate them for me I would be extraordinarily grateful.”

“Yeah, sure, give me a moment,” he reluctantly agreed, although still rather hesitant and constantly looking around to see if anyone was watching. He seemed rather intimidated by the whole process too. His actions where unnecessarily hurried, and Jack spotted a slight tremble of the hands. So it came as no surprise when shortly after he dropped the whole lot onto the ground.

He stooped to help the mailman pick them up, latching on to one he thought would surely be added to the stack destined for Katherine’s address. The letter was addressed to a Miss A. Stanton. It was from Amherst Girl’s Preparatory, and obviously destined for Amelia, her daughter. Apparently she had been registered at the school under her mother’s maiden name. While he found nothing unusual in that, he did notice that the house number was wrong.

A few moments later the postman handed him 8 letters. Bills of one sort or another all addressed to Katherine Kline, but the one addressed to Miss A. Stanton was not in the stack. “Is this all?”

“Yes, detective.”

“What about the one addressed to Miss A. Stanton?”

“Look officer, you asked to see all the mail addressed to the Kline residence. I showed it to you,” he sounded rather irate, and to Jack, a bit too uppity for his liking. “If you are now widening your request I’m afraid you’ll have to go through proper channels. I’m certain the Post Master will be happy to accommodate whereas I can not. So if you’ll excuse me . . .” he concluded, then snatched the letters out of Jack’s hands before continuing his work.

Spike would have liked to tag the guy with a fat lip, but Jack had seen enough to know there were no letters addressed to Molly in that stack of mail. That’s all he wanted to know. “Obviously Amelia won’t be getting her letter thanks to that mousy, egomaniacal little bureaucrat,” he chuckled to himself as he again made his way around back of the house and into the garden, the masterwork of Willie’s creation.

The garden was a large expanse with flowers growing like thicket all around the perimeter in a kaleidoscope of colors. Tall maples towered over the yard, the lush foliage providing the much needed shade from the hot summer sun. In the center of the yard there was a lawn with lounge chairs scattered about for people to relax and enjoy the beauty of the finest garden in all of Brooklyn. Off to the right and closest to the kitchen window there was a small tool shed. Built to look like the house, it had a faux antebellum façade, shingled roof and lattice windows painted to look the same.

He found Willie inside the tool shed sharpening the tip of a shovel. “Hello! Mr. McGee, I’m detective Jack Murphy with NYPD and need to ask you some questions.”

“Yes sir,” Willie freed one hand from the shovel to offer to Jack.

Jack took a moment to size the man up. He looked every bit as strong as his powerful grip. The size of a redwood, he looked to be a menacing sort. The kind it would take an anvil to topple, though his eyes and his smile read something else. Not a lot of smarts, but smart enough to know both the mighty redwood and the most delicate of flowers he nurtured held equal value under god’s watchful eye.

“It’s about the girl Molly who used to work for Katherine Kline. I think you knew her as Molly Smith, is that right?”

“No sir, just Molly. Didn’t rightly know her. Just saw her around some, when she was going in and out. You see, she weren’t the type to be talkin’ to no colored folk, if you get my meaning, officer.”

“Yeah, I got’cha. Don’t take no offense. Some folks are just like that.”

“No offense taken, officer,” he replied with a reassuring smile. “We’s all god’s children, an’ ol’Willie learnt long ago to accept the good n’ the bad.”

“So I guess you didn’t socialize none? Like ask her where she was from or anything like that?”

“No, don’t reckon I did.”

“Have you spoken to Mrs. Kline about her leaving?”

“No, the misses business be her own. She don’t speak much to me personally, and don’t come back here much neither. But I heard from Miss Rose and I told her to tell Mrs. Katherine ‘her Willie’ is here to help if she be needin’ any.”

“Her Willie!” Jack had to smile. It was a rare thing to meet anyone, man of color or not as down to earth. Not in this day and age. Not in this city.

Jack turned away and again looked out into the garden. “You’re pretty good at this gardening business. Been at it long?”

“Yes Sir, most of my life. Mr. Kline, her late husband done hire me 10 years back. I come here with plenty of experience though. There weren’t much here back then. I think it looks right nice now. Least I be trying my best.”

Jack spotted a stainless steel kitchen knife sitting on a work bench just inside the door. He picked it up and fiddled with it as he thought to ask him, “You said you saw Molly come and go, right?”

“Oh, I seen her about when she was working here. Some, anyway, but like I said, she didn’t speak none.”

“So you never saw her with anyone else? Anyone ever come to visit, that sort of thing?”

“No sir, just her is all I be rememberin’.”

He put down the knife and turned again toward Willie. “Pretty fancy cutlery for using in a garden, don’t yeah think?”

“Sure is,” Willy sheepishly replied. “I used it to cut some rose slips a while back an’ nicked the blade. See here,” he added as he picked up the knife to show Jack the notch. “Wife says since I ruined it I kin keep it.”

“That don’t sound much like you, Willie,” Jack chuckled, “pissin’ off the ol’ lady like that.”

“Weren’t my fault. I done dropped it when was cuttin’ them slips. I reckon it was kinda brittle on account of the cold.”

“You don’t say,” Jack mumbled as he examined the notch. “Maybe next time you should consider using something a bit more substantial. Like that machete you have there hanging up on the wall.”

“What?” Willie looked up to see where he was pointing.

“Something to consider,” Jack followed. “I once saw a body that had been cut clean through the chest cavity, bone and all, and the machete the bad guy had used hadn’t a single scratch.” Willie stared at him. His eyes were wide and his jaw slackened as if too dumbfounded to utter a word.

“Yup, a fella on the lower eastside was pissed off because his ol’lady kept nagging about ruining her best carving knife.”

Willie recoiled, thought for a long moment, then slowly the corners of his mouth turned up and his eyes grew bright. “Aaaah, Officer Murphy, you’re just pullin’ my leg. I gets it!” Willie beamed, only now coming to the realization of what the jib was all about.

Jack was making fun, but in a pointed way. Again he was just testing the waters. He knew no one could have planted a body in that yard without Willie knowing. That is, unless he hadn’t been telling the truth about he had nicked that blade, and he saw no evidence of that.

“Well then, I’ll leave you to your work. Thanks for your help,” he concluded the interview as he took his hand and said his good-byes. A moment later he was back in his car heading for the Niles Street Bar, and again, cursing his bad luck.

Unfortunately, he didn’t fare well there either. Not from a lack of those eager to cooperate, but from what he was able to glean from the interviews. Frank, Charlie, Milton and Nick were there. To a one they were filled to overflowing with rye whiskey, but not drunk. If they were, they certainly knew how to have a good time without showing it. They all had fond memories of Molly as well, and primed by all the liquor, they were more than happy to share every squalid detail.

Aside from the fact she was the apple of their collective eye and quite free with the wares, no one knew anymore about her. It was also obvious that no one had motive to “do in” the gift that kept on giving. Nor was the personal distance they kept between Molly and themselves all that unusual. These guys didn’t come here looking for the future mother of their children. Likewise Molly wasn’t the type who’d want to become one.

That is except for Charlie who had a decidedly different take on Molly. The poor guy had apparently acquired quite an attachment to the girl. At least that seemed the general consensus. Something that Charlie willing owned up to, and whenever needed, became her stalwart defender. As he had frequent opportunity to do, especially after Milton rattled off a few derogatory remarks about her performance between the sheets. It earned Milton a seat on the floor and skewed the symmetry of his pretty, Fabian-like face a bit to the lopsided.

He left the Nile Street bar without much more under his belt. Not a complete waste of time but close. He did get the name of a cabbie however. A useful tip that led to a man who could be in possession of a lot of useful information. He was a rather easy fellow to fine too. His name was Romano Salazar. A man Jack knew in a previous incarnation as a petty thief. He was one of them want-a-be hipsters who liked to think of himself as the incarnation of the late James Dean - hair, blue Jeans, t-shirt and all. He found him sitting in his cab reading a paper parked on Slade Street awaiting a call from dispatch.

“Hey Sally,” Jack said as he slipped into the back seat of the parked cab. “I need a word with you.”

If Romano’s nose hadn’t been buried in the paper he might have had time to spot him sneaking up. He might have even had time to pull out before he could get in the cab. In truth, he would have rather had a guy with an ax jump in the back then this guy. At least he wasn’t likely to be blindsided. Something he felt coming the moment he heard the name “Sally.”

“That’s Salazar, Murphy!”

“Is that what they called you in Lockup, big guy? Salazar? I heard most nights it was Sally! I hear they still ask about you,” Jack chuckled.

“Meters running, Lieutenant,” he replied as he pushed up the handle, triggering the meter.

“Better turn that thing off pronto, big fella, before I run a check with your parole officer to see how well you’ve been wiping your nose.”

“Then make it quick,” he slapped down on the handle, “’cause times money, Murphy.”

“Yah, right . . .! I’m looking for some information about a frequent pick-up of yours named Molly. She lived just down the block there, at 30401. You know, that big place over there you seem to have in your sights.”

Romano picked up on the snide innuendo and wasn’t too happy with the guy at the moment. “See the checkered curb and the sign right there, Murphy? It says Checkered Cab parking. This here is my stop. I provide service for the whole upper east side of Slade Street and you can find me here 7 days a week. So I ain’t casing no joint and you can talk all you want to my parole officer for all I care. My nose is clean!”

Romano knew better than to be flippant with the guy. He wasn’t the type who took well to a man putting up a front. Once he latched on to you it was like having a Pit Bull gnawing at your leg and that was the last thing he needed. Only this guy Murphy had a way of getting under a guys skin. “Yeah, I picked her up, took her to Niles Street and Tommy’s Bar more times than I can count. And no, I ain’t seen her, and no, I don’t know anything about her except she thought her boss was a loon . . . Anything else, Murphy?”

“Do you know her last name, where she’s from?”

“You’re joking, right?”

“No, dumb ass, I need a last name!”

“Nope! Called her ‘good-time Molly’ and she was just fine with that. For all I know, she might as well have fallen down from outer space. As flighty as she was, I’d say that’s close to the truth.”

“You pick her up the night she left?”

“Well now, I don’t know when she left. I just stopped seeing her around, but I don’t recall ever picking her up at night, always during the day. I suppose she was busy being picked up by someone else down at the Niles Street Bar most nights.”

“Who would have been working that night?”

“Beats me, go ask dispatch.”

“I’m on it, big guy!” Jack exaggerated the “big guy,” finding him a bit too uppity for his liking.

“So I take it the girl liked to socialize a lot?”

“Socialize?” Romano smirked. “Yeah, I guess you could say she was the outgoing type.”

“A lot of takers then I presume?”

“Don’t know, wasn’t looking.”

“You weren’t? Odd. I hear she was quite a looker.”

“Yeah,” Romano chuckled, “’bout as fine as they come, detective.”

“Hmmm, sounds a bit out of your league, Sally boy.”

“Sheesh! Nobody was out of that girl’s league so long as your knuckles didn’t drag on the ground.”

“Huh, then I guess that leaves you out. Bet’cha did some talkin’ though. You know, about the weather, that sort’a thing?”

“Some.”

“Yeah, like what about?”

“Nothing! Just about which way she was heading.”

“Huh! Well she probably preferred men who liked the ride on top, if you be getting my meaning.”

“No detective, don’t reckon I do.”

“Well then, let’s try something even a moron can understand. Did yah ever take her anywhere else?”

From the pause that followed his question he felt a seismic shift in his fortunes. “Hu, big guy, ever take her shoppin’ or to someone’s house . . . anything like that?”

“Well . . . yeah, sure, once or twice I made a trip to the Waverly district on a Saturday. I asked if she wanted me to wait around, but she said she’d be a couple of hours. So I didn’t.”

“What stores did she shop at?”

“Don’t know, Murphy, like I told you, I didn’t wait around.”

“Yeah, okay wise guy. I’ll try not to accidentally bump into Hazelton, your parole officer the next time I need a quota to fill. Got me, bud?” Jack smiled as he opened the rear door, but before he stepped out a final thought occurred to him and he stopped to ask what had come to mind. “You ever pick up her employer, Katherine Kline?”

“Yeah, sure, plenty of times. She ain’t got a limo and uses the cab for everything. Tips pretty well too.”

“How about her daughter?”

“Nope!”

“How about the two of them together, a mother-daughter outing, shopping trip, visit to the doctor’s office, that sort of thing?”

“Nope!”

“Yeah, right! Listen wise guy, I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. Think I should haul your ass in and let you stew in a cell with your old friend from French Lick? Maybe it might help refresh your memory. Think that might help, big fella?”

“No need, Murphy.”

“Why not?”

“Because as far as I know she ain’t got no kids. Besides, if there were kids living there don’t you think I would have seen them about? Or Molly would have mentioned that? Sorry, Murphy, if a kid was living there, I think I’d know it!”

“Are you sure?”

“Tell me, detective. Is hard of hearing a problem with all you flatfeet, or just you?”
 
 
Scene VI: Amelia’s Willie
 
 
The weather in the middle of a Brooklyn September has a way of making you feel uncomfortable in your own skin. The good lord did not intend clothes to be worn in the summer, in the City. That’s how Rose felt as she gulped down a large glass of ice tea. Then thinking of Katherine and Amelia, she picked up some glasses and carried the pitcher out into the family room where she expected to fine them spending their afternoon.

Instead she found the door leading out into the backyard open and Katherine sitting outside on a lounge while Amelia worked beside Mr. McGee. Amelia was standing at the far end of the yard alongside Willie with water hose in one hand and a spade in the other. Dressed in pink Pedal Pushers and sneakers, she looked very into her work.

It seemed Willie’s kind offer of help had struck a cord with Katherine. Now hardly a day went by without Amelia spending an hour or two out in the garden alongside Mr. McGee. Of course she was not alone. Katherine was always there, though she still kept a personal distance between herself and Mr. McGee.

Still it did seem to Rose to be a bit odd. It wasn’t like she’d ever done this sort of thing before. Neither alone nor with Gerald, thanks to the premium she placed on her personal privacy. It was as though they had come to some sort of mutual understanding whereby Amelia could ply her wears out in the real world while Katherine, absent only the opera glasses, could sit back and observe the theater undisturbed from the distance.

Amelia seemed pleased. Not just for having the opportunity to work in the garden, but for the company of Mr. McGee as well. Actually she seemed to be monopolizing much of his time which he didn’t seem to mind at all. In no time at all they had grown quite close. Quite often Rose would see Amelia wrapping an arm about his waist, and in turn, he’d wrap his arm about hers and hold her close to his side.

From all appearances it seemed “Katherine’s Willie” had suddenly become “Amelia’s Willie,” something she was pleased to see. Mr. McGee was a loyal employee, but more importantly, he was a fine person and a man who couldn’t give enough of himself. So the work and the company couldn’t help to benefit Amelia, perhaps she might even grow up some. Maybe learn a little about being in the company of men as well. Certainly couldn’t hurt!

So not wanting to disturb she set the tea down on a nearby table then headed back to the kitchen, leaving Amelia to “her Willie.”
 
 
Scene VII: Love Letters
 
 
It was early Saturday mornings and Romano was yet to get a call. He had already finished his morning coffee and sat reading a letter as he waited for the first calls to roll in from dispatch. The letter was a sweet little ditty in a pink envelop addressed to “Sally,” cab 1604, in care of the Checkered Cab Company. It was sent from Katherine’s Slade Street address and signed Amelia.

Romano sat behind the wheel going over the single page letter for the eighth time. Periodically he’d look up toward Katherine’s home located down the street and then look down again at the letter trying to make sense of it. From all outward appearances it didn’t look like it could have been written by Katherine. The script was in block letters — all caps! Along with the letter there was a dried pink carnation pressed flat between the fold of the page. Like something a kid would do, and with all the hearts and flowers drawn on the back, obviously from a kid with a big infatuation.

Of course he was dead certain there were no kids living there. It was just like he told Murphy, “If there was a kid living there, don’t yeah think I would know?” Besides, he had been casing the place for the past 8 months and knew everything there was to know about the place. In point of fact he was just about to pull off the job when Murphy showed up asking questions about Molly.

With Murphy snooping around there was no way he could touch it now. It was a pity too, because it would have been easy pickings. Just the same the allure was there. The “oodles” of cash Molly had told him she kept stashed away in the office hadn’t vanished, but unless she invited him in to help himself to the money, it wasn’t going to happen now.

He was a bit frustrated and angry at himself for having waited so long. No doubt he had missed a once in a lifetime opportunity. He was mulling over that thought and fidgeting with the letter when he happened to look up and saw Katherine walking out of her home. He watched closely, looking to pick up on a glance or a gesture no matter how slight in his direction.

There was nothing to see of course. That is, other than a woman in her housecoat looking for the morning paper, finding it in the hedge row then swiftly returning to the house. “Damn, this couldn’t be from her, could it?” he mumbled to himself.

“A rich, classy lady like that . . . could she really be that crazy?” he pondered the uncertainty. “Is she really the ‘loon’ Molly said she was?”

By the looks of the letter in his hand it appeared she was all that and more. One thing was dead certain. Whoever wrote it knew the inner layout of the house to a tee. The person not only knew enough to specify which bedroom window he should keep an eye on, but what time of night the window would be opened and the name of the song she wanted him to hear.

Romano shook his head and sneered as if suddenly realizing this was just some sort of elaborate hoax. It had to be. Nobody was that crazy. If not, then it was some sort of scheme to entrap him. Perhaps she had her suspicions and was trying to draw him out. Or perhaps Molly had inadvertently tipped her off and now the police themselves were involved, Jack Murphy the chief architect.

Then again, maybe this was the invitation inside he had been hoping for. Maybe she really had gone bananas. It’s possible. Living all alone in a big house like that can play tricks on the mind. He’d seen that sort of thing happen before. Or perhaps she was just lonely, liked what she saw and came up with this crazy scheme because she didn’t know how else to get his attention. Those were all possibilities, albeit not likely.

Still there is no law broken in perusing a romance. Plus he did have the letter - the invite! Police sting or not, that alone should be enough to cover his ass if the need arose. If it was a ploy to sucker him in, it was a sloppy one. So what the heck! The letter states she’s nineteen. Why not play along, sniff it out and see what the game is.

Who knows, he might just get lucky. Maybe in a few months he might find himself married to the “eccentric ol’biddy,” and end up with all the loot for himself. If not, if she just wants to play a bit of back seat boogie, well, he could live with that. Blackmail could be a lucrative game too.

So he opened up his log book, tore out the last page and began his reply:
 
 



Dear Amelia,

Why of course I think the carnation has the blossom of your cheeks, the fragrance of your hair and the beauty of your smile.

Yes, I would like very much to meet you. If your mother would kindly forward her written approval of my visit, I would love nothing more than to be at your beck and call.

Sincerely,

Romano Salazar


 
 
 
Scene VIII: The Little Red Dress
 
 
Jack sat behind his desk nursing on his morning coffee and trying to catch up on the work that had been piling up. His desk had become somewhat of a disaster and he knew if he didn’t get the work done pronto, he’d be hearing about it soon. He thought he was making headway. His fingers were doing the typing and the stack was diminishing, somewhat. Well, it might’ve gone faster had he been able to concentrate, but regrettably his mind was still mulling over what Romano had told him. “If there were kids living there, don’t you think I would know?”

For some reason those words kept running through his head. Not that he believed the guy. Romano was as slime ball from the word go. All the same it was a bold statement and to give him the benefit of the doubt he placed a call to Amherst Girl’s Preparatory. That was the school Katherine’s daughter supposedly attended and was told that indeed, Amelia Stanton had been a student there.

Okay, so, Romano had been telling the truth. He wouldn’t have known about her because she had been away at school, and before that, who knows. That eased his mind some, but for what it was worth, it still got him no closer to finding Molly. So after lunch he stepped away from his desk, put on his hat and again headed out to pick up on her trail.

This time it was a small fashion boutique on Waverly Street. He had called around to different shops to see who might carry the “Parisian Fair” brand name women’s apparel. Only one was found; Beverly’s, a small shop offering exclusive off-brands at affordable prices. Or at least that’s what the gentleman who owned the shop had told him.

Tom Martin and his wife Gloria worked the business themselves with the help of one sales girl. Unfortunately the girl didn’t work there any longer and she had been the one who had sold the dress.

“You say your employee sold the dress and she paid in cash?”

“Yes, detective,” Gloria Martin smartly offered in response.

“Then I presume that means neither your husband nor yourself saw the girl who bought it, or did you?”

“No detective, neither my husband nor myself were in the store at the time.”

“Do you know where I can speak with this girl, Carla, the girl who sold it?”

“No, she didn’t say were she was going when she quit, and I haven’t seen her around. However I still have all her personal information if you’re interested.”

As he waited for the lady to retrieve the much needed information Jack held the red dress out between himself and Tom Martin. “What’cha think, Tom. Do you think you can describe the girl who fits in this dress?”

Tom stepped back, put his hand to his chin and crooked his head. “Well, ahm, I’d say she’s not tall. Say 5-7’ish, young, in her 20’s . . . or 30’s if she’s a venturous sort. 36 hips, 24 about the waist, bosomy, maybe a 37, no, 38 - no doubt a woman who could wear it.”

“Hmmm, sounds like a pretty lil’gal,” Jack purred.

“Yah, I’d say that. I don’t think you’d find a girl without a lot of confidence wearing something like that.”

“Tom, where I come from we call that a prick tease, big guy. Tell me, how much does a thing like this cost?”

“It was priced at 129.95, but anywhere else that style and that quality could have set you back 200.00 plus easily.”

“Affordable, huh? I guess I’m in the wrong business. Think you could afford something like this on a maid’s salary, Tom?” Tom Martin didn’t have time to answer before his wife returned with the information Jack sought.

“Well, thank you both for your time.” He turned to leave, but before he did he stopped to re-ask Tom that still unanswered question.

“About this girl you described for me, Tom. The great looking gal who makes 50 bucks a week as a household maid. Does she sound like the kind of girl who would disappear and leave something like this behind?”

“I don’t think any woman would detective.”

“I don’t either.” He said as he exited, again cursing his bad luck. Nothing seemed to be working his way on this case.
 
 
Scene IX: Only the Lonely
 
 
It was one of those rare September afternoons when the heavy summer air that hung over the city was swept away by a crisp southwest wind, dropping the heat and humidly down to habitable levels and making it a pleasant day to be outside. Rose had just stepped out onto the back porch to dust a throw rug and happened to spot Amelia and Willie making their way through the rose beds pulling out weeds on their hands and knees. They had been at it all afternoon long. The two working side-by-side while Katherine spent the day shopping.

Willie looked as though he was having as good a time as Amelia. He wasn’t by nature a jovial fellow, but she could tell Amelia’s playfulness wore well on the man. In truth, he was teasing her almost as much as she did him, and when she jumped up and sat on his back as a child might when seeking a pony ride, Willie was only to willing to oblige. He began baying like a horse and shuffled along on his hands and knees with Amelia riding her steed.

She knew it had to be killing his knees and thought to ask Amelia to leave the poor man alone. However before she could speak she heard the cab pull up in front. Knowing it would have been Katherine returning from an afternoon of shopping, she walked around front to see if she could help carry in what packages she might have with her.

When she got there she saw Katherine standing outside the cab with the cabbie who had come around to help her out of the car. She was fishing through her purse looking for the money to pay the man while at the same time, engaged in a very lively discussion.

Even after she paid the man the discussion remained quite animated, and at one point he had even put his hand on her shoulder as they spoke. Obviously she knew him, but something as personal as touching seemed highly inappropriate no matter the issue being discussed. All this came to an end however when they saw her approach. As if on cue the cabbie broke off the discussion, got back into his cab and drove off.

“Is everything alright, ma’am?” She asked while reaching to help Katherine with her bags.

“Oh yes, Rose, quite alright, thank you. It seems the young man thinks me beholden to a debt Molly had incurred over a year ago. Of course I assured him that he would never see a penny of that from me.”

Rose wasn’t surprised to hear about what Molly had done. If anything surprised her it was that the cab driver had waited this long to approach Katherine for the money. “It’s a good thing you did, ma’am. If not, who knows where the next demand might come from, or for however much.”

The incident stuck with Rose like excess baggage the remainder of her day, something left for her to unload later in a hot, sudsy tub. A nice long soak had a way of doing that to her, and the thought of that bath was very much on her mind later that night as she was preparing to go home. Actually she would already be halfway out the door if it hadn’t been for that song filtering in from the living room.

She knew the lyrics well enough. The pop tune had been playing seemingly non-stop all afternoon, as if Katherine or Amelia couldn’t get their fill of it. She didn’t know the song or the artist or why Katherine or Amelia need play the 45 record over and over. Normal she didn’t like that bebop-a-lula music so popular with the kids these days. If it wasn’t Rudy Vallee it was vulgar.

However, this song was different. The sound of it was heart-rendering, almost timeless and ageless. The harmony of violins with that souring operatic voice made the simple, repetitive lyrics sound like a call from heaven. Ruby Vallee could have not done better.

So with her coat on, her purse in one hand her keys in the other, she followed the melody. Telling herself it was only to say good night to Katherine before she left. It wasn’t something she normally did and she didn’t even know why she felt compelled to do so now. Maybe that’s why her unexpected appearance went unnoticed. She was standing behind the potted fern at the entrance, although not hiding and clearly in plain view. Just like a fly on the wall.

At first glance it appeared as though there was a man in the house. A man dressed in a white suit, Florsheim’s and tie waltzing with Amelia. When the couple spun around she saw that it was actually Katherine. Dressed in her husband’s white suit perhaps? She had her hair tied up in a tight bun at the back, the front slicked back with the sheen of Pomade in a very manly fashion. With Amelia’s arms looped around her neck they glided across the polished floor as man and woman. Each with a gaze fixed on the other.

The scope of this unusual scene was breathtaking, but it was the way Amelia chose to dress that placed it beyond belief. Her feet rode atop open toe vamps heeled so high she had to balance on the tips of her toes. Her black silk dress was snug fit and adorned with sewn in silvery spangles that refracted the overhead light. Both backless and sleeveless, it had a plunging v-neck that cut a canyon’s divide between her two plump breasts and was hemmed scandalously above the stocking tops. The sleek little black dress was not at all suited for her age, and rather reminiscent of a dress she had once seen Molly wearing.

It was bazaar and not a thing about it seemed rational or sane. At first she felt a bit angry about it. Thinking perhaps Katherine was using her authority to abuse and misguide her daughter. On the other hand she saw nothing in their actions that would indicate as much. Not in the way Amelia dreamily laid her head upon her mother’s bosom. Nor in the way she lifted her head up and kissed her dear mother on the lips. All of it coming from Amelia. Her actions as clear as the souring operatic voice that sang, “. . . maybe tomorrow, a new romance, no more sorrow, but that’s the change, UUU got’a take, if your lonely heart breaks, only the lonely.”

The purity of that voice, the clarity of her actions somehow rose above what she saw. Suddenly she didn’t look like a tawdry, misguided teen looking for a pick up in a Tenth Street bar. She looked serene, a young lady self-directed and in complete control. In truth, Rose couldn’t help but feel a bit envious of them. It was not unlike watching a movie. Where she found herself wishing she too could know the warm embrace of her leading man for just one moment in her life.

Rose wasn’t sure how long she stood there unmoved as the fern she stood beside. The 45 on the turntable had already played to the end, then automatically repeating several more times before she again thought of her own circumstance. She thought it odd she would suddenly feel afraid of being seen prying, and she probably wouldn’t have thought of it now had it not been for what happened next.

While they waltzed, Katherine had freed one hand from about her daughter’s waist so she could loosen her tie, unbutton her men’s white linen shirt and free a breast. A moment later Amelia put her mouth to her mother’s bosom, and much like an infant in need of nourishment began to suckle.

Rose slowly and quietly backed away, through the dark of the dinning room and into the kitchen. Again aware of her aching, swollen feet, she turned out the kitchen light and left for home.
 
 
Scene X: Gail Newton
 
 
Jack was walking the length of Waverly Street with nothing more than a verbal description of Molly. He was wandering into shops hoping to find someone who might have known her, or seen her about. He had been at it all morning and again, he was cursing his bad luck. This case was slowly getting under his skin, and for good reason.

He had been at it for more than three weeks and still hadn’t a single clue. That’s why he decided to hoof it out store by store. Something he definitely didn’t have the time, or the patience to do. Not with the back log of work piling up on his desk.

Fact is, other than this case he hadn’t worked on much of anything since Charlie first walked into his office. His last big case was over a month ago in which a scorned wife paid to have her two-timing husband done in. It was a complicated case, but it had taken half the resources he had already invested in this one and he found the bad guy in a week. Obviously, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to see he was frittering away too much valuable time.

“And for what,” he tried to placate his sunken pride, “A girl who was probably doing just fine and doesn’t want to be found?”

Yes, Jack’s confidence was beginning to waver a bit, but not Spike’s. He wasn’t about to let it go. As he liked to tell himself, “I just need to find the right waters to fish.” An expression he had picked up from his father whenever his father was fishing for the truth about something he did as a young boy. “Then I’ll toss out the line and watch it unfurl with the truth tied to the end.”

It had taken him a long time to figure that one out, but he was never more grateful to his dad when he finally had. This tidbit of wisdom had served him well through the years. Just as he hoped it would now. After all, a life might well hang in the balance. “I’ll give it a couple more days,” he thought as he strolled into a delicatessen, asked his questions then bought himself a hot Pastrami on Rye.

He took a moment to eat the sandwich outside on the walk while he looked down the street. He still had 5 blocks to go and it was already getting late. Across the street and a couple of doors down was a beauty shop and thought to go there next. This would be his last try of the day. Maybe tomorrow he’s wake up smart and drop the thing altogether. The case was beginning to have that smell about it.

Of course his luck hadn’t been any better on Hyde Street earlier in the day. That morning he had taken Charlie down there to see a body in cold storage at the morgue. “The Deep Freeze” they called it, located next to the NYPD vehicle compound in an industrial area adjacent to the expressway. The unidentified body he had come to see was not Molly. She wasn’t even a brunette.

It did save him from having to make a special trip to the Checkered Cab Company however. The cab company was located in a garage next door to the Hyde Street morgue. Dispatch had located the cabbie he was looking for. The guy who was driving Sally’s Cab the night Molly had left. They called him in to speak with Jack, but again, his luck was no better.

Once again Romano had been on the up-and-up, but the guy who worked that late shift couldn’t have been any more the half-wit. His recall was so vague he scarcely remembered the call. His excuse? It was his first day on the job. While Jack thought it more likely that it was simply because the guy was about as scatterbrained as they come.

All the same he decided to call Hazelton, his parole officer, and asked what was up with Salazar. “Just checking in on Sally,” he had told him, and found out he was right about one thing. It seems Romano was a suspect in a string of recent burglaries.

He had other names on his list, but Romano Salazar was on top. In fact Hazelton had told him he was going to pick him up for questioning that very afternoon. So Jack felt lucky to have caught him before he did. “Listen, bud, do me a favor and hold up on this one. I’m following Sally on another case. Give me a few days on this and I’ll owe yah.”

Hazelton agreed, but nobody was doing anyone any favors. They both wanted the low-life locked up, but he didn’t want to stir up the pool, at least not yet. Granted he hadn’t learned a lot from Romano, but what little he did have to say appeared to have been on the level. Then again, he hadn’t found Molly yet either, and if anyone had the potential to “do in” the gift that kept on giving, this guy definitely fit the bill.

Of course that was all conjecture and he really didn’t want to get ahead of himself. Not with so many questions still left unanswered. “Heck, I still don’t even have a last name to put on the poor girl.”

Disappointed? Perhaps a bit, but definitely not defeated. “I know she’s out there somewhere,” he muttered, then with the furrowed brow of a determined man, “. . . I’ll find her.” The only question was, “Did she need his help?” On that thought he picked himself up, dusted himself off and headed toward the salon.

It was a small shop with only one woman having her hair done. The other hairdresser sat in the chair reading a magazine. That would have been Gail Newton, a slightly walleyed, but highly energetic red head working on a big wad of gum with a warm smile and a warmer welcome. “Hi yah Hon, what can I do for you today?”

“I’m here on police business and I’m hoping you might be able to help,” he replied as he flashed his badge. “I’m looking for a girl named Molly, 30 to 35, 5-6, 5-7 approximately 120 pounds, green eyes, brunette, worked as a maid down on Slade Street. She used to come in here to get her hair done,” he lied, hoping to convince her he knew more than he did.

“Molly, hmmm . . . Molly,” she said while scanning the floor beneath her feet as she searched her memory. “Not the kind of name you hear everyday. You’d think I’d remember it.”

From her appearance the woman looked as if she hadn’t a clue. “Just another waste of effort,” he thought as he mulled over in his mind all the wasted time he was putting into this case.

“Well . . . if it don’t ring a bell . . .”

“Hmmm, well, not recently,” Gail finally came alive, “but now that I think about it, there was this one girl who used to come in every once in a while way back when. Her name was Molly. Can’t remember her last name, but I still have last year’s appointment calendar. Wait a moment, let me check the office.”

Jack stood quietly and out of the way waiting for Gail’s return. He took the moment to look around and immediately picked up on the dead silence. He glanced toward the stylist and the woman having her hair done finding them frozen in place, as if mesmerized, watching and listening to every word of the conversation.

When they saw him returning their gaze they quickly turned away, hurriedly picking up where they had left off, acting rather nonchalant, as if they hadn’t taken the slightest notice of him or what was being said. “Women,” he thought. “There is truly something about their nature that would forever perplex mankind.”

He needed no other confirmation than the smells emanating from the place. With one twitch of the nostril he’d find himself overwhelmed by the rich flowery bouquet of talc’s and powders, sprays and shampoos. Then with another twitch of the nostril, the overwhelming odors of pungent chemicals and bleaches that made one wonder why women would want to torture themselves just to look pretty. It was on that thought that Gail again appeared.

“Sorry, it only says ‘Molly,’ but that was enough to jolt my memory,” her smile indicating how proud she was of that fact.

“As I recall her name was Carver. I remember that now because Carver is my sister-in-law’s maiden name, and she is quite a gardening enthusiast.” She beamed her pearly white. “Anyways, this Molly was always talking about the beautiful garden at the place where she worked. You know, that big place over on Slade Street with the big garden? But I haven’t seen the girl in a month of Sundays.”

Bingo!!!! “Molly Carver,” Jack almost tripped on his tongue, but just to make sure he had found the right Molly, he asked, “Not with a Brooklyn accent I hope?”

“Oh my gawd,” Gail sucked in her wind as if just hearing her mother had been hit by a bus. “Nothings happened to the sweet girl, has it?”

“No ma’am, leastwise nothing I’m certain of. I just need to speak with her. Do you know where I can find her?” Gail put her hand over her heart, heaved a huge sigh and then asked him to sit. So they could get personal over a nice long chat about Molly.

Gail Newton turned out to be a goldmine. She knew more about Molly than he could have possibly hoped to find. Then again, he supposed it only made sense. Wasn’t that why girls are willing to pay all that money to endure the suffering in a beauty shop? Of course they want to look pretty, but it’s the hour of chat about their personal lives that make it worth the while.

Thankfully, Molly was no exception, and spill her guts out to Gail she apparently did. Molly told her about growing up in a one-beauty-salon, Virginian town. A shop her mother owned and was the only beautician in town. Even more importantly, Molly had a son who was living with her!

“A son!” Now why hadn’t anyone bothered to tell him that very important fact? Not Katherine Kline, not Rose the cook, not Charlie her lover, not Romano the cabbie, not Willie the gardener, not anyone at the Niles Bar. How could they not know, especially Katherine. The oversight, to put it kindly, had to be intentional. The question was why?

A very important question, the answer to which he suspected would come to play in the final act of this unseemly drama. First however, he had something more important to pursue. He had to find Molly. That is, if she was still alive. Her safety had suddenly become an issue.

As to the motive he hadn’t a clue. Still, folks living on Slade Street just don’t turn up missing for no reason at all, and the thought of that grave in Katherine’s backyard was growing more ominous by the day. Maybe even a grave for two? That said, before he went digging up the backyard he had to follow out the trail first. To a Virginian woman who owned a hair salon by the last name Carver, and that was doable.

He leaned in and gave Gail a kiss on the cheek promising to call her when he found Molly. The next moment he was out the door and off to the station to track down Molly’s mother.


 
Lyrics: “Mack The Knife,” Bobby Darin, Curb Records,  © 1959.

         “Only The Lonely,” Roy Orbison, Monument Records,  © 1960.

         “Annie Hall,” TM & C @ 1977, United Artists Pictures, lic. MGM.
 
 
Acknowledgment: I would like to gratefully acknowledge cs. for her editorial support, guidance and infinite wisdom, all dispensed with a heart as large as her titanic talent. Thank you cs, you represent all the best our community has to offer. (*_*)

 ©2008 by josie. All Rights Reserved. These documents (including, without limitation, all articles, text, images, logos, and compilation design) may be printed for personal use only. No portion of these documents may be stored electronically, distributed electronically, or otherwise made available without expressed written consent of the copyright holder.

xxx


 

To Be Continued...


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