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By Bill Hanson
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Bill Hanson
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Chapter OneBloody Morning
Captain Mackelroy stared at the crumpled body of Sergeant Tindale. He could still smell the residue of gunpowder in the air, the scent of fresh blood, and the damp odor of decay and age which pervaded the filthy, abandoned warehouse. Other homicide detectives drew chalk lines around the corpse along with taking photographs of the crime scene. Tindale was lying face down with several bullet holes in his back and head. Blood and brains were splattered over the floor and body.
Mackelroy observed that Tindale's gun was still strapped in the holster.
His voice rasped in the sullen silence. Anger and disgust competed for possession of every word when he stated the obvious to his friend and right hand man, Lieutenant Tanner. "Well, Frank, the poor bastard never knew what hit him. He was deliberately ambushed. With all those bullet wounds, I'd say there was a lot of anger in the killer, perhaps fear also."
He glanced around at the grim-faced men who were investigating the scene. "I want the son of a bitch who did this. Ted Tindale was a good friend of mine and a damned fine cop. By the looks of things, he didn't even have a chance to defend himself."
The sullen Worcester city cops just nodded. Words weren't needed. Mackelroy continued to take in the depressing scene. Amid the detritus that always accumulates in deserted buildings, Mac soon noticed some shell casings and pointed them out. The detectives drew more lines and picked up the casings with tweezers, carefully placing them into plastic evidence bags.
Over the years, he'd seen his share of death, and he'd never really gotten used to it. But this particular fatality struck him to the core of his being. In morbid curiosity, he knelt down and felt Tindale's lifeless left hand. It was still warm. He squeezed his eyes shut and tried to control the sickening feeling in his stomach. Losing the struggle, Mac went over to a nearby corner and promptly splattered the wood plank floor with the remains of his breakfast
* * *
"Misses Tindale, my name is John Mackelroy and this is my assistant, Mandy Buskirk. May I speak with you for a few moments?" The attractive blonde recognized the tall, thin man standing in front of her at the apartment landing. She did not know who the police woman was, although she looked quite becoming in her tight fitting blue uniform. He was well-dressed in conservative gray, being a plain clothes man. His thin mustache leant dignity to an already serious face, and his ice-blue eyes were downcast and lacking in enthusiasm. She replied, "What is it? ?"
They'd met briefly at some social function sponsored by the policeman's union a few months previous. Mac vaguely remembered her when she'd attended the event with her husband, Ted. He removed his hat and asked, "May I come in for a few minutes? I've got some bad news about Ted."
For the first time, fear jumped inside Ann's throat like a snarling tiger, as she glimpsed tears in Mackelroy's eyes. "Oh my God! Is Ted okay?"
She motioned for them to enter. The police woman quickly shut the door behind her. His voice was soft and full of grief's singular awareness. "Forgive me for being the one to have to tell you this, but Ted is dead. He was shot."
The blonde's face was a study in shock, disbelief, and grief. Her mouth was open, but no words would emerge. He continued, "I'm so sorry, Misses Tindale. As far as I can tell, your husband was killed instantly by some bastard who shot him from behind. It was the act of a cowardly monster."
She collapsed to the floor and wailed and screamed in anger and grief. Her words were incoherent, and she was racked with sobs that she couldn't control. Her fists hit the carpeted floor with impotent rage and despair. Mac watched helplessly with a face devoid of expression. The only sign that the police captain was stricken was the insistent trickle of tears that slid down his five o'clock shadow cheeks.
At last she recovered enough to speak. Her hand shook as she pointed to a doorway. "Get me a drink! It's in the fridge!"
He motioned to the assistant to retrieve the beverage. Moments later, she found the bright, tidy kitchen and discovered a bottle of bourbon in the refrigerator. Officer Buskirk proceeded to fill a glass and bring it to the wailing woman, kneeling and gently placing it in her trembling hands. Mac supported her by gently placing his arm around her back, helping her sip the strong liquor until the burning sensation assaulted her throat. The grieving woman coughed and finally gained some composure. "I'm sorry I made such a scene. What the hell happened?"
Mackelroy replied in his gentlest voice. "He went to a warehouse this morning. Somebody was waiting for him and they shot him in the back. He never had a chance. So go ahead and cry. It's perfectly all right. Do you want another?"
She nodded, "yes, please."
Moments later, she imbibed another 100 proof drink, and he said, "I know that, for you, this is a tragedy I can't begin to feel or understand. I'll say this: Ted was a fine man and a damned good cop. I'll find the son of a bitch who did this if it's the last thing I do."
Mac looked into the tear-stained green eyes of the grief-stricken woman. Her chin grew tight, and anger flared from her face like a flaming torch. "You do that, Captain! I want to see that murderer shot to bits! I told Teddy time after time to leave the force. Damn him and damn the killer and damn you! Get out and leave me be!"
Mackelroy stood up and, in a choked voice, replied, "all right ma'am. I'll be going. I just want you to know that the department will help you in any way it can. Good night. I think it would be a good idea of Mandy stayed with you awhile."
Ann nodded, permitting Mandy to help her to the sofa.
He quietly shut the door which barely lessened the sound of hysterical weeping which seemed to follow him as he left to begin the hunt. Mac silently vowed to himself with each descending step that he would get that miserable mother fucker, come what may.
* * *
Mackelroy was in his office, drinking a third cup of coffee, when Police Chief Al Bender walked in and unceremoniously took a seat. Then he lit up a Lucky Strike and took a few puffs before enlightening Mac. "Well, I just got the gory details. It's all on this report, but I'll give you the highlights. We found no prints on the shell casings. The marks on the bullets don't seem to match any other gun records in our files, and those files go back over sixty years. The weapon was a 45-caliber hand gun. The call came in at nine thirty one from a male, and we traced the call to a phone booth a few blocks away from the murder scene. Tindale was alone because he'd dropped off his partner about fifteen minutes before. Tindale was nearby, so the poor bastard took the call, and he well, he was a dedicated cop. Autopsy confirmed he never knew what hit him. Apparently the shot to the head was the instant cause of death. Fortunately, we have a tape of the call that came in. It's our only lead."
Mackelroy looked through the report and sighed. "My gut feeling tells me this was a gangland hit, but why? Tindale wasn't on the drug or vice squad. It just doesn't make sense."
Bender gave him a level stare. "Mac, it doesn't have to make fucking sense. Maybe it was some teen-age jerk, who panicked. Maybe it was some Looney who wanted to do a cop. It could even have been a drug deal that went belly up. How the fuck should I know? I want the thug who did this. I want his ass brought to me on a silver platter with his balls in a champagne glass, all right?"
Mackelroy gave the Chief a bleak smile. "That makes two of us, Al. I want to nail his carcass on a rough, hewn cross and make him suffer for six months. One way or another, we'll get him."
* * *
Next day, Mack carefully inspected the fatal phone booth where the strange call had been made. He carefully walked the two blocks from the booth to the crime scene in the abandoned warehouse, meticulously timing it. It was certainly a dreary neighborhood. The murder scene could not have occurred in a more depressing location. Large bushes and two foot high grass testified to the run down and neglected condition of the once, prosperous property. Many of the bricks were cracked and the entire structure was in desperate need of mortar refitting. Most of the windows had been boarded up with plywood but even those were rotting and badly weather worn. Two other old, pre world war one buildings were in similar condition. It was obvious that the former owners of these relics of the industrial revolution were either financially incapable or too cheep to remove the offending structures. Obviously the city did not consider it to be their responsibility to clean up the mess from a previous generation. So there they stood, silent sentinels doing homage to a former economic greatness.
For several minutes, Mac just stood there, mentally memorizing the entire location. The entrance door to that warehouse was around a corner so the phone booth could not be seen from that fatal doorway. He then ran the two blocks to the booth and timed it as well. Once he'd consulted his watch, he hurriedly scribbled some notes on his small pocket note pad.
The strange call had come in at 9:31 A.M., and the body had been discovered 15 minutes later. A female passerby walking her dog, heard the shots and called in at 9 39 several minutes later, once she'd had a chance to get back to her home. That civic minded lady sounded like some kindly old biddy. She'd given her name as Verna Graves of Oread Street, located just a few blocks from the crime scene. If the criminal had immediately walked from the booth to the warehouse, it would have taken him two minutes. If he ran, it would have taken 30 seconds or so. It would have taken about seven or eight minutes for the elderly woman to reach her own phone. That means the police had gotten to Tindale real quick, like in five to ten minutes. Time of death was about 9:40, give or take a few minutes. At least they had a pretty exact time of death.
The call that had come in from the phone booth was scary. The voice sounded like it was filled with fear. "They're trying to kill me! It's a big drug deal going down in zee warehouse! I'm at 15 Summer Street! Get zee cops over here before I'm wasted! They're just outside. They're armed."
That was the address of the warehouse all right, but the phone caller had been lying. He hadn't actually been in the warehouse when he'd made the call. Mackelroy looked at the phone for a long time, as if it could tell him whom to look for. No prints had been found on the phone. Something else bothered him. Was it possible that the killing had occurred even before the thug made the call? If so, why?
He walked back to the scene again, entered the front hall, and walked to the lines on the floor. The body had been lying face down on the filthy, pitted cement, a mere thirty feet from the entrance. It was pretty obvious the ambush had been perpetrated from the alcove to the right of the main hall. There were no additional clues. The place hadn't been used as a warehouse since the early sixties, and the building was a totally filthy mess. The homeless had found shelter there countless times, along with druggies doing deals or teenage couples using the place to get their rocks off.
Mac thought to himself that the damned building should have been demolished at least twenty years ago. Sounds of dripping water broke the cold stillness of dark recesses, forlornly echoing in the hollow emptiness of the long deserted warehouse. What a fucking lousy place to bite it, Mackelroy thought to himself as he kicked aside an empty soda can.
Tindale had been working the night shift, and he was on his way home that morning when he'd apparently taken an unexpected call. That was strange to, because he hadn't been contacted by a dispatcher. Had he been working on a lead? The poor bastard came in here and bang, bang, he was dead. To be sure, other cars had been dispatched after the strange call from the phone booth, but everyone had been ten minutes too late. By the time the poor bastard had been found, the killer had vanished like some furtive ghost.
Mac strolled back to his car deep in thought. He always returned to the crime scene to try to get a feel for the place. Sometimes you saw something different if you came back a day later and had time to think about the set up. He sat behind the wheel and kept staring at the abandoned warehouse as if its very walls could speak. The only other buildings nearby were a few dilapidated three decker houses built sometime during Victoria's reign. That's when he got the call.
Chapter TwoStrike Two
Mac automatically picked up the car phone. "Mackelroy here!" "Captain, Captain!" A frantic female dispatcher was on the other end.
He replied, "What's up?"
"You've got to get over to Ten Congress Street. They just found patrolman Will Skulley. He's dead!"
* * *
When Mac reached the new crime scene, he knew the killer had struck again as soon as he saw the bullet-ridden body on the front steps of another inevitable triple-decker apartment house. It seemed to Mac as if the entire city had been once exclusively built with such structures, obviously a predictable legacy of the previous century's industrial revolution.
Once again, the other members of the homicide team were drawing their lines and taking their photographs. The body, that had recently been Bill Skulley, lay prone on the once fashionable brick sidewalk about twenty feet from his car. Congress Street was typical of a classy neighborhood predating the Civil War. It looked so out of place to see a bloody corpse sprawled out on such a stylish walk way. Mac absently noted that the car was a few feet too close to a fire hydrant.
Local residents watched the grim proceedings, and of course the press had landed like a flock of restless vultures, trying to glean every scrap of information for the evening news. It never ceased to amaze Mac how quickly the members of the damned morbid press could show up when bad news was afoot. He wondered how many of the bastards would have shown up at Golgotha had they been around in ancient times.
* * *
Later, in the chief's office, Bender gave him the grim details again between quick intakes of cigarette fumes. "Well, Mac, just as you guessed. Slugs from a 45, and yes, they match the other ones dug out of Tindale. Time of death was about six this morning. Apparently Skulley was returning to his apartment. Skulley caught three slugs in the back. It's like the bastard was waiting for him."
Mac thoughtfully sipped his eternal cup of coffee and stared out the window for a long moment. "Any sign of robbery?"
Bender sighed with obvious disgust. "No, Skulley still had his wallet and revolver. No attempt was made to enter his apartment either. He was just shot and left to die in the street. Mac I'm giving you an open ticket. Whatever you need, whatever you want, you've got it. The mayor is going to back me up on this all the way."
Mac actually laughed with derision. "That cheap son of a bitch wouldn't give a fucking rope to a drowning man, for Christ's sake. Get real, Chief, Flarity is worse than useless!"
Bender shot Mac an annoyed glance. "Just for the record, I've talked with Slocum, the bastard's rich uncle. Flarity will tow the mark on this one. After all, Slocum's old man was a cop."
Mac grinned and took another inevitable sip of the warm brew. "Thanks. I'm checking out everything I can on this one. I've got guys canvassing all the pawnshops and gun stores in the entire sodding state. I've got a few friends in the troopers, and they're just as pissed as we are. We'll get the bastard, by God! As far as Flarity goes, I'll believe it when I see it."
Bender gave Mac a wintry smile. "I hope so, because at the rate this prick is going, we'll all be dead in less than a year." His chuckle lacked the faintest trace of humor.
Mac put some more sugar in his coffee as he returned to his own desk. For some reason, the liquid had grown bitter in his mouth. He read and re-read the reports of the two murders and tried to think beyond the details. How had the bastard known that Skulley would be at Ten Congress Street at that time? It couldn't have taken more than a few seconds for Skulley to get out of his car and walk the twenty feet or so to the steps. Also strange was the fact that nobody in the neighborhood had heard the sounds of shots. Had the killer used a sound suppressor on the weapon this time? The two incidents had proved one thing, at least in Mac's mind. Apparently, the killer was trained in the use of firearms. The police had found eight shell casings for eight bullets, all of which had hit the intended target. Mac checked the local phone book, and sure enough, he found Skulley's name, phone number, and address listed. However, there were eleven others Skulley references and nothing in the phone book indicated that Skulley was a policeman. So maybe the killer knew Skulley personally.
Next, Mac went to see Lieutenant Tanner.
Excerpted from Broken Cross by Bill Hanson Copyright © 2012 by Bill Hanson. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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