The Quarry

The Quarry

by Robert L. Fish

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781453293874
Publisher: MysteriousPress.com/Open Road
Publication date: 04/28/2015
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 155
Sales rank: 442,553
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Robert L. Fish, the youngest of three children, was born on August 21, 1912, in Cleveland, Ohio. He attended the local schools in Cleveland and went to Case University (now Case Western Reserve), from which he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. He married Mamie Kates, also from Cleveland, and together they have two daughters. Fish worked as a civil engineer, traveling and moving throughout the United States. In 1953 he was asked to set up a plastics factory in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He and his family moved to Brazil, where they remained for nine years. He played golf and bridge in the little spare time he had. One rainy weekend in the late 1950s, when the weather prohibited him from playing golf, he sat down and wrote a short story that he submitted to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. When the story was accepted, Fish continued to write short stories. In 1962 he returned to the United States; he took one year to write full time and then returned to engineering and writing. His first novel, The Fugitive, won an Edgar Award for Best First Mystery. When his health prevented him from pursuing both careers, Fish retired from engineering and spent his time writing. His published works include more than forty books and countless short stories. Mute Witness was made into a movie starring Steve McQueen.
 
Fish died February 23, 1981, at his home in Connecticut. Each year at the annual Mystery Writers of America dinner, a memorial award is presented in his name for the best first short story. This is a fitting tribute, as Fish was always eager to assist young writers with their craft.
Robert L. Fish, the youngest of three children, was born on August 21, 1912, in Cleveland, Ohio. He attended the local schools in Cleveland and went to Case University (now Case Western Reserve), from which he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. He married Mamie Kates, also from Cleveland, and together they have two daughters. Fish worked as a civil engineer, traveling and moving throughout the United States. In 1953 he was asked to set up a plastics factory in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He and his family moved to Brazil, where they remained for nine years. He played golf and bridge in the little spare time he had. One rainy weekend in the late 1950s, when the weather prohibited him from playing golf, he sat down and wrote a short story that he submitted to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. When the story was accepted, Fish continued to write short stories. In 1962 he returned to the United States; he took one year to write full time and then returned to engineering and writing. His first novel, The Fugitive, won an Edgar Award for Best First Mystery. When his health prevented him from pursuing both careers, Fish retired from engineering and spent his time writing. His published works include more than forty books and countless short stories. Mute Witness was made into a movie starring Steve McQueen.

Fish died February 23, 1981, at his home in Connecticut. Each year at the annual Mystery Writers of America dinner, a memorial award is presented in his name for the best first short story. This is a fitting tribute, as Fish was always eager to assist young writers with their craft.

Read an Excerpt

The Quarry


By Robert L. Fish

MysteriousPress.com/Open Road Integrated Media

Copyright © 1964 Robert L. Fish
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4532-9387-4


CHAPTER 1

Tuesday—3:20 P.M.

The urgent message that came clattering over the air to be picked up by the 52nd Precinct desk that blustery, rainy afternoon in late September, was being broadcast and telephoned simultaneously from the five Borough Communications Bureaus to every precinct and patrol car in the giant, sprawling city. Independent radio stations were picking it up and readying it for instant transmission—as soon as commercial commitments permitted, that is, for station billings are not to be taken lightly. Editors of afternoon-daily newspapers, whose products were already on the streets, were leaning over teletype machines and cursing the hour bitterly. Morning-daily editors were grinning like fiends and tearing out their front pages for replates.

At the 52nd Precinct, the startling news resulted in an immediate call from Captain Sam Wise, skipper of the precinct, for Lieutenant Clancy, assigned by the Detective Division to the 52nd. Captain Wise, hunched over his desk with a telephone receiver almost lost in his huge paw, waved the arriving Clancy to a seat with the stem of his pipe, and bent his grizzled head into even tighter contact with the telephone. He dropped his pipe into an ashtray and reached for a pad and pencil.

"Yes, sir, Inspector," he was saying into the instrument, his deep voice and thick Brooklyn accent loud in the small room. "I got it. Yes, sir; I'll do that, Inspector. Who? Right ..." The pencil scrawled hastily. "I'll tell him. Yes, sir, Inspector." He nodded his big head vigorously to the telephone as if to confirm beyond any doubt his intention to comply with his instructions, and then set the receiver back into its cradle. He turned to Clancy, thought a moment, and then replaced the pencil with his blackened pipe. "That was the inspector," he explained as he completed the maneuver.

Clancy refrained from the obvious comment. He tilted his head toward the telephone. "What's up?"

"Prison break at Sing Sing," Captain Wise said. "Four men went out in a provision truck. No details yet, but the truck was spotted while it was still inside the Ossining city limits by this smart local cop. Smart because he spotted it, I mean—not smart because he tried to be a hero and stop it all alone. He's lucky to be alive, and he may not be in a couple of hours. He caught one in the chest and it's still touch and go. But he got some results, I got to admit, because two of the escapees are back home—one in the morgue and the other in the prison hospital all smashed up. The truck hit a pole."

"I know all that," Clancy said patiently. "I was downstairs at the desk listening when you called me up here. I mean, what's up with the inspector?"

Captain Wise continued exactly as if Clancy had not spoken. "The other two cons are still missing. They must have ducked out of the truck before this cop spotted it. Their prison uniforms were found in the back of the truck, so they must have changed. They're wandering around some place dressed like us."

"Better, I hope," Clancy said. "In this weather. I told you I heard it all downstairs."

Captain Wise stared at him and then shook his head in simulated disgust. "And did you hear who they were, you bigears, you? I mean the two who are still loose?"

Clancy suppessed a grin. "No. They hadn't sorted them out, yet."

"Well, they have now, so get ready for some news. One of them is your old pal Lenny Cervera."

Clancy's grin disappeared; his eyebrows went up. His hand, which had been reaching idly into a pocket for a cigarette, paused in mid-reach. "Lenny Cervera?"

"Right. Correct. The boy who did all that high-pitched screaming in court the day you testified him into the pen." Captain Wise's eyes were somber as he stared at the slender lieutenant facing him. "You ought to remember, Clancy. He swore he'd take care of you, and the judge, and the prosecuting attorney if and when he ever managed to see daylight again. You must remember."

Clancy shrugged, uninterested. "I remember. But that's standard procedure with kids nowadays. It gives them status with the gang."

"The newspapers didn't seem to think so."

Clancy treated this statement with equal disdain. "It must have been a dull day for news. Normally something like that wouldn't rate a paragraph under the truss ads on the sports page." He frowned and completed bringing the cigarette from his pocket.

"I don't get it," he said thoughtfully. He stared at the cigarette, his mind elsewhere. "I just don't get it. Lenny took a five-to-ten for that hit-run with a stolen car, but that was almost three years ago. The way I hear it, he's been a good boy up there—keeps his nose clean, says yes-sir to the right people at the right time, and doesn't flush bulky items down the john to clog it. He'd be about due for parole in six or eight months. Why would he jeopardize his parole by getting involved in a deal like this?"

"Maybe he just wanted out?" Captain Wise asked sarcastically.

"I'm serious," Clancy said. "Why would he do it?"

"You can ask him when you find him," Captain Wise said. He looked over at the telephone and then back to Clancy. "That was Inspector Clayton I was talking to. You're on special assignment until Cervera is brought in. Plus the protection of Judge Kiele and that prosecutor. With any help from the precinct we can give you. Or from headquarters. Cervera was from this neighborhood; you know him and his family—or at least his mother—and the inspector thinks there's a good chance he may head for this section to hole up. Also, he had a girl around here...."

"She was the one who gave me the tip-off on him," Clancy said almost absently. "Not that Lenny ever found out about it ..."

"Oh?" The gray eyebrows went up. "I didn't know that."

"Very few people did, outside of those of us who were directly involved in the case. There wasn't anything to be gained by spreading it around." He frowned, brought out a match, and finally lit his cigarette. The match was held and studied contemplatively. "Who were the others who were with him in the breakout?"

Captain Wise referred to the notes he had scribbled. "Cholly Williams; he was driving the provision truck. He's in the morgue, decorating a slab; the cop caught him in the head. Phil Marcus, he's in the prison hospital. He went through the windshield when they hit the pole. Maybe it'll teach him to use seat belts from now on. Then there was Blount, a tough guy from Albany, and your pal Cervera."

"How about the regular driver?" Clancy asked. "What did they do with him?"

"Swatted him and left him behind in the commissary. He'll be all right."

Clancy shook his head again. "I still don't get it. Lenny was always a punk; a fresh kid. A break from Sing Sing is big time. What was a punk doing in it? And with a fair chance to walk out free and clear so soon, why would he do a stupid thing like that?"

"Stupid? What's stupid?" Captain Wise raised his heavy shoulders expressively. "Hitting a youngster with a stolen car, you call intelligent? Shooting off his big mouth in court, you call smart? How should I know? Maybe he just got tired of the food all at once...."

"Maybe," Clancy conceded with a smile, and leaned over to place the burnt matchstick in the ashtray.

"Or maybe he was afraid you'd die of lung cancer before he got a crack at you, the way you always got to have a cigarette in your mouth," Captain Wise said, and stroked his pipe a bit obviously. "Anyhow, that's the job. I don't think Inspector Clayton is so positive the punk was just shooting off his mouth to impress the gang. Or he doesn't want to take any chances. Anyway, he gives us our orders, and we're here to follow them. And you just got through hearing them."

"Right," Clancy said, and pulled himself to his feet.

Captain Wise looked up at the thin face leaning over him. "What do you want?"

"I'll pick out four patrolmen, and I'll want Kaproski and Stanton. After that we'll see."

"Good enough." The broad face of Captain Wise wrinkled in an affectionate but slightly worried smile. "And don't take any chances, Clancy. Remember your job is to protect yourself as much as those other two men. If this meshuga really wasn't fooling with those threats, I'd hate to be the one to have to break any bad news to Mary Kelly ..."

Clancy grinned at him. Mary Kelly was a policewoman attached to the 52nd who thought the late forties the ideal age for a man, and graying temples very distinguished for a man, and a slender build a bit above medium height the best shape for a man—and the name Clancy by far the finest for a man. She also thought the name Clancy would do excellently for a woman. It was on this last point that Clancy just could not bring himself to agree.

"You keep talking about Mary Kelly," he said, "and I'll get the idea that you're interested in her yourself, Sam."

"I am," Captain Wise said. "For you." He hesitated and then decided this was no time to pursue the subject. He turned back to his desk full of papers, his smile fading. "Just be careful."

"I'll be careful. But just for you," Clancy said, and went out the door and down the steps.


Tuesday—3:50 P.M.

Second-grade Detectives Kaproski and Stanton had not been built by nature to occupy spaces as restricted as Lieutenant Clancy's tiny office; at least not at the same time. Both above six feet in height, and each weighing over two hundred pounds, their presence gave the small room a cramped appearance, especially since Kaproski insisted upon tilting his hard wooden chair back precariously against one of the battered filing cabinets, blocking all access to the narrow space in front of the desk. Stanton, forced to make do with the remaining room, was straddling a chair that almost blocked the doorway.

Clancy crushed out his cigarette and turned, looking through the rain-streaked glass of the high old-fashioned windows into the dismal areaway beyond. The rusted garbage cans tilted against the dull tenement walls were splattering the heavy raindrops back into the air with a muffled drumming sound that could be heard within the enclosed office. He swung back to the others, shrugging.

"Well, that's the story," he said quietly. "The inspector seems to think that maybe the threats were for real. At least that's Captain Wise's version. Personally, I think the inspector just wants this kid picked up before anyone else gets hurt. In any event, that's our job. I want you to go out and talk to the mother and the girl friend...." He considered this statement. "Ex-girl friend." He shook his head. "No; I guess he still figures she's his girl friend."

"Are they being covered?"

"I've got a patrolman on his way over to each place. They'll be stationed near the front of the apartments, but not too obviously. I'll get more help when I get downtown, later." He looked out of the window again at the rain. "If they can spare anyone in this weather."

"That judge," Stanton said, recalling. "That was old Judge Kiele, wasn't it?"

"That's right. And the prosecutor assigned from the D.A.'s office on the case was Kirkwood. Roy Kirkwood."

Stanton stared at him. "Hey. That's funny."

"What's funny about it?"

"Those two are running against each other in next month's election," Stanton said. "Don't you read the papers? They been saying some pretty uncomplimentary things about each other."

"Well," Clancy said, "as far as this is concerned, they're both in the same boat."

"You having them covered, too, Lieutenant?" Kaproski asked.

"They're being covered right now. And they'll stay covered until we pick our friend up."

Kaproski looked at him. "And how about you, Lieutenant?"

Clancy merely stared at him coldly. The big detective flushed and kept quiet, but his partner refused to be intimidated. "Kap's right, Lieutenant. How about you?"

"I can take care of myself," Clancy said shortly, his jaw tightening.

"But—"

"I remember that Cervera case," Kaproski cut in diplomatically, changing the subject. He looked up at the ceiling and nearly fell; his size twelve shoes made an instant adjustment on the bottom rung of the chair, bringing him back in balance. His eyes came down. "I hear old Judge Kiele did all right for himself since then. Made himself a fortune. Can't figure out why he wants to still go on being a judge...."

"Ambition," Stanton said. "He cleaned up in the stock market, but he still likes being a big shot." He shook his head enviously. "I should just have his connections!"

"What would you do?" Clancy asked sarcastically. "Buy one share of uranium stock? At eight cents?" Stanton grinned. "If they're that cheap, I might even buy two."

"He was a tough cookie, that Judge Kiele, as I remember," Kaproski said, remembering.

"Maybe. But that Lenny Cervera sure couldn't squawk," Stanton said. His smile faded; his face became grim. "Five-to-ten was gravy for his rap. If I'd have been on the Bench I'd have given the little bastard life. He's just lucky the kid he hit pulled through."

"He's lucky he's got two talkative second-grades checking on him," Clancy said dryly. "He could have dinner with his mother, shoot a game of pool, play house with his girl friend, and catch a slow boat to Peoria while you two are still wandering down memory lane. How about getting around to doing some work?"

"All right, Lieutenant," Kaproski said, his feelings hurt. He brought his chair down with a thump and stood up, towering in the small office. "Who takes who? Or do we work together?"

Clancy frowned. His eyes automatically went to his wrist watch.

"Even if he came through all the blocks, he couldn't have gotten down from Ossining by now. Supposing he's headed this way, which I doubt. So for the moment, at least, there's no need to work together. And we don't have either the time nor the men to spare. Kap, you take the girl friend. You have the address. Do you have any mug shots of Cervera?"

Kaproski tapped his jacket pocket. "Everybody in town has by now, I guess. Unless he lost a lot of weight in stir. Which could be, with that food." He stared down. "I'll call in, Lieutenant."

"Thank you," Clancy said. He looked at the two speculatively. "Just remember that three years in the big house can change a man. I'm damned if I know why they don't take shots of them every year...."

"They ain't supposed to escape," Stanton reminded him.

"Yeah," Clancy said. "Stan, you talk to the mother. You both know what to say. Any letters he wrote, or anything he might have said during visiting hours—anything at all that might give us a clue as to where he would head for." He stared at the two men, his eyes hard. "They're not going to volunteer information...."

"We figured that," Stanton said. He also came to his feet, shoving his chair free of the doorway, glancing gloomily out of the rain-spattered window. "I wish to Christ these hoods would do their dirty work in decent weather...."

"Yeah," Clancy said. He continued to lean back, looking up at the two men above him. His voice sobered. "And one more thing: there's a cop up in Ossining who may not live because of this breakout. The charge against both Cervera and Blount is a big one now— it may be the chair. So don't take any chances."

"How about this other guy, this Blount?" Stanton asked.

"He originally came from Albany," Clancy said. "They probably figure that's where he'll head for. But that doesn't necessarily mean anything. You've got pictures of him, too, in case he decides to stick with Lenny. Although why he should beats me." His eyes held them. "In any case, no chances. With either one."

They returned his gaze. There was a moment's silence.

"Right, Lieutenant." It might have been a chorus. They turned and tramped out of the office. Clancy watched them go and then swung about, reaching for the telephone.

"Sergeant, I want to talk to the warden at Sing Sing. I'll hold on."

"Yes, sir."

The wind swept madly through the areaway, catching the rain, smashing it in vicious sheets against the tall windows, obscuring the view with blurred patterns washing down the glass. A vast improvement, Clancy thought sourly; maybe the rain will wash the tenements away, and the dirt, and the garbage, and the whole city, leaving the bare rocks the Indians had managed to live on so peacefully. The telephone traded operator talk in his ear; the sergeant cut in.

"The warden isn't in his office, Lieutenant. I've got the captain of the guards. You want to talk to him?"

"All right."

A strange voice came on the line. "Hello?"

"Hello. This is Lieutenant Clancy of the 52nd Precinct, in the city...."

Hesitation came into the high, nervous voice. "Lieutenant who?"

"Lieutenant Clancy, of the 52nd Precinct," Clancy said patiently. "I'm the one who gathered the evidence that sent Lenny Cervera up there in the first place. Now I'm assigned to the case of his breakout...."

"Oh?"

"Is there anything new?"

Suspicion entered the high-pitched voice. "You say you're a police lieutenant?"

Clancy sighed hopelessly. "Look, Captain. My number here at the Precinct is Murray Hill 9-6500. Why don't you call me back? Or have the warden call me. Lieutenant Clancy."

"I'm sorry, Lieutenant." The voice was apologetic. "The warden isn't here right now, and we've had reporters and photographers, and.... it's been a madhouse. What did you want to know?"


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Quarry by Robert L. Fish. Copyright © 1964 Robert L. Fish. Excerpted by permission of MysteriousPress.com/Open Road Integrated Media.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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