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Easter01's Short Stories

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Samantha61
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PostSamantha61 on Sun Feb 26, 2017 3:39 pm

Oh another one that gave me goosebumps..I won't say anything about it.. happygroup


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Easter01
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PostEaster01 on Mon Feb 27, 2017 10:31 pm




Part 2

The elevator came to a halt at Julie's floor and the doors opened. The two men in the front stepped out to make room, and goon one politely motioned for us to come out. I looked at Julie. I could tell that she also felt the tension. I pushed her in behind me and we stepped out between the two waiting thugs. All my senses were on high alert, waiting for the thugs to make some move against me or one of the women, but to my surprise neither one did anything. Both just stood with fake smiles plastered on their mugs, looking beyond us to the women in the blue dress waiting apprehensively in the elevator. I turned around and looked at her.

She was obviously terrified. Her eyes swept back and forth across the inside of the elevator, as if she was a trapped rat seeking to escape. Her gaze came back to me, and I could read the appeal in her eyes.

The biggest goon took me by the left arm. "Don't you have someplace to go, buddy?" he said. "You don't wanna get involved in stuff that ain't none of yer business." He stared at me meaningfully as the second man began to step back into the elevator.

"Please help me!" the lady cried in a panicked voice. "They're going to kill me!"

That settled it for me. I heard Julie shout as I slammed a fist into the stomach of the man holding my arm. It was a pretty good punch, with a lot of weight behind it, but he only grunted, released his hold on my arm, and came right back at me with a punch from a mitt the size of Kansas that staggered me. Two year's combat experience as a Leatherneck in the Pacific, followed nearly a decade working the rough and tumble streets of New York had taught me to handle myself in a fight, but this guy was obviously going to be a handful.

Out of the corner of my eye I could see Julie digging frantically into her purse. The guy in front of me kept smiling, and beckoned at me to bring it on. I obliged by quickly kicking him in a tender place; two against one ain't fair odds, and I wasn't about to fight fair, not with women in danger. Goon One doubled over, clutching at himself with both hands, and I followed with a quick uppercut to the face that dropped him in a spray of blood. Just as I whipped around to confront the remaining attacker something slammed into my skull. As I fell to my knees I heard a gunshot, and then darkness closed over me and I heard no more.

*****

I opened my eyes. Bright light seared into my brain and I hastily closed them again. There was a little guy inside my skull with a sledgehammer, banging away with great enthusiasm, and I had a ferocious itch between my shoulder blades. I reached up to scratch, but my arm was stopped short in mid-motion with a metallic rattle. I opened my eyes again, more cautiously, and peered out through the slit. My vision gradually focused, and I could see that my right wrist was handcuffed to the rail of a hospital bed. I reached up with my other hand and could feel a wad of bandages on the back of my head.

There was a figure standing at the window, looking out, silhouetted by the gray morning light streaming inside. The jangle of my handcuff must have caught his attention, and when he turned around I could see that it was my old Homicide partner from the 18th, Sam McIntyre. There was a paper cup of vending machine coffee in his hand.

"That stuff'll rot your liver," I croaked.

He turned and looked at me, looked down into the cup, and sighed. "You're right, but it keeps the plumbing cleared out." He walked over and stood by my bed.

I raised my wrist and shook it. "Why the bracelets, Sam? What's going on?"

He set the coffee cup down on the table by the bed and countered with a question of his own. "What do you remember about last night?"

I was guarded in my reply. Sam was a friend, but the handcuffs worried me. "Not much. Julie and I went to the Knicks game and then I brought her back to her apartment. A couple of goons got on the elevator with us, and jumped us when we got off at the sixth floor...hey, is Julie OK?" I deliberately avoided details or any mention of the lady in the blue dress until I could see where this was going.

He speared me with a look, all trace of humor vanished from his face and voice. "Julie's dead, Conner," he said flatly. "Took a slug in the chest. Did you see how it happened?"

I was stunned. Julie dead? "My God, Sam!" I blurted. "I didn't know! Last thing I remember was trading blows with some mutt, and then somebody hit me on the head!" I let my head sink back into the pillow, and closed my eyes for a moment. Julie and I had not been lovers, not yet, but we had something going. We had been seeing each other for a few weeks, dinner, a movie, a ball game, and there was no denying the mutual attraction. She was pretty, she was funny, she was something special...how could she be dead? I opened my eyes again as Sam fished a small notebook out of his shirt pocket.

"OK," he said. "Fair enough. Walk me through it. Tell me everything you remember up to that point." He sat down in the chair beside the bed and looked at me expectantly, pencil poised over the notebook.

This was an interrogation, now. Sam and I had been friends a long time, but I dreaded what was coming next: Did you do it, Conner? Did you kill Julie Devereux? We had spent five years in Homicide, working perps together to pull out confessions, but I never thought I would be on the other side of the table - so to speak - from Sam.

I took him through the evening, and this time I told him everything I knew...that Julie thought she was being followed by the woman in the blue dress, that this woman had come to Julie's building and got on the elevator with us, then the two goons....

He closed the notebook, tucking the pencil back inside, and slipped it into his pocket. At that moment there was a light knock on the door, and when it opened a short pudgy guy in a gabardine overcoat walked inside and shut it behind him. I recognized him immediately as Bernie Delgado, a Homicide dick out of the 114th Precinct in Queens. I had never worked with him, but he had a reputation as a bulldog on a case. He nodded to Sam, and then turned to me, fishing in his pocket. He pulled his hand out and tossed something shiny at me; I snagged it with my free hand and took a look. It was a handcuff key.

"You're cleared, Nash," Delgado said to me. "Eyewitness placed you as a vic, not the doer. Guy stuck his head out of his apartment long enough to see two guys beating the tar out of you; one of them shot Julie."

I stuck the key into the handcuff and released my hand. "I want in, Bernie. Julie meant something to me."

"She meant something to all of us," Bernie said. "She was one of us. Everybody is going to be working this case until we get the scumbags who did it." He shrugged. "If you want in, you'll have to ask McIntyre. He's got the lead on this case."

I looked at Sam and raised an eyebrow. "What are you doing with the lead, Sam? This happened in Queens, not Manhattan."

Sam didn't bother to consult his notebook. "First officers on the scene found you and Julie lying in the hallway. She was dead at the scene, and you were unconscious, with a .38 in a shoulder holster under your jacket. Bernie arrived just as they were loading you into a bus and ID'd Julie as a Homicide cop and made you as a PI, formerly cop. Because both of you worked the 18th Precinct, they called me in as a courtesy, and I asked for the case." He smiled, but there was no humor in that smile. "Sorry about the cuffs, but it seemed like the thing to do until we could get things sorted out."

"Makes sense," I said. "Still want in."

"We can do that," he said. "Set you up as an unpaid consultant." He pulled out his book again and jotted a note. "Good to be working with you again, Nash. We put a lot of bad guys behind bars." He frowned as a thought occurred to him. "Doctor's got to clear you first. You had a hairline fracture when they brought you in. Perp probably hit you with a sap." I reached up and gingerly touched the back of my head; there was quite a goose-egg beneath the bandage. "Yeah," I said. "Ow."

Bernie cleared his throat. "About that. Doc said he was good to go, to jail or whatever."

I swung my legs out of the bed and walked, a bit unsteadily at first, to the closet in the side wall, looking for my clothes. I started to pull out my trousers, and hesitated. "Sam. You already knew about the eyewitness, didn't you? You knew I didn't kill Julie."

He cocked his head and smiled thinly at me. "Never said you did, old buddy. Still had to get your story, once you woke up. Didn't you drill procedure into me?"

I humphed at him but had to acknowledge the point. "OK. You've got the lead, so what do you want to do now?"

Sam consulted his notebook again. "We've should have some preliminary forensics by afternoon. The chief has put a rush on the lab results. I want to get you to go through some of the mug books and see if you can put a make on the perps, maybe put you with a sketch artist for the lady in the blue dress." He tucked his book away again and started for the door, followed by Delgado, and turned at the threshold with his hand on the doorframe. "There's an officer outside the door who can give you a ride down to the 18th once you get dressed. See you in a bit."

*****

In the 18th's Homicide squad room five hours later my eyes were burning from the haze of tobacco smoke and from having gone through page after page of felon photographs in a stack of mug books. I had gotten a real good look at the two goons in the elevator, so there was no question in my mind that I would recognize them from a photograph if I came across it in one of the books, but no luck so far. Either these guys had never been arrested, which I doubted, or they were from out of town. Many times I had put a witness to work going through these books, but this was the first time I had ever had to go through them all, page after page after page. I flipped through the last few pages of the last book and placed it on top of the stack. No luck. Who were these guys? I took a sip from my coffee cup and grimaced. Department coffee was vile even when fresh, but this stuff had gone cold.

I reached across the desk and picked up the murder book that Sam had left for me. It was a three-ring binder, blue in color, that would be filled with all the documents pertinent to the investigation and ultimately turned over to the DA's office to be used in prosecution. Right now there was not much inside since the case had just been opened, but I opened the cover and began looking at the crime scene photographs. It was all laid out starkly in glossy black and white photos, eight by ten inches.

The first photographs were overviews taken from several feet back. I was missing from the scene, since I had been loaded into the ambulance and hustled off to Astoria General before the photographer arrived, but one of the cops had taped an outline on the hall carpet where my body had been found, just outside the elevator door. My mouth tightened as I took in Julie's body, across the hallway and a little ways down from the elevator. She was slumped in a sitting position leaning against the wall with her chin down and legs sprawled, the front of her dress soaked in blood. There was a small handgun a few inches from her right hand. The next photograph was a close-up of the gun, a short-nosed .38 Colt Detective Special.

I went through the next photos quickly. They were all close-ups of Julie's body from different angles, and I did not want to dwell on these right now. I studied the remaining photographs with interest. These showed blood traces found nearer the elevator, in several locations, as well as a blood trail leading away from the crime scene down the hallway. Good for you Julie, I thought, you got a piece of one of them, at least. The last photos showed the brass recovered at the scene, two rounds, both obviously from the perp's gun since Julie's weapon was a revolver.

I turned next to the typed documents. There was no coroner's report, as yet, or any lab reports, but Sam had promised these would be here soon. I began reading through the reports made by the investigating officers, describing the scene as they found it. They had interviewed everyone in the building, at least all those at home at the time, but had found no witnesses who had seen either Julie and me, the mysterious lady in the blue dress, or the two hoodlums, with one exception. A tenant who lived at the end of the sixth floor hallway, Michael Abramoff, was roused by the commotion and stuck his head out of his apartment door just in time to see Julie take a bullet from one of the hoods. He immediately ducked back inside and called the cops. There was no mention in his statement of a woman dressed in blue.

The Lady in Blue
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Last edited by Easter01 on Thu Mar 02, 2017 10:37 am; edited 1 time in total




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anidup
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Postanidup on Tue Feb 28, 2017 8:43 am

I remember this one too, Easter, what a lovely story it is!
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Easter01
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PostEaster01 on Thu Mar 02, 2017 10:36 am




Part 3

Abramoff had been brought in while I was in the hospital and put to work going through the mug books, but had not been able to make an identification. Of course, he only had about a five-second look before he ducked back inside and locked the door. Right now he was sequestered with a sketch artist, and it was my turn with the books.

There were about a half-dozen Homicide dicks who worked this shift, but most of them were out of the squad room right now trying to chase up some leads. Sitting at a desk backed up to mine was Jack Burns, a detective I knew well from my time on the squad. Jack had been a fixture in Homicide long before I worked there, and must be about ready to retire by now. He was tilted back in his chair with his feet propped up on the desk, an open file folder in his lap and a fat cigar clenched in his teeth. He was going through a tall stack of case files that had been assigned to Julie. I tapped out a smoke from a deck of Camels on my desk next to an overflowing ashtray, fired it up and leaned back in my own chair. "Anything promising?" I asked him. Jack frowned and shook his head, and was about to say more when Sam walked into the squad room with some papers in his hand.

He came over and sat on the edge of my desk. "Any luck making an ID from the mug books?"

I shook my head. "No dice."

He shrugged. "We'll have to make do with a sketch, then." He spread the papers in his hand out on my desk and beckoned at Burns. "Got the preliminary forensics and the medical examiner's report," he said. I rocked back forward in my chair to study the documents. Jack crushed the cigar out and got up and came around his desk to stand beside Sam, looking down with his hands tucked into his pockets. Sam pointed first to the ME's report. "Devereux was hit twice. One slug hit in the shoulder, fractured her clavicle, but a non-fatal wound. What killed her was a bullet to the chest which clipped the inferior vena cava, a big vein that brings blood into the heart. She probably bled out in less than a minute. The ME dug two .45 caliber slugs out of her, and we got matching brass on the floor. Looks like the shooter used a Colt M1911 ACP, a semiautomatic." He pointed next to a document on the desk to the left of the ME report. "We've got some interesting results from the lab on the blood at the scene. Blood typing shows three different blood types, so there was blood loss from three different people."

He reached over and opened the murder book and flipped through it until he reached a photograph showing the blood around the elevator. "Most of the blood, as you might expect, was Devereux's, but that was all on the opposite side of the hall. Here, and here," he pointed out on the photo, "are two different blood types that don't match with hers. Nash, did you blood the guy you were fighting?"

I nodded. "Yeah, I clocked the guy in the face, hard. I hope I broke the scumbag's nose." I laid a finger on the photo. "That would probably be from my guy, here."

"OK," Sam said. "That means we've got blood from both of the perps. Devereux's Colt had recently been fired, and so the blood trail down the hall was almost certainly from the guy she plugged. She only got one round off. I've got Dawson and Fancetti checking out the hospitals to see if anyone came in for treatment of a gunshot wound."

“Fingerprints?” I asked.

He nodded. “From your statement, you were the only one to touch anything in the elevator. We did find some clear bloody fingerprints on the doorknob at the end of the hall. I’ve got an examiner making comparisons with the Henry cards right now, but it might be a couple of days to get results.”

A uniform cop rapped at the door frame. He was a sandy-haired kid who didn't look a day over twelve, holding a file folder in his hand. Sam waved him in. "Watcha got there, Delaney?"

Delaney held up the folder. "Jackson sent me over with the sketch."

Sam walked over to him and took the folder. "Thanks, Delaney," he said, and opened it up to study the artist's rendering. His mouth twisted. "Ugly *&%$@*." He closed the folder and tossed it onto a nearby desk. "We'll save that for a bit. Nash, I'll want you to go see Jackson before I share this, so we can compare the sketches. Oh, Delaney, where's the witness now? I want him in protective custody."

The young cop shrugged. "I think they sent him down to holding until they heard from you."

"OK, thanks, kid." Sam turned back to us. He laced his fingers together and cracked his knuckles. "I think we've got enough here to reconstruct the crime. Nash, you wanna give it a shot?"

I stood up. "OK, let me borrow you two for a moment. Hey, Delaney!" I waved the kid over before he could make an exit. "Come over here. I gotta job for you." The young patrolman obligingly complied. I put a hand on his shoulder, and said, "I need you to assist in our homicide investigation." The young man's eyes brightened and he nodded vigorously. I pushed him toward the wall. "Stand over there. When I tell you to shoot, you point your finger at Burns, here, and say Bang! Got it?"

I then turned to the two detectives. "You guys get to be the perps. Burns, you stand over there, behind me, and McIntyre, here just in front of me." When I had them arranged, I nodded and said, "OK, here's how I think it went down."

Burns and McIntyre had read the reports, so they knew their parts. "OK," I said, "I got off the elevator with Julie, and one of the perps grabbed my arm. I shook him off, and we traded a couple of punches." Sam and I made a couple of play feints at each other. "The mutt occupied my full attention, but I could see Julie had run to the other side of the hall, about where you found her, and the other guy was probably right behind me." I was facing Sam, and now Burns, on cue, moved up behind me. "I put my guy down, and was turning to take on the other, when I got tapped on the back of the head, probably with a lead sap." Burns obligingly whacked me between my shoulder blades, thankfully avoiding my injured head. I dramatically dropped to one knee, and continued.

"Julie had her .38-cal service revolver in her purse, and while the two perps were occupied with me, was digging it out. I saw her open her purse, but I never actually saw the gun in her hand. I heard a shot as I went down. My guess is that Julie shot at the guy behind me, since the first guy was already on the floor."

I now pointed at Delaney, who raised his hand and pointed it at Burns. "Bang!" he said enthusiastically, and then blew imaginary smoke off his finger. What a ham!

"And then one of them shot her. It was probably the one Julie shot at, since you had knocked the other guy down. After this, the perps took it on the lam, one wounded and leaking blood. This much we can figure out," Sam said, "but from this point we've got some problems. First, what happened to your blue lady, Nash? Did you see anything of her during the fight?"

I scratched my chin. "As far as I know, she was still in the elevator up to the time I got KO'd. Either she hit the door button and escaped in the elevator, or those mutts grabbed her and took her with them."

Burns now spoke up. "The real problem is that we don't know who the target was, Devereux or the other dame."

I opened my mouth to say something about this, then clammed up. It would keep...for a little while.

"And until we know that," Sam said, "we don't have a clue as to motive. Was it supposed to be a hit, or was it a snatch gone wrong? We need to get some answers quick. We're already taking heat from the Commissioner's office, and the press are going to have a field day with this, city's first female homicide cop victim of a homicide." He ruffled his hair in frustration, leaving his hand momentarily on the back of his neck.

"McIntyre," I said. "One thing might help ID these guys. The biggest one had deformed ears, what they call cauliflower ears. He might have been a pro at one time...might be worth checking out the boxing gyms."

"Right. But we need the sketches, so I want that to be your number one priority. Once we have good likenesses, you and Burns hit the Manhattan gyms. Any of our other guys who show up back here, I'll send them out to the other boroughs." A thought hit him. "Burns, you see anything in the cases Devereux was working?"

It was Burn's turn to shrug. "Nothing that jumped out at me. She's only been on the job a couple of months and none of her closed cases have come up for trial yet. No known threats."

"Hunh," Sam said. "Nash, you got to know her pretty well...didn't she have an ex, down in Texas? Maybe a grudge?"

"Not an ex-husband," I said. "An ex-boyfriend. A bad relationship and a bad break-up, she didn't really want to talk about it, but I gathered that was why she moved to New York. No family left down there."

"It's a long shot, 'cause those mutts sound like hired muscle, but needs to be checked out." Sam paused for a moment, and then turned his eye on the young cop. "Delaney. You got someplace you need to be?"

Delaney jumped like he had been goosed. He had been following the back-and-forth between us with rapt attention. "Nossir! I mean, yessir! I was just leaving!"

Sam waved his hand in negation. "Relax, kid, I'm not trying to get rid of you. Are you free to help us out a little more?"

"Sure can, detective," Delaney grinned. "I'm on shift for a couple more hours. Me and my partner came in early to do some paperwork, and I got drafted by the desk sergeant to run some errands."

"OK then. What I want you to do is get on the phone to the Houston PD and see what you can find out about the ex-boyfriend. See if he is still down there. Burns has got her jacket on his desk. Use my name if you need to."

Sam yawned hugely. "I've been up all night, and it's catching up with me. I need to grab a couple of hours of shut-eye in the back. Burns, why don't you call the city morgues and see if anybody brought in a stiff with a .38 caliber bullet hole. Nash, get that sketch done."

Just then there was another rap on the door frame and O'Malley, the desk sergeant, leaned in, nearly filling the doorway. "McIntyre. Captain wants to see you. Now." He spotted me and nodded. "Nash. Good to see you." A man of few words, O'Malley. Sam just shook his head and sighed, and headed for the door.

*****

Two hours later I walked into the squad room with a sheath of Photostat copies of Jackson’s sketches in a folder in my hand and another lukewarm cup of joe. Neither Burns nor McIntyre were in sight, but Al Fancetti was at his desk examining the murder book. He was in shirtsleeves and suspenders but wearing a stained and battered fedora that no one had ever seen him remove; rumor had it that he even wore it to bed. I suspected it was just because he had gone bald and did not want to take any crap from the squad about his shiny top. He looked up as I entered the room. “Nash,” he said. “How ya doing?”

I set my coffee cup down on my desk and flipped my hand over and back. “So-so. Good to see you, Al. Where’s everyone?”

He hooked a thumb over his shoulder toward Sam’s office. “McIntyre’s taking a snooze. Dawson and Burns went out to the city morgue to check out a perforated stiff that might be one of the perps.”


The Lady in Blue
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Last edited by Easter01 on Fri Mar 03, 2017 9:44 pm; edited 1 time in total




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poppy100
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Postpoppy100 on Thu Mar 02, 2017 1:10 pm

its hugg time again Easter01  giggle
                              i so much love your work
                                HhuGgggSssss! too you

                                      



.


thanks for your lovely siggie Crissi  hugsmilie 
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szanne7000
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Postszanne7000 on Fri Mar 03, 2017 4:55 pm

I love your stories, Easter!

(I know, I know... I say the same thing every time, but it's the truth!)


<3



Thank you, Crissi, for my beautiful signature <3
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Easter01
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PostEaster01 on Fri Mar 03, 2017 9:43 pm




Part 4

“Any luck with the hospitals?”

“Nah.” He grimaced. “No lack of young punks with lead poisoning, but nobody that comes close to the description. I heard you was on the case; guess they let just about anybody pretend to be a Homicide dick these days.”

I made a rude gesture in his direction. “Ha-ha,” I said. “Funny man.” He chuckled and went back to the murder book as I walked over to McIntyre’s office door. I tapped lightly, and then walked in and closed the door behind me. The lights were still on, but Sam was uncurling himself from his couch where he had been catching a few Z’s. “Yeah,” he said as he sat up, a bit fuzzily, “that you, Nash?”

“Yeah. I got Jackson’s sketches here.”

Sam ran both hands over his face a couple of times, and got up and walked over to his desk and stood beside it. He shoved a stack of file folders and loose papers aside to make room. “OK, let’s see what you’ve got.” I opened the folder and took out three sheets of Photostat paper and laid them down on the space he had just cleared. They immediately began to curl up at the edges, so we took various items from his desktop and pinned them down for view: a stapler, a pack of Luckies, my coffee cup, whatever was handy. Jackson was a talented artist, and pretty good at prodding people’s memories into recalling what they had seen. Looking at the sketches now, I thought Jackson had done a pretty good job of capturing the likenesses of the two muscle-bound goons, but he had really excelled with his pencil portrait of the lady in blue. There she was, a real doll in black and white.

He looked them over for a minute and grunted, then reached for the pile of file folders and took the top one and opened it, extracting two more sketches. “These are from the witness. Make some more room,” he said, so I shoved some more of his stuff off to the side. Naturally, we now had to find some more paperweights to hold down the flimsy copies, but finally we had it all arranged, with the different renderings of the two suspects laid out side by side; the witness, Abramoff, did not get a look at the lady in blue so there was no second sketch for her. We stood there and studied them for a moment. “What d’ya think?” Sam asked me.

I grimaced. Aside from remembering that the two perps were large and ugly, Abramoff’s recollection of their facial features had little in common with my own. “Not much,” I said. “The wit got it wrong.”

Sam picked up the two sketches from Abramoff and slipped them back into the folder. “Not surprising,” he said. “Guy only had about a five-second look at them. OK, then, we’ll go with yours.” He held out his hand for the folder with the remaining copies of the sketches Jackson had made with my help, and I gave it to him. “I’ll have some more copies of these run off and sent out to the precincts tonight, so they’ll have them to distribute at roll call in the morning.” He looked down at the sketch of the lady. “Quite a dish, isn’t she?”

I cleared my throat. “About that….”

“Yeah?”

“There’s something I haven’t told you about her. Might want to sit down.” He gave me a funny look, and he sat down behind his desk as I dropped down into the chair in front.

“What’s up, Conner,” he said.

I took a deep breath. “I am pretty sure that the lady in blue was the target. As Julie and I got off the elevator, one of the perps made like he was going to get back in. The lady was scared as hell, and said, ‘help me’ and “they’re going to kill me.’ She was in a real panic.”

There was ice in his voice. “That…interesting…bit of information wasn’t in your statement. What are you playing at here, Nash? Why would you withhold something so significant to the case?”

I could tell that he was really pissed. “I’m telling you now.” I gave him my most sincere look. “Besides, what would you have done differently?”

He slapped his hand down on the desk. “Can you give me a reason why I shouldn’t kick your sorry civilian butt out of my squadroom and off this case?”

Yep. Ticked off, all right. “Because you need me, Sam. I’m the only one who got a really good look at any of the players. And, you owe it to me!”

“I owe it to you? Where do you get that crap from?”

At that moment there was a knock on the door, and in a little bit Burns stuck his head in. “Sam. Just got back from the city morgue. They had a stiff in there, a floater the harbor patrol brought in, thought it might be one of the perps. Matched the description pretty well.” He took in the frozen atmosphere, Sam and me glaring at each other across the desk, and sort of eased over and gingerly laid a black and white photograph down. It showed the mug of a very pale and very dead-looking guy that I instantly recognized as the shorter of the two perps. Sam kept his gaze on me for a second longer, then looked at the photo and reached for the folder with the sketches. He leafed quickly through them and extracted a flimsy that he laid down next to the photograph, pinning the top edges down with his fingers.

“That’s a pretty good match,” he said. “Nash, what’s your take?”

I had no doubt at all. “That’s one of them, for sure.”

Burns laid a fingerprint card down next to the photo. “I got a full set of prints off the stiff while I was there.”

Sam nodded. “That’s good work, Burns.” He slipped the photo and the Henry card inside the folder with the other sketches and handed it to Burns. “Take the prints to the examiner, and have copies made of the photo and the sketches, enough to hand out to the precincts.”

Burns looked back and forth between the two of us. “I’ll just go and do that. You two play nice, now.” With that he slipped out of the door and closed it behind him.

Sam hadn’t thawed a bit in the interim. “I believe you were telling me how we couldn’t solve this case without you?”

I blew out through my lips in exasperation. “Aw, Sam. This is personal for me!”

He was not impressed. “Yeah, it’s personal for all of us. We’re looking for a cop-killer!”

“She was my lady, Sam. And I can’t help but think that maybe I got her killed. Maybe I should have handled the whole thing different.”

“She was a cop, Conner. You saw a threat, and you did what needed to be done.” His voice had softened somewhat, and using my first name was a good sign. “So did Julie. She was a good cop.”

“I’ve played it over and over in my head, trying to figure out how I could have handled it better.”

He shook his head slowly. “Conner, Conner. You can play the game of ‘what if’ all day long and not get any answers. She knew the risks. It comes with the job.”

I looked him square in the eye. “I know one thing. The lady in blue, she’s the key.”

“Yeah, she’s the key. This changes everything. Now that we know the target, we are closer to figuring out motive. But…are you sure, Nash? Are you sure she was the target? Could it be she was just scared?”

“I’m sure,” I said flatly. “She was in a panic from the moment those thugs got in the elevator. I think she recognized those two guys.”

“OK, then. We’ll proceed on the assumption that this blue lady was the target.”

“Sam, you asked me to check out the gyms. OK, if that’s still what you want me to do. But I think I could do better trying to track down the lady.”

He checked his watch, and instinctively I looked at mine also. It was just after five p.m. “OK,” he said. “See what you can find out.”

Back in the bullpen, I grabbed my coat and plucked my fedora off the hatrack and started to settle it on my head, and had second thoughts halfway. I reached up and gingerly peeled the hospital bandage off the back of my head and dropped it into the trash. With only a slight wince, I pulled my hat firmly down and walked out into the hallway.

*****

I flagged down a hack outside the station and gave the driver a midtown address. It wasn’t far, but it was rush hour on Friday and it would be a slow trip. The driver was a gabby sort, as most hacks are, but he soon picked up that I wasn’t in the mood for conversation and the rest of the ride passed in a blessed, if rather sullen, silence. I needed to think. How was I going to find one woman in a city with eight million people? I wished I had thought to ask Julie where she had seen this mysterious lady in blue before, but even if I had, that wouldn’t give me much of a clue; if she was following Julie, then her appearance was in relation to Julie’s movements, not her own. The only thing I could come up with was to go back to where it had all started, at least for me.

The sun was going down as my cab pulled up at the curb in front of Allesandro’s. I suppose that the sun was still above the horizon, but in the narrow canyons between buildings the darkness was nearly complete and the street lights were on. I paid the fare and stepped out, quickly grabbing the brim of my hat as a gust threatened to snatch it away. The skies had cleared, and it would be a cold night. I stepped into the warmth of the restaurant, and my stomach growled as the delicious smells from the kitchen threatened to overwhelm my sense of purpose. The place was packed as usual, noisy with the clatter of dishes and silverware and conversation. I handed over my hat and coat to the girl at the door, and managed to find an empty table, the last one left, and ironically the same one that had been occupied by the lady in blue last night. The night Julie had been killed. My appetite suddenly vanished, but I sat down and, after a brief wait, a harried waiter brought me a menu. I didn’t bother to open it, but just ordered a mug of Schlitz and a plate of linguine with chicken and onions.

When my order came back and was laid out on the table, the waiter turned to go but I snagged him by the sleeve. He turned back to me in surprise. “Joey,” I said, and gestured for him to take a seat. I knew the guy, since I ate here pretty often. Joey rolled his eyes and gestured at the crowded restaurant. I nodded at the tabletop, and his eyes followed my gaze downward as I slowly folded back one corner of the linen napkin to expose the five-spot tucked inside. He blinked rapidly, and then said “Twenty minutes. Out back.” He deftly scooped up the napkin with the bill inside, replaced it with a fresh one from his serving tray, and scurried off to another table to take an order.

I looked down at my plate, and suddenly I was hungry again. I tucked the napkin into my shirt collar, picked up a fork, and dug in.

I leaned against the brick wall of the building across the alley behind Allesandro’s and took another long drag off my Camel. The tip glowed brightly in the darkness for a moment, and then dimmed. The back door to the restaurant opened and Joey walked out, closed the door firmly behind him, and then looked up and down the alley. I dropped the butt to the ground and crushed it under my foot, and stepped out of the shadows. He started slightly, bumping into a trash can, and then relaxed as he recognized me in the dim light cast by the single bulb over the back door. He wiped his hands down the front of his spotless apron. “What you need, Mr. Nash?”

“I’m trying to find someone,” I said, and pulled out the sketch of the lady. I held it up in front of his face, tilting it to catch the light. “She was in the restaurant last night. Do you know who she is?”

I saw his eyes grow wide, and then he shook his head vigorously back and forth. “No, no, this lady I do not know!” he exclaimed hastily in a low voice. He backed away from me until his backside collided with the restaurant door. I took a step toward him. “Take a good look, Joey. She’s not someone you would forget in a hurry.”

Pressing against the door, he just kept shaking his head and protesting his ignorance. I sighed and reached into my pocket for another bill, but I did not think it would do any good. That wasn’t greed I saw in his eyes…it was fear. I held it out anyway but he ignored it and, instead, dug into his own pocket and came out with a crumpled fiver. He grabbed me by the hand and thrust the bill into my palm. “Sorry, Mr. Nash! I cannot help you.” With this last, he turned about quickly, opened the alley door, and fled from my sight. The door banged shut as he disappeared, and I was left clutching two bills and wondering what could have inspired him to such terror. Oh yes…he knew who she was all right.


The Lady in Blue
continues with Part 5
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szanne7000
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Postszanne7000 on Sat Mar 04, 2017 3:43 pm

Now, this is interesting!

watermelon watermelon watermelon

(I really miss the popcorn! lol)



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PostSamantha61 on Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:29 pm

popcorn is at the bottom of the smilieys happypopcorn lol..that just put 10 inches on my hips thlol


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~hugs and smiles my dear, dear BFF's~
I am so proud of all of you..
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Postszanne7000 on Sat Mar 04, 2017 8:09 pm

happypopcorn happypopcorn happypopcorn happypopcorn happypopcorn happypopcorn happypopcorn happypopcorn happypopcorn happypopcorn happypopcorn happypopcorn happypopcorn happypopcorn happypopcorn happypopcorn happypopcorn happypopcorn happypopcorn happypopcorn happypopcorn happypopcorn happypopcorn

Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!



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Postcroiduire on Sun Mar 05, 2017 12:23 am

happypopcorn topscore



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PostEaster01 on Sun Mar 05, 2017 6:32 am



Part 5

I checked my watch. It was still early, so I would try another approach. Walking back out to the street, I grabbed a cab and directed him to Lexington Avenue, over on the East Side of the island. I stopped him at 28th street, paid the fare, and got out to walk north up the street. The wind was pretty sharp, so I turned up the collar of my trenchcoat. The working girls were out, doing their very best to look alluring in knee boots and coats, but most looked pretty miserable in the cold. I walked briskly up the avenue, looking the girls over and fending off propositions with a smile and a shake of my head until I reached the corner of 29th and Lexington. I was looking for one particular girl, and sure enough, there was Trixie, just down from the corner, leaning into the opened window of a Cadillac. Evidently the deal fell through, since the car pulled away from the curb and Trixie made an obscene gesture in its wake.

Even though I was no longer on the force, I still maintained a network of snitches around the city, even if it was not as extensive as it once was. Trixie had been in the trade a while, and although with her auburn hair and some serious makeup she was still rather pretty from a distance, she had lines around her mouth and eyes that spoke volumes about the life she had led. I liked Trixie, but more importantly for me, she was tuned into the street. Anything that might be going on, she would know something about it. I had cultivated her back when I was still working Homicide, but had not seen her for a while.

She spotted me walking toward her, and cocked her head to one side. “Conner!” she exclaimed. “Hey, baby, where ya been?” I stopped in front of her and smiled, and she grabbed hold of my coat lapels and pulled me around in sort of a slow dance. “A girl gets lonely, ya know.”

“Just taking care of business,” I said, carefully disengaging, and put my hands in my coat pockets. “You’re looking good, Trixie.”

“Lying *&%$#.” But she grinned to take the sting out of it. “But all men are lying *&%$#. You just such a gooood-lookin’ *&%$#, I can’t help myself.” She stepped forward and leaned into me. “How ‘bout you an’ me go someplace and get warmed up?”

She was right, she couldn’t help herself; after all, she was taking care of business, her way. We went through this little charade every time we met, but she knew I had no real interest in her services. “Sorry, doll, I’m on the clock. I need some information, though.” I pulled the seam of my coat back and fished one of the five-spots out of my pocket, holding it between thumb and forefinger and waggling it at her.

Trixie made a little pout for show. “Aw, baby, you don’t know what you’re missing! You know what they say about all work an’ no play….” She shrugged and reached for the fin, but I pulled it back. “So…what you need, Conner,” she said, all business now.

“I’m looking for someone.” I pulled the sketch out of my coat pocket and unfolded it, then held it between us so she could see the portrait of the lady. “You seen her around anywhere?”

She took the sketch out of my hand and studied it carefully. “She’s pretty. She a workin’ girl?”

It was my turn to shrug. “I really don’t know…don’t know anything about her. I’ve only seen her one time. Sharp dresser, expensive clothes. Do you know who she is?”

Trixie shook her head. “Honey, I got no idea who she is. Never seen her around here.” She reached for the bill again, but I hung onto it. “C’mon, Conner!” she protested. “I gotta eat, and you’re taking up my time.”

“Sorry, doll,” I said, with real regret. “You know how it works. Something for something, or no deal.” I touched the brim of my hat, and turned to walk away.

“Conner, wait!” I turned back around and waited expectantly. Quickly she said, “I don’t know if it has anything to do with this lady of yours, but word’s out on the street to keep an eye out for some lady, looks like that, dark curly hair cut short, kinda Italian-lookin’.…”

“So?” I said. “Who’s asking?”

“Honest, I don’t know,” she said, still eyeing the bill. “I just heard it from one of the other girls, the word’s just going around. Supposed to be a reward, anyone knows where she is!”

I frowned. “How is anybody going to collect, if they don’t know who to tell?”

Trixie pushed a stray lock back in place, thinking. “I guess it would be one of the neighborhood bosses,” she said in a low voice. “Y’know, one of the local mob guys. Who else would be lookin’?”

Satisfied, I allowed her to snatch the fiver out of my hand, which disappeared instantly into the depths of her coat, but her eyes sparkled when I reached back into my pocket and came out with its twin and handed it to her as well. “Thanks, Trix,” I said, and she just gave me that smoldering sideways look again before turning her attention back to the street.

I walked back down Lexington Avenue, looking for a passing cab, when I passed by a brightly lit newsstand. I stopped dead in my tracks and stared at the display of newspapers on the racks. Julie’s face looked back at me from the front page of the Herald-Tribune late edition. It was a younger version of the woman I had known, blonde hair cut short, a serious expression on her face, wearing her dress blues. I guess the paper had obtained an official shot of her from the Houston PD. The headline said, “First Female NYPD Homicide Cop Slain in Gun Battle.” I guess Sam had been right about the media playing this up. I stepped up and laid a nickel on the counter and took a copy out of the rack, folded it in half and tucked it under my arm. I was done for the night.

Thirty minutes later, the cabbie dropped me off in Alphabet City and I walked up the stairs to my apartment, located just over a bakery on the ground floor. It was a quiet neighborhood, and there were distinct advantages to living over a bake shop; one never had to worry about finding breakfast. It’s true what they say about cops and donuts, and the smells that drifted through my window in the morning hours were indescribable. I unlocked the door and stepped through, parked my fedora on the hat-rack, and tossed the folded newspaper on the table by the easy chair. It was a small apartment, just three rooms and bath, but it had been my home since I came back from the war and it suited me just fine. I walked into the bedroom and opened the closet to hang up my overcoat and suit coat, stripped off my tie and hung that up also. I slipped off my shoulder holster and walked over to the dresser and opened the top drawer and laid it inside. I was licensed to carry, and did, but I hadn’t fired a shot since I left the job, except on occasion at the police firing range where my PBA card assured me a spot.

I came back into the living room and flopped down into the well-worn easy chair facing the 12-inch portable television on the opposite wall. I sighed, and picked up the phone to call my answering service, made a few notes about cases in progress and prospective clients, and then reached down to the floor beside the chair and came back with a half-empty bottle of Kentucky’s finest. There was a water glass on the table, and I pulled a clean handkerchief out of my trousers pocket and wiped the residue off the bottom, and poured three fingers’ worth. Then I sat back and opened the paper, and began to read the article about Julie.

I had forgotten to set the alarm, but the sun coming in the window along with the delicious odors from the bakery brought me awake. I reached up to touch the back of my head; it was still painful, but the lump seemed to be smaller. I went out into the kitchen in my underwear, slightly hungover, and made a pot of coffee, rummaged around and found a couple of stale donuts, then, while the coffee percolated, went back out into the living room and picked up the phone. I dialed the Homicide squad room, and some guy I didn’t know answered the phone, identified himself as Miller. “Hey,” I said. “This is Nash. Tell McIntyre I got some info last night makes me think the Devereux shooting might be mob-related. I’ll be in by noontime to fill him in.”

“OK,” Miller said. “I’ll pass it along.”

I went back into the kitchen and poured my first cup of the day, and stood there at the sink, chewing on stale donut and planning my day. Although Trixie was not the sort to blow smoke, her story had been more speculation than fact, so I needed to confirm any possible mob connection from some other source before I took it to Sam as ironclad. I also wanted to swing back by the restaurant and make another run at the staff, or better still, talk to the owner. I had known Allesandro for years, and considered him a friend.

I washed down the last bite of donut with the dregs from my cup, and got dressed. I checked my watch. It was eight-fifty on Saturday morning, which meant that Benny Poplawski would be unshuttering his storefront in about ten minutes. I buttoned up my coat and walked down the stairs to the street, and down to the corner, where I flagged down a passing cab and gave him an address on 79th Street in the Upper East Side.

It was about a quarter after nine when the cab pulled up in front of Benny’s place, a two-story walk-up; Benny and his wife Sophia lived over the shop. There was a large sign that ran all the way across the front of the store that said PAWN SHOP, with the usual three-ball symbol of the trade inserted in between the two words. The windows were carefully hand-lettered in gilt paint, stating “PAWN – BUY – SELL” on one side of the front door, and “PAYDAY ADVANCES – 10%” on the other window. Benny had been known to do a little fencing from time to time, but mostly he ran a legit business. We weren’t friends, exactly, but he had always been straight with me. I asked the hack to wait for me a bit, and walked in the front door, and bells tinkled as it opened and closed.

Benny was leaning on the glass countertop at the end of the store, intently studying the Daily Racing Form, old-fashioned wire-rim glasses perched on the end of his nose. The stub of a cigar was smoldering in an ashtray beside the paper. He was in his mid-fifties with thinning white hair, and running to fat. He was wearing a white shirt that had been washed too many times and was yellowing with age, and baggy pants held up with suspenders. There was a row of guitars hanging on the wall behind him, and beneath the glass of the countertop were rows of watches and cheap jewelry. I happened to know there was a sawed-off shotgun beneath the counter, in easy reach. He didn’t bother to look up as I walked in.

“Got any good tips,” he asked as I came up to the counter. “These nags are killing me.”

“Sure,” I said. “Buy low and sell high.”

He snorted. “Ha. You must think you’re Jack Benny or something. Everybody’s a comedian.” He folded the paper in half and slipped it beneath the counter, out of view. He looked directly at me for the first time. “So, Nash, what do you want this time?” he said, rather sourly.

I put my hand over my heart. “Benny, that hurt! Here I thought we were friends.”

He shook his head. “My friends don’t wear badges.”

“Benny, I haven’t worn a badge in years. I work for a living, these days.”

He humphed at me and said, “Walks like a badge, talks like a badge, is a badge, I’d say.”

I shook my head slowly and sadly. “Aw, Benny, here I come to you, seeking your wise counsel, and you treat me like this.”

This time he actually chuckled, almost against his will, and relented. “OK, Nash, knock off the bull. What do you really want?”

I pulled the sketch of the blue lady out of my coat pocket, unfolded it and laid it on the counter; it was starting to get a little tattered from all the handling. “Have you seen this lady anywhere? Do you know who she is?”

Benny picked the sketch up and adjusted his eyeglasses to get a better look. After a moment, he said, “Don’t know her, never seen her….” His voice sort of trailed off, and I prompted him with a “But…?”

He folded it back up and handed it to me. “One of them Eye-talian hoodlums came in the store yesterday and showed me a Polaroid of some lady who looks a lot like that. Told me to keep an eye out, and let him know if I ever saw her.”

I was immediately interested. This backed up what Trixie had told me last night. “Who was this guy?” I asked him.

“Renzo Montone.” He looked like he wanted to spit when he pronounced the name. “He’s the collector for this neighborhood, normally shows up about once a month for the protection money. *&%$# are killing me.”

“What’s his outfit?” I asked, and pulled out my cigarette pack, tapped one out, and lit it with my Zippo.

“Works for Tomatino.” He picked up the cigar butt, inspected it, and crushed it out in the ashtray. “When are you cops going to do something about the protection racket? They just keep jacking it up, man can’t make a living anymore.”

“Tomatino?” I asked. “You mean Tony Tomatoes, the mob boss?”

“Yeah, that’s the one. Now get out of my shop.”

I left a ten-spot on the counter, and walked out.

The Lady in Blue
continues with Part 6
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Last edited by Easter01 on Tue Mar 07, 2017 6:18 am; edited 1 time in total




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Postszanne7000 on Sun Mar 05, 2017 2:24 pm

Intriguier and intriguier...

coffeetime

(how do you like my made up word?)
(lol)



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Postcroiduire on Sun Mar 05, 2017 3:16 pm

↑ what she said.  Easter, this is your best yet.



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Easter01
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PostEaster01 on Tue Mar 07, 2017 6:17 am



Part 6

Back on the sidewalk, I checked my watch. My little visit to Benny, while productive, had been thankfully brief, so it was still only a bit after nine-thirty. I had plenty of time to get over to the restaurant and catch Allesandro DiMarco for a little confab before he opened up for the lunch trade. I opened the door on the cab outside and slid inside, and told the driver to take me over to West 51st. The cabbie had the radio on, and Billie Holiday was singing “Lover Man,” slow and melancholy, which suited me just fine. I looked out the window as the streets went by, gray and ugly in the half-light of an overcast winter morning, remembering just how much Julie had fancied Holiday’s music.

There was a “Closed” sign hanging inside the door at Allesandro’s, and the door was locked, but the lights were on inside and I could see Allesandro himself in the dining area, taking chairs down off the tables and setting them up. I rapped sharply on the glass of the door, and he immediately came over. The slightly annoyed expression on his face changed to a puzzled smile when he saw me through the glass, and he quickly unlatched the door. “Mr. Nash!...but we are not open yet!”

“Hello, Allesandro,” I said. “Sorry to interrupt your morning. Can I have a word with you?”

“But of course! You are a good customer, and a friend.” He opened the door to let me in, locked it again, and then led the way into the dining area. “My people will be in shortly to set up for lunch, but we can visit for awhile. Would you like some coffee? I have a pot on in the kitchen.”

“That would be great. Black, please.” He pulled out a chair from one of the tables and gestured for me to sit, and then bustled off through the kitchen door. I took a seat and waited patiently.

It wasn’t long before Allesandro returned with a pot of coffee and two cups on a tray, along with a sugar bowl and a spoon. He was a short man in his mid-forties, a little on the plump side, as one might expect from a chef, but not fat and actually a rather good-looking man for his age. He set the tray down and poured the coffee, then placed the tray on another table and took the seat opposite me. There was silence for a moment as he busied himself adding sugar to his own cup. I took up my cup in both hands and took a tentative sip; it was scalding hot, but delicious. As I put my cup down, he took a small sip of his own, nodded slightly in approval, and then set it aside.

He reached across the table and laid his hand on my arm. “I was so sorry to hear the news about your lady,” he said, gravely. “It was in all the papers. So sad, so very sad. She was such a pretty lady. Do the police know who is responsible for this infamità?”

I shook my head. “Not yet. They are following up on some leads, but have not yet been able to identify the killer.”

He closed his eyes briefly. “Such a tragedy! I could tell she was a very special lady. She had a lovely smile, and obviously she cared very much for you.” He gave my arm a little squeeze, and then withdrew his hand to pick up his cup for another sip.

His polite observation struck me with the impact of a sudden dagger in the heart. I had been exerting all my thoughts and energies into trying to solve the puzzle of her death, the motivations of her killers and the role of the blue lady in all of this, that I had not allowed myself to really absorb how much her loss meant to me on a personal level. A way of avoiding the pain, I suppose; but now it all came flooding in on me like a tidal wave of sorrow. I blinked rapidly a few times, but let no trace of my sudden emotional storm into my voice. “Yes,” I said, carefully, “she was very special to me. Julie was one in a million.” I picked up my cup and took another sip. “I am working with the police to try to find out who did this, and why.”

Allesandro pursed his lips knowingly, and nodded. “Ah, I see! That is very smart. You were a detective yourself, many years, and good at your job, I have heard. You put many bad men behind bars.” Now he folded his hands before him on the table and gave me a penetrating look. “You have a reason to come see me. How is it I can help you?”

I took the artist’s sketch out of my pocket, unfolded it, and laid it on the table so that the lady in blue faced him. “This woman was in your restaurant on the night Julie was killed. I have reason to believe she may know something about it. Do you know who she is?”

Allesandro studied the pencil portrait without picking it up and then reached out with two fingers and slowly pushed it back across the table to me. He sat back in his chair and examined me for a moment without speaking, and then said, carefully, “I have seen her in my restaurant, several times. It is possible that I may know who she is. Why is it that you think she may have something to do with the murder of your lady friend?”

Now it was my turn to study his face with the same care he had shown in scrutinizing me after I had shown him the picture. The way he had phrased his answer told me that this was now a fencing match. He knew something about her, for sure, but was trying to decide whether or not he should share this information with me. I decided to go for broke and tell him what I knew. “I don’t think she was directly involved. Thursday night, when we were here, Julie told me she thought this lady was following her for some reason. Later, when I took Julie home, two hoods showed up, and they seemed to be more interested in this lady than they were in Julie. Julie was killed because I tried to interfere. So yes,” I said, “I think she knows something about it.”

There was a sudden clatter of pans in the kitchen that told me Allesandro’s staff had arrived and were getting ready to start cooking for the lunch customers. He turned his head toward the kitchen door and then returned his gaze to me. At that moment, two of his employees came through the kitchen door, one with a bundle of red and white checkered tablecloths, the other with a box containing silverware wrapped in linen napkins, and began setting up the tables. Allesandro leaned toward me and lowered his voice, speaking confidentially. “Mr. Nash, I know you to be a good man, and I trust you. You come back here tonight, after the restaurant closes, and I may have some information for you.” He patted my hand and stood up, and led me back to the front door to let me out.

Now that, I thought, was an interesting conversation.

I took a cab back over to the 18th and stopped outside to nab a chili dog from one of the sidewalk vendors. The sun had finally put in an appearance and the temperature was finally edging up above the freezing point. I went inside and climbed the stairs to the second floor and walked into the Homicide bullpen a few minutes past noon. Sam was standing next to Jack Burns, palms flat on the desktop, looking down at some papers. Fancetti and Dawson were on the other side of the desk; I didn’t know Dawson all that well since he had gotten his detective shield and transferred in just before I got shot and pensioned out, but I had the impression he was a solid cop and a good investigator. A rather blocky-looking individual in a cheap suit with a buzz cut and a dour expression was standing just behind McIntyre and Burns, hands in his pockets, also looking down at the desk.

Sam saw me enter and waved me over to the desk. “Hey, Nash. Just in time. We just got some new info you’ll want to see. Oh, by the way,” he gestured at Buzz Cut, “this is Frank Miller. He transferred over from Vice a few weeks ago, I don’t think you’ve had a chance to meet.” Miller raised a hand in silent greeting and then tucked it back into his pocket. I went over to the desk and saw a couple of mug shots; the faces of the two goons from the elevator stared back at me.

“Yep, that’s the two perps,” he said. “Since we weren’t having any luck identifying these guys from our own files, after you left yesterday, I put the sketches out on the wire to some of the other law enforcement agencies across the country. I got a call from Detective Hausman of the Chicago PD this morning. Meet Joey Peretti,” he said, and laid a finger on the picture of the mutt who had turned up in the East River, “our shooter, and here we have Frank Lucci,” indicating the shot of the larger man with cauliflower ears, still at large. “They wired these mug shots after we spoke, and fingerprints. The prints from Big Ugly here,” he tapped the second photo, “match the ones we got off the bloody doorknob, and Peretti’s match our floater.”

I studied the shots. “So, who are these guys?”

“They’re members of the Chicago Outfit, low level muscle,” Sam informed me.

“Hunh,” I said. “No kidding. Just what the *&%#% are two Chicago enforcers doing in New York?”

“Hausman and I talked it over, and best we can figure, the Outfit and the New York mob must have some kind of exchange program where they send each other soldiers from their organizations who are being actively pursued by the local law. Both these guys are wanted for murder in Chicago. Peretti here,” and he tapped the mug shot, “was an enforcer who got carried away doing collections, and killed a shop owner. As for Lucci, a decade ago this mutt was a second-rate prize-fighter whose career tanked when he got caught taking bribes to throw fights. Not long after, the home of a member of the Illinois Boxing Commission was firebombed, killing the commissioner and his wife; Lucci was a strong suspect but there was not enough evidence to convict. Afterward it appears he followed the same line of work as Peretti, collecting protection money for the Outfit.”

“Any luck trying to pick up a scent of Lucci at the local gyms?”

Sam looked at Burns. “Tell him what you found, Jack.”

Burns rubbed the underside of his chin with the back of his forefinger. “Well, McIntyre sent all of us out to scout the gyms. Me and Fancetti started in midtown, and Dawson and Miller worked uptown. We’d go in, show the sketches, ask a few questions, and then head to the next address. At the fifth stop, Mooney’s Boxing Club over in Hell’s Kitchen, we got a hit.” He paused, and made a face.

“And…” I prompted, interested in his reaction.

“Didn’t get much. A few of the people we talked to recognized the face, but nobody knew who he was or anything about him. Seems he would come in and watch the sparring, but never participated, never even spoke to anyone.”

Sam now spoke up. “I’ve got a couple of plainclothes in a car across the street staking out the place today, and I’ll send them back on Monday. If he shows, they’ll pick him up.”

“I’d like to be in on that,” I said. “Mind if I tag along on the Monday shift?”

“Be my guest,” he said. “But I can’t have you involved in the actual arrest, if it goes down.”

I nodded. “I can live with that.”

Sam now picked up a folder from the desktop and extracted a picture. “I saved the best part for last. Take a look at this,” he said, handing the picture to me.

It was obviously a surveillance photo, an eight-by-ten black-and-white of two people, a man and a woman, in the act of getting out of a Cadillac Eldorado. The man was sharply dressed in a charcoal gray pinstripe suit, holding a cigar and with a lot of gold on his fingers. The woman…well, I would know that face anywhere, now. It was the lady that I had seen at Allesandro’s in a blue dress, here wearing a gray dress with shoulder pads, a black hat and black gloves, holding onto the man’s arm, a string of pearls around her neck. “Damn!” I breathed. “Who is she?”

“That picture was taken at the Metropolitan Opera House on Broadway last fall, opening night for La Bohème. The gentleman is Antonio Tomatino, better known to the public as “Tony Tomatoes.” Sam grinned now, in anticipation of my reaction. “The lady on his arm…is his wife, Francesca.”

I was stunned. Tomatino was one of the major capos for the Balboni crime family, and ran all the rackets in the uptown district of Italian Harlem and vicinity. Numbers, bookmaking, extortion, prostitution…it was all under his purview. And the lady in blue was his wife? What was she doing following Julie, an NYPD cop? A more unlikely circumstance I could hardly imagine.

Sam chuckled. “I thought that would get your attention. While I was sending out mug shots of the perps to other cities, I also sent out the sketch of your lady to the other precincts to see if she was known to any of them. I figured her for a local, and I was right. This came back from the 23rd about an hour ago.”

He took the picture back from me and slipped it back inside the folder. “Looks like you were dead on when you said there might be a mob connection to all this.”

The Lady in Blue
continues with Part 7
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Postcroiduire on Tue Mar 07, 2017 7:25 am

happypopcorn happypopcorn happypopcorn happypopcorn



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PostSamantha61 on Tue Mar 07, 2017 4:28 pm

watermelon watermelon watermelon


Thank you so much Crissi, it's beautiful
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Postszanne7000 on Tue Mar 07, 2017 6:34 pm

watermelon happypopcorn breakfast :cookies:



Thank you, Crissi, for my beautiful signature <3
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PostEaster01 on Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:22 am




Part 7

I stood in the shadows of a doorway across the street from Allesandro’s Restaurant, blending into the darkness. I was dying for a smoke, but I wanted to remain invisible for the time being so the pack of Camels stayed in my pocket. From where I huddled in the doorway, I could see the front of the restaurant and down into the alley on the right-hand side, where the night before I had questioned Joey the waiter. This was a poor man’s stakeout. Since I didn’t own a car to provide a vantage point shielded from the worst of the weather, all I could do was to shiver and tough it out. At least the weather had warmed up slightly; it might dip down close to the freezing point tonight but, if the weather guys had it right, I did not expect it to go below. I had the collar of my trenchcoat pulled up high and the brim of my hat pulled low. I had taken my position in the doorway almost an hour ago, at nine-thirty, and it was now a little after ten. The last handful of late diners had just made their way out onto the street, and I watched Allesandro lock the door behind them.

The lights were still on inside as Allesandro’s employees went about their routine of shutting down the restaurant for the night, pulling the tablecloths and turning the chairs upside-down on the tables. This done, I could see one man running a carpet sweeper back and forth. Out of sight in the back, presumably the kitchen workers were washing up the cookware and the last of the dishes, and doing whatever other tasks might be needed to be ready for business tomorrow. An hour passed, but at last the house lights were darkened, all but one that was left to dimly light the interior, and the alley door opened and the restaurant workers came straggling out by ones and twos, lighting up cigarettes and chatting animatedly among themselves as they walked down 51st to the subway stations along 8th Avenue. After waiting another fifteen minutes without seeing anyone else exit, I finally lit up a butt and crossed the street to the alleyway. I stood by the door for a moment to finish my smoke, and dropped it to the ground.

The alley door opened immediately when I rapped lightly on it with my knuckles, and Allesandro let me in. There was no welcoming smile or word of greeting this time; his manner was quite serious and he led me silently back to the kitchen. The room had also been dimmed for the night, light from a single bulb reflecting from the scrubbed and polished stainless steel workspaces, gloomy shadows in the corners. Along the back wall of the kitchen was the door to a walk-in freezer, painted in white enamel with a chrome handle, and another door that presumably led back to a storage area. This was, I noted in passing, a swinging steel door, scuffed and scarred at the bottom by the countless kicks it had received from kitchen workers passing through with their arms full. There was a glass window, about eighteen inches square, set at eye level to assure that the door would not be slammed into someone standing on the other side, but it was dark on the inside.

He walked into the center of the room, stopped in front of a Formica-topped table, and turned around to face me. As he had this morning, again he studied me carefully, as if he could read what was in my mind by examining my face. Apparently satisfied with what he saw there, he nodded slightly, one time. As if this was a signal, the storage room door now opened and I tensed as a figure stepped out of the shadows into the light of the kitchen, but my jaw dropped in astonishment as I saw who it was. It was the lady in the blue dress! But she was not wearing the expensive blue dress now, but a simple cotton dress, and she looked apprehensive, ready to bolt at any moment if someone made a wrong move.

She walked out into the kitchen and stood beside Allesandro. “Mr. Nash?” she said, and I nodded, unable to take my eyes off her. Even in a cheap dress, she was still a striking woman, with that raven-black hair and ivory complexion. Now that I was face to face with her for the first time, I could see that she had brilliant green eyes. Despite her outward calm, I could tell that she was nervous.

“Francesca Tomatino, I presume?” I said, still marveling that somehow, for all the searching I had done, she had just walked up to me and said hello. “I’ve been looking for you.”

“I know.” She gave me the same minute inspection as Allesandro had, looking deep into my eyes, apparently trying to peer into my soul. After a moment, she reached out a tentative hand and touched me gently on the cheek. “Allesandro says you are a good man, that I can trust you.” She pulled her hand back slowly and clutched the front of her blouse. “Can I trust you, Mr. Nash?” I saw in her eyes that she had reached a decision. “Allesandro, amico mio, will you please allow Mr. Nash and me some privacy?” The restaurateur nodded and went through the door into the dining area, and once he had left, Francesca pulled out one of the chairs at the Formica table and sat down, and gestured for me to do the same. I shrugged out of my coat and draped it over one of the chairs, took off my hat and placed it in the chair beneath the coat, and sat. What else could I do?

She laid her handbag, brown leather with a gold latch, flat on the table facing her, and folded her hands on the tabletop. “There is something I want to show you,” she said in a flat voice. “I wanted to show it to the lady detective, Miss Devereux. I tried to find a way to approach her, but when I saw you with her in the restaurant, I was frightened and ran away.”

“But you followed us to her apartment and got on the elevator with us. What changed your mind?” I asked, genuinely puzzled.

“I panicked, but when I was outside the restaurant and thought about it, I knew you must be another police officer. I got into a cab and made the driver wait, and when you and Miss Devereux came out and got into another, I told the driver, follow that cab!” She spread her hands, palm up, in an apologetic gesture, and said, “Isn’t that what they do in the movies?”

“Yeah, they do that,” I said in my most reassuring voice, encouraging her to continue.

“I tried to stay with you, but you went to the Garden. I knew I would never be able to find her again in the crowds, so I went back to Times Square and just wandered around. The game was being broadcast on television and the radio, and playing in all the stores, so when I saw the game was about over, I went to her apartment building to wait. I thought that if I came up the elevator with you I could speak privately, and show her what I had. But then those men got on…they were going to take me back to my husband, and I panicked again, and then the lady detective was shot and you were on the floor and I thought you were killed and so I hit the elevator button to close the doors and ran away again….” With this last, her eyes were tightly closed and it all came out in a rush as her self-control threatened to disintegrate.

“Hey, Francesca.…stop” I put my hands on top of hers to calm her down. “Take a deep breath. I’m here, I’m listening. What did you want to show Detective Devereux?”

She nodded and breathed in and out deeply, and when she opened her eyes again her self-possession had been restored. She unlatched her handbag and opened it up, pulling out an object wrapped up in a pale yellow hand towel. She pushed the handbag aside and set the bundle on the table between us and began to unwrap it. From the general shape and the way she had handled it, I thought I had a pretty good idea what she was about to reveal, and I was not disappointed when she pulled the last of the cloth away to display a .357 Smith and Wesson Model 19 revolver, one of the favorite guns for mobsters since its debut in 1935.

Francesca extended her hand and pushed against the towel with a finger, sliding the S&W toward me, careful not to touch any part of the weapon, looking down at it with an expression of distaste. “I know about fingerprints,” she said. “This is the gun that my husband used to murder my nephew. I was there. I saw him do it.”

I left the revolver lying between us. “Tell me what happened.”

The Lady in Blue
continues with Part 8
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Last edited by Easter01 on Mon Mar 27, 2017 11:01 am; edited 3 times in total




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Postcroiduire on Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:33 am

*gulp*



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PostSamantha61 on Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:55 am

Joanne is good isn't she Croi lol. watermelon watermelon feeldaluv


Thank you so much Crissi, it's beautiful
~hugs and smiles my dear, dear BFF's~
I am so proud of all of you..
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Postcroiduire on Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:59 am

Very good and, if this is work that is being uploaded chronologically, getting steadily better. I love this latest story!



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PostSamantha61 on Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:24 pm

Yes she is doing this chronologically..she had them all over the place last time..and short/saga's all together lol..much better this way..


Thank you so much Crissi, it's beautiful
~hugs and smiles my dear, dear BFF's~
I am so proud of all of you..
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PostEaster01 on Thu Mar 09, 2017 1:53 pm




Part 8

She sat silently for a little while, gathering her thoughts. “It was the fifth day of March, a Saturday. I can remember because Antonio took me to the movies that night, it was a gangster film. He liked to watch gangster movies, he thought they were funny. It was New York Confidential, with Broderick Crawford and Marilyn Maxwell…I’m sorry, none of that matters. Do you have a cigarette, Mr. Nash?”

“Please, just call me Conner.” I reached into my pocket and pulled out my pack of Camels. “They’re nonfilter, does that matter?” She shook her head so I tapped out a couple, lit one and handed it to her and fired up one for myself. She took it with a faint smile of gratitude, took a long drag, and sat back in her chair holding it daintily between the thumb and forefinger of her right hand. There was a glass ashtray at one end of the table and I hooked it with a finger and slid it closer.

“You went to the movies…? I prompted.

“Yesss…we came home afterward and I went upstairs to change into something more comfortable, Antonio went into his study. While I was changing, I heard the doorbell. Instead of putting on a nightgown, I put on a dress and went back downstairs. The study door was open, a little bit, and as I walked toward it I could see inside…my nephew Angelo was standing in front of his desk, my husband was behind it, they were arguing about something.” She was starting to become agitated again, staring down at the revolver, her left hand clenched into a fist on the tabletop, so again I reached out to lay a hand on hers to calm her down.

“What were they arguing about?” I asked. “Could you hear what they were saying?”

“No, no, I don’t know, but my husband began shouting, and Angelo shouted back at him. I stopped just outside the door, my hand on the doorframe, and then, and then my husband opened the top drawer and, mio Dio, took out that gun and shot him across the desk!” She was weeping openly now, tears running down her cheeks, her voice raw with emotion.

Softly I asked, “What did you do then?”

“I ran upstairs to my bedroom and locked the door!” She took another long drag off of her cigarette, and crushed it out in the ashtray. “I sat in a chair in the corner of the room and waited for my husband to come upstairs. I did not know what to do, I was terrified that he had seen me!”

“Did he come up? What did you do?”

“I waited in the room, maybe an hour? Maybe two? The house was all quiet. I went downstairs and there was nobody there. The study was empty, my nephew…his body…it was gone, and the little rug that had been in front of the desk, it was gone too. I went back upstairs and went to bed.”

“Did you think about calling the police?”

“No, how could I? Antonio was my husband, he was always good to me. I knew he did bad things, I read the papers, I hear what people say about him sometimes, but he never brought his business home!” Francesca shook her head violently. “And what could I say to the police if they came? There was no body!”

“I see.” I put out my smoke in the ashtray, and immediately lit another. “Well, you’re probably right. I’m thinking that your husband called in some of his men and they cleaned the place up before you came down, took the body away and disposed of it. So what did you do, the next day? How did your husband act?”

“He finally came home, I guess it was about midnight. I was in bed, the lights off, but I was still awake and I could hear when he came home and went up into his bedroom and closed the door.” She flushed, and said, in a low voice, “We haven’t slept together in years. We’ve got a daughter, but she’s away at college, at Wellesley in Boston….” I coughed, to cover my own embarrassment, and she continued, “Mr. Nash…Conner…I could use a drink, and another one of your cigarettes. Do you suppose Mr. DiMarco has any liquor about…do you suppose he would mind?”

I smiled at her. “Under the circumstances, I am sure he would not. It’s probably back in the storage area.”

“Yes, I saw wine racks while I was in there…but I would prefer something stronger, I think”

I went through the swinging door and, next to the wine racks, found some liquor boxes. I extracted a bottle of cognac, a 1946 Rémy Martin, came back out and rummaged around until I came up with a couple of water glasses; I had no idea where Allesandro kept the wine glasses so we would make do. I poured us each a shot and lit up a couple of cigarettes. We each took a drink, more or less simultaneously, and set our glasses down. Francesca smiled, a small, timid smile, and began speaking again.

“I did nothing for several days…I stayed in the house. Every day I would read the papers, to see if…” She stopped, and closed her eyes. When she began again, her voice was stronger, firmer. “To see if my nephew’s body had been found. I did not even know for sure that he was dead. I thought maybe he had only been wounded, that my husband had relented and found a doctor or taken him to the hospital…foolish, I know.” She paused again, and I made a small dismissive gesture.

“Thursday morning I opened the Times, and down at the bottom of the front page was a small item about a body that had been found in the Jersey Barrens. It was Angelo! The police had identified him by his fingerprints, and the paper speculated that it might be a “gangland” killing because of his connection with my husband. Oh, Mr. Nash, Angelo was my sister’s only child! He was only twenty-two years old!”

“I am so sorry…” I whispered.

“Antonio was out of the house when I saw this. I went to his study and opened his desk, and found the gun in the top drawer, the same gun he had used to kill Angelo.” Her eyes were hard now. “I knew what I had to do. My husband had murdered the boy, and he had to pay for it! I got a towel and took the gun and wrapped it up and put it in my purse, and then I called a cab and went downtown to the police station, the 18th. I was going to testify as to what I had seen.” She had been so caught up in her story that she had forgotten that she was holding a cigarette, and it had burned a long ash down to her fingers. Suddenly she felt the sting of the heat as it scorched her fingers, and she inadvertently dropped it on the tabletop with an exclamation. She picked up the butt and deposited it in the ashtray, brushed the ash pile to the edge and into her hand, and dusted it off in the ashtray as well. Seeing the glass of cognac in her other hand, she emptied it in a long drink and set the empty glass on the table.

“I had the driver park across from the station, and then I just sat there. I couldn’t bring myself to go inside, so I just sat there, and the driver kept asking me what I wanted to do, until I finally told him to be quiet!”

“Did you go inside?” I asked, knowing that she had not.

“No! I was a coward, after all! But then…I saw some officers come out of the front door, and there was a young woman with them, and I recognized her from the papers. It was that Officer Devereux…there had been such a fuss when she was hired, the first lady police detective, how marvelous I thought, her picture was in the paper. I wanted to speak to the police, but I thought…it might be easier if it was a woman. So when she got into the cab, I had my driver follow her. It was lucky, I suppose, that she did not use the subway that day. I don’t know I could have ever found her if she did.”

“So you followed her?”

“Yes. The cab dropped her off at Times Square, she was shopping, she went into several stores. I wanted to talk to her, to show her the gun, but there were too many people around and I was afraid someone would see me with her, someone who knew who my husband was.” She pushed the empty glass around on the table, making small circles. “I think she saw me anyway, I got too close and I saw her looking at me with a puzzled look on her face. I backed away into the crowd, but kept watching and followed her to her apartment when she left the Square. The cab was parked across the street, a little way down, and I was just about to get out and go check the mailboxes for her apartment number, and go up and see her, when she came out again. She had just stopped in long enough to change clothes. Then she went to the restaurant and met you there.”

“She did see you in a store at Times Square, and remembered when she saw you again in the restaurant. She mentioned it to me, that she thought you might be following her.”

“I thought so. You know the rest, I guess. I just wanted to show her the gun that killed Angelo, and offer to testify against my husband. I just had trouble finding enough courage to actually come up and speak to her.”

“How did you end up here, at Allesandro’s?” There was a noise out in the dining room, behind the closed door, but I didn’t think much of it because Allesandro was out there.

She smiled again, just a little smile. “I have known Mr. DiMarco for years, have eaten here many times. Sometimes Antonio would bring us here in the evening, but mostly I came with my lady friends for lunch. I thought he was a good man, a kind man who could be trusted not to betray me, so when I ran away Thursday night, after your friend was shot, I ended up here. I waited until the restaurant closed, and knocked on the door, and he let me in. I told him a little, and he let me stay in his basement while I tried to decide what to do.” Allesandro was a widower, I knew, and lived in the apartment over the restaurant.

At that very moment the door to the dining area crashed open, and Allesandro came staggering in, blood running down his face from a scalp wound, and collapsed on the floor. Three men followed him into the kitchen, and I leaped to my feet as I recognized the one leading the way. It was my old “friend” Frank Lucci, and he held a pry bar in one hand and an ugly Colt 1911 semiautomatic in the other, which, of course, he immediately pointed at me. “Don’t move, *&%$#” he rasped, and showed his teeth in a very unfriendly smile that promised imminent bodily harm if I so much as twitched. I froze in the act of reaching for my thirty-eight in its shoulder holster. I heard Francesca suck in her breath as the next two men came into the kitchen after Lucci. The second guy I did not recognize, had never seen before, but he was a very dangerous-looking hoodlum with emotionless blue eyes like glacial ice, a professional killer if I had ever seen one. He was holding a .22 caliber Colt Woodsman with a long barrel, and sure looked like he knew how to use it. He moved a short distance to the side, and also covered me with his pistol.

The Lady in Blue
continues with Part 9
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Last edited by Easter01 on Mon Mar 27, 2017 11:03 am; edited 2 times in total




Easter01's The Father Michael's Saga can be found: Here

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croiduire
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Postcroiduire on Thu Mar 09, 2017 4:34 pm

OK, popcorn is no longer sufficient, and there are no nail-biting emoties...
There should be!



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