It was a regular Spring day. The sun was out. The birds were chirping, and I was enjoying the third day of a domestic vacation. It was so nice to have a vacation after so many years of barely even having a weekend off. I was out back tending to my roses with my dog, Grover, when the phone rang. The phone’s ringer is so darn loud that people in Tibet heard it. Grace (my housekeeper and secretary) came running out of the house as if she had a jet engine attached to her bum and said “Inspector Greeley is on the phone!”
“I’m on vacation!”
“I told him that, but he insists that you come to the phone at once.”
Why on my vacation? Can’t he solve a crime by himself? Is it necessary to call me every time there is a crime committed?
“I’ll be right in.”
With that Grace went inside and I got off the grassy floor. Grover barked incessantly as it seemed I had mud on my bum. This day was beginning to look more and more dismal. Murphy’s law: If it can go wrong, it will, and my vacation was about to come to an end.
Inspector Lawrence Greeley summoned me to the house of Mr. and Mrs. George Burnside. I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to see , or smell. It wasn’t that it was a grizzly scene, but rather that it was an odd scene.
Mrs. Dora Burnside was lying on a velvet white couch in the living room face up, with her blue eyes staring straight up at the ceiling. Her face was white. No one heard anyone entering? There were no signs of a struggle. No marks on her body that could be seen to the naked eye. However her nails were blue. In fact on one hand they were bluer than the other. No liquids or pills to be consumed anywhere in sight. Inspector Greeley had called her doctor and told him to come over at once. He said there was known heart disease. As far as he could tell,no history of blood clots. Clutched in her left hand was the novel Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie. I didn’t bother to touch it. The original publication was in the 1930s, but this edition looked more recent. Something about the book was truly odd, though I couldn’t put my finger on it.
Inspector Greeley decided to sneak up behind me and scare me to high heaven.
“So Hamilton Fisk, how do you explain this one?”
I jumped so high that I could’ve punched a hole in the roof with my head.
“Larry, don’t sneak up behind me like that; and I would say wait for the coroner’s report. Other than that something seems rather odd about that book. Have forensics look it over first and then I want to look it over.”
Just then I looked at Mrs. Burnside’s fingernails again.
“I’d say she was poisoned.”
Greeley scratched his head. I assume he was confused because there wasn’t any evidence of how she was poisoned.
“Greeley, were the windows opened when you arrived?”
“Mr. Burnside had just started opening the windows when we arrived. I guess he needed to get some air in.”
” Where’s Mr. Burnside?”
“He’s the porch with someone keeping an eye on him. He was overcome by fumes.”
I briskly walked through the front door onto the large front porch. Sitting in a white wicker chair in the corner was Mr. Burnside who looked completely confused.
“I’m very sorry for your loss Mr. Burnside.”
“Thank you…Pardon me, but who are you?”
“Hamilton Fisk. I’m a private investigator.”
“Yes. I’ve heard of you, just never have seen a picture. What can I do for you Mr. Fisk?”
“In your words, what happened?”
“I was upstairs reading and the doorbell rang. I was feeling tired and lazy. So I asked Dora if she could please get it. I guess I felt a little guilty or whatever for being so lazy so I came down stairs, and Dora gave me a confused sort of look. ‘What is it?’ I asked. She replied with ‘Well someone came to the door and ran away it seems, but they left this book with this note that says Enjoy the book!’ I thought it was strange, but harmless. I went back upstairs. About an hour later I called down to Dora asking her if she wanted tea. That was around 3pm. Then I found her on the couch completely unresponsive.” With that he wept and a constable handed him a handkerchief.
So now we knew the front door had definitley been opened because Mrs. Burnside had to pick up the book. This case was getting stranger and stranger.
“I’m sorry but I am going to have to ask you a few more questions.”
“Was your wife depressed or anything?”
“What do you mean? You think she committed suicide? Never! She would never do that! She was a very lovable and lively woman, and recently very excited to meet our nephew’s newborn twins.”
I thanked Mr. Burnside and told him I would be in touch. This case was really strange, not your run-of-the-mill murder. It definitely was not a suicide, though I could not figure out how Dora Burnside was poisoned or with what she was poisoned.
I found Inspector Greeley talking to some of his men. He had a cheap cigar pursed between his lips. The smell was wretched. Cigar smoke and cheap cologne should never be mixed. I was beginning to feel nauseous. I motioned for the inspector to meet me outside.
“Well Fisk. What do you make of this?” he blew his smoke in my face.
“Probably cyanide or strychnine or possibly some other poison?”
“That’s the billion dollar question. Larry…,”I paused and took the cigar out of Greeley’s mouth and put it out under my shoe, “…her mouth wasn’t opened so the poison couldn’t have been put in by force that way. Plus there is no sign of poison around her mouth, only her fingernails. As far as we can see, there are no puncture marks.”
Leaving him with his mouth open, I began to walk my car.
I found Mr. Burnside once again.
“Mr. Burnside I am sorry to trouble you again. Did you hear anything out of the ordinary?” I thought I’d ask again. It couldn’t hurt.
“I’m afraid not. Since I came home from the war, my hearing hasn’t been great.”
“How was your wife’s sight?”
“She could see things far, but not too close without glasses. In fact, she was going for an eye exam next week because she thought her eyes were getting worse.”
I thanked Mr. Burnside and reiterated my condolences to him. With that, I got into my car and drove back home.
All the way home, I kept replaying various aspects of what I had seen. The title of the book, Death on the Nile, I was sure was significant, but hadn’t figured out how or why.
Once I got back to my dwelling, I was exhausted. Poor Grover needed a walk. Alas he and I took a walk around the block. His collie ways allowed him to sniff every fire hydrant and fence from London to Taiwan. Okay well not quite, but I digress. By the time I finally got to bed it was 2 in the morning, and naturally with a case at hand, I didn’t sleep well. Figuring the coroner’s and forensic reports wouldn’t be ready for a few days, I left a note for Grace to only wake me if there was an emergency and to let Grover out back to do his business.
A few days went by without a word from Inspector Greeley. I delighted in the silence, but knew it would be any day now when that raspy voice would call and beckon me to leave this peace and quiet. I think Grover knew it better than I did, as he sat by the phone in the living room during the morning hours. He kept looking at the phone. Then back at me. Phone. Me. Phone. Me.
“Grover,” I said as I turned a page in the morning newspaper, “Do not wish for the Inspector to call.”
He lay down and rolled over demanding a belly rub to which I obliged.
“Much, much better idea, Grover.”
Sometime around noon, Grace prepared a light yet delicious lunch: cheddar cheese, fancy crackers, and Earl Grey tea. I sat down at the kitchen table all ready to eat, and then the phone rang. Grover barked at the phone as if to say “I told you so!” I motioned for Grace to answer the phone. She, then, handed me the phone with the most pitiful look on her face; nose all wrinkled and her frown lines could’ve hit the floor. Her elderly dimples ceased to exist. I never saw such a sad face in all my life.
I put my hand over the receiver and whispered ,”Inspector Greeley?” She nodded and I cleared my throat.
“How can I help you Inspector?”
“We’re bringing in George Burnside for questioning.”
“I’ll be down in twenty minutes. Don’t start without me…What about the coroner and forensics?”
“Cyanide poisoning. What’s worse is no one knows how the cyanide entered the decedents body.”
“I want to examine that book myself!”
After the call was finished, I ate my lunch as quickly as I could without making myself sick, and made my way to the front door. Grover met me there.
“You knew the Inspector was going to call, didn’t you? “
I petted him on the head while Grace brought him a treat.
At the station, George Burnside recounted his steps again, and then asked, “What book was it?”
“Why?” questioned Greeley .
I calmly replied “Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie.”
Burnside turned white.
“I don’t feel so well,” Burnside stated, white taking in a large gulp of air and swallowing it.
Burnside started trembling and became short of breath. Greeley and I looked at each other in a state of confusion.
“W-Water, please,” he stuttered.
I got out of my chair and went into the hallway to fetch some water. When I returned, on top of everything else, Burnside, was drenched in sweat, and Inspector Greeley was at a loss for words. I gave the water to Burnside and Greeley motioned for me to meet him in the hallway.
“That was quite strange,” Greeley said.
“What should we do?”
“Continue questioning him.”
Greeley was surprised by my action. Perhaps he wanted me to tell him to let the man go and come back tomorrow. I pushed passed Greeley with force and sat down opposite Burnside.
“What’s wrong, Mr. Burnside?”
“Nothing, sir,” he smiled a nervous smile.
“Well, I mentioned a book and you went to pieces on me.”
“It’s hot and muggy.”
“Actually it’s quite cool outside. Sunny, but cool.”
“I meant in here.”
“No it’s cool in here too.”
“Is the heat on?”
“No. It’s Spring. The cooler air is preferred.”
My eyes narrowed. Inspector Greeley sat down. He was clearly intrigued by Burnside’s replies to my questions, as he had witnessed the same things I did. It was then that the inspector lit a cigarillo. An idea entered my mind as I opened my mouth to speak.
“Have you ever been to Egypt?”
“What has that to do with anything?” the inspector blurted out with a cloud of smoke.
Then we looked at Burnside who was once again trembling and sweating profusely.
“Answer the question,” Inspector Greeley stated inquisitively.
“Yes. A cruise down the Nile.”
“Oh? When was this?” I pretended not to be mildly surprised.
“1938. Around June, I think.”
“Name of the ship?”
“The Queen of Sheba.”
“What was the name of the travel agency you used?”
“Did Mrs. Burnside go with you?”
Mr. Burnside chuckled and then replied “Of course. Why would I go on a cruise by myself?”
I looked at Greeley and motioned for him to come closer.
“Where’s the book?” I whispered to Greeley.
“On my desk,” he replied
“I’ll need the book and a heavy duty pair of gloves,” I whispered and choked on the stench of the cigar.
“What are you up to, Fisk?” Inspector Greeley said out loud to which I motioned for him to be a little more sensitive to the case at hand and whispered for him to keep his mouth shut.
“Keep Burnside in a cell.” I whispered again.
“Because I think the cyanide was meant for him?”
“What makes you think that?”
“Why else would he react that way to a book?”
“Maybe he was nervous?”
“He wasn’t nervous until I mentioned the title of the book. Then he nearly passed out. What happened on that cruise? Let me look into this, and allow me to talk to Burnside whenever I need to. Of course I will keep you posted with whatever I find.”
Inspector Greeley hesitated. He took a puff on his cigar but agreed.
“What makes you sure he’s not the killer?” Greeley whispered and blew out a ring of smoke in my face. I winced, and once again took the blasted cigarillo out his mouth and put it out.
Then I replied “His story was consistent with what he told me on his front porch that day, and if he is the killer, which he’s not, he’s already in custody. My advice to you is to lose the paper work and NO press on this one.”
The Inspector blinked rapidly and stared at me in silence.
“Am I free to go?” Burnside muttered.
“Not quite,” Greeley said as he motion for the constable to take Burnside to lock up. Without any hesitation, he went with the constable. However, he did pause and look back at the inspector and myself. Something left me thinking that perhaps Burnside knows more than he is telling.
Greeley and I walked down the corridor to his desk. In the top bin lay the Agatha Christie book in a bag.
“Gloves?” I said and put out my hand.
Greeley rolled his eyes and brought me a thin pair of woolen gloves.”
“Heavy duty gloves please.”
He attempted to take away the woolen ones.
“No, no. I can put these on under those.”
“Where do I get heavy duty gloves?”
“I don’t know. Ask a construction worker, Larry”
“You’re really scared to touch that book?”
“You should be too.”
Greeley left the area and I sat at his desk, his abundantly unorganized desk. Papers everywhere. Empty coffee mugs with rings of coffee or tea on and in them. Obviously he’s never heard of water. Forbid he should wash one of them. There were pieces of tuna fish and who knows what other foods all over the place. They smelled too. I thought I was going to vomit!Chaos everywhere!
Somehow Greeley found a pair of work gloves. I happily stood up and went to the other side of the desk. I put on both sets of gloves. It was a tight fit but it was worth it.
I studied the book. First I flipped through the pages seeing if any stuck together. I smelled the pages gently by waving my hand over then and guiding the air to my nostrils. I didn’t want to pass out, but what if there was a bitter almond smell on the page ends, but I admit that would be a little odd even for me. No bitter almond smell. I then laid the book on the table, front cover up, and crouched down. Voila! There was a tiny bump in the “o” in the word “on.”I asked for a box cutter and a magnifying glass and both were handed to me rather quickly. By this time a large crowd had gathered round Greeley’s desk.
With the magnifying glass I was able to see a little metal point stick up through the “o.” I felt the back of the cover very carefully. The entire cover was rather thick, thicker than a book cover should be, or so I thought. At first pass, I felt nothing, but at second pass, applied with a a little more pressure I found a bump. I felt around a little bit and then took the box cutter and cut a hole in the back of the front cover. There was a hollowed out bit in the cover, complete with a tiny vial and an even tinier needle.
“Tell forensics to get one of those X-ray machines for next time,” I blabbered while I held up what I had found.
Greeley snarled. The crowd applauded and then it dispersed.
“This is how Mrs. Burnside died. She must’ve seen the bump and ‘investigated.’ Get this to forensics ASAP. Make sure it is cyanide. Tell the coroner to look for a very tiny pinhole on one of Mrs. Burnside’s fingers.”
The next day the coroner phoned me personally.
“I totally missed this, Fisk.”
“Well, in your defense, it is a very easy thing to miss.”
“Thanks. Anyway, the pin prick was on her right index finger.”
“She probably saw the bump in the “o” as the cover did not lay flat when closed, as you demonstrated at Greeley’s.”
With this part of the puzzle now complete, I now had to figure out why this was sent to Mr. Burnside, and what happened aboard the Queen of Sheba.
I gave Grace the task of finding the address and phone number for the Cadence Travel Agency in London. Mr. Burnside didn’t have the address. So now poor Grace is going to have to find it. I was sure Grace would have to spend the better part of Friday at the library looking at phonebooks or all day on the phone with the phone operator. Boy, was I wrong! Grace had read the morning paper and sure enough, Cadence Travel Agency had taken a quarter -page ad. Alas, I called the number.
“Hello?” a lady answered on the opposite end.
“Yes. My name is Hamilton Fisk. I am a private investigator working with the Metropolitan Police in trying to solve the homicide of a Mrs. Dora Burnside. I was wondering if you have information about the Queen of Sheba cruise line?”
“Yes, Mr. Fisk. We do.”
“Good, good. When did the ship commence sailing?”
“I believe 1936. Then of course they took time off for the war, and now we are back up to par again, sir.”
“Listen, talking on the phone is so impersonal, Miss…”
“Mrs. Adams. I was wondering if I could come down there and discuss this matter with you furthur.”
“How about today at 1pm?”
“That sounds great. Thank-you.”
I hung up the phone and looked up at the clock, and saw that I had three hours to go. It takes me about an hour to get into London. So I figured I had approximately an hour to take Grover to the park. I grabbed his leash and I heard him running down the hall, all happy.
“Yes, daddy, has time for his puppy.” I put my jacket on.I put the leash on and grabbed Grover’s favorite tennis ball and we were off. After about twenty minutes of playing I grew exhausted, as I had not slept well the night before. Grover looked a little tired as well. I took my jacket off and rolled it into a pillow and the two of us napped, me on the park bench, him on the ground my feet curled into a furry ball.When we woke it was almost 12pm, and I had to be in London by 1. Neither Grover nor myself has ever run that fast in our lives. We made it to the house. I opened the door. I put him inside, took off the leash, grabbed my keys, and then I was off! Grace ran out after me.
“The Inspector called!” she yelled down the driveway.
I put my head on my arm on the roof of the car.
“What did he want?” I whined.
“He wants you to come down to the station.”
“I guess I’d better call Mrs. Adams.”
“Already done. She’ll see you tomorrow morning at 10am.”
“Have I told you I love you?”
“Oh stop it sir!” she laughed.
When I arrived at the station, Greeley whisked me away by arm as if I was a criminal and he was going to lock me up.
“Fisk, I have a bone to pick with you.”
“What did I do?”
“This case makes no sense.”
“Larry, I didn’t say it did. Now what did I do?”
“He did it, you know?”
“I know a guilty man when I see one. He didn’t hear anything? How is that possible? There was broken glass! Why was he so ‘late’ in arriving when the door bell rang?”
I put my hand up as a sign for Greeley to stop talking but he went on and on and on. What if this? What if that?
“He lost his hearing during the war. The man is almost 60 years old . “
“Oh for Pete’s sake, Larry! That does make one bit of sense and you know it. Either way does it matter? You have him locked up here for safekeeping!”
“I have no reason to hold him.”
“I told you to lose the paper work. Lose the paperwork.”
We started walking down the corridor to talk to Burnside again.
“I have an appointment tomorrow with the Cadence Travel Agency.”
“Where are you going in the middle of a case?”
“How much cigar smoke have you inhaled today, Larry?”
“The Queen of Sheba…..Death on the Nile, any of this ring a bell to you, Larry?”
“Oh….yeah. You really think that has something to do with all this? That the book wasn’t a distraction of sorts?”
“It was a distraction of sorts, Larry. The book was meant for George Burnside, not Dora.”
Greeley opened the door and Burnside was sitting at the table with his hands folded. As soon as he saw me, he stood up and yelled, “Mr. Fisk I didn’t kill my wife! You’ve got to believe me!”
I changed the topic, as I couldn’t let him know that we thought someone was out to kill him. Greeley was about to open his mouth and I gave him “the look,” the “if you open your mouth I’m going to permanently shut it” look.
“Who else was on this cruise besides you and your wife?”
“Cruise? Oh yes, the Queen of Sheba. Just myself, my wife, and the Amoses.”
“What are their Christian names?”
“Alex and Julie”
“Do you have their last known address and phone number?”
“Of course, I do. They are our best friends.”
I passed him a pad of paper and told him to write down the address. I thanked him and stood up. I looked at Greeley and gave him “the look” again.
I walked down the corridor. Why did he say ‘Cruise?’ like that? Did he not remember what he told us the day before? Perhaps he’s not as old as he pretends to be. What if Greeley is right? But that means absolutely nothing in this case makes sense. I made my way to Greeley’s desk and asked someone to bring me a map of Lewisham, where the Amoses lived.
“What are you doing?” Greeley said as he walked in and saw me sitting in his chair.
“Looking for the best route to get to the Amoses. Are you coming?”
“I guess I’d better, ay?”
We hopped into Greeley’s sports car and made our way to Lewisham and the Amoses. How he could afford a car like this, I have no idea. Perhaps Mrs. Greeley helped a little. A small, white two seater. It wasn’t perfect for doing policework, especially if a chase should’ve broken out, but it got us to the Amoses in decent time. He sped. He sped down the back roads. He kept looking at me as if to say “We’re cops. We can’t arrest us.” I knew better, but didn’t say anything. Of course he’s speeding and my face is almost as flat as a frying pan because of all the gravity hitting it. I don’t like going that fast. I am glad I didn’t eat before we left the station.
We rang the doorbell. Mrs. Amos answered the door and we identified ourselves. We were invited in. Greeley left me to do the talking; probably a smart idea since once again his mouth was stuffed with a cigarillo.
“Dora was murdered?” Mrs. Julie Amos said as her eyes swelled with tears.
“How can we help?” Mr. Amos asked.
“When was the last time you heard from either Mr. or Mrs. Burnside?”
“It’s been a good two years.”
“Why so long?”
“George and I had a falling out,” Mr. Amos stated.
“What was that about?”
“I wouldn’t loan him money for a boat ticket. I just didn’t have the money.”
“Boat ticket? To where?”
“Somewhere in the United States.”
“Did he say why he wanted to go to the United States?”
“Vacation he said, but I had a feeling there was something more to it.”
“Just the way he said it.”
“Did you ever go on a cruise with them around June 1938?”
Mr. Amos laughed.
“Not unless he payed for it. I was a clerk in a law office.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, why?” Mrs. Amos asked.
“Because he claims in June 1938 all of you went on a cruise down the Nile on the Queen of Sheba.”
“It wasn’t possible, Mr. Fisk, and I can’t picture Dora on a cruise down the Nile.” Mrs. Amos expressed.
“Why is that?”
“Other than a tub or a pool Dora didn’t like the water. She said that when she was a little girl she almost drowned in a lake when the rowboat her father and she were using turned over, and she didn’t know how to swim. I guess she could’ve overcome that fear.”
The next morning I made my way down to the Cadence Travel Agency. I had to park two blocks away. Granted it wasn’t a long walk, but I had yet another sleepless night, and my legs were tired of the thought of walking two blocks. Alas, I just walked really slow – almost slower than a snail.
I walked through the front door and flashed my identification to the receptionist.
“How may I help you?” she said in a light voice.
“Mrs. Adams, please.”
She checked to see if Mrs. Adams was there and then she led me to the second desk on the right.
“Mr. Fisk, I presume?” Mrs. Adams said.
“That would be correct.”
“And how may I help you?” she asked as she motioned for me to sit down.
“I would like to see the passenger list for the Queen of Sheba, June 1938, which is supposed to be a cruise that went down the Nile.”
Mrs. Adams used an intercom to page the receptionist, and on a piece of paper she wrote down all the information that she handed to the young lady.
While we were waiting, Mrs. Adams and I discussed where we were during the war. She was a nurse in Cornwall and I was with the homeguard in Southampton. Five years after the war ended and we were still telling stories as if the war happened yesterday, not one fact out of place. I guess the mind never forgets. However there are somethings that Mrs. Adams and I would like to forget-the bombs, the hate, the destruction, the sick, the maimed, the heartache, the death-Oh Lord! The Death! If you didn’t know at least one person who died either fighting or due to bombs…Again, I digress.
After an hour, I asked Mrs. Adams where the receptionist was. She motioned for me to follower her to the filing area where we found the receptionist on the floor with files sprawled out all around her. She looked rather confused.
“Joanne, what is going on here?” Mrs. Adams said in complete shock at the mess.
“Well, Mrs. Adams, for the Queen of Sheba I have June 1936, June 1937, but no June 1938. So I did some rummaging through other files. The next cruise is August 1938.”
“Are you sure?” I said with a confused look.
“Here. See for yourself.” Joanne said and then continued “Maybe he/she got the wrong year?”
“Well, let me see the passenger lists for June 1936 and 1937 and August 1938. Odd though? Didn’t they used to book cruises each year in the same month then?”
“Yes.” Mrs. Adams said firmly. She continued “That’s what makes this all strange.”
I perused the the passenger lists but there was no name of Burnside and just to make sure no name of Amos.
“Were there any political happenings to cancel the cruise in June that year?”
“Not that I am aware of, Mr. Fisk. Then again tensions are always high over there, so who knows.”
Mrs. Adams asked me to hang on a moment while she went to her desk and used the intercom to page the head of the company.
“Mr. Bright to file room, please. Mr. Bright to file room.” The call went out.
Mr. Bright was a portly fellow with a bald head so shiny that movie studios could use his head as a spotlight. Mrs. Adams made the introductions.
“How can I help you?” Mr. Bright said.
I opened my mouth to speak, but Mrs. Adams interjected, “Queen of Sheba cruise lines started in 1936 right?”
“June 1936, June 1937….August 1938?”
“No. That can’t be.”
“But that is what the files say.”
I handed Mr. Bright the passenger lists
“How odd? But we never changed schedules. I don’t understand this.” Mr. Bright looked more confused than Joanne, Mrs. Adams, and myself.
“Do you remember who booked the Queen of Sheba cruises then?” I asked calmly.
Mr. Bright fumbled through the papers and read out the name John McDermott on all three.
“Do you have McDermott’s number and address?”
“Even better, Mr. Fisk. John McDermott is in today. You can speak to him face to face.”
Joanne was told to clean up the mess of papers while me, Mrs. Adams, and Mr. Bright walked over to John McDermott’s desk, which looked a lot like Greeley’s desk. McDermott had red hair, slightly greying, thin build, wore wire framed glasses in silver, and when he looked up from he scrunched his nose and pushed up his glasses. If his glasses were pushed up any farther, he’d be reading with the back of his head. He also had one of those snotty attitudes, but I digress. Mrs. Adams introduced to the two of us and stated what I was doing there. If I ever have laryngitis, I may hire her.
“Ah, the Queen of Sheba! How can I help you, Mr. Fish?
“Fisk. Fish. What’s the difference?” he laughed, but I was not amused.
“Hamilton Fish was governor of New York. I am a private investigator. That’s the difference.”
“Did you book the Queen of Sheba cruises for June 1936, June 1937, and August 1938?”
“If my name is on it, then I booked it.”
“And the Queen of Sheba always had the same schedule year after year, correct? If the cruise ran in June 1937, there would’ve been a cruise in June 1938?”
“Well, yes, but in 1938 I remember getting a call from someone who identified himself as the head of Bright Star Lines, the line that runs the Queen of Sheba, saying to hold all bookings until August?”
“Why was that?”
“I assume repairs. I didn’t ask.”
“Do you remember his name?”
“Jerry….Jerry Glover!” he clapped his hands together
“You have a remarkable memory, Mr. McDermott. Do you have this Jerry Glover’s number and address?”
“No. I don’t”
“Bright Star Lines, right?”
I thanked everyone for their help and walked out the door of the Cadence Travel Agency more confused than I was when I went in.
When I left the Cadence Travel Agency, it was 2pm and I had about an hour’s drive back home. As I walked towards my car, I stopped into a phone booth and called Grace. I told her to let Grover out in the backyard and to see if she can find the number and address of Bright Star Lines and that of Jerry Glover.
The ride home was a pain in the neck. I hit so much traffic all because a bus broke down on the side of the road. While I felt bad for the passengers who were now stranded on the side of the road and getting home a lot later than expected (Thank Heavens it wasn’t Winter!), I wanted to get home before the next millennium approached.
Two hours stuck in traffic because every car had to look, but I made it home around 4ish. I slammed the door to the car, got the house keys out, and ran to the door. As I put my key in the front door, Grace opened it and Grover put his paws on my shoulders and licked my face until it turned red.
“Aw, I missed my boy too!” I scratched behind his ears. He hates when we are separated all day, and so do I. I’m not too manly to admit I love my dog!
When I finally got in the door and took off my coat, Grace motioned for me to come to the table in the kitchen. I sat down. In front of me was the number and address of Bright Star Lines, but nothing for Jerry Glover.
“Couldn’t find anything on Jerry Glover,” she stated while handing me a cup of tea. Then she handed me the phone before I even asked. I dialed the number for Bright Star Lines.
“Hello. Is there a Jerry Glover in?
“Who?” the female operator on the other end answered.
“Jerry Glover. G-L-O-V-E-R.”
“Nobody here by that name, sir. Would you like to speak to a supervisor?”
A deep male voice got on the other and said “Hello.” I introduced myself and then said, “..and I was wondering with whom am I speaking with?”
“Are you the head of Bright Star Lines?”
“Who is the head of Bright Star Lines now?”
“Was there ever a Jerry Glover who was head of Bright Star?”
“No sir. Mr. Merriweather has been the proprietor since 1936, when the company opened.”
“I see. With whom do I speak to about bookings on the Queen of Sheba.”
“You can ask me, sir.”
“Good, good. Might I come to see you in the morning so I can talk to you in person.”
“Sure, sir. Is 10am okay for you?”
“Yes. How do I get there?”
“…and I am the third office on the right.”
I drove for well over an hour to get to the headquarters of Bright Star Lines. The heavens opened up. I am still convinced that Noah’s Ark floated passed me. The rain was so heavy that all the cars came to a complete stand still. The poor sod in front of me had his windows opened, and they got stuck. Alas, being the gentleman I am, I got out of my car to try and help him I tried to get the passenger side window up while he tried to get the driver’s side window up. No luck. The mechanisms that wind the windows up and down were not going to budge. I told the man to put his hazards on and pull the car into the ditch on the side of the row-slowly, and I would take him to the nearest Petrol station for help. He was very thankful.
I was already soaked to the bone and rather cold. I ran back to my car and put the heat on. Just then the rain let up and the man got into the car. He was youngish, maybe 35, short brown hair, medium height, thin, a van dyke beard, and boy did he look exhausted, soaked, and cold as well. He was wearing a grey suit, now a bathing suit.
Then the rain let up, and so did the traffic.
“Where is the nearest petrol station?” I asked.
“Next exit,”he paused “I hope they have a telephone.”
“In a rush?”
“I was supposed to meet with some P.I. In my office today.”
I looked at him. Then at the road. Him. Road.
“Wait a second,” I said with one eyebrow raised to the middle of my forehead. “I’m going out on limb here…”
The fellow looked at me sort of scared.
“…Do you work for Bright Star Lines?”
He laughed, “No. What made you think that?”
“Just that I am a P.I. who’s supposed to meet a man today, and I am late too.”
We both laughed as I pulled into the petrol station. I supposed that would’ve been too coincidental.
As I left the petrol station and turned back on to the highway, the sun came out. I turned the heat off.
I arrived in the parking lot of Bright Star Lines. Once I found parking I ran like a mad man into the building. I was already quite late.
Third door on the right. When I got to the office of Adam Foster the door was open.
“Mr. Foster?” I said.
I opened the door all the way and walked in. I looked around.
“Mr. Foster?” I said louder.
No answer. Nothing looks as if it was disturbed. Maybe he forgot.
A man came up behind me and scared me. He said ,with a folder in his hand, “May I help you?”
I introduced myself and then I said “I have an appointment with Mr. Adam Foster.”
“He didn’t come in today.”
“Oh? Why not?”
“He said he was sick.”
“Why didn’t he call me?”
“Look, buddy, I have no idea about anything.”
“And you are?”
“Mark Townsend. I’m the Captain of the Queen Elizabeth.”
“Do you know anything about the Queen of Sheba?”
“Not really, except that you are the second person to ask me today for Adam and about the Queen of Sheba.”
“Oh really? Who was this other person?”
“A military man.” he paused and thought for a second “Captain Jerry Glover or something like that.”
“What?” my eyebrows raised and nearly flew off my face.
“Are you hard of hearing, mac? Captain Jerry Glover.”
“Do you have Adam Foster’s name and address?”
“Yes, sir.” I handed him my small writing pad. He wrote every thing down
“Do you mind if I look around, Mr. Townsend?”
“Captain! And be my guest.”
I sat down at Foster’s desk and rummaged through his papers. Nothing. I opened his desk drawers. Nothing. I looked at pictures of his family on the book case. I felt the backs of the photos. I admit I have an overactive imagination, what were the chances there would be something there? I opened the file case and rummaged around. Nothing. Then the phone rang. I answered in a very low tone.
Whomever it was hung up.
I sat back in Foster’s chair for a second and thought really hard for fifteen minutes or so, and then I examined the phone. First I wrote down the phone number that was in the center of the rotary. Then I examined the receiver. The end one talks into was a little loose. I took the entire thing a part and found a bug. A bug! I have heard about these contraptions in novels but never thought I’d come across one. Now I knew I was on to something bigger than anything I could’ve imagined. I studied the spy device.
It was small, black, square, and with a tiny microphone. There were even tinier letters and numbers on the underside. “SXP9…” The last few numbers were filed off as there were tiny scratch marks. I guess they didn’t have time to file the whole thing off. I wonder if it’s still possible to find the country of origin, though that’s probably England. I wrote down the four digits also. Then I took Foster’s stapler and smashed the thing to bits. Then I threw the junk in the garbage.
That evening, I pulled in to my driveway and I was exhausted. I didn’t get out of my car. I sort of rolled out of it. I looked like a haggardly old man as I traipsed up the walkway to the front door. I actually rang the door bell instead of bothering to take out my keys.
“Oh, Mr. Fisk! You look awful!” Grace exclaimed while putting one arm around me and guiding me to the living room to sit. Grove looked worried as well.
“I’m so exhausted!”
” Why don’t you eat a little something, take a hot shower and then go to bed?”
That was an offer even I could not refuse.
I was up around 9 the next morning, feeling some what refreshed, but not really wanting to work on this case anymore. Unfortunately I was in it up to my neck. I called Greeley to tell him what I found out.
“Jerry Glover doesn’t work for Bright Star?” he said sounding rather shocked at this notion.
“Right. Apparently he’s military.”
“Oh boy. Military?”
“And Foster? We don’t k now what’s happening with him?”
“I’m going to check that out today.”
“Fisk, be careful. Military. This cannot be good.”
The conversation ended and I dialed Foster’s place. There was no answer. I called the phone company and told them I wanted a list of incoming calls to Foster’s work place phone. After, I tried Foster’s place again. No answer. I called my buddy in intelligence.
“Mac, can I get a trace on a partial serial number for a bug?”
“Yes, a spying device?”
“Oh that kind of bug! I don’t know where my head is today, Fisk…Yes it’s possible.”
I read of the numbers I had and repeated that the rest of the numbers were filed off.
“The most I can get you with the first four digits is the country of origin….do you have the device?”
“Country of origin is a good start, I think. I don’t have the device.”
“What did you do with it?”
“I smashed it.”
“Were there any other markings on it, Fisk?”
“I’ll let you know if I find anything.”
That conversation ended and I dialed Adam Foster again. No answer. I grabbed my keys and drove to Foster’s house.
When I got there, everything on the outside seemed fine. I rang the door bell. A man answered.
“I’m Hamilton Fisk.”
He tried to close the door on my arm, but that didn’t work. He ran screaming through his house that they were going to kill him.
He made a dash for the back door where I accosted him.
“Calm down, man!” I helped him to sit on the floor.
“These men came to my work and said I should stay home, not call you, and not answer any incoming calls.”
“But they didn’t tell you not to answer the door?”
“You didn’t find that strange?”
“Whatever. Now they are going to kill me!”
“What do these men look like?”
“Why should they want to harm you?”
“Because I spoke to you.”
“But you didn’t tell me anything. All I asked about was the Queen of Sheba.”
A light bulb went off in my head brighter than the bulb at the Alexandria Lighthouse. The phone at Bright Star was bugged before Foster and I spoke. He is in charge of bookings for the Queen of Sheba. He’d have to check all the files.
“You’re phone was bugged, Mr. Foster.”
“Yes. Mind if I check your phone?”
He got up and watched me check the kitchen phone. I dismantled the receiver and then told Foster to be quiet. I took as much of the serial number down. Once again part of the number had been filed off. Then I smashed it. I called Greeley and told him to get some men to protect Foster. I told Foster not to leave the house.
I called my friend in intelligence again with the new digits.
They really couldn’t think Foster a liability could they? I mean he told me nothing.
I got in my car and drove to the station again. I asked to speak to Mr. Burnside.
“Mr. Burnside, why are the military after you?”
“Me?” he didn’t seem shocked.
“I have no idea. I’ve done nothing. What makes you think they are after me?”
He was way too calm this time.
“Where were you during World War II or rather before World War II?” I studied his facial expressions. His face didn’t budge. His eyes stayed focused forward. He didn’t even open his mouth to speak.
“Answer.” Greeley said.
Burnside did not reply.
I held Greeley’s arm and whispered plainly “He knows more than he’s letting on.”
Greeley whispered back “I can see that now.”
I shouted “Mr. Burnside who is Jerry Glover?”
His eyes darted to me and then back to their original position.
“He’s the head of Bright Star Lines,” he said and then smiled. I think he knew that was the wrong answer.
Greeley and I looked at each other.
“What makes you think he’s the head of Bright Star Lines?” Greeley asked.
“Read it somewhere.” he smiled.
A constable came in and told me that Mac, my friend from intelligence was on the phone. He confirmed to me that the bugs were made in England. I went back to the conference room and motioned for Greeley to meet me in the hall.
“As I suspected. The bugs are made in England.”
“Well, Fisk what does this mean?”
“Well I am sure it’s the military.”
“What makes you think that?”
“Burnside knew that Jerry Glover wasn’t the head of Bright Star Lines. He thought I didn’t see that little smirk, but I did.”
“Should we let Burnside out and see whom he attracts?” he asked as he lit a cigarillo.
“Not yet.” I said while putting out that blasted thing.
“Hey, why’d do you keep putting out my light?”
“The scent is disgusting, Larry…Let me talk with my brother, Charles.”
“You have a brother? How come I didn’t know that?”
“You never asked.”
“What does this brother of yours do?”
“He’s an MP.”
That night I rang my brother Charles. At first we reminisced about being kids and all. Oh, the awful pranks he used to play on me! He’s four years older than I am and as a kid, thought it was funny to dip my hand in a warm pot of water and watch me urinate all over myself. He once flicked a pebble at my ear and it got stuck inside. I had to go to the hospital to have it removed. Once he sent a letter to my teacher telling him I thought he was attractive. I got detention for two weeks. The irony, of course, is that my brother is a homosexual. I had been married once before. She left me for a Brazilian bodybuilder who looked like Mamie Eisenhower on steroids. Alas, I digress…
I did manage to get my brother back. After I graduated college, a whole bunch of my friends and my brother went to a pub to celebrate. I made sure I didn’t get drunk, but I did make sure my brother did. He crashed at my flat. In the middle of the night, while he was out like a light, I got some clear packaging tape and taped his butt cheeks closed. He didn’t feel a thing. I don’t need to tell you what happened the next day.
Charles went into politics and I went into teaching literature at Cambridge. Then the war happened. As I stated earlier, I joined the home guard and wound up helping the police solve crimes. I guess I enjoyed it so much that I became a P.I.
I finally got to telling him about the case at hand. I’ve never called on my brother before that. I don’t like letting people know that I have a brother in government. It seems rather snobby. I don’t know, but now I need his help. I hope he doesn’t think of this as groveling.
“Queen of Sheba sounds very familiar, brother, and so does the name Jerry Glover, but the military isn’t my expertise, Ham.”
“Is there a way to look at military files?”
He laughed and replied , “I’m not a genie where you can ask me what you wish and poof there it is!”
“I know. I know.” My voice dropped.
“Ham, I didn’t say I couldn’t do anything.”
“I’m just as sneaky as you are brother. How long do I have?”
“I can’t put out a time limit. As you get information, if anything, call me and we’ll meet at a pub.”
“Charles, you said boat and the name sounded familiar?”
“Yes. I think something passed by my desk with those names. I probably just ignored it though, as it’s not my department.”
“Do you remember when?”
“Right before the war.”
My heart raced to my head. I became short of breath. I knew for certain that I was battling my own government, or rather whatever my government was then. Charles could be compromised.
“Charles, don’t do anything that is going to get you in trouble,” I stated as calmly as I could.
“I’ll be fine,” he reassured me.
“Okay, but keep your eyes peeled for anything suspicious and report it to myself of Lawrence Greeley.”
He laughed uncontrollably for about a minute or so.
“Ol’ Stinky is still working?”
I laughed as well. He calls Greeley “Ol’ Stinky” because of the cigars he smokes. The smell combines with his putrid cologne and the stench…oh the stench!
A few days later Charles phoned me and we met at a pub in London. He told me of something strange that had happened. Two men dressed as phone repairmen said that someone from his office at Parliament had called and complained of static on the line. His receptionist, Alice, thought he called, and he thought Alice called, but neither of them did. Had either one of them called the telephone company to repair anything, they would’ve told the other. Charles intercepted the conversation between Alice and these two men, and then a thought occurred to him. Perhaps, he should let them in. They had said they would only be there in a second or two, as all that was reported was static on the line. Now, to check for static on the line and repair it, was it necessary for the men to shut the door? Of course not, but Charles listened at the door. There didn’t seem to be much movement at all.
He waited for them to come out and asked to see their licences. They said they’d be right back, that they left their licences in the truck.
“Let me guess they never returned.” I said.
“You’ve got it. Even stranger there wasn’t a truck. It was a black car.”
Charles had followed the two men downstairs and watched them get into a black car and wrote their license plate numbers down, to which he handed me a paper.
“So I went back into the office and told Alice to hold off of my calls. Something told me to look at my phone. I dismantled the receiver, and there it was. A bug. Only four digits were visible and the others were filed off. I went out to check Alice’s phone. I did the same thing and there was another bug. I took down those digits too-only four. The rest were filed off.”
He handed me a sheet of paper.
“Now I’m in a bit of a pickle here. I swore Alice to secrecy, and I can’t tell any of my superiors what happened because I don’t know if it’s any of them who planted the bugs!”
“What did you do with the bugs?”
“I took the stapler and smashed them to bits and chucked them in the waste basket.”
I stood up as if I was ready to leave and said “I’m sorry to have gotten you involved. I will have Greeley trace the license plate number.”
“But brother, the story doesn’t end there, and besides I am now in this up to my hips.”
“Oh yes…I then got home, and went straight to the phone…and found another one there. Here are those digits…four the rest filed off.”
“Why only four digits, Ham? Why not file the whole number off?”
“I am not sure. I assume the last few digits would pinpoint the exact manufacturer and then we’d be able to trace the purchaser. With only the first four digits, as Mac told me, we can only guess the country of origin, which of course is England.”
We ended the evening with a pint and Charles asked me if I had any packaging tape.
As I left pub and was walking to my car I noticed two men following me. So I diverted my footsteps into the store across the street and when they followed me to the checkout area, I yelled loudly “Why are you following me?” That scared them. They ran. Unfortunately, they waited for me at my car. They must’ve followed me to the pub. That is the only way I can think of that they would know which car is mine. They jumped me. Thankfully, Charles was watching the entire time and had called the police when he saw them. The police took their sweet time getting there and wound up taking me to the hospital. My nose was bloodied. My lip was swollen. My left eye was black and swollen shut.
Charles could not intervene. However, he recognized the two men as the ones who came into the office. They were wearing different clothes now, but he recognized one by face. He had a red beard and blue eyes.
Then Grace came to the hospital and told me that she forgot to tell me yesterday two telephone repairmen had come to the house. She described them and Charles and I both said “That’s them!” They should’ve changed their clothes.
“Did they have a black car?” Charles asked.
“Someone please get Greeley here and tell him to get some men over to my house!” I screamed.
That is what Charles and Grace did. I had to stay overnight in case I was concussed.
A few hours later a constable with a manila envelope entered my hospital room.
“Hello, constable. How may I help you?”
” I have orders to give this to you, sir.” He held out the manila envelope and then continued “Then I am to wait here for a reply.”
“Well, what are you waiting for?”
“Sorry, sir.” He finally handed me the envelope.
I tore open the envelope and proceeded to read the nicely typed letter that Greeley had given the constable. It read as follows:
My handwriting has become atrocious and so I typed this letter. You
aren’t going to believe what we found -bugs. Two of them. One in
the phone in the kitchen and one in the phone in your bedroom. Grace
hasn’t figured out how they got past her to go into the bedroom to plant
a bug there, but I suppose it only takes a second if one’s back is turned.
The bugs have the most of the numbers filed off, but we bagged them
and are sending them in for fingerprinting, but I have a feeling these people have been really careful.
See you tomorrow afternoon.
A bit of fear ran through my veins after reading this note, even though I knew what they were going to find. The thought that someone invaded my private space irked me more so than being followed to my car and beaten to a pulp. Sadly, Greeley was right. The people responsible for this probably wore gloves or else my friend in intelligence would be able to find out more than just the fact that these things were made in England. I had nothing to report back. So I dismissed the constable.
Around 1am the nurse came in and gave me some sort of sedative. I guess she could see the gears turning in my mind, and perhaps a little fear in my face. I really didn’t want to go to sleep because I wanted to get to the bottom of this case, but I was quick to surrender to the power of the tranquilizer.
Grace was kind enough to pick me up from the hospital and drive me home. She opened the door and at first I was scared to go in the house. So was Grace. After all she was home when these men came in and planted the spying devices. We both just stood in the doorway and glanced in. It took us several minutes to get in the door, and then we stood there looking around as if we had been burgled and the burglars were still there. We were frozen stiff. Statues we were, except statues had more expression to their faces. Finally, I broke the ‘silence’ and took off my coat and put it in the hall closet. When Grace saw that I was well enough with the situation, she followed suit.
I realized Grover didn’t come to greet us at the door.
“The police locked him in the basement when they were here last night.”
“And you didn’t think to let him out after they were gone?”
“I fell asleep on the couch. I was tired.”
I ran as quickly as I could to the basement door and opened it wildly. The open door hit the wall with force, but didn’t leave any marks. Like a stampede of horses, Grover came running up the stairs and pushed me over on to the floor.
“I’m so sorry, boy! I didn’t know they were going to do that to you.”
He licked my face until he realized I was hurt and began to whimper at my wounds.
“Aw, Grover. I’m okay.” I hugged him so very tightly.
I slowly got up off the floor. I had a slight headache, but made my way into the living room and sat down on the couch. Grover followed me. Grace followed Grover with a treat.
“Do you want me to turn on the radio?” Grace asked.
“Would you like the newspaper?”
“Not right now, thank-you.”
Grace just sat there. She looked bored. Then she sighed as she picked up her knitting.
“Did you see their faces?” I asked, breaking the stiff silence.
“The ‘repairmen’,”I said, making hand quotes.
“One of them,” she replied.
This piqued my interest and I sat up straight.
“What did he look like?”
“Youngish. Red beard. Blue eyes. There was something strange about him.”
“And what was that?”
She thought for a second and then blurted out ,”He had a scar on his cheek.”
“Did either of them introduce themselves to you?”
“No….Did you see either of their faces in the parking lot the other day?”she asked.
“No. It was dark.”
Around noon Charles and Inspector Greeley paid me a visit.
“Any news boys?”
“None from this end,” Greeley stated while taking out a case of cigarillos from his jacket pocket. I eyed him…the evil eye of Hamilton Fisk. The bastard lit the cigarillo anyway! Charles laughed. He said later on that he was laughing because “Ol’ Stinky” came to mind. I walked over to Greeley and decided to put the fear of G-d into him.
“Put that bloody thing out!” I screamed. “I can’t stand the smell of cigar smoke! It makes me choke! I’ve put your damned cigars and cigarillos out several times and you keep lighting them! Do you want to die a premature death or something? Or do you just want to kill the rest of us with your stink? Now, please stop lighting those blasted things in my presence!”
Greeley just looked up at me in sheer and utter shock. The cigarillo just barely hanging from his lips. His mouth began to open and the cigarillo fell to the floor. My eyes grew wide because now there would be a burn on the carpet. He quickly picked it up and ran to the kitchen to put it out under the faucet of the kitchen sink.
He came back to the living room and sat down, and our discussion continued.
“Any news from you, brother?”
“A little bit. I had my secretary do some work for me…”
“You had her spy for you? Shame, shame!” I said sarcastically.
“Anyway, she found the names Jerry Glover and George Burnside in letters from the Royal Navy base in Alexandria, Egypt.”
“Interesting. Are they in the Navy?”
“They were in 1938.”
“Very interesting. What did the letter say?”
“Well it was only parts of two letters. They seemed to be ripped. The first part said something along the lines of ‘I regret to inform you that..’ and then there’s the tears…in the same exact place on both letters”
“Well done, Charles!”
“Why do you suppose the tears are in the same parts?” Greeley asked.
“Well obviously there is something the rest of the world is not to see…Charles do you think you can get a copy of what there is of that letter. Also do you have any friends in the Royal Navy?”
“I know what you are thinking brother. I do have several friends in the Navy, but there is no guarantee they could or would tell me anything.”
“True, but get on it anyway. Greeley…keep looking for that black car. I have a feeling it’s going to go after one of us again soon.”
The next morning I looked out my bedroom window, which faces the street and saw the black car sitting a few houses up. You would think they’d be smarter criminals. I mean they should’ve dumped that thing for a new one or a new stolen one. I am assuming that the car is stolen. If they purchased it for this job, that would be rather stupid, but alas no one says criminals are intelligent. I decided to have some fun with them, but first I called Greeley to let him in on what was happening. I also told him where I was going to go and to have a car or two waiting there.
Alas, I hopped in my car and headed out on the highway. I got off at an unknown exit, some place I’ve never been before. I turned into a petrol station and filled my car up. I casually gazed behind me and saw the black car there, but I pretended I didn’t see it. If they were smart the would’ve filled up the car as well, but I knew very well they couldn’t get out of the car for risking that they’d be seen. So, I headed back to the highway and drove for about an hour,and again got off at another unknown exit that left me somewhere in the country side. I followed a gorgeous country road right into the arms of Greeley’s men who made a beautiful road block with their cars. The black car stopped short and spun around, and now had a flat tire.
“Come out of the car with your hands in the air!” shouted Greeley.
Out from the black car came two bumbling idiots who had no idea what I was up to the entire time. One of them did have a red beard and blue eyes and now they were both being taken to jail to be questioned. I followed Greeley back to headquarters.
At headquarters Greeley, the two men, and myself sat in the conference area.
“So what are your names?” Greeley posed.
“Why did you bug my house?” I asked.
“Who are you working for?” Greeley asked.
Again, no response.
“Well if the two of you aren’t going to speak then I am going to have to put you in a holding cell,” stated Greeley.
I whispered to Greeley “Let’s try an experiment. Let’s put them in the same cell with Burnside and see what happens.”
Greeley called for a constable and put the two men in the clink with Burnside. When Burnside turned around, he saw the two men. His eyes grew wide and he began to shake. He recognized them, but tried to let on that he didn’t. However, it was his body language that told me he knew them. I told Greeley to keep a constable out here to listen to the conversations that were going to take place.
“You are a sneaky bastard.” Greeley said and I agreed.
When I got home that evening, Charles was sitting in the living room talking with Grace. I told them of the capture of the two men and asked if either or both of them would come down and do an identity parade. Both agreed they would come down in the morning.
Charles also had some more information about those letters. The letters were apparently sent from the Royal Navy to Jerry Glover and George Burnside, and were letters of dismissal. Charles’ friend said that both were discharged from the Navy due to illegal.
“And this was in Egypt?”
“Does your friend know what happened to them after their dismissals?:
“No, but he is going to see what he can find out about them and the Queen of Sheba and report back to me next week.”
Lots of men gambled in the military. It was a way to pass the time. However, it was best not to be caught by superiors who weren’t gamblers themselves.
The next day there was an identity parade and both Charles and Grace were able to pick out the man with the red beard and blue eyes. They were given a parade with the other man in the line up as well. Charles was able to pick him out by his teeth. Charles said that when one of them men spoke he noticed that the man had a tooth missing in the front bottom. Grace didn’t remember what the other man looked like. However, we were now sure we got the two who beat me up and planted all those bugs.
I found the constable who was outside the cell listening for and to possible conversations between the two men and Mr. Burnside. He said there was definitely some recognition, but nothing verbal was ever said.
I also had a lot of questions I wanted to ask Burnside. So Greeley arranged for the three of us to meet in the conference room.
“Mr. Burnside, you are not good at lying,” I said firmly.
“I take offense to that! How dare you come in here and start accusing me! I don’t even know why you have me locked up in here, let alone with two repairmen.”
“Well, Mr. Burnside you said you didn’t know Jerry Glover. You did. You said you went on a cruise on the Queen of Sheba and it wasn’t a cruise was it, but we have no idea what happened aboard that ship….wait…how did you know they were repairmen?
“They told me.”
“No, sir. They didn’t speak one word to you all night.” I lied a little to protect the constable “We have cameras in every cell.”
“No you don’t.”
“Oh yes we do. You can’t see them. They are small, made by the Americans. I ask you again how did you know they were repairmen?”
“You’re trying to trick me!”
“No, sir, I am not. Also, why didn’t you tell us you knew Jerry Glover since both of you were serving in the Navy in Egypt and were both dismissed for illegal gambling?”
“Who is Jerry Glover?”
“I’m asking you that.”
“I have no idea!”
“Well then I guess you would like to spend more time with those ‘repairmen.'”
I got up and rushed out of the office to call Charles.
“So he recognized the men?”
“Oh he most certainly did. He even knew them as repairmen. One thing I noticed was that he didn’t break a sweat or shake or anything this time around.”
Charles and I continued talking. I told him to call me as soon as he has any information.
Greeley found me at his desk just about to hang up the phone and couldn’t believe what he just witnessed.
“What are they hiding?” he asked.
“I’m afraid to find out how deep this goes.”
“Me too. Should I keep the constable there again tonight?”
“By all means. It can’t do us any harm.”
Around 3 in the morning the phone rang furiously and I answered it furiously.
“This better be a fucking emergency! I haven’t slept in three nights!” In all reality I was just exhausted.
“Wow! Is that any way to answer your phone Fisk?”
“Greeley! I am sorry, sir. What can I do for you?”
“You’d better get down here. Burnside hung himself.”
“Was there a letter?”
“The man was in a cell with two imbeciles with no pen and paper. The constable on duty said no words were ever exchanged between the three men. However, the constable did leave for a bathroom break and that’s when it happened.”
“I’ll be down in a few. I just have to get dressed.”
When I arrived they were just taking Burnside’s body down. I had a look around and saw how he threw the sheet up so it caught on to the nails or whatever that is up in the ceiling, stood on the chair and hung himself. The other men were apparently asleep and woken by the men rushing into the cell. I walked over to the two men who were now being held in another cell.
“Didn’t you even hear him move the chair?”
At the same time they both answered “No.”
“We both went to sleep early,” One-tooth said.
“Yeah we woke when we heard the men opening the cell door and saw him swinging there,” replied red-beard.
“Are you ready to talk at all?”
The men looked at each other and nodded.
“Firstly what are your names?”
Red- beard answered “David Simmons,” and one-tooth answered “John Richardson.”
In the conference room the conversation continued…
“We were hired by Jerry Glover to find George Burnside.”
“Are you private eyes?”
“Not exactly,” Simmons answered.
“Government spies or assassins?”
“Nope,” replied Richardson “We are just two regular joes who fell on hard times and in with a weird crowd of people, one of whom is Jerry Glover. Jerry said that we need to find this guy because he committed a crime against the government and that he would pay us 500 pounds each if we bought Burnside back to him alive.”
“What was the crime?”
“We weren’t told,” Simmons said “Jerry said it would be better if we didn’t know what the crime was. Anyway he set us up as phone repairmen. First house we stopped at was Burnside’s, but we were told not to just go up to the house.”
“Before I continue with this line of questioning, did Burnside notice you?”
Simmons leaned forward and replied “His eyes grew wide when he noticed my buddy here. I don’t think he recognized me.”
“Why would he recognize one but not both?”
“I ususally made sure I faced backwards when we were tailing people.” Simmons replied.
“So you tailed Burnside?”
Richardson smiled. “We had to. We had to find out where he lived. We followed him from the coffee shop around the corner.”
“How did you recognize him?”
“Glover’s description fit him to a tee. Plus, we yelled his name at the coffee shop around the corner from his house, and he turned around. That’s when he saw my face.” Richardson stated.
“And the book?”
Richards chimed in again “I was told to find a copy of Death on the Nile without being told why. Glover fashioned a new cover with the vial and needle.”
“We read in the paper then next day that Mrs. Burnside had been killed,and we wanted out, but Jerry blackmailed us into staying because we know who he is and we committed a crime for him.”
“That was Jerry all the way. We had nothing to do with that.” Simmons said.
“The bugs …that…were..everywhere including Foster’s place?”
“Ok we did bug his place and the others too, but we did not kill him.”Richardson spewed.
“What makes you think that it was Jerry then?”
“One night my mate here and I got fairly smashed and he all of a sudden Jerry started bragging about it. We pretended we were to drunk to understand. By-the-way it was us in the parking lot that day . I’d like to apologize.”Simmons outed.
“Thank-you, I think….where is Jerry Glover now?”
“Once you led us on that wild goose chase, which was clever by-the-way, and we wound up in here, we haven’t had contact with him.” Richardson said.
“Well how did he contact you?”
“By phone and he’d tell us where to go or where to meet him.”
I passed Richardson a piece of paper and he passed to Simmons who wrote down the number. I told the constable to lock them up again.
I found Greeley and explained all of what the two men admitted to me.
“Do you believe them?”
“Ironically, Larry I do.”
“They didn’t have to tell me anything, yet they went into a lot of detail and gave me Jerry Glover’s number, though I doubt he’s going to answer. In fact, I bet it’s been disconnected, and we know it’s unlisted from previous attempts to find the number.”
Greeley nodded his head in agreement. We went back to Greeley’s desk. I picked up the receiver and dialed the number Richardson and Simmons wrote down.
“Just as I expected. Disconnected. However, I am going to call the phone company and get records of people who called that number in the last month or so.”
“Good thinking, Fisk.”
I was surprised. Greeley complimenting me? It was a rare occurrence that anything positive flowed from the lips of Ol’ Stinky.
I woke up the next morning rather late. I guess I was more exhausted than I thought. Then again I had a cup of Grace’s chamomile tea and that relaxes me so much. I crept out of bed and pet Grover on the head. He was in his special doggie bed located by the heater. In the summer, it’s located by the fan, but at night it was still a little too cool for him to sleep by the fan, but I digress. On the back of my door was my red velvet robe with black satin trim that I had treated myself too after the divorce. I put that on while I yawned. I think I could’ve slept another eight hours, but I had to get on the horn to see if this eejit Glover would pick up.
I walked downstairs to the kitchen,opened the refrigerator, got a glass and poured myself a cup of sunshine (orange juice). That perked me up nicely. I found my jacket from yesterday hanging over the railing and rummaged through my pockets to find the number the ‘repairmen’ gave me. I walked back to the kitchen, sat down at the table, reached up for the phone and dialed the number. As I suspected the previous day the number was disconnected. Glover must know that his men are in jail.
I was going to go into the living room when I noticed that the morning post had arrived. There were a bunch of letters just tossed through the mail slot without a care, some of them appeared to be too large for the mail slot, but the mailman just pushed it through and now they have folded corners. I hope there weren’t any pictures or anything. I picked the mess up off the floor and began sorting through the large amount of bills and other junk when I came across a letter addressed to me but with no return address. The writing was handwritten but all capital block letters. I held the letter up to the light to see if I could see who it was from, but nothing looked familiar. Alas, I opened it. It said:
A FOOLISH MAN MAY BE KNOWN BY SIX THINGS:
ANGER WITHOUT CAUSE, SPEECH WITHOUT PROFIT,
CHANGE WITHOUT PROGRESS, INQUIRY WITHOUT
OBJECT, PUTTING TRUST IN A STRANGER, AND
MISTAKING FOES FOR FRIENDS.
No signature. I held the paper up to the light to see if I could see a watermark. I couldn’t see one.
I hopped in my car and went to the station. I found Greeley and showed him the letter. I went over to the newly acquired Xerox machine and made two copies. One for Greeley’s files and one for mine in case I lost the original.
I turned around and asked “Greeley, this sounds like a familiar quote, doesn’t it?”
“It does, but it doesn’t. I can’t explain.”
“I think I know what you mean. I think I’ve seen it in a book I once rented from the library…Any more from Richardson and Simmons?”
“No. I think they are going to say all they are going to say. I think that’s all they know too…let me know if you get anymore letters. Be careful.”
Later on in the evening, Charles stopped by without calling first. He rang the door bell and Grace answered the door and showed Charles in. Normally, I wouldn’t mind, but I was already in my pyjamas and all relaxed, and I knew that he was going to tell me something about the case, and then I’d be up all night thinking about that.
“I wasn’t aware I needed to make an appointment to see my brother,” he said sarcastically.
“It’s just that I am all relaxed now and I know you are going to tell me something about the case and that will make me think and I probably will get very little sleep.” I whined.
“Well, pardon me for the intrusion then, brother. I’ll just take my information and go elsewhere.”
I motioned for him to sit down and apologized for being so cranky.
“Due to more of my sneaky ways, I was able to get Glover’s last address and phonenumber.”
“One second,” I said as I went to get the folder I had prepared on the case. I stumbled through the papers and said ,”Is this the phonenumber?”
Charles compared papers. “No.”
It was only seven in the evening and I gave Charles full usage of my phone. He dialed the number that he had obtained.
I’m pretty sure the person on the other end said hello back but I was not listening on the other line, but I should’ve been. The man on the other end and my brother had a twenty minute chat. When he got off the phone my brother turned to me and said ,”Well, Jerry Glover has no idea what we are even talking about.”
“So that is Jerry Glover then?”
“Yes. And we are going to see him tomorrow around 10ish. Do you mind if I spend the night on the couch. We can take my car ifyou want.”
“Greeley should be there too, Charles.”
“I’ll leave that to you,” he chuckled “Ol’ Stinky is your department….can I stay?”
“Of course you can stay.”
I called Greeley and let him in on the situation. I also told him to come to my house and we can all take one car so it doesn’t look too strange to the neighbors.
A half hour earlier than expected, Greeley arrived at my front door all reeling to go. He looked like he pulled an all nighter and was strung out on caffeine.
“I’m ready to go!” he said while bouncing up and down.
Of course Charles and I had just woken up, and we didn’t have time to freshen up, and I hadn’t any time to get dressed. So the two of us looked like bums who spent the night in a rainstorm.
“You’re early.” I said kind of rudely.
“Well, I wanted to make sure I was on time.”
I showed Greeley in and told him to hold tight for a few minutes while the rest of us got up. We left the house on time and there wasn’t a lot of traffic on the roadways, but somehow just driving across London, we still managed to show up at Jerry Glover’s house at ten past ten.
I was the lucky fellow who got to ring the doorbell and I flashed my identification and introduced everyone. Greeley showed his identification too. Glover opened the door.
My first reaction was a thought “This is the guy who committed those murders?” He was a short nebbish of a man. He couldn’t have been much taller than Napoleon and he was about 50ish, with a grey mustache and curly gray hair. He was slightly hunched over and he said that was from the war….which is where I started my inquiry.
“You didn’t fight in the war though did you?”
“No. I was discharged before the war started.”
“What happened on the Nile?” I went right for the kill before even mentioning the Burnsides or Foster.
His eyes widened.
“N-n-nothing.” He stuttered.
“Something must’ve happened.”
“Well what do you know?”
Greeley interjected. “We know that Mrs. Dora Burnside is dead, poisoned by cyanide that was found in a needle in the book Death on the the Nile by Agatha Christie…”
Greeley continued ,”We know that Mr. George Burnside was the real target.We know that something happened aboard the Queen of Sheba in 1938 and it wasn’t a cruise. We know too that you and George Burnside were discharged from the Royal Navy while in Alexandria before the war, due to illegal gambling. We know that a one Adam Foster was killed because simply because he spoke to Mr. Fisk. We know that two men disguised as repairmen bugged lots of places and beat up Mr. Fisk in the parking lot of a public house. We also know that they say they worked for you. We also know that George Burnside hung himself.”
“He what? Repairmen? I am a landscape designer and have been since the war’s end. Why would I need repairmen?”
“To spy, why else?” Charles said sarcastically.
“You also gave a fake number to these men from which you called them from.” Greeley stated.
“I did no such thing! Someone must be impersonating me!”
“So you are denying any involvement in these murders and in spying on me, my brother, and various other people?” Charles questioned.
“Obviously!” Glover exlcaimed.
I thought that the three of us, the interrogators were going to burst through our skins in anger. We knew this guy was guilty. How can you deny this when every arrow points to you? Hemust’ve known we would’ve caught up with him eventually.
Greeley read him his rights and we hauled Jerry Glover back to the station. Hauled is the right word. Trying to get him to stand up to be handcuffed and then trying to get him to walk on his own to the car was a feat in itself. We had to push him out the front door and literally stuff him into the car, where he sat between myself and Greeley. It was quite a tight squeeze.
When we got him into the station we sat him in the conference room with a constable to watch over him while Charles and I said goodbye as he he had to go to a meeting. He told me to call him later with the details.
Greeley and I walked down the corridor with a sense of completion, a sense of ‘we really got this guy and it didn’t take forever to do it.’ At the time we didn’t realize it, but we couldn’t have been more wrong.
“Look I told you before. You’ve got the wrong guy. I’m a landscape designer.” Glover reiterated.
Greeley put up his hand for Glover to stop talking.
“Did you know George Burnside?”
“Yes, but I haven’t seen him in years.”
“Tell us about you and George Burnside.”
“We were in the Royal Navy together. Discharged together.”
“For illegal gambling,” I interjected.
“Yes, but we hung around Egypt for most of the war,” he stopped talking as if he had finished his testimony. I had to motion for him to go on.
He continued ,”Well you mentioned, the Queen of Sheba and the Nile. So, I will tell you that story.”
He hung his head and took a deep breath.
“After we were discharged we didn’t want to go home because we didn’t want our families to know we had been dishonorably discharged. So we hung around and became drifters in a foreign country. However, we ran out of what ever money we won gambling rather quickly. So we needed to make money. We tried getting jobs in various shops. No one would hire us…Well the Nazis were starting to land in Egypt even before the war to survey the land and hire some workers to be spies and stuff and this one Nazi, Herr Bergmann, happened to see George and I wandering around aimlessly and asked if we would like a job. Yes, he was in uniform and yes, we knew what he was, but to be honest, we didn’t care because we needed money. Even if we wanted to leave Egypt we needed money.”
“What did this job entail?”
“At first we didn’t know what the job was and then things became apparent. As I’m sure you know the Queen of Sheba is a cruise ship that runs passages down the Nile. Well, I was told to call Bright Star Lines and told them to hold all of their bookings.”
“How were you able to that?” I asked.
“I was a lieutenant in the Navy, but I magically upped my rank to Captain and when you are a captain in the Royal Navy no one messes with you.”
I nodded. “Continue.”
“After I did that George and I were to steal the cruise ship for the Nazis, and we did. It wasn’t hard at all. The captain of the Queen of Sheba left his boat unguarded in a harbor at Banha. No one on the dock. No one anywhere. And no one came looking for us when they realized what happened. I guess they figured I really was with the military and needed it for some clandestine operation. So we just hopped aboard and figured out the ship’s mechanisms ourselves and sailed to Asyut where we met Herr Bergmann who miraculously was waiting for us in port. He immediately started loading boxes onto the ship.”
“What was in the boxes?” Greeley asked.
“At first we had no idea. If we asked, Herr Bergmann would smack us with the backs of his leather gloves, and hard.”
“Well when did you find out what was being hauled?”
“About three months later, aboard the Queen of Sheba. We were starting to suspect the Nazis were smuggling people, drugs, chemicals, weapons or something else. We had a million possibilities going through our heads. Anyway, that one night we were sick of being hit by Herr Bergman and we opened a box…Coccaine. I mean tons of the stuff. We sealed the box it came in as best as we could. In Qena, we unloaded the cargo and sailed back to Asyut. En route to Asyut we got what I now consider to be a dumb idea. We could smuggle the coccaine ourselves, and we did. We would unload only half the cargo at Qena and save the rest for ourselves and other addicts who needed a fix. We made a killing, literally, but then Herr Bergmann found out and we were jailed in Qena, and guess what? It wasn’t an Egyptian prison. No. It was a secret Nazi prison. Amongst us were common thieves and murderers. We were the only two Brits in the camp.”
He stopped again, but I could see in his eyes that there was more to tell. After all I couldn’t see this as the reason why he would attempt to kill Burnside.
“What happened next?
“We were beaten by the Nazis so badly. I have scars on my back from where I was whipped. That’s why I walk this way-hurts less than standing up.” He lifted his shirt up to reveal a large scar from right to left on his back.
“It was just horrible! And the heat! And we were barely given food or water! Anyway we decided we were going to escape or die trying. We devised a plan in our cell the night before. We would save our spoons from dinner and use them as shovels since the cells had dirt floors. So for a weeks we dug a narrow hole under our cell wall to the outside. We covered the hole with our shirts and what they gave us for a mattress. So two months later and after numerous beatings we decided to give it try. George snuck through first. Then I did. We ran through the desert to the Nile and took a swim. We somehow swam from Qena to Luxor, where we rested for a while. The next day we started walking around looking for food and water, which we found. We also found a little inn and the man was very generous and let us stay there for free. I guess he saw the shape we were in. The day after that we heard gunfire and yelling in German and we ran like bats out of hell! And I was captured again and sent back to that secret prison until another Brit who had been captured and I were rescued by a snake.”
“Rescued by a snake?” Greeley snarled.
“Yes. An asp wiggled into our cell and we decided to cause a commotion. We screamed and then guard came and saw the asp. He turned. I picked up the asp by its tail and the thing bit the bastard in the neck! Then we ran and ran and some how ran into British troops and were saved.”
“What happened to Burnside?”
“That’s it?” Greeley said
“Pretty much, sir.”
“You didn’t threaten Burnside with revenge after the war?”
“Not at all!”
“Were you in touch with Burnside after the war?”
“No. I didn’t bother to look him up or anything. I didn’t know anything had happened to him until you just told me.”
I took the note out of my pocket.
“Did you write this?”
“No, but the saying is familiar, but I don’t know why.”
I was really confused and frustrated by all this contradiction. None of this made sense. As far as I can tell, Glover was telling the truth. He didn’t even flinch while telling us his story. I told him to write down everything he just told me and that Greeley and I would be back in a few minutes.
“What do you make of all of this?” Greeley said to me as we went into the hall.
“I’m not sure.”
“What should we do?
“I’d like to see Richardson and Simmons.”
He led me down to Richardson and Simmons who were sitting in their cell playing some silly game they invented to pass the time. The guard opened the cell door and I walked in. The two men looked at me.
“Gentleman would you do me a favor?”
“Depends on what it is, Mr. Fisk.” Simmons said.
“We want you to identify Jerry Glover for us in an identity parade.” I waved my hand for Greeley to get Glover ready.
“Oh wait…I don’t know Mr. Fisk.” Richardson said.
“He wouldn’t be able to see you. You just have to pick him out of a lineup.”
The men thought about it and then nodded in agreement that they would do it. After all it can’t hurt them now they are in jail for aiding and abetting someone who was impersonating Jerry Glover.
The identity parade happened about a half hour later. I accompanied the men as they were lead down a corridor into a room with a two way mirror. After each of the men looked over each of the suspects several times.
“He’s not here.” Simmons said
Greeley and I looked at each other.
“Are you sure?” Greeley said kind of surprised.
“Yeah. Jerry Glover is not any of these men.” Richardson concurred.
They were lead back to their cells.
Greeley and I went back to the conference room where Greeley told a constable to bring Glover.
“Sorry about that, Mr. Glover.”
“No, not a problem.”
“Question: Were you able to sell any of the contraband stolen from Herr Bergmann.”
He hung his head down low.
“Where did you hide the money you received?”
“I kept it in my pants. I flattened all the bills and folded them into two balls and put it in my pockets”
“How much did you make?”
“In pounds, I made about 50,000.”
“That’s a lot of money…Has anyone been following you lately?”
“Well, someone is impersonating you and committing murders.”
“I have no idea who it could be.”
“What happened to Herr Bergmann?”
“I have no idea. I hope he’s dead.”
“I really should arrest you for treason, but you had to get out of there somehow. I see both sides of the situtaion. I’m not sure what to do. ” I winked. “I’m just glad you told all. Keep yourself available.”
“Oh, Mr. Fisk. About that note.”
“That was the first thing Herr Bergmann said to us when we entered the prison.”
My eyebrows went up.
Now everything was making sense. I ran back to Richardson and Simmons. When I arrived at their cell I was out of breath. The two of them just looked at me strangely.
“Think carefully. Did Glover, or rather the man pretending to be Glover, have an accent.”
“No…wait…instead of calling us friends he called us ‘freends'”Richardson laughed.
“That didn’t send up a little red flag?” I said angrily.
“No. Why should it? We thought he was just being funny.”
They both looked so confused.
They simultaneously said “What?”
“I believe the man you were talking to was really named Herr Bergmann. He’s a Nazi!”
“Just because he’s German doesn’t mean he’s a Nazi.”
“No, but the real Jerry Glover was in that lineup and we spoke to him and Herr Bergmann is using his name!”
Greeley came in just as I said that.
“What?” Greeley murmured in shock?
“Yes. Herr Bergmann s the man we are looking for! Now the two of you think and think hard. Where would he be?”
“Well,we usually met him at the Waldorf Hilton in the lobby.”
“What does he look like?”
“Brown hair, blue eyes. Athletic build. Deep voice. Usually wore denim pants and walked very stiffly.”
I had called Charles when I got home and filled him in on the juicy tidbits of the day. Then I told him that Greeley and I were going down to the Waldorf Hilton in the morning, and that if he wanted to join us, he had to be at my house by 9 am , not earlier, and certainly not later.
We arrived at the Waldorf Hilton and Charles and I sat in the lobby while Greeley placed men at strategic points around the building. There was no way this man was escaping. This whole time this bastard was trying to get to Jerry Glover. He knew first hand that Jerry was the one who called Bright Star lines and told them to hold all their bookings because the Royal Navy needed to commandeer the boat. He knew George Burnside was also on the ship and might know where Jerry is, only Dora Burnside was the recepient of the book with the poison in it. He knew Adam Foster would find out that he is NOT the really Jerry Glover because a) of his accent and b) because Adam was speaking to me and was sure to put two and two together. Remember, he bugged everyone’s phones until we found and smashed the bloody devices. He told Richardson and Simmons to follow me at all costs. He probably didn’t tell them to beat me to a bloody pulp, but I guess they figured they should indulge. If we hadn’t gotten them though, we would never have had a lead to the real Jerry Glover.
I wonder if Herr Bergmann realized that I have his cohorts in jail. I wonder if he realized that no one has reported back to him in the last few days. I wonder if he knows what I look like. If he does he’s going to run as soon as he sees me.
Around noon, the three of us got hungry and decided to have a bite to eat in the hotel restaurant. The restaurant was rather expensive. Neither Greeley nor I were amused, but when one hasn’t a choice…
In the middle of lunch, I looked up and straight ahead of me was Herr Bergmann. He saw me, but he didn’t recognize me or anyone at the table. That’s the a good thing. I tapped my brother and Greeley on their arms and whispered to them “There he is.” You could sort of tell that he was in the military. As Glover had told us previously, this man walked quite stiffly. I don’t think he even blinked between walking from the entrance of the restaurant to the point he sat down. Luckily for me, he sat with his back to me.
I excused myself from the table while Charles and Greeley watched. I crept up behind Herr Bergmann and bent down to his ear and whispered “Heil Hitler,” to which he turned around quickly and pulled a gun. Everyone in the restaurant shouted and either ran or hid under their tables. Charles and Greeley came forward.
“Drop it Bergmann,” Greeley said.
“I’m not Bergmann. I’m Jerry Glover.”
“And I’m the Pope.” Charles said.
“I’ve met the real Jerry Glover. And you are not him!” I expressed.
“He must be impersonating me.”
“More like you are impersonating him.”
“Bergmann the place is surrounded. You might as well give me the gun.”
“And who are you?”
Greeley flashed his ID.
Begmann said to Charles ,”And you are?”
So, Charles told him.
“And you?” he said to me.
Bergmann grabbed me and put the gun to my head.
“Do you think this is really wise?” I questioned. “The entire building is surrounded. If you shoot the gun everyone who is outside will be inside and you will either be dead or captured.”
“Correction. You’ll be dead,”he said “You meddled enough in my affaris.”
“Did you think I would let you kill more innocent people?”
“Innocent? You call theft innocent?”
“No. I call Dora Burnside and Adam Foster innocent.”
“Yes. George didn’t get your message, and after awhile hung himself because he couldn’t take anymore. How about letting me go?”
At this point there was a struggle between myself and Bergman and a shot was released in the air. I was eventually able to knock the gun out of Bergmann’s hand and Charles picked it up and handed it to Greeley who kepted it pointed at Bergmann. Charles wasn’t a fan of firearms. I held Bergmann’s hand behind his back and asked Greeley to throw over his handcuffs. I cuffed the bastard and Greeley read him his rights. The four of us exited to the parking lot and I helped stuff Bergmann into the back of a patrol car.
Before we questioned him in the conference room at the station, we had Richardson and Simmons peak through the conference room door very quietly. Both agreed that was the man they knew as “Jerry Glover.” I told the constable to take the men back to lockup. I pushed open the door.
“Well what am I charged with?” Bergmann had the gall to ask.
“You have got to be kidding!” Greeley yelled and began to take out a cigarilo. He looked at me first to make sure it was all right. I nodded and let him smoke this time. He held the thing in his other hand. “Firstly, criminal posession of weapon, attempted murder of Mr. Fisk,here, impersonating someone, hiring people to commit crimes for you,several murders, using the British military to smuggle illegal drugs,spying, and my guess war crimes and other things, but that’s the gist of things as they stand.”
“You have no proof.”
” The other day we had a lineup with the real Jerry Glover. They couldn’t identify him. Well while you were sitting in here alone, you were positively identified by your two cohorts as Jerry Glover.”
“The two you hired to plant bugs, and to follow me.” I said.
“I did no such thing.”
“Also when I mentioned Dora Burnside you seemed shocked because it wasn’t George who was killed, though he wound up hanging himself later.”
“He killed himself?”
“There was also recognition between he and your ‘repairmen'”
Bergmann gave me half a smile.
“You think this is amusing?!” Greeley yelled and blew a puff of smoke over his shoulder.
“Yes, quite.” was the reply from Bergmann.
“What was this theft you were talking about?” I asked.
“Do you really want to know?”
“I asked, didn’t I?”
“Before the war, someone stole a shitload of money from me.”
“By smuggling drugs”
“Drugs stolen from me! And they made a lot of money doing it.”
“When did you realize that Glover had stolen that much?”
“When the full order didn’t come in and I had my superior breathing down my neck accusing me of stealing.”
“How much did Glover steal?”
“Half a million pounds or so, I think. I don’t know how to convert deutchmark to pounds.”
“That amount would be right.” I smiled because he just basically admitted he knew who Glover was and that he was impersonating Glover. I threw Glover’s name in there to see if he would notice. He didn’t, not right away anyway. Greeley and I looked at each other as if to say “Is this guy for real?” and then I think that’s when it hit him.
“Very clever.” he said “Since the cat is out of the bag. I vowed to hunt the two of them down and kill them. I wanted it to look like Jerry Glover killed George Burnside for leaving him in Egypt. So I impersonated Jerry Glover . I left the book for Mr. Burnside. I didn’t know she was the one who died until you told me at the hotel restaurant.”
“I thought that was a look of acknowledgement.”
“The two men I hired I told to bug every place we could think of. “
“Including my house.”
“Yes. I wanted to know how much you knew, but I guess they malfunctioned or something.”
“Or something. We found all your bugs–at Foster’s, at Charles’ office, and at my house. All but two were smashed into bits. Clever bit filing off some of the numbers.”
“Yes. I thought it was rather ingenius. They were English made and I had them stolen.”
“Because he was told not to speak to you. And he did. My men saw you go into his house. We knew he was going to talk. So I ordered for him to be killed.”
“I can’t believe I am hearing all of this.” Greeley said.
“You didn’t know who I was until recently?”
“Nope. Not until we met the real Jerry Glover. And not until your men idenfitied you as the man they knew as Glover.”
He repeated word for word “A foolish man may be known by six things: Anger without cause, speech without profit, change without progress,inquiry without object, putting trust in a stranger, and mistaking foes for friends… Well I guess in away Glover and Burnside put trust in a stranger and I mistook foes for friends.”
With that, Greeley called for the constable to come and take him away. We were both disgusted. War was bad enough. Dealing with the Nazis before the war–it is a hanging job. However, after handing over the bastard to the authorities, we pleaded with them to pardon Glover.
That night Ol’ Stinky, Charles and I went to a pub for some drinks. None of us really talked much. The thought that there were still Nazis in the world after the war was a mindnumbing thought. The thought that the Nazi we had been after committed unthinkable crimes other than what we knew of, was sickening and our stomachs were turning thinking about the list the governmant fellow read out after we turned Bergmann over. We needed a few pints just to stay calm.
It never ceases to amaze me the extremes people go to. On one end there are people like the Nazis who would do anything to gain control over the entire world-megalomaniacs they are called. Then there are those, like myself, who just want a world where people can exist peacefully. I wish for a world of no crime, but then I’d be out of a job.