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princessgone.jpg
Art by Sean O'Keefe 2013

A Princess, Gone

 

A Simon Sol Dorsey Mystery

 

by Johnny Gunn

 

 

            The apartment door was slightly ajar and he could see the body splayed across the bed, both covered in blood.  “Nice way to start the day,” Simon Sol Dorsey said to himself as he pushed through the door and into the studio apartment.  “Damn, Jessica, you just never learned.  You can’t be nice to everyone.”  He walked to the window, looked down the five floors, and noticed dust around the sill and on the fire escape had been disturbed recently.  It took three pocket searches before he found his cell phone.  It took him weeks to learn how to use it.

          Simon Sol Dorsey is a private detective right out of the pulp magazines of the 1930’s, but, of course, this is the second decade of the 2000’s, and he doesn’t fit.  His best friends are the hookers that work this city, particularly Franklyn Street, and one cop, just as lost in the 21st Century as himself: Captain of Detectives Ulysses S. Elmo, known to one and all as Serious Elmo.

          “There’s no doubt, Serious.  It’s Jessica Monet.  Her throat is slashed, her hands tied to the bed posts.”  He had to track Elmo through three bistros before making contact.  “Of course I’m following procedure.  Don’t I always?”  His chuckle at his own joke rumbled through the two hundred fifty pound frame, and he could hear Serious Elmo’s pretending to barf.

          “You’ve never followed procedure, ever, Dorsey.  I’m sending a couple of units, including forensics, and I’ll join you in about ten.  Don’t touch anything.”

          “Go to hell, Serious.”  He clicked off and spent about ten minutes talking to himself and going over the apartment.  “I wonder who she pissed off this time.  Jessica Monet, a world class hooker with the heart of a professional philanthropist, in trouble with the cops as often as with the pimps and druggies.”  He opened the closet, careful to not leave a fingerprint, and found it almost empty.

          “Here we go.  Where, oh where are your furs, dear lady?”  His thoughts were interrupted by Lt. Bradley E. Champlain.

          “What are you doing here, Dorsey?  This is police business and an active crime scene.”

          “Really?  I’ll be damned.  Listen, you prissy little jerk, Jessica Monet is my client, and I’m investigating her murder.  Get in my way, Bocce Ball, and you’ll find yourself on your ass that fast.”  Champlain hated the moniker Bocce Ball, but it has stuck for many years.  Some say his head, perfectly bald, is so round you could play that favorite Italian court game anytime with it.

          The confrontation didn’t get any further along as Captain Elmo entered the tiny apartment.  “What have we got Dorsey?”  He ignored his Lieutenant, momentarily, then said to Champlain, “What the hell you doing here?”  Champlain didn’t answer and Elmo walked to the bed.  “Did a good job, eh?”

          “Not professional, Serious.  She fought back like a tiger.  Look at her body.  Lots of scratches, and looking at her hands, she got in a punch or two before being taken out.  I don’t think the slasher used a sharp weapon either.  Those are deep gouges instead of clean slashes across her throat.

          “Something else, Serious.  Jessie was a class act, dressed like a princess.  Her wardrobe was up to date and elegant with nice jewelry, and she loved her furs.  Her closet is almost empty.  She may have been taken out by another hooker or maybe a tranny.”

          Lt. Champlain started to say something, Dorsey hoped he would, but the instance ended when the assistant DA came on the scene, bringing a couple of his investigators to jam the apartment even more.

          “Let’s wrap this up, Capt. Elmo.  Just another dead hooker.”  Jay Olsen has arrived.  Elmo slid in front of Dorsey before the big man could punch Olsen’s lights out.  Olsen has been on a category five blitz to rid the city of all crime, particularly prostitution, and he and Dorsey have come to blows over the issue in the past.  “One more down, many more to go.”

          “Can it, Olsen.  She may have been a hooker, but there was a lot of good in her.  Another comment like that and you’ll need to see a dentist soon.”  Dorsey’s voice was so low it sounded more like a growl than words, and Olsen stepped back a bit.

          “All right, you two, knock it off.  Dorsey, who would be more apt to take Jessica out, another hooker, a pimp, or as you said, a tranny?”  Before Dorsey could answer, the forensics people arrived and Elmo had the closet, window and sill, and fire escape dusted first.

          “When you guys look at that fire escape, see if you can tell what kind of shoes made the prints.  A woman?  A man?  Or a large person in a woman’s shoes?”  Dorsey wanted that info as soon as possible.  “I’m going down to Franklyn Street, Serious, and shake up some bad people.”

---

          Franklyn Street, lined on both sides with saloons, pawnshops, tattoo parlors, and in most buildings, the upstairs units used by the hookers that flooded the streets once the sun went away.  “I think I’ll start this little foray into evil with a visit to Hewitt Gabler’s saloon.  Such creativity I’ve not enjoyed in years.”  Gabler’s place is simply called “Bar” by way of a small neon sign.  Stale whisky, warm beer, and too much cigar and cigarette smoke, none of it filtered, permeated the joint.

          “Ever thought of a fan, Gabler?  This place stinks.”

          “You don’t like it, Dorsey, then get the hell out.”

          Dorsey’s long fingers wrapped around the skinny pimp’s neck, and Gabler found himself six inches off the floor, quickly losing consciousness.  Dorsey let him flop about for a few seconds and threw him at two hired guns come to save the boss.  “Either one of you go for the iron and both of you die.  Gabler, you got ten seconds or less to tell me about Jessie Monet.  Right now, asshole.”

          The two bodyguards lifted the little pimp off the filthy floor.  “What about Jessie?  I ain’t seen her since last night.”

          Dorsey took a step toward the man, snarling at him.  “She’s dead, Gabler, and I’m putting the finger on you.”

          “I didn’t kill Jessie.  Holy shit, Dorsey, she made more money for me than anyone.  What happened?”  There was a tone of sincerity that seemed out of character to the ever-dangerous PI.  One of the guns made a quick movement and Dorsey had his .45 auto out and flashing burnt gunpowder around the neat hole in the man’s chest.  Once again, gunfire on Franklyn Street, once again sirens screaming in the night, bringing cops and people from the morgue.

          “Sit still, dude,” he barked at the other one.  “Doesn’t add up, Gabler.  Want another little neck massage?”  He flexed his long thin fingers attached to massive hands, and Gabler probably wet his pants.  “She died hard, Gabler, throat slashed while tied to a bed, and all her pretty jewelry and furs taken.  You’re on a very short list, pimp.”  Gabler was whimpering, first looking at Dorsey, then his dead bodyguard, then back to Dorsey, shaking and quaking like an aspen leaf in a spring breeze.

          He very slowly reached into his shirt pocket, Dorsey’s .45 shadowing the move, and pulled a card out.  “Follow this up, Dorsey.  You’ll see.  I didn’t do this.”  As Dorsey took the card, Serious Elmo and about a half dozen uniforms crowded into the saloon.

          “Whatcha do now, Sol?  Damn me, but you can get in more trouble.”  He knew Sol Dorsey had put something in his pocket.  “Get anything out of him before you offed him?”

          “He’s one of Gabler’s hoods.  Gabler gave me this.  A pawn ticket, Serious, and he said to ‘follow it up’.  I had to tenderize the little pimp, but there won’t be any marks on him by tomorrow.  Proper Simon Sol Dorsey procedure, Captain, sir.”  He chuckled, Serious Elmo scowled.  “Want to take a walk with me, see where this ticket leads?”

          Elmo gave a series of orders to the uniforms and forensics crew and the two big men walked out onto Franklyn Street.  “With all the booze and beautiful women around this area, why is it so depressing?  Sometimes I think Olsen is right.  Clean this crap up.  But, of course, that would put me out of business, eh Serious?”  Elmo just continued scowling.

          “Eagle Pawn and Loan.  I think it’s in the next block.  There’s something wrong with this, Serious.  He doesn’t cave this easy, one little pull on his neck and he’s giving somebody up?  Not in his character, old friend.”  Walking side by side down the sidewalk, the druggies, sharks, and other shadowy characters scattered.  Nobody looked either man in the eye during the short walk to the Eagle Pawn.  Several of the working girls went out of their way to say hi and how are you to Dorsey.  He called each by name.

          “Medicos said Jessie was killed with something like a beer can opener, and probably died sometime yesterday.  What were you doing there?”

          “I got a call from a tweaker saying Jess wanted to see me.  He didn’t know or wouldn’t say what she wanted.  Listen, Serious, if Jesse wanted to see me, she would call me, not have some drugged up puke call.  First that, now Gabler willing to give me information, somebody is getting set up.  Gabler would know that if Jessie wanted to see me, I would hightail it over.  He also knows that if anything happened to her, I would rip the town apart to find the bad guy.”

          “You were close to that girl.  Were you the big bucks behind her getting that charity for retired working girls put together?  Jessie did good with that.  Speaking of big bucks, you got ten bucks on you, Dorsey?”

          “Yeah, maybe.  You need a loan?  Cop shop doesn’t pay well anymore?”

          “Ten bucks says the name on that pawn ticket is Jay Olsen.”

          “That makes sense.  Get the master crime fighter out of the picture, and life returns to hell’s bells and party time on Franklyn Street.  You got the guts to call Olsen and have him meet us at the pawnshop?  And not tell him anything before we walk in?  Just that we got this tip?  Oh, yeah, Serious, now it’s fun time.”

          “Go to hell, Dorsey.  But it would be fun.”  They walked in the door to gaudy lights, loud metal, and the smell of Mary Jane floating through the clouds.  “Nice,” Elmo said, getting that scowl to grow deeper and more menacing.  Dorsey just chuckled.

          The guy behind the counter wanted to run when he saw the two come in, but there wasn’t anywhere to go.  “Just calm down, tweaker, and nobody gets hurt.  You the head jerk in here?”

          The kid tried to make himself calm down.  “I’m the manager, yes.  What do you want.?”

          “Your ass, puke.”  Dorsey hated tweakers more that anything.  Except the dealers.  They were at the head of the list, then the users.  “This is Captain of Detectives Serious Elmo and he has a couple of questions for you.  I’m Sol Dorsey, and if the answers aren’t coming fast and accurate, I will rip your head off.  OK, captain, he’s ready to be questioned, sir.”  The chuckles and grand smile hid the almost palpable essence of danger lurking in the kid’s future.

          “Oh, hell, Serious, I forgot.  Yes, correct police procedure.  Damn me, but that is important.  OK, kid, give the captain what he wants to hear, and I’ll get you an ice cream cone.  Better, Serious?”

          “Go to hell Dorsey.”  Elmo scowled, Dorsey chuckled, and the kid was trying to figure out how to live through this.  “Here’s a ticket from Eagle Pawn.  I need to know who it belongs to.”  He handed the ticket to the kid, who immediately froze in place.

          “I’m not allowed to give out that information.”

          “He’s all yours, Dorsey.”

          “No!  Wait.  I’ll get the book,” and he started toward a desk behind him.  Dorsey vaulted the counter and got there first.

          “Let’s see, ticket number 79045A, here it is, listed on page 437.  This must be a busy place, eh kid?  Looks like we have ten bucks coming from somebody, Serious.  Jay Olsen pawned almost $4,000 worth of jewels and furs late yesterday morning.  At least we have a time of death now.

          “You take this in, kid?”

          “Yes.”

          “Good, tell me what Mr. Olsen looks like, will you?  You see, kid, this stuff belonged to a friend of mine, and I want to beat the crap out of Mr. Olsen.  You’ll be doing me a big favor if you tell me what he looks like.”  The kid was in a spot and knew it.

          “Captain Elmo, if I tell you who brought the stuff in, they’ll kill me.  They said I would die if I told.  I can’t tell you.”

          “You can tell me, you will tell me.  And in turn, I’ll give you protection.”  He took a deep breath, got an evil look on his face.  “Look, kid, if you tell me, you’ll need protection from the goons setting this up.  If you don’t tell me, you’ll need protection from my friend Sol Dorsey.”  He called for a patrol unit to pick up the kid and forensics to come get the stuff.  “We’ll go down to the station and have a nice long talk, OK?”

          Dorsey took Elmo aside.  “I have an idea I know who is behind this.  I’m sure the hit was arranged by Gabler and some of his cronies, but I’ll bet another ten bucks that the person who paid for the hit is known to both of us.”  He wrote a name on a scrap of paper and shoved it in his pocket.  “We’ll look at this after we hear from the tweaker.”

---

          “How did you know, Sol?  Your answer seemed to come out of the woodwork.”

          “When we were in Jessie’s apartment and I brought up the possibility of a tranny being involved, the guy responded.  I’ve known for a long time that the prissy little jerk was gay, I don’t know why you kept him in his job, but I didn’t know until I brought up the word that he was a tranny.  He cross dresses off the job, Serious, and it was the look he gave me that gave him up.  And, remember, Serious, you even asked what he was doing there.

          “I’ll bet too, that Gabler pimps for him, and the two of them came up with this idea to take Jay Olsen out of the picture.  Cross dressing gays, pimps, card sharks, drug dealers, and hookers up and down that street hated Olsen’s guts, and they had a plan to take him out.”

          “Amazing.”  He picked up his phone.  “Bring Hewitt Gabler in, and ask Lt. Champlain to come to my office, please.”  The scowl had gone away, and both Dorsey and Elmo were wearing grand smiles.

          “Who’s going to pay the twenty bucks we got coming, Serious?”

-end-

 

 

 

bigjake.jpg
Art by W. Jack Savage 2014

Big Jake Takes a Dive

 

By Johnny Gunn

 

 

“There’s no alcohol, no drugs, and other than the obvious injuries from the fall, this woman was not attacked nor has she had any sexual encounter recently. This looks like an accident all the way, Sol.” The medical examiner was standing in front of the body of twenty-three year old Sammie Rivera, the wife of professional wrestler Big Jake Owens.

“I’m willing to dispute that, Doc, but on my grounds, not yours.”  Simon Sol Dorsey, one of the city’s best known private detectives towered over the ME and would have made two or more of the once lovely Sammie.  “Big Jake Owens hired me to find out if this little nymph was screwing around on him, which she was, and now, after I inform Big Jake and get paid, she turns up dead. From what?”

“She fell over the edge of their swimming pool, thirty-five feet onto rocks at the surf line. Their pool is one of those that is filled right to the rim on one side, and that side sits at the top of the cliff, above the ocean. Water often spills over the edge of the pool, Sol, and apparently, she simply went over the edge.”

“Unbelievable,” Dorsey said, staring at the naked body. “And not an angry mark on her?” He said his good-byes, grabbed the report, and headed out the door, muttering to himself about three-hundred pound wrestlers marrying eighty-five pound models. Some have found it disconcerting to be around the big man because of his continual talking to himself, but he has found it “satisfactory” and will tell anyone who will listen that it improves the mind to hold discussions with oneself regularly.

It was a half-hour drive up the coast and Sol Dorsey had the top down on his prized 1956 Cadillac, the new five-oh-two humming its song of power. “This isn’t the kind of day to be working on a murder, this is the kind of day I should be at Maglio’s eating crab enchiladas and sucking down a couple of pitchers of his private stock ale. Big Jake killed that girl, I know that, but how did he do it? She looked as fragile as a china cup, beat to hell on the rocks, but not with fists or feet.”

Dorsey tops out well over two hundred pounds, keeps himself in shape with those heavy pitchers of beer, is fearsome to most criminal types, a big teddy bear to the hookers on Franklyn Street. His large frame topped with a massive head that features flashing emerald eyes and fifties brush cut, the PI seems to swagger even when seated in his car. He should have been working in the 1930’s, not in the early 21st Century. Interestingly, he loves his computer and uses it to the max for background, but most of the time can’t make his cell phone work. “I hate phones,” is a mantra many hear often.

“Dorsey, what the hell you doing here? I already paid you. Get the hell off my place,” and Big Jake took a step toward Dorsey, who did not back up.

“Easy, Big Jake. I just came to give you some information. You take one more step toward me and I will shoot your fat ass.” He had his big forty five automatic in hand. Jake stopped dead in his tracks, but was giving Dorsey his famous scowl of death, used often on the wrestling TV show he helped make famous.

“That’s better. The ME just told me he is sure that Sammie died from an accident. I thought you’d want to know. You got an attitude, Jake. I don’t like that. You want to screw with me, I’ll shoot you dead.” He didn’t put the iron away and slowly backed down off the porch and walked to the Caddy, keeping a close eye on the huge wrestler. He smiled and waved, driving out onto the highway.

Cussing up a storm, saying as many rude things as he could about Big Jake, Sol Dorsey drove straight back to his apartment on Pacific Avenue.  “Who does that creep think he is?” he said very much out loud, opening the door. “Wish I hadn’t told him about Sammie, now. She made more money wearing some pretty nice outfits for the camera than Big Jake did with his famous swan dive on top of other wrestlers.” He stopped immediately, opened his lap top, opened up the ME’s file, found the investigator’s file on Sammie’s so-called accident and had a satisfied look on his craggy face.

“There it is,” he said, bellowing at the top of his lungs. “There it is, right in front of the cop’s nose, and the ME calls it an accident.” Dorsey fumbled with his cell phone for several minutes before getting it to actually work.

“Yeah, get me Captain of Detectives Ulysses Elmo, please.” He looked like the cat that ate the rat, waiting for Serious Elmo, one of his best friends to come on the line. “Yeah, Serious my friend. If you promise to buy me a beer and some crab enchiladas, I’ll tell you who killed little Sammie Rivera. Oh, no, chum, it definitely was not an accident. OK, ten minutes, Maglio’s. Don’t be late or I’ll give it to the press first,” and he laughed hard putting the phone away.

It was a wonderful drive down Pacific Avenue to Maglio’s and the meeting. “Never will understand, my friend, how it is a Sicilian, two generations in this country, can make better enchiladas than any Mexican alive and brew better ale than any Englishman.”

“Good genes, Sol. Eat hearty, my friend,” and he put a pitcher of ale and a platter or enchiladas on the table just as Serious Elmo came in the door. “Gonna be a good day,” he said, getting another tumbler for the captain of detectives.

All right, Dorsey, no crap. Whatcha got?”

Dorsey opened a file folder he brought with him. “First, here’s a photo of lovely Sammie on the rocks. What’s that thing hung up on a rock about five feet from her head? Hmmm, looks like a pool mattress to me.” He chuckled, took a long draught of cold ale, messed with an enchilada for just enough time to get Elmo fired up.

“Come on, come on. Knock it off. So it’s a pool toy.”

“Yeah, it sure is. And, in this picture, we have Big Jake leaping from the top rope at a wrestling match, about to belly flop on an opponent.”  Dorsey paused, long enough for it all to sink in.

“You’re saying Sammie was laid out on that mattress, near the edge of the pool, and Big Jake did a belly flop into the pool?” There was dead silence, something that even caught Maglio by surprise.

“Over three hundred pounds into that pool and that little cutie went right over the edge. It’s Big Jake’s trademark in the wrestling racket. And, yes, mein kapitan, you are welcome.”


end




deadmantalking.jpeg
Art by W. Jack Savage 2015

Dead Man Talking

 

By Johnny Gunn

 

“Both shots right through the heart, close range, and no one heard a thing, Lieutenant,” Sergeant Malloy said as Detective Lt. Tom Cassidy arrived at the crime scene. “Probably a small caliber revolver, maybe even silenced. Neighbors said they didn’t hear anything. Pepper Graves, no longer a wanted man.” Smiling, he watched the forensics boys tuck Graves into a body bag.

Cassidy was looking around the doorway to Graves’s apartment on the third floor of the filthy flophouse apartment building. “This is a garbage pit,” he sneered. “Let’s get it dusted and see if there’s anything that might lead us to the shooter. These guys are killing each other faster than we can,” he snickered, pulling a cigar from his suit pocket. “Fourth family member this month.”

“Outside doorknob has been wiped clean, Lt., and there’s no prints on the buzzer either. Solid professional hit, I’m sure. Was Pepper associated with one of the gangs?”

“Kingsbury Avenue Fuckups, I think,” one of the officers said from inside the apartment.  The lieutenant and the sergeant chuckled.

“This isn’t your typical local gangbanger killing. This reeks of family, and Pepper Graves came here from Chicago three years ago. Was he sent here? Or was he escaping to here?

“Malloy, fan your people out and cover this bloody neighborhood. Find somebody that saw or heard something.”

Cassidy left for his office getting a radio call on the way to meet with officers at the bus station. It was a short drive through one of the nastier sections of town.

“Found a silenced .32 revolver, Lieutenant, along with a pair of gloves that indicate they recently held a weapon when it was fired. Gun was wrapped in this red wool scarf.” The officer held up an evidence bag. “Two rounds fired,” he said.

“Dust every inch of that weapon, the silencer, the rounds, and the empty casings. Pepper Graves was shot this morning with a weapon that fits that description.”

The detective walked over to the ticket clerk, a yawning young man who didn’t seem to give a damn that somebody wanted to talk to him.

“Either talk to me now, puke, or change from possible witness to person of interest. Did you see someone walk into the men’s room wearing sunglasses and red scarf, and walk out without them?”

“I see hundreds of bums every day. Why would I care if they wear sunglasses.” He turned away from Cassidy.

The detective reached across the counter, grabbed him by the back of his jacket, whirled him around, and planted a big fist square in the nose. Blood splashed down the man’s front.

“Now, tweaker, answers,” is all he said, drawing back his fist for a second shot. Cassidy’s radio saved the man’s nose from further damage. He handed the clerk over to an officer with orders to get answers, and hightailed it back to the precinct.

“Graves was working for King Talbot, the Chicago arm of Carrington’s family, setting up distributors for Ecstasy, heroin, meth, coke, the whole shebang. Coming in from Mexico, Florida, even Texas. Keeping too much for himself, I think,” Malloy said with a grin. “Chicago sent a ‘truth’ squad to find the rest of the money, from what I could decipher from Graves’s notes. No names, though, damn it.”

“I think we have the weapon, Malloy.” Cassidy sat down at his desk. “Anything else?”

“One of the residents at the complex saw a man arrive in a cab just before Graves’s body was found. We’re looking for the driver now. The old lady apparently sees everything that takes place within a block of that nasty place and said the driver waited about three minutes for the man.

“We got a fairly complete description and Jackson is bringing her down for a look through our photo albums.”

“Good, Malloy, good. Was he wearing a red scarf?”

“Yeah,” Malloy answered. “How’d you know that?”

“Keep me posted,” is all Cassidy said with a smile and picked up the phone, nodding goodbye to the sergeant.

---

“You’re sure this is the man you saw get out of that cab?” Malloy asked for the third time.

The old lady had picked out a known hit man, Izzy Schafter, and was adamant about the identity.

“Only one problem with this, Ma’am. Izzy was shot to death last year in Brooklyn.”

He had a driver take her home.

“Damn it, Lieutenant, the cab driver also picked out Izzy Schafter as the hit man. I put out a BOLO on anyone matching that description.” Malloy was more angry than confused. He walked back to his desk.

“Show Schafter’s mug shot to that tweaker at the bus station,” Cassidy said, picking up his phone and dialing out. “Captain Frakes,” he said and waited for the Brooklyn precinct boss.

“Terry, this is Cassidy, way up north. Yeah, that Tom Cassidy.” He laughed, as Frakes pretended not to know him. “Listen, we have three eyewitnesses telling us that Izzy Schafter may be involved in a gang-related shooting. We also have a report that Schafter was killed in your jurisdiction. Which is it, old friend?” He snickered at his long-time friend.

“For crying out loud, Cassidy, that report was rescinded last year. You boys in the ‘burbs need to keep up on things. Schafter is alive and well, still working for Carrington. Hard to miss that ugly mug, so your witnesses are probably right. Nice talking to you, too,” he said, chuckling to himself as he hung up.

“Malloy,” Cassidy yelled across the squad room. “Change that BOLO to ‘Wanted for Murder.’ Schafter is still alive and I want him taken down now. Where did that cabby take him?”

“To the bus station, Lieutenant!” Malloy hollered back. “The clerk said he didn’t buy a ticket, so he may still be around somewhere. The Chicago people usually hang out around the Santa Rosa Hotel. I’ll have a unit check it out.”

“My ass, Sergeant, you and I will check it out. Let’s go. You,” and he pointed at an officer, “ride with Malloy. You,” he pointed at another. “You ride with me.”

---

As the two patrol units pulled up in front of the Santa Rosa Hotel, two men leaving the building turned and ran back inside.

“Let’s get on it,” Cassidy yelled, jumping from the car, service weapon in hand, racing for the front doors of the hotel. “Malloy, get around back,” he yelled, all but breaking through the main doors and into a scene of almost chaos. Men with questionable reps trying to get out and away, and nowhere to hide.

The registration desk was one end of the bar known as the Santa Rosa Cocktail Lounge. Rumor had it that half the rooms in the hotel were set aside for Chicago visitors, and the other half for the working girls of the neighborhood.

 Cassidy recognized many of those trying to flee as wanted, and everyone was in a panic to get the hell out of the hotel. “Call for backup!” he yelled at the officer with him, and fired one shot straight up.

“Freeze!” he howled, “and you might live through this.”

He held the semi-automatic weapon, with fourteen rounds left in the magazine, aimed it back and forth, in and around, so that every man knew he might die if someone made a move to break out.

“Down,” he said, “face down on the floor, spread ‘em, and don’t even flinch. Down, now.”

The men slowly lowered themselves to the barroom floor, and spread their arms and legs. Cassidy’s backup moved through the group, relieving them of hardware.

The officer piled about seven weapons, mostly semi-autos, onto the bar and stood back behind Cassidy when a figure darted from behind the bar, revolver blazing.

The officer went down with a round through his forehead, and Cassidy put four quick rounds through Izzy Schafter’s body.

Hearing the multiple rounds fired, Malloy and his backup came through the back doors, weapons in hand.

“All clear, Malloy,” is all Cassidy said. “Call for the coroner, and we’ll need the New Year’s Eve paddy wagon to haul all these jaspers in.”

Back at the office and one more phone call. “Frakes. You need to rescind that rescind of yours. Schafter is fully and one hundred percent dead. Have a great day.”







Johnny Gunn is retired from a long and enjoyable career in journalism, concentrating on writing fiction, mostly in the crime and western genre. His novel, Jacob Chance U.S. Marshal was released in May and is available from Amazon. His next novel, The Quest, will be published later this year. He lives with his wife, Patty, on a small rancho about twenty miles north of Reno, along with chickens, rabbits, horses, and one goofy goat.

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