The next day, I can hardly wait for Abe to arrive so we can get started on solving the cold case.
He shows up at my university office about ten minutes to five.
“Hope I’m not rushing you—but I forgot about these early sunsets.”
“No problem,” I assure him, packing my briefcase, “Harry’s house is only about fifteen minutes away.”
“Less than that,” he smiles, “ if I put my warning flasher on the dashboard.”
I shake my head and grin at the idea. I always wanted to ride in a cop car with the flashers going and the siren—well, maybe he won’t use the siren.
Then a thought hits me. “Say, what am I going to do about my car?”
“I’ll drive you back afterwards.”
I shrug. Looks like I’m going to get my wish.
I thought Abe was joking about using the flashers, but he wasn’t. As soon as we’re out of the university, he puts his beacon on the dash and we make the trip to Harry’s in about eight minutes.
Harry’s sitting as usual on the verandah reading his newspaper.
He waves when he spots us, and is off the porch in a flash and sits in the back of the unmarked car.
I introduce him to Abe, but he seems more fascinated by the car. “How fast can this go?”
“It’s not a pursuit vehicle,” Abe laughs, “ this is just a Crown Victoria.”
“What about the pursuit vehicles?” Harry presses.
“We’ve phased them out, but I still have access to one—it’ll do 185 miles an hour. ”
Harry whistles softly. “That’s awesome—I’d like to see one of those.”
“I’ll try to arrange it,” Abe tells him.
“You will? Man, that’ll be something.”
Abe looks at him in the rearview mirror. “You sure you know where this press box is, Harry?”
“Oh yeah, I’m sure.”
As we pull up to the park, a police van’s waiting.
“Who are those fellas?” asks Harry.
“They’re our technicians. They’re going to mark the spot and use metal detectors. If someone hasn’t dug up the gun years ago, we may get lucky.”
“I sure it hope it’s still there,” Harry says somberly.
I glance at Abe—his expression the mirror image of Harry’s.
Harry directs us to the northeast corner of the park. It’s an open space resembling a vast meteorite crater.
Above us, the sky is already turning gunmetal blue and shadows are falling across the grass.
“We need to work fast,” Abe says. “So, where was this press box located Harry?”
“Right here,” he says, motioning with his arm. He indicates a space about twenty feet long and eight feet wide.
“It can’t have been very big,” Abe says doubtfully.
“It wasn’t—it was basically a narrow shack with built-in shelves, some folding chairs, wooden shutters that were propped open and a PA system—that was it.”
Abe shakes his head.
“Oh, and it had a crawl space underneath it.”
Abe’s eyes light up. “Was it cement or dirt?”
“Just dirt—nothing fancy.”
“Rustic is good,” I say, eyeing Abe.
There’s nobody around—no curious bystanders, no gawkers—but the yellow tape is put into place anyway and the technicians go to work.
It’s growing darker by the minute, still nothing’s happening.
“You’re sure this is the spot?” Abe asks Harry again.
“As sure as I’m standing here,” he smiles.
One of the detectors squelches. The technician hones in on a particular spot.
“Something metallic here,” he says.
“Then let’s dig,” Abe orders.
They produce spades and begin digging. Within a few minutes, they’re down about a foot.
“Seems pretty deep for a guy just scooping dirt with his hands,” Abe mutters.
“Maybe they added fill over the years,” I suggest.
Then, one of the spades makes a metallic clang.
The technician stops and looks at us. Abe steps forward, stoops down and peers into the hole. Then, he drops to his knees, and begins digging with both hands.
“Yes, yes!” he shouts, and pulls out a gun, holding it aloft, with the tip of his index finger through the finger guard.
It’s a long barrel gun—reminds me of the kind cowboys use in the movies. I realize I was expecting something more compact.
“Wow—this gun was an antique even back in the Thirties!” Abe chirps.
“How old is this model Manny?” he asks the technician, who looks to be in his fifties.
“I’d guess turn of the century.”
“Can we get prints off it?”
“Not likely—just buried in the soil like that? —I’d say, it’s near impossible.”
“Does it matter?” I ask Abe.
“Naw,” he laughs, slapping me on the shoulder. “We can do a ballistics test and compare it with the bullet that killed Officer Ricker—if it matches, then, that pretty well seals the case.”
I look at Harry. He’s shaking his head in wonder. “Eighty years,” he sighs.
“Better late than never,” Abe says.
© 2017 – 2018, John J Geddes. All rights reserved.