Wednesday, July 17, 2013

118. "play ball"

by manfred skyline

illustrated by konrad kraus and danny delacroix

editorial consultant: Prof. Dan Leo

for previous chapter, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here

click here for synopsis of all chapters so far

when they reached the car, mullihan took a pair of handcuffs out of his pocket.

"is that really necessary, detective?" fortescue asked.

mullihan looked back at the coffee shop. suddenly he looked tired. "no, i guess not. just get in the back. "

fortescue helped carol into the back seat and got in himself. after a tremendous yawn, mullihan started the car and they glided away.

"long night?" fortescue asked politely.

"very long."

"then i trust we can make our statements quickly and get this over with."


"you seemed to indicate," fortescue continued, "that you had some knowledge of the dead man, other than in his capacity as proprietor of the shop."

"i did?"

"you said you knew where he lived."

"did i say that?"

"that was my impression. perhaps i misheard."

mullihan laughed. "no, you didn't mishear. listen, limey, i'll tell you what. i'll play ball with you if you play ball with me. how does that sound?"

"that sounds like a most salutary arrangement."

"and how about you, miss?"

carol had been looking out the window. she had never known manhattan had such small, dark streets.

"miss?" mullihan repeated.

"oh, excuse me?"

"are you going to play ball with me, tell me everything you know?"

"uh - yes, of course."

"good. because here we are."

they had stopped in front of a small dark corner building with a light showing in one window. if there was a sign indicating it was a police station, it was not evident in the dark.


mullihan was proving a gracious host, providing carol and fortescue with cups of the worst coffee carol had ever tasted, or could imagine ever tasting.

the station was empty of other people except for the sergeant at the front desk, who never looked at them after mullihan escorted them in.

mullihan sat down at a desk. it was empty except for a telephone. he took a pad of paper and a thick pencil out of a drawer, put them on top of the desk and yawned.

"sit anywhere you want, as long as you're close enough for me to hear you."

fortescue took a chair from another desk and pulled it over beside mullihan.

carol sat at a desk behind them, happy to put the hot cup down on it. she didn't need the coffee. she was wide awake.

"so," fortescue began, "you were going to tell what you knew about the deceased."

"no, first you are going to tell me where you were earlier tonight."

"that is reasonable. i was at a client's private residence, up in the east eighties."

"you got the exact address?"

"505 east 86th street." mullihan jotted it down. " apartment number?"

"it is a townhouse."

"of course. how long were you there?"

"about an hour and a half."

"phone number?"

"i have it in my wallet."

'later. how did you get down here?"

"we took a cab. a cab that was called for from the residence, so we hardly had to wait for it. the trip took about fifteen minutes."

"and you went right into the coffee shop?"

"yes. we discovered the body within a minute and called the police ."

"can you identify the cab? "

"i am afraid i was not as intent as i should have been in studying it."

"jocko's," said carol. "the name on it said jocko's cab."

mullihan looked at her. "jocko. i know jocko. and his cab. that's good. that's very good." he scribbled something on his pad.

"i guess everybody in new york knows everybody else, huh?"

"almost. a few strangers wander in once in a while. and you , miss - i mean mrs, mrs -"

"mrs chandler."

"mrs chandler. and you accompanied mr fortescue to this residence?"

"no, i was already there."

"ah. for how long?'

"forever. i mean, maybe two or three hours. it seemed like forever."

mullihan stared at her. "what was it, some kind of party?"

"no, i went up there with a couple of friends. but it was getting late, i was bored, i just wanted to get out of there."

"and our friend mr fortescue offered you a ride? is that it?"

"actually i asked him."

"you knew mr fortescue? before tonight?"

"no, i never saw him before."

"i see." mullihan rubbed his eyes. "all right. you got that phone number?" he asked fortescue.

"right here." fortescue handed him a slip of paper. "the name is collinson. my client's name is miss cosima collinson.

"can we go now?" carol asked.

mullihan gave her a hard look. "you might - might go after i check this alibi. and after i get an idea of the time of death from the good doctor." he turned to fortescue. "you think this person will still be up?"

"she may well be. i can hardly guarantee it."

"excuse me," carol put in. "i wasn't with this cosima. i was talking to some other people. the way they were yakking, i can just about guarantee they are still up. conrad collinson - that's who i was talking to."

"in any case," said fortescue, "i am sure the butler will answer the phone."

"oh, the butler! of course, the butler." mullihan reached for the phone, then stopped. "oh, one more thing."

"yes?" fortescue answered.

"you mind telling me what you were talking to this miss collinson about? just in general."

"not at all. she retained me in reference to an art exhibit she is staging in a few weeks."

"an art exhibit?"

"yes, she is the proprietor of a gallery uptown. also in the east 80's somewhere."

"you don't say." mullihan dropped the phone back in its cradle. "that's very interesting."

"really? what is interesting about it?"

"mueller - that's the dead guy - "

'i thought he looked like a nazi," carol said.

"actually, he's from brazil. and the reason i know about him - the reason we were looking at him - " mullihan looked at fortescue.

"go on."

"we've suspected him for a while of being a fence. we think he was working with a gang of jewel and art thieves, from paraguay or someplace. they're suspects in a robbery out on long island."

119. "a very subtle game"

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