|The Manhattan Mysteries
Author: Princess-Amon-Rae PM
Follow Private Investigator John Bates and his companions as they solve cases from murder, poison, kidnapping and more to keep the streets of 1940's Manhattan safe.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Adventure/Mystery - Chapters: 3 - Words: 12,949 - Reviews: 3 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 01-19-13 - Published: 10-22-12 - id: 3067865
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
March 23, 1947
He waits. The shadows flit against the window drapes. A woman and man's laughter fill the air, they are celebrating. Two glasses clink together and silence falls. Glass shatters and a woman screams.
With a smile, He waits no longer.
John Bates groaned as the shrill ringing of the telephone cut through the silence of the apartment. He fumbled around his bedside table for a few moments before his clumsy fingers reached the lamp and turned it on. After awarding the receiver on the opposite side of the room a glare he stumbled over and answered it.
"John Bates." He announced while he pressed his fingers against the bridge of his nose. He swallowed another groan when he glanced at the clock. Who on Earth could be phoning him at two o'clock in the morning?
"Mr. Bates. This is the Chief of Police, Phillip Donovan." John froze. Whatever was going on it had to be bad if the chief of police was phoning.
"Yes, what is it?" The wheels in his head were spinning rapidly. There was a shuffling of papers on the other end of the phone. John could sense that he was slightly embarrassed to have to be asking whatever he was about to ask.
"The mayor's been poisoned. And he's requested the work of a private detective to make inquires. We checked your case records-" John forgot himself for a moment and interrupted.
"You can get a hold of my case records?" He spluttered. He smacked himself mentally. They were the police department, of course they could. Donovan continued on as if John had never spoken.
"And you have the best numbers. Mrs. Weston is promising a handsome fee." Donovan finished, no doubt trying to entice him with the thought of money. He would've said yes right away anyways.
"I'll take the case." He said.
"Good. You can meet me at the Weston's." Donovan rattled off an address and John nodded before realizing that the other party couldn't see him. He confirmed the address before hanging up.
"Coffee and clothes." He muttered to himself before stalking off to do just that. In that order.
"I forgot to apologize for the late hour." Phillip Donovan stated sincerely as soon as John slid out of the car in front of Eugene Weston's house. John shrugged, if someone like him couldn't handle weird hours, they were in the wrong business.
"Early hour, if you look at it right." He replied and Donovan laughed while nodding. They turned towards the house.
"You'll be working in conjunction with the police department. All of our resources are at your disposal. The mayor just wants you to do most of the foot work so that the media doesn't get a hold of it." Donovan explained sympathetically. No doubt he felt as if John had been given the short end of the stick.
"I can understand why. And foot work doesn't bother me." John stated to quell Donovan's worries. He flashed John a grin before switching topics.
"We think the poison was in the champagne Mr Weston and his wife were drinking." Donovan informed John as they walked.
"Have there been any other reports of poisonings?" John requested and Donovan shook his head . They stepped into the living room.
"Unfortunately not. Which makes us think that this is an isolated incident." He answered. John began to study the room, taking into account where the mayor and his wife would've been sitting. He squatted down beside the stain on the carpet to get a different angle.
"Well that's not necessarily a bad thing. It does narrow down the suspect list. What were they celebrating?" John questioned. They had been drinking champagne after all.
"They had just received the news that Weston had been elected for another term." Donovan explained. John ran that thought through his head to properly process it.
"Well then that means we're looking for someone who has a grievance against him, which would want them to not want him to get re-elected, and has access to his wine cellar. Did you check the other beverages?" John figured that there would've been no way for the poisoner to be sure they would drink this bottle, so he would've had to poison more than one. Donovan frowned.
"No. I'll get some men on it." He made a few notes on his pad of paper.
"When did the poisoning actually happen?" John added after glancing at the carpet. Donovan looked up from his pad with an eyebrow raised.
"Eleven Thirty. How'd you know?" He requested. John waved a hand at the champagne.
"It's spread along the carpet too much for it to have happened recently." John pointed out. John had always had an uncanny knack of observation, constantly noticing things that were slightly out of place. The knack had been one of the reasons he'd become a private investigator in the first place.
"The mayor wasn't able to speak until about an hour ago. That's when he requested a private detective." Donovan explained and John smiled. He was glad that Donovan at least respected him enough to explain fully. John pondered the time carefully.
"The time's not the best." He finally stated after a few moments of silence. Donovan nodded while he slid his pad back into his inside front pocket of his jacket.
"It means we have no witnesses." Donovan said. John shook his head as he stood up. Something caught his eye.
"Not necessarily." He replied while picking up the newspaper lying on the chimney mantle. It was for tomorrow, which meant that they had to have had this delivered by hand. Whoever had delivered it might have seen something.
"How so?" The curiosity was thick in Donovan's voice. John showed him the newspaper and he glanced at it before shrugging. He could see nothing off about it.
"This newspaper's owner offers to home delivery for people who are willing to pay extra. They hire kids who live on the streets most times to deliver them." John explained. He himself paid extra just for the sole purpose of giving a kid a bit of help. Donovan's eyes showed he had made the connection.
"And those kids notice more things than some adults do." Donovan continued. John nodded.
"It's not a great lead, but for now it's the best we've got." John pointed out. One of Donovan's lackeys appeared in the door. Donovan waved down his salute, most of the people directly under him had been military and he hadn't quite broken their habits.
"Sir, we've determined that none of the wine, whiskey or scotch has been poisoned. The two other bottles of champagne have been on the other hand." He announced. John and Donovan sighed, while the latter pulled his pad out again and made note.
"Thank you, Jameson. You and the other men head home and get some sleep. I want all of you in the office at nine." Donovan stated. Jameson nodded and went to tell his teammates.
"Unfortunate that we can't tell when they were poisoned." Donovan mused after the men had all filed out the front door and wished him a good night.
"True." John agreed, if they were then they could have determined whether this was related to the mayor's being re-elected or not.
"Tomorrow I'll try and find a list of who had access to his beverage storage and question them. Can you go talk to the newspaper?" Donovan requested and John laughed.
"You just read my mind, Chief." John stated. Donovan gave him a look.
"Bates, let's just lay down a rule here. You either call me Phillip or Donovan." Donovan announced firmly. If there was one thing he couldn't stand it was titles, even his subordinates called him Phillip or Donovan. Whichever they were comfortable with.
"Sure thing, Donovan." John corrected himself.
"I'm here on behalf of the police department. I was wondering if you could give me some information." John Bates explained himself to the owner of the newspaper that had been discovered at the mayor's house. After leaving the Weston's last night he had gotten a few more hours of sleep, but was still running mostly on coffee.
"On?" Gregory Johnson leaned back in his chair. The way his body was shaped made him look formidable, but the laughter lines around his eyes and mouth gave him away.
"Who would've delivered papers to Mayor Weston's house. There was a minor altercation close by and I was hoping they may have seen something." John lied simply. Since the whole reason he was there in the first place was to make sure the media didn't get a hold of it, he couldn't exactly tell the truth to a newspaper owner.
"Well if you're looking for information you'll need to talk to Alex. I'll take you to a meeting room and you two can talk there." Gregory offered and stood up. John followed him out of the room.
"Georgie! Go tell Alex to be in meeting room A." Gregory called to a young boy who nodded at him before running off out of sight. John was ushered into the room.
"Thank you." John said and Gregory waved away his thanks.
"Don't worry about it. Alex'll be here shortly." The door clicked shut behind him. John was left in silence for a few moments before a steady thud told him someone was flying up the stairs and down the hall. The door opened and it took all of John's resolve for his mouth to not hit the floor.
"Hello, you must be John Bates." The young girl said and held out her hand. He shook it dumbly, still a little shocked. She looked at him in concern. Her eyes were a bright emerald and her dirty blonde hair was cropped short.
"I didn't realize Alex was a girl." He explained and she laughed.
"Most don't, but I like it better that way. Now you said you needed information. Private Investigator, right?" She asked as she sat down in a chair on the opposite side of the table that they had been standing on. He sent her a look.
"How'd you know?" The tables were turned on him this time.
"You're looking for information but there's no police car outside and you're not in uniform. Also you didn't flash your badge." She pointed out. He smiled, she was smart and observant. She smiled in return and gestured for him to sit down.
"I'm guessing you're also here about the mayor." She added as soon as he sat down and pulled out a notepad and pen. He sent her another look, this one more questioning and shocked. She shrugged.
"I know people." She answered his unspoken question. He had to admit she was very good and that Gregory had been right, she seemed a well of information.
"Do you know who was delivering papers last night? I understand it's a rotation." John asked and Alex nodded.
"It is a rotation, but Fred's sick so I covered for him." Alex answered. John's eyebrows shot up. This was a much more promising lead than he had expected.
"When do you think you delivered the paper to the Weston residence?" Depending on the answer to this question, it might mean a break in the case. She frowned slightly as she thought about it.
"It was late. I'd say eleven, eleven fifteen. Don't tell Gregory, we're supposed to have them delivered long before that but I couldn't find someone to sit with Fred." She looked directly at John when she said this. No doubt she didn't want to get Fred in trouble.
"I won't say a word. Did anything seem different?" He couldn't believe his luck in regards to this girl. Alex smiled slightly.
"The Weston's were really happy. Mrs Weston was holding a bottle and Mr Weston insisted on giving me a huge bag of candy for all the kids. We're not supposed to take stuff like that either." She looked up at him pointedly on the last sentence. He gave her a smile while jotting down notes.
"You have my silence. Anything else?" She frowned again, this time closing her eyes, while remembering.
"There was a car sitting a little ways from the house and there was someone sitting in it." She said hesitantly. John's pen skidded along the page as he started and glanced up at her. Her eyes were a little wide from shock in response to his actions.
"Where? Could you show me?" If the car was there, then dead end. If the car wasn't there, another possible lead. Alex nodded slowly.
"It'd be a bit of a walk." She reminded him slowly. John scoffed as he stood up.
"We'll take my car. If you're up for it." He gave her a small challenge and she nodded.
"If you're up for having a street kid in your car." She bounced out of the seat before leading him to the door. He smiled inwardly, there was the reason she had hesitated, she'd been concerned that he would care about appearances.
"By the way, what's Alex short for?" John asked as she walked beside him towards the car and he opened her door for her. She flashed him a smile.
"Alexandra. I'm not fond of it." She answered as she slid into the car. He shut the door behind her.
"I can see why. It doesn't suit you." John stated when he started the car. Though if he thought about it Alex didn't suit her much either. She laughed and nodded.
"Finally someone understands." She mock groaned. He smiled.
"So how old are you?" He requested, he hadn't been able to pinpoint her age.
"Fourteen." She said quietly, folding her hands in her lap. He guessed she did that when she was either nervous, thinking or upset. John was hoping for thinking or nervous at this moment, he could handle either of those. He let silence fall between them, just in case she was nervous, to give her the chance to speak first.
"You?" She asked a few seconds later. He glanced at her sideways, unsure which question to respond to. She glanced up at him slightly before she shifted her gaze back to her hands. John smiled slightly. She was nervous.
"John's not short for anything. I'm twenty five." He decided he could answer both the questions she had.
"The car was parked right here. I can't remember the colour." She said while waving her hands around to show John the approximate size of the car. He nodded as soon as she lowered her hands.
"Well that means that the drivers seat was right about here. And from this angle you can see right into the living room of the Weston's" John pointed out as soon as he had walked around and stood where the driver's seat would've been. Alex faked slipping into the car on the other side and he sent her a smile. She had a good sense of humour.
"You wouldn't be able to see anything if they had their curtains pulled shut." Alex stated. He frowned as he let that run through his head. She was right, if whomever the culprit was had wanted to watch his crime take place, that would've but a twist in it.
"You could still hear a woman scream in fear though." He said and Alex shivered slightly. He sent her a look of concern.
"The Weston's are just such nice people." She explained and he nodded. It was hard to accept the lengths people would go to. They both fell silent again, trapped in their own thoughts.
"Did you see a license plate?" John asked suddenly and she bit down on her lip, closed her eyes and folded her hands together.
"I think so. I kinda remember S7N... But that's it." She answered apologetically. It almost seemed as if she thought she wasn't doing enough.
"That's brilliant." John replied quickly, trying to bolster her confidence. She smiled at him thankfully. He didn't know what it was about her, but he liked her.
"Would you like to come to the police station with me to give our findings to Donovan?" He requested. She brightened and nodded.
"If you'll have me." She added almost as an afterthought.
"Absolutely." He laughed.
"I've got all my best men on it." Donovan announced as soon as he came strolling back into his office. John was sipping coffee in the chair by Donovan's desk while Alex was studying the medals that were pinned to the walls.
"That's good. Do you think we'll find something?" John asked and Donovan shrugged as he sat down at his desk.
"With the luck we've had so far I wouldn't say no. Speaking of luck, may I properly meet your new rabbit's foot?" Donovan requested turning towards Alex. She stepped away from the wall and blushed as John laughed slightly.
"Donovan, this is Alex. Alex, this is Phillip Donovan." John gestured between the two. Donovan stuck his hand out to her. Her eyes widened but she shook his hand anyways. John gathered that she wasn't used to being treated with respect.
"Got a last name Alex?" Donovan teased. She smiled and nodded, her shoulders loosening slightly
"Boyle, Sir." Alex answered and he scoffed. John smirked into his coffee cup, he knew what was coming.
"Drop the sir. Either Phillip or Donovan." Donovan announced and Alex smiled.
"Okay then, Phillip it is." Alex stated. John was beginning to notice the fact that once she was more familiar with a person she wasn't as nervous. A knock at the door cut off all further conversation.
"Donovan I think we got a name." Jameson from the previous night announced after Donovan let him in.
"Well?" Donovan requested impatiently. Jameson held a paper out to him.
"I've already got some men going to his home address, in plain clothes." He explained. John launched up and darted around to the other side of the desk to see the paper. The name Maurice Craig and an address stared back at him.
"I'll see if he's at this address. I can delay him if he is until everyone gets there." John announced. Alex stepped towards him.
"I'll go with you." She offered and John immediately hesitated. The goal was to delay him but if that went sour he didn't want her there to get hurt, or worse. She noticed and frowned, placing her hands on her hips.
"I'm going." She insisted. John nodded reluctantly.
"If you leave the instant it goes bad." He agreed pulling the door open of Donovan's office open. She fell into step beside him.
"Only if it goes bad in the first place." She said while giving him a bright smile. He gave her an amused look before bursting out laughing.
"Maurice Craig?" John called into the empty warehouse. Alex was glancing around as best she could over John's shoulder. He had changed his mind in regards to the circumstances and made Alex promise that she would stay behind him at all times. His conscience wouldn't be able to handle it something bad happened.
"Yes?" A middle aged man called back from the catwalk above their heads. Alex waved slightly and John had to swallow his laughter.
"Can we talk?" John requested and Craig shrugged and gestured for them to come up. They climbed the stairs and walked carefully. John pretended not to notice the way Alex's fist had clenched into the fabric of the coat at his shoulder. He wasn't fond of heights either, but he figured that Alex wouldn't want him to point it out.
"What do you want to talk about?" Craig asked while wiping grease off of his hands. John shrugged, cuing Alex to release his coat, before resting against the banister.
"Eugene Weston." John answered casually. He didn't believe in beating around the bush. Craig's face twisted into an ugly scowl.
"What about him?" Craig hissed. Alex inched towards John slightly, she must have been sensing the same thing John was.
"Just wondering if you had an involvement in his poisoning." John replied with the same nonchalant air as before. Craig took a threatening step forward.
"Did you do it?" Alex asked, a slight tremor in her voice betraying her nervousness. John didn't have time for a warning look to her direction before she barrelled into her next question.
"Why?" Now Craig looked murderous instead of just angry.
"He cut funding to that hospital! And my baby girl died!" Craig screamed at Alex who leaned away from him. John pressed his hand into her shoulder, fearing for a moment she was going to tip over the banister.
"A tragedy that should never have occurred. That doesn't explain why though." John stated, desperately trying to shift his focus away from Alex. It worked because Craig slowly pivoted towards him. Alex darted away from him, out of his reach at least.
"It was to make everyone realize how much we need the hospitals." His anger seeped into every word. John vaguely wondered where the hell Donovan was.
"Police!" Donovan owed him an explanation. Craig's already murderous eyes light on fire.
"No!" He barked and gave John a sudden, harsh shove, which tipped him over the banister. Alex screamed as his hands slipped off the railing before he caught the floor of the catwalk. He was hanging over twenty feet in the air.
"Alex, Run!" He managed to shout around his heart, which was currently lodged in his throat, as Craig turned towards her. She didn't, instead she glanced over her shoulder to make eye contact with the private who had clambered up the stairs. He nodded and she dove to her knees, scrambling towards John as the private unloaded a bullet into Craig's arm. Alex snatched one of John's hands shakily.
"Don't fall, please don't fall." She muttered to him as she began to pull on his hand with all her might until he could get a leg up and heave himself back onto the catwalk. She didn't let go of his hand until she had pulled him against the solid wall on the other side of the catwalk. He let out a shaky laugh.
"Lucky." Was all he managed of the sentence he had been about to say. Alex gave him a bright smile.
"That's me." She replied jokingly. He laughed and wrapped an arm around her shoulder to hug her to him.
"Thank you." He added, squeezing her tightly. She nodded.
After the case the mayor himself gave both John and Alex his thanks for finding the culprit without involving the media. Donovan did the same.
"I don't think I've ever had this many people thank me in one day." Alex announced to John dazedly when they were in the car. He was driving to his place on reflex and Alex either hadn't noticed or didn't care. John almost laughed until he realized she was being completely serious.
"Well I've thanked you already." John said and she gave him a tired smile. He couldn't blame her for being tired, she had hauled him up single handedly. When they pulled up at his building he shut the car off and turned towards Alex.
"Do you want to stay, Lucky?" He requested softly and her face light up.
"Can I?" She clarified softly and he nodded. She nodded enthusiastically. He lead her up to his apartment, which also doubled as his office. She settled down on the couch to study the room and he walked into his room to see if he could find something for her to wear to bed. By the time he got back she was already curled up and fast asleep. A smile flickered across his face as he crossed the room before squatting down next to her. This couch was probably a great leap to what she was used to sleeping on. He stood up and carefully lifted her into his arms to carry her to his bed and laid her in it. He pulled the covers up to her chin.
"Goodnight Lucky." He muttered softly when he pulled the door shut. He could sleep on the couch until other arrangements could be made. He walked into his office and snagged the phone.
"Donovan? Could you get me some adoption papers?" John requested and Donovan cracked up laughing on the other end.
"I was hoping you'd say that."
Well there it is! The first of my series. Thanks so much for reading so Please review and let me know what you think! All opinions will be respected.