All Things Mysterious Volume Thirty
Lieutenant Jones and the Fearsome Noise Part Two
‘Ohhh, no! It’s McGee. He owns--I mean, he owned--the bowling alley down the street.’
Kirby knelt down and turned the body over. McGee showed numerous bruisings on his body, including his head and it looked like this was what caused his untimely passing.
‘May I suggest that you not move the body any further? Evidence, you know,’ said Lt. Jones.
Kirby whirled to face the Lieutenant. ‘And just who ARE you, anyway? You show up here and start ordering me around!’
‘You may call me Lieutenant Jones,’ replied Lieutenant Jones. ‘And I would suggest calling the police immediately.’
‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you.’ And now a new voice entered the fray.
‘McCoy’s the name. McGee was my partner in the local Chamber of Commerce, along with Kirby here. We’ll get to the bottom of this, no need to involve the cops.’
‘I would strongly suggest calling the police immediately,’ repeated the Lieutenant.
‘Nuts to that! Come on, help me get him to the office, at least.’ And with that the men, except Lt. Jones, hoisted McGee’s body and hauled him to the temporary office behind the stage, which Freed had made his own while the rock and rollers were in town. Once they had set the corpse down gingerly on the sofa, they convened around the desk to sort out the matter.
‘Now listen, we need to get Doc Stone in here and examine the guy.’
‘What for?' Kirby smirked. 'It’s clear what happened--one of these so-called musicians didn’t like our opposition to this noise and McGee paid for it with his life.’
As the other men bandied about their theories, the Lieutenant spoke up.
‘How do you know it was a musician? There are a number of possibilities.’
‘Nonsense!’ ‘What do you know about it, anyway?’ ‘I want my supper!’
While the chorus of responses were ricocheting around the room, the office phone rang and Freed picked it up. ‘Hello. Oh, hello, Doc. Yes--wait, no. Well, yes and no. Well, he’s here but he isn’t. I don’t know how to tell you this but--wait a minute! How did you know?’ Oh.' He cupped his hand over the mouthpiece and said, ‘One of the security guys called Stone. He’s coming over to take charge of the body.’
When the doctor arrived, he made a cursory examination of the late Max McGee and said, ‘He’s dead, all right.’
Kirby yelled, ‘Well, THAT’S a brilliant deduction! How did he die? Who killed him?’
As the chagrined doctor bent over to make a more thorough check of the dead man, the others in the office started eyeing each other suspiciously. Before more accusations started flying, Lieutenant Jones chimed in. ‘What do you men do for a living?’
‘Like I said, Max here ran the bowling alley,’ said McCoy. I have a little malt shop over on Linden, Kirby has the drive-in on the Old Post Road, and Freed--well, you know.’ He turned on Alan Freed. ‘Alan, why do you foist this terrible music on us? You want to pollute the airwaves just for a buck?’ Freed said, ‘What can I tell you, Len? A guy’s got to make a living. And how’s anybody's business been lately?’
‘That’s the problem right there!’ roared Kirby. ‘This so-called music is hurting our businesses--all these kids want to do is jump around like idiots to these jungle rhythms!’
‘Take it easy, Kirb. There’s plenty of space for different kinds of entertainment. Maybe there’s some room for improvement at the drive-in, you think?’
‘Don’t blame lousy conditions on me! I was just telling McGee the other day that he’d better shape up and support our efforts to get this plague out of our town!’
This was greeted with silence. Realizing it, Kirby stammered out a backpedal, but the Lieutenant beat him to the punch. ‘So Mr. McGee might just as easily have been killed because he wasn’t against rock and roll enough!’
This gave each man food for thought. While they were contemplating the silent freeway, the good doctor spoke.
‘This man was not killed by a single blow to the head.’
This lengthened the silence.
Suddenly Kirby pulled a gun. ‘You’ll never pin this on me!’ he shouted, as he brandished his pistol at the others.
‘Give me the gun, Mr. Kirby,’ said Lt. Jones. He was the calmest man in the room. The doctor was engrossed in his examination, but McCoy and Freed were quaking in their boots.
‘I didn’t kill him, but he deserved to die! He was ruining our businesses! Len, Al, you know! He liked those dirty beatniks! He didn’t lift a finger to stop this scourge!’
The Lieutenant slowly came toward Kirby. ‘Give me the gun. Let’s not have any trouble.’
‘Trouble! You don’t know what trouble is! Last Saturday I sold two malteds! Two! How long do you think I can survive if these kids spend all their dough on these noisy records?’
‘This isn’t going to help,’ said the Lieutenant, quietly.
‘I’m at the end of my rope! And it’s all your fault!’ Then Kirby, forgetting his gun, lunged at Freed. The promoter was middle aged and not in good shape, and quickly Kirby had the older man down and was set to thrash him when the Lieutenant separated them, scooping the discarded gun up off the floor in the process. ‘I think the time has come for some straight talk, Mr. Kirby. You didn’t kill Mr. McGee, but you did take advantage of the situation, didn’t you?’ Kirby stared at the Lieutenant for a pregnant moment and then replied sullenly, ‘I didn’t do anything. I got nothing to say.’ McCoy shouted, ‘You killed him, didn’t you, you louse! Talk!’
‘No, Mr. McCoy, Mr. Kirby didn’t kill Mr. McGee. This arena did.’
‘What!’ ‘How can that be?’
‘When the music started, the concertgoers on the floor rushed the floor, which caused a bank of stacked chairs to topple over, crushing Mr. McGee. When Mr. Kirby happened along--remember he was separated from us briefly when you came upstairs--he decided to use his death as a weapon against the town’s rock and roll-loving teenagers and blame them for the incident.’
‘Is that true, Kirby?’ barked McCoy. Kirby said nothing. The malt shop proprietor wasn’t through. ‘You bum. You’re through in this town! And what’s more, I’m putting more rhythm and blues records in the jukebox at my place. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, I always say! Thank you, Lieutenant!’
‘Don’t mention it--always happy to help.’ At that moment, the Lieutenant felt himself fading away, as if he were a cobweb, simply brushed aside.
A new adventure! When, and where, will he end up? Only time will tell….
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