All Things Mysterious Volume Fifty
Lieutenant Jones and the Electioneers
On the front page of today’s Tribune:
IT’S WAR! PAVONIA DEFIANT TO THE END!
40,000 TROOPS THERE NOW, MORE EN ROUTE
On the business page:
AMALGAMATED PUPPY UP 44 ⅛ IN HEAVY TRADING
Monk tossed and turned in his sleep. After he finally dropped off, he did have some more happy dreams about the Trib headlines that would follow his elevation to the Presidency. But dark thoughts still nagged at him. That Lieutenant Jones was still alive! Never before had a ‘destroy’ order not been carried out. And now Abercrombie was out of stir and the murder charges dropped!
‘Yes, I said a suicide!’
‘But it looked for all the world like a murder! Open and shut!’
‘But it wasn’t.’ Avery leaned in close to Chief Gates. ‘I leaned on the maid a little bit, chief, and she spilled the beans but good. The Worthington-Proudfoot dame was makin’ it with Abercrombie, even though he said he wasn’t, but she was also getting around with Shrdlu Krzscyrwiw, from the Pavonian embassy.’
‘You don’t say!’
‘Don’t you recognize my voice? Seems she knew that eventually her carousing would come to light, but there was more to it than that. She never had a kid, but someone who wanted to wreck the campaign planted all sorts of rumors that she had one with Abercrombie.’
Gates cut him off. ‘I know. I fell for it myself when he was here. But why was Mr. Worthington-Proudfoot so insistent that Abercrombie had knocked her up?’
‘I think he was looking for a blackmail scheme.’
‘And that was the best he could do? Jeez.’
'Not only that, but the missus had serious gambling debts with some serious people and when hubby started making noises about contributing to Abercrombie’s campaign she knew their fresh lack of money would come bouncing right back to her. So she decided to take some wolfsbane. Guess she read about it in a book.’
Gates muttered, ‘I’d like to see a copy of that book.’
Avery said, ‘What?’ and Gates said, ‘I said, How about that!’
‘Yeah. And get this--the maid took five hundred from Bennett for the bloody glove--and it isn’t even Mrs. Worthington-Proudfoot’s blood! It’s the maid’s--she had a nosebleed!’
‘But why would Worthington-Proudfoot want to contribute to Abercrombie’s campaign and blackmail him at the same time--with his own wife, yet?’
‘I think he just floated the idea of a contribution to get a better deal out of Monk for his support.’
‘This is the wackiest case I ever saw!’
The Tribune office was a madhouse. Amid rumors of the foreign affairs desk being compromised, people were running in and out of the newsroom, shouting, gesticulating, while editor-in-chief Myles sat calmly in his office conferring with Ad sales chief Myers. The latter spoke. ‘So we have proof that all of the articles about Pavonia for the last five weeks came from one source.’
‘And they all flowed from this man Bennett.’
‘Right. He was in contact with Spiegel on the desk, and together they steered the coverage the way that Bennett wanted.’
‘Fire Spiegel and report the facts on the ground from now on.’
‘Done and done!’
‘I don’t get it--I thought we had a deal!’ cried Bennett.
‘No, we had an understanding,’ said Shrdlu Krzscyrwiw, the liaison at the Pavonian embassy. ‘Conditions have changed.’
‘It seems that your Amalgamated Puppy company is under federal investigation, both for tax fraud and for profiteering.’
‘Nuts! That’s a witch hunt and you know it!’
‘I’m afraid I know no such thing. Further, I have it on good authority that you and Mr.Monk have made threats upon the person of one Lieutenant Jones, and it would not surprise me if there was a visit from the authorities in your immediate future.’
There was a knock on the door. Without waiting, a uniformed officer opened it and in walked a man showing a badge.
Monk was in a surpassing rage. ‘How could you be so stupid? A simple destroy job, and you bungled it!’
‘How was I to know he knew judo? I thought he broke my arm!’
‘I ought to break your face! Get out of here and do it right this time!’
Red-faced, the goon beat a hasty retreat.
‘Come, come, Mr. Worthington-Proudfoot, there’s no need for recrimination! Our Pavonian casinos are all very honest and there is no hint of the games being ‘rigged,’ as you say.’
‘It’s got nothing to do with the casinos! I know my late wife ran up a big gambling debt--I’ll pay it! But I thought we were going to shake down Abercrombie! Why didn’t you back me up?’
‘Unfortunately I was unable to follow through with our plan to concoct an illegitimate child for the purpose of receiving payment from Mr. Abercrombie in return for silence.’
‘Why, sir? For the oldest reason in the book--my wife wouldn’t let me!’
Worthington-Proudfoot was incredulous. ‘Your wife wouldn’t let you? I thought in your culture the man was the boss!’
‘Ah, but appearances can be deceiving, my friend. Plus there is the incontrovertible medical evidence revealed in the autopsy that the woman never bore a child in her life.’
‘That doesn’t help. I made a fool of myself in front of Abercrombie and that cop!’
‘Correct me if I am wrong, sir, but isn’t ‘that cop’ the chief of police?’
‘So what if he is? I’ll be lucky if I don’t get charged with perjury or something.’
‘If I may say so, your bigger worry is your shares in Amalgamated Puppy. They are now worthless.’
‘Peace talks. Bah!’
‘The bums tried their best to beat me, but I’ll outlast them all! They tried to smear me with that love child stuff, they tried to expose my relationship with Mrs. Worthington-Proudfoot--’
‘Which you denied.’
‘Of course I did! Wouldn’t you?’
Gates had to admit that was true, he would have denied it too.
‘And they tried to call me an appeaser on Pavonia. If they only knew!’
‘Pillow talk! I know that Agatha was also seeing Shrdlu, who’s a good guy, by the way, and I know that Pavonia was desperate to avoid a war. They simply weren’t prepared to do battle. That’s why I opened talks with them and that’s why I sold my shares of Amalgamated Puppy weeks ago!’
‘Good gravy! Does everyone have stock in this company except me?’
‘And me!’ The two men whirled in surprise. Lieutenant Jones was standing casually in a corner.
‘How did you get in here?’ yelled Gates.
‘Irrelevant, since I am here.’
‘Why did I pay all that money to those stupid security people? Well, what do you want?’
The Lieutenant whispered, ‘In a few moments, a man from the Monk campaign is going to make another attempt on my life.’
‘I’d have thought he’d have learned his lesson by now. It was sweet the way you flipped him over the desk!’
‘He is on the ledge outside the window right now, play along.’
In normal conversational tones, Lt. Jones said, ‘Well, it’s all set, Chief. Tonight I fly out to the capital city of Garvey and mediate the peace talks between the Pavonian government, the rebels, and our interests.’
‘Congratulations! You’ll go down in history as a peacemaker.’
‘Well, I don’t know about that, but I’ll be needing that security detail right away.’
‘Coming right up.’
At this, the Lieutenant sidled over to the window and peeked outside. ‘He’s gone. We scared him off.’
‘Some goon he is--more scared of a security detail than of Monk!’
‘He knows he can’t get close with a detail around me, especially on an international flight.’
‘That’s for sure. Say, Proudfoot, aren’t you sorry you never went into politics?’
White-faced and sweating, Mr. Worthington-Proudfoot hastened toward the door. ‘I’ve had enough of police and politics to last me a lifetime! Let me out of here!’
To his retreating back, Gates cheerfully called, ‘Bye! Hope we’ve seen the last of you!’
Abercrombie was on the phone. ‘I tell you, nothing worked! The love child thing failed, the affair affair blew up in our faces thanks to that bum Shrdlu, trying to frame me for murder didn’t work and thank you very much, and now that Jones is going to broker peace talks! There’s no way now that we can get this done. We can’t even recoup on the Amalgamated Puppy stock! We got nothing! Well, we tried. So long, Monk. May the best man win!’
From the Tribune, November 2:
MONK, ABERCROMBIE BOTH FAIL IN ELECTION SURPRISE;
‘NONE OF THE ABOVE’ WINS IN LANDSLIDE,
COUNTRY IN CHAOS
From the International Affairs section:
PEACE TALKS WITH PAVONIA TO CONTINUE;
MYSTERY MEDIATOR FACILITATES SUMMIT
From the business section:
AMALGAMATED PUPPY SHARES DOWN TO 0.25;
BANKRUPTCY SEEN NEAR
WEAPONS MARKET LOWEST IN HISTORY
Prescient? Time will tell! Meanwhile, have a look at some of these exciting stories about elections:
A fictional look at the fraught 1976 elections in Jamaica, that's been called 'exhilarating' and a 'tour de force.'
1840s NYC firefighter Timothy Wilde gets more involved that he'd like with local electoral politics during the Tammany era.
Benjamin Weaver works to expose sinister doings in the run up to the election.
Congratulations to all of us (all one of me!) here at All Things Mysterious on the occasion of our Fiftieth Post! May there be Fifty More! And, of course, a great big thanks and happy reading to you, our valued readers! If such there be.
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