All Things Mysterious Volume Forty-Seven
Lieutenant Jones and the Dirty Trick
Albert Abercrombie was a man in a hurry. As he rushed along the sidewalk, head down, hat jammed over his eyes and ears as a buffer to the wind, he was knocked right off his feet by another man who was doing exactly the same thing in the same way, right down to the fedora. The two men ended up in a heap on the sidewalk. The other man sprang to his feet quickly, helping Abercrombie up and brushing him off, saying, ‘Sorry, pal, wasn’t watching where I was going! Are you all right?’
‘Yes, yes,’ replied Abercrombie, impatient to get about his business. ‘No harm done, is that my hat or yours?’
The other man introduced himself as Smith and darted off, leaving Abercrombie holding a hat which he hoped was his own--it was. Now he was late for his meeting! He had a high-level briefing to attend at police headquarters with all the top brass. No doubt there would be the usual gang of sycophants and office-seekers vying for a position in the cabinet after the election. And of course he would be elected President! Wouldn’t he?
He arrived at the mayor’s office only a few minutes late, which was forgiven by the group there on the grounds that a big important man like Abercrombie was bound to be late sometimes, after all, he was running for the highest office in the land. But the candidate didn’t expect the dozen men in the office to be standing in a semi-circle, somberly staring at him.
At first he thought he’d left something unzipped. Giving a quick glance downward, he saw nothing amiss. So he turned to the mayor, an old friend, and with his practiced politician’s smile, said, ‘What’s going on, Greg? Cops going on strike again?’
The mayor did not smile. Nor did Lieutenant Jones, occupying a corner. The former said, ‘Will you consent to a search, Al?’
‘A search? Whatever for?’
‘Do I have your consent?’
‘Yes, yes. But what are you loo---’ Abercrombie’s questions were stopped in their tracks as the officer held up a long white glove, streaked with reddish stains that were probably not strawberry jam, that had once belonged to an elegant lady.
‘Yes, I’m afraid so. Al, I’m going to have to ask you to come with me. We have some questions we need to ask.’
‘Questions? What questions? Whose glove is that? I never saw it before!’
‘I’ll tell you, you cad!’ This outburst was uttered by a man in a tuxedo who looked for all the world as if he’d just stepped out of a posh drawing room affair. Top-hatted, tuxedoed, with pince-nez glasses perched upon his nose, the man was red-faced with anger as he shouted at Abercrombie. ‘You broke up my home!’ And with that the man rushed at the candidate and knocked him to the floor with one blow, which in fact sent the sender down as well. Separated by the mayor’s security detail, the men glared at one another, huffing and puffing and now purple with rage.
‘What’s the meaning of this, Greg? How dare you let this--person--in here to attack me!’
‘I’ll tell you the meaning, you home-wrecker!’
‘If you’ll allow me, sir,’ said Chief Gates. ‘Al, this is Mr. Worthington-Proudfoot, of the Akron, Ohio Worthington-Proudfoots.’
Abercrombie said, ‘Oh, yes, I remember reading of them in the tabloids. Which I found on the train. Some kerfuffle about a baby out of wedlock?’
‘Don’t pretend you don’t know! IT WAS YOURS!’
This sufficiently shocked all present that silence reigned for a few moments. Then, in a thin, cracked voice, Abercrombie, who wanted to be President, said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about, sir.’
Chief Gates cut in. ‘You may not recall the details. Mrs. Worthington-Proudfoot had an affair which resulted in a child. She later came to an untimely end. Mr. Worthington-Proudfoot believes that you are the father of that child, if not the murderer himself.’
‘That’s a lie!’ the would-be leader of the Free World shouted.
‘And the glove that we found in your possession was one of Mrs. Worthington-Proudfoot’s. The other was still on her hand when...when…’
Sensing that the scheduled meeting was not going to take place after all, the other men had filed out of the office, leaving Chief Greg Gates, Albert Abercrombie, and the aggrieved Mr. Worthington-Proudfoot...and Lieutenant Jones.
Gates spoke first.
‘Would you come with me, Mr. Abercrombie?’
‘This is a frame! Someone planted that glove! I had nothing to do with it!’ And the man continued ranting all the way down the corridor.
‘Well!’ said Worthington-Proudfoot. ‘I’m glad the chief listened to reason, at least! I’ll see that bum in jail for wrecking my home if it’s the last thing I do!’
‘How do you know it was he?’ inquired the Lieutenant.
‘Huh! Big shot politicians! Always thinking they are above the law! Think they can do anything they please, and never mind the consequences!’
‘But what proof have you that he fathered the child, or that he even knew your wife?’
‘Bah! My servant was constantly seeing that man leaving by the back door at all hours of the morning! And never said a word about it! What else could it possibly be? Now if you’ll excuse me-’
And with that he was gone. Lt. Jones reflected upon this. As a presidential candidate, Abercrombie must necessarily have some powerful enemies, and it certainly would not be beyond the realm of possibility that a frame-up was in the offing. On the other hand, many if not most politicians did have an unfortunate sense of entitlement, thus it was also within the realm of possibility that he had indeed ruined the Worthington-Proudfoot home.
‘Perfect! It was just perfect! You should have seen the look on his face when Gates led him away!’
‘Good. Make sure Bennett gets his bonus for getting that glove out of the house and into Abercrombie’s pocket. Let him keep the pressure up. Now set Plan B in motion.’
Will Abercrombie get out of custody in time for the election? Is he even innocent? What do the conspirators have in mind? Plan B, indeed!
Have a gander at some noteworthy legal thrillers just waiting for you at Mysterious:
Against his better judgement, attorney Guido Guerrieri defends a judge accused of corruption. He finds that the judge has ties to the mafia and also that he is attracted to his motorbike-riding assistant!
A hotshot lawyer loses everything, but unexpectedly gains an opportunity to redeem himself with a case that may make him--or break him.
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