Jenkins poked his head into Mac’s office and said simply, “our boy’s back.”
Mac knew it was going to be a bad day. After reading Jenkins’s report, it looked as if the case was going to turn into a killing spree; four victims the day before and now the young mugger today. Mac already read the Morning Post and things were shaping up bad. It looked as if someone wanted to claim the underground system for himself and didn’t give a damn who he had to kill to get it.
Well, if the last transit strike didn’t clean out the subway, this sure will, Mac thought. He knew a lot of people would be screaming for action. This latest murder would send politicians reeling, and it wasn’t even in the media’s hands yet.
When he and Jenkins arrived at Lexington, a grim‑faced Jimmy Peters met them at the entrance to the subway. Jimmy was Mac’s peer and graduated in the same class as he did at the academy, but he had several “Rabbi’s” on the force and was quick to make captain in Central Homicide.
“What’s up,” Mac asked, extending his hand for a handshake.
“Plenty,” Captain Peters said, accepting the Lieutenant’s firm grip.
On the way down they passed a blood-stained covered stretcher going the other way.
“The mugger?” Mac asked with a toss of his head.
“What happened?” the lieutenant asked.
After the captain told the story, Mac and Jenkins exchanged silent glances and walked on without another word. When they reached the first level where the token booth was they could see a crowd of cops. Near one wall where the captain indicated, the still stunned T.A. cop who witnessed the impaling was sitting on a bench.
“Says he saw the guy one moment, and he was gone the next,” Peter’s informed them.
“What about the guy that was mugged?” Jenkins asked.
“He was a little vague about what happened before the incident.”
Peters said, “most likely he’s covering up for something. There’s probably going to be a few questions at home about his whereabouts and I don’t think he’s going to stick his neck out too far.”
“Possibly a jealous wife,” Mac said.
“Looks that way,” said Peters.
“Where’s he now?” asked Jenkins.
“Sent him to Bellevue with a few broken ribs, courtesy of the stiff. I sent a man along to pump him, to see how much more we can get,” the captain said.
“Well, let’s talk to the T.A. guy then,” Mac suggested.
“O.K., but I don’t think you’re going to get anymore out of him.”
“I know, but maybe he left something out.”
As they approached the Transit cop, they could see that he looked drained.
“Dugan?” Mac asked, reading the Transit Cop’s name tag.
The Lieutenant saw that he had an untended cigarette trembling in his mouth, and he was puffing it nervously. His coat lapels were marked from the bombardment of ashes from the last several cigarettes, it seemed.
“Lieutenant MacCallum, Homicide,” Mac said, with a quiet undertone of officialdom.
Dugan flushed with Mac’s rank identified.
As Dugan began to rise, Mac said, “stay seated Officer, I just want to ask a few questions.”
After he saw the Officer nod his head in reply, Mac continued with a casual manner. “What happened”?
“Well, it’s like I told the Captain, I came walking down the stairs when I saw somebody curled up on the platform moaning and another guy taking a powder. When I yelled at him to stop, I spotted this humongous guy.”
“The big guy,” Mac corrected.
“Yeah,” said Dugan, “but not just big, Lieutenant, humongous.”
Mac nodded. “Go ahead.”
“Well,” Dugan reported, “I had to draw my revolver when I saw this huge guy step around from behind the stairs into the path of the mugger. The Spaniard didn’t see him at first, I guess ’cause he was looking back over his shoulder at me. Well, he turned around to see which way he was going and the jolly green giant guy shish kebabs him and raises him up into the air like some toy. When he finishes him off, he just throws him over the tracks into the tunnel wall like a paper cup or something.”
“You mean to tell me the guy was green too?” asked Mac.
“No Lieutenant,” said Dugan defensively. “I meant that he
was just big, sort of.”
“How big?” asked Captain Peters.
“About eight feet, I guess.
“You guess?” retorted Mac.
“To put it a little more exactly, Lieutenant,” Dugan said getting hot, “he was a good two feet taller than you, sir, and built like a barn.”
“O.K., Officer,” Mac said more calmly. “But, you gotta
understand, we’ve got to be sure.”
“I’m sorry, Lieutenant,” Dugan said with most of the steam gone. A little more sheepishly he added, “listen sir, I’m really positive about the I.D. though. And again, I’m sorry about barking back, but you should have seen this guy.”
“That’s O.K., Dugan,” Mac said. “You had a rough time of it. You should take the day off tomorrow and ease the nerves a bit. We wouldn’t want you to start getting trigger happy down here.”
“Yeah, I’ll think I’ll do that,” Dugan replied. “Thanks Lieutenant.”
“One more thing officer,” Mac said a little more officially, “you said the big guy had a knife.”
“Jeez, yes sir,” Dugan replied, “The damn thing must have been over a foot long, and heavy, too.”
“O.K., Thanks,” Mac said.
As the patrolman left, Jenkins asked, “What’s up, Lieutenant?”
“Nothing, I guess. Looks like he’s back to using the knife again, that’s all.”
When they were leaving, Mac reflected on the autopsy report of the bag lady. The old woman had been definitely done in with something like a meat cleaver. They had asked if the toll booth change collector saw the large man Dugan described on the lower platform, and she said if she had seen someone of his description, she wouldn’t have missed him. So they drew a blank there. The first time she knew something was wrong, she said, was when the T.A. cop dragged the mugging victim up the stairs to the first level and asked to use her emergency phone.
Mac thanked her for her help, then left.
Little had anyone known, but within a half hour after the incident, a large figure approached a nun asleep on her chair, where she collected coins for charity. After watching her for a few moments, he placed the money dropped by Mickey into her dish.
He was like a passing shadow who left her slumber undisturbed. Leaving her peacefully behind, he went on searching…