M d grayson danny loga.., p.1
M.D. Grayson - Danny Logan 05 - Blue Molly, page 1part #5 of Danny Logan Series
Table of Contents
Other Books by M.D. Grayson
This novel is dedicated to Casey and Joseph, with love.
July 17, 1897
George Tanner grew increasingly concerned. He tried to blend in, but it wasn’t working. In fact, the more he concentrated on being inconspicuous, the more conspicuous he felt. He was certain everyone in the saloon was watching him. He kept his head down and stared into his beer mug, drumming his fingers on the bar to the beat of the piano playing in the corner. He pulled out a silver pocket watch and checked the time, then he glanced up at the stairs where his two friends had disappeared with four of Lou Graham’s prettiest girls for a “one-hour” appointment nearly two hours ago. He shook his head, reached for the beer mug, and started the cycle all over again, his anxiety mounting.
George wasn’t worried about his friends—no doubt they were having a fine time, and besides, they were more than capable of taking care of themselves. Instead, it was the pouch of gold nuggets tucked away in the pocket of his vest jacket that was at the core of his discomfort. Never in his experience had such a small weight felt like such a huge burden. It actually felt as if the gold nuggets were sewn to the outside of his jacket and that everyone in Lou Graham’s Sporting House knew it and was looking at him. If ever there were a walking target, it was him.
To be sure, George and the two friends he’d arrived with as well as the sixty-four other miners who’d disembarked the SS Portland that very morning were something of celebrities, having arrived from the Yukon early that morning with enough gold for each man to easily retire on. Within hours of their arrival, the word had spread like fire throughout Pioneer Square and beyond: gold had been discovered in the Klondike! Now, after a full day of banking and bathing and clothes buying, along with an evening of celebrating, George wanted nothing more than to return to his room at the Great Northern Hotel, get a good night’s sleep in a big, soft bed that wasn’t tossing about on the ocean, and then meet his wife and young son at the train station the next morning. He’d not seen Felicity for almost sixteen months, and he’d never even met George Junior, who’d been born the previous December, midway through George’s time in the north. George couldn’t wait to see them. Tonight, though, he’d agreed to wait for his friends. He gave a nervous glance around the room and felt a shudder run through him.
His commitment to waiting was already waning, but when he noticed two tough-looking characters at the opposite end of the bar openly staring at him, it changed completely. He was right! His suspicions were confirmed. The men were too far away for George to hear what they were saying over the raucous din, but there was no mistaking the fact that they were watching him, even studying him. This did it for George—enough was enough. He decided that rather than continue to wait for God-only-knew-how-long for his friends, he’d pretend that he needed to use the facilities out back, but instead, he’d sneak off and walk back down the hill to the hotel on Front Street. He leaned forward and whispered his plans to the bartender with instructions to pass them on to his friends when they returned. Then, when he noticed another group of men heading to the back, he got up—a little unsteadily—and joined them as they stepped outside.
* * * *
The rain had returned—summer thunderstorm rain with droplets big enough that they seemed to explode when they hit the ground. George stood beneath the shelter of the entrance awning and looked skyward for a moment, then he peered into the darkness, trying to orient himself. He looked down Washington first, then he turned and looked down Third Avenue, getting his bearings. He remembered that they’d climbed a grade to get to Lou’s place, but one of the others had been leading and George hadn’t been paying enough attention. That had been a mistake because now, both Washington as well as Third seemed to lead downhill from Lou’s, and the visibility in either direction was hindered by the rain. Confused and more than a little inebriated after the night’s celebration, George made a decision and set off downhill on Third Avenue. Though it started soaking him immediately, the rain actually didn’t feel bad—it was much warmer than what he’d grown accustomed to in the far north. In any case, he was glad to be out of the crowded brothel with its prying eyes. He had no idea he was going the wrong way.
He’d gone only twenty yards or so when he heard the saloon door behind him open. He glanced backward and his heart skipped a beat when he saw that the two men who’d been staring at him in the bar had also stepped outside. It was dark, and George felt near certain he was far enough away that he couldn’t be seen—he hoped that was the case, anyway. But to his dismay, the men chose to follow in his direction. Taking care to remain quiet, George picked up his pace.
When he reached Main Street, he spent a precious few seconds looking around. He was confused—things weren’t as they should be. He should have been able to see the bright lights of his hotel straight ahead, right down at the bottom of the hill. Instead, there was nothing but darkness, punctuated by occasional lights inside mostly dark buildings. He took a step forward and turned to his right, looking down Main. Far away in the distance, he saw lights on what he figured had to be Front Street. That must be it! He realized then that he’d been heading in the wrong direction. He turned right down Main Street and started walking quickly. The hill fell away as George continued on, and he picked up speed—any faster, and he’d be running. He was halfway to Second Avenue when he heard the men round the corner behind him.
“Hey!” they yelled when they saw how much space George had opened on them. If they’d been trying to be sly or sneaky before, they gave it up now. Hearing them chasing, George panicked and started running. He no longer cared about being stealthy—he just wanted to get away. Below him, no more than three hundred yards down the hill, lay the safety of Front Street.
George was a quick runner and he’d started with a decent lead, but the men behind him were fast, too, and they weren’t burdened with George’s disadvantages. George wasn’t on his home turf, but the thieves were, so he had to be careful. The darkness and the rain didn’t help matters. Even though George knew he was at least heading in the right direction now, he was still unfamiliar with the roads and the terrain, and this slowed him down—he knew that taking a nasty spill would end the chase immediately. Finally, as if things weren’t bad enough, he was slowed by the heaviness of the gold nuggets he carried in his pocket. The extra weight was akin to the modern practice of weighting down prize racehorses in an effort to tire them and thus even out the results. Unfortunately, it had the exact same effect on George.
He crossed to the south side of Main in an effort to shake his pursuers, but this had little effect other than allowing them to draw closer. He was tiring, and they continued to gain. He heard footsteps behind him drawing closer, pounding on the wet, muddy street. He’d no sooner crossed Second Avenue when he felt a strong arm reach out and grab his shoulder from behind. “Whoa up there, little man!”
“Leave me be!” George squirmed to get away, but before he could escape, the man grabbed him by the other shoulder and spun him around.
“Quit yer fussin’!” the man huffed, trying to recapture his breath. “We don’t mean ya’ no harm!”
George looked at the man as he worked to catch his own breath. Despite an evening of drinking, he had sobered up and was thinking quickly. He had not traveled to the Yukon, struggled for fifteen months away from his wife, and then made his way back to Seattle only to fall victim to a couple of common street criminals. And although he wanted to believe the man when he said the
Since the newcomer was still panting, George decided that a bold first move would give him the best chance to escape. He pretended to catch his breath while he balled his fist. Then, he swung a hard looping punch with his right hand with all the force he could muster at the first thug, catching him square on the nose. The man clearly had not expected an offensive move from George, and he fell backward to the ground, grabbing at his nose as he went down.
Before the second man with the knife could react, George spun around with the intent of bolting off and continuing his dash for the safety of Front Street. He might have made it; however, George’s direction was off again, and this time he crashed squarely into a flimsy board railing that protected a section of the areaway below where the sidewalk was not completed. In the next instant, the railing gave way and George sailed through, falling.
A vision of Felicity flashed through his mind before—twenty feet and barely more than a second later—he smashed headfirst into the concrete footer supporting the elevated retaining wall. He was immediately knocked unconscious, coming to rest facedown in a puddle of muddy water alongside the footer. With his body weighted down by the gold in his pockets, George drowned.
The two thieves peered down from above, one holding a dirty handkerchief to his bleeding nose. For a moment they debated whether they should take one of the ladders at the corner down into the areaway below and search George’s body, but when a group of people turned the corner and began walking up Main Street from Front Street, they panicked and bolted down Second Avenue, not wanting to be connected in any way with what had just happened.
The thunderstorms continued to roll through the city, and the rain fell off and on the rest of the night.
* * * *
Felicity Tanner and her young son, George Junior, arrived the next morning on the Northern Pacific Railroad as scheduled. She was surprised to find that George was not waiting at the train station to meet her, as they’d planned. Nor was he in his room at the Great Northern Hotel. Nor had his friends heard from him since the night before—they both said that the bartender had told them George had grown tired of waiting for them the previous night and decided to retire early. Distraught, Felicity turned in a report at the police office before resuming the search on her own.
Meanwhile, on Monday, the day after she reported George missing, workers arrived on Main Street to finish up their work on the lower sidewalk in the areaway along Main. The concrete was scheduled to be poured later that afternoon; in order for this to happen, it would need a relatively dry surface. Yet the lower areaway was full of puddles from the previous day’s rains. The simple solution was to dump gravel on top of the puddles until they were full, and this is what the workers decided to do. They didn’t notice George’s body, lying facedown in a deep puddle, covered with mud. The gravel rained down on George until he was completely buried. Later that afternoon, the concrete sidewalk was poured on schedule.
* * * *
Felicity never stopped looking for George, nor did she ever accept the explanation from the police that perhaps George had simply decided to run off. As George’s surviving spouse, she took sole title to 515 pounds of high-grade gold that George had brought to the express office the morning of his arrival and shipped to the San Francisco mint, where it was to be coined. She never wanted for money or material things the rest of her life, but she never remarried, and she never stopped looking for George. Felicity Tanner passed away on August 18, 1946.
February 5, 2014
Looking back, I should never have taken my eyes off the short, bald guy with the pool cue. I mean, I have no excuse: I saw him coming.
We—Doc and I—were in the Merchants Café and Saloon, minding our own business, waiting for the Super Bowl victory parade to start, when loud voices erupted nearby. Short and Bald and three or four buddies all wearing the same style of black leather jackets were standing at a table opposite a middle-aged couple who were having lunch and didn’t seem to be bothering anybody. Short and Bald yelled something at the lady and, despite her non-menacing appearance, she jumped right up and started yelling back at him. If he’d hoped that his yelling would have somehow cowed or intimidated her, it didn’t work. We watched them yell back and forth at each other, impressed at her courage and feisty spirit.
At first glance, neither the woman nor her male companion appeared to be the confrontational type. Both were middle-aged, neatly dressed—they looked like businesspeople. Yet there she was, leaning over the table eye to eye with Short and Bald, matching him decibel for decibel. This must have frustrated Short and Bald because he then produced the bottom end of a two-piece pool cue, which I hadn’t noticed before. He started waving it in front of her in a menacing fashion. I was surprised that she didn’t seem all that impressed by it, but her husband did. He jumped up, ready to come to her rescue, but before he could even get to his feet, he was shoved back into his chair by one of the other thugs. Things weren’t going well for the couple, so that’s when I decided to step in. I got up and walked over, hoping that a calm voice might help to defuse the situation.
This didn’t work out well at all. As a matter of fact, I suppose you could say that it might have had the opposite effect, because it was right about then that all hell broke loose. People started swinging, and the fight was on.
Now, two minutes later, there was a numbnuts in front of me wearing a 49ers hat, of all things, and yelling at me in Russian. Without further ado, he started in on a delivery for a punch that, if it had connected, would have knocked me right over the center-field wall at Safeco. I figured this made him my most immediate threat and, therefore, deserving of most of my attention. This may have been a mistake, though, because while 49ers Cap was about halfway done with his windup, I decided I had time, so I took a quick glance back at Short and Bald just to make sure he wasn’t getting out of hand. It was a good thing, too, because that damn pool cue of his was comin’! Right now—right at Danny Logan’s noggin. Time to move.
So I moved. I did the natural thing and stepped backward; however, in so doing, I tripped over a guy who wasn’t there a second ago but was definitely there now, thanks, most likely, to Doc bustin’ him upside the head. Then I was falling backward. I wasn’t sure where I was going to land, but I was pretty sure it was going to hurt so, as best I could, I braced myself.
The last thing I expected was to fall into a booth on a slippery leather seat cushion, flat on my back. Even more surprising was that my head fell straight back into the soft lap of a young blonde who was so surprised that her eyes flew open wide and her lips formed a precious “Oh!” shape. Of course, I could barely see this beyond her truly magnificent breasts, which were enveloped by a tight blue-and-green T-shirt that read “2014 Super Bowl Champs!” on it.
And there’s no way I could have known that she was with the Russian thugs. I smiled at her for one quick second and thought she was just about to smile back when I felt a pair of rough hands grab my left ankle. “You get off her!” the man grabbing my foot bellowed just before he gave a mighty yank.
The booth cushion was still smooth and slippery, and I was surprised at how I seemed to gain speed as I was hauled back out of the booth. This time, I knew for certain where I was going to land: on the floor, and it was going to hurt. I braced—again.
Just before I sailed off the cushion, I noticed that the guy grabbing my ankle—49ers Cap again—evidently thought I was either defenseless, completely stupid, or both, because he left himself wide-open for a creative counter-attack. So that’s what he got. While he had hold
But not now. I’m a resilient guy and the fight was still on, so I popped back up. Doc was to my right. He stands six feet four inches and weighs somewhere in the 240 range, and he’s ex–US Army Special Forces, so I wasn’t too worried about him.
To my left, the middle-aged couple was still engaged. After I went down, Short and Bald had turned his attention back to them, and the woman was still yelling at him. Husband was clearly overmatched but, to his credit, that didn’t stop him from going toe to toe with Short and Bald. The guy had guts; I’ll give him that. By now, he also had a bright red mark over his left eye—he’d be sporting a nice shiner soon.
Short and Bald looked like he meant business with the pool cue and I figured that things were about to come to an ugly end for the husband, so I stepped in that direction.
“Hey!” I yelled.
Short and Bald spun around to face me just as the bar’s front doors flew open and two of Seattle’s finest burst through. The whole scene seemed to freeze as if someone had pushed a “Pause” button. Short and Bald was motionless, pool cue cocked as if he were a batter at the plate waiting for a pitch. I stood still, caught in mid-stride. Doc, who had been looking for someone else to hit, stood and watched. Nobody moved.
The police officers scanned the area, then they took control of the situation. “Nobody move!” one of them screamed at the top of his lungs.
by M. D. Grayson have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes