Madman: A Diamond and Doran Mystery, page 1
A Diamond and Doran Mystery
Copyright © Tracy Tonkinson 2015
All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. All names, places, characters or incidents are either used fictitiously or are entirely the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to persons living or dead, to real events or actual locations is purely coincidental.
To every new writer of whatever age where ever you may be: never give up on your dream.
Chicago, Illinois. Wednesday May 5 1886
Lieutenant of Detectives Daniel Flanagan cursed. His pocket watch chimed a quarter after ten o’clock. He was late for the party.
Below his office window at Station House Number Two far fewer late night stragglers than usual teetered along the gas lit sidewalks of Randolph Street, heading home after a night’s revels at Chicago’s theatres and taverns. Flanagan did not see even those few. Crushed in his hand was a copy of the Tribune.
As Billy Doran entered the dimly lit office Flanagan’s hunched shoulders made plain his black mood. Doran waited to be invited to sit. Flanagan neither turned to face Doran nor offered his senior sergeant a seat. Instead he threw the newspaper at him. “Look at that.”
Doran smoothed out the crumpled sheets and read the headline aloud. “A Hellish Deed at Haymarket.”
Flanagan scowled. “Not that; under ‘Clearing the Streets’. Goaded it says, ‘goaded to madness and blinded by passion’. ‘Mercilessly clubbed’. Damned scribblers. I should think we were goaded. Flesh and blood, Billy; our own flesh and blood. It’s been barely a day since we were blasted to blazes and shot down on our own streets. Are we supposed to be made of stone?”
Doran was silent until he was sure Flanagan had regained his composure. “You have something for me?”
Remembering Doran had more reason than most to feel angry at the previous night’s events, Flanagan looked chastened. “Get yourself to Carville Street and see what the hell is going on down there. There’s a rookie down in the booking hall. Take him with ya.”
Doran opened his mouth to protest, but Flanagan raised a silencing hand. “With so many lads injured in the bombing we’re too bloody short-handed to be choosey. Take the rookie. He needs breakin’ in. The brass thinks he’s the coming man. And Doran.” The stocky sergeant turned in the doorway. “If it's as bloody as they say keep a lid on it, would ya? The last thing we need is another damned riot on our hands.”
Doran nodded and strode out to find the rookie constable while Flanagan gathered his coat and headed out onto Randolph Street to find a fast cab.
The booking hall was unnaturally quiet for a Wednesday night.
At the front desk Doran flashed a questioning glance at the desk sergeant. “So where’s this fresh meat you’ve got for me tonight, Oscar?”
Sergeant Oscar Nolan grinned, nodding towards the long oak bench that ran the length of the booking hall wall and the solitary constable perched upon it.
Doran turned to look at the pale faced rookie who stared right back at him. Doran’s barrel chest swelled; he puckered his lips and glowered. “You, get over here!” The constable pointed to his chest. “Yes you, who else? With me, shift yourself and be quick about it!”
Before the constable could put on his cap Doran strode out of the front door and down the station house steps. The lanky constable scrambled after him.
Two twenty eight Carville Street was a rundown tenement. Grimy windows, many cracked or broken, lined the building’s sooty façade like rows of broken teeth. Rust pitted drainage pipes clung perilously to the face of the dilapidated structure dripping fetid water into slime filled pools at its base. The place oozed neglect.
Sergeant Doran muscled his way through the agitated mob blocking his entry to the building’s dark stairwell to find two constables already at the scene standing smirking at the crowd.
The babble of a dozen foreign tongues, filled with fear and anger, reached a crescendo in the drizzle filled evening.
A voice shouted above the clamour. “What’s going on?”
Doran swivelled to face the roiling crowd and made the star pinned to his waistcoat obvious for them all to see. “Get lost, the lot a ya. There's nothin’ to see here.”
“We want to know why the police are here!”
Doran strained to see where the voice in the crowd was coming from, but it was too dark. He was impatient to get to the victim. “Get back to your families, you ruddy heathens!”
Doran swung round and grabbed the arms of the two constables and yanked them close. “Sort this bloody lot out or I’ll be wearing your guts for suspenders by mornin.’”
Smirks evaporating, the constables nodded; night sticks drawn they began shoving the mob back from the tenement’s crumbling doorway and into the street. Doran waited to make sure his orders were followed.
Out of breath and gagging slightly, the rookie joined Doran at the foot of the stairwell. He put the back of his hand to his mouth in anticipation of holding back bile.
Doran frowned. “Don’t let the smell get to ya. All of these hell holes are the same; nothin’ but the stink of sweat and desperation.” He took the stairs two at a time. Without looking behind him at the rookie he asked, “What do they call you, Constable?”
“Diamond, sir. Arthur Diamond.”
“Diamond is it; English?”
“Yes sir; but I was born in Toronto.”
Doran snorted. “Well that makes all the difference.”
The two officers arrived at the second floor landing to find another constable on the scene bent over in the apartment’s open doorway. He retched into a battered bucket.
Doran let out a grunt. “What's this, what's this? Are we recruitin’ women and pansies now? Get yer head outta that bloody tin, boy and tell me what in Christ's name is going on here.” The hapless constable, pale skinned and watery eyed pointed feebly to the room behind him. Doran pushed passed him.
Diamond, making to follow the sergeant, was halted momentarily by the sight of something trapped under the gap at the bottom of the apartment door. He scooped up a ball of crumpled paper and glanced at it as he stepped across the threshold. Diamond squinted to read the lettering visible among the paper folds, but in the half-light of the landing could make no sense of the marks.
“What are you faffing around at out there, English?” Doran roared.
“Sir, I found this on the floor in the doorway.”
Doran glanced at the ball of paper. “Don’t bother me with garbage now, English.”
Hastily Diamond stuffed the paper into his tunic pocket and addressed the matter at hand. A stride behind his sergeant, Diamond saw Doran make the sign of the cross.
“Watch your step there.”
Diamond whistled. “Sweet Jesus.”
“You're not going to puke on me now are ya, English?
Kneeling beside the body, Diamond exhaled. “No, sir. I was in the army before I came to Chicago. I've seen worse, but not done to a woman. If I didn't know better I'd say dogs had been at her.”
Doran picked up a hank of dark hair lying on the filthy, threadbare rug. Leaning down he ran his palm over the victim’s head. “Dogs don't shave heads.”
Diamond took out his notebook and looked at Doran. “Could it be a robbery? I just thought...”
Doran stooped closer to the body, checking with deft fingers through the blood soaked tatters of the clothes barely covering it, for anything that might give a clue to what he was seeing. “I’ll do the thinkin’, English.” A small cough came from the hallway. Doran looked up in
The constable at the door indicated a nervous figure standing next to him out on the poorly lit landing.
“Who've you got there?”
“Metzger. Husband,” mumbled the constable.
A wiry man in a mismatched baggy coat and patched pants shuffled into the room, eyes wide with horror. He shook at the sight of the mutilated body lying in the middle of the floor.
Doran grabbed the single thin sheet from the metal bedstead at the far end of the room and hastily covered the remains. Taking the trembling man by the elbow, Doran led him to a chair in the corner of the one room apartment.
Surprising Diamond with his gentleness, Doran began to interrogate the man.
“Sir, sit your good self down. I have but a few questions. If you can help me out by being as clear as possible we can take this away,” Doran indicated the covered remains, “leave you to your grief, and be on our way. Give me just a moment while I set these young officers out to make enquiries.”
Diamond, scanning the meagre room, was jolted into action by Doran barking an order.
“Don't just stand there ya English eejit, go canvas the neighbours.” Indicating the still pale and shaky constable at the door, Doran added, “Take Pansy there with ya.”
Mrs Carter Harrison’s soiree was in full swing when Flanagan arrived. The dining room of 231 Ashland Avenue was packed with her husband’s supporters; aldermen and city officials, come to pay homage to the man whose patronage meant they could hold on to their jobs and the perks that they all so enjoyed for one more year.
Margaret Harrison had worried about holding her party a day after there had been such a tragedy in the city, but her plans had been laid many weeks beforehand and she knew her husband would not countenance cancellation at such short notice. Looking around her crowded dining room she wondered how much longer these acolytes would worship their benefactor in light of what she knew that the rest of them did not; her husband was determined not to make another run for mayor. She hoped her husband’s decision would see an end to her nemesis, Morton Harkness, holding court in her home and souring the atmosphere by sitting at the foot of her table. She glowered with distaste at her husband’s assistant.
Lieutenant Daniel Flanagan sat uncomfortably at the end of the long dining table, flanked by Morton Harkness, one of Mayor Harrison’s aids, and opposite the furious glare of Inspector John Bonfield.
Corsetted in a jacket he had not had cause to wear in years, Flanagan felt like an interloper at the opulently laden table. He wilted under the inspector’s fiery glower. Flanagan was more than aware that the inspector was resentful to be sharing the evening with an inferior.
Bonfield was not only resentful he was confused. What was this low level subordinate of a lieutenant from Randolph Street station doing at Harrison’s mansion? Bonfield determined to raise the question with the mayor at the first opportunity. For now Bonfield was trapped so far away from his host that he could barely see him, let alone catch his eye to conduct a conversation. He would have to wait until after dinner if he was to have any chance to discuss his concerns with Harrison.
Meanwhile Harrison was deep in conversation with a sweating, scarlet faced alderman seated to his left. He skillfully avoided any eye contact with Bonfield, nor if he could help it would he find the time to speak with the wretched inspector all evening.
Out on the grimy tenement landing Diamond studied his sickly colleague. “Is this your first murder?”
The white-faced constable nodded, dabbing his sweaty face with a handkerchief, a little colour coming back to him now that he was away from the scene of the crime.
Diamond patted the constable on the back. “Mine too. Do you think we’ll ever get used to it?” Diamond smiled at his colleague who grinned back weakly. “I’m Diamond by the way, Arthur Diamond.”
“Jerome Callaghan. Jerry to me mates.”
“And are all the bloody cops in Chicago Irish, Jerry?”
Callaghan laughed, making more noise than he’d intended on the echoing landing of the tenement. “Pretty much; in this precinct anyway. You’ll have yourself a battle to fit in with that accent.”
“Could I start learning how from you?” Diamond put a hand on Callahan’s shoulder.
“If you don’t tell the lads I puked.”
Diamond grinned, “It’s a deal, as long as you don’t let on that I’m taking lessons on how to become an Irishman.”
Callaghan smiled back. “Ah, you’ll never be that, but I’ll get you in as close as I’m able.”
“Good enough!” Diamond extended his hand which Callaghan accepted. “I suppose we should get started taking statements or the sergeant will skin us both alive.”
Callaghan took out his notepad and pencil. “You’re right about that. You do the odd landings and I’ll do the even.”
Doran sat facing a silently weeping Erwin Metzger. “It’s all right, sir. These things are shockin’ beyond belief. It’s natural to be shook up by such a vile thing as this.”
Doran paused to let Metzger gather himself before probing deeper into the night’s events. “Could you tell me where you’ve been, up to this moment?”
Metzger gathered himself. Removing his cap, he held it firmly in his hands.
Doran watched the man’s knuckles show white with the strength of his grip.
“Sir?” Doran prompted.
“At work, I was at work when a colleague came to tell me I should go home.”
Doran raised an eyebrow at the word colleague. He quickly took in the shabby apartment with a swift glance. Metzger was evidently better educated than his current circumstances gave Doran to believe. “Where is work, sir?”
“At the stockyards.”
“Would that be the Union Stock Yards?”
“Which colleague fetched you?”
“My neighbour at the corner apartment on this landing. His name is Tomsk.”
Doran changed tack. “When did you last see your wife, sir? How was she when you left her?”
Metzger twisted his cap in his hands. He didn’t respond.
Doran tried again. “Was all well between you and the missus when you last seen her, sir?”
Metzger frowned up at Doran. “I don’t understand what you are asking.”
“Well sir, man to man, sometimes these women of ours can have, how shall I put it, a bit of a waspish tongue about them? Did you by any chance exchange angry words before you left for work?”
Doran eyed Metzger carefully for any change in expression. He watched the cap twisting and turning in the man’s strong, rough hands. “Did you ever strike your wife, Mr. Metzger?”
Metzger let out a shuddering breath and fixed Doran with an unnervingly steady gaze. “Hans did this.”
Doran sat up straight in his chair. “Hans? And who would Hans be, sir?”
Metzger shuffled his feet. The cap was now twisted into a tight corkscrew in his trembling fingers. In little more than a whisper he said, “Mein Sohn. Hans is my son.”
Doran let the silence hang in the air between them, waiting for Metzger to go on. When he didn’t Doran gently prompted his subject. “Mr. Metzger, was your son here with your wife when you last saw her?”
“Her name was Ilsa.”
The shattered husband sagged in his chair.
Doran was about to prompt once more when a torrent of words poured out of Metzger. “He was always violent, even since he was a small child. Shouting, rages you know? He would strike us and pull his mother’s hair and break things; always violent. We could do nothing.”
“What might have prompted the boy to attack his mother today? Do you have any idea, sir?”
Metzger shook his head.
Something in his expression made Doran press Metzger further. “I have to ask sir, about your wife’s hair?”
Metzger flinched. It was an almost imperceptible reflex but Do
Metzger sat stone faced. The cap was still now, clenched in his rock steady hands.
Doran pursed his lips in frustration; this man’s grief seemed odd somehow. If Metzger was lying he could not pinpoint the lie, but Doran had a feeling Metzger’s wife had felt the sting of her husband’s powerful hand on her face more than once. He finished making his notes and stood looking down on the man before him. “I’m sorry, sir; so sorry for your loss. I have one more question to ask; could you give one of my officers a description of your son, some idea of where he might have run to, anything that might help us to track him down?”
Without looking up Metzger nodded.
After dinner the cacophony from the mayor’s guests filtered into his study, where Morton Harkness sat at his boss’s grand walnut desk. Harkness plucked a fat Havana cigar from the humidor at his right hand. He did not offer one to Danny Flanagan. “So, do we have a patsy?”
Flanagan ran a finger round his stiff shirt collar and sniffed. “A rookie. Name’s Diamond. A real hero, sent to us by Station House Fifteen.”
“I couldn’t care less where he came from. How confident are you that he can carry it off?”
Flanagan shrugged. “With the right misdirection and a few sprats to fill his net he should be satisfied he’s done a good job.”
Harkness smirked. “And of course the mayor will be there with a shiny commendation and a hearty handshake for a job well done. The re-election will be in the bag and it will be back to business as usual.”
Flanagan squirmed in his seat but kept silent. In his opinion Diamond was no fool. If the chase was too easy he might smell a rat. But then Flanagan mused, how the game was played was above his pay grade, though he hoped the mayor would make good on the promise Harkness had hinted at, to make him Inspector when the job was done.
Flanagan was roused from his reverie by a sharp rap on the study door.
“Come,” Harkness barked.