Book Four - Part 8 - Rhyming Evil - Chapter Three
Monday – June 25th
The Squad Room – 8:36 a.m.
“This week, we will be involved in severe weather preparedness week. All of the Twenty-Second is on alert. Every police officer on each shift will respond to the triple air-raid signals to assist in getting every person in the downtown district over to the new weather shelter that was completed last week. It’s taken twenty months to complete, and it is designed to hold up to 42,000 people, with a floor thickness of five-hundred feet. The concrete flooring has steel flooring between every fifty feet of depth of concrete poured; so, in the event of an earthquake; that building can prove to be the safest place to be in an emergency. In time, the object is to have every resident in Montie during an emergency, to be placed inside that building.
“There are dozens of stations within the building containing fresh water, and dozens of port-o-potties on hand. Of course, we have no way of really knowing if the building will hold up or not, but the mayor and city council members don’t want another surprise like the one that happened when the president was here.
“When you hear the air-raid signals, each of you have your set area to go to, to get every employee, or shopper, to the building in a timely fashion. We have four hours to get everyone there. The workers and residents have no idea when it will begin, but we do. Ten to two. That’s your heads up for today. Tomorrow, that time will change.
“For this reason, during those hours, stay within your designated area I have mapped out for you. The other two shifts will also have their assigned areas as well. We need to pull this off with the least number of problems. Those we do not get to the building within that four hours and let me make this clear; not 2:01 or 2:02, but precisely at two, those people would be considered casualties, or for all intents and purposes … dead. Let’s concentrate on getting them there, alive.
“When this is over for the day, routes will run as normal. If there are no questions, then get out there and stay safe, and keep our streets safe.”
As teams separated, Spinelli walked up to Baker.
“I found this taped to the front doors this morning when I came in. Captain Page is with the mayor, so I’ll just pass it over to you.”
Baker looked at the envelope in Spinelli’s hand.
“Who did you relieve?”
“Taylor. He said he didn’t see a soul around last night. The only way he’d miss someone is if he went to the bathroom.”
“Okay, thanks, Spinelli.” Baker took the lightweight envelope from his hands and walked to her office and sat behind her desk.
This wasn’t Freddy. On the front were cut out words pasted. ‘For the person in charge.’ It was sealed shut.
“Oh, please, don’t let this be a problem.”
Already knowing the envelope was contaminated (Spinelli wasn’t wearing gloves), she opened it, turned it upside down and shook it until a single folded sheet fell out. Before doing anything else, she opened her bottom right-hand drawer, and reached inside a box for two latex gloves, and slipped them on, then she unfolded the letter.
It started out: Do you like to fiddle? Doesn’t matter, here is your first riddle. From me to thee, watch for an old wall to suddenly fall. Hey diddle-diddle, such an easy riddle.
At the bottom there were more words. You can be sure more riddles will come. You have until Friday to figure this one and others to be sent. And remember this …someone down the road will die My, my, my, how time will fly. The key is to get the riddles solved with little to no strife. Once you do, you may be able to save a life. Except for the riddle itself, it was signed with the letter R, and not unlike all the other letters that were cut and pasted from newspapers and magazines.
Rather odd riddle, she thought. What wall will fall? And by Friday? Baker had no idea who was playing this guessing game, but the last line made her raise her eyebrows. Someone will die. Just not this Friday.
She got on her cell and punched in 23. The other end rang twice.
“Crime Lab, Huey Marx here.”
“Hello, Huey, this is Baker.”
“Hey girl, how are things?”
“Never better, I hope.”
“Uh-oh, what’s up?”
“I have a letter I’m going to drop off in twenty for you. Feel free to read but run it through for prints. The envelope isn’t any good.”
“Alrighty. If anything is there, I’ll know soon enough.”
“Thanks, Huey. See you shortly.”
Downtown Montie – 10:00 a.m.
The air-raid signal went off as scheduled, and eighty-two police cars, five ambulances, and the Montie Fire Department went into action. Things were running like a well-oiled machine. Or was it?
While people were being evacuated from stores, the courthouse, city hall and the like; crosstown, a small device on a timer was attached to the back of a burned-out wall from the textile mill. The device, (according to instructions found on the Internet) would be strong enough to blow a roof off of a house. The wall would be a cinch, and it can be detonated by remote timer once in place. The person who left it there could only marvel at the things you can learn on a computer these days. The timer was set to off in ninety-six hours—Friday noon.
It was by noon when Baker got her answer from Huey. No prints on the letter.
By 5:50, the Chief Fire Marshal, Stan Henley, the head administrator for ambulance services, Captain Page and Baker were all called into the city council chambers.
They found out that if today had been a real evacuation, 113 lives would have been lost. They were all volunteers who agreed to hide in various places, such as storage closets, under desks, and in the backseat of cars.
They would do it again tomorrow.
The Baker-Manning Home
111 Homestead Lane – 6:23 p.m.
After a casual, put-it-together-yourself evening meal, Baker and Ed sat outside in the back yard, sipping from glasses filled with white zinfandel, and discussing their day.
“I have two assignments that need to be turned in by Friday. Three pages typed on the Monroe Doctrine, and the other paper, with a self-analytical look at the O.J. Simpson trial.
“I’ll be so glad when I can get over to Brighton University and start tackling real books. Within a year online and at Brighton, and I’ll be caught up enough I can take my bar exam either in January or February of next year.”
“Not that far away. This year is breezing by. Before too long, you’ll be coming home with a law-degree and a shingle to hang on the front door saying attorney-for-hire.”
“Does have a good ring to it, but I think a real office would be better than working out of the house. Enough about me; how did your day go what with the air-raid signals I heard?”
“It went great. Had a prank letter come to the Twenty-Second today, and a hundred and thirteen people died by two this afternoon.
Ed practically choked on his wine.
“Say that again? A hundred and thirteen people! What happened? I didn’t hear anything in the news about this.”
Baker grabbed a Kleenex-tissue from a box from a portable stand to her left, and laughing, handed it to Ed.
“It was our first day of testing the air-raid signal and defense measure put in place and our reaction time in saving lives. We got everyone to safety, except for the hundred and thirteen. They were people who volunteered to hide on us on purpose. We’ll be better prepared tomorrow.”
“What about the prank letter?”
“Hold on. Be right back. It’s still in my purse.”
As Baker crossed the backyard patio area, the front door opened as Stevie walked in.
“Hi, Stevie. Did you and Ellie have a fun time at the lake?”
“Yes. We spent the day at the lake in her dad’s speedboat. It was pretty cool.”
“I’m glad you two enjoyed your time together, but if you want, Ed’s out back, and I’m about to go back, if you want to join us.”
“Okay. Let me shower, change clothes and make a sandwich and I’ll be out then.”
Stevie headed to his room and Baker went back outside and handed Ed the strange letter she received today.
“I let Satch read it after our city council meeting earlier tonight. He agrees with me. Besides no prints, it makes no sense.”
Ed read the note three times.
“An old wall will fall. I’m guessing a building is coming down soon, or already has. And if my guess is right, each clue you get will get you closer to whoever it is that will die; and guessing again, when you get the last riddle, your job will be to know who and when. But you are right about this one. It’s as vague as it can get.”
“Hi, Ed. What’s vague?”
“Hey, Stevie. Oh, just a riddle your mom got at work today?”
“Are you telling me, I’m here with the two greatest minds since Sherlock Holmes and Perry Mason, and you two haven’t figured out a riddle?” Stevie grinned at Ed and winked at mom.
“Probably doesn’t mean anything anyway.”
“Maybe, maybe not, Jan. Come Friday, you’ll know if this was just a harmful prank or not.”
Stevie asked to see the note, then read it twice and said, “You know, right now there’s only a couple walls I can think of that are still standing, that are old I mean. The old diner out on 60, and that one wall from the fire at the textile mill.”
“True, Stevie,” agreed Baker. “That wall is to be torn down sometime next week. The only reason it hasn’t come down sooner; all the paperwork involved between Albany and here. Pure bureaucratic BS is all it was. They even sent their own fire inspector down here. Just another way to waste taxpayer money.”
“Mom? Are we watching a movie tonight?”
Baker looked at Ed.
“There’s a movie in the DVD as I speak. Might be a bit hokie, but they were stupid-funny when I was growing up. It’s that new Three Stooges movie.”
“What are you two waiting for? I’ll get the popcorn started, mom.”
“All right. I’ll pour the cold drinks,” grinned Baker.
“I’ll watch the movie and eat all the popcorn!”
Stevie yelled out, “I heard that, Ed! Not gonna happen. At least not by yourself!”