Fiction Saturday – “Bad News Travels Slow” – Conclusion
The three of us going out to storm Dinwiddie’s Bakery/Fortress felt like the Three Stooges hitting Omaha Beach, but we had to do something. George Sweet wouldn’t last much longer.
The only things we had in our favor were the Chief’s official car and the element of surprise. Oh, yeah – and the fact that I wanted a chance to meet up again with the goons who tossed me out onto the concrete at St. Anthony’s Hospital.
With the Chief at the wheel, Mrs. Sweet riding shotgun, and me hunkered down in the back seat; I figured that the guard at the front gate wouldn’t bother to call Dinwiddie’s office to alert him.
When we pulled up to the gate the guard came out of his shack. The Chief gave him some chit-chat while I slipped out of the back door.
“Hey, Bob – How’s everything today?”
“Quiet as a tomb, Chief.” He leaned in the open window, “Mrs. Sweet. How are you today, Ma’am?” When he looked closer he also saw the ugly end of the Chief’s pistol an inch from his chin.
“Don’t move, Bob, or, so help me, I’ll scatter your face all over the back of your head.”
Bob didn’t even twitch – until I came around the back of the car, still keeping low, and took his sidearm from the holster.
“Into the shack, Bob, and, please give me a reason to, excuse the expression, ‘kill you’.”
Bob and I had met before. He was one of the apes who had almost done me in.
When my old friend Bob and I were inside the guard shack I gave him a love tap on the back of his neck and he crumpled up like a Japanese Lantern. I took his backup pistol from his ankle holster and pulled the phone cord out of the wall. I used it to hogtie him – with a couple of loops around his neck – nice and snug.
I didn’t want to keep the Chief and Mrs. Sweet waiting, so I gave Bob a farewell kick to the fork in the road.
“Sleep tight, Bob, and tonight,when you get home, tell the Mrs. you want to adopt.”
My plan, which wasn’t much of a plan, was to simply try to intimidate Dinwiddie with all three of us showing a determined front, and a couple of Smith & Wessons. Get him to bring George Sweet to us, and maybe the Chief’s son, and then call in the cavalry who were ready and waiting a block away.
We drove the car over by the loading docks and, with the Chief in the lead, we took the elevator to the top floor. He opened the door to the outer office. I brought up the rear.
The second we were inside the door P.D. Quick was on her feet. When she saw me she moved to block the path to Dinwiddie’s office.
“You can’t go in there. Not even you, Chief, or you, Mrs. Sweet. And certainly not you,” she said, looking at me as if I was something she had found living under her kitchen sink.
“Shut up. My husband and I still own this place.” With that, Mrs. Sweet delivered a very sweet right cross to the secretary’s chin, sending her to the floor PDQ.
“Nice move, Mrs. Sweet,” I said.
“I had three brothers and my father was a drunk. I fought my way out of the tenements. Now, let’s get my husband back.”
At the second door, she took the lead.
Dinwiddie was at his desk, looking as calm as a Sunday morning in May.
“Good morning. Let’s get down to business. I assume you brought the paperwork to hand over everything to me.”
“I did, but I need to see my husband before I sign anything.”
“Very well.” He pushed a button on his intercom. “Miss Quick, have Mr. Sweet brought up to my office. Miss Quick? Miss Quick, are you there?”
“She’s taking a nap right now,” said Mrs. Sweet.
I finally spoke up.
“Call down to the bakery floor.”
Dinwiddie reached for the telephone and I reached for my snub-nose. “Be very careful what you say. I’d love an excuse to blow you through that big plate glass window.” I didn’t know if I was bluffing or not. Dinwiddie didn’t seem to care.
Dinwiddie shrugged and picked up the phone and pushed one of the line of plastic buttons. “Bring Sweet up to my office.” He hung up and looked hard at me with his piggy eyes. “There – short and sweet, to coin a phrase.”
His colorless lips curled up into a grin. I failed to see the humor until he spoke again.
“Ah, Miss Quick – there you are. I understand you’ve been sleeping on the job.”
“Shut up, Leo.” The secretary stood there, rubbing her jaw. She was going to have a beaut of a shiner in a couple of hours. “Is everything OK in here?” She was talking to Dinwiddie, but her eyes were scalding at Mrs. Sweet.
The Boss grinned again.
“Oh, everything is just fine, Miss Quick. Why don’t you join us? I’ve sent for Mr. Sweet and we are about to close the deal.”
The door on the far side of the office opened and two more of Dinwiddie’s boys carried George Sweet in and dumped him into one of the beautiful soft leather chairs. He looked better than the last time I’d seen him – but not a lot.
Mrs. Sweet rushed over to him and gently cradled his head. He was going to need a long time to recover from whatever had been done to him. After a few seconds Dinwiddie’s smile disappeared.
“Enough of that, already. You look like the Pieta for pity’s sake. You’re not the Virgin Mary and he sure isn’t Jesus Christ. Get over here and sign the papers.”
Mrs. Sweet rested her husband’s head gently back in the chair and silently walked over to the desk. She took the pen from Dinwiddie’s hand and signed the document in three places. She dropped the pen on the desk and went back to her husband.
“There,” I said, “Happy now, Dinwiddie?
“Yes, I am, but not satisfied. There’s the other part of the deal that’s not on paper, remember?” He was leering at Mrs. Sweet.
“What other part of the deal, Leo? What are you talking about?” Miss Quick wrinkled her nose. She was starting to smell a rat.
“Oh, he forgot to tell you about that did he,” I asked? “Leo, here didn’t tell you that Mrs. Sweet herself was part of the deal – for his ‘personal pleasure’?”
“What’s he talking about, Leo? You never said anything about that to me.” Quick’s face was beginning to flush. It clashed with bruises on her jaw.
“Oh. Just. Shut. Up,” said Dinwiddie. “You know – for someone named ‘Quick’ you are really pretty slow. You mean nothing to me. I’ve just kept you around this long as an amusement – just a toy.”
“A toy?” She turned up the volume. “You promised me that you and I would be business partners. A toy?” She was ready to explode.
“Well, I’ve got some bad news for you, Quick. I lied to you.” He laughed out loud and leaned over the desk to pick up the papers that made him a very rich man.
She must have had it tucked behind her back, because I never saw the gun, a ladylike .32 caliber, until she fired a single shot into Dinwiddie’s temple. He fell across the desk on top of the papers – now being soaked with blood.
The blood mingled with the still wet ink making the signatures wash away.
The Chief’s reactions were better than mine but we both got off shots a heartbeat apart. Quick lurched as both hit her amidships and she went down.
The Chief picked up Dinwiddie’s phone and called in a massive raid on the bakery. It didn’t take long before they found his son tied up in another wing of the building. He went home with his father.
George Sweet took a few months, but he did recover and went back to work and cleaned house – getting rid of the toughs that Dinwiddie had brought in.
Mrs. Sweet wrote me a nice check that covered my bill, and then some. She also paid my bill from St. Anthony’s Hospital – that was even bigger.
I’ve put on a few pounds lately. They also gave me another bonus – every Monday morning a free Granny Sweet Pie gets delivered to my office.
I like the “George Washington Cherry Pie” the best.
I cannot tell a lie.