The Radio Players Club Mystery: A Quinn Moosebroker Mystery
The Quinn Moosebroker name was mentioned in a very short piece titled: Mary Ellen: The Hour Before Dawn An Exercise in Fiction, then he starred in his first short story length feature, A 2nd Street Playhouse Mystery, Thin Red and Deadly , followed shortly by Night of the Falling and continuing in He Dreamt of Murder. Now forty-five thousand words later he is going to continue his career with The Radio Players Club Mystery.
Quinn is a retired police detective. He retired early with a medical discharge resulting from a gunshot wound received in the line of duty. Many fictional heroes have a sidekick and Quinn is not an exception to this phenomenon. Betty is a widow. She and Quinn were introduced by Quinn’s daughter Kate. Quinn and Betty have been together ever since they solved their first mystery.
drbj sees Tom Hanks when she visualizes Quinn. I am OK with that.
The Radio Players Club Mystery
The Clean Slate Cafe
Naomi found Jarrod asleep amongst the scattered wooden chessmen at his table at the Clean Slate Café. “Wake up, wake up,” she called shaking his arm. “Did you finish the script? It has to be there in an hour and I have to catch the cross town bus.”
“The script?” Jarrod rubbed his eyes. They began to focus on the irritated face of Naomi.
“Yes, the script. You know money for food. Where is it? I have to get over to the station. He’ll can us for sure.”
Jarrod stood and headed toward the bathroom. Naomi reached down and opened the ragged bag that was always near Jarrod’s feet. She pulled out frayed sheets of paper and began to read. Some pages had been crumpled and uncrumpled. Many lines scratched through. She went to the last page. A gasp of air escaped her, “It’s not finished.” She stood by the bathroom door and as it opened she grabbed Jarrod by the arm. “Let’s go, you’ll have to finish it on the way.”
She glanced at her watch. “We barely have time to make it.”
Quinn was at the wheel of his 1946 Town and Country heading north on I95. Betty sat by his side and was looking for a station on the radio. Their return journey from North Carolina felt like such a relief from their case to resolve a ghostly mystery.
….erts zst shrrrrrrr came from the radio. The radio light cast eerie murky ochre across the front seat of the Town and Country on this dark southern night. Betty felt like she could be in a cave during the Stone Age watching the flicking light splashing across the jagged walls. From the radio:
….. Ivory Soap, it floats…W.A.R.T radio,
At the studio Massey dragged a drumstick along a tin washboard….
Now back to ‘A Rose for Opal Ann”
Massey dragged a violin bow across a guitar string pulled taunt along a two-by-four.
Nathan the narrator. “Detective Quentin Morse braked his 1946 Town and Country to a halt in front of the abandoned apartment building.”
“Around back. I’ll go in the front.”
Clark his partner: “Be careful, this guy is dangerous. You heard the call. He has killed two people today.”
Massey let out a deep breath into his microphone.
“Twenty-four, twenty-five.” Morse began walking up the wooden stairs on the established twenty-five count.
Massey. Softly hit the back of the two-by-four with a drumstick.
Morse. “Open up; this is the police.”
Massey twice fired his starter pistol; and rolled a sack of potatoes onto the floor.
Morse. “Clark! Clark! You alright?”
Massey tapped shoes across a board.
Morse. “I’m coming in.”
Massey twisted two ends of a bamboo slit up the sides. The sound was of timber splitting. Then fired his starter pistol and lifted and dropped the sack of potatoes.
“You’ll never catch me Coppers.”
Massey plopped the shoes against the plank in a patter.
Narrator: The dark figure carried the body of the kidnapped Opal Ann down the stairs and disappeared into the dark.
….erts zst shrrrrrrr came from the radio.
Detective Quinn Moosebroker
Quinn gazed out the windshield. A highway sign indicated Highway 83 twelve miles. “Did we ever discuss the night I was shot?” Quinn glanced over to Betty in the darkness barely illuminated by the light of the radio dial.
“You started to once, but we were interrupted by a phone call.” Betty adjusted herself in her seat next to Quinn in the front seat. She silently braced herself.
Quinn began, “I don’t know quite how to say this. This radio program has described it in a detailed manner; too detailed to be a coincidence to my way of thinking. ” Quinn’s face was distorting at the thought of the night his partner was killed. After the dark figure fled with Opal Ann Quinn crawled to the back door to find Clark, still. A footprint in a pool of blood oozing from beneath him was the only sign of the killer left as he stepped over the body.
Betty watched in silence as the rage rippled through the muscles in Quinn’s face. She could hear his grip on the leather steering wheel tighten.
“Quinn, pull over. I need to drive.”
“Take the 83 turnoff when it comes up. We’re heading to Allentown.”
Betty pulled the car back onto the highway as Quinn began again.
“Clark and I responded to a call from a tipster. The kidnapping occurred 48 hours prior and no ransom note had been received. A miss-do-gooder had called the station reporting suspicious activity in an abandoned duplex near the railroad switching yard on the seedy south side. We were not close to the yard but Clark wanted to rush to the sight.
When we got there there were no other responders. Clark went around to the back steps and I took the front. At a twenty-five count we were both to go in. Two shots were fired as I reached the door and I called out and then burst in the door. The gunmen’s third bullet caught me in the side taking out a kidney. I heard the footsteps going down the back as I lay there. I crawled to Clark, but he was gone.
They never caught the guy. I lay in a hospital for two months. When I was released, I wore dress blues one last time and they hung a medal around my neck and gave me a small disability pension.”
Betty reached over and patted Quinn on the shoulder. Her sideways glance took in the pain and deep loss this sharing with her was causing Quinn. “Who was kidnapped? Which case was not solved the murder or the kidnapping or both?”
Quinn let out a deep sigh, “Neither the murder, attempted murder of me, or the kidnapping was solved. The case went cold. Without a ransom demand the case ended at the bottom of the stairs. The clues we had led nowhere. Without further clues or demands, there was nothing to go on. The Captain felt the guy was scared too badly once he had to shoot his way out of the duplex. Did you notice they used the fictitious name Quentin Morse? That fact alone sets my alarms off. Somebody knows something about this case.”
Betty waited patiently for his pause. “Did Clark have family?”
This changed the course of Quinn’s thinking. “Yes, his wife is still alive and he had two grown children who live out of state, last I heard. I should call her now that you reminded me.”
“The little girl – ah, is that part true?” Betty kept her hands gripped tightly on the wheel for strength.
“Her parents lovingly called her Sapphire Annie because of her eyes, and yes she was taken from in front of her school while waiting for her Mother to arrive. She was nine at the time. That makes her fifteen now. If I recall, no witnesses came forward.”
Betty glanced at Quinn’s face to see if she could tell if he believed that or not. She could not tell. “Where are her parents?”
“Still in Allentown as far as I know; this is going to dig at some old wounds.” Quinn’s face puckered. “I heard they separated shortly after the kidnapping. That’s common enough.”
A New Partner
“What was that? Did you see that?” Betty asked.
“See what? Not another ghost?” Quinn looked around then at Betty as she slowed the car. “What are you doing?”
“I saw something.” She slowed the car to a stop on the shoulder.
Quinn turned his large frame around the best he could and stared into the darkness.
Betty turned to face back, put the Town and Country into reverse and slowly backed the vehicle along the turnpike.
“There, do you see it?” Betty asked.
“No, not yet; what am I looking for?
“A dog, I saw a dog along the shoulder. We can’t leave him on the Turnpike.” Betty looked over at Quinn hoping to see full approval. She braked to a stop and got out.
“Wait!” Quinn made the full swing back around opening the door to chase after Betty. “Where are you going?” A passing car’s headlights illuminated the dog a short distance away then the night faded back to black.
“Here Boy,” Betty called as the four legged creature slowly approached. “What is he?” She asked Quinn.
“Some kind of a Terrier I think. I’ll be right back.” Quinn made his way to the car and rummaged in the ice chest in the back and found two dried at the edges pieces of baloney and grabbed them. He returned to Betty and handed them to her with a wink, that went unseen and moved back.
In a moment they were walking back to the car; the dog was in Betty’s arms and eating dried baloney.
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