From the Author of 'Pandora's Box' comes
a new thriller with edge of your seat
When a man borrows an expensive car from a short
term parking facility to
impress a woman, he's unaware
of what's in the trunk.
As a body washes up in the Lake
in New York's Central Park,
NYPD's Detective Finkel Macaulay
gets the call that could cost the life of
one of NYPD's own.
(Photo credit: http://www.facebook.com/BinnsCagneyDesignCo)
Copyright © Ruby Binns-Cagney 2013
A cold, rainy morning. My vehicle's windshield wipers metronomed across the glass hypnotically. Not a good night to be in Central Park. A homicide had been called in. The crime scene was a short ride from my office in Columbus Circle, Uptown New York. I pulled up at the blue police barrier, parked my vehicle, and headed over to the uniformed Officer who controlled access to the scene.
“Can I help you Ma'am?” Officer Roston White said. “Detective Sergeant Finkel Macaulay, third grade. Specialist Homicide.” Officer Roston White wrote my name down onto her clipboard's sheaf of papers, now shielded from the rain by my umbrella.
“They're ready for you, over by the lake.” The Officer pointed in the direction of halogen lights and white tents. “Thank you,”I said, and walked up to the Detectives arranged by the victim's body. Formerly an 18-acre swamp, the lake now boasted bamboo trees, and rowboat rental facilities.
“Macaulay. I thought it was your night off?” Detective Eric Tomlyn said. I closed my umbrella and pulled at the peaked cap I slipped on.
“Does crime take a night off, Eric? Neither do I. What do we have here?” I said to the Medical Examiner, Estelle Mabius, positioned over the body.
“Hey, Finkel. We have a caucasian female, aged between thirty and thirty-five. Single gunshot wound to the chest.” Estelle fingered the hole gently.
“Large calibre, possibly a .45. Lividity suggests time of death to be around two days ago,” Estelle said. The M.E. had completed her pre-autopsy findings and made notes while avoiding the wet ground beneath the victim. Dead. Two days ago. This wasn't the primary crime scene. “The victim was killed elsewhere and dumped here,” I said. I got down low next to Estelle.
“Any I.D.?” I said. “Nothing found with the victim's body,” Eric said. I moved forward and looked at the victim's position on the ground. The victim's lips were now devoid of all color and checks of the eyes showed the pupils were fixed.
“What was the victim doing out here?” I said, and stood upright. “I found some fibres in the gunshot wound, which means we should get some trace back at the lab,” Estelle said. If we caught a break, the fibers would lead us to the suspect. A uniformed Officer approached us.
“We found the victim's purse over by the garbage cans on the Bow Bridge.” The Bow Bridge is at 74th Street, overlooking Central Park West. I examined the purse. “All the credit cards and cash are gone.” The separate plastic bag of identity documents included a driver's licence and theatre ticket stubs. Detective Eric Tomlyn shone the light from his thin flashlight onto my hands. “Thanks,” I said.
The New York driver's licence identification inside the purse had an address listed, and a photograph of the victim. Jolene Gorskin. Blonde, green eyes, and a pale white complexion. “Have uniforms canvass the area in a five mile radius of the bridge. Maybe somebody will recall seeing something,” I said. The Officer retreated.
“Eric, get a warrant and have the Department of Motor Vehicles confirm the victim's address details, and I'll go over there after breakfast,” I said. “Yes, Boss,” Eric said. Breakfast was an hour later with a hot cup of coffee while I watched the sun rise above the trees around us. New York has amazing sunrises and sunsets.
Detective Harry Bertrand approached. “Finkel, we just got a hit off the DMV records.” Harry is about to retire. After almost thirty years' service. “What have you got?” I said, and put the coffee cup onto the ground.
“The DMV had a different address for the victim. Registered in Boston.” Boston. What was the victim doing in New York? “Put in a call to Boston PD. Have them go and interview the family.” Harry shuffled off and I returned to my sky watch. This was the only time of day when I could control my thoughts. All the other time was compressed by conflicting demands. This was my alone time.
“Boss, we've got to go,” Eric said. I followed the path back to my vehicle. The M.E. had released the crime scene and the technicians fingerprinted the victim, and took swabs for a sexual assault kit. Over by the Boathouse a light shone from the windows. “Harry, let's check that out,” I said, and pointed to the Boathouse. “Do the Lake Conservation Committee leave the light on overnight?” I said to Eric and Harry. “I expect not,” Eric said.
“Do you think somebody spent the night in there?” Harry said. “I'm not sure, but let's go see.” I said, and walked back to my vehicle. “I'm not sure I like the sound of that,” Harry said, and Eric took his time to find Officer White to sign us off the list of law enforcement attending the crime scene.
The rain had stopped, and it was a bright sun which now bore down on us as we pulled up at the Boathouse. The heavily padlocked wooden door proved my theory. Somebody had let themselves in. The pane of glass in the lower half of the door was broken. I peeped inside the room through the glass.
Storage racks on one wall for rowing boats and heavy ropes. Water butts, and a desk with boxes of Manila envelopes visible on the surface. “Nobody's home,” Eric said. “Then how come the light is now off?” I said, and reached for my weapon.
“Harry, kick it in. Let's go,” I said, and took up my position to the right of the door. “Why me?” Harry said, aghast at my request.
“For Christ's sake,” Eric said, and kicked in the lower panel of the door. It buckled slightly but remained in place. “Again, please,” I said, and Eric kicked against the door, much harder this time. We all hesitated to act once the door flew open. Gave who ever was inside a chance to surrender.
“NYPD. Come out, hands in the air,” I said. We waited. We looked as far inside the doorway as possible. No movement, only shadow and sunlight through the big windows to the right of us. “Let's move,” I said, and Eric took point.
As he walked inside the boathouse we heard movement coming from the rear quadrant, behind rotted boat hulls and mangy ropes. Rustling. Creaking boards. “Don't shoot! I'm unarmed!” the woman's voice came, and we stood still and listened. “Come out with your hands up high so we can see you,” I said.
A small-framed blonde. Green eyes. She wore a grey running vest, black zip through jacket and black sweatpants, and slowly appeared from behind the boat hulls. Barefoot, with red raw skin on the soles of her feet.
“What happened to your shoes?” I said. We all looked at her feet. “I lost them. Last night.” I looked at Eric as he lowered his weapon and approached her. “You'll get an infection. Here,” he said, and picked the woman up off the ground and sat her onto the desk. “I'll call it in,”Harry said, and dialled digits into his phone. “Dispatch.” The call was answered quickly.
“Identifier 7 dash 3695.” A pause. “Confirmed, Detective Bertrand. Go ahead.” Harry looked at the woman, while Eric inspected the soles of her feet. “I need a bus, over at the Loeb Boathouse.” Static on the line. “E.T.A. Nine minutes, Detective.” Harry disconnected the call. He scooted over to the side of the desk and sat next to the woman. “Can you tell us your name?” I said.
“Helena Webster-Rumholdt. I'm a Divorce Attorney and Partner over at Baldock Webster-Rumholdt.” The prestigious family law firm was based in the Trump Building on Wall Street in Manhattan. “Miss Webster-Rumholdt, can you tell me what you were doing to be out here?”
“I'm Mrs Webster-Rumholdt. My husband is Patrick Rumholdt. The sculptor.” We had stumbled upon a mystery. The Rumholdt's were held in high regard as an upper class couple in New York Society's circles.
An affluent married professional couple. Houses in the Hamptons and the Cayman Islands. Patrick Rumholdt had exhibited his work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the past five months.
“What do you mean, you lost your shoes last night? Have you been here all night?” Harry said, as the wail of sirens from approaching ambulances and police cars flooded the air around us. “Let's get her to the station and get her cleaned up. There will be plenty of time for questions later,” I said.
“Thank you,” Helena said, and we all took our time to lead her to the waiting ambulance. “What the hell happened last night?” Eric said. “We'll know soon enough.” I said. The paramedics looked at Helena's eyes with a small flashlight and sat her down on the gurney in the back.
“What are you doing Uptown, Finkel?” Joe Stiles, the paramedic said. “Joe, I go all over town you know me. I can't resist a good crime scene.” Joe looked at Helena's feet. “What happened to your feet, Ma'am?” Joe took his time to clean up the soles of Helena's feet.
The surgical spirit Joe used to clean her feet stung her skin every time Joe touched her, but she tried not to show how much pain she was in.
“I was assaulted last night. Along the lake shore. I often jog here at night with two other friends. We had just separated and as I headed back to my car I was thrown to the ground and attacked. My running shoes got pulled off during the struggle, but I managed to get away and ran to shelter.” Helena's mouth was dry.
“May I have some water please?” Joe looked at Helena's mouth “I can only give you a little in case you have to be operated on when we get you to the hospital.” Joe reached into a pink cooler from the floor opposite the gurney and pressed the small bottle up against Helena's lips.
“You're badly dehydrated. Take small sips.” I said. “We'll follow you to the hospital. Where are you taking her, Saint Vincent's?” I said, as Eric walked away to go to the car. Harry talked to the second paramedic about how to get in touch with the station for our statements. “Yes, Saint Vincent's.” Joe closed the ambulance door and we hopped into my car. It was a forty minute drive to the hospital.
“What do you think happened to her?” Harry said, as he lounged on the back seat. “She looked shaken up. I believe her. She was probably attacked.” I said. “Must have been a hell of a pair of shoes,” Harry said.
“To think that she ran barefoot all the way down the Lake shore to the boathouse, at night. That's got to be six miles.” Eric said. “Sleeping in there was what got me concerned,” Harry said. “Who knows what could have happened to her while she was inside,” I said. We had reached the hospital. My phone buzzed on the dashboard cradle.
“I've got to take this. I'll meet you inside,” I said. Eric looked at Harry on the backseat and reached for the handle of the rear door. Harry shook himself awake and followed Eric into the hospital entrance.
Caller ID. Nick, my husband, on the phone. “Nick, how are you doing?” I said, the phone now at my ear, and my satchel on my lap. I fidgeted inside the satchel for a piece of my chocolate chip cookie. I was hungry, and the call out last night had disrupted a comfortable bed and a sleeping husband curled up beside me for warmth.
“I miss you. Are you on a case?” Nick is the FBI Supervisory Special Agent based at Columbus Circle, but is based in an office seven floors about mine.
“Yes, it's the worst case I've seen for along time.” Nick was sat up in the warmth of our bed with the television for company.
“How so, baby?” He sounded relaxed, and had clearly slept well. For a change. We talked for a long time, then he asked about the case I was working on. It was our way of bonding.
“We just found someone hiding in the Boathouse over by the Lake at Central Park. Says she was assaulted last night, and they took her running shoes. Her feet are all busted up, and she looks shaken.” Nick listened intently. One thing struck him as strange about the circumstances.
“Honey, why did you get called out? That's not a homicide case.” I snapped off a small corner of the cookie as I spotted Eric coming back out of the hospital towards me. “Nick, I have to call you back, alright?” Nick sounded distracted by the television anyhow. I would call him back. “Sure. Be safe.” He hung up.
“What happened? Where's Harry?” I said. Eric looked like he was going to vomit. “Harry collapsed as we walked up to the Nurse's station to ask about Mrs Webster-Rumholdt. He's critical.” Eric struggled for breath, doubled over before me.
Harry was in a critical condition? I couldn't take it in. Why didn't Eric come and get me?
I would have to submit the request for the Captain to notify Harry's family, as I am the Senior Detective. “I'll put in a call, then I have to go,” I said.
“I can take care of things here if you want to head off?” Eric said. “I appreciate that, thank you,” I said. “No problem. Speak soon,” he said, and went back towards the hospital.
I started the car and snapped my seatbelt on. Harry's bag was still on the backseat. I turned off the engine and grabbed the bag. Ran with it inside the hospital to give it to Eric.
Copyright ©Ruby Binns-Cagney 2013
187 Homicide New York is published at Smashwords.com