Okay folks - here is the final chapter of the Benny Baloney story, and it's a long one because I wanted to wrap it up during the week. I hope you enjoyed the story
Only now am I beginning to notice that Red's conk to my noggin not only left a knot, it also broke skin. I feel blood trickling down, and my head is starting to pound like a jackhammer. I've had hangovers that made me feel worse, though. I follow Red up the metal staircase, but I wish it weren't so damned long. I finally reach Red just in time to hear her curse a blue streak.
“Just found out that you went to the observation deck, I see.” I tell Red. “Might as well give it up, toots. There's no other way out.” Red looks one way, then another as her breath gets more shallow. Then she stops and looks straight at me, declaring, “I’m not going back to prison”. Before I can react, she suddenly disappears over the railing just before I pass out from the pain in my head.
"BENNY!" Betty yells in my face. "You awake? C'mon, wake up!" I suddenly jolt up to a sitting position only to feel my head pound like thunder. I fall back to what I discover is Trixie's lap. "Howyadoin' boss?" Trixie inquires from above me and upside down. "I wish I had been doing something fun that was worth having this headache." I reply just as Betty hands me an icebag.
As I apply the icebag to the knot on my head, I tell Betty, “So fill me in, kiddo." "From the looks of it, you chased Red up to this observation deck, and apparently she jumped over the railing to escape. You tried to stop her, but passed out.” “Oh. Oh yeah, that’s right.” I respond as it all starts coming back to me. I then look her way and ask, “Did you find Red?”
Betty's face becomes crestfallen. "No Benny, we did not. The cops are still looking for her. There's only the river below us, and we're high up enough that diving from such a height would have knocked her out. The cops just now sent divers to the river bottom." I get myself to my feet, despite the dizziness and the ache in my head. "There's still some things we can check out, Betty. Follow me."
"But we already searched Red's hideout, Benny." says Betty as we enter the room. "No Betty, you didn't." I scan the room. "What do you mean?" "Because you didn't find anything. There's a reason it's called a hideout." I point to a spot on the floor. "Here" "Just scratches, Benny." "But note the pattern, Betty - back and forth." I shove the desk aside and start feeling the floor.
My fingers finally find a notch and I get enough of a fingerhold to lift the false floor up. "Bingo." "A secret vault!" Betty exclaims. A quick examination of the contents reveals a treasure trove of incriminating evidence. "We got goods here to finger other mob bosses, business leaders, and politicians. Even if Red surfaces again, her empire is dead." We gather up the rest of the vault's contents.
Trixie notices us coming out with armloads of documents "Whatchat got dere, Boss?" "This is how we’re getting’ paid for this case even if we didn't nab Red." When the police lieutenant shows up, we hand him the goods. “Thank you, detectives. You’ve done this city a huge favor.” “All in a day’s work, officer.” I manage to reply, despite the soreness on my forehead. I'm gettin' too old for this.
"Yes, Officer. Thanks for lettin' us know. Goodbye." I haven't even hung up the phone yet before Betty’s asking "What'd he say?" "They ain't found Red yet. They'll keep looking and will let us know if anything turns up." "Drat! It's been 2 days, Benny! Where could she be?" I light up a cig as I say, "All the more reason I shoulda stopped her when I had the chance."
"C'mon, Benny - don't beat yourself up over this. You had a concussion, you know!" "Kid, it was just a conk on the noggin. I coulda shook it off." "Ben, we got all that stuff on her anyway, so we got something done." "Yeah Betts, we did. But not everything I had hoped to do. Ya know I hate unfinished business." "Why'd she do it, Benny? Why'd she leap over that railing? I don't get it."
“Hard to say, kiddo. Before she jumped, she said she wasn’t going back to prison – that’s our only clue. But she had to know that water was below – I don’t see her as the suicidal type.” I take a couple of drags on my cig as I scan the city skyline outside my window. “I have a sneaky suspicion, Betty, that we ain’t seen the last of Rhode Island Red.”
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3 months ago