The Block Island Mystery

Its October 1970. Out of work police detective Duke Jameson is asked to look into the mysterious deaths of two male students at the University of Rhode Island. As soon as Jameson starts his investigation, hidden forces begin to work against him. A missing professor, a corrupt sheriff, an eccentric millionaire, campus drug pushers, and more than one beautiful woman draw him into the Block Island Mystery.

Christopher J. Dacey

6 min read

1. Five Lousy Minutes

It was ten forty-five in the evening. My partner, Mike Dawson was driving us back to the station in Providence when the call came over the radio. We were at the end of our shift and five minutes later it would have been someone else’s headache. Five lousy minutes.

“Code 242 at 567 Broad Street, third floor,” the dispatcher’s voice echoed over the radio. Mike looked over at me.

“Wanna pick that up partner?” He suggested.

“We’re off in five,” I replied. “Let’s give it a minute and see if the overnight boys take it.” We waited a minute, then the call came back over the radio.

“Code 242 at 567 Broad Street, third floor. Any unit please respond,” the voice repeated.

“Shit,” I said as I lifted the microphone. “Undercover unit 244 responding. ETA five minutes,” I barked grudgingly into the mic.

“Roger that Unit 244,” the dispatcher responded before the radio went silent again. Mike switched on the siren and leaned on the gas pedal.

567 Broad Street was a three-story tenement house located in a sketchy area of South Providence. As we pulled up in front of the house, Mike turned the siren off. We had been assigned a repo’d black 65’ Ford Ltd, which blended nicely into the neighborhood. I looked up at the old tenement. The first two floors were dark, there was a broken window on the second floor, and the third floor had a dim light coming from somewhere inside. No one came out of the house to welcome us.

“What do you think?” Mike asked, looking up at the old place. I pulled a smoke from my jacket and set a match to it.

“Looks like a reefer pad. Let’s get this over with pal,” I said as I stepped from the car.

Mike followed suit, and we started walking up the front steps. We got onto the front porch and rang the buzzer to apartment three. We waited a minute or so, but nobody responded. Mike pushed in the door and it creaked open. I drew my forty-five from its holster.

We stepped inside a darkened hallway that stunk of cat litter and stale newspapers, then started up the old stairway. We passed a door on the second floor and went straight up to the third. The third-floor door was already open a few inches, but Mike knocked on it anyway.

“Police!” he shouted with authority as he eased the door open. We stepped inside a small kitchen. A dim light was burning over a gas-on-gas stove. Some broken dishes lay scattered on a dirty linoleum floor. A young girl sat at a table holding a bag of ice on her face.

“Police Miss,” Mike repeated in a softer tone, flashing the badge he kept inside of his wallet. “Did you call in a report?”

The woman lifted the ice bag from her face to reveal a swollen eye and bloody lip. She was young and attractive, maybe nineteen or twenty, with straight blonde hair that fell down neatly over her shoulders. Her good eye was pale blue, her other eye looked bloodshot through the slit in her swollen face. She had a bloodied fat lip, and I noticed two teeth lying in a saucer on the table. She looked up at the two of us.

“Yeah… I called officer,” she admitted. “I had a fight with my boyfriend,” she explained.

“I’m Detective Dawson Miss, and this is my partner Detective Jameson,” Mike explained. “Where is your boyfriend now?” She glanced down at the dirty linoleum floor.

“He lives in the apartment downstairs, on the second floor,” she explained.

“Did he do that to your face?” Mike questioned. She nodded and put the bag of ice back over her puffed eye. Mike looked at me.

“Go down and talk with the boyfriend Duke,” he suggested. “I’ll stay up here and wait for the ambulance to arrive.”

“Your boyfriend got a name Miss?” I asked.

“Todd Benson,” she answered.

I nodded and started back down the old stairway. When I reached the second floor, I rapped heavy on the apartment door. It took a minute, but eventually I heard footsteps on the other side. The door cracked open, still latched on the inside with a chain lock. The punk inside looked to be in his early twenties, a few years older than his battered girlfriend upstairs. He was tall and lanky, with long brown scraggly hair that ran down over his skeletal shoulders. His face was unshaven, and I could already smell reefer smoke inside of the apartment. He wore blue jeans and a t-shirt with a peace symbol hand-painted on it. I pulled my badge out and showed it to him.

“Police,” I stated. “Open the door.” The kid looked a little stoned and shot an arrogant stare back at me.

“Beat it,” he said as he shut the door in my face. I banged on the door again, twice as hard this time.

“Open up, Police!” I shouted. The punk opened the door again. It was still chained on the inside.

“Police,” I repeated less patiently as I stuck my badge in the opening of the doorway.

“I got eyes pig,” he answered.

“Well maybe they ain’t working so good,” I suggested. “Open the door now shit brain.”

“Like I said before, beat it pig,” he spewed, as he began to close the door a second time. Before the door could latch, it came into contact with the sole of my boot. The chain snapped on the inside as the door flew inward with heavy force, hitting the punk in his face. The impact sent him reeling down into a bean-bag chair. He tried to stand up, but his face kissed my boot heel and he fell back down onto the floor.

“Your name Todd Benson?” I questioned.

“What about it pig,” he shot back up at me, spitting blood from his mouth.

“Get up punk,” I instructed. He wobbled slowly to his feet.

“You know who my uncle is pig?” he asked as if I should know.

“I’m sure I don’t give a shit, but go ahead and tell me,” I answered.

“You ever hear of District Attorney Benson?” he questioned arrogantly. I had heard of him.

“Is that name supposed to scare me shit-brain?” I asked. “Am I supposed to forget about your swollen girlfriend upstairs with the missing teeth? Is it supposed to stop me from giving you a taste of your own medicine?” I asked. He smiled back at me.

“That’s exactly what it means pig,” he stated arrogantly as he pulled a reefer from behind his ear and lit a match to it. “I got real juice downtown, and there ain’t shit you can do about it pig.” I smiled back at him.

“You’re probably right about that,” I admitted. He laughed as he took in a deep drag from the joint. Before he could exhale, my fist had made heavy contact with his jaw. I heard his jawbone crack, along with a few teeth on the inside. He fell back limp and unconscious onto the floor. Mike ran into the apartment.

“Dammit Duke, I said go down and talk with the kid, not beat him to death.” I glanced back at Mike.

“He’s a waste product,” I answered. “He had it coming with the beating he gave the girl upstairs. So maybe he needs some dental work now, maybe even a wire job. Nobody’s gonna give a shit about this reefer punk.”

A couple of squad cars arrived along with two ambulances. We turned the scene over to the uniformed officers and went out through the back door. Mike drove me home, and I went straight to bed.

The next morning, we got called into the Captain’s office. He reamed Mike for not keeping me in line, then put me on administrative leave, while an investigative hearing was being scheduled to review the case.

The hearing was held exactly two weeks later. I knew my goose was cooked as soon as the punk walked into the hearing room at the station house. He was dressed in a three-piece suit, clean shaven, and the scraggly hair had been trimmed back clean and tight. He looked like a friggin alter-boy. His jaw was wired open an inch or two, just enough to sip in his meals through a straw. There were a few stitches visible above his right eye.

He couldn’t speak at all, so his uncle the D.A. sat beside him during the entire hearing to assist with his testimony. Evidence was heard on the events of that night, and the review panel made their decision in under ten minutes. The panel spent most of that ten minutes talking privately to the D.A. at the front of the hearing room.

That was it for my career, conduct unbecoming a police detective in the City of Providence. I was off the force, stripped of my badge along with any pension I had coming to me. The D.A. had pulled all the strings and dropped a hundred-pound anvil on me.

When I walked out of that stinking hearing room, all I could think of was…Five lousy minutes.