Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

Benny Green thinking.

Benny Green thinking.

Agent Curtis

(Episode 26)

Agent Curtis could feel the noose tightening, and he loved it.  Because of questions related to the nature of the Muffin Lady’s death, they’d gotten a search warrant of Benny Green’s offices.  And while processing the warrant they had discovered – kept in a cardboard box for easy transfer off the premises in the back hallway by the dumbwaiter – a separate, portable collection of files.  Payload!

Agent Curtis took what appeared to be one of these files out of a cardboard box on the passenger’s side as he hopped out of his Suburban and strode across the street into an older brownstone.  The building was in Benny’s mother’s maiden name, and so hadn’t been covered under the current warrant.  ‘This guy has more holes than a rodent.  Just a warren of corruption,’ Agent Curtis was thinking as he banged on the dingy green metal door, just off the second floor landing.  ‘Who knows where all these doors lead?’  He thought, glancing around.  ‘I do,’ he thought, answering his own question.  ‘A person could tell by the odor…’

“Wadda ya want?”  A voice crackled out of the tinny speaker with chipped paint.

“Federal Agent Benny,” Agent Curtis said in a clipped voice.  A moment passed.  “We have a need to talk.”

“Funny.  I am feeling no need.”

“Open up, and you will.”

“This wouldn’t be Agent Curtis, the alpha dog of Federal Bureau Division 12, would it?”

“How’d you know?”

“It’s yur piss ant knock,” Benny remarked through the tinny speaker, as the buzzer sounded.

Agent Curtis strode in, carrying the file.  Evidence was one thing.  But confronting the bad guy was another.  For one thing, you could gather a lot of information just by observing the suspect and how they reacted when confronted with some damning evidence.  And for another, it was just, damn fun.

“If you would have just told me it was an old friend, I would have opened up right away,” Benny said, extending his arms.

He sat behind an enormous desk.  So enormous, in fact, that it took up nearly the whole room.  And that was probably part of the plan Agent Curtis surmised.  By the time anyone could be over or around the thing, Benny would be long gone out the rear door.  And where that led was anyone’s guess.  Plus, the desk itself was of a polished hardwood.  Possibly reinforced with a bulletproof steel liner, behind which Benny could duck in case a conversation got out of hand.  But what Agent Curtis had in mind was finally going to happen in court.

“All your friends are dead Benny.”  Agent Curtis replied curtly.  “It’s not a good list to be on.”

“If you’re here about the Muffin Lady, I had nothing to do with that.”

“So you say.”

“So would anyone say, who didn’t have anything to do with it.  Which would include several million people by last counting within a twenty mile radius,” Benny retorted.  “You Federal people.  You get an idea in your head that someone is a bad guy, and it just seems to stick there.  Nothing can dislodge it.  No amount of good works…”

“I’ve heard before how much money you gave to the Sons of Italy.”

“That’s not my only charitable contribution.”

“Save it, Benny.  I just stopped by as a courtesy call.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah.”  Agent Curtis waved the file.  “I thought I’d give you a chance to do your packing.  You’re heading for the Big House soon!”

“Ahh!  Somewhere in the sun, I hope.”

“All of the companies you are purchasing portions of with illicitly gotten funds are right in here.  And we’re going to have a money-laundering case against you so tight this time, that you’ll spurt just like a fattened tick.”

“Can I have a look at it?”

Agent Curtis shook his head.  “No.”

“What’d you bring it for, then?”  Benny whined.

“For show and tell.  Just to see you sweat, Benny.”

“I don’t think you’ve got anything, in there.”

Just then a car alarm sounded.  Agent Curtis turned his attention to it; then noticed that Benny Green hadn’t.  Both paused for a moment.

“You think I’d be stupid enough to leave the box of evidence in my office Suburban?”

Benny looked like he was searching for a good retort to that, but had swallowed it.

“I’ll bet there’s nothing in that file.” Benny nodded.

“And you’d be right,” Agent Curtis showed him the blank sheets of paper.

Benny didn’t appear to look happy about it.

Agent Curtis turned to leave, as Benny took out his cellular phone.  Agent Curtis turned back.  “Oh,” he said.  Benny quickly hid the phone.  Agent Curtis laughed, pointing to where Benny had hidden his phone, and shook his head.

“I forgot what I had to say!”  Agent Curtis smiled, waved and left.

After Agent Curtis had surely left, and the door had surely shut.  Benny made several calls on his traceable phone to several names at all the companies on his manufactured list; drug them into a confusing conversation for a time, and then excused himself pleasantly and hung up.  If they weren’t accessible he left a cryptic message.  Then he began to think about dinner and maybe going out with his mistress tonight to see the Lakers perform.  Sometimes celebrity fans would attend, and she loved that.  And when she was happy, the sex was better.  Not professional on her part perhaps, but true.

Photo by Carl Nelson of a professional model.

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