The Big Hush
(A Dragnet Fan Fiction Story)
By: Kristi N. Zanker
Disclaimer: All publicly recognized characters, settings, etc. are the property of Mark VII Limited and Universal. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. I, in no way am associated with the owners, creators, or producers of Dragnet. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning: This story contains strong language, adult themes, sexual situations, and a disturbing subject matter.
The doctor had given Joe and Bill only a few minutes to talk with Dorothy Richmond. The entire time they stood by her bed asking the most relevant questions, Joe noticed that she didn’t look at them at all. Her eyes were fixated on the ceiling and arms lay limp at her sides, one wrist sporting a hospital I.D. bracelet whereas the other was punctured with an I.V.
The girl’s insolent attitude pierced through the room. She couldn’t understand why she was there instead of her dorm room. After hearing about how she nearly died from excessive hemorrhaging, and that her roommate had brought her here, all she could do was snap at them, “Why don’t you ask Donna? She knows all the answers. Leave me alone.” She then gave a laugh and kept the smirk on her face.
“We decided to talk to you first,” said Bill. "Do you know the address of the apartment building you went to on Thursday night?"
She shook her head no and then spoke.
“I didn’t think I was almost going to die,” she said. “The girl told me it was going to be easy.”
“Who told you that?” asked Joe.
“A girl in the dorm told me about that place, where I could get rid of my baby. She said it was safe. That’ll teach that bastard Danny before he ever—“
“All right, that’s enough from you!” It was Joe’s turn to snap. “You say you didn’t think. Well, let me tell you something. Neither did the other victims. Only they aren’t in a hospital bed. They’re at the morgue. You would’ve been there too if it hadn’t been for your roommate, Donna.”
“Well, I told you to go talk to her.”
“Is that all you can say? I don’t think you realize how lucky you are to be alive. Because of Donna, we’re able to track down who did this to you and others,” Joe retorted.
“She’s such a baby, so naive,” Dorothy said, not listening to a word Joe was saying.
“When you get out of that bed I want you to look in the mirror,” Joe stared at her, remembering what Donna had told them on Friday. “You’ll see a truly naïve girl staring back.”
Joe stalked out of the room. Bill walked beside him as they left the entrance of the hospital. Just then, Joe stopped to light a cigarette. After taking the first drag, he continued, nearing the space where Bill had parked.
About twenty minutes later, they found themselves sitting on the sofa near the entrance of the girls’ dorm. When the girl at the desk phoned Donna’s room, there was no answer.
“She might be in class,” the girl replied after hanging up the phone. “You can wait here. Classes should be letting out soon. I’ve got one in an hour.”
So, they waited. A half hour went by. Several girls came into the dorm and went down the hall to the cafeteria. An hour floated by and finally they saw Donna walking toward them, hugging a few textbooks.
“How’s Dorothy? Is she okay?” Donna asked before even saying hello.
“She’s fine, Donna. We spoke with her this morning,” answered Joe. “What we need from you is the address of the apartment you went to on Thursday. Dorothy didn't remember the address.”
“Oh, I’ll get that for you. I saw her put the address into her pocket after she called for a cab from the payphone in the lobby. I think the paper is still there. Let me go get it.”
Before Joe or Bill could reply, Donna, with her books pressed to her chest, ran up to hers and Dorothy’s room. Several minutes later, she returned, waving the evidence in her hand, stretching her arm out as far as it could go, as she dashed toward them.
“Here it is!” she said. “Right where I thought it was. In her dress pocket. Luckily, we hadn’t done a load of laundry yet.”
“Thank you, Donna, this is a great help to us,” said Joe.
“Would you like me to go along to show you which apartment it was?”
“I think we can handle it from here,” said Bill.
“When will Dorothy come back?” Donna asked.
“In a few days,” replied Joe.
“Oh, okay. The whole floor’s asking about her. She always was popular, she told me.”
“She may be popular, but not for the right reasons,” said Joe.
“I know what you mean,” Donna said. “I’ve learned a lot in these past few days.”
While in the car riding back to Parker Center, Joe suggested that after they brief the captain on their lead, he thought it would be a good idea if policewoman Dorothy Miller accompanied them. Since there had been a secretary, she may have additional information to provide about her so-called employers.
Before either of them could enter the captain’s office, they found an irate couple waiting. The minute they saw Joe and Bill, they sprung from their chairs and demanded if one of them was Sergeant Joe Friday.
“Yes, I’m Sergeant Joe Friday,” Joe replied, flashing his badge and I.D. as proof.
“What is the meaning of this?” A brown curly haired man in a navy blue suit commanded.
“My wife and I just flew in from our vacation," he continued. "The hotel clerk said we had several messages from you!”
“Yes, sir. If you please tell me your name, maybe I can help you," said Joe.
“My wife and I hadn’t been on a vacation in ten years! The minute we go away—“ the man retorted.
“Sir, please! What is your name?” asked Joe.
“I’m Frank Forrester and this is my wife, Marjorie. I want to know what the hell’s going on!”
“Frank!” cried Mrs. Forrester, who stood beside him, in a crumpled skirt and blouse. Her hair was in a headband. Several loose strands clung to her face and hung in her eyes. It was obvious that they had been traveling.
“Watch your language!" she said as an embarrassed yet tense look fell across her face. Officer, we’re a little surprised here. We got all of those messages at the hotel. We’re on our way home, so we decided to stop in and see what’s going on. Is anything wrong?”
“I’m afraid so, Ma’am,” said Joe.
Upon hearing the name Forrester, he immediately realized that they had finally gotten in contact with the deceased daughter’s parents.
“What happened?” asked Mrs. Forrester, with a hint of terseness in her voice.
“Why don’t the three of us go into a room down the hall. We’ll talk there. Please follow me," said Joe.
Joe left Bill in the office, while the couple followed him into an empty interrogation room.
“Sit down,” Joe said, motioning to the two empty chairs and pulled one out on the other side of table for himself.
“Those messages I left with the hotel clerk concern your daughter, Shelly," he began, only to be interrupted by Mr. Forrester.
“What? What’s wrong with Shelly? Did she get into trouble?”
“Yes," replied Joe.
“That can’t be. She’s always been a good girl. She’d never do—“ Mrs. Forrester said only to be interrupted by Joe this time.
“Ma’am, please, if you let me finish," Joe said with a sigh. "I wish I didn’t have to be the one to tell you this, but…your daughter Shelly is dead.”
A heavy, thick cloud of silence filled the air as the news sank in.
“Are you…are you sure about that?” whispered Mrs. Forrester.
“Her boyfriend, Larry Watson, found her,” continued Joe.
“Found her? What do you mean?” said Mrs. Forrester.
“Marjorie, shut up!” exclaimed Mr. Forrester.
“Listen, both of you," said Joe. "Your daughter’s boyfriend found her in the apartment. Apparently, she had died from hemorrhaging.”
“What?!” cried Mrs. Forrester.
“She hemorrhaged to death due to an abortion.”
“No!” she cried, flinging her hand over her mouth, gasping. “She didn’t…she never told me she was—“
“You mean to tell me that that son-of-a-bitch Larry got my daughter pregnant?” demanded Mr. Forrester.
“Yes. And she didn’t even tell Larry about her condition or the abortion,” said Joe.
“Frank, please!” Mrs. Forrester was sobbing now. “Why? Why did she do this?”
“Larry asked that very same question," he replied softly, then explaining that whoever performed the abortion on Shelly had done this to other girls as well.
He informed and reassured them that the police were doing their best to find the murderers. It wasn't the right time to ask, but Joe needed the parents to sign a few papers.
So, he had them follow him back to the office. The three of them, somber, walked single-file down the hall back to where Bill was sitting at his desk. When the necessary paperwork was taken care of, Joe went to the file cabinet and pulled out one of the drawers once again. The bag that contained Shelly’s belongings was snatched up by him, who then turned around to present it to the parents.
“This is for you,” said Joe quietly.
“What’s that?” Mr. Forrester asked, pointing near the bottom of the bag.
“What’s what, Mr. Forrester,” asked Joe who was puzzled at the father's abrupt question.
“That shiny thing there. What is it?”
Joe dug into the bag and retrieved Larry’s class ring, still on a gold chain.
“This is Larry’s class ring,” Joe replied, about to hand it over to Mr. Forrester. “He gave it to Shelly and she put it on a chain.”
Instead, of taking the ring, Mr. Forrester grabbed the chain and yanked it from Joe’s grasp. In a spurt of rage, he threw it against the wall. The room fell silent as the ring cracked against the wall and landed with a heavy clink on the floor.
“I don’t ever want to see that ring again!” the man hollered, his face showing two shades of crimson. “Come on, Marjorie, let’s go claim our daughter.”
Joe watched as Mr. Forrester tightly gripped his wife’s arm and led her out of the office. Slowly, he walked over to where the ring had landed. He bent down and slipped the gold chain on his hand. The ring swung back and forth. It appeared that it had not been damaged from being hurled against the wall. He gave it a closer look and to his amazement, from what he could see, no scratches or cracks dotted the gold or stone in the middle. Silently, he got out another bag, labeled it and set the ring inside, only to close it in the file cabinet once again.
There was no time to think or analyze the couple’s behavior. Joe knew they were in shock and stunned about the death of their daughter. But what continued to perplex him was the fact that they didn’t get a hold of him sooner. He watched as Bill got up from his seat and headed to the captain’s office.
Joe was right behind him as his partner rapped on the door. When Captain Hugh Brown called, “Come in!” he pushed it open.
In the next fifteen minutes, the two of them informed their captain about everything that had happened since Friday, all the way up to getting the address to the apartment and the conversation with Shelly’s parents. Joe brought up the idea of policewoman Dorothy Miller tagging along since there was at least one woman in the operation. He agreed to let her go along. To cover all of the bases, a search warrant was rendered. The captain wished them luck on their endeavor as they exited his office.
Joe, Bill and policewoman Dorothy Miller, who sat in the back of the unmarked gold 1967 Ford Fairlane rode silently to their destination. After slowly crawling down the street, passing one apartment building after another, Joe announced that the one before them was the correct address.
Like all of others they had passed, this one had been standing for quite some time. It looked as though the brick hadn’t been cleaned in several decades. The cement steps leading to the entrance were all cracked from badly poured concrete. A sign on the front door read No Vacancies in shaky writing.
Joe wrenched open the front door. A musty smell of grease, alcohol and mothballs greeted them. The floor creaked loudly underneath them. Stains dotted the wearily and thinly threaded carpet in the hallway. A single, naked light bulb hung above them, slowly swinging back and forth from the door opening just then. There were eight apartments in the building and the one they wanted was on the second floor, number four. The three of them trudged up the ancient staircase, the floor whining with each step until the found themselves standing in front of number four.
Joe pressed his ear to the door but didn’t hear anything on the other side, so he knocked. After tapping a second time, he circled his hand around the doorknob and turned. Part of him was surprised that it opened, whereas the smarter side of him realized the truth. With his other hand, holding his pistol, he pushed open the door so hard that it banged against the wall.
The three of them peered around the living room, half in disbelief that the entire apartment was...empty. Joe watched as Bill and policewoman Dorothy Miller went down the hallway, and checked out the bathroom and two bedrooms. He went into the kitchen. A forlorn refrigerator stood in the corner, and a rusted white stove sat against the other wall. The floor was cracked and very dirty, just as Donna had described it. When he found himself back in the living room, he saw that the carpet was indented where furniture had been. Joe could see the four marks a chair with metal legs would’ve made when people sat down. Besides the carpet was as threadbare, or worse than downstairs in the entryway. A longer rectangular indentation was found across from the row of invisible chairs. He imagined the secretary’s desk there. Both Bill and policewoman Dorothy Miller found similar markings in each of the bedrooms, where supposedly a bed had stood. It was clear that the operation had fled quickly.
“What are you three doing here?” Joe heard a man say near the door. “What’s with the guns? Are you cops or something?”
“Police officers,” said Joe, putting away his pistol to show his badge and I.D. to the balding man with horn-rimmed glasses. “I’m Sergeant Joe Friday. My partner’s, Office Bill Gannon and this is Policewoman Dorothy Miller. Are you the landlord?”
“Yes, I am. Did you want to rent this place?” he asked, with a fat cigar hanging from his mouth.
“No. You see, we were tipped that an abortion ring was held in this apartment.”
“What? Abortion ring? You’ve got to be kidding.”
“Do you have an application or any other records indicating you had tenants here in the past month?” asked Joe.
“Well, no. You see, I don’t deal with applications and such. As long as the tenants pay their rent on time, I don’t care what they do behind closed doors.”
“Even if it’s murder?” asked Joe flatly.
“Now, wait a minute. How can you be so sure an abortion ring was going on up here?”
“We have witnesses,” said Joe. “Your address was written down by someone who was here on Thursday night. Would you know anything about the people that lived here?”
“Well, the only thing I remember is that this man came up to me about a month and a half ago. He needed an apartment and so this one was available. He told me he was the only one who needed it. I just told him that he had to pay the rent on time or else he was out. He agreed and that was the last I saw of him.”
“What did he look like?” asked Bill, with his pencil poised and ready.
“He was about as tall as you,” the landlord said, pointing to Joe. “He had dark brown hair. Very clean cut. But I didn’t know there were others living with him. He told me it was just for him. Boy, if I ever see him, I’m going to tell him...is he going to be in trouble!”
“That's the understatement of the year,” replied Joe.
Copyright © 2011 by Kristi N. Zanker
Continue to Chapter Seven
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