The Big Telephone

(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, and sexual situations.

 

Chapter Four

 

Around three that afternoon, Joe found what he was looking for. First, he skimmed the entry and others after it. He then read aloud every entry that dealt with Mrs. Wilcox’s last hours of her life and the aftermath.

“’Saturday, April ninth, nineteen-sixty-seven,”’ Joe began to read Gail’s diary entry.

“’Nadine has tomorrow all planned out. She told me about it this afternoon. It is after midnight as I write this. Tomorrow evening, after dinner, is when it will take place. Nadine made up her mind to go through with it a few days ago. She really doesn’t want her mother to sell the house and move to Portland, Oregon. We would hate to be separated—Nadine and I. No one has a friendship like ours, one that will last forever. The thought of being away from Nadine just frightens me. She kept saying we would get rid of the problem as soon as we came up with a decent plan. And here it is…’”

Joe continued to read as the senseless murder unfolded before their eyes. He had dealt with similar cases like this in the past. Back in 1951, he remembered a teenage girl who stabbed her mother to death. For “practice” the girl had bought two canaries, killed them using the same knife she eventually used on her mother, and then buried the birds in her backyard. Reading this entry reminded him of another case that had happened in 1954. Only this one occurred in New Zealand and not the United States. Two teenage girls had an obsessive friendship, thus worrying the parents. When threatened to be separated, one of the girls planned to do away with her mother. Like with this case, the girl wrote it down in her diary, every detail of what they were going to do.

Other co-workers and even Bill would tease Joe, giving him the name “Old Stone Face" due to the fact that he showed little or no emotion to anything. Of course, this was not true, he surely had emotions, of course, he just didn’t feel like showing them in front of everyone. An occasional slip of anger now and then at a criminal, but cases like this one, Joe knew he’d be thinking about it for days—long after it was closed in their files.

Both Joe and Bill knew that this would not be enough evidence in court, even though everything was written out. They needed a statement from Nadine herself, admitting what had happened. They even wondered if she knew that Gail kept two diaries. But before they could talk with Nadine, they wanted to question Bobby Rhodes first.

Joe phoned Mrs. Barton and asked if she knew Bobby. She said she saw him around often at Nadine’s, but didn’t know where he lived. She set the phone down and went to ask Gail if she knew Bobby’s phone number or where he lived. A few minutes later, Mrs. Barton came back to the phone and provided the address and phone number. Joe thanked her and said they were still checking on a few things, but would let her know if anything else came up. He didn’t want to give too much information, from what they discovered in the other diary, at least not now.

When he hung up the phone, Joe immediately dialed the number given by Mrs. Barton. The phone only rang and rang. He slammed the receiver in its cradle, and told Bill that they would have to try again tomorrow.

The traffic wasn’t too bad for a Tuesday evening. Joe couldn’t stop thinking about the diary entries he read earlier today. What made people get that way? Gail seemed to come from a good home, but that doesn’t seem to mean anything these days anymore. He wondered what Bobby would tell them tomorrow, if they were able to talk to him. Joe hoped the radio would drown out the thoughts about the case and help his mind relax and focus on other things.

An old song played now. Joe recognized it right away. It was called ‘Two Sleepy People.’ It had a long introductory instrumental, like the songs did back then, for when people went dancing…real dancing. Not like what young people did today, standing so far apart that you didn’t know who your partner was. And the moves as well as the names of the current dances were equally ridiculous, according to Joe. Once he came across a show on TV that had a rock ‘n’ roll group performing as go-go dancers shimmied, jerked, or whatever the latest craze was called, around the stage. It seemed as though every program had that now. Yes, they were beautiful girls, but were they okay after they moved like that for three minutes straight? It looked as if they were having convulsions or something.

Eventually, the man and woman in ‘Two Sleepy People’ began to sing. As Joe listened to the lover’s song, a picture conjured in his mind, as it always had when he heard this song. A man sat in a chair with his bride on his lap, but gazing into each other’s eyes. Only this time, it wasn’t just any man and woman, Joe could see their faces—his and Gracie’s.

He was only in the apartment for about five minutes when a knock sounded at the door. Joe opened it and found Gracie standing there. He smiled as he let her in, shutting the door behind her. They barely said “Hello” to one another, when their arms enfolded around each other and the kissing couldn’t be stopped. That is, until the telephone rang.

“Don’t answer it,” said Gracie.

“I have to,” he murmured into her hair, and gently kissed her neck. “But I think I know who it is.” They slowly waltzed over to the telephone table.

It had to be Walter Scovel, a neighbor who lived in the building who constantly called Joe everyday when he came home from work. He would always ramble on about suspicious characters in the building or tell Joe about something odd he saw that day. He had heart troubles, was a lonely, retired man who had nothing better to do than to call the only police officer in the building and give him "tips" on possible suspects.

Joe untangled himself from Gracie’s grasp and picked up the receiver on the sixth ring.

“Hi, Walter!” he said cheerfully.

He stood silent for a few minutes as Walter rattled on about the findings of that day. While the man continued to talk on the other end, Joe put his hand over the mouthpiece and turned to Gracie, who stood right next to him.

“Go get me a carton of cigarettes. I forgot to pick some up on the way home today,” he told her quietly, just in case Walter could hear anything.

He reached into his pocket and gave her three dollars and some change.

“Don’t worry, I’ll get rid of him by the time you get back," he said as she nodded and went out the door.

This was partly true. He had bought two packs of Chesterfields from the machine this morning, thinking he’d stop on his way home. But with the day’s events, the discovery of the two diaries, reading the entries in each, and then the song on the radio, he had completely forgotten. Still, he wasn’t quite sure if he could get Walter off the phone in time before Gracie got back.

Walter went on to explain that he heard a loud party down the hall from his apartment the night before. To him, it sounded like a bunch of kids carousing around and he had a gut feeling that there were drugs at that party. He asked if Joe could arrest them. Joe calmly explained the reasons he couldn’t arrest people just because they were having a loud party, considering it was before curfew hours and Walter really didn’t know if there were drugs at that party.

In the middle of his explanation, Joe heard the door shut quietly and knew Gracie was back. Walter kept going on about the party down the hall, when Joe felt Gracie’s arms slide around his waist. Her hands traveled lower and that really got his attention. He winced and in the best nonchalant voice he could muster, with her hands all over him, he told Walter he had to go because something was burning on the stove. Walter then asked if he should call the fire department.

“No!” Joe said, more animatedly than he intended to. He gently pushed Gracie’s hands away for a second as he tried to get Walter off the phone.

“I mean, no Walter, don’t call the fire department. A fire hasn’t happened yet. But if I don’t get off the phone, there could be trouble.” In more ways than one, he thought to himself. Finally, the man on the other end said goodbye. Joe replaced the receiver in the cradle and turned to Gracie, who only smiled at him.

“I thought he’d never get off the phone,” said Joe.

“I have a surprise for you,” she said, holding up a small brown paper bag.

With the leftover change, Gracie had stopped off at Rachell’s Candies. Holding out a handful of assorted chocolate candies in her hand, she playfully ran throughout the living room, with Joe close behind. His laughter and her shrieking amusement filled the room, as they dodged one another, until he finally grabbed her waist, lifted her up, spun her around, and then fell onto the couch. The laughter was constant, only silenced when Joe fed Gracie a chocolate almond and she did the same by feeding him one. For the next few minutes, she sat on Joe’s lap; as each fed the other several chocolate covered almonds.

Before they knew it, the bag of chocolate was empty and kissing resumed. Like last night, his hands roamed, while Gracie reacted to his touch. He didn’t know how much time had gone by, a half hour, a few minutes, only seconds? But every part of him was enjoying these moments. They murmured to one another softly as the lovemaking continued—with Gracie still on his lap, this time sitting astride, allowing her foot to touch the floor to keep her balance. She stared right at him, while his hands pressed against her hips, with hers on his shoulders keeping herself steady, moving along with the rhythm, mixed in with their groans and sighs. An occasional cry would rupture when climaxing occurred by one, then the other. When it was over, he lay with his head back on the couch, holding Gracie to him, aimlessly running his fingers through her hair. As their breathing returned to normal, he couldn’t help but wonder in his mind, would we ever make it to the bedroom?

Joe wasn’t used to this. Every time he moved, he felt Gracie next to him. He didn’t want to wake her up. Yes, we finally made it to bed, only to sleep however, Joe thought. Both of them had work the next day and playtime was over.

After the fun in the living room, they went out to dinner. On the way back, the two of them stopped off at Gracie’s apartment on the first floor, while Joe watched her pack a small overnight bag. As he stood there and even now, as he lay in the darkened room, he still wondered if this was too soon for them to spend the night together. Sometimes, he wished he wasn’t so damned serious, but did he want to spend the rest of his life always doing what was considered right? Both of them were certainly adults and knew how to handle things maturely. To hell with my conscience! His mind screamed. We’re both happy and that’s all that matters… I wish I was on vacation with Gracie. We’d have so much time together. We’d get some sleep then. Sleep! Forget it!

Like the other night, he couldn’t get to sleep. So many things whirled in his mind. When this case is over…I hope I can get my second week back. Gracie had two vacation days this week and the weekend. We’d have so much time together… Oh, if Gracie and I were married…she would always be there. She wouldn’t work anymore. I wouldn’t come home to an empty apartment everyday…I’m forty-seven and she’s thirty-seven, it’s about time we can enjoy ourselves… Joe rolled over and tenderly circled his arms around Gracie’s waist. He listened for a moment. All he heard was her placid breathing and the ticking of the alarm clock subtracting valuable minutes of the night.

Sleep eventually came until the alarm clock jangled, waking both of them up. Joe still had that wonderful, happy, being in love feeling that he couldn’t quite figure out or honestly admit to until the wee hours of this morning. Joe told Gracie that he had trouble falling asleep and she admitted the same.

He got up and made coffee while Gracie got ready for work. She made breakfast for the both of them while Joe showered and got dressed. He stood at the entryway into the kitchen, leaning against the wall, watching her at the stove. Suddenly, he didn’t want this morning to end, he wanted time to freeze, but of course he knew better. Striding over to her, he put his arms around her and kissed her cheek, trailing his lips down to her neck. She turned around and he kissed her hard, inviting his tongue into her mouth, sweeping it everywhere possible.

“We don’t have time, honey,” she said, her voice husky, when they broke apart.

“I know, I know,” he sighed. “But dammit, I wish we did. I’m wishing a lot of things right now.”

“Your breakfast is going to burn.”

“Not that.”

He kissed her one more time before sitting down at the table. They ate their breakfast in silence, both knowing their time together was limited. Joe walked Gracie to her car—an adobe beige 1962 Corvair. He held the door for her as she got in and then shut it. When she turned the key, the car wouldn’t start. She tried again with no avail.

“Don’t worry, honey, I’ll take you to work,” Joe said, after he opened the door and helped her out.

Inside, he was so glad that they would have a few more minutes together. They walked arm in arm to his car. Maybe an accident would occur on the freeway, just look at all the time we’d have together then! He thought to himself. Oh, shut up! The stupid things love did to one’s mind.

“Thank you for taking me to work. This is so nice. Spending this extra time together,” she said, grinning. “I hope you’ll be able to pick me up.”

“Me too, sweetheart. I hope today is not an overtime day. We sometimes don’t know that until the last minute. But I’ll let you know.”

Joe opened the passenger side door for Gracie and then closed it once she was inside. He strolled around the front of the car and got in on the driver’s side. His car obeyed when the key turned. The radio played softly—the old songs again. Those old songs always put him in a mood. They were so romantic, always had him thinking about different things. Gracie slid over and snuggled against him. She must be thinking the same things I am right now, he thought. Her hand rested on his knee and then slowly moved up and down his leg, inching closer to his belt each time.

“Don’t do that, honey, you’ll cause me to have an accident,” he said, chuckling, placing his hand over hers and moving it into her lap. His fingers then wiggled underneath her skirt a little and Gracie gasped.

“Joe!”

“See what I mean? There should be a law about driving with pretty women like yourself, why just look at what they do to us men.”

Gracie laughed, but soon stopped when they pulled into the parking lot of where she worked. Joe parked the car and turned to her. They kissed as if Joe were leaving for war that very afternoon. When they came up for air, he told her again that he’d do his best to be there for her when the work day was over.

“I better not see anyone else’s lipstick on your face,” she said beaming, pointing at the pink smudges in his mouth.

“Oh God, I can only imagine what they’d say, especially Bill,” he muttered, chuckling as he pulled out a handkerchief.

He peeked in the rearview mirror and removed the evidence, while Gracie retrieved a small, gold cylinder tube from her purse and reapplied the makeup to her lips, double-checking her appearance in her compact mirror.

They were about to kiss again, when suddenly remembering the pink smeared handkerchief. Instead, Joe gave Gracie a peck on the cheek, and a hug. She then opened the car door. He watched as she walked through the door of the insurance company, then started the motor and pulled out of the parking space.

About a half hour later, Joe and Bill found themselves walking into Throckmorton High School where Bobby, Nadine, and Gail attended classes. They told the secretary who they were, and met with the principal who then went to summon Bobby out of class. They waited in the principal’s empty office.

Ten minutes went by and a boy walked in alone, wearing brown slacks, and a yellow button-down shirt. His light brown hair, neatly combed, was parted off to the side, leaving a long swooping ridge that covered most of his forehead.

“They said you wanted to see me?” the boy asked.

“Is your name Bobby Rhodes?” asked Joe, who motioned for the boy to sit down.

“Yes, it is,” he said, sitting in a chair across from them.

“We’re police officers. This is my partner, Officer Bill Gannon and I’m Sergeant Joe Friday,” said Joe, placing his badge back into his pocket. “We wanted to ask you about Nadine Wilcox. How long have you known her?”

“I’ve known her since my first year in high school. We’re both juniors now.”

“Are you in any of the same classes as Nadine?” Bill asked.

“No, but we have lunch in the cafeteria together. That is, me, Nadine, and Gail. But Nadine and I aren’t as close as we were.”

“How do you mean?” asked Joe.

“We used to go out a lot, just the two of us. She didn’t like hanging around large crowds, so we stayed away from parties. She wasn’t invited anyway, neither was Gail. There was something odd about their friendship. It was like they didn’t have any other friends besides each other. Gail would constantly write in this diary of hers. I’d see her bring it to school everyday.”

“Did she ever tell you what she wrote about?”

“No, not really. But she made strange comments. I remember one time she told me that Miss Hanover, an English teacher didn’t like Nadine’s paper. I asked Gail why and she said because it was too violent. I guess the teacher didn’t like what happened to the characters in the story. Gail just shrugged and told me that they were learning how to write like Edgar Allen Poe. That was their assignment. Anyway, Nadine and I are just friends. I have another girlfriend now. Nadine knows about that.”

“I see,” said Joe, looking over at Bill, who wrote ferociously in his small notebook.

“When was the last time you saw Nadine?” asked Bill, who looked up after writing.

“I saw her yesterday at lunch. She wants me to come over to her house and help her move some furniture.”

Joe then explained the entire situation to Bobby, about Gail’s two diaries, the contents in both of them and discovering Mrs. Wilcox’s body. He then told him of their plan of how they could get over there and confront Nadine herself. The boy who sat across from them now looked stunned and pale.

“I don’t know if I can do that, Sergeant Friday,” he said. “After…after what she did to….I don’t think…oh man…!”

“You have to, son. We’ll get permission from your parents to assist us, don’t worry, we won’t let anything happen to you. This afternoon, you go over there like you never saw us today. Help her move the furniture. Start to ask questions. Someone who does what she did can’t keep it inside forever. I’ll bet she’s dying to tell someone.”

“How do you know she will?”

“She’ll say something; enough to get her talking…some people are like that when they’ve committed such a crime. I’ve seen it before. Part of them wants to brag about it because they think they got away with it,” said Joe.

“Well…okay. I’ll do what I can to help. I can’t believe she…I think I can get there before she even gets home,” Bobby said. “She always leaves a key under the welcome mat by the front door.”

“Okay, you let yourself in after school’s out. We’ll already be there. You let us in and we’ll hide somewhere in the house. You leave the house, lock the door, and wait for her,” said Joe.

“Oh God, I’m so nervous! I don’t think I can do it…,” said Bobby.

“You don’t want her to strike again, do you?” asked Joe.

“No, of course not!”

“Then, you’ll do fine. You’re not the one who committed the crime.”

The boy was silent for a moment and then spoke.

“This would explain a lot though, about her strange behavior, I mean.”

Another moment of silence passed and then Bobby spoke again. “I guess she won’t be moving after all.”

“How’s that?” asked Joe.

“To Oregon. She told me she was moving to Oregon soon. I guess that won’t happen now since, well, you know,” Bobby said.

“Oh, she’ll still be moving,” he replied.

“Where?”

“Downtown, depending on what the judge says.”

Copyright © 2010 by Kristi N. Zanker

 

Continue to The Big Telephone -- Chapter Five!

Questions? Comments? Please send me an E-mail.

Copyright © 2014 by Kristi N. Zanker

 

The background for this site is courtesy of Absolute Backgrounds.