We last met Officer Hannigan and Sergeant Fitzgerald in The Case of the Missing Global Warming and The Age of Stupid
“Sarge, we got a call.” Officer Hannigan motioned to Sergeant Fitzgerald who was paying for two coffees at a Second Avenue bodega. “Disturbance up at Forty-ninth.”
Fitzgerald wrapped a napkin around his cup, peeled back the tab on the lid and locked it in place. He took a sip, sighed and said, “Where then?”
“Forty-ninth. Fiorenzo’s—that Italian place.” Hannigan took his cup and held it as his side without opening it. “Walk?”
Fitzgerald nodded and they made their way across the avenue, then up two blocks where there was a small group of people gathered on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. A large man in a dark suit with slick black hair was yelling at slight man dressed all in black and wearing glasses with microscopically sized lenses. The smaller man was surrounded by a giggling retinue. The larger man had his mitts on the chest of an aproned man who was holding a knife.
“Come up with the money now or I loose Cisco!” The crowd sniggered in reply.
“Now what’s this all about?” asked Sergeant Fitzgerald.
“This…this imbecille has tried to leave without paying his bill!” As he was speaking, Hannigan was coaxing the knife from the cook’s hand.
“Is that true, then?”
“He charged over $800! And he just got up and walked out!”
“Officer, I can explain. I am Francois Jaworski, the sculptor.”
Hannigan said, “The one the Akron, Ohio Beacon Journal called ‘Our city’s pride’?”
“The very one.” Hannigan told Fitzgerald how an abstract statue placed in front of the municipal library created by Jaworski had won ‘Honourable Mention’ in a South African art contest.
“Ah, sure. A Class D Celebrity. And how much did you say the bill was?” After hearing, “Well, then, there’s nothing we can do. Not unless it was over a thousand. You’re free to go.” The throng was still laughing as they entered cabs and drove off.
As Fitzgerald was explaining the law to the restaurant manager, Hannigan was talking on his radio.
“Sarge. Another call. Right over on First. Hit and run.”
They hustled, as fast as the older Sergeant’s bulk allowed, east on Forty-eighth street. When they arrived on scene, an ambulance was placing the body of a thirty-something woman on a stretcher.
A witness said that the car that ran over the woman kept going but then hit a cab that was coming out of the street tunnel. The driver of the car was leaning against the door of his car and was lighting a cigarette.
“Hold out your hands and turn around.” Hannigan was removing his cuffs from his belt when a woman extracted herself from the passenger side. Fitzgerald was asking the man, “Had a few tonight, did we? Smells like more than three swallows of Three Swallows1.”
“Just a minute, policeman,” said the woman. “I’m Chloe Wintertop, Mr Stepanski’s publicist.”
“Stepanski?” asked Fitzgerald.
“The assistant to the Assistant Director to Mike Nichols, the noted Hollywood filmmaker.”
“Ah, I see. I’ll have to call this in.” Hannigan replaced his cuffs and Sergeant Fitzgerald radioed in the particulars. Several people were milling about and Hannigan had to clear a path for the ambulance.
“OK. It appears that this is only his second infraction, so he’s free to go, Miss Wintertop. But if it happens again, I warn you he might have to pay a fine.”
The officers saw to the dispersal of the crowd when their last call of the night came in. A street fight on Fifty-first just west of Second. Again, they rushed on foot and Sergeant Fitzgerald was by now deeply regretting his initial decision to leave the car for their first call. Not for the first time, he swore off donuts.
The crowd surrounded a man on the street and was worrying him severely. Several people kicked him; threats and imprecations came from all sides.
“Hold it!” yelled Fitzgerald. He and Hannigan had their guns out and were pushing the crowd back. “What’s going on!”
“He beat up that little girl!” came several shouts. “He raped her!” It was then Fitzgerald noticed they were in front of St. Elizabeth’s Orphanage for Girls. Fitzgerald turned the gun on the man who was just rising. “Let me see some identification and fast.”
“There’s been a serious misunderstanding, officer. My name is Latin Nowakowski.” Electric whispers shot through the crowd. Fitzgerald read the I.D. “Nowakowski, Latin. Male, 44. Class A Celebrity.”
Someone blurted, “He won two Oscars®!” Others said, “The New York Times called him a cultural treasure. He creates art!” Soon, murmurs of “Youthful indiscretion”, “So-called crime”, and “Not really rape-rape” began.
“Are we sure it was two Oscars®, Hannigan?” Fitzgerald asked. Hannigan nodded. “OK, Mr Nowakowski. You can go.”
Several people clamored for Nowakowski’s autograph as he walked away.
Can you solve the mystery?
1“Three Swallows” is the nickname for Powers’ best-selling Irish whiskey, which has three birds printed on its label.