Grand Central Delusion

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Special Agent Pauly of the FBI is charged with solving his partner's murder. Pauly meets with witnesses, including Weegee, Manhattan's infamous crime scene photographer, but his penchant for the bottle makes it impossible for him to separate reality from his own alcoholic delusion.

“Where are we with Henderson, Pauly?”
“Tracking down witnesses, Sir."
“Hoover’s gonna have our asses if we don’t solve this yesterday.”

My only lead is this photograph of Henderson before he was shot from an anonymous source. He’s been dead six days and I got nothing for my efforts but a hangover. I stare at the image until it turns into a Rorschach. I reach for the bottle in my bottom drawer, but think better of it. The boss would snap his cap if he knew I was a swigger. 

I slog a few blocks to Grand Central and stand where Henderson was last seen alive. The sunlight slanting in from the skylight makes my shadow eerily similar to that of my now dead partner. God I need a drink.

“The usual, Pauly?” 
“Make it a double, Jimmy."
“Any progress on the case?” 
I slide the photo across the bar. “Anyone look familiar?” 
“That dame. The one eyin Henderson. Been stayin here at the Commodore since he was killed. Hey Sonya!” Jimmy shows the picture to his barmaid. “Know her?” 
“Yeah, sure. Been here a week. With him,” she says, pointing to the man behind her.
I straighten my tie. “Where from?”
“Germany. They always order the brats.”

“Jesus Pauly, smells like you been in the bottle a week,” Weegee tells me when we meet in Central Park. Weegee’s photograph of Henderson’s murder had been on the front page of every newspaper in the city.
“I have.”
“Took you long enough to climb out.” 
“Who else was Henderson meeting with?”
“Luciano, but you didn’t hear that from me.”
“What about?”
“Shouldn’t you know that?”
“What were you doin here right before the shooting?” I ask, shoving the photograph in his face. 
“A favor. Surveillance.”
I grab him by his collar. “For who?” 
“I don’t reveal sources.”
“Can't say.”
“Why’d you send this to me if you can’t say nothin?”
“Cause you’re next.” 
“Is that a threat?”
“A warning.” Weegee walks away. 


“Pauly! Wake up! Come on. We gotta meeting at Grand Central,” says Henderson. 
My head’s pounding. Last night’s bottle’s on the floor, empty. “Thought you were dead.”
“You’re delusional. You gotta quit boozin’. Let’s go.”

We make it on time. I survey from afar, but it’s like I’m watching a film I’ve already seen. Henderson’s long shadow runs across the toe of my shoes. His informant hands him a note. The Germans skulk by only this time the guy’s carrying a gun. 

Everyone scatters, screaming. Everything goes dark.


“Where am I?”
“Hospital. Ya been shot, Pauly,” Henderson tells me. 
“And the Kraut?” 
“You got him. He was part of the Duquesne Spy Ring.”
“How long I been here?”
“Six days.”
“I had the strangest dream.” 
“It’s alright, Pauly. Rest up. See you back at the office. And thanks. Weegee told me the Kraut was gunnin for me. You saved my life.”

Submitted: April 30, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Shiloh Shelby. All rights reserved.

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