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Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
Mystery on the Tramway
a Henry Wright Mystery by Albert Simon
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
Books by Albert Simon The Henry Wright Mystery Series: For Sale in Palm Springs Springtime in Sonora Drama in the Mother Lode
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
Mystery on the Tramway a Henry Wright Mystery by Albert Simon
ISBN 0-976200-36-8 All Rights Reserved Copyright © 2004 by Albert Simon
This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission. This eBook is licensed to the user that purchased it for reading on any computer or PDA.
The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead is coincidental and not intended by the author.
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Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
This book is for my wife who never doubted that I could write.
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
Chapter 1 Wayne Johnson was frustrated. He kicked at a rock at the desert gravel on the edge of the parking lot and muttered a curse under his breath. Damnit, how did this happen? The murder rate in the Coachella Valley was relatively low, and it was practically non-existent in Palm Springs. Wayne figured the criminals took a break during the hot weather and didn’t bother getting sweaty by killing anyone. The temperature in the Sonoran Desert was well over one hundred at the end of June. Though as everyone always said, “It’s a dry heat!” He kicked at another rock and sent it flying back towards the desert that surrounded the pavement. Dry heat indeed, anytime that the temperature gets to be over one hundred degrees - it is hot - regardless of how low the humidity is here in the desert. The temperature today had the thermometer registering one hundred and two degrees Fahrenheit at Palm Springs International Airport. In the Coachella Valley the breeze comes up in the late afternoon from the west and the distant Pacific Ocean and cools the air off to make the outdoors a little more comfortable. The convection of the cooler air coming into the valley from the inland area to the west was pleasant and predictable. So predictable that enterprising entrepreneurs constructed windmills that used the constant breeze to generate electricity at the entrance to the valley. The windfarms, as they were called, next to the Interstate announced to visitors coming to the valley from the West that they had arrived in the Coachella Valley and its unofficial capital, Palm Springs. Those same breezes made it pleasant outside and Wayne and his wife Elliot generally sat on their patio after dinner. At this time of the evening, when the sun had been down for several hours, they usually retired with a glass of milk and some cookies to the table next to the pool at their home in Indio talking about their day before heading to bed. This night, the married couple was enjoying some quiet conversation over a glass of iced tea when the cell phone that was always clipped to Wayne’s belt disrupted them with its annoying electronic chirp. It was his boss at the police department, Captain Jim Fegosi, who told him to head out to the Palm Springs tramway where a body had been found in the tram car by the janitor. Some poor unfortunate soul took a ride and ended up with a bullet hole. Wayne exchanged his shorts for long pants, changed his shirt and grabbed a sweater, since it was always thirty degrees cooler at the top of the tram, and kissed Elliot goodnight. He got into his city issued, unmarked Ford Crown Victoria and headed for the tramway. There was no time for a leisurely drive up to Palm Springs on Highway one-eleven tonight. He took the Interstate, I-10,
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
north to the Date Palm exit. He’d thought of using lights and siren as he was cruising along, but it was late, traffic was light and he was able to make good time. Wayne took the exit and jogged over to Vista Chino and drove west on it back to Palm Canyon Drive and headed up the steep Tramway Road to the base of the tram. Wayne was captain of detectives on the Palm Springs police force. He spent most of his time investigating burglaries, car theft, and the occasional vice problem in one of the hotels downtown. He didn’t often investigate murders and didn’t like doing it, though that was what he was trained to do. When he called, Fegosi didn’t have any details on what had happened, he only said to get over to the tramway, pronto, there was a corpse with a hole in his head in the tram. Wayne parked the Crown Vic in the parking area in front of the Valley Station next to the coroner’s van who had managed to beat him there from Perris. There were a number of black and whites and several unmarked, but obviously police vehicles, in the parking lot below. One of the uniformed officers was unreeling crime scene tape from a large roll and sealing off the stairs that led up to the lobby from where the tram departed. The Palm Springs Tramway was a great tourist attraction. Its two gondolas carry up to eighty people at a time through the Chino Canyon up to the top of Mount San Jacinto at over ten thousand feet from the Coachella Valley floor. The tramway was an engineering marvel when it was first constructed in the early 1960’s and even today was still awe inspiring. The terrain in the canyon is so rugged and impassible that four of the five towers were built with helicopters, an unusual construction technique more than forty years ago. Wayne had now been here for a couple of hours and while he learned a lot since getting here, there were still a lot of unanswered questions. Well, kicking at rocks out here wasn’t going to get any of them answered so he started walking back to the station from the parking lot and pulled his notepad out of his shirt pocket and checked what he had learned so far. George Margolis, the tramway’s chief of engineering, had been very helpful, answering all of his questions. Since the victim was found in the closed gondola, and the only way to operate the tram was from inside the car, the obvious solution was that the killer had to be in the car with the victim when the shooting happened. The problem was that the witness swore that only the victim’s body was on the tram when it came to a stop at the Valley Station. Margolis was obviously proud of the tramway, he told Wayne that a couple of years ago the entire system was refurbished. The cars were replaced; they were now the largest rotating tram cars in the world. The gondolas made two slow revolutions as they ascended and descended to give the tourists a view of the
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
Coachella Valley and the ruggedness of San Jacinto Mountain. At the same time as it was modernized, the tramway was designated a civil engineering historical site. What that meant wasn’t clear to Wayne, but the chief of engineering obviously thought it was important for him to know. Wayne continued his interview with Margolis, and the kid that found the body when the car arrived at the station. They both said that everything appeared routine with the tram until the kid opened the door at the station once the car came to a stop. After he talked with the two men, Wayne had an initial look at the rather messy murder scene; after which he had to get some air and he headed for the parking lot where he was now. Now matter how much blood and gore he had seen in his career, nothing could prepare him for the bits of skull, brain and large amount of blood of what had once been a human being splattered inside that small space. His eyes followed the tramway’s cables in the moonlight up the canyon; they appeared as gossamer strands of a large spider’s web as they made their way up the steep mountainside. He looked up towards the mountain as though the answer to his frustration could be found there. There was a bright light at the top, where the upper terminus of the cableway was. It was impossible to see the upper station from here despite the moon which was nearly full tonight. The top of the tram was just too high and the mountains too jagged. He was going to have to come back in the morning, in fact he would probably spend all day here tomorrow interviewing additional employees and having a closer look at how the tram worked to see if he could work out this strange puzzle. Wayne walked back towards the scene of the crime - such as it was. They had established the official crime scene at the Valley Station of the tram. It wasn’t really where the crime occurred; it was where the crime was discovered. The actual murder had taken place somewhere between Mountain Station at the top of Mount San Jacinto and here. Over two-and-a-half miles, George Margolis told Wayne, nearly thirteen thousand feet of tram travel. All of it except the five hundred feet or so closest to the Valley Station inaccessible - except by a bird. The body inside the car was Terrance Quinn. He was the superintendent of maintenance of the tramway and one of his responsibilities was riding down the mountain on the last tram of the day. That had been about nine forty-five this evening. That last ride took the trash and anything else that needed to come down from Mountain Station at the top, to Valley Station on the valley floor. This particular ride was not only the last tram trip of the day, it was the last trip that Terrance Quinn would ever take. The victim was shot by a powerful hand gun at close range. There was no entry hole for a bullet anywhere in the tram car’s sheet metal or through the windows. So he had to be shot from inside the gondola. When the car came to a stop and the janitor opened the door, the only one inside was Quinn. How had
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
someone managed to get in the car, shoot the victim, and then get out again before it arrived at the station? If Wayne could find that out, he would be a long ways toward figuring out who did this. The young janitor was waiting at the station for the car to come to a stop in order to help his boss empty the trash bags from the car. When he opened the door he saw that there was a large pool of fresh blood that covered the entire floor of the tram car. He received the shock of his young life when he looked down and in the midst of all the black plastic garbage bags was Quinn’s body. His eyes were open and the bullet hole in his forehead almost looked like a third eye, looking straight at whoever opened that door. Wayne shuttered even now as he thought about first viewing the body a couple of hours ago. Wayne walked around the lab crew from the Riverside County Sheriff’s office that was busy photographing and dusting for prints, he looked for the kid who had discovered Quinn’s body. Wayne warned him not to leave yet, where did he go? What was his name again? Wayne pulled his pad out of his pocket again to check his notes, Todd Gregory. Wayne put the pad back in his shirt pocket. Todd was over near the maintenance area talking with George Margolis. As Wayne walked over, he could see that Todd was still upset, the skinny kid in the oversized overalls was practically crying as he talked with George. Margolis was patting the younger man on the shoulder in an attempt to console him without much effect. Gregory had called Margolis first when he discovered the body; it was Margolis who had called 911 from his cell phone on his way over to the tramway. When he first interviewed Gregory, Wayne had grilled him to see why he hadn’t called the cops first, but the young man had been so distraught that he said that when he saw all the blood and realized it was Quinn that he panicked and didn’t know what to do. Wayne stepped up to the two men and told Todd Gregory to go home and come back for his shift tomorrow. He didn’t consider Gregory a suspect, but all the same, he cautioned him about not leaving town. At this point he didn’t have any suspects, he wanted to talk with all of the tramway employees, and certainly he would want to talk with Gregory in more detail. The young man nodded at Wayne, said good night to George, wiped his nose on the sleeve of his overalls and walked off to the parking lot. Wayne then asked Margolis if it was possible to shut down the tramway the following day so that the crime lab could finish processing the car. Margolis explained that there were a number of people at the upper campground with no way down if the tram was shut down. Margolis told Wayne that the tramway was used by campers and hikers to get to Tamarack and Round Valleys at the top, some of who probably needed to be brought down. After going back and forth discussing the difficulties of closing
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
down and stranding the campers or disappointing tourists who wanted to ride the attraction up the next day, Margolis agreed to phone his boss, the general manager of tramway operations to see if they could barricade the parking lot at the Valley Station. That would in effect keep the day tourists from going up and down, but they could run a tram in the afternoon in case they needed to bring the campers down the mountain. Wayne even thought of asking the Riverside Sheriff’s Department to send their helicopter up to Mountain Station if they had to, but he didn’t mention it to Margolis and thought he could keep that as his hole card for the time being. Margolis walked off to make his call and Wayne could see him standing in the parking lot talking on his cell phone a few minutes later. The guys from the coroner’s office were standing near the souvenir shop chatting, one of them smoking a cigarette. Obviously the lab crew had not released the body yet. He walked back over to the tram car and found the crime lab crew supervisor. Wayne asked him if he had any preliminary results and how much longer he and his crew were going to take. He got a lecture that this was a murder scene, not a television show and there was no way to process everything in an hour or so. The supervisor did tell him that there were no powder burns on the victim’s hands or overalls, and it looked as though the gun was fired from six or seven feet away. He said based on that, and since there was no weapon in the gondola, he had to rule out suicide. As far as the rest was concerned, he wouldn’t be able to tell Wayne any more information until tomorrow at the earliest. Wayne considered calling Fegosi from his cell phone, but it was well after midnight and he didn’t really need to ask permission to go home. He felt that he couldn’t do much at the tramway anymore, he decided to leave and come back early in the morning. He talked with the senior uniform officer on duty and gave him his card and cell phone number and asked him to call right away if anything new came up. Wayne walked back to the parking area where he had taken a break from the gore just a few minutes before when Margolis stopped him. He said he’d checked with the general manager, who apologized for not being there but he was at a nephew’s wedding in San Diego. Margolis said while his G.M. was concerned about his dead employee, he reluctantly agreed that they would shut down for a day. Margolis said he would personally put up barricades and a sign that the tram was closed for maintenance and would call the campground host at the upper station and explain the situation to him. He said goodnight to Wayne who started his car and headed for the exit of the parking lot. As he turned the Crown Vic back onto Tramway Road to head down to the valley floor, he drove down the hill until he cleared the steep canyon walls and
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
the view unfolded before him. He stopped the car in the middle of the road to admire the view. The station was several hundred feet higher than the Coachella Valley floor and the view of Palm Springs and the surrounding cities was beautiful from here. The lights from Palm Springs and its grid of streets was nearest to him, off in the distance he could see Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert. There was a break in the grid of lights directly in front of him which had to be the airport. Beyond it he could see the Interstate, even at this time of night there was a fast flowing river of headlights that were heading towards Los Angeles two hours west. Paralleling the white river was a red ribbon of taillights driving to Arizona, two hours east. Wayne sighed as he eased off the brake and headed back towards the Interstate and home to Indio where Elliot was sound asleep. It was after two when he finally rolled into bed, she patted him in her slumber and he was asleep within minutes.
Wayne was back at the tramway at eight-thirty the next morning. He’d stopped at the Starbucks on Palm Canyon Drive on the way in and picked up the largest cappuccino they made. He figured he was going to need it; he didn’t get very much sleep, and this was going to be a long morning. He drove around the barricades and tape and an official looking sign that said the tramway was temporarily closed due to maintenance. The parking lot was not nearly as full as it had been last night. The crime scene lab crew had a van parked there, the coroner’s van was gone and there were two black and whites, officers guarding the area. Wayne parked the car, pulled his cappuccino from the cup holder and walked towards the station. Today was going to be another warm one, despite the early hour the temperature was just over ninety. On this side of the Valley, the sun had worked its wonders for almost three hours already and the pavement was already radiating its heat. He walked up to the tram gondola, there were different crime scene people working away in the car than last night. The gondola was now covered with fingerprint dust; there were black smudges of the powder everywhere and Wayne thought it looked like the end of a finger-painting session at a day care center. He asked the technician for the supervisor and was told that he had gone to the bathroom to wash up. As he turned around to head that way, the supervisor came walking up and to Wayne’s surprise it was the same guy that he had left here last night.
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
Despite freshening up, the guy looked haggard. He told Wayne that they confirmed that the victim’s fingerprints had been found on the control panel and mechanism inside the car, on the outside and inside of the door handle, and although they were having some difficulty lifting clear prints off the trash bags, it looked as though those prints would also belong to the victim. Todd Gregory’s prints were found on the outside of the door, they were consistent with his story of opening the door when the car arrived at the Valley Station. There were a lot of other fingerprints around the car, but it looked as though they belonged to tourists who had ridden during the day, they were found on the glass, but not near the controls or the door handle. Wayne asked if they could check the top of the car, just in case the murderer rode up there before committing the crime. The supervisor raised an eyebrow, he said that this was starting to sound like something out of a James Bond movie, but he agreed to check. His crew was finishing up with processing the scene and he thought they would be done by ten, eleven at the latest. George Margolis came over to find Wayne; he wanted to know if they could open the tramway to the public after the crime scene crew had cleared out. He thought he could have his people clean the gondola in a couple of hours; he wanted to open up the tramway by early afternoon. Wayne agreed to release the crime scene once the lab guys were done and told Margolis to expect a lot of sicko thrill seekers. People who would want to ride the tram just because it had been the scene of a murder. The tramway slaying was the lead story on the morning news; he expected this afternoon’s Desert Sun newspaper would have front page coverage as well. George also told Wayne that a man who identified himself as Robert Silverstein had called this morning. He was concerned since Terrance didn’t come home last night. George was surprised, he thought Terrance Quinn was single and at first refused to give him any information. George said the man was insistent and then told him that he was Terrance’s partner. George took it upon himself to tell him what had happened to Terrance, at which point Robert Silverstein lost control of his emotions and hung up the phone. Wayne asked if that was the only next of kin that needed to be notified and George said as far as he knew it was. George Margolis said he was actually surprised about the phone call from Silverstein, since Quinn kept to himself and rarely socialized or talked about his life outside of work, Margolis said he had just assumed that he lived alone. Wayne asked George if he could see Terrance Quinn’s personnel records, he wanted to go and talk with Silverstein on his own. George said he’d take care of talking with Nancy in the office and would bring the file out to Wayne. He wondered where Todd Gregory was this morning and George told him that Todd worked the afternoon shift; he didn’t come in until two and worked until
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
ten-thirty at night. The last car of the night came down off the mountain at nine-thirty and usually Todd and Terrance Quinn would need an extra hour to clean up for the next morning. Margolis walked off to the office to get the personnel file for Wayne. He made a note on his pad to talk to Nancy in the office; he wanted Todd Gregory’s address and home phone number as well. Margolis came walking back with a manila folder that he handed to Wayne. He told him it was the only copy of Quinn’s file so Nancy wanted it returned. Wayne told him he’d make a copy of it at the station and that he wanted to talk with Nancy later so that he could get the names, addresses and phone numbers for Todd and in fact for everyone that worked at the tramway, including the campground host at the top. George picked a walkie-talkie off his belt and radioed the request directly to Nancy. He told Wayne that he would have a spreadsheet with all the contact information within an hour. Wayne spent several more hours talking with everyone connected to the tram’s operation and then he and George drove out to the cableway’s first tower and had a look around. Wayne marveled at the size of the tower, it reached more than two hundred fifty feet into the desert sky. But other than being fascinated by the forty year old technology, he didn’t spot anything that would lead him to solve this crime. On their drive back to the Valley Station he asked George to give him a ride in the tram up to Mountain Station. The crime scene crew finished up at ten-thirty and George had several of his staff come in and clean out the fingerprint dust and the large bloodstain from the car. Shortly after one o’clock, Wayne and George rode up the mountain, mid-way they passed the other car coming down, it was empty. Wayne looked out the windows, George used the mechanic’s override on the controls to slow down and stop the car from rotating. The trip up which normally took twenty minutes lasted just about forty-five. Wayne ignored the scenery and looked at how close the tram came to the support towers to see if there was any way someone could have entered the car, committed murder and escaped. When the car came to a gentle stop at Mountain Station at the end of the cable, it was considerably cooler than in the valley. He met the Round Valley campground host at the bottom floor of the three level station. Warren Evans told Wayne that after he waved goodbye at Quinn on that last ride, he hiked back to the campground. Wayne asked him if he was sure that it was Quinn that he saw and Evans said there was no doubt about it. Upon returning to his post at the campground it had been still and except for a group that sang around a campfire right up until quiet time, nothing unusual had happened. The ride down was less pleasant; George and Wayne shared the car with a number of overnight campers who had been waiting all day to come down the mountain. They had obviously not been near a shower for some time and the car, which had seemed spacious and bright on the way up suddenly seemed
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
confining and stifling with the odor of too many bodies in too much heat closing in like a large concrete door that was swinging shut in a bank vault. Wayne stood near George who was operating the car and looked out at the spectacular scenery without talking. There was a large group of tourists at the bottom waiting to go up, many of them ambulance chasers, or the equivalent when a coroner’s van was involved, as Wayne had predicted. Nancy was waiting at the car when it stopped and handed Wayne a piece of paper with the staff’s contact information. Wayne said goodbye to Margolis, and told him that he would be in touch. All the signs of last night’s and this morning’s activities were gone and when Wayne walked out of the station to his car, the tramway looked like it did on any other summer day with tourists milling about, and the sun glinting off one of the gondolas as it made its way along the cable. He got into his car and looked at the stack of paper that he had collected on the passenger seat and headed down the hill towards the police station to try and make sense of this mystery.
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
Chapter 2 Henry Wright looked in his bathroom mirror and ran his hand over the stubble on his head. He’d always worn his hair short, but since retiring and moving to this warm desert climate, he’d gone even shorter on the clippers. He found that it was a lot easier to take care of with his daily swims this way. He supposed that if he ever let it grow out it would be salt and pepper colored, there was a lot more grey these days than the dark brown that his driver’s license said he had. He put down his toothbrush and turned the light off as he walked out of the bathroom and headed outside. There was some faint light on the Eastern horizon, but the stars were still visible when Henry walked out of his bedroom’s French doors. He turned on the underwater pool light so that he could follow the line of tile on the bottom of the pool while he swam and crossed the small lawn over to the pool at his house on Mel Avenue in the Ruth Hardy Park section of Palm Springs. He took the towel from around his waist, he never bothered wearing a swimsuit, the backyard was very private and the only other person here was Charles, his housemate, who usually slept late. He tossed the towel on a chaise lounge, strapped on his digital watch, put his swim goggles on top of his head and jumped into the water. It was warm, but nowhere near as warm as his bed had been. The water felt good against his bare skin and the sleepy grogginess that he felt before getting in was gone. Henry pulled his goggles down, pushed the buttons to start the stopwatch and started swimming laps. He enjoyed the exercise and usually used the time in the pool to solve problems or think about the issues he was dealing with. Before he retired, when he was still the police chief in Eagle River, Wisconsin, he never swam. Of course he knew how, you cannot grow up in that part of Wisconsin and not know how to swim. The area was literally dotted with lakes and he had learned how to swim as a young boy in the early fifties. As he got older and joined the police force and later became chief of police he occasionally would take a dip in Eagle Lake to cool off, but he didn’t swim for exercise as he liked to do now. The exercise helped him keep in shape as well. As an adult, it seemed like he had always weighed the same one hundred eighty pounds, which on his just over six foot frame made him look slender. Since moving to Palm Springs and starting his swimming routine he hadn’t lost any weight, but he was wearing a smaller size pants than he did while he was on the police force. At sixty-one he felt that he was in the best shape of his life. Henry made another kick turn at the end of the pool and kept swimming. He found that when he didn’t have something to resolve, like one of the profiling cases that he helped the FBI with, his mind wandered while he was swimming.
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
He thought about his journey to Palm Springs and how he really ended up here as a fluke. At this point he wouldn’t live anywhere else, but his journey here had been by chance. Just over three years ago, Henry was living and working in Wisconsin and was three months away from retiring from the Eagle River police force when he and his wife Irma took a flight out to Las Vegas to look for a place where they could live out their retirement. Henry was at the point where he hated the snow and cold and didn’t want to deal any more with beer laden snow mobilers racing through town on cold February days. They had talked about retiring to a warmer climate, and after long discussions, they had narrowed their choices to Las Vegas, Nevada; Palm Springs, California or Phoenix, Arizona. They flew to Las Vegas first, the folks in Eagle River thought he and Irma were on a well deserved vacation to do a little gambling at the slot machines. The long time Eagle River residents didn’t want to let on to the folks at home that their beloved chief was leaving town after retiring and used the vacation excuse with their friends and travel agent. In the meantime, they had quietly lined up an appointment with a Las Vegas realtor to look at homes in which to live out their lives quietly. After checking in at the hotel and having some lunch, Irma decided to go back upstairs by herself to lie down when she didn’t feel well, thinking that the food hadn’t agree with her. An hour later when Henry went back up to the hotel room to check on Irma, she was dead on the bathroom floor. The coroner told him later that she had a massive heart attack and had died before she hit the floor and never felt a thing. Henry flew back to Wisconsin with Irma’s body and buried her there. The following few months were difficult for Henry and he didn’t remember much of them now. Still in a fog, three months after Irma’s funeral Henry retired from the police force, he now wanted to leave Wisconsin more than ever but he couldn’t bear moving to Las Vegas. The city would always be a memory of Irma and the hotel room bathroom. His old colleague from an FBI crime class that they attended together, Wayne Johnson, called him and invited him to come to Palm Springs for a visit and a look around. That was how he ended up here, in his little oasis on Mel Avenue. Henry made yet another kick turn in the pool and headed back towards the other end. He’d stayed with Wayne and Elliot in their beautiful home on a golf course in Indio for a couple of weeks. Then after looking around briefly, he bought the house here on Mel in the older part of Palm Springs. The place was too large for one person, but Henry thought the layout of the home was perfect and he loved living here.
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
The house was in the shape of a U with the front door, living room and kitchen in the middle. At each end of the U were two bedrooms each with their own bathroom. All the bedrooms had double French doors leading to the inner courtyard which was the inside of the U with its pool, cabana and tiny strip of lawn. Henry set up one wing of the house with his bedroom and an office. The other wing was set up with two guest rooms, until he met Charles. Charles Knightly III was a retired high school history teacher who played pool at the local senior center where Henry spent a lot of time after he moved into the house. Charles was one of the few people who could beat Henry at eight ball, and they struck up an immediate friendship. Charles had moved to Palm Springs recently after caring for his life partner in San Francisco who passed away from AIDS. He had a hard time finding an apartment to rent, not many places were willing to let Charles bring in his little dog, a toy poodle named Pierre, that he couldn’t part with. Henry offered him one of the two guest rooms while he was hunting for a permanent place and Charles and Pierre moved in. After a few months, Henry suggested that Charles stop looking for a new place to live, and the two of them had been housemates for a couple of years now. The arrangement worked well for both of them. Henry didn’t really need the couple of hundred dollars that Charles insisted on paying in rent every month, but Henry thought Charles would feel better if he didn’t provide charity. Henry liked having someone to talk with, Charles’ history teacher experience had come in handy and Pierre was no trouble at all, Henry liked having the well behaved little dog around. Shortly after Henry moved into the house, he talked with a grief counselor about Irma’s unexpected death. He told the counselor about the fog that he was in for several months and the unexpected lonely retirement life that he had found himself living. Talking with the counselor helped somewhat, but he had a hard time socializing with women until he helped his old friend Wayne out with solving the murder of a local real estate agent a few months ago. He met a woman while he was investigating that incident, and while things didn’t work out with her, he realized that he missed loving someone. He’d come out of his shell at that time and had finally taken off his wedding ring which was now in the desk drawer in his office. Then, almost two months ago, he met Gloria McCann while helping a Northern California sheriff solve a mysterious murder in a gold mine. Henry smiled underwater as he thought of Gloria and felt a stirring that he had not felt in a long time. Gloria lived in a beautiful home on a hilltop just outside of Sonora in Northern California’s Gold Country, and she had promised to come and visit him during the upcoming Fourth of July holiday.
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
They talked several times a week on the phone since he left Sonora in May and they were both looking forward to her visit. Gloria’s daughter, Samantha, was a professor at the University of Redlands and had been begging Gloria to visit once school was out for the summer. So Gloria decided to combine a stay with Sam in Redlands, less than an hour from Palm Springs, with a stay at Henry’s house. They hadn’t spoken since she arrived in Redlands last week; she wanted to devote the time to be with Samantha. Gloria was finishing up her stay in Redlands now and would be here in two days. TWO DAYS! Henry had a momentary panic, lost a stroke and almost swallowed some water, but quickly recovered as he realized that he had everything under control. He had put a schedule of tasks that needed to be done before her visit on the refrigerator that had driven Charles mad, but he had stuck to it closely and was confident that everything would be ready. He had a lot to do before Gloria arrived in Palm Springs, and he wanted the house to look great and he hoped that she would be as comfortable here as he was at her house when he was recuperating in May. If he remembered his to-do list correctly, today he would go out shopping for new sheets for the guest room bed. Henry had washed the linens on the bed twice already, but decided he wanted Gloria to have the best experience she could possibly have. He talked Charles into going to the outlet mall with him today in Cabazon to look for a luxurious set of bed linens for the guest room bed. Tomorrow the landscapers were coming; he wanted the grounds to look nice and had done a bit of pruning himself. He hoped that Gloria would like his backyard and its tropical feel as much as he did. The garden was planted in the mid-fifties and the palm trees and shrubbery were mature and lush. The yard with its pool looked like a miniature tropical resort and despite the continual summer desert heat; the foliage was fresh and the colors vibrant. When they first talked about her visit, Gloria had said that she had no problem visiting him in July as long as he had a pool. He made a mental note to make sure that he put fresh pool towels on the guest room bed. There was a brand new terry cloth robe in the closet; he purchased it specifically for her. Gloria was supposed to arrive on the third of July around lunchtime. He’d asked Juanita, his housekeeper; to come early that morning so that the inside of the house sparkled as well. Charles thought he was a little obsessive with all this preparation and was impressed that Henry was going all out to try and impress his “woman friend” as Charles called her. Charles had already figured out that Gloria was very special to Henry. Henry’s train of thought was broken when his watch started beeping; he had been swimming for forty-five minutes. He climbed out of the pool and picked up his towel and after drying off sat down on the chaise lounge for a few minutes. The sun had come up, the sky was bright blue and there were no clouds to be
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
seen anywhere. Today was going to be another beautiful warm day, and he could hear that the world outside was starting to wake up. Over on the next block he heard a garbage truck making its rounds, in his own yard there were more pleasant sounds as there was a bird singing in one of the trees. As he looked towards the house, he spotted a hummingbird visiting his large hibiscus; he never tired of watching the little birds. His garden looked really good, it wasn’t the grandiose view that Gloria’s house had of canyons, a reservoir and a far off town, but this semi-tropical oasis that he watched over was very pleasant. He sure hoped that Gloria would like it. He sighed and looked at his watch, it was time to shower and get dressed for the day. Thursday was his regular day for meeting Wayne at Sherman’s Deli for breakfast. He got up and wrapped the towel around himself and headed for the French doors that led directly into the kitchen to start the coffee pot. Ninety minutes later he parked his Mercury Grand Marquis in Sherman’s parking lot next to the nearly identical looking Ford Crown Victoria. It looked as though Wayne was already here. Henry bought the Mercury three years ago after he moved to Palm Springs because he liked the big cars. The Eagle River Police Department had four of the Fords, in the Crown Victoria rendition, and Henry had spent a lot of time cruising in the large automobiles. Lately, he had been thinking of getting something with better gas mileage though, especially if he was going to keep making trips to Northern California to visit Gloria. Henry walked into the restaurant and spotted his friend already sitting in their usual booth in the back. As he arrived at the table so did Millie, their favorite waitress, coffee pot in hand. “So did you solve the tramway slaying mystery yet?” Henry asked, sliding into the booth. “I don’t want to talk about it.” Wayne said grumpily. “The newspaper is beating you guys up, says the crime has Palm Springs finest stymied for the past week. I think that was the word they used.” Henry held his cup up to allow Millie to fill it with coffee. “Your old usual, or your new usual, what will it be?” Millie asked Henry. He smiled at Millie’s question, he used to eat the bagel and lox every Thursday, Sherman’s did a great job with it. A few months ago he switched to bran cereal and fruit and found that he enjoyed it more. “The new usual please, and I’d like blueberries if you have them.” “We do, I swear we get them just for you, no one else seems to like the damn things. You take low-fat milk on your cereal right?” Millie made some scratches on her order pad. “Yes, please.” Henry turned back towards Wayne who already put in his order for breakfast. “You’re in a good mood, is she arriving today?” Wayne asked.
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
“No, I’m not ready today. She’s arriving the day after tomorrow. Then I’ll be ready.” Henry smiled and took a sip of coffee. He was in a good mood and nothing was going to change that. “So instead of ribbing me, do you have some time in the next couple of days to help me? Besides, the paper is wrong, it hasn’t been a week, only five days.” Wayne looked at Henry as Millie set his order of pancakes down in front of him. “Not really, I have to go to the outlet mall today, I’m going grocery shopping tomorrow, I want to do a little more pruning in the yard, I really don’t have much time. What do you need?” “Well, the paper is somewhat correct. I’m a bit baffled by this tramway thing, do you mind if I bounce some ideas off of you?” Wayne started in on his pancakes. “I thought you didn’t want to talk about it?” Henry kidded him. “Yeah, I don’t, but I need to. The profiling work that you do and your way of getting into the victim’s head might really be helpful. I need to get on the right track in this investigation. I know I said I don’t want to discuss it, but I’m frustrated and need to bounce some facts off someone.” “All right, let’s hear it.” “Obviously you’ve read the paper, what they’ve said is fairly accurate. We don’t have a murder weapon, we don’t have a motive, and we don’t even know how the crime was committed. I haven’t seen Spiderman hanging around Palm Springs.” Wayne had to chuckle at his own joke. Henry could tell he was frustrated and didn’t know where else to look. “Yesterday’s edition of the Desert Sun says that the kid that works at the tramway and found the victim is missing.” Henry took a sip of his coffee as Millie set his cereal in front of him. “Todd Gregory, yeah, he never showed up for work the afternoon after he found the body. We have an APB out for him, we’ll find him.” Wayne shook his head. “Funny thing is, I don’t think he did it. The lab crew tested his hand and overalls for gunpowder residue and none was found. Besides, if he did it, why did he do it?” “If he didn’t do it, why did he run?” Henry asked. “I interviewed him the night of the murder. He’s a kid; he was scared and crying, nearly hysterical that night, I’ll admit, it was a pretty gruesome scene. When he found the body, he didn’t even call us first; he called one of the managers from the tramway.” Wayne shook his head; he had a hard time visualizing Todd Gregory killing Terrance Quinn. “How old is he?” Henry emptied his coffee cup and tried to catch Millie’s eye. “He’s nineteen.” Wayne answered. “Why?” “Did you check his mom’s house?” “No, why do you say that, do you think he might be there?”
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
“If I was nineteen, and my supervisor was killed on the job and I thought I was a suspect and I didn’t know where to go, I’d go home.” Henry answered as Millie refilled his coffee cup. “Ok, I’ll find out who his parents are and where they live and pay them a visit. Do you have any other ideas?” Wayne held his cup out for a refill from Millie as well. “You don’t have a murder weapon, right?” Henry asked. “No, Quinn was shot once with a .38 caliber pistol, the bullet entered just above his left eyebrow and came out the back and was actually found just kind of lying in the collar of his overalls. It caused quite a bit of bleeding, but death was instantaneous according to the coroner. The bullet was fired from inside the tram gondola, or through an open window or door, there are no entry marks in the glass or sheet metal of the car.” “Did the bullet match anything in your files?” Henry knew there was a national database of bullet markings and any bullet and its unique rifling marks that the gun’s barrel left could be traced if it had been entered into the system. “No, this gun had never been used in a crime before; you know there are millions of .38 caliber weapons out there. Who knows who it belonged to?” Wayne shook his head; he had already thought of all these questions and had not arrived at any answers. “Did Quinn own a gun?” Henry asked. “Are you suggesting suicide? What, like he shot himself and then disposed of the weapon while he had a hole in his forehead and most of the back of his head was missing? No, he didn’t. We talked to his partner Robert Silverstein; according to him Quinn didn’t own a gun of any kind.” “Partner? Quinn was gay? That wasn’t in the newspaper.” Henry put his spoon down and furrowed his brow. “This is Palm Springs Henry, why are you surprised. Your housemate is gay; you think gay men aren’t murder victims?” Wayne looked a little astonished; he was surprised at his friend’s reaction. “We didn’t pass it along to the news media because it has no bearing on the case and we didn’t want to sensationalize this aspect of the crime.” “No, no, no, that’s not what I meant at all. It’s just that it throws a different wrinkle into possible motives, what with death benefits, rules of survivorship, inheritance issues and all that.” Henry replied. “Actually, I wasn’t even thinking suicide either, but the gun had to come from somewhere and since you don’t know where to start, I just thought of starting with Quinn.” “Good idea, but we already covered that. Quinn and his partner led a very quiet life; they were together for fifteen years and didn’t party or participate in any of the alternative scenes in town. They were registered with the State of California as domestic partners and seemed like a happy couple.
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
Robert Silverstein has been ill for quite a long time and is now in shock and is not taking this well. We’re not considering him a suspect at this time.” Wayne was a little mystified by Henry’s reaction. Obviously Henry didn’t have an issue with alternate lifestyles; he lived with Charles after all. Did Quinn’s sexual orientation have something to do with this crime? Wayne was so quick to dismiss that issue, that he never considered it a motive for murder. Henry sure had a way of making him think about his investigations, no wonder he was so good at solving these unsolvable crimes, it wasn’t just his diligence or perseverance, Henry just had a different approach to problem solving. Henry fished the last of the blueberries from his cereal with his spoon. “I’ll tell you what. Get me the names of all the people that Quinn worked with and I’ll see what I can do in the next couple of days before Gloria gets here.” Wayne reached into his shirt pocket and gave Henry a copy of the spreadsheet that Nancy at the tramway provided him. “Here you go, everyone is on there.” “It looks like you were ready for me to agree to help you.” Henry couldn’t help but smile. “I know you like a good puzzle, and this one certainly has a lot of missing pieces.” Wayne smiled as well. “I don’t know how much time I’ll have over the next couple of days; I really want everything at the house to be perfect for Gloria’s visit. I’ll do what I can though.” Henry put the paper with the tramway employees’ names in his pocket. “Henry, Gloria is coming down here to visit you, not to visit your house.” Wayne shook his head. “Yeah, I know. Charles has told me that numerous times. Her house is gorgeous though, with wonderful views that I don’t have. I just don’t want her to think that I live in a little dump.” “Henry, you have four bedrooms, four bathrooms, and a wonderful backyard that looks like an oasis with a beautiful swimming pool! You live in a great neighborhood, I hardly think your place is a dump and I’m sure that Gloria will love it.” Wayne was laughing at his friend. He wasn’t this nervous when his daughter Claire came out for a visit a couple of years ago. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. I’m surprised at how I feel myself. It’s almost like I’m back in high school and I’m getting ready for a first date with the homecoming queen. Not that I ever dated the homecoming queen when I was in high school of course. I was kind of a geek back then.” Henry remembered his high school days and was glad they were long gone. “You are still bringing her over for our Fourth of July barbecue at the house, right? Elliot and I can’t wait to meet her.” Wayne waved Millie over to get the check for their breakfast.
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
“Yes, I spoke to her on the phone last week before she left for her daughter’s house. She said she was looking forward to meeting my friends. Can we bring anything?” Henry reached into his pocket for cash as Millie laid the check down on the table and refilled their coffees one more time. “Let me get this one, since you’re going to help me on this tramway slaying it’s the least I can do.” Wayne took the check off the table. They normally split the check; the last time that Wayne had paid was when Rex Thornbird, the real estate agent, was murdered and he requested Henry’s assistance. “Ok, I’ll let you buy me breakfast, but I’ll tell you right now that looking into your case is a lower priority than my social life in the next couple of days.” Henry took a last sip of his coffee and put an extra dollar on the table for Millie before following Wayne to the register. “I understand and am not complaining. Anything you can do to help me get a better understanding of why this happened will speed up solving this mystery.” Wayne paid the check and turned to head out the door that Henry was holding open. “And before I forget, yes, you can bring something on the Fourth, how about a bottle of wine? You pick whatever kind you like, I trust your taste.” “That sounds good. I‘ll pick up something decent at Jensen’s tomorrow while I’m getting food for the week.” “What do you mean food for the week? I hope you don’t plan to spend the entire week locked up at home. You should be taking her out to see some of the sights in the Coachella Valley. You could maybe even take her for a ride up the tramway.” Wayne enjoyed kidding his friend, but hoped at the same time that Henry would take the time for a tram ride, he would probably come up with other ideas on how this murder was committed for Wayne to look into. “No, no, of course we’re going out. I want to take her to some of my favorite places to eat. I do want to show her around, she’s never been here before. I don’t think she’s afraid of heights, maybe I will take her up in the tram.” Henry pushed the button on the Mercury’s key fob to unlock his car and waved goodbye to Wayne who got into his city issued Ford. They turned out of the parking lot right behind one another, Wayne headed back to the police station, while Henry headed home to see if Charles was ready to go shopping.
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
Henry pulled the Grand Marquis into the garage at home. He parked next to Charles’ Ford Explorer and walked through the garage door into the kitchen. Charles was sitting at the counter finishing up some toast and coffee and reading yesterday afternoon’s newspaper. “Heeey, good morning. Did Wayne rope you into helping him with the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway murder?” Charles looked up from his paper as Henry walked in. “Good morning, well, yes sort, of but not really.” Henry answered. “Are you still willing to help me go shopping this morning?” Charles ignored his question, and said. “I know that today is Thursday, your regular “breakfast with Wayne day” and I figured that he would try to get you to help. So are you working on this case or not? And, yes, I’m all dressed and ready to head out. Though I still don’t think you need to bother with new sheets. I swear the only person that has used those sheets is your daughter Claire when she came out for that short visit a year or so ago. The only way that those sheets can be worn in any way is because you’ve washed them so damn much in the past few days.” While he was talking, Charles carried his plate and cup to the sink, rinsed them and put them in the dishwasher. “Yeah, I know, maybe I’m being a little bit too worried. I really want to make a good impression on Gloria and I want her to be very comfortable here. She took very good care of me when I was at her house in May and I owe her. Besides I want her to like it here.” Henry looked a little sheepish; he couldn’t quite explain why Gloria was so important to him. He couldn’t quite figure it out himself. “Henry, she’ll be fine. From what you’ve told me, she is not set on appearances and will like you for you, not for the thread count in her sheets. For goodness sake, she’s a waitress right, when she doesn’t need to be a waitress?” “You’re right. Yes, when her mother passed away, she inherited everything and she is quite comfortable. She’s a waitress because she enjoys meeting people and likes getting out of the house. You’re right, image is not important to her, but I still want her to be happy here.” “Henry Wright, are you making plans for your future that you aren’t sharing with me?” Charles turned around and shot Henry a look as he was heading off to his bedroom. Was Henry planning to make his relationship with Gloria permanent? “Let me put Pierre outside and then we can go.” “No, I’m not making any plans right now. Gloria and I have something special between us, we’ve talked about that. We’ve decided that for now we just want to be friends. Good friends. Her visit here is an important step in our relationship. We enjoyed each other’s company at her house, now I want to see
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
if she likes it here. There’s nothing like July in Palm Springs to test if someone can stand our desert climate.” Henry reached over and turned the coffee pot off. He added the carafe to the dishwasher and closed it as Charles came back with Pierre under one arm. “I swear this dog just sleeps all day, you have to wonder what goes on in their little brains sometimes.” Charles picked Pierre’s water bowl up from the sink, filled it and set dog and bowl out the door into the yard. “They think about where their next meal is coming from, and when he can take his next nap, and since he’s neutered, that’s all he can think about.” Henry said as he turned around and headed back to the garage while he heard Charles groaning in the kitchen. Henry turned the car onto Highway one-eleven and passed the turnoff to Tramway Road as they headed for Interstate 10 before he spoke to Charles about the tramway slaying. “Wayne did ask me to help, but he knows that I’ll be busy with Gloria in the next week or so. I told him that his problem was definitely not first on my priority list.” “The Desert Sun says that Palm Springs finest are baffled, I’m surprised that Wayne didn’t call you in earlier. You’re getting quite a reputation for solving the unsolvable you know.” Charles looked over at Henry not without some pride. “Stymied, the paper says they’re stymied, not baffled.” Henry corrected with a smile. “Same thing. The newspaper says that the police may be calling in a freelance investigator to help them solve this crime. That would be you.” Charles looked out the window as they came down the sweeping onramp and headed west on Interstate 10. “I didn’t read that, the paper said that? I hardly qualify as a freelance investigator. I’m just helping out a friend, that’s all.” Henry couldn’t believe that the paper would be referring to him as an investigator. He was just a retired police chief who enjoyed the occasional challenge. Maybe he had solved two murders in the past three months, and that one last year, but that didn’t make him an investigator. Or did it? “I know that the FBI sends you a check every time you do a job for them, you’re just lucky that you’ve been able to do all your work on the Internet. As your reputation grows, you’re going to start getting calls from all over the country from your ex-colleagues and you’ll be flying all over the place to investigate unsolved murders for cops everywhere.” Charles was carrying this a little far, but it wasn’t inconceivable that Henry’s ability to profile victims and figure who might have wanted to kill them and thereby solve the unsolvable would strengthen his reputation amongst his former colleagues. “Hey, hold on just a minute. I’m retired and have no interest in going back to work. The online thing with the Feds is more of a hobby, I’m almost embarrassed to take their money. The way you describe it, that’s a job. I don’t
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
need a job, I like to play pool, swim laps for exercise and hang out with my friends.” Henry was adamant that he didn’t want to fulfill Charles’ prophecy. “Ok, then you’re going to need to stop taking calls from guys like Bill Rustow, like you did two months ago.” Charles looked over at Henry to see what his reaction was. “You’re right. I’ll help Wayne with this mystery, it is pretty interesting, but I won’t take any more calls from my former colleagues, and that includes Bill Rustow. On the other hand, if I hadn’t gone up to Tuolumne County to help out Rustow, I would have never met Gloria.” Henry took his eyes off the road and gave Charles a “so there” look. “True, but now that you’ve met Gloria there is no need to go running around and getting hurt again. You want to enjoy your life with her don’t you? Remember what happened.” Charles was in his teacher mood now, gently chastising Henry for getting hurt during his adventures in California’s Mother Lode. “Yeah, I don’t need your reminders. I have the scar to prove it. I think you might be able to help me with this tramway thing though, had you ever heard the victim’s name before?” Henry asked, taking the Fields Road turnoff from the Interstate to head to the outlet mall. “Gwynn wasn’t it? No, I can’t say that I have.” Charles thought about it, he didn’t recall anyone. “It’s Quinn, Terrance Quinn. He lived with his partner Robert Silverstein over in the Deep Well area of Palm Springs.” Henry corrected. “Head for the East Wing of the mall, we’re going to WestPoint Stevens, you should try to find some parking in the courtyard right in front of the store. Quinn I don’t know, but Robert Silverstein sounds familiar. I know that name from somewhere.” Charles looked out the window for parking places even though they had a little ways to go. Henry found a parking spot close to the store in the mall’s courtyard. The mall was relatively quiet; July was the off season in Palm Springs. The weather was too hot for most tourists, there were several buses with foreign visitors who were taking advantage of the outlet’s prices, but otherwise, there was a lot of parking space and no one on the sidewalks. They walked into the large bedding store and Charles led the way towards the sheet sets. “Robert Silverstein, I know him from the AIDS hospice where I work.” Charles stopped turned so suddenly in the aisle that Henry bumped into him. “Oops, sorry. Is he another volunteer, like you?” Henry asked. Charles slowly shook his head. “No, he’s sick. He’s really, really sick. He needs full time care, not the once a week drop in that he’s doing now.” “If he needs full-time care, why isn’t he getting it?” “Most likely it’s lack of money - that would be my guess. Plus I’m sure that his partner was taking care of him. You know, I learned first hand that no
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
matter how good the work is that we do at the hospice, there’s nothing like being in your own home.” Charles looked wistful; no doubt he was recalling the year that he took off from teaching to take care of his partner, Jonathan. “Hey, how about one of these, isn’t that convenient?” Henry tried to snap his friend out of the melancholy mood that he was suddenly in. Charles turned around and pulled up his nose even before he started speaking. “A bed in a bag? Henry, pahleeeze. I thought you wanted luxury?” “Well some of these look nice, you don’t think these are luxurious?” Henry knew from Charles’ reaction that he was once again focused on their shopping excursion. “Henry, we want to look for Egyptian Cotton, 300 thread count at the least and more is better - closer to a thousand is more like it. Let’s not get the bed bags, no matter how convenient. Come on over here.” Charles led the way to some shelves stocked with packages with all different colors. “Thread count? I’m not sure I know what that is.” Henry followed Charles over. “Trust me on this Henry. Gloria will have the best night’s sleep she’s ever had.” Charles looked over the selection. “How’s this?” “What color is that? Pink? I guess that will work.” Henry looked at the package. “Pink? No Henry, you’re close, it’s peach. Here, hold this.” Charles put several packages into Henry’s arms. “Now we’ll need some shams, a dust ruffle and some new accent pillows.” “Ok, I trust you. Hey, do you think I could get some of these Arabian cotton sheets for my bed?” Henry started looking around for a shopping cart; Charles was putting too many things into his arms. “Egyptian cotton, Henry, not Arabian. Of course, we can get a new set of sheets for your bed as well. Let’s see, a nice cream color would look good in your room.” Two hundred dollars later they left the store with four large shopping bags filled with sheets and pillows and other things that Henry knew existed but that he had never purchased before. It was a good thing that they parked close and it was also good that the Grand Marquis had a large trunk; they had no problem putting their new treasures into it. Charles suggested that they go to another outlet store; he thought the bare guest room could use some new artwork. Henry agreed but wanted to have lunch first, so they set off to find a restaurant. They found a food court, Henry headed for the Chinese food counter while Charles had a baked potato with all the fixings. They sat at a table near the window and Henry gently asked Charles about taking care of his partner Jonathan before his death. Charles explained that his circumstance was much different than what it appeared that Terrance Quinn and Robert Silverstein’s situation was.
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery
The San Francisco School District that employed Charles provided full medical insurance benefits to same sex partners. He said that Jonathan could have gone into a hospital or care facility but that they had made the decision and he preferred to stay at home. Charles was able to get a leave of absence from his position as a history teacher at the high school and provided care until Jonathan passed away. Charles said it didn’t appear that Terrance Quinn had the same sort of benefits, so that probably wasn’t an option for them. He said that Robert was too sick to work at this point, so Terrance would have to care for him. Charles was concerned, now that Terrance had been murdered; he wondered who was going to take care of Robert. Henry suggested that the two of them go see Robert Silverstein, Charles could check up on him and Henry could find out a little more about Terrance Quinn and who would want to see him dead. They finished their lunch and walked over to a store that sold posters and prints. Charles picked out a nice framed print of a tranquil garden scene for the guest bedroom and they headed back for the car. It was hot out and Henry started the car and left the door open while he let the air conditioner start cooling the interior. They returned to the Interstate and drove back to Mel Avenue and Henry gave Charles the tramway employees contact sheet that Wayne had given him. Henry put the bed linens in the washing machine while Charles used the list to call Robert Silverstein to see if they could come by. Charles said that Robert was not feeling well and was going to take a nap. He said they could come later, after five o’clock would be ok. Charles said he was going to take a little nap as well. The gardeners had been at the house while they were at the store, everything looked great but Henry wasn’t satisfied. He picked up his pruning shears and headed into the backyard for some final touchups. A couple of hours later Charles helped Henry make the bed in the guest room. Henry agreed that the sheets, ruffle, shams and accent pillows made the bed look luxurious. Henry was sure that Gloria would be very comfortable in here. They hung the picture over the bed, actually Henry hung the picture while Charles told him where, and admired their work when they were all finished. They got back into Henry’s car and took Sunrise Way towards the Deep Well section of Palm Springs. A couple of minutes later Henry parked the Grand Marquis in front of a modest house on a tree lined street. Charles knocked on the door and they waited for quite a while before it was opened. The house was dark inside and they could barely see the man who opened the door. It didn’t take a doctor to see that this man was gravely ill. He was a walking skeleton
that’s right. Robert coughed before answering. Henry thought that this murder could be solved if he could find two things: a motive and a murder weapon. Terrance’s death is a real shock. He was gaunt and stooped and his bony hand rested on the top of a cane. “Would that be George Margolis?” Henry asked. coughing again. I don’t recall anything of that sort.” Charles said. I mean their relationship was strictly that of manager and employee. Terrance got along with everybody. Terrance and I didn’t socialize with anyone that Terrance worked with. “Hello Robert. Terrance was pretty easygoing. “I apologize that it’s so dark in here.” “Did anyone in particular stand out. I haven’t seen you at the hospice for a few days. His hair was white and had no shine. flat and unresponsive. This has been a very difficult couple of days for me. “Robert Silverstein?” Henry asked. We like keeping our private life private. are you with them?” Robert asked. Like I said.” “Do you mind answering a few questions about Terrance?” Henry asked gently. I see. at least I never heard Terrance say anything bad about anyone there. the light bothers my eyes.” Robert said.” Robert pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and blew his nose. “I already talked with the police. 26 . he got along with everyone. “Yeah.” He waived his arm at a couch and the two of them sat down. “Well sort of. “No. I’m a eh…” “Henry is an investigator who works on special cases as a liaison to the police department. Robert just nodded and invited them in.” Robert shook his head. “Did he get along well with his boss at the tramway?” Henry asked. “I stopped driving some months ago and I haven’t had a ride over there in the past week. their eyes had a hard time adjusting to the darkness. but I never talked to him until the night that Terrance… that Terrance… that Terrance passed on. his eyes were the same way. he thought that someone who knew how the tramway operated would have the best opportunity to commit this type of murder. The most likely suspect was someone that Terrance worked with. did he talk about one person there more than anyone else?” Henry kept probing. “How can I help?” “Did Terrance tell you if anyone was bothering him or anyone had something against him at work or anything?” Henry asked.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery with his mottled skin baggy over his bones.” Charles interjected. “George? Sure. “Oh. I knew who Margolis was of course. I don’t know why someone would want to do this to him. I have to keep all the curtains closed.
I don’t think so.” Henry looked up from his list.” Robert said. 27 . I think he was just out of high school when he started. “That makes sense. “I’ll come over tomorrow morning and take you to the hospice Robert.” Robert wiped his nose again. it would give me peace of mind and bring some closure.” Robert said. They may not have told even you all of the details. that’s not why. “Is there anything else you can think of that can help me find whoever did this to Terrance?” Henry felt that Robert knew more and that he was holding back something. I’m getting tired. I don’t recall anything out of the ordinary.” “No. The police investigators do that to make sure that kooks and weirdoes don’t confess to the crime. I think they got along pretty well. If I think of anything.” Henry explained. “No.” At least Henry hoped that was the reason that the detectives who had been here to talk with Robert had not told him all of the details about his partner’s death. “Did Terrance do anything unusual in the past month or two?” “Unusual? I’m not sure what you mean by that.” He added sarcastically. The cops that were here didn’t say anything about that. “I think it might be easier if you get hold of me through Charles. “I hope you don’t have too many more questions.” Henry looked over at Charles who nodded. he has two first names. “Which new kid is that?” Henry pulled the list of names of tramway employees out of his shirt pocket. “He found him? I didn’t know that. now that I think about it. From what Terrance said the kid kind of looked up to him. “I forget his name. I thought they were withholding things from me because legally I’m not Terrance’s next of kin. Terrance did mention that new kid a bunch of times. “No. “There are some facts that the police don’t release to the press or to the public. I hope you find Terrance’s murderer. they have to keep some facts close to their vests to corroborate the true murderer’s story once they find him.” Robert shook his head. can I contact you at the number the other detectives left behind?” Robert was coughing again. “We’ve only been together for fifteen years. we’re almost done. but no.” Charles said. “What did Terrance say about Todd Gregory?” “What did he say? I’m not sure.” Robert answered. as he did he looked down at his hands. “Todd Gregory? He’s the kid that found Terrance’s body.” Robert recalled.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “You know.” Henry said looking at his friend. The kid started working there full time about a month or so ago.
He’d have to work on it a little harder especially if he could help out this poor sick man inside this house. Robert appeared frail. then any insurance policy that exists can be paid to Robert.” Robert said coughing again. he doesn’t need that house. “Don’t get up. “He’s probably going to have to sell that house. “I’d really appreciate that. he was afraid to shake his hand and hurt him but he held it out anyway. they won’t pay anyone. He won’t be able to live on his own much longer anyway.” Charles said. we’ll let ourselves out.” “Yeah. “There are a lot of Roberts in the world. It’s become a liability. Henry and Charles walked out the door and got into Henry’s car.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery Robert looked up at Charles with tears in his eyes. Robert’s grip was surprisingly strong for someone who looked as bad as he did. not an asset.” Henry got up to leave. “Thank you for all your information Robert.” “What about Quinn’s life insurance?” Henry asked.” Henry had no idea how Terrance Quinn had been murdered or who might have done it. But you’ll have to find the murderer first. if they own it that is.” Henry said. “How is he going to pay for his medical care?” Henry asked turning back onto Sunrise Way to head home. I really appreciate all of your efforts. You know as well as I do that if Terrance Quinn’s death is ruled a suicide. “Well.” “Thank you Charles. 28 . life insurance companies are funny that way. If he and Robert were registered with the State of California as domestic partners. “That will help. “That was a sobering experience. you’re assuming that Terrance had a policy. I’m working on finding his killer. depending on how much equity he has of course.” Charles said staring straight out the windshield.” Charles got up and gave Robert a careful hug. I’ll let you know what I find out.
He wasn’t 29 . he wrapped the towel around himself and walked through the French doors into the kitchen. he’d already been swimming for forty-five minutes. Then at nine o’clock everyone slowly disappeared and everything got quiet as though he were living in Sleeping Beauty’s castle and someone was pricked by a poisoned pin. His thoughts of Gloria took a second place in his mind. It was early and the parking lot had only a few cars in it. that’s when most folks shut themselves inside their air conditioned houses not to come out again until the evening breeze brought some relief from the heat. Gloria wasn’t coming to visit the house. He had enough time today to go out to the tramway to talk with Quinn’s boss. pick up some wine. When he first moved here.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery Chapter 4 The next morning Henry was swimming laps trying to organize his thoughts and figure out what he knew about the tramway murder. He started the coffee pot and while it was brewing. He climbed out of the pool and sat on the chaise lounge watching the sun come up the rest of the way. went into his bathroom to take a shower. and while he never for one moment forgot Gloria was coming tomorrow. A gorgeous sunrise like this morning’s was something that Terrance Quinn was never going to experience again. He realized that it was taking up a lot of his thinking. The heat of the day started shortly after nine o’clock. before going grocery shopping this afternoon. Henry was amazed at how early there was traffic on the road. he was challenged by this mysterious puzzle Wayne had thrown at him. people having breakfast or riding bicycles and shoppers in the grocery store. He looked over and saw the first rays of the sun hit the top of Mount San Jacinto and was reminded again of the tramway that climbed to its top. and maybe get some flowers for the dining table. After some toast and several cups of coffee he drove over to the tramway. This was the kind of morning that made the early day life make sense here in the desert. His house looked really good and he wanted it to look great. Henry parked his car and reached behind his seat to put his sun shade on the dashboard. at least momentarily. Palm Springs was beautiful this time of the morning. she was coming to visit Henry. His watch started beeping. That thought was sobering and made Henry more determined to find his killer. George Margolis. He wanted to stock the refrigerator. and Henry enjoyed sitting here in his little oasis watching and hearing the world wake up around him. though as the guys said. Getting up.
He could see the thick cables heading up the steep Chino Canyon. refrigerator and a large coffeemaker. “Sure. He told me that you would probably be coming by to see me. He was looking at a display that detailed the recent renovation of the tramway when he felt someone walk up behind him. The first tram of the day was in the station waiting for passengers. Is there somewhere we can talk in private?” Henry wondered how Wayne knew that he was going to come by the tramway.” “Good to meet you Henry. Henry walked over to the station and asked the ticket seller behind the window if he could talk with George Margolis. She looked at him and apparently decided that he was legitimate. even here above the valley floor. Even though it was just after nine o’clock in the morning. the tramway was the logical place to start. He hadn’t mentioned where he was going to go or who he was going to talk with. Henry looked around the little souvenir shop while he waited for Margolis to show up. but he thought it probably had to. Henry held out his hand and received a firm handshake. Wright I presume?” A deep voice asked. but please call me Henry. picked a walkie talkie up from the desk and asked Margolis to come to the box office. he couldn’t see the top of the tram from here. no telling how fresh it is. I just had two cups at home. let’s go to the employees’ lunch room. “Yes. Do you want any coffee? George turned and headed out of the public area of the Valley Station and towards a building on the other side of the cableway. There were numerous black and white pictures of the tramway’s construction and Henry read some of the stories of the numerous helicopter flights it took to build all but the first of the cable towers. I’m Henry Wright. He wondered how many other people would be expecting him. Henry turned around to see a short powerfully built man in his late forties with black hair that was graying at the temples wearing a khaki uniform with a tramway patch above his left shirt pocket. since he told Wayne that he was going to look into this killing for him. the temperature. “Mr. By the time he got back to the car. “Well. “Well. but I never turn down a fresh cup. Henry sat down in one of the plastic chairs at a small round table while George headed for the coffeepot.” Henry followed George into a brightly lit room with a sink. I’m George Margolis. was already ninety-five degrees. I called Wayne Johnson at the police department yesterday afternoon to see if he had any news on who did this terrible thing. Then again.” “I’m happy to meet you as well George.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery sure that these screens really worked. but he did spot the first two towers of the cableway. Henry walked over to the Valley Station. 30 . it could well be over one hundred ten. how do you take it?” George asked grabbing a Styrofoam cup off a tall stack of new cups.
he was also a candidate for this 31 . it covers the costs and keeps people from wasting the coffee. But the way that I work. but he was determined to drink it since George had been nice enough to pay for it.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “Just black. it wasn’t very good. I tend to work without notes.” Henry looked around.” Henry set his cup down on the table. unless you start giving me phone numbers and stuff.” “I suppose you will want to know all about how the tram operates and you will want me to take you for a ride on it later. I’d like to start with finding out more about the victim. But you’re working with them so I should answer your questions as though you are a policeman right? By the way. I understand. George dug into his pocket and put some money into a box on the counter and handed Henry his cup. it’s not a big deal really. but I can just do that with the tourists. “Ok. you look like you could be with the police. I should probably start by telling you that I’m not with the police department. “No. Where do I start? Do you want to take notes or something?” George asked. though everything in this room was basic and whoever picked out the furniture and appliances was obviously on a tight budget. How well did you know him. sort of a freelance investigator working with the police on their investigation.” Henry explained. Henry raised an eyebrow. “Ok. We charge fifty cents a cup. I’ll take that as a compliment. Payment is on the honor system and we find that it works pretty well. how can I help you?” “Well.” George smiled. kind of like Andy Taylor before he became Matlock. “Now.” “At some point I will. I would not have agreed to have some. I think at first he was a little upset when he had to work for me. he was just going to ask his questions. let’s see.” Henry took a sip of the coffee. those I have to write down. please. that explains a lot. Henry smiled at the reference to two of his favorite classic television shows. “Terrance was already working here when I was hired. Terrance Quinn. Obviously the tramway took good care of its staff.” George pulled another plastic chair out and sat down across the table from Henry. “Thanks. how long did he work for you? I may want to ride the tram over the weekend. but skinnier and very short hair. how did he get along with others. “Actually I’m a retired police chief. “Ok.” Henry smiled.” “Oh. He decided that in the future he would not bother explaining his relationship with the police. he could always explain later if he needed to. I’m eh. “If I had known that you had to pay for my coffee. my memory is pretty good. You look like a retired police chief.” George said.
“Frankly. never hung around work when he was done. I usually stop at the Starbucks on Palm Canyon before coming to work. “How did Quinn take Todd Gregory under his wing?” “Todd Gregory started here part-time last January.” “Do you know if they socialized outside of the office?” Henry asked getting up to refill his paper water cone. Quinn wasn’t that type. He usually went straight home alone. and he was an employee. like I said Quinn wasn’t the kind that would go out after work and socialize with his colleagues. called the morning after the night that he was killed. I found out that they made a little gambling run to Vegas on a day off a couple of weeks ago. He was still attending Palm Springs High School and got school credit for his job with us as part of their work experience program. He did a good job. “Not until this guy that called himself his partner. I was kind of surprised when he took young Todd Gregory under his wing the way that he did. teaching him not just about the tramway. Quinn wasn’t the type that you’d go out with for pizza and beer. we brought him on full time. like I said. I was his boss. He felt as though he should have known a little more about his employee. “So the two of you got along ok then?” Henry pushed the cup with awful coffee away from himself. he got over it. I think. “Well. After a while. “Did you mention the trip to Vegas to the police?” “No. I thought that was a little bit unusual. He was very professional here but always kept to himself. but showing him proper work habits. Quinn had been looking after the kid and was sort of mentoring him along.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery position.” George explained. so three weeks ago when he graduated. I guess I never really thought about it.” George was almost apologetic. I wouldn’t say that we were buddies like we didn’t go out after work and drink beer and watch football. I just now thought of it as I’m telling you. I thought he was single. I think that he saw the kind of hours that this job demands and he didn’t want to do that. 32 . Robert. George could have told him that before he poured him a cup he thought. but didn’t want to drink the foul stuff either.” “Did you know that Quinn was gay?” Henry stopped at the water cooler. Henry chuckled as well.” George got up and walked to the water cooler.” Henry had an apologetic look on his face. taking him under his wing like that. “Can I have some water? I’m kind of coffeed out here. But you know I just remembered something you might find helpful. I guess he really liked the kid though. I don’t see how you can drink that mud. and got himself a drink in a little paper cone. “Not really.” George laughed. he wanted to be nice to George.” George shrugged his shoulders as though he was sorry that he put in as many hours as he did.
like I said he was always professional. He stayed on here when the tram was closed for a few months for refurbishment a few years ago. “What about his work. he was always nice to the tourists and I never had any complaints. and hotel rooms there are cheap. Henry felt that Robert was withholding something yesterday afternoon. “Like I said. Did he ever indicate any kind of jealousy towards you?” Henry asked.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “Quinn was going home straight after work every day to take care of his partner. I think he enjoyed working here. When the wife and I go. they could have managed a day trip. They both had two days off. so he was busy cleaning. Everyone here will miss him. was he jealous of Quinn?” Henry stood as well. sometimes we catch a show. but Vegas is a four-and-a-half hour drive from here. “It’s really a shame that he was killed the way that he was. that he was a candidate for my job. was this what he had kept quiet about? Was there a chance that he didn’t know about the trip? Would Quinn have kept that a secret from Silverstein? Henry knew that Wayne Johnson had put an APB out on young Todd. On the other hand. painting and doing general maintenance work while the new cars and counterweights were being put in. we spend the night.” “It sounds as though he didn’t want you to know that much about him.” Henry solemnly told Margolis.” Henry said. I actually found out long after I was hired from our administrator. have a nice dinner. “No. If Terrance were gone overnight. He didn’t want to say that he’d already talked with Silverstein who had not mentioned anything about a trip that his partner took to Las Vegas. I don’t know if you’ve ever been there. so I suppose it’s possible that they made the same arrangements. maybe I’ll go over and have a word with him. Quinn didn’t talk about his home life at all. There are always tasks to do. Nancy. I now realize that I didn’t know that much about him. How about Todd Gregory. Don’t feel bad about it.” Margolis shook his head. was Quinn a good employee?” “He was very professional.” “You said that he was up for your job before you were hired. with two drivers. Driving makes for a long day. 33 . “Spent the night? I wouldn’t know. it seemed as though Gregory was a key figure in this mystery. “You’re right. “I never knew.” George shook his head. I feel bad about that. Perhaps he should go over and talk with the young man’s parents to see if they knew where he was hiding. He certainly never let on to me that he tried to get my position and he never made me feel that he held a grudge when I joined the team.” “Do you know if Quinn and Todd Gregory spent the night in Las Vegas on their little trip?” Henry asked. “You know.” George stood up. Robert Silverstein is a very sick man and needs a lot of care. wouldn’t Robert Silverstein know the answer to that question?” George looked puzzled.
not that he was afraid of heights or claustrophobic. You really should go up. though the evening trams are busier as everyone comes back down. I think he still lives with is parents.” George said wistfully as with a quiet woosh and a sound of a powerful electric hum somewhere deep in the station complex the gondola smoothly pulled out of the station and briefly swung back and forth on its cable before steadying and heading up towards the canyon. I think I may come back after the holiday to ride it though.” George was still watching the tram climb its way up. in fact the car that is on its way down is the one in which Quinn was found. he’d stop off at home to see if Charles needed anything. “If you have the time.” Suddenly Henry was not looking as forward to riding the tram. I’ll have a quick look at it. the tram coming down will be here in twenty minutes. “Well. They pass each other mid-way on the cable. The gondola operator waved at George as he was pulling the door closed.” Just as they walked to the tram. “That’s fine. Thinking of Gloria made him look at his watch. “Not right now. I’ll get you a couple of complimentary passes you can use anytime. All I know is what I told you that he started here full-time after graduating. Nancy in the office can probably get you the address. The two cars are identical. that sure looks powerful. he wanted to get a look at how this murder could have been committed during its twenty minute ride down the mountain. Henry watched its departure and his stomach felt just a little queasy.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “I’m afraid that I know even less about him. “Can I show you the tram?” “Oh. how long does it take to get to the top?” George was proud of the tramway. It would give him an excuse to ask him what he wanted to know. it’s quite a ride. sure. there’s a nice video that we play up there that shows the construction and the opening by the original Governor Brown in 1963. “Gee. It takes about twenty minutes to travel the two-and-a-half miles of cable before arriving at the Mountain Station at the top of Mount San Jacinto. He pulled his grocery list out of his pocket and decided that since Mel Avenue was between here and Jensen’s. but he thought maybe he would be more enjoyable going up with Gloria.” “Yeah. This is the quiet time of year. you shouldn’t have to wait at all. so much for showing you the tram car.” Henry followed George out the door and back to where the sleek white gondola was hanging on the cable waiting.” George opened the door to the lunchroom. 34 . “The gondola holds eighty people but for comfort we usually limit it to sixtyfive. it showed in his voice as he spoke. the last of the tourists were just boarding for their ride up. I guess I’ll have to do that. I think you’ve helped a tremendous amount. thanks though.” Henry wasn’t ready to ride up the tram. it had just passed the first of the five towers. these cars rotate twice during the trip. He figured he had to.
perhaps it would be interesting to take that tram trip.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “If you hang on a second and wait right here. walking into the main building. He started the Mercury Marquis and let the engine run with the door open. the view from the ride up had to be a lot more spectacular than from the road. He remembered feeling quite comfortable inside the mine. He looked at his watch and noticed that it was already nearly eleven. He drove out of the canyon and marveled at the view. Henry was already thinking ahead to his shopping trip and Gloria’s arrival tomorrow and momentarily forgot where he was. the car was well over one hundred and twenty degrees inside. I’ll be right back. he’d better get started on his errands.” George said.” George came back in five minutes with two large tickets for a complimentary tram trip and a sheet of paper with Todd Gregory’s home address and emergency contact information printed on it. he sure hoped it would be the same way here. He reached for the bottle of water he had left in the cup holder but despite his window shade the car had heated up sufficiently to make the water tepid and he put it back. of course he was focused on other things at the time. Henry shook his hand and walked back towards the parking lot. 35 . He had felt the same sort of trepidation two months ago before entering the gold mine and that had not been a problem at all. I’ll be right here. “Oh sure.
maybe Charles could shed some light on it for him.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery Chapter 5 He pulled into his garage on Mel Avenue next to Charles’ SUV. I wanted to ask you about it. “What are you doing out here. he felt that his friend was stressing way too much about Gloria’s arrival. I swear you guys are not taking this seriously. how are you? Have you been shopping? You have less than twenty-four hours to wait. the pool looks so nice. that I wanted to sit out here and enjoy it. She’ll be here tomorrow and then I’ll feel better. Pierre was at his feet. Are you nervous?” Henry dropped himself into one of the chairs next to Charles and put his leg up on the other. “Heeeey.” Henry sighed. he was glad that he didn’t live in a humid climate it would probably have ached constantly. I know. he felt as though he had a lot of work yet to do. Henry would settle down and be happy. I learned something just now while I was looking into this tramway killing and it doesn’t make sense to me.” Charles shook his head. you sound like Wayne. a coffee cup and the newspaper were next to him. “Will you stop worrying. There was something going on here that Henry didn’t understand. he wanted to ask him about Terrance’s trip to Las Vegas and possible motives for that little drive.” Henry sighed. It looked as though he was sleeping. “I know. He found Charles outside sitting at the table under the umbrella by the pool. Henry was glad that Charles was home. “No. Perhaps there was a reason that he had been so friendly with Todd. the place looks great. 37 . I’ll be happy. “That’s not what you came out here to talk to me about is it?” Charles looked at Henry.” “I like the heat. How many times have I told you the house is irrelevant. I think the yard looks pretty nice. she’s here to see you. The house and garden looked great. but I like how he does it. Every once in a while his leg still bothered him a little. they did do a nice job. Henry walked towards him quietly until Charles looked up and greeted his friend. I don’t know what that new pool guy does. but it seems kind of awkward if you know what I mean. his sunglasses covering his eyes. and once she arrived. his head was back. you know that. if we can get the inside to look as good. Remember it is easier to cool off when you are warm. “You’re right. it’s over one hundred degrees in the shade. How did they get it to sparkle like that?” Charles looked over at Henry who lowered his sunglasses to look at the pool. he could tell there was something else on his mind.” Henry traced the grain in the wood of the table with his finger. than to warm up when you’re cold! Besides.
so they didn’t go to gamble.” “Hmmm. Henry stopped tracing the grain. affair if you will. “What do you mean?” 38 . am I right?” Charles sounded indignant. perhaps Quinn and Gregory had some kind of sexual encounter. went on a trip to Las Vegas with the young janitor that he was mentoring Todd Gregory. as sick as Silverstein was. I don’t think of Silverstein as a suspect. “Exactly. physically. Terrance’s manager. you know. he could have been angry enough at being cheated on that he might have gone over the edge. romantically I mean. I mean. “The victim of the tramway killing. current health I was wondering if the two could have had a fling in Vegas. Margolis also told me that the two went to Las Vegas. we know each other well enough that you can ask me anything you want. so you’re thinking that even though Silverstein and Quinn were registered domestic partners. So stop fussing and tell me what’s going on. though I agree that your scenario is not that farfetched. of some kind. When you and I were at Silverstein’s yesterday.” Charles said. I’m sure he’d get thrown out of the casinos. why did he do it at work? Then again. I swear you’re acting like you’re fifteen years old and you’re asking me to go to the drugstore to buy condoms for you. if there is such a thing. Given Quinn’s partner. no. Silverstein didn’t want to tell us about it since he was embarrassed that he’d been cuckolded. but I’m not sure why you’re asking me? Was the young janitor gay?” Charles furrowed his brow. Of course that leads us to a motive where Silverstein was jealous when he found out that Terrance Quinn went to Las Vegas with Todd Gregory and shot him after confronting him. I thought that since Robert Silverstein was most likely incapacitated.” “Well. George Margolis. Terrance Quinn was his supervisor and took him under his wing and helped him out a lot at the tramway and taught him about work habits. “Todd Gregory? I don’t know that. If he had. Quinn stepped out on him. thought that was unusual since Quinn never socialized with anyone that he worked with. The kid’s only nineteen. jealousy certainly makes a motive for murder. “What I want to know is if it is possible that Quinn and Gregory had a sexual liaison. Robert Silverstein’s. Terrance Quinn. how did you know?” “Because you’ll ask me about anything else without the hesitance that you’re showing now. he couldn’t picture him murdering his partner. how does them being gay impact that?” Charles furrowed his brow at Henry. “Ok. What happened? There’s probably something about Terrance Quinn being gay that you don’t understand.” Henry looked at Charles. but somehow. I actually wouldn’t go that far.” “Well. he didn’t mention that Quinn went on this little excursion. So.” Henry thought about what Charles said.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “Oh for goodness sake Henry.
I just went from my standpoint. but he did remind him of someone.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “Henry. Henry had mentioned to him how his police force of six officers had to deal with the drunken snowmobilers and boaters. We only have fifteen hundred people and everyone sort of knows everyone else. New Mexico who went to New York and felt totally out of his element. I’ll rinse it later.” “I’ll be back in a second. Do you think someone has to be gay in order to have an affair when they’re married and their spouse is terminally ill? I’m sure that half of the Las Vegas hotel rooms have someone in them that is not supposed to be there. He started getting up and asked Charles. in many ways Henry was similar to that cop guy on television many years ago. You know. Eagle River. Henry came from a very small town in rural Wisconsin where most of the crime was caused by outsiders. Wisconsin is a very small town.” Charles watched Henry walk through the French doors into the kitchen. do you want some water?” Charles looked into his empty coffee cup and handed it to Henry. I wouldn’t think of being with anyone else. and if it is plausible between Quinn and Gregory.” Henry took a deep breath. sometimes you are so naïve. or small town thinking. but in my experience it isn’t very common.” Charles said. “Here’s your water.” Charles shook his head. “What do you mean?” 39 . perhaps Henry wasn’t like that. Charles had spent most of his adult life in San Francisco. “What? How can you say that?” Henry was shocked at what his friend just said. Of course I know it happens. the sheriff from Taos. it seemed as though he put himself inside either the victim or the killer’s head and thought the way that person thought. Certainly Charles had never shown any dog like behavior. Charles shook his head. “Yes. “I’m thirsty. At other times he was amazed at Henry’s lack of sophistication. “You’re going to tell me that you’ve never known a married couple where one of them didn’t have an affair?” “Yeah. My question really is if it is more common with a gay couple. where were we? Henry was back and handed Charles a cold water bottle. Sometimes he wondered about Henry. and those crimes were mostly minor. I guess that is why this whole thing is so inconceivable to me. Sam McCloud. I don’t know anyone who has ever had an affair. “I guess you’re right. please. I guess that’s what I’m telling you. He was very good at solving these puzzles for the police. Except of course Henry didn’t have the drawl or the moustache. but Henry admitted that he only investigated two during his entire time on the force. if you can put it in the sink. He had worked on the occasional murder in the days that he was the chief of police. Charles smiled. certainly if Irma were still alive and ill. “I was about to tell you that gay men are dogs.” Charles smiled. this is empty.
“Well. I know it’s perfectly safe. “No. I need to take a ride on the tramway. it doesn’t help if you laugh about it. “You know Henry. I’ll grab some lunch while I’m out. though Pierre opened one eye to make sure that they weren’t going anywhere. seen people get hurt and killed in car accidents. I suppose it does save a lot of money on dinners and the old fashioned way of dating. You’ve been shot at. not that I condone it. I’m not looking forward to going up in that tram car. But certainly there are a lot of gay men who lead promiscuous lives and even though they are in a long term relationship will have numerous affairs. I’m good. Him.” “Dogs. I was going about this in my usual way of trying to think the way the victim thought to see who would want to kill me. You should look at how this murder was committed before you look at whom. if I could actually offer you a suggestion with your investigation. That’s very common.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery Charles laughed. “Speaking of Gloria.” Henry shook his head. You know I’m not making fun of you. I’m not sure what my apprehension about this tramway thing is. just having some fun with you. here’s the perfect chance. Between you and me. I guess you’re right. 40 . “Besides.” Charles burst out laughing.” Henry said with mock anger. and have come out of some very tight spots in one piece. Anything I need is on the list. eh? That certainly puts a unique label and a strange mental image on that sort of behavior. Do you want any grocery money?” Charles stretched out. in order to figure out how. you were a cop.” “There you go. I’m not really mad you know. you’ve been through some horrific things. You two are holding hands aren’t you? If not. not all of them of course. but Terrance Quinn certainly could have had an affair with his young employee. it was almost too cold.” “You can stop ridiculing me now. I mean. but I figured that Wayne and his team of detectives were already figuring that out.” Henry put his water on the table and wondered if Charles was right. “Henry.” Charles took a long drink of the water. Many guys will have sex with someone first and then develop a friendship and relationship later. Do you need anything?” “I apologize.” Henry waved at Charles as he walked across the lawn and into the doors that led directly into his bedroom. Why don’t you take Gloria by the hand on Monday and take a ride up. you can’t be worried about that tram ride?” “Hey. he showed no signs of getting up. I’d better get over to Jensen’s and get my shopping done. It’s more apprehension about doing something I haven’t done before than anything else. “You mean figure out how the heck a murder without a murder weapon or any kind of obvious way of committing this could have happened? I’ve thought about that. Two months ago I thought I was going to be claustrophobic inside that gold mine and I was fine.
“Did you show any of them a picture of Terrance Quinn?” Henry asked.” He answered. Wayne wasn’t at his desk. He called Wayne Johnson at the police department.” Wayne sounded thoughtful. can you talk?” “Henry. usually anyway. “Do you think Quinn bought the weapon and committed suicide? You know the crime scene guys that were there that night eliminated suicide right away. Are you any closer to locating the gun that killed Terrance?” “Henry. something had been bothering him since his conversation with Charles earlier.” “Ok.” “Well.” “Have you been to the gun shops in the Coachella Valley?” Henry asked.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “Well.” “Interesting choice of words Wayne. The shot was from too far away and there was no powder on the victim. three more in the entire Valley. Apparently these weapons are not as popular as they once were.” “This won’t take long. I just have a couple of quick questions. Besides. He wondered why Henry had not heard about the incident with the broken cable on the tramway last year that left a car load of tourists stranded for four-and-a-half hours in mid-air. none of them sold any . he went into the office that adjoined his bedroom.38’s in the past six months.” Charles muttered under his breath.38 specials out there. fire away. “Quinn? No. No luck with any of the pawn shops either. we did go in with a glossy of Quinn’s partner Robert Silverstein and Todd Gregory though. Henry decided to call his cell phone number. it’s Henry. we didn’t show them a picture of Quinn. But I figured there’d be no way for him to shoot himself and then get rid of the gun with a bullet in his head. how are you? I’m on my way home. there have to be literally millions of . but everything is coming up blank. or I can call you back when I get home in about twenty minutes.nothing. “Wayne. The lab crew went through all of the garbage bags that were in the tram with a fine tooth comb . I can talk to you now. it crossed my mind. None of them recognized either one of them. where was he going to ditch the weapon inside that tram car? I was trying to rule out that Terrance bought the weapon maybe for protection or whatever and was shot with it by Robert Silverstein.” Henry wanted to rule out Charles’ 41 . Henry came back from the store and after putting away all the groceries and putting his fresh flowers in a vase on the dining table.” Wayne had some frustration in his voice. “There is only one gun store in Palm Springs. “Wayne Johnson. that is what I want to ask you about. we’ve been all over the place looking for that weapon.
he grew up as a latchkey kid. stuff like that?” Henry asked. He’s a teenager. was never a burden on her. “I just don’t think that Silverstein killed Quinn. He got the job at the tramway while still at Palm Springs High and then went full time there after graduation. You didn’t see him that evening that I went up to the tramway when he found Quinn’s body. Have you located Todd Gregory yet?” Henry asked. “No. Henry. “We talked with her about his friends. his parents divorced years ago. The one kid we talked with said he hasn’t seen him in quite a while. “Todd Gregory. We went to his mother’s house. “Not yet.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery theory. he didn’t think it had much credibility. Where did you hear that?” Wayne asked. The mother is a blackjack dealer at one of the Indian casinos. are you getting sloppy?” Henry gently rebuked his old friend.” “Todd Gregory? Are you saying Quinn and Gregory had something going? Is Gregory gay?” “I don’t know that.” Henry replied.” 42 . That young man was very distraught. You know something just tells me that Todd Gregory didn’t do it. She said he always had a job. he always made money.” “Wayne. but thanks for your concern. who would Silverstein have been jealous of?” Wayne wondered.” Wayne said. I missed that.” “How about friends. That certainly is a powerful motive but do you really think it works in this case. but did you know that Quinn and Gregory went to Las Vegas together?” Henry asked. “I don’t know how you’re getting these people to tell you this stuff when I can’t get it out of them when I interview them. “We didn’t talk to the mom about his hobbies. you’ve been dipping into the classics. the performance that he put on that night is worthy of an Oscar.” Wayne answered. all I do is let them talk and listen to them. I don’t think so. “Jealousy. “You have to do whatever works for you. That’s what all of them are into these days. he lives with her over on Verona Road. he’s not staying with him. “No. “How about his hobbies?” Henry asked. What could his motive be?” Wayne asked. “George Margolis told me.” Henry said. “Jealousy? Henry. It’s amazing what folks will tell you if you just listen. he doesn’t have many.” “I guess.” “I don’t know Wayne. she said he was a quiet boy growing up. my guess would be music and movies. but he did want Wayne to eliminate the possibility. hobbies. Maybe I’ll try that the next time I interview a suspect. If he did it.
it had an Intel 486 chip in it. no. black. do you want the license number?” “Sure. though he didn’t. “Your first computer was a number?” Wayne asked. I need to take this turnoff and pull my notes out of my pocket. of course Gloria.” Henry hung up the phone. It didn’t help that all of his friends were asking if he was ready for her arrival. Finding Todd Gregory was the key to solving this mystery he felt.” Henry explained. “Thanks. I got it.” “Ok. he felt as though he was never going to be really ready.” Henry cautioned. Who else? Well enjoy your day with her tomorrow and we’ll see you the day after.” Wayne said. The housekeeper is coming early in the morning. I think he can tell us a lot. 43 . “I’m sure we will. I doubt that I’ll spot it if your officers haven’t. here it is. I tend to agree with you that he didn’t do it. California plate 1 Bravo. I’m looking forward to having you meet her. What kind of car does he drive?” Henry asked. “You mean Gloria? She’s coming tomorrow at lunch time. what time is she coming? Are you ready?” Wayne asked. “Take your time.” Henry said. say hello to Elliot and see you then. with a convertible top and a light bar. “I can understand that. my first computer was a 486. “No. he couldn’t explain why.” Wayne said. I just want to hang around here and catch up with her. “Hang on. now I get it.” Henry said. I’ll bring it along when we go out. I’m about to turn into my driveway. I don’t expect that we’ll go anywhere before we come over and see you though. Foxtrot 486. that’s easy to remember. Uniform. “No. you can call me back when you get home.” Henry said. ok. “Yes. We still need to find him though. its ok.” Wayne said.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “Alright. He drives a 1983 Jeep Wrangler. Wayne. “Oh. “Ok. “Never mind. “We’ll be there.” Wayne read. and then I guess I’m ready. we’ll see you on the Fourth. We’ve been looking for it all over town.” Henry answered. I’ll call you if we find Todd Gregory. “Got it. but I might as well write it down.” Henry sighed. Will you have your cell phone with you if you go out?” “Yes. my first computer was an IBM AT. That young man’s disappearance was a telling sign that he was the link in this whole puzzle. I’ll keep an eye out for the Jeep.” Henry answered. I hope the two of you will like her.
They should probably go back in their records a full year. He was only a little winded. where did that kid go? How could Wayne have let him leave? It was a good thing he was going to see Wayne at the barbecue tomorrow he could ask him to go back to the gun shops with Gregory’s photograph to see if he was familiar. That certainly ruled out suicide. The more angles Henry looked at the more Todd Gregory looked like the most likely suspect. His watch started beeping. it was hard to believe that he’d been swimming for forty-five minutes already. Adjusting his goggles and starting his stopwatch. and that would make him old enough to purchase a firearm. ditch the gloves and put on the distraught employee act that Wayne saw. Charles seemed to think that knowing how would lead him directly to whom.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery Chapter 6 Henry was awake early the next morning. He dropped his towel on the chaise lounge and jumped into the pool. As he told Wayne yesterday afternoon.38 caliber guns recently. He looked up at the still dark sky and went to the side of the pool and turned on the underwater light. he had turned eighteen a little over a year ago. He must have lied about finding Quinn dead. Maybe he should go over and talk with Todd Gregory’s mother. He would have to do a little reasoning there. That only left Todd Gregory. The water felt good against his bare skin. Figure out how the murder was committed first instead of focusing on who did it. It was July third and Gloria was due to arrive today! They had agreed that she would be too busy at her daughter’s house to talk on the phone. Terrance Quinn was shot from six to eight feet away according to the crime lab. Gregory had called Margolis first instead of calling the police. He remembered what Charles said yesterday. The lab crew said that there weren’t any powder marks on Todd Gregory’s overalls or hands. She said she would call before leaving Redlands. so he hadn’t heard from her for over a week. it was impossible to toss a gun out the window with a bullet in your brain. he’d give her a call later. But then again. Margolis had given him her home number and address. He turned the tramway slaying problem over and over in his head. Todd Gregory was now nineteen. he started swimming slowly. which could have given him enough time to change his overalls. the gun shops claimed they hadn’t sold any . he didn’t want to go and see her at the casino. He must have shot him as the tram arrived at the Valley Station. from there it would take her only forty-five minutes to get here. but he could have changed and worn gloves. Also ruling out suicide was the fact that the gun wasn’t found in the gondola. perhaps it was time to 45 . Damn.
They included a flattop. He stood up. He finished drying off and wrapped the big towel around him and headed into the kitchen to start the coffee pot. most to Ralph. switched off the stopwatch. There were black and white checkerboard tiles on the floor. 46 . “Yes. was working her magic with her vacuum and mop.” Henry replied. waved him into the empty chair. On the walls of the little shop were black and white photographs of numerous movie stars of the forties and fifties all with perfectly coiffed hair. he pulled up at Ralph’s.” Even though Henry had been awake for quite a while. perhaps working on Wayne’s problem had been a good thing the past couple of days. A couple of hours later. The shop looked like it did in the early fifties when it first opened. two old leather upholstered barber chairs and a small sink for washing hair in the back. “So what’s keeping you busy these days Henry?” Mario asked. Henry pushed open the door and it was as though he crossed the threshold into a different era. Some of the pictures were autographed. The little establishment had been there for more than fifty years as Ralph’s. and Mario didn’t want to confuse his customers by changing anything. The sky was an amazing pinkish. who still had a trace of accent from his native country. He was here once every three weeks and Mario clippered his hair to a short buzz cut.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery increase his swim to an hour. He certainly felt calmer about Gloria’s arrival this morning. not Gloria. while Juanita. He climbed out of the pool and picked his towel up and realized that the entire time that he’d been swimming he was thinking about the tramway murder. bluish color.” Henry answered. a number two if you please. the housekeeper. He turned and Mount San Jacinto could be seen rising straight up from the desert floor. it was still early and Mario. took off his goggles laid them on the cement edge and floated on his back in the pool. closing his eyes. I’ve had a hectic couple of weeks behind me getting the house ready for a friend who’s coming for a visit. He could probably save a few bucks and do it himself but he liked the pampering he got from Mario. the sun was just rising and it looked beautiful. the barber to the stars. He wondered if he could ever look at the peaks again without thinking of poor Terrance Quinn and his last trip down that very mountain. He smiled to himself. “Oh. some to Mario. “Your usual Henry?” Mario asked as he wrapped a tissue around Henry’s neck. An old fashioned poster hung between the two chairs showing the different haircuts that were available in the shop. a butch and a “men’s regular. Ralph had retired long ago and Mario took over the shop but he was not about to change the name of the shop from Ralph’s to Mario’s. on Indian Canyon Drive.
but he was glad that he pulled the buzzing machine away from his head before doing it. a couple of months ago when I was in Northern California. coming for a visit. it must be a woman. “What. In all the television shows I watch. then you would be happy to do that.” Mario said.” “Now tell me about why you think I’m helping the police. It’s hard to turn down a friend who needs help. a former policeman?” Mario put the barber drape around him. the Desert Sun.” Henry explained. she’s a lady friend.” “You’re too smart Mario. I have a friend. maybe you’re right. “Ah. “Well. those crime lab people can find out amazing things from the gun that was used in the killing. maybe you ought to help the police find the killer.” Mario waved his buzzing clippers in the air to make a point.” “Ever since you been coming in here I know you like to help people out. the woman part or the helping the police part?” “Tell me the woman part first. I see. and what makes you think that this freelance investigator is me?” Henry looked in the mirror across from him as Mario started cutting his hair. Henry didn’t mind that he used his hands to talk.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “One of your ex-colleagues. “No actually. Henry. you are going to turn him down? I do not think so. so I’m not working on this investigation full time. “The newspaper says that the police have not found the murder weapon. someone I met recently. I think you need to help them do that first.” Mario said.” “If you were meeting a man. If you are meeting a woman.” Mario turned around and got his clippers ready for Henry’s haircut.” “So if your friend asks you for help this time. Like I said. yes. “Really. or a friend of mine. “You know. I think that if your friend at the police department ask you for help. yes. said that the police was calling on a local freelance investigator to help them figure out how this janitor was murdered. but that doesn’t mean that I’m a freelance investigator. Mario couldn’t help it.” Henry smiled.” “The newspaper. you say someone and you keep me guessing. I am sort of looking into things as I have time. “I thought you going be busy with helping the police figure out how that guy at the tram was killed. last time the Palm Springs Police got stuck didn’t they get you to help out?” Mario stopped and looked at Henry in the mirror. on the show last week they 47 . only as I can fit it in. “Well. you say a guy I met. “You can’t cut hair for as long as me without learning something about people. “Well.” “Yeah. That time I just helped out a friend that’s all.” Henry replied.” “What makes you say that?” Henry asked.
” Henry was really torn on this whole gun issue. see you in a few weeks. “You mean I helped out with your investigation? What did I say? Was it about the peanut butter or the jam?” Mario smiled. he felt that if the number of guns could be reduced. “Keep the change Mario. the house would be spotless. have I ever seen a gun show. “I agree. I mean I own my own business and all that. Henry handed Mario a twenty for the fourteen dollar haircut. and the hair looks great as always.” Henry was not surprised that Mario was making suggestions for helping him. but there is no sign of that gun anywhere. these shows are all over the place and they are a lot more frequent than once a year. we have flower shows. I’m just glad that they haven’t had one at the Palm Springs Convention Center over here. 48 . Amazing! Maybe your killer likes strawberry jam. He was happy to see that Juanita’s car was gone. It seemed like everyone that he talked with had their own way that they wanted Henry to use to solve this crime. Henry waved at Mario as he walked out the door and got back into his car for the short drive home. but only here in the United States do we have gun shows.” Henry furrowed his brow. “Henry. you are always generous and I’m glad to help out. You know. I appreciate your help. I love this country. “This country is amazing Henry. He didn’t want to give his up. I agree.” “You know Henry. I think you might have put me onto something here.” “Thank you Henry. I mean. there would be a lot fewer accidental shootings. Is this why the police were striking out at the Coachella Valley gun shops? Mario rubbed some smelly stuff into the stubble that was left of his hair and massaged his scalp.” “Yeah.” Mario smiled as he put Henry’s bill into the old fashioned NCR crank cash register. no where in my home country or anywhere in Europe for that matter. but as a former policeman I do agree that there are a lot of guns out in general circulation. They could tell that from the gun. You look for someone who eats the jam and you got your killer. pet shows. I own two handguns myself.” Henry got up from the chair and reached into his pocket for some cash.” Mario shook his head as he put his clippers away and brushed the stray hair from Henry’s shoulders with a soft brush. camping shows. they have one at the Riverside County Fairgrounds once a year.” “Mario.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery looked at the gun and they said that the killer likes peanut butter. “Gun shows? Yeah. but as a former cop. it’s given me a lot. but there are just too many guns here. He parked in the garage next to Charles’ Explorer and the door from the kitchen opened and Charles stuck his head out before Henry had shut off the engine. I think that would be terrible.
Everything looked great. I’m not ever going to that gym up there. He gave her a second hug and then pulled her bags from the passenger seat and they walked towards the house together.” Gloria shook her head. snap out of it.” Henry said with a chuckle. Henry opened his car door and calmly said. are you kidding me? Fifteen minutes ago? That means she’ll be here in half an hour. “Henry.” Charles yelled over the noise of the garage door opener. She might have been in her mid-fifties.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “She’s on her way. He straightened the picture that they hung a few days ago and took a last look around. Of course I’ll help you.” “That’s what I’m trying to tell you Henry. A few minutes later. Scott Vining. Have you been exercising?” Gloria smiled her big bright smile that lit up her face. Ok. the dishes are in the sink and I want to run the vacuum over the carpet in the living room. Are you sure it was fifteen minutes ago. crap Charles. He held her at arms length and looked at her.” Within twenty minutes they were done with their last minute chores and Henry walked over to the guest bedroom to do a last minute check on the room that Gloria would be using. I know she’s on her way. I still need to make my bed. if you’ll vacuum. except better Henry thought. ” “You’re right. Sorry about that. Gloria’s bright red four wheel drive pickup pulled up into the driveway and Henry walked out the rarely used front door and gave her a big hug and kissed her cheek as she got out of the truck. She was wearing a fairly short denim skirt. “Oh. what a creep. You’re better off staying as far away from him as possible. but she was in great shape and looked every inch a woman. now will you relax? Criminy. She looked the same as she had in Sonora two months before. I’ve gone on some hikes around that little lake I took you to in May. I had to go out for a haircut. she’s going to call when she leaves her daughter’s house in Redlands. she called about fifteen minutes ago. you look good too. and Henry went back to the kitchen to make a fresh pot of coffee. I’m so glad you’re here. Her dark hair was cut in a short style that framed her face.” Charles gestured at his watch. You’re early. “Now you’re the one getting excited. not more like twenty? Can you help me?” Charles stomped his foot on the kitchen floor.” Henry shrugged. “Thank you. she said she’d be here in about forty-five minutes.” Henry said turning to look at her. Thanks Charles. said she was leaving Redlands. I’m not ready. I remember that guy that ran that. “Just my daily laps in the pool. “It’s great to see you. “How about you?” “No workouts. you’re acting like this is your first date. “Yeah. you look terrific. 49 . I’ll get the dishes and make my bed as well. a pink polo shirt and black sandals.
we can take turns.” Gloria said as she stepped through the front door. Henry smiled and picked up Gloria’s bags again.” Gloria looked out the glass at the pool. I love these French doors directly out into the garden. “No wonder you’re in good shape.” “That sounds good. this room is wonderful. I didn’t mean for him to get out. I’m so happy that you are here. I’ll swim laps in that beautiful pool as well.” “It’s good to meet you too Gloria.” Henry walked Gloria to the guest room and set her bags on the bed. he has his own bathroom as well.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “I saw Bill Rustow at the restaurant before I left. “I’m tired of picking these bags up constantly. 50 . “Henry. instead she wrapped her free arm around Charles and gave him a big hug while holding on to the now wriggling Pierre in one arm. “You must be Pierre. he’s curious to see who is here. “It’s so wonderful to meet you Charles. Charles held out his hand which Gloria ignored. Thank you for taking such great care of Henry. Gloria looked over at the two sets of French doors which were closed because the air conditioning was running. but the pool and garden in their entire splendor were visible through the glass of the doors. and then I’ll give you a tour of the house and yard. I wanted to give the two of you some time alone since you haven’t seen each other in so long. and then we can sit and socialize. your house is gorgeous. how are you?” Gloria bent down and picked up the little poodle.” Just then. Henry had put her bags down at their feet. He snuck out. they were standing in the bottom of the U shaped house where the living and dining rooms and the kitchen were. “Let me show you to your room. this is Gloria. he was enjoying introducing one of his best friends to another of his best friends. he said to say hello to you. and now picked them up again. let me get her settled in her room. “Well hello little fellow. Pierre came trotting in from the wing of the house where Charles’ bedroom and the guest room were located. Maybe now things will get back to relatively normal around here.” She took her eyes off him and looked around. The ceilings in these rooms were fourteen feet high and the beams supporting the roof were exposed.” Henry set Gloria’s bags down again. I’ve heard a lot about you. The architect designed the house with high ceilings to let the warm air rise in order to help keep the house cooler. “Wow Henry. The air conditioner that now did that job was not added until much after the house’s original construction.” “Charles. Here is your own bathroom.” Charles came walking in looking for the little dog.” Charles looked over at Henry and raised one eyebrow as he took Pierre from Gloria. Charles has the room at the end of the hall. “I’m sorry. Gloria this is my housemate Charles.
but I’m very comfortable here and I’m so glad that you like it as well. I have so much to tell you.” Charles was genuinely pleased for his friend. “Here’s your coffee.” Henry showed her the guest bathroom. I’ll join you for coffee.” Gloria put her arm around Henry’s waist. Gloria asked if he was gong to 51 . Show me the rest of the house.” Henry smiled. give me a minute to freshen up and wash my hands and I’ll be right there. After an hour of talking and laughing and catching up. “Ok. I’m really happy for you Henry. you even have my favorite soap for me in the bathroom.” Henry walked with the two cups into the living room and sat down on the couch. he had stocked it with new towels and a fluffy terrycloth robe. “Henry. from everything you told me about her. Charles was sitting at the kitchen counter as he walked in. “Will you join us for coffee?” “Are you sure I’m not intruding? If I’m not. she had changed her polo shirt for a sleeveless blouse. and Henry was smitten. Charles excused himself and said he had some errands to run. you will hardly know he’s here. he felt that all his earlier work making the house look spectacular had paid off. I’ll pour you some. “I’m really happy to see you. Let’s go sit in some more comfortable chairs. she is a real woman and she looks a lot more like thirty-five than fifty-five. I really like him. I can see that I’m going to enjoy my stay here.” Henry smiled again as he walked back down the hallway. “Charles is terrific. I knew that she’s a wonderful woman and she really cares about you.” Henry said. He knew that Henry had a rough time after Irma died and even though he lived here with Henry and kept him company. but you didn’t tell me that she was absolutely stunningly beautiful.” “Join me in the kitchen when you’re done.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery He’s no trouble really.” “She’s pretty isn’t she?” Henry smiled again as he reached into the cabinet for two coffee cups. Gloria sat next to him while Charles poured himself a cup of coffee and sat in the recliner across from them. She’s more than pretty Henry. And I want to see the garden as well. your place is magnificent!” “Well I don’t have the views of the valley and the oak trees that you have. but then I knew I would. I can so see the two of you as a couple. and Charles thought his friend deserved to be happy. although maybe we can wait with that until later. he seemed lonely. “Come on back over to the kitchen I just made a fresh pot of coffee. I hope that the two of you have a wonderful week here. black as you like it.” Gloria came back out. “Henry.
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery join them for dinner and Charles agreed he would come back so that they could grill some chicken on the barbecue. The sun was starting to go behind the San Jacinto Mountains when they decided to get their dinner ready. it was still warm but the afternoon breeze made it very comfortable. They watched a movie on television and snuggled up on the couch with some popcorn in the late afternoon. He also told her that he wanted to show her Joshua Tree National Park during her visit. she was intrigued and asked if they could go for a ride up the mountain while she was here. He had been fascinated by the desert park ever since he moved to Palm Springs from Wisconsin where they didn’t have anything remotely like it. The three friends sat out there and had more wine and it was almost eleven when they finally headed off to bed. Charles went first while Henry gave Gloria a big hug in his garden oasis. He was tired but happy when he fell into bed twenty minutes later. Henry agreed that it was a beautiful trip and perhaps they could go up in the tramway tomorrow on the holiday. Henry told Charles the story of the large winery in the small town in the gold country and the piece of gold that he had gone to see there. Gloria went to her room and came back proudly carrying a bottle of Ironstone Winery Chardonnay that she had brought for Henry. They ate outside on the patio. 52 . Henry was seasoning the chicken and Gloria was chopping vegetables for a salad when Charles came home with a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies and a glass bottle of Altadena Dairy milk for dessert. He kissed her goodnight and watched her cross the yard and enter the guest room though the French doors. Gloria listened patiently while Henry told her about the mystery of the killing on the tramway. Henry and Gloria spent the afternoon on the couch talking more than they had ever talked before on the phone or at Gloria’s house.
Now. He turned over on his back. she had said so hadn’t she? He’d have to ask her how she felt about him to be sure. the investigation into the real estate agent’s murder became a changing point in his life. only to have her betray him. even just thinking about her. but that had certainly changed. His head was a little foggy from the wine last night and held his breath and went underwater to clear the cobwebs out. 53 . He truly cared for her and was happy that he felt this way. They did have something special. even during that first hike at the little mountain lake he was only looking to be friends. took off his goggles and laid them on the concrete. Then when he met Gloria he wasn’t expecting anything. he pushed the button to shut it off. He wiped his eyes and blinked a few times and noticed someone in a big white robe sitting in the chair at the table. While they were sitting on the couch yesterday afternoon he told her the story and what had happened. Gloria occupied so much of his time that he hadn’t thought about the tramway murder at all since her arrival. He stood up. Thinking about Wayne. He could probably get a list of all the dealers that were there. knowing that Gloria was here and asleep in his guest room made him smile underwater. He met someone that he’d also cared about. He certainly had not felt this way for a long. He felt much calmer than in the past few days. A woman’s viewpoint would be good when talking to the mom. He’d have to tell Wayne that he was going to go see Mrs. she might even tell Gloria things that she wouldn’t tell Henry. perhaps she could go with him to talk to Todd Gregory’s mother. he thought she felt that as well. Gregory after the holiday. Six months ago he thought he was going to be a single widower for the rest of his life. In fact. made him feel a tingle. He adjusted his goggles. tracking them down and asking them about a .38 would be a tedious process though. Then. he couldn’t bear the thought of being with someone other than Irma. once again it hardly seemed like forty-five minutes since he started swimming. it was beyond caring.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery Chapter 7 Despite going to bed late. His watch started beeping. the sky was turning a light blue while he made a lazy swim to the other side of the pool using his backstroke dog paddle. but he hadn’t really done any thinking about the tramway since his swim yesterday morning. started his stopwatch and began swimming. but he wasn’t sure. Gloria was interested in this mysterious puzzle. he thought he might even be in love with her. he also had to tell him about Mario’s suggestion yesterday to check out the gun shows over at the County Fairgrounds. The pool light was still on from last night and he jumped in after tossing his towel on the chaise lounge. long time. Henry was awake at the usual time the next morning.
She held the towel out for him and waited for him to climb out of the pool. “Oh. especially the first night. turned around and led him to the French doors that went directly to his bedroom.” “Thank you. This felt so right to him that he allowed all his other thoughts to flee his mind and they enjoyed each other completely. I’m not used to drinking that much wine anymore. Henry was showered. but I didn’t expect you to be up this early and see me and I. “I have a hard time sleeping in a strange bed. “You told me that you swim but that’s quite an exercise regimen you have. Henry noticed that she was not wearing anything under it which stirred those same tingling feelings he had earlier.” “Yeah. “Well it’s a good thing that you slept in then. I’ll have some coffee ready in a few minutes. Would you be so kind to give me my towel. but she took her finger and pressed it to his lips to silence him. Your swimming has obviously paid off.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “Good morning Henry Wright. do you do that every morning?” “Pretty much every morning.” Henry chuckled while he was making a fresh pot of coffee. I’d like to get out. Gloria smiled the smile that lit up her entire face. my head hurts. I. “Good 54 .” Gloria said with a big smile. you’re up early. we are both grownups. Gloria stood up to get his towel from the chaise lounge and as she did so.” “I know that we’re both grownups. I’m not the only one that slept late. I’ve been out here a little more than a half hour and I’ve enjoyed watching your entire swim while the sun came up.” As he finished his sentence.” Gloria smiled sweetly as she took his hand. feel a little embarrassed. He stood face to face with her.” Henry said sheepishly. Gloria came in to the kitchen from Henry’s side of the house wearing her robe and toweling off her still wet hair.” Henry said wiping the water from his eyes and focusing on Gloria who had a cup of coffee on the table next to her. closed the doors behind them and Henry’s heart skipped a beat as they dropped her robe and his towel on the ground and lay down on his bed. She must be sleeping in as well. I can never sleep well. She let go of his hand. “You’re right Henry. She wrapped the towel around his waist and waited for him to take it from her.” Henry asked. they were standing so close that Henry could feel the warmth of her bare skin. “You have nothing to be embarrassed about. you’re very fit and it seems like you’re not even out of breath. dressed and in the kitchen when Charles came walking in holding his head in his hands. He started to speak. “Uh… good morning. how long have you been sitting there?” Henry was standing against the wall of the pool suddenly very conscious of swimming laps without a swimsuit. her robe fell open. you’re in great shape. Gloria’s door is still closed and I haven’t heard her this morning at all.
“Like I said yesterday. I certainly think we will be. Gloria didn’t ask many questions. this way they didn’t need to jockey cars around all the time. I’m going to get dressed. As he drove.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery morning Charles. They made a left off of Highway one-eleven onto Tramway Road and drove up to the Valley Station and after the three and a half mile drive parked in the station’s parking lot.. “I’m a little fuzzy. Henry moved Gloria’s pickup into the garage and put his Mercury Grand Marquis out on the driveway. 55 .” Henry made himself busy with the coffee pot. did you sleep well?” Charles didn’t skip a beat and didn’t let on that he was surprised that Gloria came out from what was considered Henry’s side of the house.” “Thank you Charles. Henry dug the complimentary tickets Margolis gave him from the console and they walked hand-in-hand to the ticket booth. He said that George Margolis had though it odd that Quinn took young Todd Gregory under his wing at the tramway. I’ll be right back. “I have a hard time sleeping in a bed other than my own. threw sweaters for a walk at the top of the mountain into the back seat of the Mercury and headed off to the tramway after saying goodbye to Charles who was leaving to spend the holiday weekend with one of his friends who owned a condo near the Mesquite Country Club. she listened to Henry and nodded occasionally. but I feel absolutely wonderful this morning.” He looked at Henry and gave him a slight nod to let him know that he approved. After having some breakfast. Henry told Gloria more of the story of Terrance Quinn and Robert Silverstein than he had yesterday. They were scheduled to be at Wayne and Elliot’s house in Indio at five that afternoon so they decided to ride up to the top of Mount San Jacinto on the tramway. It’s going to be a great day. They exchanged their passes from George Margolis for tickets on the next tram and paused to look around the gift shop.” Gloria walked across the kitchen and gave Henry a wink when Charles could no longer see her. it didn’t fit with his regular behavior. but I’ll be ok once I have some coffee. he didn’t want Charles to see the large smile on his face. They were going to use his car for the rest of the week. beautiful day isn’t it? How are you feeling this morning. They packed a couple of water bottles. He described how sick Silverstein was and how Quinn hadn’t socialized at work and gone home quickly after work every day to take care of him. she’s a beautiful woman and the two of you deserve to be very happy. Charles gave Henry a big grin.
There was a large amount of room inside the gondola. She asked if it was a fear of heights or something else. only about thirty people were on board.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery Henry pulled Gloria into a quiet corner and confided that he was a little nervous about riding the tram. The car jostled slightly as it went over the carriage wheels at the first support tower. They finished their lunch and went to the lowest level of the station where they put on their sweaters before going outside. which he found inconsequential. He had to admit that between being nervous about the ride. the operator made several announcements and within minutes they were underway. The view out the windows was breathtaking and the ability to look out probably eased his fear of being in a small enclosed space. It was seventy degrees here. Gloria put her arm around his waist and together they enjoyed the view out as the car slowly rotated and Henry pointed out various sights in the Valley to her. They arrived at Mountain Station after the twenty minute trip and went upstairs in the three level building to the cafeteria for a quick lunch. He squeezed Gloria’s hand and nodded to her to let her know that he was fine. He explained that it wasn’t the height that bothered him. Henry said that he’d had the feeling in elevator rides before but they didn’t usually last long enough to make him nervous. Gloria asked him if he learned anything from the trip up as to how the murder might have been committed. Gloria suggested that he hold her hand and squeeze it if he needed to take a breather or talk about it. It settled down again right away and continued its smooth ride up Chino Canyon. The car wasn’t very full. he actually thought he might be alright but just wanted her to know how he felt in case he was quiet or didn’t seem quite right. Gloria was very understanding and asked him if he wanted to leave and ride up another day. it was the enclosed feeling of being inside a little room at the end of a cable. it might help calm him and give him something to do to divert his attention. Henry didn’t want to do that. Henry and Gloria shuffled into the gondola with the rest of the tourists. He wasn’t sure why he had made such a big deal out of it and now wondered why he had never ridden the tram before in the three years that he’d lived here. the scenery and the thrill of being with her. Once the door closed. She suggested that she go back to the car and get the water that they had left there. Just then the tram arrived and there was no time to head back to the Mercury. Henry found that his worry and anxiety about riding the tramway was unfounded and he had no problem with the car’s slight sway as it left the station. more 56 . it had not given him any time to consider the mechanics of the murder. to Henry’s pleasant surprise.
They passed a maintenance crew picking up litter and Henry commented that they did a great job and it was appreciated. The feeling was only momentary and Henry felt comfortable as soon as the gondola stopped its swing and settled into the ride on the cable. The outside of the car was rounded and smooth and with the equipment and armature on the roof it looked as though it would take an acrobat to enter the gondola that way. They got up and walked back to the station holding hands and talking quietly. 57 . The air was clean. they didn’t open. the place was well maintained and spotless. At the vista point. Henry looked up. Henry checked out the large tinted windows that were on all sides. there was nothing unusual about the tram car that would allow a killer to get in while the tram was underway. The incoming tram car was just arriving at the station as they got back. They took a walk on the Long Valley Discovery Trail. there didn’t appear to be any way in to the car except through the door that they had used to enter. As they were looking around their heads turned towards each other and Henry kissed Gloria full on her lips. The car was completely air conditioned and other than the access panel in the ceiling. Henry was amazed at the abundance of nature up here and even though there were a lot of visitors up from the valley on the tram. To the crew they must have appeared like many other couples that were enjoying the park this holiday. When the tram left the station Henry briefly had the sensation of falling as the car started its descent. he said they didn’t get too many compliments. there were some air vents and a panel in the ceiling that was labeled as an emergency exit clearly the only way to get to the roof of the car. they waited briefly with the departing group as the car emptied of incoming passengers before they were allowed to board for the ride down the cable. He held on to Gloria’s hand tightly as she squeezed back. and were sealed shut. She gave a little laugh and kissed him back. One of the guys thanked him. Henry put his arm around her and enjoyed her company and the thin fresh air at the top of the mountain. No one would suspect that what brought them up here was the murder of one of their co-workers and a mysterious murder at that. It was beautiful up at this elevation. He checked around inside the gondola and other than the operator’s station and the railing in the middle where passengers who might feel a little queasy could stand. they stopped and sat on a bench to look at the magnificent view and Henry pointed out the Salton Sea to Gloria. It looked silvery and shimmered in the afternoon sunlight as it stretched towards the Mexican border. put her arms around him and gave him a big hug and they sat just holding one another.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery than thirty degrees cooler than on the Valley floor.
but now you have to figure out where he is. he’s the only one that had the opportunity to do it when the car came into the station. Not likely. “How so?” Henry asked looking at her. This time. The car stopped at the Valley Station and they walked out of the gondola into the building and headed for the door. As the last tower and the Valley Station came into view she finally spoke and asked him quietly. he looked at Gloria again and this time he really saw her for the first time since the car left the Mountain Station. could it have been accomplished? Certainly that would be an extremely dangerous feat in the daytime. “You get very serious and focused when you are studying a problem like you just did. “Well.” She put her arm around him and gave him a hug. I find it very attractive. “No. Are you up for it?” “Hmmm.” Gloria smiled her big smile again. a swim sounds like a great way to start. “Charles is gone and we have enough time to go home and swim in the pool before we have to get ready for Wayne and Elliot’s.” “I do? I guess I do. but it had been dark on the ride down when Quinn was murdered. As he carefully slid onto the seat so as 58 . was it Spiderman?” Gloria looked at him and smiled. Henry was still focused and ignored the joke. The tram car was probably going close to twenty miles an hour Henry figured.” “Henry this is a little different than the usual case you work on isn’t it? Gloria asked. Henry opened the car door for Gloria and another blast of even hotter air hit them again.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery The car passed close to the towers as they bounced over the carriage wheels. As soon as they opened the station’s exit the one hundred plus temperature hit them like a wall of heat. “Did you figure out how the killer did it?” “I think so. Henry told Gloria not to get in yet and he walked around to the driver’s side so that he could start the car and let the air conditioner run to cool off the interior before driving off. Henry supposed someone could jump onto the moving car from the tower but that would require a brave fool to climb one of the five towers which was unlikely. if climbing up it were possible. Gloria was quiet and she watched Henry looking around the car and at the towers as they made their way down. I was trying to picture Quinn on the ride down and trying to feel what he felt like to see how he was murdered and who might have done it. it is Todd Gregory.” Henry said. Henry thought. you’ve figured out who did it. “Well in the other cases you’ve worked on you figure out who did it and there is no problem bringing them in for questioning. They laughed as they struggled to quickly pull off their sweaters. Once on the tower.” Henry answered. We need to figure out where he is and find him. let’s go. Henry remembered from the exhibit in the station that only one was accessible by anything other than the tram or a helicopter. the killer would have had to leap onto the roof of the car as it was going by.
Gloria was already in the car and said she wanted to hurry home so that they could cool off by jumping into the pool’s refreshing water. he used the opener to raise the garage door and they walked through the garage towards the kitchen. They both had a giggling fit as they left a trail of clothing on the floor from the garage. They jumped into the pool together and were soon enjoying themselves and each other in the refreshing water. through the French doors and into the backyard. 59 . They drove back to Mel Avenue and though Henry parked on the driveway. through the kitchen. Gloria looked over her shoulder gave him a grin and told him that the last one in the pool was a rotten egg.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery not to burn himself. Henry started the car and opened all the windows and turned the air conditioner up to high while they headed down the mountain.
” Henry replied taking a slow sip of the beer. When her mother passed away six months after moving out of her home. had been a contractor and developed the golf course and community that they now lived in. “I actually have done quite a bit of work.” Henry smiled as he took a sip of the cold beer. though the home was certainly suited for it. You probably have not had much time to help me out. Henry explained that despite Wayne’s modest salary as a Palm Springs police captain. but I’ll admit that I haven’t been looking for it real hard the past two days either. 61 . “Believe me. Elliot gave Gloria a tour of the house while Wayne got two beers out of the refrigerator and took Henry to the patio to light the barbecue. Henry told her he stayed with them for a couple of weeks when he first moved to the Coachella Valley. Wayne and Elliot moved into the house. but decided he wanted to live in the older part of Palm Springs rather than in Indio. the Johnson’s lived in a very large architecturally designed home on the golf course in Indio. It was hot outside even though Wayne had turned on the misters that sprayed a fine mist of water over the patio and cooled the space off by ten or fifteen degrees. Have you had any luck spotting his Jeep around town?” Wayne asked. They brought in the wine that Henry had bought at Jensen’s and went into the house. Eugene. The Johnson’s were good friends and helped him get his feet on the ground when he was still in a fog after Irma’s sudden passing. Elliot hugged Gloria as she got out of the car and she felt at ease right away. At times Wayne and Elliot were embarrassed by the grandness of their place and they didn’t often entertain.” Henry smiled. Elliot inherited the house as part of her estate. “You are one lucky man Henry Wright. you’ll see that her beauty comes from the inside. Elliot’s father. we’re looking everywhere for him. They arrived at the house and Wayne and Elliott came out to the driveway to greet them. Then Eugene passed away about ten years ago and when Elliot’s mother moved into a nursing home a few years later. The misting systems were popular in town as well. How are you doing on the investigation?” Wayne asked. “I am lucky. Gloria is a beautiful woman. You need to find Todd Gregory.” Wayne said as the sliding glass door closed behind them. I think you really deserve someone special in your life. “I’m very happy for both of you.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery Chapter 8 By four-thirty that afternoon they were heading east on Interstate 10 towards Indio. she is beautiful and wait until you get to know her better. the water evaporated in the desert heat before it hit the ground and felt good as you walked through its fine droplets. “No.
We’ve checked his friends – nothing. Those are tough ages to deal with the trauma of divorce and death. I was thinking of asking Gloria to come with me. so he’s not hiding with siblings. I suppose that’s a possibility? That’s where you said he and Quinn went on their little trip. “That’s why I could say with certainty that he didn’t go to his father’s house. Do you think he knows someone there?” Wayne closed the barbecue lid once he was satisfied that the igniter lit the gas. Even though his legal name was Greg Gregory.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “I don’t think he’s in town anymore. You know. and made it a career.” Henry said.” Wayne looked up from his notes at Henry.” Henry said. So far they have turned up nothing. “I think he is either with his father or maybe he went back to Las Vegas. “Tell me more about Greg Gregory. everyone called him Dos. he’s most likely in Mexico by now.” Henry took the beer bottle from his lips as he was about to take a drink. I’m going over to talk to his mother tomorrow. The father was a career Marine out at the Twenty Nine Palms base until three years ago when he was killed in a car accident on highway sixty-two near Yucca Valley. he’s probably familiar with it. “I knew you were going to ask me about that. Stayed in the service. he definitely didn’t go to his father’s. Las Vegas. this sure was a spectacular setting. He’s an only child. I’m telling you.” Henry interrupted. by now he’s somewhere in Mexico. firearms according to my notes. Why do you say that you know he’s not with his father? I think that he went some place that he knows and where he is comfortable. “I know he’s not with his father. Elliot’s father had picked the best location in the entire development to build his own house.” Wayne pulled his note pad out of the pocket of his Hawaiian shirt. “Let’s see. because he had the same first name as his last name. “Not much to tell. and sixteen when his father was killed. Spanish for two. I think he’s long gone.” Wayne opened the lid to the large stainless steel barbecue as he got ready to turn on the propane gas. Perhaps his mother will open up to her. “I don’t know. We figured that young Todd Gregory was familiar with the whole Twenty-Nine Palms area so we asked the Sheriff’s deputies that patrol there as well as the base MP’s to keep an eye out for his Jeep. Greg and Cherie Gregory were divorced eight years ago. “So Todd was eleven when his parents were divorced.” “He could have gone up to the area around the base.” Wayne was standing next to Henry at the edge of the patio watching some late afternoon golfers finish up their games. “I’m already on that. He enlisted in the early eighties during the recession when there were no jobs. “Why do people do that to their kids? I went to elementary school with a kid 62 .” Henry shook his head.” Henry stood at the edge of the patio looking over the low fence at the golf course and the rest of the Coachella Valley beyond it. He was an instructor.
He either ditched the weapon that evening or he still has it. I was just thinking that. Dick and Harry for help. but the Marines don’t. I didn’t quite admit it. and you should probably update that APB that he is most likely armed.” “You don’t suppose he left his kid a .” Henry took another sip of beer.” Henry said taking another sip of beer. “I know Charles helps you think things through with your research. That’s not a standard military weapon. More like .” “Speaking of weapons. no it’s not the way it sounds. I had a telephone conversation with his former commanding officer. I think for some reason – maybe something happened during their little trip to Las Vegas – he was mad at Quinn and shot him as the tram arrived at the station and he opened the door. parents have no idea what they put their kids through.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery named Sandy Klaus. but now your barber is helping you investigate this murder?” “Well. us cops have a lot of them. there is no other physical way that the murder could have taken place. he wanted to go in and see how Gloria was doing. It doesn’t really matter if you talk with Tom.45 caliber automatics and some NATO weapons. I tell you. but he suggested we check out the gun shows. I’ll make a phone call. Dos Gregory was a firearms instructor?” “Yep. So. “Are you ready to go in and see how the girls are doing?” “Yes. Mario. Harry and Mario. I didn’t go into too much detail looking into his background. I thought that since you weren’t getting anywhere with the dealers in the Valley that I’d mention it. my barber. I haven’t ruled that out yet.38 special do you?” Henry asked. Small arms. “I guess I shouldn’t complain. We need to figure out who did this. I’m not sure if it has any bearing on the investigation. that’s what my notes say. suggested we check out the gun shows to see if you can trace the . though I have asked his former CO to send me a copy of his file. Wayne raised an eyebrow. As a result he didn’t see Todd a whole lot. Let’s make finding him our number one priority.” Wayne said. “I doubt it. 63 .” Wayne finished his beer and said. Dick. if he still has the murder weapon. It’s not like I’m going around town asking every Tom. handguns mostly.” “Ok. When I called you yesterday. Then there was some problem with visitation for Todd between him and Cherie and apparently his commander got involved.38 there. I was in for a haircut yesterday morning and he accused me of being the independent consultant that the police had called in for help according to the newspaper. I can only assume that you talk with Gloria about what you find out. Todd Gregory committed the murder. Not the heavy stuff that they usually practice with out there in the desert. but I think our young man is the most likely person. I thought that maybe Robert had killed his partner. Then he could have easily changed his clothes before you guys got there and then put on the upset and hysterical act.
at which Elliot looked at her and started giggling. I like knowing my way around.” Gloria said. Elliot. I’d love one. “We both agree that our dates and the prom was a washout. Henry smiled back and put his empty beer bottle on the counter. Daddy had a contract to build housing for the Navy in San Diego so that’s where we were for five years. “I didn’t know you grew up in San Diego. I’ll be right back. “It turns out that Elliot dated a boy in my high school during my junior prom.” Henry said.” Elliot smiled. it looks like you two are busy with the salad. were you guys out there checking on the golfers?” “No. I told you they were catching up on their murder investigation. The two women looked at one another and started laughing again. “Henry. “Thank you. Elliot and Gloria were in the open kitchen laughing and making a salad.” Henry came around the counter and into the kitchen. Elliot said. would you like one?” Elliot asked. “It looks like the two of you are getting along well. can you imagine you move all your stuff around and then you want a glass but reach for a pot instead?” Gloria started laughing.” Henry smiled. “I’m glad you haven’t moved your dishes around since I stayed here. “Sure. When the sliding door opened they both looked up.” Wayne said as he walked towards the back of the house where his office was. we made plenty.” Henry smiled at the two women. I think I’d be more confused than you if I moved the dishes around now. “Like I said.” Elliot explained with a vegetable peeler in one hand and a large zucchini in the other. I’m glad that you two are getting along. “Geez. We almost met each other nearly forty years ago!” Gloria laughed. We’re much better off today than we were then. “I feel like you’ve reintroduced me to an old friend.” Wayne came walking back into the room. “I have to make a phone call.” Elliot laughed. Look at how serious they both are. I upgraded the APB to say that Gregory is armed. “Hey. “These cupboards were set up by my mother when she moved in here. Since we both agree that he might be out in the Twenty Nine Palms area. I’ve alerted the Riverside County Sheriff.” Gloria laughed and her eyes sparkled as she looked at Henry. “Oh yeah! We lived there while I was in high school. He grabbed a glass from one of the upper cupboards and poured himself a small margarita from the blender on the counter. since they 64 .Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery Henry opened the sliding glass door and they went back inside the house where it was at least twenty degrees cooler than outside. “What are you two drinking?” “Margaritas.” Henry smiled. I can pour it myself.
I went for a haircut yesterday morning and Mario said something reasonable that I passed along to Wayne. “But we’ve already established that we’re both much better off today than with our high school prom dates. we could have met at my prom.” Henry explained.” “It would be kind of nice to see you in a letterman sweater and a DA haircut though. “Mario is my barber.” Still laughing with Elliot.” Wayne was still laughing. so I guess you can say that she’s already been helping me. Henry laughed as well.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery patrol out there.” Wayne looked over the top of his glass as he sipped the slushy drink. the girls went to high school together in San Diego. “No. and yes. we rode up to the top of the tramway this morning. you were a big help at that time. You can’t go much shorter on the hair.” “Yeah. “Yeah. Charles has a perspective on things that are helpful and let’s not forget Mario. dancing the night away. she actually had sort of steered him on the right path. 65 . just as long as you don’t need to get a haircut every time you want to talk with him. “I’ll pour it for you. no. I’m certainly glad to hear that.” “I don’t mind going along and doing what I can. What is all the laughter about out here.” Wayne chuckled as he finished his sentence. “Well. Gloria said reaching into the cupboard for a glass.” Gloria said. you have quite a team assembled here Henry. knowingly or not. no. We went to two different high schools in San Diego. Now he thinks Mario is part of my investigative team. “Mario? Who is Mario?” Elliot asked.” Henry was quick to credit Gloria. Wayne ran a hand over his balding head and replied.” Elliot explained. but I went to Gloria’s prom with a boy from her high school. “Apparently.” He said sarcastically. She put an arm around Henry and said. “On a more serious note. “I’d wear a letterman’s sweater for you if I could have enough hair to comb it into a DA!” Henry and Wayne sat on the stools at the other side of the kitchen counter and Gloria went back to help Elliot prepare the salad. you have it all wrong. “Oh. he didn’t mind his friend ribbing him a bit. “Well. is Gloria going to assist you investigating this Tramway slaying Henry?” Elliot looked at Henry.” Gloria came around the counter and handed Wayne his margarita.” Elliot said to Wayne. Gloria can help you out with intuitive suggestions. You kept saying don’t look inside that mine for a motive and it turned out you were right. I wish I could have done more when Henry was helping out Sheriff Bill Rustow a few months ago up in Tuolumne County. thank you for asking. I’d love a margarita as well. “You know.
we’d have found the gun in the gondola. “There is a gun show in Las Vegas every other month. “Good point. if it is murder. “Yeah. I want to show Gloria some of the sites around the valley. “I just thought of something. “Yeah. you thought it was to have an affair because Robert is so sick.” Wayne furrowed his brow. I also want to go back to talk with Robert Silverstein. He’s been picking Robert up and bringing him to the hospice for treatment. remember. Ok. “You don’t need a four wheel drive at Joshua Tree. I want to go back and talk with Robert about that. yes and no. “Ok.” Wayne suddenly stopped laughing and considered what Mario had suggested about the gun show. “I don’t know. “Todd Gregory and Terrance Quinn went to Las Vegas.” “What is it?” Henry turned towards Wayne and Gloria and Elliot stopped working and looked at him waiting for an answer. I ruled that out the first night. let’s look at this from another angle. though gun shows don’t require a waiting period so it will be tough to find out who sold it to one of them. When we talked with her she was pretty upset that he ran away and that the cops were looking for him in connection with a murder investigation. She only said that Todd kept to himself a lot. it’s hard to ditch a gun with a hole in your head. I already told you that I didn’t discuss his hobbies with the mom.” Wayne went back to sipping his drink and the women went back to chopping and washing vegetables.” Henry took a sip of his margarita. and the Feds would have a conniption if you went off road. it is either murder or suicide.” Henry said thoughtfully.” Wayne said resolutely. right?” Wayne asked. Everything is paved.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “I think Mario’s assistance was more of a fluke. “Yes. “Not a bad idea. “Does it matter?” “Well. In between all of that. It would be good to know if the gun came from there. “It’s not suicide. What if they went to Vegas to buy a gun? Wayne asked. why does Terrance go to Las Vegas with his killer to buy the murder weapon?” Henry asked.” 66 . You and Gloria are going over to talk with her tomorrow. so I’ll catch her in the morning. I think she works the afternoon shift at the casino. I certainly don’t have any long term plans for including him as part of my regular team of confidants. but which one of them bought it?” Henry asked.” Wayne said.” Henry shook his head. Maybe we’ll take her four wheel drive truck up to Joshua Tree. and I think I’ll ask Charles to set that up. we’ve already established that a number of times. unless it turns out he’s right of course. And. “Was Todd Gregory into guns?” Henry asked. I’ll call tomorrow morning and we’ll go and see her at her house. depending on which one bought it.
“Henry. oh. What’s wrong?” Henry had a look of concern on his face. 67 .” Gloria leaned back in the seat. “Henry Wright.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “Yeah I know. I don’t know you to be image conscious at all. in fact everything is right.” Henry said looking straight out the windshield at the late evening Interstate traffic.” Gloria said dreamily. Once they were on Interstate 10 heading West. thank you for bringing me and introducing me to them. please continue to tell me what you wanted to tell me. Just after eleven o’clock Henry and Gloria said their goodbyes and with promises to get together again soon set off for home in Palm Springs. I’m sorry. Are you saying that it’ll look better if you’re driving a truck?” Wayne asked. “Oh. we’ll make the time for a trip to Joshua Tree. not drunk. usually when someone starts a conversation that way. Just after sunset the four of them went out on the patio and stood next to the pool and watched Fourth of July fireworks go off all around the valley. put everything into a large bowl and Wayne took the chicken outside to barbecue. Certainly I wasn’t planning what happened early this morning. I had a wonderful time tonight. The two couples spent the rest of the evening together eating their grilled chicken dinner and a wonderful salad and enjoying their conversation.” Henry smiled. but it just seems that if you’re going out in the desert you should have a four wheel drive.” Henry smiled at Gloria. I’m trying to be serious!” Gloria smiled as well at the memory of the cooling afternoon swim and later picking up their trail of clothing before Charles came home. Anyway. I want to talk to you about something. not that boat of mine. He went into the kitchen and looked in the refrigerator for the pitcher of iced tea that he knew was always there. I wanted to tell you that when I was driving down here yesterday morning I was hoping that we were going to have a good time. turning in her seat to look right at him. While Gloria was in the bathroom. Elliot told Henry that Gloria was wonderful and she hoped that their relationship would be long lasting and happy. “Ok. she felt good from the margaritas and the wine.” Gloria said. “Henry. something like that. she looked wonderful to him in the glow of the dashboard lights.” Henry finished his margarita and decided he was done drinking alcohol for the night since he had to drive home after dinner. Henry stood with his arm around Gloria and was happy that his friends liked her as well. The women finished their salad preparations. Gloria turned to Henry. Wayne and Elliot are really nice people. “Yeah. “Nothing is wrong Henry. One of the largest and most impressive displays was just south of them at the new Trump 29 casino in Coachella. “Henry. “They are great friends and I’m glad you like them as well. the next thing that is coming is not good. just good. “And again this afternoon?” Henry smiled at her.
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “Ok. I know exactly how you feel. but let’s not worry about that now and let’s enjoy the time we have together. I mean get. putting his arm around her. I didn’t come here with plans to fall. They decided to move the rest of her stuff the next day.” “Yes Henry.” Gloria undid her seat belt and slid across to the middle where she refastened the other belt making Henry happy that he had ordered the car with the bench seat instead of the available bucket seats. The thought of having you sleep in the guest room so close to me yet so far away would kill me. ok?” Henry asked. Gloria went to the guest room and got what she needed for the night from the bathroom and moved it over to the other side of the house into Henry’s master suite. They crawled into Henry’s bed together and chatted for an hour before they fell asleep holding each other. I’m not mad at you at all. “Mad at you? Don’t be silly. Besides. well. I mean. I will have to go back there at some point. gosh. “Are you mad at me?” Henry was quiet for a moment until Gloria fidgeted in her seat. I’d like nothing more than to sleep with you. I was only planning on staying for a couple of days in your guest room and now I don’t know if I ever want to leave. 68 . “As far as leaving Palm Springs to go back to Sonora. as I said. let’s not make any plans. “Ok. They arrived back at Mel Avenue close to midnight.” Gloria said. where Charles’ car was already parked in the garage. I was going to ask you if you would spend the night with me in my room tonight. they didn’t want to make too much noise and wake up Charles.” She rested her head on his shoulder the rest of the way home. Henry.
Gloria was up at the same time. He could tell that Henry was much calmer and he was willing to bet that his blood pressure was way down as a result. and as Henry started his swimming laps while she was in the kitchen making coffee. Henry told Charles that he didn’t have a blood pressure problem.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery Chapter 9 It was later than usual and already light out when Henry jumped into the pool. Suddenly Pierre came trotting out. She sat at the table where she had sat not even twenty-four hours ago and watched Henry swim. When the coffee was ready. She smiled her big smile and left her robe behind on the chair and jumped into the water and into his arms. Henry started telling Charles that they had decided that Gloria was going to stay with him on his side of the house instead of in the guest room. They climbed out of the water as the full sun hit the pool and Gloria wrapped her robe around herself and went into the kitchen while Henry picked up his towel from the chaise lounge. this was Henry’s house after all. She had just finished her first cup of coffee when she heard his watch start beeping in the water. reminding them that they were not alone. she poured herself a cup and carried it outside. They were enjoying the birds singing in the trees and shrubbery and Henry pointed out the little hummingbird that visited the hibiscus. Henry swam to the side of the pool where she was sitting and stood up. Gloria picked the little dog up and held him on her lap as Charles came walking out to the pool with a cup of coffee. Henry was a very fluid swimmer and his movements looked easy and relaxed to Gloria as he swam up and down neatly making kick turns at each end. taking off his goggles and setting them on the side of the pool. Gloria held her cup upside down to show him that it was empty and she pointed at him to ask him if he wanted some as well. but Charles said he meant that metaphorically. 69 . Near ten o’clock Gloria excused herself and walked through the French doors to Henry’s bedroom to take a shower and get dressed. Secondly. He was sitting at the table when she came back with two cups of coffee. A lot had changed between the two of them in that short time span. and demanded that someone pet him. he told Henry that he couldn’t be more pleased. not medically. but Charles held up his hand as he started explaining and told him that first it was none of Charles’ business. He shook his head no and beckoned her towards him with one finger. The three friends sat at the table enjoying the morning chatting about everything except the tramway slaying. Charles told Henry that Gloria was a wonderful woman and a very good influence on Henry. She smiled to herself as she watched Henry in the water.
Its owners were a really nice couple originally from Chicago who had invited him to come back for a complimentary day visit. Soon. Breathing a sigh of relief. At the end of Mel Avenue they turned left on Via Miraleste. He had not yet taken them up on their offer . Charles complained that Indio was so far. He walked into the bathroom where she was putting her make-up on. There was an older Toyota Camry parked on the driveway. it was only a couple of minutes from Mel Avenue. after all it was thirty minutes at the other end of the Valley. She said if they came over in an hour. Henry pointed out that the Solé Day Spa that he had visited when he was looking into the Rex Thornbird murder was just up ahead. He told her what he did and apologized. He made a right on East Verona and they parked in front of the Gregory house. Henry helped carry her things to his room and made room for her in one of his closets. He decided to go into his office before showering. The front bumper was missing and the windows had a film that looked as though its regular driver was a heavy smoker. As the spray of water hit him. one level ranch with a tired paint job and a lawn that needed mowing. 70 . it hadn’t been washed in a while and the passenger side rear door was a different color than the rest of the car. Gregory. Henry passed along Wayne and Elliot’s greetings and told Charles that they wanted to know when he was going to come back by. she’d have time to talk for a while. from where he called Mrs. The house was a simple mid-century. he promised. he was beginning to realize more and more that Gloria McCann was a remarkable woman.he told Gloria after his visit there that he realized how nice his backyard was. As he got up from his chair he suddenly realized that he should have checked with Gloria before he scheduled an appointment in an hour. The front door of the house was opened by a worn out looking bleached blond.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery Charles told Henry about his afternoon and spending the holiday with some good friends that owned a condo at the Mesquite Country Club in town. She told him that getting ready within an hour was no problem she could be ready sooner than that. Henry said he knew where the house was on Verona Road. but that she needed to be at the casino by one. Cherie Gregory said she was home. pony tailed woman in her late thirties who might have been pretty before alcohol and smoking ravaged her skin. but that he would make the time to go see them. since it and the spa’s grounds were not that much different. He had no idea how long it took her to get ready. They took Henry’s Grand Marquis and left the house. Henry went into his bedroom to take a shower just as Gloria was heading out in her robe to the guest room to get the rest of her clothes. a right on busy Vista Chino and then left on Farrell. he jumped into the shower.
Dos didn’t like the commute to the base from here. you made the right choice for your son. ex-husband. we really appreciate the time you’re taking to talk with us. There was some cool moist air coming in through some undersized vents.” Gloria added. Gallup.” “Come in. just a little lemon if you have it. it was old and had obviously seen a lot of use. “How long have you lived here?” Henry asked as he heard them putting ice cubes into glasses. was it just the distance to the base?” Henry asked. 71 .” “The schools in Palm Springs are good. he always complained. “Let me come and help you. come in. Palm Springs is over an hour’s drive from the base.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery She looked as though she was dressed for work in a short black skirt. “Please call me Cherie. that’s Todd’s father. it appeared as though all of this furniture was bought in the late eighties and nothing was acquired since then. that would be nice. he gently sat down on the couch. The drapes were open but the windows were covered with the same film as those in the car.” Henry said. The air felt as though all the windows had been closed for a long time. “Would you like some iced tea?” Cherie Gregory had left them standing in the living room and walked into the kitchen. following Cherie into the kitchen. The Gregory’s must have had some money at one time. I didn’t like Twentynine Palms and I wanted to live here in town. no sugar. “Dos wanted to be close to his Marine buddies.” She pointed to a name tag that she had pinned to her blouse near her cleavage. black stockings and a top that was so tight that Henry wondered how she could breathe.” Cherie said sarcastically. This is somebody’s mother. and I bought the place in 1989. Todd was about to go into kindergarten and I didn’t want him to go to a school on the base.” Cherie Gregory said and waved them into a dark house that smelled of cigarette smoke. I called earlier. Gregory. “Is that what led you to divorce him?” Gloria asked gently. NM’. didn’t like it. “Sure. but he found as he sat down that it was sturdy. this is Gloria McCann. “Thank you. Henry thought. “Mrs. The home had never been opulent even when it and the furniture were new and now looked as tired as its occupant. Henry thought he could hear an evaporative cooler rumbling on the roof. “Dos. giving a hazy view of a backyard that was covered with gravel.” Henry said as he looked around the house. he didn’t want to do that drive twice a day for the sake of his son being in a good school. It read ‘Cherie. sorry. How come your husband. I’m Henry Wright. but I like Palm Springs. and was embarrassed for Todd Gregory. It was obviously designed to get tips from men gambling at the casino since she nearly spilled out of her shirt.
the sonofabitch decided he wanted to be a Marine more than a husband. I guess so. he couldn’t think of any other word. he decided that he didn’t want to be married to Gloria anymore. we’re just helping them out. have a look around. Cherie I mean.” Cherie said. He did come down to pick him up on occasion. we can do that. 72 . but my relationships lasted a little longer than a week. I mean I dated too. When he retired and came ashore.” Cherie shrugged her shoulders and fished a cigarette out of a nearly empty pack that was lying on the table. for a long time I was fooled.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “No. for a mother. “Well. He told me that if I didn’t like it I could leave. She found herself divorced in her mid-forties with two grown children.” Henry explained.” She finished with a wry smile. Todd wasn’t into baseball. but Dos had the girlfriend of the week and I didn’t like Todd being exposed to that. I know it’s a stressful job and the guys like to unwind. Then I found out that he was humping some secretary out at the base. Most of the time anyway. Henry shuddered inwardly.” Cherie was angry at the recollection. I thought the bastard was just having beer with the other Marine instructors after work. I certainly don’t know where he is. she was calm when they first walked in but was getting angry at the memory of her ex-husband.” Cherie said bitterly. I just want to see his room to determine if it will help me find him. Sorry. I confronted him with it and the bastard said that was the way it was. he always came home late. do you mind if I look at Todd’s room while you and Gloria talk?” “Don’t you need a search warrant?” Cherie asked. “No. With a drinking Marine as a Dad. “It wasn’t very regular. Gregory. second door on the left down the hall. “Could you wait just a few minutes until we’re done before you light that? I have asthma. “Did Todd visit him regularly after you split up? Did your husband have visitation rights?” Gloria asked. “So he didn’t spend much time at home?” Gloria asked. or sports and their relationship wasn’t like most other fathers and sons. that friggin base was his life. “Fine. Gloria and I are not with the police.” Gloria asked Cherie. in fact he didn’t like being here. But if you’re more comfortable if we looked around with a search warrant. I’d like him to come back to you safe and sound. I hope you can find him. it was a wonder that Todd Gregory had gotten through high school and was able to hold down a job at all. Her husband had been in the Navy. “How come it took you that long to divorce him?” Gloria was sensitive to this issue. “Mrs. “You know. and a casino floozy. When he was a child.” Cherie Gregory was bitter about her ex-husband’s behavior. “The smokes? Ok. He never gave up drinking with his buddies after work. Apparently she wasn’t the first.
These were man stoppers. Henry wasn’t quite sure what to expect Todd’s room to look like but he felt that it didn’t look like a typical teenager’s room. Henry swore he could bounce a quarter off it. he looked and was 73 . To Henry this room didn’t appear as though a teenage kid lived here at all. He carefully put the box back on the shelf and arranged the sweaters in front of it. what do we have here? Henry pulled the box down to have a closer look at it. dark colors all. Henry thought. There was a small desk under the window with a tiny desk lamp. all meticulously hung up and facing the same way. He was expecting to find posters and pictures of rock stars taped to the walls. everyone in Palm Springs owned at least one. The bed was made and it looked as though Todd had been in the military. So maybe they didn’t go there for a sexual liaison and Wayne was right about the gun shows.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “I’ll be right back. and it reminded Henry more of a fallout shelter from the sixties. Hello. utilitarian. He flipped to the page and saw an ad for a gun show in Las Vegas. this room was bare. There was none of that. A couple of Aloha shirts. There was a rubber band around the box to keep the top on it. the annual play starring older performers that was put on every winter in the historic Plaza Theatre downtown. There was one poster on the wall from the Palm Springs Follies. Henry looked for a light switch and turned it on. Henry recognized some Gilbert and Sullivan musicals and a script for the Fantastiks. The room was small and the drapes were drawn making it dark and smaller. Henry thought. He memorized the name and location of the show and then carefully put the magazine back and closed the drawer. A quick look under the bed yielded the same result. On the left corner was a neat stack of scripts for a variety of plays. When he finished.” Henry squeezed Gloria’s shoulder gently on the way out of the room and nodded to let her know that she was doing a great job interviewing Cherie Gregory Henry went down the hallway and looked into the door that Cherie pointed out. Nothing happened so Henry stepped to the window and pulled open the drapes. He opened the drawer to the desk and found three recent Guns & Ammo magazines. He looked through them and in the most recent issue he found one of the pages in the back dog eared to mark it. The dates coincided with the dates that Todd and Terrance Quinn had made their trip.45 caliber shells with steel jacketed bullets. Everything else was just typical teenage clothing. He lifted up the mattress and found nothing. The top shelf of the closet yielded a number of carefully folded sweatshirts and sweaters and a box of ammunition. they were . t-shirts. clothes piled on the floor and a large stereo or at least a video game system. The box was half full. He opened the closet and Todd’s clothes were all hung on identical wooden hangers. Jeans.
I’ll show it to you. he needs to perform. There are a lot of people who think they can act. and sometimes creeps want to follow me home.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery satisfied that everything looked as it did when he found it. “Did he have any other hobbies?” Henry asked. I’m not even asking him for a contribution to the household budget. “Eventually. I get off late at night. I saw some Guns & Ammo magazines in his room. one of those with a short little barrel that all the old detectives on those black and white TV shows have. It’s just a little gun. “Do you know exactly what kind of a gun it is?” Henry asked. I don’t have a permit.” Cherie shook her head. “You don’t think he shot that man he worked for?” Henry ignored her question. “Do you know where his gun is?” “No.” “How about you Cherie. Cherie Gregory thought for a few moments. Cherie was just telling me about Todd’s success in the Palm Springs High School drama club. “Can I see it? Do you have a permit for it?” “No. But mine is strictly for personal protection.” Cherie said defiantly. drama was his life. “Hi Henry. I’m letting him live here in the meantime. it’s a little snub nosed revolver. I think he’d be better off going to a real university or something. does Todd own a gun?” Henry didn’t know how to phrase that question gently so he just came right out and asked her. “You mean like the model? I’m not sure.45 automatic. He goes to the Palm Springs Gun Club’s range over on the other side of the Interstate on a regular basis to shoot at targets. he did all that theatre stuff. I’ve had it for years.” Gloria said looking directly at Henry to see if she could read his face and pick up anything. I know the gun case that he keeps it in is not on his desk. I have a little gun. I don’t know the name of it. you know.” 74 . Todd says it’s in his blood. none that I can think of.” Henry sat on the couch next to Gloria. I do have some college money set aside for him. I’ve never used it though. “A gun? Yeah sure. he has his father’s old .” Cherie said. not an automatic or anything.” Cherie turned from Gloria to Henry. It looks as though he was really into the theatre. “No.” Cherie said. do you own a gun?” “Yeah.” “Cherie. “Yeah. so he must have it with him. “I saw all the scripts and the poster in his room. but I think he’ll appreciate it more if he works for it. He said he wants to go to some performing arts school in the San Gabriel Valley somewhere or wherever. He closed the curtains again and walked back into the living room where Gloria and Cherie Gregory were still talking on the couch. “Did he plan on going to college to study drama?” Gloria asked. I told him that he was never going to make any money at that. but few succeed well enough to make a living. Let me get my purse. He said he wanted to take a year off first to work and save up some money.
I tried to stop him but Todd insisted.” Cherie Gregory’s neck had turned red while talking. “What do you mean convert?” Henry asked.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery Cherie got up and went down the hallway to get her purse from her bedroom. I don’t have any paperwork. I mean this is Palm Springs and it is the twenty-first century. Todd told me about him. Thanks again. That guy was a sexual deviant and the world is better off without him.” Cherie shook her head. “Well. “Do you have any paperwork on the gun?” Henry asked. “Mrs. make-up.” She balled her hands in her lap. I think he was trying to convert him or something. you know. “Yeah. Dos bought it for me shortly after we got married. She hadn’t expected the gun to be in the purse. If you ask me he was a faggot. we can let our selves out. “Did you know that Todd went to Las Vegas with his boss?” Henry asked. here’s my bottle of water. She made a motion with her head towards the door and mouthed a “let’s go” to Henry that Cherie Gregory couldn’t see. “I don’t believe that you guys are really looking for Todd. She came walking out moments later with an oversized purse and a surprised look on her face. “Yeah. he did pay a lot of attention to Todd though. I don’t know where it went. “It’s not here. Gregory. 75 . thank you very much for your time. there is no reason to hurt Todd. I looked through it. obviously this irritated her.” “I’m kind of surprised to hear you say that. Didn’t drink beer with the other guys and stuff. he liked Todd too much and was a weirdo. He’s very sensitive and I don’t want you to scare him off.” Henry opened the door for Gloria and followed her out. we’ll pass along the message and someone will call you right away. if you are you’d better make sure that there are no trigger happy cops out there. My gun is gone. We really appreciate you talking with us. If you find out where he is. “No. Henry got up as well. Gloria gave Henry a look and shook her head no.” Gloria was already standing. and everything else is here. you be sure to call me right away.” Cherie said angrily. I’ve had it so long. “Ok. To that perverted life I’m sure he leads. There was something not right there.” Henry said. you know.” Gloria gave Henry a knowing look. I know he dragged Todd to Vegas. Thank you for the iced tea.
they have a nice water misting system there and the food is great. They closed the doors of the car. “He probably is. it’s one of my favorite places. I was going to take you to the La Taqueria downtown. He held her hand as they walked around the corner down Tahquitz Canyon Way to the restaurant. They were now on Palm Canyon Drive heading for the main part of town. July is Palm Springs’ off season and though it was the day after a major holiday. He has had more exposure to relationships with men than women.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery Chapter 10 The air outside was hot and dry as they walked to the car. it wasn’t busy. “Do you know what kind of gun she had? She kept calling it a little gun. “Mexican food sounds good.” Gloria shook her head. I don’t think the gun is missing at all.38. “I don’t believe her.” Gloria turned to look at him. “What about this missing gun thing?” Gloria asked as she got out of the car.” Henry said as he waited for her on the sidewalk. she stopped and waited. Don’t worry it won’t be too hot. she told me a little more about Todd.” Henry said. probably a . that certainly made the bonding that George Margolis had noticed between Terrance Quinn and Todd Gregory not unusual.” “It sounds to me that she has a snub nosed revolver.” Gloria told him. “I think that Wayne saw some of Todd’s acting ability when he acted upset the night that Terrance’s body was discovered. “You did. while you were in Todd’s room. did I strike a nerve in there or what?” Henry finally said as they turned back onto Vista Chino.” “Yeah. She is in total denial regarding her son’s sexuality. Cherie said that Todd got into the drama program at high school to overcome his shyness. Henry and Gloria exchanged a look but neither of them said a word. the street was one way and Henry started looking for a parking place. but from what I understand he was painfully shy.” Henry turned to look at her and then turned back to pay attention to the traffic as the light at Indian Canyon turned green. They house was almost right at the end of the Palm Springs International Airport runway. “Are we going to have lunch somewhere? I’m hungry. “So Todd is gay?” Henry wasn’t surprised. but I think Todd is searching. Henry opened the door for Gloria and she left it open while he walked around and then started the car and let the air conditioner run. I like sitting on the patio outside. Gloria turned to Henry to tell him something as a departing jet airplane came overhead very low. “Wow. it’s the kind that plain clothes cops used to carry because they can be easily 77 . the air conditioner was catching up to the heat and Henry made a U turn and headed towards downtown. He found a parking spot on Palm Canyon in front of the Welwood Murray library.
I’ll ask Wayne to check.” Henry handed his menu to the waiter who took off towards the kitchen. he runs away and can’t be found. “I’ll have a blue margarita as well. “Maybe they’re in this together. A lot of uniforms carried them as second guns. Make sense?” “Yep.” She put her menu down and winked at Henry. a basket of chips and a dish of salsa on their table. “Wait a second.” Henry reached into his shirt pocket for his reading glasses. and can you make me just one please? Also. uniforms. It’s very pleasant here. “What do you mean?” “Just now you said uniforms carry them. But I do think I’ll call Wayne to let him know that he should pick her up for questioning. “She could have. especially detectives call officers that wear a uniform. “And I’ll have the crab enchiladas. 78 . “Well.” Gloria looked up as the waiter walked over to their table. and you were right about the misters keeping things cool. “What’s good here?” “Everything. you’ll have a great lunch. in the courtyard?” Henry told the hostess who smiled and picked up two menus and asked them to follow her. Gregory. and I love this courtyard. After that little encounter with Mrs. I’m in the mood for one.” Henry pulled Gloria’s chair out for her as the hostess put their menus on the table. but these days everyone uses automatics. I’m not a cop remember. Gloria stopped dead in her tracks still holding Henry’s hand jerking him to a stop. I love their pork carnitas. “What’s a uniform?” Gloria asked.” “Why didn’t you arrest her?” Gloria walked again to the hostess stand near the building’s entrance. so the most I could do is make a citizen’s arrest.” Henry said as he returned Gloria’s wink. she’s diverting suspicion onto her son. usually in an ankle holster.” Henry explained as they walked into the courtyard of the restaurant.” Gloria studied her menu. “Actually. except she was probably at work that evening. cops. “Could we have a table for two please. and Todd covered up for her. what’s a uniform?” “Oh. why did he disappear? Wouldn’t it be more logical if she had taken off?” Henry picked up the menu as a busboy set two waters. He probably has her gun and is getting rid of it for her. care to join me?” “I’d love a margarita. the best thing here is their margaritas. I have a feeling that they cooked up this whole scheme. if you ask them to put it in an enchilada.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery concealed. “I’ll have a carnitas enchilada. What I want to know though is if she did it. it seems like every profession has its own slang doesn’t it? Do you think she did it?” “Gloria asked. isn’t that the type of gun that killed Terrance?” “Uh-huh. I’ll try a blue margarita.
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “Ok. Terrance Quinn. There. why not use that? And. I need my water. Todd calls George Margolis instead of the police and changes his clothes and throws out the gloves he wore to prevent powder burns. why go to Las Vegas with the victim to buy a gun? He already owns a . they don’t go to the gun show. Terrance and Todd go to Las Vegas. Todd Gregory and our victim. if he made a pass at Terrance in Las Vegas and he was rejected. “Where was I?” “Let me sum it up for you while you recover. Does that kind of sound reasonable to you?” Gloria looked away from Henry’s face just long enough to mouth a thank you as the waiter set the margarita in front of her. Wayne told me yesterday that they have one there every two months. so let’s run through this. Todd then takes off for Mexico and we all end up looking for him. go to Las Vegas.” It came out like he was choking.” Gloria said with a smile as she patted Henry’s arm. “That sounds like that is the way it could have happened. but why?” Henry’s voice was coming back slowly and he spoke in a whisper. I guess I did. “Wait a minute. “Please. Then he draws on his high school acting experience and puts on the distraught employee act that Wayne and George Margolis saw. “Whew this is hot.” Henry said with a hoarse voice.45 caliber according to his mother. have some kind of argument and Todd shoots Terrance with the gun. “You mean motive? Perhaps one of them came on to the other and advances were not returned or appreciated?” Gloria took a small sip of her margarita. Gloria suppressed a laugh. not Todd. “Did you forget that you had been dipping that chip in the hot sauce while you were talking?” “Yeah. except at that point I was telling him that Robert is the one that committed murder in a jealous rage. the magazine that I found was just a coincidence. If Todd is the murderer. 79 . “How about considering this angle? Todd and Terrance go to Vegas. “You mean jealousy? Wayne told me two days ago that I was searching through the classics to come up with that. Todd is into guns. In one of the Guns & Ammo magazines I found in Todd’s room he had marked an ad in the back for a gun show in Vegas. one of them buys a gun at a gun show.” Henry started as he absent mindedly swished one of the chips in the salsa. buys a . he’d have to tell her later. his voice was still not back. They come back. Henry liked the way her lips formed around the straw. how do you know they went to a gun show while they were in Vegas?” Gloria interrupted. wouldn’t he be so mad that he would kill him there?” Gloria reasoned. “Hmm.” He took a big drink of water and wiped his eyes with his napkin which started tearing.” Henry put the chip in his mouth and started coughing. “Ok.38 at the gun show.” “But it doesn’t make sense. I didn’t tell you.
I can consider that. What Wayne saw was not an act. Cherie doesn’t accept that. He looks like he is on his last legs. She liked Henry’s theory of Cherie being the murderer better than Todd but it still had some unexplained holes. now Todd Gregory has it in for Silverstein?” Henry was still pushing his food around on his plate with his fork. “Hmmm. He told Charles that he stopped driving. I’m thinking that Todd Gregory took a big chance in his life in having a relationship with Terrance Quinn. you think that since Silverstein killed Quinn. Robert Silverstein is not as sick as he is letting on. 80 . ok.” Henry picked up another chip as he finished. They assured him that they were fine and when the waiter departed. Robert Silverstein finds out that Terrance Quinn cheated on him and takes the gun that Terrance bought in Las Vegas and shoots him in anger. Terrance buys a gun for a reason that we don’t know yet. They have their affair and return to Palm Springs. I think that Mr. How do you figure these puzzles out?” Gloria laid down her fork and looked at him.” Gloria shook her head. “Then why did Todd run? Was he afraid that Cherie was going to shoot him also? He knew that she owned a gun. Do you think that is a coincidence?” Henry asked. Henry this is really difficult. Although. “I think that is a distinct possibility. but his handshake is still real firm. “I can’t figure out yet why one of them bought a gun.and runs off. maybe he is upset with his mother for killing his lover and runs off. Henry thought for a moment while he took a drink of his margarita. But then why did Terrance buy a gun in Las Vegas with Todd?” Gloria asked. Todd was grieving for his murdered lover. and the missing gun. Cherie. How about this? Todd and Terrance go to Las Vegas. he is out for revenge. I’m not sure. “Maybe you’re right. but I think he had enough energy to make one last drive to the Tramway. Todd is upset – the hysterical act that Wayne saw wasn’t an act. gets angry.” “You know what that means Henry?” Gloria asked as she tried her enchilada which was as hot as the waiter had cautioned.” Gloria said.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery They have their affair and come back to Palm Springs. Now that he’s lost him. “What about Todd’s mother.” “Ok.” Gloria put a small bite of her enchilada in her mouth. blames Quinn for “converting” her son and drives to the tram station and kills the guy she thinks did this to her boy. it was genuine. he cautioned them that their plates were hot and asked them if they needed anything else. it was real . Henry continued. “Gosh. But. The waiter showed up with their lunch. Todd tells his mother that he is gay. “What’s that?” “There’s an upset and angry young man with a big gun out there somewhere. they do go to the gun show.
That went along ok for a while then one night Dos went out and got drunk with his buddies and left Todd alone in the apartment. I’m not sure it’s relevant anymore. Dos was assigned to the base at Twentynine Palms and right after that they moved to Palm Springs. Finally they had a common interest.” Gloria stopped and took a sip of margarita before continuing. Dos picked up Todd on alternate weekends to visit and Dos took him out to the small arms range on the base. Then Cherie found that Dos was cheating with some young woman that worked on the base. Todd became interested in movies and plays when he was young. “Apparently he didn’t. Gloria drank some water this time. When that doesn’t work. “This case is difficult. like she told you. Then when he was ten.” Henry concentrated on his enchiladas.” Gloria was nearly done with her lunch and took the time to tell her story. They got married after she got pregnant with Todd. Dos had an apartment in Yucca Valley.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “Usually I try to put myself into either the mind of the victim to see why someone would want to kill me. Todd called his mother to come and get him the next morning and that’s when Cherie petitioned the court to eliminate Dos’ visitations. he couldn’t catch a ball. “Let me tell you what I found out from Cherie while you were looking around in Todd’s room. According to Cherie.” Henry explained. you know I do my best thinking about this stuff during my morning swims and I can’t get into either person’s head. Dos took Todd out to the base at Twentynine Palms and introduced him to firearms and the shooting range.” “Did Todd have his own gun at that time?” Henry interrupted. It seems not all of his evenings out with the co-workers were evenings out with the boys. not too far from the base. “Cherie and Dos met in Albuquerque while he was already in the service. Then three years ago was when Dos was killed in the car accident on Highway Sixty-two. Todd was always a different child and Dos always referred to Todd as a sissy which of course hurt Todd’s feelings and caused a lot of arguments between Dos and Cherie. I try to think like the killer to determine why I want to kill the victim. I’ve tried both methods. After the divorce. they weren’t eliminated but they were significantly reduced. at least not from what she told me. she was a cocktail waitress in a bar.T. but I think you should know. “What are you doing in this case?” Gloria was curious. It was a difficult birth and she wasn’t able to have more children. Apparently it was a DUI on a Friday 81 .” “Did the visitations stop?” Henry asked. “Todd wasn’t very coordinated. It’s not working for me this time. She said that before he went to Kindergarten he had seen E. so many times that he could recite all the words and was able to act out all the parts.” “Then when Todd was four. “No. Dos spent less and less time with Todd. and showed no interest in sports.
honey. let’s go for a walk.” Henry said. I like working with you as much as being with you. “I said Todd is all that Cherie has and that she is extremely protective. before that. By that time he was involved with the drama club in high school and had not been spending a lot of time with his father. though she said for six months or a year he was even more withdrawn than usual. She seems brassy and kind of tawdry but I think she’s actually very lonely. I asked her if Todd had any girlfriends or relationships and she reacted.” “That Todd wanted to be with another man?” “Did you just call me honey?” Henry asked. I think I might just call you that from now on. I don’t want to have to think up one. the waitress at Sherman’s and she calls everyone honey. Todd used his father’s money to buy the Jeep that you’re now looking for. Henry pulled some cash out of his pocket and paid the tab.” “No. “He was pretty much ok. Can we go somewhere and walk around a bit?” Gloria asked. I know . I guess I did. When we get to the car. I really like it.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery night. he is all she has. I’ll call Wayne. It’s just that I haven’t been called honey or dear or anything for a long time. Gloria’s smile lit up her face.” Gloria put her napkin on the table. conservative town in New Mexico. which included the . do you not want me to call you that?” “No. honey. Cherie thought he handled it pretty well. was around the military all of her life not all of who are the most open minded people around. Except of course by Millie. you were in that room for a good twenty minutes and I think that Cherie needed a woman to talk to.” “You certainly found out a lot while I was in Todd’s room for a short time. I think we need to take a break from all of this detective work. “I agree.45. “What did you say?” Henry asked.” Henry smiled at Gloria as the waiter exchanged their plates for the check. no. I’m going to have to find a name to call you.” “How did Todd take his father’s death?” Henry finished his enchiladas and wiped his mouth with his napkin. reached for her hand across the table and smiled. She just cannot accept that her little boy would want to be with another man.” “I like it.” Henry looked over at Gloria. I think we make a very good team. but she’s in total denial that it might be a possibility that he is not straight. Not as volatile as what you saw when you asked her if he was gay. “Well. “Henry. I think that she’s from a small. “Well. Shortly after he turned sixteen. Sorry. According to Cherie he wrapped himself around a telephone pole. not at all. He left what little he had to Todd. “Yes.I was married to one. tell him to 82 . She’s extremely protective of Todd. But I want to wait until it just slips out.
a hibiscus.” Gloria finished the last of her margarita and stood up. how do they do that? “Just wait. I just like saying that for you. you’ll see. come on let’s go. It’s not that far from here. a combination nursery and artist community. “Really? A combination of plants and art in one place? This sounds interesting. “Honey?” Gloria asked. “I know just the place.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery check out Cherie Gregory more closely and then we’ll take a break. “Nothing. is there a nursery around somewhere? I’d love to get another plant like the hummingbird was visiting this morning. “Yes?” Henry answered.” 83 .” Henry answered as they walked back to the Mercury. Where do you want to walk in this heat?” “Isn’t there someplace with some shade? I know.” Henry got up and held Gloria’s hand as they walked out of the restaurant.
let me grab a pen to take some notes. You’d better send them there. I’ll send a couple of uniforms out to her house right away. ten minutes later. 85 .” Henry told Gloria while he was waiting for Wayne to come back. she is very angry at Terrance Quinn.38 caliber snub nosed revolver that she claims is missing. “I should know that. If she’s not there then they’ll pick her up at the casino. While the engine was still running and the air conditioner was on he pulled his cell phone from the glove compartment and called Wayne Johnson at the police department.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery Chapter 11 Henry parked in the shade of several large trees in the parking lot at Las Palapas just off Palm Canyon Drive. “Ok. We have another theory for you to consider. “He’s sending a black and white out to Cherie’s house to pick her up for questioning.” “Wayne. They’d better go there. Ok. Second. Go ahead. “Palm Springs Detective Squad. hold on again. this is Wayne Johnson.” Henry reached for Gloria’s hand next to him and squeezed it.” “She’s supposed to be at work at the casino at one o’clock. Henry. they’re on their way. Gloria and I want to give you an update on what we discovered. it’s Henry. we went out to the Gregory home this morning and we found out some interesting stuff that we need to pass along. first of all Cherie Gregory owns a gun.” “Ok. Hang on while I make that call. “Great. Gregory?” “Yes. I found a Guns & Ammo magazine in Todd’s room. somewhere on my desk here is her work schedule for the next few weeks.” “Really? I think I’d better pull her in for questioning. did you talk with Mrs. The dates correspond to the dates that Todd and Terrance Quinn went on their little trip together. I believe from her description that it is a .” “Well.” Wayne put Henry on hold.” “Good. It had an advertisement for a gun show in Las Vegas bookmarked.” Wayne came back in Henry’s ear. she said the world is better off without him. I’m listening.” “It looks as though you were right about the gun shows in Vegas. Gloria looked at her watch. but not necessarily.” Henry told him. He really did enjoy being with her and they did made a great team. “Ok they’re going to go by the house first.” Henry said.” “Are you saying that they bought the weapon that killed Terrance while they were together?” Wayne wasn’t so sure.” This time Wayne was back quicker. “Go ahead. We think that Terrance may have bought a gun there. “She was supposed to start her shift at the casino at one.
but it doesn’t really matter.” “Henry.” Henry explained. “Wayne wants me to bring my weapon. He thinks there are too many armed people running around Palm Springs that might want to take a shot at someone asking as many questions as we are. I’ll call you when we’re done questioning Cherie Gregory. I’ll buy that. “Henry.” “You mean because Silverstein killed his lover.” Henry replied.” Wayne couldn’t help but chuckle.” Henry looked over at Gloria. “I prefer to think that we’re eliminating possibilities. Why don’t I go back out to Silverstein’s house and talk to him myself?” “That would be good. “Ok. I don’t want to wear it since I’m out with Gloria. we’ll be home. sorry. he wants revenge?” Wayne asked. You should keep an eye out for Todd Gregory. Your output is twice what it is normally.” Henry replied. and that was almost three months ago. we’re working on a theory where Robert Silverstein found out that Terrance was cheating on him with Todd Gregory and took the weapon that Terrance just bought and shot him in a jealous rage. He was frustrated that he had not been able to figure out who did this.” Wayne’s voice turned very serious. “Fine. my gun with me when we go out. it felt good to say that they were going to be home together. please take it with you when you go out. I think you should wear your vest as well. I’m concerned that you might run into something that you’ll be sorry about. “Henry.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “Maybe. Now that I’m in… in… in here with you in Palm Springs. you’ve just handed me two suspects in one conversation. “I agree with Wayne. it would be terrible if something happened to you. “Talk to you then. “Ok. “Alright. I’ll just breathe a little easier if I know that you can defend yourself if it comes to that. “I’ll talk to you later this evening.” Henry squeezed her hand again. we have a couple of people running around town with weapons. we think he might want to come back and hurt Silverstein. the Glock is locked up in my bookcase at home. “Exactly. Anyway. maybe I’ll just wait to talk with you until after I talk with Robert Silverstein. I remember how I felt the last time you were hurt. “What don’t you want to wear since you are out with me?” Gloria asked as Henry shut the car off.” Wayne hung up.” Wayne said.” 86 .” Henry explained as they got out of the car. are you armed?” “No. I’ll put it in the glove compartment tomorrow when we go out. Remember last time?” Wayne sounded cautious. I can tell that there are two of you working on this investigation.
” Gloria set the large Hibiscus on the counter. they walked around. so he was around somewhere and an afternoon swim like yesterday’s would have to wait. Mixed in with the nursery was art of all kinds.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “It’s too hot to wear all the time and I’m not on duty.” Henry was standing in front of the door heading to the patio. I want to set this outside.” Gloria said as she closed the freezer door and hurried to open the outside door. There were carvings and clay pieces and a lot of metal sculptures. Gloria said she liked the sound of a fountain and that he had chosen an ideal spot. “Would one of you open the door for me.” Gloria smiled at him and put her arm around his waist as he came around the car and they walked together into the nursery. Gloria picked out a beautiful pink hibiscus plant and Henry found a metal sculpture with a small pump so for circulating water that he thought would look great next to the French doors that went into the kitchen. maybe I’ll toss it into the trunk. look at the beautiful plant Henry bought for me. Palapas Nursery had numerous plants. 87 . talked to some of the artists who were working at their exhibits and enjoyed the afternoon. Henry drove back on Highway one-eleven and made a right turn on Sunrise Way. especially those that were adapted to the desert climate.” “I guess that’s ok. “Charles. there was a glass of wine in front of him on the counter. Gloria asked him to stop at Jensen’s. won’t it look great just outside the doors here?” Henry carried it in through the kitchen door from the garage. Charles’ Explorer was parked inside next to Gloria’s truck. Gloria carried in her hibiscus and Henry carefully picked the fountain up out of the trunk. Charles was sitting at the kitchen counter reading the afternoon paper. He took the four lane street that was lined with palm trees and well kept homes back towards the house. They spent more than an hour at Palapas. isn’t it gorgeous/” “And check out this fountain. he didn’t get ice cream. He looked up and they didn’t notice that he had been crying as they excitedly showed him their purchases. They ran into the store together and came out with two containers of Ben and Jerry’s. They picked up their purchases at the cash register on the way out and headed for the car. “We also picked up some ice cream for dessert. They arrived at home late in the afternoon and walked in through the garage door. When they reached the intersection of Tahquitz Canyon. I hope you like either Cherry Garcia or Chunky Monkey!” Gloria put the containers of ice cream into the freezer. You are eating dinner with us aren’t you? We should have called. She said she was in the mood for ice cream after dinner and Henry admitted that of all the things that he bought on his shopping trip. you could see it from the table outside and the dining room as well. “It has pink flowers. “I got it honey.
She walked over to Charles and put her arm around him. just fine. Henry moved his head into Charles’ direction and Gloria nodded. he died from pneumonia today. It was quiet and he wasn’t in any pain. I ought to be used to it. “It’s fine Henry.” Charles shook his head while he looked at the newspaper. 88 . Henry looked over at Gloria who looked back at him and raised one eyebrow. are you upset that I’m here? Are you worried that your living arrangement here is going to change now that I’m staying in Henry’s room? Let me just say that as far as I’m concerned. “Henry. “Charles Knightly.” “So he wasn’t… he didn’t get… I mean he died of natural causes then?” Henry asked. you’re not yourself. “Robert Silverstein is dead. What were you expecting?” Charles furrowed his brow. Gloria. Gloria had come over to Henry and put her arm around his waist.” Charles picked up his wine glass and looked into it before speaking again.” Charles explained.” Charles got up slowly from the stool and walked out. Robert was in advanced stages of AIDS. I love having you here and you make Henry very happy.” Gloria was standing in the kitchen between Henry and Charles with her hands on her hips defiantly looking at Charles. but Charles. but that’s not what I’m upset about at all. “I think I need to move it over a little.” Gloria told Charles. Henry and I haven’t talked about this at all. I have no intention of seeing you leave your home. We’ve been working on several theories and in one of them we were considering Robert as a suspect in Terrance Quinn’s murder. “Robert Silverstein is dead. you have nothing to worry about. if you can consider this disease a natural cause. how did he die?” Henry was upset and nearly shouted the words at Charles.” Charles looked back and forth between Gloria and Henry. but it’s still difficult when someone finally passes away. what happened. I want to know what you think. “We were worried that Robert was going to get killed by Todd Gregory. Charles smiled a half smile. then he did. “Oh. “I’m alright. I want to get it into final position before I fill it with water. “Well yeah. “It happens all the time. “What’s wrong Charles. I know that you’re very sensitive about being here in my space.” He walked back inside and climbed right back up on the stool took a drink from his glass and picked up his newspaper.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery Henry set the sculpture outside and looked with admiration at what he had done. Come out here and have a look at it Charles. I’m so glad that the two of you have found one another.” He said quietly.
“You know. before he did he had one more question. I think you have made him truly happy and I’m very glad about that.” Charles shook his head sadly as he took another drink of wine. oh. not with your murder theories. “Where are you?” “I’m on my way to Silverstein’s house. so I’m taking a chance that he’ll be there. 89 . “Well. was Robert well enough to drive a car.” Henry headed off for his office and Gloria reached into the refrigerator and found a package wrapped with white butcher paper that she took to be the steaks. “Charles. He was going to head over to Silverstein’s house today. none that would pay for the drugs he needed. if you could take them out. or we can microwave them – whatever you guys prefer.” Wayne replied.” Henry said.” “I guess he did call me that didn’t he?” Gloria smiled as she looked for the salt and pepper so that she could season the steaks. and Robert simply couldn’t afford the treatment that he needed. He won’t answer the phone.” Wayne replied. If there had been enough money to get Robert the prescription drugs that he needed. “Gloria.” Henry was ready to walk to his office to call Wayne. then he would still be alive right now and probably functioning pretty normally. this didn’t have to happen. go ahead. “Impressed? With our murder theories? Wait until you hear everything. but we can get into that later. this is Henry.” Charles said. There’s been a lot of progress in the past decade with drugs and people are living a lot longer. sweetie. Henry just called you sweetie. which I don’t think are correct by the way. “No.” Henry said when he saw Charles’ quizzical look. “Didn’t he have some sort of medical coverage?” Gloria asked. the steaks are in the frig.” “You guys are serious that he was considered a suspect in the murder of his partner?” Charles asked. “Right now I want to call Wayne and tell him what happened. as she moved over to put her arm around Charles’ shoulder to console him. “No. we can let you know what is going on while we eat. “Yeah Henry. I can do our baked potatoes outside on the barbecue. “Wayne. he really deserves it. please. He could have gone for a short drive. can you hear me ok?” Henry had reached Wayne on his cell phone since he wasn’t in his office.” Henry said as he headed for his office. “Let’s start dinner.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “We’ll have to tell you the whole story. let’s say a week ago?” “I suppose so. It is expensive though. Why?” “I’ll tell you during dinner. I’ll be right back. She put them on the counter and started unwrapping them.” Gloria said putting the three steaks on a plate. I’m impressed. It would have made him very tired though.
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “Wayne.” “I have a feeling that when we find one. Can you go over and search his house? I’m interested in seeing if you’ll be able to find the murder weapon. or to the Living Desert Zoo. You may have scared her away.” “You’re probably right.” Wayne disconnected his cell phone. Charles was engaged in the conversation and feeling much better. he was shocked when they told him about her outburst at Henry’s question about her son’s sexuality. So tell me what happened. we’ll find the other. He was in advanced stages of AIDS and his body could no longer fight off the pneumonia.” Henry asked. the three of them sat in the dining room and enjoyed the meat and a bottle of wine. Charles knew that even in liberal. “Hang on a second. They talked about the various theories and motives for Terrance Quinn’s murder and the progress of the investigation. I don’t care if you are at the zoo. She was the typical 90 . Henry hung up the phone and went back to the kitchen to rejoin Gloria and Charles in making dinner. Cherie Gregory never showed up for her shift at the casino today. Charles told them that he’d known a lot of people like Cherie during his career as a high school history teacher. “Since the house wasn’t the scene of a crime.” “Ok. I’m thinking of taking Gloria to Joshua Tree National Park. “Yeah I know. I’ll make a couple of phone calls and I’ll go through the place tomorrow morning. Charles told us when we came home this afternoon that Robert Silverstein had passed away. I’m in a gas station. are you ok?” Henry asked.” “That’s a shame. I’ll have to get a search warrant. Henry lit the grill outside and put the baking potatoes on the rack to get their skins nice and crispy. By the time they finished their steaks. When dinner was ready. But that’s easy to do. Now you have to find both Gregorys. He cooked the steaks while Gloria made their salad. by the way. I doubt that I’ll run into anything more dangerous than a tarantula at the zoo though. You can let me know what you find. there was still a lot of homophobia. We can’t find her.” “What’s wrong. but running away like that certainly leads me to think that she’s guilty instead of Todd.” “Not a lot to tell really. “Yeah. Charles felt that Cherie’s motive was the strongest. I’m just surprised so I pulled over. Do you want to join me?” “No. Silverstein passed away quietly today of pneumonia.” Wayne reminded his friend. but you’re better off having a little insurance with you. Remember what I told you about bringing your weapon with you. I think you need to be armed. tolerant Palm Springs.” Henry wanted to make sure that Wayne knew right away that he had not been shot as he had thought when Charles first told him of Silverstein’s death. I’ll call you tomorrow and let you know what I find at Silverstein’s place.
Charles said he was off to visit some friends and would not be home until after midnight.” Gloria said as she patted his arm. and she was trying to blame someone.” Henry said as he rolled over. he reached for the remote. At nine-thirty. After the news. “I love you Gloria McCann. She smiled at Henry in the darkness before falling asleep herself. the evening Palm Springs breezes had cooled the air off considerably and the three ate their ice cream outside at the patio table.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery overprotective mother who was in denial about her son. Charles and Gloria helped Henry position the new fountain next to the doors going into the kitchen and Henry filled it with water and plugged it in. Henry went out through the French doors. Pierre scratched at the door and Gloria let him out to do his business in the backyard. Henry suggested having the gardeners plant Gloria’s hibiscus plant when they came later in the week. Henry went to sleep with a smile on his face and his hand on Gloria’s back. “I love you too Henry Wright. turned off the television and rose up on an elbow. Henry and Gloria cleaned up the dishes and saved the leftovers in the refrigerator. Gloria said she wanted to do it herself and would take care of it in the morning once they found a suitable spot. After dinner. 91 . Henry winked at Gloria and asked her if she was interested in joining him in the pool. she grinned and told him that they never determined who the rotten egg was the other day as she ran off into the bedroom to strip off her clothes. tossed his clothes onto the chaise lounge and the two of them jumped into the pool at nearly the same time. They relaxed there for an hour and got out to get ready for bed. By eleven o’clock they were in bed together and Henry was holding Gloria in his arms as they watched the late evening news. Gloria was awake for another twenty minutes thinking about how this simple domestic life of making dinner and cleaning up afterwards made her happy and fulfilled.
it wasn’t the murder weapon. and she didn’t move at his touch. her body was still warm with sleep. Cherie Gregory had disappeared after their visit to her house. He may not even have lasted until yesterday.45 caliber handgun with him. In her mind. Henry ran his hand along Gloria’s curves. If he had been arrested for Quinn’s murder. Where would he go if his lover – if Terrance was a lover – had been shot? He couldn’t ignore the fact that Todd had a . she had a motive. like her son? Could she have shot Terrance Quinn trying to protect her child from what she said was a perverted way of life? Certainly her “little gun” matched the murder weapon. but it certainly could prove to be lethal in the hands of a distraught young man. Where did she go. He was trying to think like Todd.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery Chapter 12 The sky was turning a pale blue and Henry could hear the birds chirping just outside the screen doors when he woke up the next morning. Could she have fled. Did he have the strength to drive to the tramway and shoot his partner? Why there? If Silverstein wanted to kill Quinn why didn’t he do it at home? He must have known that he was going to die. did she leave the casino that night to commit murder? Was Todd truly shocked at Terrance’s death or was it an act that Wayne saw at the tram that night? Robert Silverstein passed away of natural causes. He took off his goggles and smiled at Gloria who was sitting on the chaise lounge in her robe. Did Robert shoot Terrance with the gun that he bought at the gun show? Did Terrance and Todd go to the gun show? There were too many loose ends there. he was going to have to find out more about this trip to Las Vegas. 93 . grabbed his towel from the bathroom and quietly went out the screen doors to the pool. He picked his goggles and digital watch up from the dresser. he would have died in police custody. She waved at him and he made a cup holding a drink to his mouth motion with his hand to ask her where her coffee was. She looked at her watch-less wrist and held up two fingers as she stood up and picked up his towel and wrapped it around him as he got out of the pool. Why would Todd have bought a gun if he already owned one? Todd Gregory was still gone and couldn’t be found. where could he have gone? Somehow Henry had a hard time with the “ran off to Mexico” theory that the police department favored. While he was swimming laps he ruminated on yesterday’s developments. and why did she run? The gun that she claimed was in her purse was missing and now so was she. His watch started beeping and he slowed his pace and swam a couple of cool down laps. He kissed her softly where her ear met her neck and quietly got out of bed.
I realize now that I was falling in love with you then. Then a couple of months ago.” “Afraid?” Henry had a puzzled look on his face. He sat down on the chaise as the little birds flew off. usually I don’t brew a pot until I’m done. Gloria went inside and shortly came out carrying two mugs filled with hot black coffee. you called me sweetie as well. the little birds twittered noisily at one another as they fought over the best spot from which to enjoy the flower’s nectar. when I got the call from the hospital that you had been hurt.. It was a good thing that you carried my bags in. I cared about him. I am aware of something else though. chatting with one another as they did.” She pointed to the plant that they had left near the new fountain by the French doors. See. it just slipped out. I’d love some. “That’s the second time that you’ve called me sweetie. patting the towel to dry him off. He really cares about you and your happiness you know. Then when I saw you as I arrived the other day.” “Don’t apologize. I could barely stand. Charles pointed it out to me.. I didn’t even notice.” “No.” “What’s that?” “Last night as I was falling asleep…” “Yes?” “I told you that I love you. “Good morning sweetie. Gloria McCann. I didn’t even realize that I did that. because my knees were too weak to do it. “Why are we whispering?” “There’s a hummingbird in my hibiscus and we haven’t even planted it yet. He wasn’t quite sure why. but I was afraid.” Henry whispered as well. I like it.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “Are you ready for your coffee? It’s almost done” She whispered. when he retired from the Navy and we were together fulltime.” “The second time?” “Yes. Even my ex-husband. I have for quite some time now.” 94 . I guess because it felt so natural. my heart sank through my stomach. Charles was a sound sleeper and rarely came out this early in the morning. but I was no longer in love with him. It seems like such a natural thing to call you that I don’t even know that I did it. and I like that. “Yes.” “I remember. that’s what I wanted – a pet word for you that I didn’t think up.” “I’m sorry. Our phone calls over the past few months endeared you to me even more. And I love you too Henry Wright. It had been a long time since I truly loved another man. She sat on the chaise lounge and leaned into him as they took small sips of the coffee. afraid. I realized that I didn’t love him. I was apologizing for not being aware of it. yesterday when you asked me to take the steaks out of the refrigerator. Buzzing around its three flowers were two hummingbirds. you’re going to spoil me by making the coffee while I swim.
” After they got dressed and Gloria was finishing up in the bathroom. let’s enjoy our time together and let’s get this business of the tramway killing behind us as quickly as possible. and I love this house. What are we going to do when it is time for you to go home? I know that eventually you’ll need to go back to Sonora. “So it was no accident that your robe fell open and you wore nothing underneath.” Gloria was blushing as she finished her last sentence and buried herself in her coffee cup. “When we have that dinner let’s talk about how permanent you want to make this. They were walking out to the car to drive over to the zoo when Charles asked them if they were going to come to Robert Silverstein’s funeral service later that afternoon.” “Ever since you got here.” “I was denying it to myself. 95 . I love Charles and Pierre and cannot imagine life alone in my big place in Sonora without you. They were both surprised that it would be that soon. Henry went into his office and pulled his Glock out of the locked drawer. I decided that what you and I had was very special and I wanted to be more than just friends. That’s why I seduced you and dragged you off into your bedroom. I love being here. Charles explained that in Robert’s religion it was customary that the deceased be buried within twenty-four hours and the service was that evening at five-thirty at the Desert Synagogue on Palm Canyon. A feeling he didn’t care for today. maybe during dinner with a bottle of wine. I can no longer imagine my life without you. In the meantime. I too want to have that conversation and I think I want to have it soon. He pulled the clip out and was satisfied that it was full. “That makes me really happy.” She set her coffee cup on the ground. your house.” Gloria’s face took on a very serious look. He clipped the holster to his belt in the small of his back and pulled his shirt down over it. “You and I need to have a long conversation.” Gloria cast her eyes down in an attempt at an innocent look that she almost pulled off.” Henry reached over to take her other hand. Just wearing the gun made him feel like he was working. Then the other morning when I watched you swim laps for forty-five minutes I felt very warm and caring towards you and just wanted to hold you in my arms. taking a long sip of the coffee while doing so.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “I didn’t know that you felt that way two months ago. “Henry.” She stopped to gather her thoughts. I really have nothing keeping me in Sonora. but…” Henry reached over and held her hand and looked directly into Gloria’s dark eyes. He checked the second clip that was fastened to the holster and it was full as well. “I’ve been thinking about that a lot and it may be time to make a permanent change. “No.
” Gloria said pulling her shorts down so that her legs didn’t stick to the seat. “Yeah. thanks Charles. the longest trip I ever took was to Tuolumne County. Except. Let’s just go shopping.” Henry said. It only has twenty-two thousand miles on it. It was just past ten o’clock but the thermometer read one hundred. we were heading out right now. have a good time and stay cool. but sometimes when I wear shorts. It’s just more luxurious. what makes you think that I know?” Charles said grinning.” “Absolutely not. He’s had himself tested several times because he couldn’t believe it either. when I met you. “Me. Charles is basically a happy guy and he can’t stay in a funk for very long. Tell him I sent you. “Charles seems to be in a better mood this morning. that disease is terminal and it must get depressing.” Henry started the car and let the air conditioner run. this is perfect. He picked a clean towel up from the top of the clothes dryer and came back out and handed it to Gloria. “Ok. it’s right on the corner of El Paseo and Highway one-eleven and ask for Erik. You know. I bought this car because it is very similar to the patrol cars that I drove for years. I’m not sure where I should shop for women’s funeral clothes in Palm Springs. but is Charles…” “Charles is healthy. but he’s fine. I love leather seats.” “The Dressing Room by Carlisle. if we don’t see you this afternoon.” Gloria lifted herself off the seat and put the towel under her in one smooth motion. you’re going to be at the Living Desert Zoo right?” “Yeah.” Charles admonished them on the way out. Go to The Dressing Room by Carlisle.” Henry made the right on Avenida Caballeros and a left on Tacheva where a developer was building a small 96 . you and I are together as a couple and we’ll go together to the service.” Henry turned to look at Charles.” “Ok. “How long have you had it?” “I bought it when I first moved to Palm Springs. see Erik. “Thanks Henry. then we’ll see you at the service. so just over three years.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery Gloria stopped at the door from the kitchen into the garage. Ok.” Gloria told Henry as she got into the Mercury. He’s the floor manager and an old friend. I didn’t bring anything to wear to a funeral. “Alright.” “But Charles doesn’t have… I mean he took care of his partner Jonathan. so he says.” Henry said as he got out of the still open door and ran into the garage. “Hang on.” Henry closed the door and started backing out of the driveway. I talk about you all the time. anyway he’ll help you out. you’ll pass El Paseo in Palm Desert on the way to and from the zoo. “You’re right. I don’t like how they feel. “It had to be difficult for Terrance Quinn and Robert Silverstein as well. “Henry. I admire him for volunteering at the hospice. Maybe you should go without me. he knows about you Henry.
it doesn’t suit me. This place was used for fund raisers and stuff. On the way back from Sonora. this is basically a police car in civilian clothes. On his side of the street were a string of car dealerships. he thought. He told her that’s where the movie stars used to stay and shop. Plus I know where all the buttons are and stuff. I was a policeman for thirty-one years. Well. why isn’t the car comfortable?” Gloria looked over at Henry. all kinds of new car lots. see the grey round house up there?” “The one that looks like a flying saucer landed on the hilltop?” “Yep.” Henry laughed. you’re getting to know your way around pretty well. after a while I could not get comfortable. that would all change when the landscaping was put in. “What do you mean. “Funny you should ask.” Gloria said looking out the window. I’m sorry he’s gone. This one just doesn’t suit you. as a cop. But nobody like Bob Hope. the Hope’s actually lived in a modest little bungalow not too far from Mel Avenue. I found all of the problems in the car.” Gloria looked back at Henry. We don’t have too many celebrities in Sonora. exactly. “Well. “Look Henry.” Henry nodded. “So if you spent the whole day in them. let’s get you a new car. “Have you thought about getting a new car?” Gloria asked looking over at him. you’re in and out of your car all day long. You know.” Henry stopped at the light to make the left turn onto Palm Canyon. “Yeah. How could it not suit me?” 97 . No matter how many mattresses – in this case padding in the seat – I had. The left arrow turned green and Henry turned onto Palm Canyon Drive and continued towards Palm Desert.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery cluster of expensive homes. “Over on the right is the Palapas Nursery. that was Bob Hope’s house. I miss his specials on television. So when I spent eight hours behind the wheel going to Sonora.” Henry made a right turn on Sunrise Way to head back over to Highway one-eleven and go south towards Palm Desert. While he was alive. I was thinking that this wasn’t the most comfortable car for long trips. there’s Vida Blue. I spent the whole day in these cars so I thought it would be comfortable and that’s why I bought it. “That’s right. he’s a former baseball pitcher and Robert Conrad lives up near Arnold. You don’t sit for hours driving a long distance.” “Sort of like the princess and the pea.” “That’s neat. The desert’s sand was all over the construction site and spilled onto the road.” Gloria smiled her big smile. Look up on the hill. He pointed out the historic Smoke Tree Ranch on the other side of the street to her. as a cop.
and a Ford dealer. maybe you’re right. maybe you could get one of those new hybrid cars that get good gas mileage. the Glock was light and it really wasn’t very noticeable under his shirt.” Henry watched the sheep as well. Maybe this car fit the old Henry.” “Well. You’re much less cop-like and more relaxed these days. a new woman in my life.” They parked the car at the Living Desert Zoo and Henry debated about leaving his weapon in the car. you know the rounded fenders and all. if you’re going to be driving up to Sonora a lot.” Gloria said as they walked along the path towards the Eagle Canyon. locked the doors and walked to the entrance.” “What do you mean?” Gloria stopped in the shade of a Palo Verde tree. “It’s a shame that Terrance’s job didn’t provide health coverage for Robert.” Henry laughed again.” Henry reminded her. or maybe even a small Lexus or perhaps a Jaguar. I’m a happy man.” “I’m glad Henry. the holster was comfortable. One of those new ones with the classic styling. They decided not to ride the tram despite the heat and instead walked over to the zoo’s replica of an African Village and listened to the storyteller tell the tales of African folklore. Let’s do some research on my computer when we get home. it’s not who you are. He didn’t like leaving it in the glove compartment. I’m not even sure what I want. “You said it was difficult for them.” Henry said. there’s a Toyota dealer. and on this side of the street is a British Motor dealership. They were in front of the Bighorn Sheep Hill and she watched one of the animals walk nearly vertically up some rocks as though he was out for a morning stroll on a flat sidewalk. They put the sun shade in the windshield to try to keep the car cool. There is no need for you to drive around in something that is not comfortable. but you’re a lot different today than the Henry that I met at the restaurant in Sonora. I guess Robert didn’t have health coverage and Terrance didn’t make enough money to pay for the drugs that Robert needed.” “Maybe even Terrance would be alive today. “I can’t get past the notion of Terrance Quinn committing suicide.” “You know. “We started talking about Robert Silverstein and Terrance Quinn on our way out. “If it had. “It must have been. he usually locked the handguns in the trunk. 98 .Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “Henry. Look. “A new car. But maybe you won’t be driving up there that much. I love going car shopping. so I think you’d look good in a Volkswagen. perhaps Robert would still be alive today. He decided to just wear it.” Gloria shook her head. Maybe I should get a new car. I heard that you said that your job is what you do. I’m happy too.
Suicide doesn’t work. That leaves one of the Gregory’s and right now my money is on Cherie.” “It is.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “I thought that was physically impossible. Gloria said she just wasn’t used to a man getting it right when it came to women’s fashion. We need to keep working at this Henry. She might just have been angry enough to murder the man that she blamed for her son’s downfall. he didn’t and he went off to ask the manager. it was a refreshing change.” “But if it’s physically impossible. while Henry had the Thai Chicken Pizza. just a half block from the highway.” Henry was quiet and they walked slowly from shady spot to shady spot like children playing hopscotch to the Eagle Canyon display. Do you think Todd Gregory will show up at the funeral service tonight?” “I guess that could happen. she was angry at Terrance for corrupting her child. as she put it.” “And she has the right kind of gun. I’m sure Wayne will keep an eye out for him. “You’re right you know. Gloria spotted the eatery as they came down Highway 74 from the zoo. she told Henry that she was sure she could find something there. she’d been there many years ago on a shopping trip with a girlfriend while she still lived in San Diego. I don’t know how he would find out about Robert’s death though. Henry didn’t think that Charles would steer them wrong. then it can’t fit. They were sitting in the air conditioned breeze of the California Pizza Kitchen restaurant on El Paseo when they ordered lunch. Both sides were lined with boutiques and art galleries and restaurants that spilled out onto the sidewalks. it was right on El Paseo. she thought for a moment and said classic conservative. but it’s the only theory that I have that fits. there were Porsches and Jaguars and even a Rolls.” “You know. They were lucky with parking and Henry pulled into a spot just as a blue haired lady in a large. This time they weren’t as lucky with 99 . They decided to ask the waiter if he knew where it was. Gloria ordered an Oriental Chicken Salad.” Henry started walking again. They both had iced tea and looked down along El Paseo to figure out if they could walk to the women’s clothing store Charles had recommended. Parking spaces were at a premium. Gloria said the upscale types of stores made it look like Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. The street was wide with a grassy median with palm trees and outdoor sculptures in the middle. The manager was a woman in her early forties who said that The Dressing Room was between San Luis Rey Avenue and Portola. They finished lunch and they drove to the other end of El Paseo. convertible Cadillac pulled out. knowing Charles he wouldn’t tell them to go to a store selling resort wear if she was looking for a funeral dress. Gloria thanked her and was satisfied. parked in the spaces along the sidewalk. Gloria asked her what kind of fashion they carried.
I really like this one.” “Ah so. “Yah. Good man Charles. yah. He handed them to Gloria who handed two of them back and kept the other two. “My name is Henry Wright. we’re going to have to get some shoes as well. 100 . you need a size eight. In the casual atmosphere of the desert. “You’re good.” He said instead.” Erik said with a heavy accent on the “at” so that it sounded like the rest of the sentence was one word. maybe he just imagined it. Erik put the two dresses Gloria rejected back in their place on the racks along the wall and went to rejoin Henry. “I’d like to try these two on please. She will be in very elegant appearance for the funeral. We’re looking for a black dress to wear to a funeral. something in basic black so that I could wear it again.” Erik walked through the small shop and pulled several dresses off the racks along the walls and in the middle of the floor. Size eight is perfect. In a low voice he said. They will have the right shoes for you. yah. she was indeed classically elegant. his attire and accent were totally out of place. “Gut Afffternoooon” They were greeted by a tall. we’re looking for Erik. I think madam. but here in this shop he seemed to belong. “You’re right Erik. She walked over to where they were standing and with her short dark hair. After she went inside and closed the curtain.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery finding a place as they were before lunch and they ended up parking the car in a spot around the corner from the shop on Prickly Pear Lane. You are very good to him. She will look stunning in these dresses. yah?” Erik took the two dresses from her and walked towards the back of the shop. You will tell them I sent you. impossibly thin blond man with wire rimmed reading glasses perched on the end of his nose.” Erik said looking over the top of his glasses at Gloria. come this way. “I’m not even going to try the other one on. Henry.” “Of course.” “Of course. Charles Knightly sent us and told us to ask for you. but very classy and at the same time sexy. “Your wife has good taste.” Henry said while Gloria started looking at racks of clothing along the wall. Henry thought Erik clicked his heels when he said it. at your service. “Hi. she does look stunning.” “There is a wonderful little shop around the corner. yah?” “She’s not my…” Henry started to say as Gloria stepped out of the dressing room. no? He has told me much about you. Charles. you are his friend. he called and said you would be in. Please. I am Erik. He pulled aside the curtain of the lone dressing room and hung the two dresses she selected on the hook. Henry. skin color and the black dress that fit her curves perfectly. I don’t feel comfortable wearing sneakers or sandals with this. not vulgar. yah?” Gloria turned to Erik. He was wearing an impeccable dark blue wool suit with a heavily starched shirt and burgundy red tie.
She insisted on paying for the dress even after Henry repeatedly offered. Erik gave them the shop’s friends and family discount and carefully put the dress in a garment bag.” Henry nodded and smiled as Gloria turned on her heel and headed back for the little dressing room.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “Sounds good. They placed their purchases in the trunk of the Mercury and headed home to get ready for the funeral service. is that ok with you Henry? Ring this up while I change back into my shorts. They went around the corner to the shoe store Erik recommended and within twenty minutes she had a pair of sling back heels picked out that matched the dress perfectly. 101 .
Gloria suggested he wear his grey slacks. The final prayer was said in Aramaic and twenty minutes after entering the service was over and they were standing in the lobby of the temple where they met up with Wayne.” Henry said. not since I talked with you on the phone yesterday afternoon. One of them pushed a walker and they walked slowly to one of the benches and sat down. they made a very handsome couple. he stopped by the hospice to give a ride to some of Robert’s friends there who could no longer drive but wanted to attend the service. There weren’t very many people sitting on the benches. a white shirt and a pale yellow tie with the blazer. As they entered the sanctuary. Henry spotted Wayne in the back and wanted to sit next to him but Gloria suggested that they sit near the front out of respect for the deceased. and Hebrew. “No sign of Todd Gregory?” Henry asked.” Wayne replied. She claims that isn’t unusual though. Henry looked up as Charles and three elderly men came in. For the first time in weeks. His Explorer was not in the parking lot yet. I’ve checked with Cherie Gregory’s mother. Charles left the house ahead of them. no casket and the service was conducted in English. She still lives in Gallup. freshened up her makeup and with her new dress and shoes. I have an unmarked car outside in the parking lot watching the temple and a black and white across the street and no sign of either of the Gregory’s. sometimes several months go by where she doesn’t hear from her. reached into the back seat and put his black blazer on before opening Gloria’s door.” “Neither have we. He had worn the Glock again but since his shirt was tucked in and the holster and gun was visible he wanted to cover it quickly with the coat. Gloria had brushed her hair. “Have you learned anything else?” Wayne asked. Henry spotted Wayne’s Ford Crown Victoria and pulled in next to it. She said she hasn’t heard from her daughter in about a month. Henry picked up a yarmulke from a bowl which contained many and placed it on the back of his head. New Mexico. Gloria held Henry’s arm as they walked into the temple which was bright and almost cheery. “No. There were no flowers. “Nope. it didn’t look like Robert had any family that was here. “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery Chapter 13 It was a quarter past five when they pulled into the parking lot of the Desert Synagogue on Palm Canyon Drive. he’d put on a pair of dress socks. I asked the local police to cruise by her house just to see if her car was parked there in case the mother 103 . He got out of the car.
” “Great. The late afternoon breeze had come up and while it was still warm. he did want to take her to dinner. They’d better go straight from the synagogue to Jensen’s and buy some. but tonight just wasn’t the night.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery was lying. He hoped that Gloria felt the same way. I’m getting hungry. Do you like asparagus?” Henry couldn’t help but laugh. and he wanted to have that special conversation with her.” Henry said opening her door.” Gloria reached over to give Wayne a hug and kissed his cheek. “You should take advantage of being dressed up and go out to a nice dinner somewhere. if you want to come by. we’ll have plenty of food. You’re welcome to come over and have some. I’m ready. a red onion and Portobello mushrooms. head back up there. but no sign of Cherie’s Camry. Maybe I can get some answers by just poking around at the Valley Station.” Henry turned to look at Gloria. “But we already have some shrimp in the refrigerator that we are going to put on the grill tonight. I figured we could run out to Jensen’s and get some shrimp and some garlic bread. It’s to die for. a friend in Sonora taught me this wonderful recipe with asparagus.” “Ok. Charles came walking out helping the older gentlemen to his car. I just cannot figure out how this was done.” Henry looked at Gloria with renewed appreciation and put his arm around her.” Wayne took off his yarmulke and placed it back in the container by the door. I think the murder was committed there after the tram arrived. but the crime lab has been over that place and they can’t find anything. the two of you look very nice. He was truly puzzled by this slaying. “Yes.” She said. Gloria had remarked. “I’ll call you about dinner after I check in at the station. not too windy.” Henry looked at Gloria.” Wayne said. Henry and Gloria walked out to his car.” Henry was wondering where they were going to get the shrimp that Gloria claimed were in the refrigerator. “You know Wayne I think I want to take another look at the tramway.” “Ok. “Come on sweetie. Not too hot. not while the tram was underway. Do you have any olive oil and Italian herb mix?” 104 . “I’m taking them to dinner at the casino Henry.” Wayne was wearing a sport coat over his polo shirt. I feel kind of underdressed. but we don’t have any shrimp in the refrigerator. when you finish at the station. “Thanks for the compliment Wayne. just good enough to take the wrinkles out of your clothes. “Yeah. By the way. I like asparagus. Charles. “I know. “I hate to tell you this. I won’t be home until late. It’s like a hairdryer on medium heat. it was very pleasant.” Henry scratched his head. let’s go home. but I really don’t feel like going out to dinner so that’s why I said that. thanks for letting us know. “Alright. Let us know if we will see you later Wayne.
Wayne couldn’t help but laugh at them.” “Then how can you charge her with possession?” “I don’t know. It sounds good. I’ve got some news for you.” Henry looked over at Gloria who was nodding her head and mouthing that it was fine and waving her hand to invite Wayne to come over. where?” Henry and Gloria said in unison. Is it ok if I come over for dinner?” “Yes. “So you guys found her gun. “I know I have olive oil. “You guys are scary. It can wait until I get there.” He said. I’m sure we have some Italian herbs in the spice cabinet. and he tossed his sport coat on the couch before sitting on one of the stools at the kitchen counter. asparagus and mushrooms ready for the broiler and Henry had put the shrimp on skewers to grill as soon as Wayne arrived. we didn’t find it. We’ll throw another shrimp on the barbie for you. Did she have it on her when she was stopped?” Henry asked. I think I need a little more wine. Gloria had the mixture of onions.” Forty minutes later they were home and changed into comfortable clothes. “We found Cherie Gregory. It wasn’t on the list of personal items in the inventory that they faxed to us. “Really. Henry turned on the oven for the garlic bread and opened a bottle of wine. Wayne.” Wayne hung up the phone. But this time it fits.” “Funny. The Palm Springs Police Station is near the International airport. “I don’t know yet. asparagus and mushrooms. Gloria handed Wayne a glass of wine. Just then the phone rang. taking a big sip of the wine. only about three miles from Henry’s house on Mel Avenue. no.” Henry and Gloria laughed as well. She put down the knife and kissed him back. but we’re sending someone over to pick her up.” Wayne held his empty glass out for Gloria to refill. “Henry.” Wayne shrugged his shoulders. She’s in their holding tank. of course. come on by. He poured them both a glass and kissed Gloria as he handed her the wine.” “What are you going to hold her on?” Henry asked. “Where did you find her?” “She was picked up last night for drunk driving in Pomona. let’s go. I remember that commercial. She was due to be released in a few hours. “Well. its Wayne. You’re starting to talk alike. “Elliot is out tonight at a fund raiser for the nursing home where her mother used to live. Wayne rang the doorbell fifteen minutes after his telephone conversation with Henry.” “Hi.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery Henry started the car. Henry turned on the grill and Gloria started chopping up the onion. Maybe I can charge her with possession of an unlicensed firearm. 105 .
“Another three hours? I’m not sure. He didn’t even know how long it had been missing. He set the plate with the ends of the wooden skewers blackened and the shrimp nice and pink on the counter.” To demonstrate that he didn’t want to go back to work. Ninety minutes to get there. “Ok. an hour-and-a-half back. PD picked her up as she was driving away from the bar. she’s worried some trigger happy cop will blow his brains out. anyway when she didn’t find him she went into a local bar to drown her sorrows. She figured that she could find him there. The cop that was driving to Pomona left when I walked out of the station to come over here. “According to Pomona PD.” Henry picked up the tray with the skewered shrimp and went out to the patio. I’ll be right back. “You can have the guest room. Why she didn’t just call us and ask us to check if he was there I don’t know. half an hour for pleasantries with their cops. Wayne took another drink of his wine. she claims that she was looking for Todd. They opened another bottle of wine and sat down to dinner at the kitchen counter. would you put the shrimp on the grill? I was hungry before. three-and-a-half hours?” “Are you going back to the station after dinner to talk with her?” Henry asked. What’s that. “Henry. while you guys are talking. “What was Cherie doing in Pomona?” Henry asked. Henry and Wayne told Gloria the story of their first meeting in an FBI class in Quantico.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “When does she get here?” Henry asked.” Henry told Wayne. I’m going to call Elliot and tell her that I’m going to crash on your couch. Maybe Cherie wasn’t lying.” Wayne either didn’t notice that Gloria wasn’t staying in Henry’s guest room or he assumed all along that she would be with him. when Henry had just become chief of police in Eagle River and Wayne had recently been promoted to the detective ranks.” “Hmmm. “Great. I think I’ve used that room more than anybody else. I’m ravenous now. I’m assuming that’s ok with you.” Gloria said as she smiled at Henry. and you said she didn’t have the gun?” Henry wondered where it could be. no need to sleep on the couch. They reminisced and laughed about some of their instructors and while Henry 106 . they won’t take but a few minutes. she wanted to go out and find him on her own. before you guys did. “Perhaps.” “I do. There’s a theatre school in Pomona that he wants to attend. When he walked back in eight minutes later he was greeted with the smell of garlic bread and the broiled asparagus mixture. Wayne looked at his watch.” Gloria picked up the tray with the asparagus mixture and put it in the oven. Virginia. “After drinking all the wine I’m planning to consume this evening? Are you kidding? I can question her tomorrow.
Gloria started the coffeepot and sat on the chaise lounge in her robe watching his easy rhythmic swimming. and that conversation that we’re going to have. and he’s carrying a big gun. Wayne was still sleeping the next morning as Henry swam his laps.’s Steakhouse on Palm Canyon Drive. like when you were studying the tram car when we came down the mountain the other day. good conversation with the man that I love. Deal?” “You’ve got a deal. “Did you think any more about who did it during your swim?” Gloria asked him as he took the first sip of the hot coffee. I’m getting to know you pretty well sometimes when you get into that concentrating work mode it’s a real turn on. we’re going to L. Can we have a quiet dinner tonight? I’d like to go somewhere away from cell phones. there’s less need to carry it. I didn’t mean it that way. He smiled at her.” “Henry. Todd Gregory is still out there somewhere.” “Henry.” “I’d like to do that soon. I was thinking about you. Tonight I want it to be you and I and no outside influences. I’ve been trying to be very discrete about carrying it. I know that it is a tool for your job. “Where are we going tonight?” Henry stood up and put his arms around Gloria. After dinner Wayne called Elliot on her cell phone and told her he was crashing at Henry and Gloria’s house. his daughter. I think that as long as you’re looking into this murder you should be armed. it’s like you’re working. housemates and Glocks?” “I’ll make reservations when the restaurant opens. She had a cup of coffee waiting for him when he climbed out of the pool. Other times you’re distracted and you’re not really yourself.” “I’m sorry. have you heard of it?” “No.” Gloria stood up and kissed Henry on top of his head. he was glad that he didn’t have to go through it again.” “No. “No. Tonight. 107 . We’ll have a quiet evening. just like at the zoo the other day.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery said he had enjoyed all of the training. When Henry overheard him say that. That call might be a little more difficult and he wasn’t looking forward to it. but I’m looking forward to good food but more important. he smiled.” With her arm around Henry she walked with him through the French doors into his bedroom. it’s just that when you strap that thing on. just the two of us and I’ll leave the weapon at home. me. who didn’t know how serious he was about Gloria yet. Maybe now that Cherie Gregory has been locked up. Gloria had been accepted by his friends and was completely integrated into his life.G. You don’t seem as relaxed and loving when you’re armed. “Thank you for looking out for me. He knew that the only call that he still needed to make was to Claire. it makes me feel good.
They had more coffee. After a mile or so they entered the National Park and paid the nominal entrance fee. This time Henry had the bagels and lox with capers that he used to get all the time. with their arms raised as though they were being held up in this outlaw country.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery Wayne was gone when they walked out into the kitchen. Henry had been there a few times before. were everywhere. Henry grabbed a brimmed sun hat from the closet near the front door and asked Gloria if she had brought anything to keep the sun off her head. He drove down Avenida Caballeros to Tahquitz Canyon. she said she had already heard all about Gloria from Wayne. He got on the Interstate with its busy truck traffic eastbound towards Arizona. which Millie kept in generous supply. Suddenly.000 foot level the human like forms of the Joshua trees. at the 3. Henry had decided not to take Gloria’s truck and they left it in the garage. Henry saw it the other way. He couldn’t wait to see Gloria’s reaction. Gloria was amazed at the resilient beauty of the Joshua tree and its dead leaf covered trunk as they lifted their multiple arms towards the heavens. After fortifying themselves. she said it was bleak and drab with nothing there. He made the right on the broad four lane. it must have been a late night for him. There were two ways to get into the park. Gloria opted for the healthy omelet made with Eggbeaters. Claire hadn’t liked the park. Millie. once when Claire came out to Palm Springs for a visit. They were both dressed in shorts and loose shirts and lightweight hiking boots. She told Henry they looked like apostles praying to the gods and all they needed were robes to make the picture complete. I’ll call you later.” Charles wasn’t up yet. They had to drive for quite a while and after nearly forty-five minutes he got off the highway at Cottonwood Spring Road. “Thanks. Henry’s regular waitress greeted both of them like old friends. They continued their drive and the road started winding as it climbed up. That way they could loop through the park and come out on the northern side and take Highway 62 back to Palm Springs through Twentynine Palms and Yucca Valley. Wayne. The dry erase board on the refrigerator that Henry and Charles used to write messages to one another read simply. just desert. She said she had a baseball cap and went back to the bedroom to get it from the bag that she had not completely unpacked. Henry decided to take the southern entrance and headed to Interstate 10 on Vista Chino. he saw the creosote bushes and the cholla cactus gardens and was awed by the way that they thrived in the harsh environment. they set off for Joshua Tree National Park. palm tree lined street and he pulled into the parking lot at Sherman’s Deli and Bakery. 108 .
Suddenly they were in the oasis. Henry told the hikers that they had quite a hike ahead of them but that it was worth the trip. Nothing escaped her lens. They got back into the car and drove a short distance to the Cottonwood Springs Visitor’s Center. Gloria gasped. Henry looked around for the bighorn sheep that frequented the oasis. Joshua trees. They walked and walked and at every ridge they expected to see the oasis. He was glad that she liked this surreal area. he smiled again and thought this area looked more like Mars than Wisconsin. he had seen them on a previous hike but they weren’t there today. who were basking in the sun like starlets around a Hollywood swimming pool. Yuccas. They slathered some sunscreen on their exposed skin.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery They rounded another turn and the scenery was spectacular. Gloria started counting the trees and stopped when she was close to one hundred. Certainly there was nothing near Eagle River that remotely resembled it. One scampered across the trail nearly running across Gloria’s foot. neither of which was visible. put their hats on and followed the markers to set off for the Lost Palms Oasis. She took more pictures and when her film ran out they reluctantly turned around and hiked back out. Cholla cactus. loaded with their water bottles and some snack bars and put his arms through the straps. The sandy trail wound through the desert and soon it appeared to them as though they were miles from civilization and far from the visitor’s center and car. Henry smiled as he watched Gloria clamber about. Gloria said she felt like one of the lizards and stretched out her legs. They drank more of their water while they sat together on a large rock and each of them ate a snack bar. took off her cap. who gave a delighted giggle. with cracks and fissures the size that a person could squeeze through came into view. She insisted that Henry stop the car and she pulled her small camera out of her purse and walked around taking pictures for the next twenty minutes. shook her hair and turned her face towards the sun. and the rusty rocks that looked as though they were a child’s set of giant marbles piled into impossibly high stacks. but a large boot print in the sand showed there was water not too far under the surface. They parked there. Clusters and clusters of tall palms were rooted in the sandy bottom. the man said they didn’t have too much farther to go. Large red boulders. There weren’t any pools of water this time of the year. The lizards. They didn’t meet any people hiking to the oasis until they were nearly back at the parking lot. 109 . and Henry took the Glock’s holster off and put it in the trunk. he was very attached to it himself and always enjoyed coming here. were everywhere. From the trunk he picked up his small day pack. They met two other hikers coming back after they passed the third mile post. but they only saw more ridges.
Gloria asked if they could come back soon. 110 . Gloria agreed and soon they were back in the air conditioned building looking at the pictures in the Center’s display of what they had just seen in the Oasis and agreed that while the photographs were well done. packaged food.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery Back at the car they opened all four doors. and a blast of hot air came out to greet them. she was looking at the park’s brochure they received at the entrance station and saw several more short hikes she would like to make. at least it wasn’t pre-cooked. right on the highway and they took a chance. they didn’t do the real thing justice. It was obvious that this town was the gateway of the Marine base where thousands of nineteen year old kids practiced their craft and came into town for a fixing of junk food afterwards. The place was filled with rock climbers finishing their lunch and Henry and Gloria didn’t feel at all out of place in their dusty boots and sweaty clothes as they ordered a couple of tall lemonades. both of them were wet with perspiration and Henry suggested they go back over to the Visitor’s Center to refill their water bottles. Their options for meals in the town of Twentynine Palms looked to be limited to every brand of fast food place imaginable. Gloria spotted the Jubilee Café. They sat down on the edge of the seat. Henry said he was glad she liked the place as much as he did. he was happy to come back here with her at any time. They continued on the main road through the park and drove out towards State Highway 62 in search of lunch.
working the guys in the casinos for a few extra tips and doesn’t understand her son.” Henry finished his sandwich as well. that’s what we hope for I guess. but I think it was the hike that makes it better. Right now. I was thinking a similar sort of thing as we came down that hill before we turned onto the highway. I wonder if they were given a better chance what kind of child they might have raised. “You know. “You know. I picture Dos as a macho guy who can only relate to his son on a gunnery range. She told me if I was outside too long I would turn into a little pickaninny. “It’s amazing what people used to just say and they got away with it. that’s one of my secrets. Dos was more the fast food kind of guy. With her hat hair.” “As parents. I’m glad you like them.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery Chapter 14 The waitress brought them their sandwiches as she refilled their lemonades.” Henry looked across at Gloria. I get freckles before I get tan. Todd actually sounds like a nice kid. I have a really hard time with that. sitting here in Twentynine Palms I can’t help but think about Dos and Cherie Gregory. it looks as though all the evidence points to either Todd or Cherie as the murderer. I hope I get to meet him some day under more pleasant circumstances. “Yeah. 111 . But you know. You know. I doubt that he would have taken his son here.” “It is good. this is either the best lemonade I have ever had or it just really hits the spot after that hike. rumpled shirt. “I can’t help but wonder if Dos Gregory ever ate here. Cherie is a tart. especially coming from my mother. “Do you really think he did it Henry?” Gloria asked. “Exactly. you got some sun out there. Didn’t it hurt your feelings?” “Of course it did. Did Dos ever drive this road?” Gloria stopped chewing long enough to talk with Henry.” “You mean what kinds of parents raise a killer?” Gloria finished her sandwich and licked a little mayo off her fingers before using her napkin.” Gloria answered. I’ve asked Wayne to see if she left the casino that night. “From what I hear. pardon the expression.” Henry said in between bites. That long hike had made them both hungry. you have a couple of freckles around your nose that I never noticed before.” Gloria smiled at the recollection. my mother used to hate my freckles and always told me to stay out of the sun. You know. I think she has the motive. she was a good woman and raised us all to be good people. You know. “Do you suppose he ever brought Todd here for lunch?” Henry took another drink of the lemonade. “Funny. dusty shorts and freckles he thought she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
she was worried that Henry was going to get hurt again. The same strip malls were along the side of the road. Henry suddenly pulled off the highway and stopped the car on the sandy shoulder. open topped Jeep with a light bar parked in front of a room at the far end of the motel.” “Are you ready to go home? I’m dusty and could sure use a dip in the pool. Henry was a very smooth driver and didn’t make these sudden movements. He parked near the office. You know the thing that still puzzles me is that trip that Todd and Terrance took to Las Vegas. “Are you sure? We were driving kind of fast. The town of Twentynine Palms merged seamlessly with the town of Joshua Tree which after another mile or two became Yucca Valley. I saw the motel but didn’t see a Jeep.” Gloria folded her napkin on the table and pushed back her chair. I’m not sure.” Henry said. “Wait here. raising another dust cloud in the desert sand. “First let me see if that is Todd’s car. Can you push the trunk button. I’d like to know what happened during those two days. don’t do anything foolish please. If he leaves. “Not to worry. the only way that they knew they were in a different town was the names of businesses changed as they headed back. They got back in the car and turned back onto Twentynine Palms Highway leaving some of the desert’s dust behind in a little whirl that left a grey gritty coat on everything. what are you going to do?” Gloria asked.” Henry swung the car into the parking lot of a small run down motel.” There was no traffic and Henry made a quick turn on the highway. Just outside of Morongo Valley.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery maybe she took a long break and went to the tramway. Let’s go home.” “Henry. “No.” Gloria turned around in her seat to spot the car but didn’t see anything. but I want to see if that’s his.” Henry picked up the check and went to the cash register at the front of the little restaurant to pay for their meal. there was a black. “It’s probably nothing. “If that’s him.” Henry got out of the car. we’ll follow him.” Gloria asked as he closed the door. I’m going to talk to the manager. but I saw a black car back there. which was no more than a dry cleaners and a gas station. “Todd Gregory’s Jeep is parked at a motel back at that intersection. then we’ll call the police on my cell phone and wait here. “The pool sounds really good.” 112 . “What’s the matter honey?” Gloria wasn’t used to this sudden stop. I want to get the Glock just in case.
“Skip the room. “Yep. “You’re sure no room?” The grinning man said.” The twenties disappeared very quickly and a greasy worn out guest book appeared in their place. “Is that his car?” Asked Gloria as he got back into the Mercury. A man of indistinguishable origin. Henry smiled a simple but effective alias for someone with two first names he thought.” Henry walked out of the office.” Gloria reluctantly reached for the small button that unlatched the trunk lid. you would think if he was hiding something he’d have thought of a better alias. reaching into his pocket. Henry reached into the trunk. 113 . no thanks.” “Sorry. forty dollars.” Henry reached for the glove compartment. the remains of an unidentifiable lunch that obviously included a lot of green herbs were between his teeth. you want a room for a couple of hours?” He leered over Henry’s shoulder at Gloria who was waiting in the car. He gave Henry a knowing grin. “That’s him. he checked in three days ago as Gregory Todd. He turned it on and waited for a signal before dialing. who had not shaved in a few days. we are not too busy today. “For you sir. let me have a look at the guest book. thanks. Not very original. clipped the Glock to his belt behind his back under his shirt and closed the lid. Do you think now that he didn’t do it?” Gloria asked. The hike to Los Palms Oasis had left him dusty and sweaty. “My cell phone is in the glove compartment. Henry laid two twenties on the counter.” Henry pushed the guest book back towards the man. you could sign the guest book and then see if his name there. It disappeared as well. I want to call Wayne and tell him to get some squad cars here right away. “No. and I think that’s his Jeep out there. “I’m sure. My wife and I thought we would surprise him. he doesn’t know we’re in town. I’m looking for my son. we’ll go over and say hello. “Good afternoon sir.” Henry held out his hand as Gloria laid the cell phone in it. sir. This encounter with the greasy little motel owner had left him feeling dirty and he was going to shower before jumping into his pool. We don’t give out the names of guests. Maybe if you took a room for a few hours. He winked at Gloria as he walked into the manager’s office.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “Henry that’s exactly what I’m worried about. “What do you need? I’ll get it for you. he’s on leave from the base. “How much is a room for a few hours?” Henry asked. was standing at the counter as Henry pushed open the dusty glass door.” He ogled Gloria in the car again. Above two entries for John Smith was a Gregory Todd.” He grinned at Henry. probably Middle Eastern.
There’s no police department in any of those towns up there. Either Todd was in the room or he had left the TV on to confuse someone. I’m going to go and listen at the door to see if I can hear anyone inside. he knocked on the door. See you in a bit. He heard the sound of a television inside. 114 . I’m a friend of your mom’s. the room in front of it showed no signs of life. “What did he say?” Gloria asked. “Yeah. “Ok Henry. but even with lights and siren it will take me a half hour to get there. “Here. I promise.” Henry was keeping an eye on the Jeep. Just keep an eye on him. Are you coming up as well?” Henry looked over at Gloria. he didn’t think so. Henry listened at the door which had once been painted a bright red but the desert sun had faded to an ugly pink. Can I come in?” Henry reached his hand around his back and put it on the Glock under his shirt. that was Todd’s car alright.” Wayne was nervous about what his friend would do. they were effective in obscuring his view into the room.” Henry handed the phone back to Gloria. 1BUF486.” Henry folded his phone shut. can you hear me?” Henry knew that out here in the desert the coverage wasn’t real good.” Wayne cautioned him. my name is Henry. Just then he heard the toilet flush and instinctively and without hesitating. He wondered if Wayne would consider this as doing something stupid. I’ll call them and get them rolling. he was just going to listen at the door. He may be gone and have abandoned his car here. it sounded as though it was tuned to a game show. call me back right away but keep your distance when you follow him. where are you?” “We’re about three miles outside of Morongo Valley at a little place called the Shepard Creek Motel on Twentynine Palms Highway. ok? If he leaves. We just spotted Todd Gregory’s Jeep parked outside one of the rooms and he is checked in as Gregory Todd. As he neared the room. no problem. “He’s on his way and so is the Sheriff. Henry looked at the license plate. Just hit redial if he comes out and let Wayne know. stay put. ” He kissed her on the lips and before she could protest he was walking along the parking lot past the other rooms to the one with the Jeep parked in front.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “Wayne. “Todd. in the meantime. Henry barely. It might take a little while. Just watch him. “Who is it?” A male voice from inside asked. The drapes were drawn across the picture window. “Got it. its Henry. “Yeah. the Sheriff handles routine patrol. and there were squeals of delight followed by applause. She asked me to make sure that you are alright. I’m on my way. don’t do anything stupid. you hold on to this. “You a cop?” The voice had moved closer and it was now right on the other side of the door. “Yes. I won’t do anything stupid.
“Put down the gun Todd. a night stand and the television mounted on a wall bracket. Can you put it down?” Todd walked from the door over to the small table in front of the window. The door slowly opened a crack. and why does she care how I am?” “She’s fine Todd. I’m sorry she’s so worried about me. ok?” Henry slowly pushed the door open. It was a typical small hotel room. can I come in?” Henry switched the safety on the gun off but kept it in the holster and kept his hand on it. black t-shirt and his hair was in one of those new styles that took a lot of work but looked as though he had just woken up. you’re not a cop right?” Todd was standing at the other end of the room. it seemed oddly out of place in the desert. I want to see both of your hands. but Henry could tell he was unsure of this whole situation. Don’t do anything crazy. Put your other hand on the bed.45 automatic in his right hand at his side. let’s talk. wearing black jeans. can I turn the TV down? I want to talk with you for a few minutes. Hey.” Todd Gregory was very calm and looked right at Henry with his pale blue eyes. it’s hot out here. closed it and stood with his back against it. Henry reached over and turned the TV off. I’m coming in.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “No.” “Turn it down. turn it off. The closet had no doors and some of Todd’s clothes were hung neatly on hangers. There was a mass produced painting of a New England snow scene above the bed. I tried to call her last night. but she wasn’t home. its frame was screwed to the wall as though someone would really want it bad enough to steal it. He sat down in the threadbare chair and laid the gun on the table in front of him. The room was dim except for the light of the television. I feel better holding it. Todd walked past him over to the door. Your mom is very worried about you and asked for my help. “Ok. just come in and sit down over on the edge of the bed. trying vainly to keep back the desert heat. He held the . He put his hands on the bed next to his thighs and realized that he just placed himself in a precarious position. What do you want to talk about?” Todd was still calm. “Yeah. The door at the back of the room obviously led to the bathroom. it’s kind of hard for me to talk to you when you have that gun in your hand. at the back an air conditioner was running on high.” “She just wants to make sure that you’re safe Todd. He folded his hands together next to the weapon and looked straight at Henry. “Todd. Henry walked in with his hand still on his Glock in its holster and sat down on the edge of the bed.” “No. I don’t care. “Todd. a king sized bed. Henry flicked the safety switch back on and took his hand slowly off the Glock. how is my mother. “My mom is worried about me? I thought she hated me. a table and one chair against the window. I’m not a cop. 115 . she is worried sick about you.” Henry breathed a little easier.
Todd looked right at Henry.” “Todd. “Disappointed? No not at all. Then he asked me where he could buy a gun. “He said he didn’t want to wait the waiting period and go through the background check that the stores require. she was probably angry when she said that. he let her down and didn’t always treat her with the respect that she deserved. but he wanted to go to a show. I told him there were a couple of gun stores in the Valley. I wanted to do anything so that he would like me.” Henry thought this was his chance to find out what happened in Las Vegas. She wanted me to be more like my father. he wanted one much earlier 116 . tough. “Terrance was the first man that was ever nice to me and accepted me for who I am.” “No. I brought my gun into work. She is very disappointed in me. When he asked about me going to the pistol range. he felt that he could get him out of this crummy little room alive. I didn’t. taught me how to do a good job at the tram station and even encouraged me with my acting.” Todd’s tears were flowing down his cheek now. “She didn’t mean that Todd. He supported me.” Todd shook his head. I think she’s glad that you’re not more like your father. he wasn’t so sure the police would do the same. I know that she is very disappointed in me.” “Did you have a crush on him?” Henry looked right at Todd whose eyes were tearing up.” “Why did he want to go to a gun show instead of a dealer?” Henry thought he knew the answer but wanted to hear it from Todd. I looked through the magazine at home and the next gun show at the Riverside County Fairgrounds was eight months away. “Did she call you that because something happened between you and Terrance Quinn?” At the mention of Terrance’s name.” Todd hung his head on his chest. “Did you show him the ad from the back of the magazine?” “No. you know. you don’t understand. I was worried about getting into trouble but he was so nice and told me nobody would find out if I brought it in. He said he didn’t want to wait.” Henry wanted to keep Todd talking.” Todd looked at Henry. She told me I was a queer. she’s going to be very relieved that you’re ok. “What do you know about that?” “That’s why you ran isn’t it Todd? Something happened while the two of you were in Las Vegas? Why don’t you tell me? You’ll feel better. he was very dedicated and very good at his job. I loved working for him. she was mad at me. his nose was running and he wiped it on the back of his hand. like a marine.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “I’m really sorry about that. so I told him he had to wait. she loves you very much. I was the biggest disappointment in her life. “I… I… I guess so. “No. She told me that second only to my father. She doesn’t love me at all.
I helped him pick out a nice . We went to dinner and he told me all about his life and his partner Robert and how ill he was.” Todd looked up at Henry. Henry thought he heard sirens in the distance. people that want to kill themselves usually find a way of doing it.” “How did he do it Todd? There was no gun or marks that he had fired one. it was physically impossible. It was a really good deal and a beautiful weapon. he said something about that it was the only way that Robert could live. Terrance told me he that while he never thought about the perfect murder. He had it all figured out.38 police special. he told me he wanted to kill himself. As soon as I opened the door of the tram and saw him lying there I knew that he hadn’t been making it up. Then it was too late to drive back that day and we got a room for the night. “He got one of the pickup sticks that we use to pick up garbage around the Tram Stations and put the gun in it. Please don’t tell Robert. he hoped that didn’t change the mood that Todd was in.” “Todd. “We drove to the show.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery already but didn’t know how to go about it. I was shocked when he was lying there on the floor with that bullet hole in his head. “We were talking during trash pickup rounds one day about the perfect crime. “He couldn’t have done it if I hadn’t gone with him to buy the gun. I just didn’t believe that he would ever do it. he had figured out the perfect way to commit suicide and make it look like murder. I told him that there were a lot of gun shows in Las Vegas and he asked if I would go there with him on our days off. he used the override key to keep the tram going and opened the door. how could this be your fault.” Henry tried to soothe him but Todd was obviously distraught. leaned out and pulled the trigger with a string. We slept together that night. he thought things were going pretty well right now.” Todd was sobbing at this point. but I swear nothing happened. Then on the way down.” “How do you know all this?” Henry asked.” “Wait a minute Todd. What happened?” Henry asked quietly. “Then that night when the tram came down and I opened the door. I was very disappointed because I love Terrance as much as Robert does.” “It was simple. Did Terrance Quinn shoot himself?” Henry couldn’t believe how this happened. how to murder someone and get away with it. It’s all my fault. you can’t blame yourself. At that point I kind of knew that there was no future for him and me because he loved Robert very much. 117 .” Todd wiped his nose on the back of his hand again. “You see he couldn’t have done that without my help in buying the gun.” “So you went. “When we were driving back from Las Vegas. and he held me.” He said in between sobs.
Your mother doesn’t hate you at all. She is very concerned about you and wants to see you safe. she hates me.” Todd heard the sirens as well and looked right at Henry through his tears. but it was too late. as the . but I called them to ask them to bring you home to your mom in one piece.” He said unconvincingly as a Sheriff’s car rolled to a stop its lights still flashing and its siren dying slower than the young boy in the cheap motel room. She doesn’t care about me. “I’m not. And you called the cops on me when I trusted you. I’m ok. “I’m ok.” He stood up from the chair and held his hand over the gun right in front of him. 118 .” Todd’s eyes flashed with anger as he closed his hand around the gun and picked it up.45 roared to life and the back of Todd Gregory’s skull was splattered against the drapes and ceiling as he dropped to the worn out carpet like a bag of sand.” “It’s all my fault.” Todd said as in one quick motion he put the gun under his chin and pulled the trigger.” “No. I let my father down because I didn’t like sports and wasn’t macho like him. “I thought you said you weren’t a cop.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “I’ve disappointed everyone. and Robert lost his partner because of me. I don’t believe you. “NOOOO!” Henry screamed. “Put the gun down Todd. My mother says I’m a queer and she hates me. Henry thought it looked as though Todd was going to point the gun at him and he reached around his back and pulled the Glock from its holster and pointed it at Todd. let’s not do anything stupid. she asked me to find you for her. Smoke from the gun and the stench of cordite filled the room as Henry stumbled over to the door and opened it to the unrelenting but welcoming heat outside as Gloria came running across the parking lot and threw her arms around him.
two nights later.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery Chapter 15 It was two nights later that Henry and Gloria finally went to dinner at L. Wayne came to a stop between the deputy’s car and Henry and waved his arms to let the deputy know everything was ok as Henry and Gloria laid spread eagled on the dusty parking lot pavement. “I’ll drink to that. and was yelling at Henry to drop his weapon and lay flat on the ground. the grime from the motel. they were finally sitting at L. off of his body. The deputy had drawn his gun on Henry and Gloria.” Henry lifted his glass and touched it to Gloria’s.’s Steakhouse on Palm Canyon.G. At the motel that afternoon two days ago. Henry’s Glock was impounded by the crime scene investigators and after they were satisfied that he had not fired it. a perfect compliment for Gloria’s dress. lathering and washing the Joshua Tree dust. sensual. and in Henry’s opinion. she had spruced it up with a brightly colored necklace. He dropped Gloria off at home and without going inside or changing his clothes drove to the Palm Springs police station where they recorded a formal statement. They sat in a booth in the back of the restaurant where it was quiet and intimate. Gloria was wearing the black dress she had worn to the funeral but it looked much more festive tonight. Wayne Johnson rolled up moments after the first sheriff’s deputy. They had cancelled their reservation for dinner when they got home the night that they came back from Morongo Valley. and the remnants of Todd Gregory.’s for the dinner that he had promised her. the weapon was returned to him. She let him be and figured she could bring it up later. Before he ate he stood under a hot and steamy shower for thirty minutes. and remade it earlier today. He was interviewed on the scene at the crummy little motel for a couple of hours. “Where are you honey?” Gloria brought him back to tonight. Henry swirled his wine in his glass and was momentarily lost in thought.” Gloria repeated. it was black with plumerias and pineapples. but she could see from the look on his face that he was shook up about Todd’s violent suicide. Henry finally returned to his house on Mel after dinner time. 119 . who still had him in her embrace. Now. She was going to tell him that he scared her half to death when he went into the motel room. and relaxed for the first time since Todd’s horrible death. As Erik had predicted she now looked elegant. Henry had on his nicest Hilo Hattie Hawaiian shirt.G. Here’s to us. “Here’s to us. Gloria and Charles had already eaten but she made him a special plate and saved it for when he returned. Then he and Gloria drove home in relative silence.
I remember. That made the tram car swing on the cable and the door slammed shut as a result. I still don’t understand one thing. They tried it three times yesterday and it worked perfectly every time. “Exactly. “I remember they weren’t bending over.” “That just shows you. 120 . Quinn must have tested that as well. Quinn rigged it up so that he held the gun with the grabber stick outside of the tram door in one hand.” “Anyway. He leaned out the door. fired the gun. the guys with the shorts and the orange vests?” “Right. and I had a hard time with that. Quinn wanted to show off to someone how clever he was and he just couldn’t keep his mouth shut. we would have never been able to solve it. “How come the tram door was closed when the gondola came to the Valley Station?” “Good question. “Henry. it would still be considered a murder. After the waiter left. the force of it knocked him backwards onto the garbage bags. but I don’t remember what kind of tool they were using. there is no perfect crime.” Henry admitted. it’s pretty rugged and rocky in there. They’ll be busy for a few days then they’ll give up. this is why. Do you remember the crew that we walked past when we went to the top of the tram that was picking up trash?” “Sure. George Margolis and Wayne tested this out yesterday.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery They took a sip of their wine and Gloria set her glass down. Then with the other he pulled the string he had tied around the trigger. If he hadn’t been vain and bragged to Todd as to how to commit the perfect suicide.” “You remember when you were trying to get into the killer’s head Henry. to try and figure out what happened?” Gloria asked. and the impact of the bullet knocked him backwards into the tram with the gun and grabber stick ending up in the canyon below. “Yeah. and Todd Gregory would probably have been the prime suspect. remember they were using those pick up sticks with the trigger handles so that they don’t have to bend over?” Henry took another sip of wine. Gloria asked. When Terrance was hit by the bullet. it just might have worked. “Well.” Gloria explained.” “Why did he take the kid into his confidence? If he hadn’t told him. If he had kept quiet.” Henry looked up as the waiter came over and they gave him their order. I don’t know if they’ll find either the gun or the grabber. Using the maintenance override key in the gondola he was able to open the car door without the tram stopping. How did Terrance Quinn manage to shoot himself and not have any traces of gun powder on his hand?” “It was quite ingenuous actually.” “And that’s why Wayne sent the Search and Rescue crew into the canyon yesterday?” Gloria asked. The killer and victim are the same person.
The fact is that Quinn ran out of time. no matter if he is attracted to men or women. I’d be willing to bet any money that she would like to have him back today. I must admit that as I think about it now. this is the most bizarre thing I have ever been involved with and I want you to know that you scared me to death when you went into that motel room that afternoon. “Wayne said that as calm as she was the night she got the news. “Henry. When they told her that Todd committed suicide. I’ve never experienced that before and I hope I never experience it again. three people are dead and it is very sad and shouldn’t have to be this way. Then. “You’re right. as a mom.” Gloria took another sip of her wine.” Gloria was indignant at the inequality of the process that stingy employers and insurance companies put in place. she showed no emotion at all. “I didn’t get a chance to tell you. 121 . I don’t even remember running to you afterwards.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “You’re right. If Terrance Quinn had health coverage from his company that paid for Robert’s medicine.” Henry reached over and drank the rest of his wine as well and reached for the bottle from the wine cooler to refill both of their glasses. you love your children no matter what. Wayne went by and picked it up and the police have the gun now. dropping to the ground spread eagled when that deputy rolled up is a little funny. All you want for them is to be happy in their lives.” Gloria shook her head sadly. the last I heard she was in custody the night that Wayne was at our house. She found the claim ticket from the shop in her bookcase. then Robert would probably still be alive today. they really had no reason to hold her. I wish Cherie Gregory had realized that a lot earlier. “And if Cherie Gregory had been tolerant of her son’s sexual orientation. and Terrance would not have had to go to these extremes to get Robert the payout from his life insurance. it seems that she forgot that she asked one of her boyfriends to drop her gun off for repair at a gun shop here in town. “Speaking of Cherie Gregory. I talked with Wayne this afternoon.” Gloria finished her wine. You know. Robert was so sick that all the money in the world could not have saved him. when I heard the gunshot. she had shrugged off the sadness. he wouldn’t have killed himself either. I almost fainted.” Henry said. you know. now it was the opposite and she was pretty distraught over Todd’s death. when she spoke again.” Henry explained. She called Wayne early this morning. They let her go the night of Todd’s death.” Henry took a small sip of his ice water before continuing. Apparently it was in the shop the entire time during the killings and she’ll be able to get it back after registering it. He said she was blubbering on about wanting him back and she was going to keep his room exactly as it was. “Let me tell you something.
” Henry looked at Gloria and reached across the table and held her hand. will you marry me?” Henry said as the waiter set their steaks down in front of them. “You can ask me anything you want Henry Wright. “Gloria McCann. “Let’s put all this death and prejudice behind us and move on with our lives Henry. But in other ways it has been absolutely wonderful.” Gloria said squeezing his hand. I have something I need to ask you. this has been a strange time alright.” Gloria reached over and held his other hand as well. “I’d like that.” Henry said after he put down his wine.Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery “Yeah. 122 .
He is a member of the California Writer’s Club and the Mystery Writers of America. His essays have been published in the local newspaper. have four daughters and live in the Sierra Nevada foothill town of Tuolumne when not vacationing in Palm Spring . Berlynn. Since then he has written technical papers related to the function of distributed databases and numerous short stories. pen name for Bert Simonis.Copyright 2004. Albert Simon Albert Simon. has been writing most of his life. creating and illustrating his first book in his native Dutch at the age of seven. but he finally found his voice in the Henry Wright Mystery series that he is now producing. Bert and his wife.
Mystery on the Tramway: A Henry Wright Mystery 124 .
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