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