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