April 6, 2011 Leave a comment
It’s the summer of 1949 and Steve “Snap” Malek has been assigned by his editors to cover the Chicago Railroad Fair. For three months this sprawling and lavish event will draw visitors to the showcase on the city’s beautiful Lakefront. Malek, used to getting his headlines covering the gritty Police Headquarters, sees this as the first step in being put out to pasture. Deciding that a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do, he accepts the assignment, grumbling all the while.
However, violence has a way of finding the intrepid Snap Malek, even in this least likely of locales. Striking indiscriminately, a killer bearing a grudge against railroads in general, threatens to shut down the highly publicized and well-attended national exposition with a series of bizarre murders.
Before this reign of terror ends, famed filmmaker Walt Disney enters the scene with a theory about the killer, and Malek himself, bloodied and wounded, becomes a target of the madman’s wrath.
He had laid the last of the iron bars in place across the rails, making sure their positioning would cause the ancient and relatively lightweight locomotive to derail and crash, taking with it the open-side excursion coaches crowded with fairgoers. He checked his watch again: twenty minutes until the next train came by, and it always ran on schedule.
This being the darkest stretch along the line, the lethal bars on the track wouldn’t be seen by some chance passerby, not that people walked in this remote area of the fairgrounds anyway.
His work done, he stepped back into a cluster of bushes and knelt to wait, feeling the bulge in his hip pocket. He felt comforted to have it there, although it seemed beyond the realm of possibility it would be needed. No, this would be simple and efficient, the final act in his crusade.
It is almost over now, Papa. Just a few more minutes…
He heard something–footsteps? No, probably just leaves on a tree along the tracks rustling in the breezes wafting off Lake Michigan on the August night. There they came again, louder this time. Definitely footsteps! Perhaps one of the janitorial crew. They seemed very good about picking up rubbish. Whoever it was would have moved on long before the train came along.
He saw the beam of light before he saw the figure. A silhouetted man carrying a flashlight walked slowly along the tracks, playing the light back and forth, back and forth, until its yellow halo rested upon the iron bars. The interloper with the flashlight squatted down to study the bars, then began picking them up and tossing them off the tracks.
He rose from his crouch in the bushes and wrapped his hand around the pistol in his jacket pocket. He walked toward the man, whom he now recognized, and called to him by name, pulling the weapon out. So now, one more must die.