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The Eagle Chronicles 9: The Real Eagle

Title: The Real Eagle
Series: The Eagle Chronicles
Word Count 1365
Summary Steven learns that someone is copying his methods
Author's Note Another short story used to fill up space in Steven's timeline written when I was in college. I even used some friends' last names!



9. The Real Eagle


September 1941

Steven Taylor sat eating breakfast with his leg propped up on a chair. He had been shot while on his last job three weeks ago and was well on the way to recovery. When breakfast was done, he picked up a copy of The New York Times that was lying on the table. He glanced briefly at the same old stuff--politics and economics-- and breezed through the even more boring society pages. He then looked through it a second time to see if he had missed anything, and, there in the middle in bold print: EAGLE STEALS MILLION DOLLAR DIAMOND! He read on.

~~The famous Rajah Diamond was stolen last night from its display in the Museum of Natural History. Detective Johnson of the New York Police Department has been placed in charge of the case. He surmises that it is the work of the notorious Eagle as two feathers, the thief's trademark, were found at the scene.~~

The article went on to explain how Richard Johnson thought the Eagle made away with the jewel.

Steven was furious. "Rick, my boy, you should know me well enough by now." That particular situation did not irritate him as much as the idea of someone imitating something that took him years to perfect. He made his living into an art, and someone had the nerve to copy his masterpiece. No one would do that to DaVinci--at least not when he was alive.

He hobbled over to the desk and pulled out a sheet of paper and began to write a letter to the Times editorial page. The first half of the letter was to Rick Johnson, telling him that the Eagle had nothing to do with the theft, and that once he brought in the one who did it, he would never pull a job in New York as long as Johnson was on the force. The second half was a challenge directed at the perpetrator saying that he could discover his identity first. He signed it and placed it in the mail, wondering how foolish it was.

******************************************************************

Two days later, Richard Johnson was called into his superior's office He knocked on the door. "Come in." Rick slowly opened the door. "Did you see the editorial page in the Times this morning, Johnson? One letter in particular is addressed to you." He showed the paper to Johnson. "This guy must be sick in the head."

"No, sir. He just trusts me. He doesn't want to be blamed for something he didn't do. If you had been wrongly accused of a crime, wouldn't you want to clear yourself? We'd be the fools if that turns out to be the case. Is that all, sir?"

"Yes. Just don't do anything without consulting me on this." Rick nodded and left

*****************************************************************

Steven, in the course of his "research", narrowed down the list of suspects to one man. He knew that he frequented a certain bar so he went there in the hopes of finding him. He ordered a beer and asked the bartender, "Where can I find Joe McGrory?"

Before the bartender could answer, there was a loud shout from a corner table. "More Guinness!"

Steven looked questioningly at the bartender who nodded. Steven picked up his beer and the Guinness and walked over to the table. McGrory was already drunk. "Sit down and celebrate with me, lad."

"What are we celebrating?

"I've just come into some money," he said with a wink. Knowing crooks and petty thieves frequented the bar; there was no question as to how he came by his money. "Then I read this challenge in the paper. Some upstart claims 'e can find out who pulled the job before I can find out who 'e is."

"You don't think he can do it? I've heard the Eagle is resourceful and knows practically every thief in New York."

"Nah, 'e can't. 'E's been out of the city too long. 'Sides, 'e was wounded last time out."

Steven finished the last dregs of his mug. "I have to be going now."

"You're a fine listener, lad."

After Steven left, Joe McGrory reached into his pocket for his wallet and out fell two feathers. He had been found.

******************************************************************

Rick Johnson received a note in the mail. He read it with a shocked smile.
~~Don't think I normally do this. I'm just trying to clear my name of a particular crime. The perpetrator is one Joseph McGrory. I'm not sure where he's keeping the diamond, but if you follow him, he'll lead you to it. I'll keep my promise and will never again pull a job in New York while you're on the force.~~

Rick read the note a second time then went to report to his superior. Rick showed him the note and asked to go pick up McGrory. He got the go-ahead, a warrant, and two officers to accompany him.

****************************************************************************

After Steven saw the boy deliver the note, he turned and hailed a taxi. He had followed McGrory home after he left the bar and planned to confront him. He had the taxi drop him off a few blocks away and he walked the rest of the way.

He knocked on the door. "'Old on." McGrory opened the door. "'Ello, lad. I'm glad you came by. Would you like a drink?"

"This isn't a social call, McGrory. I'm here to follow up on my message." McGrory was dumfounded. "Yes, I'm the one who left the feathers," continued Steven. "I'm the person you imitated. Quite well, I must admit."

"What've you come for? The diamond?" He backed up towards the bureau.

"Maybe. Mostly to turn you in. I want you to write a full confession."

"Is that all?"

"Just sit down and write."

"What do you want me to say?" He was sitting with his back to Steven.

"Just say that you copied my style and that I had nothing to do with it." He walked around the room, searching with his eyes. He then remembered what McGrory had done when he first realized who Steven was. Steven went to the bureau and began to search the drawers.

Sirens were heard. "Lad, the police are here! What do I do now?"

"Keep writing!" Steven had searched all the drawers and had not yet found the diamond. He realized that if McGrory had been smart enough to imitate him, he would not keep it in an obvious place. Steven began to search the ornate decorative designs. After much knocking and probing, he found a false drawer in which the diamond was hidden. He looked out the window and did not see the police. He climbed down the fire escape with the diamond tucked into his shirt pocket and sauntered off.

**********************************************************************

Rick Johnson slowly approached McGrory's apartment. No sounds were audible. He knocked on the door. "Open up, McGrory! We know you're in there!"

McGrory heard the knock. "Lad?" He looked around but no one was there. He opened the door and gave Johnson the confession.

Johnson was surprised that McGrory would give up so easily. He was even more surprised at the handwritten confession. He read it over then took out the handcuffs. "Time for a trip downtown. Take him out, will you?" As the two officers took McGrory away, Rick looked around the apartment. He suspected that the Rajah was nowhere in the building. Only the vengeance of the Eagle could make a man confess so readily. He had gotten away again.

*************************************************************************

After Johnson had typed a report on the arrest, the switchboard told him he had a phone call. He picked up the receiver. "Johnson here."

"Hello, Rick, old boy! I'm glad you believed me about McGrory. I couldn't resist the temptation of the Rajah. After all, people think the Eagle stole it, so I figured I should have it."

"Is that you, Eagle? How did you get past the police?"

"'Ours is not to question why...' I will keep my promise, though. We'll meet again somewhere, Rick. Good-bye."

"Wait--" but the line was dead. He had hung up. "Maybe next time we meet, I'll be able to see him."

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