Revenge is a Dish Best Served

A Matt Murphy Mystery - Book Four

by H. Paul Doucette

Two years ago, on a dark and quiet empty New York street, two NYPD detectives approached a neighborhood bar and were gunned down by unknown assailants. The shooting was a set-up arranged by two dirty Vice cops.

One officer died. The other survived.

His name was Abe Goldman and that night he had two very good things in his corner: Luck, and his best friend. Matt Murphy. Before Goldman left the hospital, Murphy had succeeded in bringing those behind the shooting down.

All except one.


Chapter One

Chicago, 1962


The two-story house sat nestled between two identical houses in the middle of the block. A bright cherry red Thunderbird Convertible was parked in the driveway, its top up. The street light out front lit the street all the way to the opposite side.

Peter Tate stood at the window with the phone pressed against his ear and eased the heavy curtain away from the window frame with his finger, looking furtively through the space. The street was dead. No one was out, not even a late night dog walker.

It had been two long years of living in the shadows, never knowing if and when the knock on the door would come. The news reports still carried stories of the trials and convictions of men he once served with and knew. A few, like him, managed to get out of town before being arrested. Some, like his old partner, Jake Mitchell, weren't so lucky. But now it was time to go back. He had a score to settle and a stash of cash to collect.

Two years earlier, he and Jake had a good thing going.

We were cops with the NYPD, working Vice, and had a sweet deal shaking down the local dealers and pimps, pulling in about fifteen hundred dollars a month on average. Everything was cool until Abe Goldman, a Homicide Detective at the 6th Precinct in the Village, had to step in and fuck up the entire gig. We decided to take him out of the picture and set him up to be hit. Trouble was, it went sideways and Abe survived. Then his buddy, some wiseass private eye named Matt Murphy, decided to stick his nose in. When it was over, Mitchell was shot up and got busted, as for me, I saw my chance and split to Chicago where I had a few connections and laid low

Tatelistened to the intermittent rings in the earpiece: one, two, three. He looked at his watch for the third time. 1:30 A.M. Twelve-thirty in Brooklyn.

“Somebody better be fuckin' dyin', asshole, or I'll...” said a man's voice that sounded thick with sleep.

“Hey, take it easy, it's me, Tate,” he said, cutting off the other man.

“Hey, man. Whadda fuck ya doin' callin' this late fer crissake? Ya got any idea of da time?”

“Yeah, yeah. It's late. Get over it,” Tate said.

“Okay, okay, don't get yer nuts in a twist. So? What's happenin'?” the man asked.

“I'm comin' back.”

“No shit. Ya think it's cool yet?”

“It's been two years and I got some unfinished business to take care of.”

“Yeah, I know, but do ya think...?”

“How many of the guys still around?” Tate asked, ignoring the question.

“Some. A couple even still on da force, if ya can believe that. Ya wanna set somethin' up? I still got some of their numbers.”


“Okay, yeah, sure thing. Ya got a time?”

“I'll call ya when I get in.”

“So ya thinkin' of gettin' back inta the action? Good time to, with everythin' so fucked up 'round here these days. Shit, da fuckin' Village is like a fuckin' toilet with dem freaks comin' in.”

“Just wait for my call,” Tate said, ignoring the question, then hung up.

Three days later, he called his cousin, who owned the house, and told him the house was empty and that he was heading back to New York. He also told him that once he was finished with his business, he was off to the islands.

By the end of the week, he was sitting on a Greyhound bus as it pulled into the Brooklyn terminal. He looked out the window of the bus at the large, round, white-face clock that hung from the terminal rafters: 11:30 P.M.

The bus eased into its slot and came to a stop outside the terminal. Passengers stood and gathered their bags, then made their way along the narrow aisles between the rows of seats for the exit. He sat waiting for the bulk of them to pass before standing while looking out the windows on both sides scanning the area around the platform for any signs of the police. There was only one uniform on patrol in the station who looked bored as he ignored the passengers passing through the terminal.

When the last person passed, he stood and put on his overcoat and hat. He reached inside his jacket and adjusted the shoulder holster under his arm, then reached up and grabbed his travel bag from the overhead rack and made his way to the door.

Once on the platform, he searched the area for a pay phone. Spotting one on the wall inside the main terminal, he made his way to it. He pulled a piece of paper from his pocket and, dropping a dime in the slot, dialed.

“It's me,” he said to the person on the other end of the line.

“Where are ya?” a man asked.

“The Greyhound terminal in the Heights. Just got in,” Tate said.

“Okay, I know the place. There's a bar a block south of there, called Mickey's. Go there an' wait. Someone will come git ya. Whaddya wearin'?” Tate gave him a description of how he looked – overcoat and fedora and carrying a small suitcase.

“Okay. My guy's name is Paulie, got it? He'll take ya to one of my places. Paulie'll be there in twenty minutes.” Then the line went dead.

Tate picked up his bag and headed outside. He looked up and down the street and spotted the glowing neon lights in a window about a block away on his left. After a quick check of the street, he headed off to the bar.

He stood outside the bar. A few minutes after he arrived, a late model black Caddy pulled to a stop in front of him. The passenger window rolled down and the driver leaned toward him.

“Yo,” the driver said. “You Tate?”

Tate picked up his bag and stepped to the car. “Yeah. Why don't you yell it a bit louder in case someone didn't hear you?”

He opened the back door and put his bag on the seat, then got in the front next to the driver. He gave him a quick glance. He looked like he was just a kid, maybe no more than twenty or so. He was big. Looked to be about two-hundred pounds plus, broad shouldered and well muscled. Tate figured this kid was one of Lenny's street muscle.

“Sorry, man,” the driver said, pushing a button on his door to raise the window.

“Forget it. Just take me to the place. I need a shower and some sleep.”

“Sure thing, boss.” The driver stepped on the accelerator and the big car silently pulled away from the curb.

“I'm Paulie. Lenny said ta give ya dis.” He slid a large brown manila envelope across to him.

Inside, he saw a sheet of paper containing a short list of names and phone numbers. These were people he had been connected with both on and off the force who hadn't been busted and who he could call. There was also a banded stack of ten one-hundred dollar bills. He closed the envelope and put it in his inside jacket pocket.

“Where’re you takin' me?” Tate asked.

“Lenny’s got a place over on da East Side on Madison Street near the bridge. It's his place he takes his broads, ya know? Anyway, almost nobody knows 'bout it, so ya should be cool dere. He said ta tell ya dat if you want a ride ta let me know an' I'll git ya one,” Paulie said.

“Yeah? Okay, get one.”

“Okay. It'll be here tomorrow.” Paulie told him where he would park it and where the keys would be.

“This place we're going to, it have a phone that works in it?”

“Yeah. It's got everythin' ya need. Phone. Food. T.V. Radio. Da works.”

He nodded then tipped his hat forward and rested his head back against the seat and closed his eyes, thinking of the next few days.

Paulie pulled the Caddie into the alley between the two five-story apartment buildings. It was a quiet, tree-lined street that was fairly well lit. It was a typical middle class neighborhood. Lenny must be doing all right, he thought as he sat up.

Paulie opened the door and got out, going around to Tate's side. He opened the back door and pulled out his travel bag just as Tate opened his door and got out.

“That's okay kid,” he said. “I'll take that. Just hand over the key and tell me what room.”

“Yeah, yeah, sure thing. Here,” he took a small ring with two keys on it and passed it to Tate. “Third floor. Apartment 3B.”

“Okay. Thanks, now bugger off. Tell Lenny I'll call him in the morning.” He picked up his bag and walked back to the front of the building.

The apartment was not bad. It was tasteful, with moderately expensive furniture filling the living room. There was a small bar, one of those new floor model record players with a built-in radio and a color television. There was also a dining room area with a wooden table and four chairs off to the right next to a small open kitchen. On the other side were two doors—one to the bedroom, the other the bathroom.

There was definitely a woman's touch to the layout and choice of colors, he thought as he looked around.

He tossed his bag, topcoat and hat on the sofa chair then went to the bar. Good selection, he noted, poking around the half dozen bottles, then picking up a bottle of Wild Turkey Bourbon. He poured out a tall drink into a glass, then went looking for the phone. It was sitting on a small table near the radio. He opened the drawer, found the phonebook, and pulled it out. Taking his drink and the book, he went and sat on the sofa while taking a long drink from the glass.

He opened the book and started flipping the pages to the section listing the private detective agencies in the yellow pages. Bingo. There it was. M. Murphy Confidential Investigations.

He sat there in the quiet of the room thinking. One of his main reasons for coming back was to settle a couple of old scores, one of which was definitely Matt Murphy for what he did. Then, Sewell.

Memories came to mind from two years ago when he and his partner, Jake Mitchell, had a good deal going which included cash from the mob selling information on upcoming raids, as well as doing other 'favors' for them. They and several others in the squad had it real good, with easy money and drugs filling their bank accounts. Then one night it started to unravel when a scrawny junkie squealed to that Jew bastard in the 16th Precinct to save his own miserable ass.

He closed the book, set it beside him and leaned back, closing his eyes. He only allowed himself five days to finish all his business before leaving the city again. This time for good. He had to get to the three places he had used to stash his money along with several other items, which he kept...just in case. One was a journal.

Sitting there, he started to formulate a plan to get his stash, fuck the two bastards who screwed him, and find a buyer for the journal. He had one man in mind.

"Revenge is a Dish Best Served" by H. Paul Doucette


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