“Hello, my name is Paul Carbone Jr., did you know my father well?”
He looked like his father only thirty-five years younger, about the age Senior was when I first met him.
I’m Peter Goddard and I was attending the wake of Paul Carbone, Sr., my personal nemesis for that thirty-five years.
Briefly, a little over thirty-five years ago a New York banker, Ralph Portman, who had stolen $400 million dollars from thousands of hard working people, bankrupting hundreds, many of whom never recovered, was quietly murdered on the doorstep of his mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut.
The murder got a lot of press at the time and there were very few tears shed over the crook.
I was one of those his theft bankrupted and …oh, by the way, I was the one who murdered him.
I got a lot of heat early on from Paul Carbone, Sr., the father of the guy now talking to me. The case went cold and obviously they never nailed the killer, me, but Carbone never let up. He told me he knew I did it and if it was the last thing he ever did he would prove it.
I told him over and over again, “The guy was a bastard who deserved killing and no one missed him.”
Every year on May 20, the anniversary of the murder, Carbone would call me and remind me that although the case was cold and forgotten by most, he was still on it. And every year when he called I would encourage him to get on with his life.
The last time he called, this past May 20, the thirty-fifth anniversary, I told him that we were both old men and since nothing new had come up in all the years that had gone by that we should go our separate ways and enjoy what life we had left.
Actually I had been enjoying every moment of life since I whacked the piece of garbage but I knew Carbone wasn’t. I was somewhat saddened when he told me that I wouldn’t be bothered much longer by his obsession since he was dying and would probably be gone by the next anniversary.
Well he had always created a gnawing feeling in the back of my brain for a few days after each phone call. What if the old bastard happened on something I had overlooked so many years ago? What if one day he, together with some active cops (Carbone was retired about ten years) knocked on my door and read me my rights while putting handcuffs on me?
Well, no more gnawing feeling.
“Not well, but long, more than thirty-five years,” I answered Carbone Junior.
“Wow and I’ve never met you. Were you on the force with dad?”
“No Paul, I was your father’s prime suspect in the investigation of a very old murder. Since the murder was never solved I remained his prime suspect… I guess up until his death.”
“What did you say your name is?”
“I didn’t but it’s Peter Goddard.”
“Goddard, Peter Goddard! Now I remember, you were the guy pop was convinced killed that crooked banker, Ralph Portman. Man was he ever sure you did it. He wouldn’t even let it go after he retired.
“He stopped talking about the actual murder long ago, just that you lost millions and went broke and you had the perfect motive and no alibi. But I kept pointing out they couldn’t find anything specific and a thousand people had the same motive and half of them had no alibi.
“Remind me how did Portman get murdered?”
“Oh it was neat and simple. Sometime between ten and midnight the night of May 20th Portman arrived home from a party in New York City. His front door overlooked his circular driveway and a parking terrace. Beyond the graveled terrace was a nature preserve belonging to a conservancy. Your dad and the forensic team figured the killer lay hidden in the preserve waiting for Portman to arrive home and when he was unlocking the front door shot him in the back of the head.”
“Wow,” remarked Carbone, “the killer must have been one helluva shot. That was probably several hundred yards.”
“Well that was another problem your father had with my innocence. It seems that of the thousands of people Portman cheated, I and only two others were that proficient with a rifle. Adding to my problem with your father was the fact that the other two had alibis, I didn’t.
“Anyway, this murderer waited and very accurately placed a .23 caliber hollow nosed slug into the back of Portman’s head. Further, since no one heard the shot, he must have used a silencer. They didn’t find him until the butler came out to retrieve the morning papers on May 21.”
“Yeah,’ said Carbone, “I remember now, forensics was really impressed with the killer’s skill with a rifle. Said he had military sniper capabilities to take the risk of using such a small caliber weapon. He was very sure of his ability to depend on the hollow nosed slug to kill Portman instantly. If I remember pop’s meanderings, you were a sniper in Viet Nam weren’t you?”
“Yes I was Paul, and you seem to be more knowledgeable of the case than you led me to believe earlier. Did you follow in your father’s footsteps and enter the police force?”
“Yes I did Mr. Goddard, some fifteen years ago. I’m a detective lieutenant. However, Mr. Goddard, you seem to know a great deal about the case, more than I would expect.”
“Well Paul, once a year your father would call and review the event in minute detail and ask if I agreed. As the years passed into decades I took to simply saying yes and hanging up. Were you referring to anything in particular?”
“Yes Mr. Goddard, specifically the caliber and characteristics of the slug. You see Mr. Goddard, pop and forensics were very careful in never releasing that information, and it has never been released in thirty five years.
“So your knowledge of those specifics makes me think Pop may have been right all these years.”
“Detective Carbone, are you, like your dad, a homicide detective?”
“No Mr. Goddard, I deal exclusively in cold cases… like the murder of Mr. Portman thirty-five years ago.
“I must excuse myself and thank those who have come to pay their respects, however, two of my many colleagues who are here tonight will be joining you. Later this evening you and I will continue this conversation in more appropriate surroundings and after you have been properly Mirandized.
“I think pop will now be able to go to his maker a contented man.”