DEATH IN THE FACULTY ROOM- CHAPTER XVI

Now an alleged murderer wanted to speak with a newly minted FBI agent because he had something to tell him. If you thought that this information did not rattle me, you have to be nuts. I was scared out of my gourd. Before I went down to the holding tank, I asked Baumgartner to tell me a little about the prisoner. He said that his name was Weldon Barstow and that he had a rap sheet as long as my arm. He was a teenaged hoodlum (a word from the 50’s) who graduated to bigger and better things with an organized crime syndicate out in California. He had been suspected of a number of contract hits on mobsters. He now appeared to be branching out into the civilian world. He was a mean looking son of a gun. When he asked to speak with you, I was caught up short, but this might be a break in the case; learning who hired him to kill Miss Reinhold and did he have anything to do with Mr. Driggs death.
I was not in a good mood when I met Barstow. He was, as Baumgartner described him, a mean looking man. He had little pig eyes and a yawning maw for a mouth. He had greasy black hair parted in the middle and a perpetual sneer. He spoke first, “You Hodges?” I answered, “Yes.” “You really caused me all kinds of problems. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be in this hell hole.” “Why is that? I asked very flatly. I was told that you and this Reinhold dame had something goin’ on between yuz. When she told you that there was some stuff that she found in Driggs’ desk, I was sure that you knew what it was. Then, I find out that you really didn’t know. My contract was to dump both of you for 5000 bucks. When I got called offa you, my fee went down to 2500.They stiffed me the other 2500 bucks. Now I think, since I am in jail, they are going to put a contract out on you because you are startin’ to figure out stuff. That dough shoulda’ been mine.”
“Mr. Barstow,” I said, “Who hired you to kill Miss Reinhold and me? “ If I knew I still wouldn’t tell ya’, all of my instructions came by drop boxes and things. They were typewritten and I was told where to pick them up by phone.” So you never met the people you worked for?” “Nope, but I know that they weren’t mob guys. That’s not the way they do tings.” “How about Mr. Driggs?” Did you also kill him?” Nah, I aint’t no poison guy. With me its accidents or guns. Poisons don’t leave any way of knowing who dun it. I want the people who would hire me to know that it’s me. Then when I get away wit’ it, they know I am successful in my craft.”
“Why did you want to speak to me in person?” “Because I wanted to see you before they get someone to knock you off and I figger that they still owe me the 2,500 bucks for your killin’.” If it was mob guys, I would not be talkin’ to ya’” I could see the twisted morality in Barstow’s words. The killing or not killing was of no consequence to him. He just thought that he had been screwed out of his money, which would now go to someone else. For a second, I was thinking like a trained FBI agent. Now, I realized that there was someone out there trying to kill me. How did I get in this jam? Further, how did Barstow know such intimate details about what was happening in my school. How could he possibly know what Miss Reinhold said to me, unless someone in the school told him or his employer?
It was all running through my head when Barstow said, “ You better get yourself some protection. They ain’t about to hire some dum dum to kill ya’. It will be another professional.” That made my day. I was getting advice from a professional killer about how I should protect myself from another professional killer. I had one more question for Barstow before I left and put my family’s life in the hands of Aramis Baumgartners. “Listen Barstow, I know you are headed for some rough times. If you could give me some worthwhile information, it would go a long way for making things easier for you.” “ Whatdya’ need sport?” “That information that I was supposed to get from Ms. Reinhold, was it in her car before it was burned up, or weren’t you supposed to get it.”
“I never saw the stuff,” he explained. “I even went through her apartment and nothin’ showed up. Not even sure what it was, other than some papers and audio tapes. Right now, I wouldn’t even know where to look.”
That was my first experience with a killer. I believe that I had asked him all the correct questions, ones that he could, or would answer. Funny thing, he acted as if he knew that someday this would happen and that he would spend his life in prison. At this point in time, the electric chair had been mothballed in Pennsylvania by Attorney General Fred Speaker. It was declared to be cruel and unusual punishment. Barstow would be convicted, on his own sayso.

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