Chapter Ten

The District Attorney beamed like a new father. The Sentinel banner headline "Horse Racing Racket Busted" lying on Britt's desk made Frank's smile a little brighter every time his eyes caught a glimpse of the words. Frank sat in a chair in front of Britt's desk, reading the list of charges his office had filed against Sid Scott. The list was tedious, covering two pages, but the reality behind the words rang as music in both men's ears.

"Three counts of kidnapping," Frank continued to read, nearing the end of the list, "two counts on Marsha Blackwell and one count on your secretary." Frank peered over the paper at Britt upon mentioning Casey. "And, attempted murder." Frank folded the papers and put them on Britt's desk. "That's for your afternoon edition, Britt. Sid Scott will never be a free man again."

"Can you get the attempted murder charge to stick, since the assassin was killed in the fall?"

"The two men we picked up at Marsha Blackwell's apartment Friday night can't stop talking," Frank replied. "That notebook we 'anonymously' received..." Frank paused to chuckle before continuing. "...Has all the names, dates, and figures to make the other charges stick. Dusty Blackwell has plenty of testimony to give, too."

The mention of the jockey's name brought a pained look to Britt's face. "What about Dusty, Frank? What's going to happen to him?"

"Well, he's cooperating fully, so I'm not going to press any charges against him." Frank's gleeful tone disappeared. "The racing commission, however, is another story. However, he's cooperating with them, too." Frank paused with a laugh. "I was wrong. He's not fully cooperating with us."

"Oh?" Britt said.

"No. He insists that he and his sister went willingly with the Green Hornet and were not kidnapped. They both told us that, if we ever apprehend the Green Hornet, they will refuse to testify against him."

"I'm glad to hear that, but don't tell Mike, okay?"

Frank smiled at Britt's comment. He sank back into his chair, staring admirably at the publisher. "What can I say, Britt?" Frank said with a sigh. "'Thank you' seems so inadequate. I know I'm not supposed to let my personal feelings get to me on this job, but I wanted to throw a party Saturday when I saw the police put the handcuffs on Sid Scott."

Britt smiled with a nod of his head. He knew the feeling. His own father had been the victim of criminals, framed by racketeers seeking revenge for the tough stand against crime that the Sentinel took. While in Britt's father's day the pen may have been mightier than the sword, the modern era required fists as well as the press to tackle crime.

A knock on the door prevented Britt from replying. Casey opened the door. "Mr. Reid," she announced, "Dusty Blackwell is here to see you."

"Please, send him in, Miss Case."

Dusty entered the publisher's office with a nod of gratitude toward Casey. He was neatly attired in a business suit. He carried the trophy Britt had presented to him at the track on Saturday in his hands. He sat the trophy down on the coffee table. It was 18 inches tall, gold plated, with a jockey on a horse on top. The jockey had a newspaper in his hand instead of a whip. The inscription read, "Presented to Dusty Blackwell in commemoration of his victory in the Sentinel Stakes aboard the winning horse, North Barber's Pole."

After putting the trophy down, Dusty first went to Frank and shook his hand. "Mr. Scanlon." He then turned to Britt. "Mr. Reid," he said with his hand extended.

"Good to see you, Dusty," Britt said. He put his index finger on one of the smaller headlines on page one of the Sentinel, "Winning Jockey Comes Clean." "This was a good story. I'm glad you told it."

"Thank you, Mr. Reid. It's quite a load off of me." He looked at the trophy on the table. "And, that's why I brought the trophy back."

"No, Dusty," Britt said, "you won the race. You keep that trophy."

"I'd really like to," Dusty said. "I just came from a hearing at the track. I'll be out of horseracing for at least three years. That may be my last award for a very long time."

"Look at it as the first award in your new life," Frank suggested.

"How's your sister?" Casey called from the door.

"She's fine, Miss Case," Dusty said, turning to face the secretary. "She'll be on crutches for another couple of weeks. She's happy to have all of this mess over with."

The door from the city room opened without a knock. Mike Axford walked in, carrying a thin white vase stuffed with flowers. He stopped when he saw the door to Britt's office open and the jockey and D.A. inside. "Oh," he said. "I'll come back later."

"It's okay, Mike," Britt called. "What's that?"

Mike presented the vase of flowers to Casey. "These are for you, Casey," he said. "I told the Boss the other night that I owed you because you were doing me a favor and ended up in the clutches of the Green Hornet."

Casey beamed at the colorful assortment of flowers in the vase. "Thanks, Mike, but you didn't have to do that."

"It's the least I can do. And, I'm taking you to lunch today, my treat!" Mike stopped quickly and looked at Britt. "Unless you're gonna make her work through lunch, Boss."

"Not at all, Mike."

"Mike?" Casey said softly. "I'm not going to retract what I said about the Green Hornet." She smiled, glancing at Britt for an extra moment before leaving the office with her bouquet.

Mike shook his head. "Thanks, Boss," he said to Britt.

"For what?"

"You told me to bring a big notepad to the track Saturday. Boy, were you ever right!"

For the complaining Mike had done initially, the tip to be prepared for a big story proved to be a winner. His notebook was filled with notes and quotes by the time he left the racetrack. After the race Britt escorted his crime reporter and the Blackwells to the private suite, where Dusty made a full confession. Two doors from Britt's suite the police and Frank had Sid Scott under arrest. After the lengthy conversations Mike went home and produced the lead story on page one of the Sunday edition of the Daily Sentinel. The Monday morning edition contained follow-up news and sports articles.

"I'd better get back to the office," Frank said. He gestured toward Britt's desk. "Britt has the list of charges against Scott, Mike," he told the reporter. He left with a wave of his hand over his shoulder.

Dusty watched Frank walk out into the city room through the window that separated Britt's office from Casey's. "He's been very fair to me," Dusty commented primarily to himself as Frank walked out of sight.

"I've known Frank for years," Britt said. "He's a good man."

"But he can't catch the Green Hornet," Mike protested.

Dusty shrugged. "Mr. Axford, the Green Hornet saved my life, and he saved my sister's life. He helped me get out of a racket that I wanted out of when no one else would help, and he also told me that he never wanted to see me on 'that' side of the law again." Mike's face was turning the shade of his hair again. "He even gave my sister a pillow for her broken ankle." Mike's eyes rolled toward the ceiling. Britt, watching Mike's reaction to the praise the Green Hornet was receiving, tightened his stomach muscles to keep from laughing. "He's a criminal, Mr. Axford. You won't get any argument out of me on that point. But, in a way, he earned my respect." Dusty sighed. "I wish I could tell him 'thank you' one more time."

Dusty stared at his shoes for a moment, then raised his head and extended his hand toward Britt. "Thank you, too, Mr. Reid. I feel so much better now that the truth is out."

"You're welcome, Dusty. If I can do anything to help influence the racing commission, the track, or the jockey association in your favor, let me know."

Britt and Mike watched Dusty leave, taking the same path Frank had walked earlier. Britt's gaze was still focused on Casey's office, but Mike was looking at Britt. "Boss?"

Britt's head turned quickly back to face Mike. "Yes, Mike?"

"I don't have to put that in my story, do I?"

"What?"

"What he said about the Green Hornet."

Britt smiled. Mike had suffered enough at the hands of his nemesis without the reporter ever seeing the masked face. "No, Mike, that'll be our secret."

The End