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Death on Pine Street
by [?]


“Where was he going?”

“Coming home, I suppose; but I don’t know where he had been. Nobody knows. The police haven’t found out, if they have tried. He told me Monday evening that he had a business engagement. He was a building contractor, you know. He went out at about half-past eleven, saying he would probably be gone four or five hours.”

“Wasn’t that an unusual hour to be keeping a business engagement?”

“Not for Bernard. He often had men come to the house at midnight.”

“Can you make any guess at all where he was going that night?”

She shook her head with emphasis.

“No. I knew nothing at all about his business affairs, and even the men in his office don’t seem to know where he went that night.”

That wasn’t unlikely. Most of the B. F. Gilmore Construction Company’s work had been on city and state contracts, and it isn’t altogether unheard-of for secret conferences to go with that kind of work. Your politician-contractor doesn’t always move in the open.

“How about enemies?” I asked.

“I don’t know anybody that hated him enough to kill him.”

“Where does this Kenbrook woman live, do you know?”

“Yes — in the Garford Apartments on Bush Street.”

“Nothing you’ve forgotten to tell me, is there?” I asked, stressing the me a little.

“No, I’ve told you everything I know — every single thing.”

Walking over to California Street, I shook down my memory for what I had heard here and there of Bernard Gilmore. I could remember a few things — the opposition papers had been in the habit of exposing him every election year — but none of them got me anywhere. I had known him by sight: a boisterous, red-faced man who had hammered his way up from hod-carrier to the ownership of a half-million-dollar business and a pretty place in politics.’A roughneck with a manicure,’ somebody had called him; a man with a lot of enemies and more friends; a big, good-natured, hard-hitting rowdy.

Odds and ends of a dozen graft scandals in which he had been mixed up, without anybody ever really getting anything on him, flitted through my head as I rode downtown on the too-small outside seat of a cable car. Then there had been some talk of a bootlegging syndicate of which he was supposed to be the head…

I left the car at Kearny Street and walked over to the Hall of Justice. In the detectives’ assembly-room I found O’Gar, the detective-sergeant in charge of the Homicide Detail: a squat man of fifty who went in for wide-brimmed hats of the movie-sheriff sort, but whose little blue eyes and bullet-head weren’t handicapped by the trick headgear.

“I want some dope on the Gilmore killing,” I told him.

“So do I,” he came back. “But if you’ll come along I’ll tell you what little I know while I’m eating. I ain’t had lunch yet.”

Safe from eavesdroppers in the clatter of a Sutter Street lunchroom, the detective-sergeant leaned over his clam chowder and told me what he knew about the murder, which wasn’t much.

“One of the boys, Kelly, was walking his beat early Tuesday morning, coming down the Jones Street hill from California Street to Pine. It was about three o’clock — no fog or nothing — a clear night. Kelly’s within maybe twenty feet of Pine Street when he hears a shot. He whisks around the corner, and there’s a man dying on the north sidewalk of Pine Street, halfway between Jones and Leavenworth. Nobody else is in sight. Kelly runs up to the man and finds it’s Gilmore. Gilmore dies before he can say a word. The doctors say he was knocked down and then shot; because there’s a bruise on his forehead, and the bullet slanted upward in his chest. See what I mean? He was lying on his back when the bullet hit him, with his feet pointing toward the gun it came from. It was a thirty-eight.”