~Fairmount, the series: Pt. 7 ‘That Damned River’~

 

“Fairmount”

the series:

Pt. 7

‘That Damned River’

By

Gregory V. Boulware, Esq.

/*

The ides of December brought no new activity from the beast. The people went with their daily activities as they prepared for the upcoming Christmas and New Year Holiday events. The ranger and his team were mapping out strategies for their assault on the “Killer Kodiak.”

There weren’t any new signs or tracks to be followed along the banks of the Schuylkill River since the last attack. There were no signs of activity or attacks. Glenn and his team started their search at the last killing scene along the West River Drive in Fairmount Park. They contemplated setting up bait traps, steel claw traps, and prowler stations. The river was now in a state of sporadic ice packs scattered out on the water. Ice platforms gathered at the edge of the dam where the majestic view of the Art Museum peered out over the river. The mini glaciers piled up along the edge of the dam where the East and West River Drives meet in the park. A driveway bridge connected the two roads that allowed access into the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and I-95 corridor via route 676.

Snow began to fall at eleven a.m. on December Seventeen, a Saturday. It began to form heavy flakes at four p.m. The layer of snow on the ground measured at two and a half inches from the ground. At 6 p.m., the snow fell heavier and the layer on the ground exceeded the earlier measurement. The wind was mild. It blew about five to 10 miles an hour at a nor’ easterly direction that eventually blew nor’ westerly. The ranger wondered where this beast had gone. Did it just up and leave? Did it eat enough? Did it decide to hibernate? If so, where? “Where the fuck did it go?” He began to stare at the dam along the river and wondered about the pumping station wells underbellies.

The ranger shouted aloud…”Damn!” His staring at the river-dam evolved into an all-out eyeball examination of the location. He turned to one of site searching rangers with the communications backpack. It contained a field radio and satellite telephone. “Get the city archeological engineering department on the horn – I want to know what’s under this dam and pumping station shacks – pronto!”

The City of Philadelphia Records Department, city archives division, responded to the call almost immediately. They could not get the original plans out to him for fear of disintegration – exposure to air and light. The electronic facsimile was available but could not be made immediately available. It could take more than an hour to locate the electronic backup. The field unit also needed to get a notebook computer out to then as well. The portable computer delivery would not necessarily create a problem to dispatch… The date would. It was faster to go to the source – the records department at city hall. Glenn was just five miles away.

Sirens screamed down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Pavilion into the City Hall Courtyard. The police car drove directly up and onto the sidewalk surrounding the building – through the breezeway into the courtyard and entrance doors nearest the records department. Ranger Glenn exited the vehicle and dashed through the double doors into the first floor corridor. The records room was just off to the right. The records staff was ready and waiting. They were at the rangers beckon call. The data was being uploaded as Glenn and Police Sergeant Macauleany, the officer from the Smith Playground attack site, and a ranger lieutenant by the name of ‘Asa Wells’ stood by.

It was Lieutenant Wells who noted the fresh footprints in the old snow on the bike and jogger trail. The jogging trail continued into the other side of the river from under the overpass of the west river drive that lead down to the Southside of the Schuylkill River.

The prints in the snow were out of the team’s search area. They could not see them. The trail of prints was pounding a path in the direction of the Philadelphia Zoo.

At the records department, Glenn was able to pull up the archived data on the river’s dam. He was not surprised to discover an underpass right under the water at the dam’s edge. The underpass lay directly at the base of the dam. It is an existing access causeway for the construction crews to make repairs on the dam. No one ever realized such a space existed. It’s been there since the dam’s construction and has never been used. The records staff watched the ranger as he researched other unknown tunnels under the river and along its banks. They were surprised to see all sorts of underground passageways. These excavations were established about the time the dam was built by the “Free Masons of Pennsylvania.” The research brought to light, even more tunnels of ingress and egress points appeared throughout the city’s underground realm. The ranger instructed the department staff to make him copies of the maps immediately. They complied with an exuberant amount of excitement and pride in their ability to jump too in an emergency. The time was three forty five in the afternoon.

At five o’clock in the afternoon, staff of the Philadelphia Zoo, closed its gates for the day. At 10 p.m., one of the zoo guards was completing his 30-minute rounds. The guard who patrolled the area near the polar bear exhibit noticed their agitation. He thought it unusual. The bears are usually calm and settled at this hour. He made note of it on his report sheet attached to a clipboard. On his way to the brown bruins exhibit alarms rang throughout the establishment. They were quite loud. The surrounding neighborhood knew something was amiss when these alarms went off. It drove them out of their sleep…out of their beds.

The guard froze at the sounding of the alarm. The alarms screamed the scream of the wailing witches of Othello fame. The shipmates of Ulysses could bear witness to the screams. The ship in which they were traveling did crash because of it. The covering of their ears didn’t help either. Odysseus was warned of the screaming witches…the alarms of warning.

Realizing his ass was on the line should he shirk his duties, thought the guard. He recalled the fire. Members of an endangered species, a family group of six lowland gorillas, a family group of three orangutans, four white-handed gibbons, and ten lemurs (2 ruffed, 6 ringtail, and 2 mongoose), died in their sleep from smoke inhalation – carbon monoxide poisoning.

At about 10 pm., two security guards smelled smoke by the Philadelphia Zoo’s primate house as they made their rounds. This happened on Saturday December 24, 1995. They took no action. They dismissed the smell as coming from nearby trains on the railroad tracks as had happened frequently. Almost three hours later, at 12:40 a.m. Sunday, the guards returned and found flames on the roof. Fire and zoo officials pinned the blaze on an electrical malfunction caused by improperly installed wires that heated ceiling pipes. Snow on the roof of the 10-year-old World of Primates building muffled any noise that might have been produced by smoke alarms, and fire officials discovered upon investigation, no one who had heard them sound. This engagement happened within the walls of the world famous landmark.

The guard was not in the frame of mind to receive blame for any wrongdoing. He wanted to be recognized as a guard who was Johnny on the spot…proficient and steadfast. “Shit…they caught me once for sleeping on the overnight shift. Two years ago they caught me for drinking a fuckin beer on New Years Eve in the parking lot. It was my lunch break for Christ’s sake. Shit, I’ve got five fuckin years to lose…unemployment just ain’t gittin it!”

The frantic guard snapped too – and like greased lightning, he bolted towards the designated report station. Once there, another guard was dispatched to the power and alarm and shut-off terminal and grid shack. It’s still called the shack after the new building was erected since the fire. No longer was the guard focused on himself and his troubles. His mind was on his job performance and the saving of animals and zoo property. He thought of all the animals and his designated patrol area. The bear exhibit. The bears needed him.

*/

 

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~Fairmount The Series Pt. 6: “Physical Alterations”~

“Fairmount”

The Series

Part 6
“Physical Alterations”

By

Gregory V. Boulware, Esq.

http://www.BoulwareEnterprises.com

/*

“Well gentlemen, shall I enlighten our esteemed gatherers to you’re – shall I say, most recent activities?” The ranger smiled. The four zoo officials looked at one another. The mayor, the commissioners, and the three captains looked at them as well. They did not answer.

The ranger waited as he nodded to his colleagues. Professor Francis stood with several papers in her hand. “Madame Mayor, Commissioners, and Gentlemen of Our City’s Law Enforcement Community…I have documentation that supports a belief that our city zoo officials have first hand knowledge of counsel given and granted to a research project on the Alaskan Bear Project.” Genailia peered directly at the four learned and stunned men. She put down the papers and picked up a batch of photos. One by one, she passed them out to the panel members. They in turn viewed them while passing the pictures back to Genailia. The ranger said, “I’ll ask you once more…what in the hell have you all to do with this bear and its physical alterations?” He glared directly at the assumed leader of the group – Dr. Horatio Martin Mulberry, P.H.D., D.V.M. The dumbfounded group leader frowned and grew angry. “What are those damned papers in your possession?” The Doctor of Veterinary Medicine barked. His questioning demand was announced with ferociousness as his eyes narrowed and reddened with a cold and defiant stare. The evil eyes darted and fixed directly on Ranger Glenn after glancing off the two professors.

Gerald replied, “They are documentation and photographic proof of you and your revered colleagues’ involvement in this insidious experiment with wildlife manipulation!”

The three other officials, Dr. Stephen Lazzaro Steigleton, P.H.D., Dr. Martini Rossi Henrikson, P.H.D., and Lawrence Salzy McGorsky, Anthropologist, Archeologist and Doctor of Veterinary Science. Mulberry stood and motioned to the other zoo officials. They rose in tandem and filed out of the meeting room arena. In the corridor outside the mayor’s office was a contingent of reporters. They’d gotten wind of a heated discussion in connection with the mauling attacks of last month. One particular journalist found a way to listen in on the private conversation exclusively.

Salestian “Sally” Michaels was born and raised in Philadelphia. He got his start as a ‘South Philly’ newspaper boy. In the heart of the ‘Mafiosi’ community, Michaels shined shoes, ran errands, and did odd jobs for the guys. “Good Fellas” like Angel Brondidi and Nick “the Needle” Scarily. Sally, as his friends and adversaries called him, hung around the corner bars on Passyunk Avenue. The little Black Kid was a pest. But the guys liked him. Nobody dared call him ‘Nigger’ or “Lil Black Sambo.” Angie didn’t like it. The last man that did it went missing a couple of days later. He was found six months later. The body turned up while workers were rehabbing an old pier of the Tioga Docks on the Delaware River. The body was found in an old rusted out fifty-five gallon oil drum in the basement of one of the storage piers on site. He seemed to have a rather large clown like smile. It turned out to be a blood-coagulated slit from ear to ear, just under the chin. The lips were frozen shut around a sausage that was shoved in his mouth. He’d been there for some time. The coroner estimated a five to six month period. The drum, like many others, went unnoticed n the waterfront of the old docking pier that was mired and caked with sludge from oil off many barges docked at the old piers along the strait.

The missing man slapped Sally n the top of his head and kicked in the butt. Laughing with his friends, the drunken white man chided about the little nigger kid’s hanging out and panhandling for dimes and handouts. He said to his compatriots, “Look at them sambos…beggin and shinin for our hard-earned dough. The Black bastards ought to be lickin my spit and wiping my ass just for the privilege of lookin at me!”
But the dude messed with the wrong lil black kid. This kid was Angie’s kid – his protégé.

Michaels knew of a little closet-like door right next to the personal entrance to the mayor’s chambers. It was an old broom closet not in use for years. The walls were paper -thin. One of which rotted to the point of disintegration. It was due to be replaced and had been neglected for work elsewhere in City Hall. The reporter kept this accidental info to himself. He stumbled upon it one day while chasing a story. City Hall suffered a temporary blackout one summer during his first year of reporting. He stumbled upon the room in the dark while seeking the men’s restroom. Sally got wind of some of the best inside stories for a rookie reporter right from that little room. At the young age of eighteen, he got the job through an acquaintance of Angie’s. The guy owed Angie a couple of favors, so he hired Sally in order to appease his situation with the good fellow. He really didn’t like the kid because he was black…but he was Angie’s kid. From an errand boy in the copy room, Sally grew on Adam Silvestry. The two old guys sponsored and paid for Sally’s college education. After graduating Philadelphia University with a degree in Business Administration, Sally worked a few jobs around town. They were basically dead end jobs where many yes men hung out – hoping and kissing ass for promotions. Salestian wanted to write. He took a few journalism courses at Temple University and chased a few stories for the Globe. He was always under the watchful eye of Silvestry.

During a mayoral election, Sally got an inside scoop while hanging out with one of his Old Italian buddies. His buddy was a South Philly committeeman who had some pull around town. After his first feature story, Sally was hired full-time as a reporter for the Globe. From that point on, he was and had become an ace reporter as well as earning journalistic respect and town and in Camden too.
The inside scoop on this story will win him a Pulitzer Prize, he thought. He was enjoying the birds-eye view on this scoop – a big time story and its unfolding events.

Glenn said to the mayor, “The animal that we seek is a product of an insane experiment. The zoo guys are directly involved in it. They are manipulating plant and animal species for the purpose of stimulation and enlargement of growth. I suspect their capitalistic egos are tasting and smelling huge financial and notoriety gain – at the expense of the animals and us… Deaths be damned – its collateral damage in their eyes.”

“So what do we do about it?” Asked the mayor. “What do we do to get this animal and keep it from killing anyone else?”

“My team and I will deal with the animal. The question is what will you do in dealing with the assholes that brought this shit here?” Replied the ranger.

Finkles’ green eyes seemed to flash red. “OK men…that’s it…let’s get to work! I want this nightmare ended – give the ranger anything and everything he needs and or wants!” She paused and glared at the two captains. “And I mean everything!” She placed special emphasis on the word everything as she stormed out of the reception room through a door into the private mayoral chambers. Once there, she snatched the receiver of the telephone from its cradle. Buttons were punched feverishly. She was more than angry. She was pissed…totally. From outside of her chambers, the demanding and tumultuous screams could seemingly be heard throughout the city hall infrastructure. Professor Rockford just followed along in silence.

The police captains glared at each other while standing in place like pillars of salt. The commissioners nodded at one another upon departure from the meeting room. The ranger, Genailia, and Vernon were already descending the stairway from the top floor. They had no time to wait for elevators. Glenn was anxiously screaming orders to his pre-assembled team by way of two-way radio. He kept the unit on his holster attached to his belt, next to his cell phone. Genailia was anxiously giving directions to her staff via cell phone. Her administrative and investigative staff was centered and housed in the old “Germantown Hall” located at Germantown Avenue and Haines Street in the Germantown area of Philly. The 14th District was right next-door – it used to be housed within the Town Hall structure until they became separated with the construction of the new and modernized building, The command center of Captain Samuel!

Bk.Fairmount.FrtCvr_9.27.13

>

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*/

 

“Fairmount” – The Series Part 3

 

/*

“Fairmount” 

The Series

Pt. 3: ‘A Sweet Briar License’

By

Gregory V. Boulware, Esq.

The news media took the ball and ran with it. The headlines blasted the story of the attack of Czepaky and her children on the front pages of their respective papers. Television news programs portrayed the mother and her children as their leading news story. Radio news did likewise. And still they did not mention Lindsey Irvin.

The zoo officials blasted Professor Rockford’s account of a creature the size and magnitude as described. “It is impossible for a bear to be roaming around in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park…even with its vast resources and acreage. A Kodiak Bear is highly unlikely to be roaming about in this part of the country. It’s the middle of November for Christ Sake…bears hibernate in the winter.” A reporter from one of Philly’s papers was hanging around after the mayor’s meeting. The reporter fired a question to the zoo official. “How do you explain the attack on the woman and her kids?” “And what about the little Black Kid that was killed a few weeks ago?” “You did say bears hibernate in the winter…what about Professor Rockford’s explanation of bears stirring and taking a walk while sleeping in the winter?” “What about the people who saw the thing…how do you explain all that?” The zoo officials walked out of the room and down the stairway to the parking area. The reporter headed towards the police commissioner who was standing just outside the Mayor’s Office, a few feet from the meeting room. He then asked the commissioner about the way the meeting was held. “Commissioner Talis, do you think the meeting was utilized for public safety or for personal gain?” Talis glared at the reporter who also attracted other reporters that were hanging about in the corridor. He thought carefully before answering, “I think the mayor knows what she is doing. However, I feel that it should have been handled a bit more privately – my concerns are public safety – public panic…especially with the upcoming walk-athons, regattas, and general park users. I’m afraid of public panic over this situation. Personal gain is not on my agenda…now if you’ll excuse me, I have work to do.” The reporter fired back while pursuing the commissioner to the official user’s elevator, “what did you think about the professors’ presentation…what about the Black Kid?” The commissioner answered, “the presentation was informative…I could have gotten that stuff from the zoo people”…the elevator doors closed. The reporter, himself Black, wondered about today’s events as he double-checked his digital voice recorder. He also wondered, while walking down the stairwell of City Hall, how the family of Lindsey Irvin was dealing with the latest attack.

A heavy police presence saturated both sides of the Schuylkill River, from the East Falls Bridge to the Art Museum and Eakins Oval. The Marine Unit of The Philadelphia Police Department could not find anything that would indicate the whereabouts of the bear or the body of he suspected dead teenager. The order was given to start a diving search and rescue effect. “We don’t expect to find the boy alive, “ said one team commander to another diving squad commander. “But we do expect to find his body.” Two divers were set to go into the water. Assistant team members double-checked their gear. They made sure that the underwater radios and flashlights were operating correctly. The divers entered the water under the Girard Avenue Bridge, just down river from the viewing stand and Goose Island, which sat smack in the middle of the river directly across from the viewing stand automobile parking lot. Another set of divers was preparing to enter the water from up-stream, the East Falls Bridge shoreline. The first set of divers reached Goose Island while police water craft motored above, from one end of the river to the other. The first set of divers dove deep into the river bottom and root of the island. The murky water disclosed various underwater caves around the perimeter or the island. “There’s a bunch of cave openings at the center and bottom of the island, Sergeant Miller,” said the first diver. “Besides a bund of fish and fowl carcasses, car parts, a car chassis, tree limbs, and other debris…I’d like to see what’s in one of these caves.” “Make sure your partner keeps watch behind you, diver…I don’t want any mishaps down there.” I’m dispatching a couple of boats to monitor above you while you’re in there.” “Go ahead and investigate the cave,” said the sergeant. The diver signaled to his partner to watch his back. The first diver entered the water, climbing over large tree roots and stumps, he was careful to stay afloat…the muddy river bottom was like quicksand. In an attempt to stand, the officer’s feet made contact with the rivers muddy bottom. The muck seemed to envelope his entire foot and leg as it virtually sucked him downward into the mire. The muck seemed to suck down anything that made contact with it. The diver shined his light up and down and side-to-side of the cave walls submerged under water while marine inhabitants scurried.

The Carp, Sunnys, Blues, and Eels scurried out of the path of the light and the diver. “Hey Jeff”, said the first diver to the second. “There’s a path and open air in here.” The diver traveled about twenty-five feet from the murky black bottom entranceway into the cave. The trail in the island’s belly began to turn into dry soil as the diver ascended. He turned off his oxygen while removing his scuba mask and spoke into his radio. “Jeff…come in here…you’ve gotta see this.”

Harold Risehold (the 1st diver) was astonished at the discovery his partner Jeff Scott, was about to disclose and he…about to witness. A skull, partially decomposed, lay between two rocks in a corner of the cave. When Harold reached to pick it up, a small catfish darted from the socket of an empty left eye socket. Harold jumped backwards and fell with a loud splash into a pile of gucky and smelly mud. The two officers were shocked at the find and spooked by the thought of being here if and when the creature decided to come back here to this cave. After composure set in on he pair, the men gathered the skull and a few scattered bones, which appeared to be the lower lumbar section of a human, for evidentiary examination. They also photographed the unusually large paw and claw prints as seen throughout the cave. Live and dead inhabitants with other specimen was documented and photographed as well. “Let’s gather this shit and get the hell out of here. I’ve got a bad feeling about this place!” exclaimed Harold while caressing the large Bowie knife strapped to his right leg. The two men hurried their work. Suddenly, a loud splash and gurgling sound caused the hair on their necks to stand at attention. “Jeff…let’s go – NOW!” “If we’ve missed something, let the big wigs handle it…let’s move…get out.” Quietly, excitedly, and panicky – almost silently was the high pitched cry of Risehold. The divers raced into the water away from the sound…donning their gear on the fly.

The divers reached the surface of the water and hurriedly entered the waiting police marine search and rescue boat. They were happy the backup boats were there because they did not want to swim back to the point of origin. They were visibly frightened and glad to be on the way back to shore. The West side of the river endured a traffic backup just as the four officers reached their destination on the East side of the Schuylkill. The other boat headed back up river towards the Falls Bridge.

Officers arrived at the accident scene on the West River side just before the “Sweet Briar Cutoff.” A car and a pickup truck were engaged in a fender-bender just about at about 8 p.m. The female driver of the car stated that she’d seen something huge run across the roadway. The other drivers of stopped vehicles concurred – “It was huge”, screamed another of the other motorists! “It disappeared into the woods up the hill towards the expressway!” One of the cops appeared to be complacent, “yeah…ok, let’s see your cards”, referring to the vehicle owners’, insurance identification cards, and drivers license(s). Both drivers produced the required documentation. The other cop walked over to where the motorists pointed the animals running route. Four motorists, two men and two women with outstretched fingers, pointed to the direction. The owners of two of the six stopped cars stood frozen with uncertainty…their eyes wide open as they peered from the left and to the right. They were very afraid. The cop was out of sight for all of a few minutes. Suddenly, the cop appeared from the bushes…running from the thickness of the wooded area – straight to his waiting police cruiser – the man screamed into the radio microphone! “EMERGENCY – EMERGENCY, THIS IS CAR #1407…BADGE NUMBER 3722, GET BACKUP OUT HERE IMMEDIATELY – ALERT…ALERT THE CAPTAIN AND THE SWAT TEAM – IT’S HERE, IT’S HERE!”

The motorists who were fearful had every right to be alarmed. The larger than life beast, silhouetted by the full moonlight, burst from the thicket in hot pursuit of the inquisitive bush- searching officer. The unfrozen motorists ran for their cars. One of the female motorists became a pillar of screams. The cars attempted to flee…but could not due to the police cruisers blocking the westbound lanes of the West River Drive. The Giant Kodiak roared. The sound was deafening. It sounded like thunder and lightning as the monster crashed and cracked tree limbs with its massive frame. The beast roared again and showed its glistening seven-inch fangs that dripped with spittle and foam. It attacked the cruiser of the escaping cop while he was still in it. The cop sat in horror – screaming into the radio’s microphone. The officer never had an opportunity to draw his service weapon, glock 9mm semi-automatic handgun. The over-whelming attacker hit the driver side door with a swipe of its right tree-trunk sized arm. The thick paw housed eight-inch claws. The driver side door of the car crumpled as glass shattered from its window. The second blow from the beast ripped the door from the car completely. The door disappeared into the night. The third swipe brought the helpless cop into the jaws of the giant. The blood curdling screams of the man pierced the otherwise quiet nighttime air. Blood gushed from the mouth, ears, and eyes of the bears prey as the beast’s punch-press jaws cracked the rib cage and ripped his middle with the seven-inch fangs. The Kodiak’s jaws were massive…several thousand pounds of lightning fast jaw muscle crushed the officer’s torso like teeth cutting a potato chip. The innards were ripped out with the splashing of blood, flew everywhere as the beast began to dine. The bears mouth was so large that it enabled the envelopment of the large mans’ entire mid-section. The second cop, as were the witnessing motorists, was frozen in horror as he was forced to watch his partner being eaten alive. He fired his weapon at the beast to no avail. The officer emptied his service weapon into the back of the ravaging behemoth with no affect. The animal, annoyed at this nuisance, turned and looked at the thing that was interfering with its meal. The large red and white moonlit hate filled eyes sent ice water through the veins of the assaulting officer. The animal stood on its hind legs, looking down on the hapless being. Fifteen feet of bristled fur and muscle was too much for the eyes of the officer to drink…standing on its hind legs, the beast swung its massive paw and flipped over what was left of the dead cops cruiser. The flying car missed the surviving officer by mere inches. The police officer was frozen with fear as he starred at the glistening fangs…white as ivory, dripping blood and guts. The officer attempted to re-load his weapon while the approaching animal descended upon him. Before the cop could look up again, the mouth of the bear engulfed the human from head to waist. One bite of its vicious cavernous jaws left the lower half of the man standing…the limp remains, waist to feet, dropped to the pavement in a bloody heap. The lower half of the man was picked up by the beast with its jaws and carried off as the animal glared back at the remaining fright-filled, dumb-founded, and frozen motorists. The monster bear sauntered off towards the rivers edge; its jaws dripped human blood and human legs dangled as it disappeared into the river-brush.

The pickup truck driver managed to make a statement out loud while standing with several other horror-filled people, “Damn…the cop didn’t give me back my driver’s license!”

Next Week: Part 4: “A Pillar of Salt”

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*/