The Copper Frame

The Copper Frame by Ellery Queen Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: The Copper Frame by Ellery Queen Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ellery Queen
aside to let him pass. Saxon walked behind the counter. Morrison walked over, leaned his elbows on the counter, and regarded the acting chief steadily.
    â€œYou can stop looking at me so accusingly,” Saxon said irritably. “I don’t know why she pulled that. Maybe she’s just got a grudge against all cops.”
    â€œPulled what?” Morrison asked quietly.
    â€œFaked my raping her.”
    â€œI saw it,” Morrison said in the same quiet tone.
    Saxon said hotly, “You saw the tail end of a deliberate act. She lured me into her cell by pretending she meant to hang herself. Then she ripped her own clothes and jumped me.” He came back out from behind the counter. “Come with me and I’ll prove it.”
    He led the way back to the cell block and stopped before the first cell. “You couldn’t see into the last cell,” he said to Coombs. “But you could certainly hear everything going on. Tell Sergeant Morrison what happened.”
    â€œSure,” Coombs said. “You raped the woman.”

chapter 7
    Saxon glared through the bars at the man, “Quit horsing around, Coombs. This is no joke. Tell the truth.”
    â€œI’m telling it,” Coombs said calmly. He looked at the sergeant. “The chief here kept going back to the last cell and asking the woman if she wanted a little company. I didn’t like the way he asked it, and neither did she, because she kept telling him to get lost. Finally I heard him unlock the cell and go in. I heard her say, ‘Leave me alone! Stop it! Are you crazy! You’re hurting me!’ Not all at once. There were little gasps and cries and suppressed screams, like he was holding his hand over her mouth, in between. A couple of times there was the sound of tearing cloth. It was clear to me he was raping her, but locked in here, I couldn’t do a thing about it.”
    Saxon stared at Coombs with his mouth open. After a long time he said, “Why, you lying punk! You’d go that far to get even for a lousy traffic ticket?”
    â€œYou told me to let the sergeant know what happened,” Coombs said reasonably. “So I told him.”
    Saxon strode back to the last cell and looked in. The woman still lay sprawled in the same position. She looked at him with such hate that, in spite of himself, he couldn’t suppress a twinge of guilt, immediately followed by a rush of anger at both her and himself for allowing her histrionics to begin to get to him.
    Returning to the first cell, he said, “Now that you’ve had your little joke, Coombs, tell the truth.”
    â€œHow many times do I have to say it?” Coombs inquired. “You raped her.”
    Saxon looked at Morrison. “Do you believe this guy?” he demanded.
    â€œUh-huh.”
    â€œI told you the way it really happened. Your prisoner deliberately framed me. And Coombs is backing up her story because he’s sore about being jailed.”
    Morrison slowly shook his head. “You’re not getting through to me, Chief.”
    Saxon felt his face redden. “So what do you plan to do about it?”
    â€œI can hardly place a police chief under arrest in his own headquarters,” Morrison said tonelessly. “But I’ll be damned if you get away with raping a prisoner of mine left in your custody. I want a doctor to examine this woman before she leaves here. And I want your district attorney brought down here to decide what to do about you.”
    Saxon stalked past him back to the desk, lifted the phone, and dialed the number Jenny Waite had left in case of emergency. It was the private home of a friend of the meter-maid’s, and he had no trouble getting her called to the phone.
    â€œSorry to break up your party, Jenny,” Saxon said. “But I need you at headquarters right away.”
    â€œOh, no!” she said. “Tonight of all nights.” Then her tone became resigned. “Okay,

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