The investigators - By W.E.B. Griffin


Anearly new, but quite dirty, antenna-festooned Buick pulled into the employee parking lot of the Philadelphia Bulletin and into a parking space bearing a sign reading RESERVED MR. O’HARA.

Mr. Michael J. O’Hara, a wiry, curly haired man in his late thirties, wearing gray flannel trousers, loafers, a white shirt with the collar unbuttoned and the tie pulled down, and a plaid sports coat that only with great kindness could be called “a little loud,” got quickly out of the car, slammed the door, and entered the building.

He took the elevator to the third floor, where it deposited him in the city room. He walked quickly across the room crowded with desks holding computer terminals, filing cabinets, and the other impedimenta of the journalist’s profession to a glass-walled office, the door of which also bore his name. He went inside, opened a small refrigerator, and took out a bottle of Coca-Cola.

Then he sat down at his desk, punched the computer keys that would inform him of messages received in his absence, found nothing that could not wait, and took a swallow of his Coke.

An assistant city editor—Seymour Schwartz, a skinny, bespectacled forty-year-old whom Mickey regarded as about second among equals of the assistant city editors—appeared at his door.

“You got anything for me, Mickey?” Sy asked.

“Genius cannot be rushed,” Mickey said. “I thought I already told you that.”

“We go to bed in about fifteen minutes.”

“Hold me a large chunk of page one,” Mickey said. “Journalistic history will be made in the next five minutes. Presuming, of course, that you leave me alone.”

Sy Schwartz threw up both hands in a gesture of surrender and walked away.

He both liked and admired Mickey O’Hara, who had not only won the Pulitzer Prize for his crime reporting, but was regarded—by his peers, including Sy Schwartz, not only by the sometimes politically motivated Pulitzer Prize committee—as just about the best police reporter between Boston and Washington. But as long as he had known O’Hara and worked with him, as many elbows as they had rubbed together, he never knew when Mickey was being serious or pulling his chain.

He did know him well enough, however, to know that when Mickey said he wanted to be left alone, the thing to do was leave him alone. He went back to his desk to wait for whatever Mickey was about to send him.

O’Hara looked at the blank computer screen, wiggled his fingers, reached for the Coke bottle, and took another swallow. Then he locked his fingers together, wiggled them, and, without looking, reached into a desk drawer and came out with a long thin cigar. He bit the end off, spit the end out, and then very thoughtfully and carefully lit it.

He put it in one corner of his mouth, flexed his fingers a final time, and began to tap the keys. Very rapidly. And once he had begun to write, he did not stop. The words appeared on the computer screen.

Slug: (O’Hara) “Really Ugly” Woman Robs Bucks County Bank by Michael J. O’Hara Bulletin Staff Writer

Riegelsville, Bucks County—A bandit described as “a really ugly white woman with hairy legs” robbed the Riegelsville branch of Philadelphia’s Girard Savings Bank of more than $25,000 shortly after the bank opened this morning.

FBI agents and State Police swarmed over this small village on the banks of the Delaware to assist Riegelsville’s one-man police force—part-time Constable Karl Werner—in solving the crime.

According to P. Stanley Dailey, 28, of Riegelsville, assistant manager of the bank and the only witness, the bandit, wielding a sawed-off double barreled shotgun, took him by surprise as he was entering the bank by the rear entrance shortly after 8 a.m.

“She waited until I had unlocked the door, and had turned off the alarm, and then put her shotgun in my ear,” Dailey, still visibly shaken hours after the robbery, told this reporter.

The bandit then took him, Dailey said, into the rear of the bank, where she ordered him to lie on his stomach on the floor of the employees’ rest room, and then bound and gagged him with air-conditioning duct tape.

It was while he was being bound, Dailey reported, that he noticed that beneath her black patterned stockings, the robber’s legs were unshaven. She was dressed, he said, in a blue and white polka-dot dress, over which she wore a tan raincoat. Her hair was covered with a scarf, and she was wearing heart-shaped glasses, decorated with sequins.

The robber then proceeded to the public area of the small bank, Dailey believes, and