Authors: Franklin W. Dixon
Then came a flat crack! The gun went flying from Crowell's fingers.
He yelled and shook his stinging hand.
Con and his partner were already running up the stairs. Crowell and George both went for the gun. With his stiff leg, Crowell was at a disadvantage bending for the pistol.
George had his hand on the gun when a foot came down on his wrist. "Sorry, George," Frank said. "You won't be heeding that anymore."
The police moved in then to take charge.
"Frank!" Callie came running down the stairs. "You got them. Where's Joe? And what happened to Barbara?"
They both turned to see Barbara pushing her way through the crowd, heading down the stairs toward the van and Denny.
Callie and Frank began working their way toward her. They were right behind Barbara as she ran across the street.
Denny was still slumped across the front of the van. He stared at the gun in his hands as if he'd never seen it before.
Barbara rushed up to him, reaching for his hands.
But Denny stepped back, looking down at the ground behind him. As Frank and Callie came up, they saw him kneeling down beside Joe. "I'm sorry," he kept saying. "I must have been crazy."
Denny hit the magazine release, sending his ammunition clip to the ground. He worked the action of the gun, jacking the last bullet out. His fingers moved mechanically, in actions he had practiced a million times.
Then he took the gun and put it in Joe's fumbling hand. "I should've let you take it in the first place," Denny said.
"If you had, you might not have had time to make that shot," Frank said. "You managed to save both Crowell and George."
Denny shook his head. "I saw him about to make the biggest mistake of his life," he said. "And I couldn't let him do it. There's been enough killing."
He looked up at Frank. "I guess the cops will want my gun," he said, shrugging. "The important thing is to get Joe to a hospital. I hit him pretty hard."
Frank came down to take one of Joe's arms. Together, they got Joe up and turned to meet the advancing police.
A little while later Frank and Callie were helping a still-rocky Joe out of the Bayport hospital. They stopped in surprise when they saw Denny and Barbara waiting for them at the entrance.
Denny looked a little embarrassed as he asked, "Um, how're you feeling, Joe?"
Joe grinned. "Like someone ran my brain through a food processor—and then poured it back in through my ear." He shook his head, then winced. "No, I'm okay. Just a headache. They don't even think I've got a concussion."
He touched the scrape on his cheek, which was already starting to turn beautiful colors. "We're going to have matching bruises though. Maybe we'll start a trend for the good-looking guys in Bayport."
"Yeah," said Callie. "Real manly."
Denny ran a finger along his own bruised cheek. "I took some lumps on this case," he said. "And I'm sorry I gave you some too. If I'd listened to you guys, maybe we could have avoided some of this.
"You were right, you know. I had Crowell dead in my sights. But I knew—it just wasn't— enough."
Joe sighed, his eyes filled with the pain of loss. "I know what you mean."
"What did the police have to say?" Callie asked, trying to change the subject.
"They've arrested George for the murder of Steve Vittorio. After they played the videotapes from the TV cameras, they called the Philadelphia cops. That bullet had just been found." Denny looked grim.
"What about Lucius Crowell?" Frank asked gently.
"Obviously he's given up the race for supervisor," Barbara said. "And he's giving the cops all the help he can about the disaster at the plant, and the cover-up. He says he should never have kept those chemicals there in the first place. But he swears he didn't know about what George was doing. And I believe him."
"So do I. You know, he thanked me for shooting the gun out of his hand." Denny's eyes were almost dazed as he spoke. "He said he understood the way I felt when I came after him, and he's glad I stopped him."
"I guess he's not an easy man to understand," Frank said. "He went along with a slimy deal that led to disaster, but he did risk his life to save people in the fire. I believe he didn't know what George was doing to protect him."
Then Frank changed the subject. "How about you, Denny?" he asked. "What did the police say to you?"
Denny shrugged. "They're talking about a concealed weapons charge — " "What weapon?" Joe asked. Denny blinked, a little worried. "Well, my gun, of course — "
"That wasn't concealed. You had it right out in the open — I saw it!" He started laughing, and the others joined in.
"I think there's a good chance for you getting off pretty easy," Joe said. "The question is, what will you be doing after that?"
"Getting on with my life." Denny hugged Barbara. "I finally realized how much I've been living in the past, but that's over. The mystery of what happened to my father is over. And I've got you guys to thank for bringing it to a decent end."
Frank shrugged, a little embarrassed. "And how about the other passion in your life? Will you keep shooting?"
Denny smiled. "I guess that's up to the police—whether they give me my gun back." - Joe broke in. "Well, if not, let me suggest a sport to you. It's called basketball. There's Shooting involved, among other things."
He tried to fake a shot and winced again. "Just keep it in mind. As soon as my head gets better, I'd be happy to teach you."