Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"Monument to Death" Anonymous/Unknown

Monument to Death
Anonymous/Unknown

Olin Carpenter shook his head sadly as he looked down at the dead body of his engineer, Sheen Muldoon, lying on the floor of the contracting office. Sheen had been a nice boy, honest and clean-cut. Carpenter felt really sorry he had had to murder him.

But then Muldoon had brought it on himself. If he had kept his nose out of business that didn't concern him! If he had not learned that Carpenter once had served a stretch for robbery, had sprung himself from stir by killing a prison guard!

Carpenter since then had become respectable, was even growing rich on this state bridge contract. Carpenter even smiled a little sadly to think how Muldoon had laid his cards on the table and had said he was going to turn Carpenter over to the police.

Carpenter took twenty thousand dollars in cash from the safe and placed it in Muldoon's pocket. There was no question that the money would be missing along with Muldoon. And the bonding company would have to make it good anyway.

It was dark outside and the darkness hid Carpenter as he carried Muldoon's limp body up the loose gravel to the level of the road. Just beyond, the floodlights shone on the huge concrete forms as the night shift poured soft cement from the big mixers into the gaping walls of wood.

Carpenter carried his burden along the top of the bank until he came to the very edge of the great cavern where the bridge structure began. The floodlights showed the long trough of oozing concrete as it flowed from the opposite bank to the very center of the network of wood. And the glare of the lights hid Carpenter with his eerie cargo from the eyes of his own men. It was so simple: he walked along the planking and with a shift of his shoulder he dropped Muldoon's body into the gaping jaws, even as the splashing river of concrete rose higher between the supporting walls.

Carpenter took one chance to satisfy his curiosity. Kneeling down he held his flashlight inside and lit it. Muldoon hung over an iron tie rod and soon the wash of rising concrete would engulf him and the truth would be sealed forever from prying eyes.

One thing this experience had taught Carpenter, however; he would burn the clippings he had been careless enough to leave lying on his desk. The clippings that described the jail break and had reproduced Carpenter's picture over his true name, Rufus Olean.

Next, Carpenter approached his men from another direction, as if he had just arrived by way of the highway. He began to drive the labor as if he were a person possessed of the devil. What had been a slow seeping stream of concrete now became a rushing, splashing torrent as the whole gang scooped shovels along the trough to hasten the flow. After all, a crime had to be covered up but fast. And at last the section containing Muldoon's body had been filled!

He was careful not to return to his office, so that he did not report to the police until the following morning that his engineer had disappeared with twenty thousand dollars of the firm's cash. Carpenter also remembered to notify the bonding company.

The bonding company investigator was a man named John Cramer and he had gone to college with Muldoon. He seemed shocked and unable to believe that Muldoon was a crook.

The day the forms were being removed the state commissioner and Cramer were both at the job.

"Muldoon was a first rate engineer," said the commissioner. "And we want to be sure the job will go ahead according to specifications without him. Inspections will be mighty rigid."

Carpenter smiled. "This job will pass the most severe inspections," he replied, "if for no other reason than to prove to Muldoon, wherever he is, that we're well rid of him."

A solid wall of firm smooth concrete appeared before them as the forms came down. Like the removing of a mask and a masquerade.

"Ever see a prettier sight?" asked Carpenter. Then his face froze. Every precaution he had taken, every care in planning and all the assurance of safety he had enjoyed left him like a fog in a high wind. His world came tumbling down about him. He followed his true bent and reached for his pocket, but he had no gun. He turned and began to run, but John Cramer let him have one straight to the jaw and he had not the will to fight back.

The commissioner and Cramer smiled grimly as the cops shoved Carpenter into the wagon. And Carpenter recalled forlornly and too late how he had forced the men that night of the murder. The pressure of the increased flow of concrete had moved the body and—

Half way up the wall of concrete, still doubled over as if hanging to the tie rods, could be seen the hardened outline of the body of Sheen Muldoon—a monument to the handiwork of Olin Carpenter.

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