Linda Wood Rondeau

Snark & Sensibility

MURDER AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
Friday, August 7, 2020 by LINDA SHENTON MATCHETT

PLEASE WELCOME

LINDA SHENTON MATCHETT

TO

FICTION FRIDAY

 

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY

The Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor and Germany’s subsequent declaration of war on the United States pulled the country into World War II. When that happened, many citizens jumped at the chance to “do their bit” for the war effort.

However, during the late 1930s as tensions were heating in Europe, a large percentage of the US population was adamant that the conflict was none of our business and we should remain impartial. Those opinions were still in place even after President Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease Act.

In September 1940, a group of Yale law students founded an organization called America First Committee. Conducting rallies and events around the country, AFC supported isolationism and non-intervention. Much like is done today, celebrity spokespeople were used to endorse the cause. The group’s most famous spokesperson was aviator Charles Lindbergh, and thousands of people attended his events.

One such rally occurred at Madison Square Garden in New York City on May 23, 1941. Having grown up in New Jersey and attended numerous events at the Garden, I thought it would be fun to revisit the locale in one of my stories. Hence, the idea for Murder at Madison Square Garden was born.

By the way, AFC dissolved three days after Pearl Harbor and many of its members enlisted in the Armed Forces.

EXCERPT FROM MURDER AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN

Teddy stifled a yawn and shifted to ease the tension in her shoulders. Lindbergh had a right to his views, but she was already tired of listening, and it was only a few minutes into his speech. She turned a deaf ear to his voice and yawned again. She had managed to secrete herself between a group of large decorative trees and one of the pillars about thirty feet from the stage. She had been run out of her first location by an overzealous, albeit handsome, security guard.

Lifting the camera to her eye, she rotated the focus knob to adjust her view. She snapped photo after photo until she came to the end of the film. She bent to tuck the Kodak into her satchel and retrieve her backup Brownie.

A movement to the left caught her attention. She peeked through the branches on the tree and gasped. Between the next pillar and another cluster of trees stood a wiry man dressed in a long-sleeved blue shirt and dark blue pants pointing a pistol toward the stage.

Her head whipped around toward the platform then back to the man. He stirred among the tree leaves, the gun still aimed toward the dignitaries. Teddy's eyes raked the area near the would-be shooter. How did he get in? Where was that pesky security man? No matter what Lindbergh believed, he didn't deserve to be killed.

The man turned toward her.

She froze. Did he see her?

He pivoted back to the stage. The time to do something was now or never.

Teddy laid her camera at the base of the tree and dashed toward the man in blue then launched herself forward, waving her arms and shouting. A shot rang out as her body collided with his. They fell to the floor in a heap.

She untangled herself and rose to her knees. As she scrabbled for the gun, the shooter kicked her legs out from under her. Teddy collapsed onto the wooden planks, stunned. She scraped her hair from her face and rolled over.

The shooter had managed to stand and was bent over the weapon. With a shove, she tipped the ceramic pot that held the tree. It crashed into the man, sending him to the floor.

A crowd surged as Teddy staggered to her feet. She snatched the gun from under the branches, her breath ragged.

Two uniformed policemen and the security guard arrived. In a fluid movement, one of the officers grabbed the pistol from her hand, tossed it to his partner, and wrapped Teddy's arms behind her back.

Her combatant slithered out from under the foliage and slipped into the mass of people.

She struggled against the metal cuffs clamped on her wrists. “What are you doing? He's getting away!”

The policeman tightened his grip and searched the crowd. “Who?”

“The man who tried to shoot Mr. Lindbergh.”

“Is that right? Then why were you holding the gun?”

She continued to push against her restraints. “I was trying to stop him. You've got the wrong person.”

“Looks to me like you’re guilty of murder, and you got caught. Now you're trying to blame someone else.”

Teddy wilted. “Murder?”

“Yes.” The policemen pointed to the stage where one of the dignitaries lay, eyes closed, and a bloodstain spread across his chest.

More patrolmen had arrived and pushed back the throngs to clear a path. The policeman looked smug and gestured for her to start walking toward the exit.

“I need my bag.”

“I'm sure you do. Don't worry. We'll bring it to the station. It's evidence.”

Teddy shuffled forward trying to ignore the crowd’s murmurs. When she reached the door, she looked up to find “her” security guard watching the proceedings.

Their eyes met. His long stare held disappointment before he turned away. Bitterness filled her. Someone else believing lies about her.

 

ABOUT LINDA SHENTON MATCHETT

Bio: Linda Shenton Matchett writes about ordinary people who did ordinary things in days gone by. A volunteer docent and archivist for the Wright Museum of WWII, Linda is also a trustee for her local public library. She is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and has lived in historic places all her life. Now in New Hampshire, her favorite activities include exploring historic sites and immersing herself in the imaginary worlds created by other authors.

Social Media Links:

Website/blog: http://www.LindaShentonMatchett.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LindaShentonMatchettAuthor

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Linda-Shenton-Matchett/e/B01DNB54S0

BookBub: http://www.bookbub.com/authors/linda-shenton-matchett

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author_linda_matchett

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/lindasmatchett

Twitter: @lindasmatchett

MORE ABOUT MURDER AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN

The dream of a lifetime becomes a nightmare.

Photojournalist Theodora “Teddy” Schafer’s career has hit the skids thanks to rumors of plagiarism. With any luck, a photo spread with Charles Lindbergh at the America First Rally will salvage her reputation. After an attempted assassination of Lindbergh leaves another man dead, Teddy is left holding the gun. Literally. Can she prove her innocence before the police lock her up for a murder she didn’t commit?

 

 

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