“They specifically asked for Duncan McGregor,” said Angus Ferguson in his police report, “but McGregor was nowhere to be found. Probably down at the pub taking in a pint, I thought. So I sent McDaniel.”
They didn’t find McDaniel’s body for hours. It was Fletcher, McBride and Kilpatrick’s bodies they found first. Those were the next three plumbers Angus Ferguson, head of the Gaelic Plumbers Union, sent to the same house when the caller kept phoning in a request for a new plumber.
“It was a woman’s voice,” Angus recalled. “Normal sounding, nothing odd. She kept saying the plumbers I sent couldn’t fix her piping and she wanted McGregor to come, but he was still missing, so finally I decided to go myself. I wanted to see what the problem was first hand, you know.”
The house, located on East 7th Street, had an entrance to the sewer in the street in front of it. When Angus showed up for the call he noticed a bit of blood on the manhole cover. When he looked inside he saw Kilpatrick’s bloody face staring back at him.
The police arrived and investigated. The house was empty. There was no furniture, no plumbing, no phone, and most importantly no woman.
Angus was taken downtown for more questioning. The crime scene was sealed off and a guard was posted. That’s when Nicky Saint, P.I. showed up.
“Anybody ever find McGregor?” Nicky asked the cop on duty.
“The fella the woman first requested? Why would we go looking for McGregor?” the cop said. “He never once came to this address. He’s a lucky lad compared to these poor bastards. They were all brained by their own wrenches.”
“How do you suppose a woman wrestled each of these men’s tools away from them, clobbered them hard enough over the head to kill them, dragged their limp, bleeding bodies onto the street, lifted a fifty-pound manhole cover and dumped them inside during the middle of the day without being caught?
“Well, now, I’ve seen some burly lasses in Charleston…”
“And the first man, McDaniel, they found him ten blocks from here, deep in the sewers, his head in shambles,” Nicky said looking down the manhole to the open sewer line. “That’d take a real burly lass.”
The policeman huffed and said, “We’ll find the killer soon enough. All the plumbers in the area are being told not to respond to any calls for the rest of the week.”
“They only need worry about today,” Nicky said straightening up and looking at the sky. It was near dusk. The air was getting bitter cold. He pulled the flashlight from his pocket and tested it twice. “It’s January 4th, right? The eleventh day of Christmas, and these men are pipers, of sorts.”
“Oh boy, you and your theories, Saint,” said the crime reporter for the Globe stepping up to the edge of the sewer entrance and taking a look around. He wrote something down in his notebook and kept talking, “Although you’ll be happy to know, Mr. Private Eye, that these victims weren’t just pipers in the plumbing sense, but true blue (or should I say plaid?) pipers. Seems as though these fellas were also part of a Scottish bagpipe playing band with Ferguson.”
“Did you get their names?” Nicky asked. He quickly studied the piece of paper the journalist handed him, then gave it back. “There’s twelve names on that list including Ferguson,” Nicky observed. “No need to go looking for these other guys, I’m sure they’re either all dead or about to be.”
“Well, if that’s true then Ferguson himself will be in trouble, too,” the reporter said. “I came from the station house just now and they’ve let Ferguson go. No proof that he did anything other than answer the phone.”
Nicky Saint took a deep breath then started climbing down into the sewer.
“What are you doing?” the cop said.
“There’s twelve men on that list, and there only needs to be eleven victims,” Nicky said pausing on the ladder and looking back up towards the street. “My guess is it’s either McGregor or Ferguson doing the killing. Either way, the confrontation will take place down here.”
“Hey if you see my career, send it back up, will ya?” the reporter called out as Nicky stepped into the ankle deep waste waters of the Boston sewer system.