The Times Square Terrorist – Part II

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ICYMI: Read “The Times Square Terrorist – Part I”


Gail E. Farrelly

Her resolution to just not worry about the Times Square terrorist was put to the test when the second bit of threatening poetry arrived a few days later and was posted on the Internet within a few hours of the release of the information by the Police Commissioner’s office. The opening greeting and closing threat were the same, the second poem just a slight variation from the first one:

Happy New Year, NY!

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
A deadly rain of color,
Will shower down on you.

Cancel the New Year’s celebration in Times Square or thousands will die.

In the course of her work, Michelle had seen other written threats, but for some reason they had never seemed as scary as this one. The thought of a million people being in one place at one time and targeted by a crazy person filled her with dread. Then there was that phrase “A deadly rain of color.” She didn’t think the terrorist was talking about blood, which was basically one color. There could be shades of red of course, but that wouldn’t describe a rain of color.

“A rain of color” brought back a wonderful memory of a fascinating gift she had received for her fifth birthday. A kaleidoscope, with a constantly changing set of colors. It was so mysterious and so beautiful. The note from this New Year’s demon was also mysterious, but not at all beautiful.

That night she had dinner with some friends at the Irish restaurant Parnell’s on 53rd Street and First Avenue. After dinner, she took a walk over to Times Square and gazed up at the huge height of the One Times Square building. For many years now, it had hosted the same act. The dropping of The Ball, two tunes immediately played for the waiting crowd: “Auld Lang Syne” as well as the wonderful Ebb and Kander tune “New York, New York.” In her head, she sung some of the words from the latter tune:

I want to wake up in that city
That doesn’t sleep
And find I’m king of the hill
Top of the heap

A lump was forming in her throat. She wondered if The Ball would be the only thing dropping that night. Or would there be something else. Bombs or other weapons. She shivered — not so much from the cold as from the prospect of what could possibly happen there on New Year’s Eve night. She told herself not to think about it.
But then the third poem arrived. The opening greeting and closing threat were the same as in the first two missives, the poem slightly different:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
The storm will start at midnight,
There’ll be nothing you can do.

Michelle focused on the word storm. Could the terrorist have figured out a way to manipulate the weather? Nah, that was the stuff of science fiction. And it didn’t fit with the third line of the previous message, A deadly rain of color. A storm wasn’t colorful, was it?

She needed to talk to someone about this and she knew that Chief Cunningham wasn’t that someone.

She thought about her friend, Daisy Rosenberg, a detective in the New York Police Department. Daisy was ten years older than Michelle. The two had known each other for ages, as their mothers were best friends. Michelle and Daisy met for dinner – and sometimes a movie – a few times a year in the city. They hadn’t seen each other since September; it was definitely time for them to get together. And time for Michelle to see if she could get some inside information on attempts to find that Times Square villain. She picked up the phone.


Two nights later, the two women were having cheeseburgers at McFadden’s, a restaurant and saloon near Grand Central Station. Michelle munched on a french fry and looked across the table at her friend. Not for the first time, she thought that Daisy belied her name. Far from looking sweet and fragile, her 5- foot-11 frame was pretty intimidating. If I were a crook, she would scare me, thought Michelle. Daisy wasn’t heavy, but she was no lightweight. And she had a lot of muscle and very little fat. She was attractive in a no-nonsense kind of way, and the short brown hair framing her face was artfully tousled, as if it had been done by a top NY hair stylist.

Daisy swallowed a mouthful of cheeseburger and said, “Well, needless to say, there’s a lot of work going on related to that New Year’s nut. You know, studying weapons purchases, interviewing persons of interest, grilling informants, whatever. No findings so far, though. In a way, I think it’s a shame that the whole thing has to be dragged through the media at this point. But the Commish really had no choice, when it was clear that a couple of newspapers had found out about the threats from TST.” She sighed. “He’s been forced into holding the press conferences.”

Michelle took a sip of her Pepsi and said, “What about the notes themselves? No clues there, huh?”

“Nada. Nothing distinctive about the printing, done on a computer. Not even any DNA on the gummed flap of the envelope. No forensic evidence of any importance at all so far.”

“I was thinking more in terms of the wording in the notes. For example, those lines A deadly rain of color, Will shower down on you. I can’t help but think they’re saying something important. Have no idea what that something is, just a feeling that it’s really, really relevant. In fact, the way this maniac focuses on color. Red, blue, whatever; it’s important, I just know it is. Just wish I knew what it meant.”

Daisy shrugged. “Yep, you, me, and the whole NYPD.”

Michelle was thinking hard and spoke slowly. “Sometimes I think that there’s just too much scientific analysis and use of computers in law enforcement and not enough emphasis on logic, reasoning, and plain old common sense.” She blushed after she said this and soon added, “Oh, what am I talking about? Who am I to criticize? It’s not as if I’m an expert.”

Daisy leaned over to pat her friend’s hand. “Look you may very well be right about that color angle. There’s been no real progress on this case. You’ve always been a wordsmith. If you come up with a reasonable idea about the hidden messages in those notes, give me a call. I can pass it through to the right channels.”

Michelle said, “Okay, thanks, but I wouldn’t want my name used.”
Daisy smiled. “Sounds like a Deep Throat kind of deal. I’ll buy it.”
Michelle didn’t answer. By then, she was too busy studying the dessert menu.

Daisy knew how to get her attention. “So what would Deep Throat think about a hot fudge sundae?” she asked.


Two more deadly notes made the news in the period before Christmas. As with the first three, they started with the salutation, Happy New Year, NY!, and ended with the threat: Cancel the New Year’s celebration in Times Square or thousands will die.

Michelle, and just about everybody else who read them, found the two new poems just as creepy as the first three:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
You’ll be choking and gasping,
I’ll look down and see the view.

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
A colorful way to die,
You haven’t got a clue.

After the fifth note, the pressure was really on. Not a lot of time to stop the TST.


Part III unfurls on Friday, December 29, 2017 @ 9am EDT


“The Christmas Exception” is a digital short story (about a woman who learns a life-shattering family secret right before the holidays) written by Gail and available for sale at UntreedReads , Amazon and other places where ebooks are sold.

Author Gail Farrelly grew up in The Bronx and now resides in Bronxville, NY. Having a doctorate in accounting from George Washington University, she’s taught in several universities and published numerous articles in business and academic journals. Learning about the murderous politics of academic life turned her mind to crime. The fictional kind, of course!



eHeziThe Times Square Terrorist – Part II

Comments 5

  1. Delightfully written such that one can’t predict the outcome. I love it when I feel curious without an idea how the story will evolve or end. I look forward to reading part three.

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