ICYMI: Read “The Times Square Terrorist – Part II”
On the Monday the fifth note was revealed to the media, Michelle got a call at work – it was almost quitting time – from her six-year-old nephew Andrew. Still a week and a day to go before Christmas, but he was already into plans for the next holiday. He wanted to know if she could come to their house on New Year’s Eve to watch The Ball drop on TV. He was talking so fast she wasn’t getting every word. More than once, he mentioned the word fetti. The third time he used the word, he said, “I love that fetti. It’s so pretty.” This time she stopped him.
“The what?” Michelle asked laughing. This was a new one on her. Here was a real mystery to solve. What the heck was fetti? Could it be a new Italian dish her sister, an adventurous cook, was working on? Andrew gave his explanation.
“Fetti, the little pieces of colored paper from the sky. Y’know, fetti.” A few seconds later Michelle heard her sister Gabriella on the phone in the background advising her son, “The word is confetti, not fetti, you silly kid.”
“Okay, okay, confetti. But Aunt Michelle, can you come to my house and see it with me?”
Michelle was still holding the phone but almost dropped it. Now she had to hang up and fast. “Yes, yes, absolutely,” she told her nephew. “But now I gotta go, I’ll catch you later.”
Out of the mouths of babes! CONFETTI. It was tradition for a lot of it (about a ton of it, she thought) to rain down on the Times Square crowd at midnight. But what if what was falling was ten tons or a hundred tons or more? What if the confetti just didn’t stop coming? The words echoed back: A deadly rain of color, Will shower down on you.
Could confetti kill? Probably so – or at least maim – if there were enough of it. She thought of those lines: You’ll be choking and gasping, I’ll look down and see the view.
A million people, many of them drunk (technically, drinking of alcoholic beverages wasn’t allowed – yeah, right) would be packed into Times Square on New Year’s Eve. She knew that the police set up separate holding areas, almost like pens for cattle, in order to maintain order in the huge crowd. It was terrifying to think of the panic and terror – maybe even the stampede – that an overdose of confetti could cause.
It all fit. And Michelle didn’t know whether to be glad or sorry.
She figured that if she were like the heroines in some of the cozy mystery books she read, she would barge right in and investigate this personally. Go right down to One Times Square and the neighboring buildings and figure out a way to sneak in and search the buildings. She didn’t “buy” that stuff when she read it in books and she wasn’t buying it now. No, she had a better plan.
She glanced at the clock. Only a few minutes to quitting time. Good! She could hardly wait for that moment when she could grab her purse and head for home. She had an important date. With Google, on her home computer. She had to research topics such as: confetti composition, crowd control, public stampedes, policing to prevent riots, etc. Was her confetti fixation a hunch with some merit, or was it just crazy speculation? Tonight she’d decide.
A few hours later – most of the time had been spent on the Web – she had become convinced that her confetti idea was no fluke. It was at least worthy of investigation.
Who ya gonna call when you have an idea that can’t be handled through your own resources? Not a ghostbuster, but a crime buster. Your very own contact at the NYPD, of course.
She dialed Daisy’s cell and was soon spilling out her thoughts about the TST in a non-stop monologue.
When she finally stopped talking, at first here was silence at the other end of the line. She understood why. In a way, it seemed ridiculous to suggest that confetti could be a dangerous substance. But the confetti concept did seem to pull the whole thing together. It was logical. It made sense – a horrifying, deadly kind of sense.
Finally, Daisy broke the silence. “I…I…don’t know what to say, Michelle. But I’ll definitely pass your idea along tomorrow.” Before Michelle hung up she heard five heavenly words from her friend: “You can count on me.” Michelle took a deep breath and hung up. Of course, she knew she could count on her friend, but she didn’t mind hearing those delicious words to confirm it.
The next morning the two friends touched base again. Daisy had called back to say that the powers that be were getting together a group of crowd control experts on Thursday morning at One Police Plaza to consider a number of TST scenarios. The idea about the confetti danger had been added to the agenda. YES, Michelle said to herself as she mentally pumped her fists.
Thursday night Daisy called in with the report. She told Michelle that the group had concluded that, in this instance, there was a good chance that massive amounts of confetti could cause injuries, maybe even death. They couldn’t predict with perfect accuracy, of course, how confetti would perform as a weapon. They just said it was a definite possibility.
“Gee, I don’t know if this is good or bad news,” said Michelle. “The horror of it is overwhelming, but now maybe there is a chance to set things right before there’s New Year’s Eve chaos in the city.”
“Exactly. What’s definitely good news, though, is that just a few minutes ago the NYPD was able to get search warrants (they found a lenient judge who was a native New Yorker and a great lover of Times Square New Year’s festivities) for a slew of offices near the top of One Times Square and some buildings nearby. If there are unexplained quantities of confetti in the area, they’ll find them.”
Part IV unfurls on Sunday, December 31, 2017 @ 9am EDT.
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!
“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.
Her first mystery, “Beaned In Boston,” in which a lecherous professor perishes even though he was well published, was named to the Washington Irving Book Selection List. Her short story, “