J. EDGAR HOOVER BUILDING
OFFICE OF THE X-FILES
Special Agent Dana Scully was by now used to the frequent slide shows complete with Mulder’s narration. She often thought some of her partner’s droll monotone would put her to sleep if it went on past ten minutes, but then she always recalled some of the most boring lectures from medical school. Today, she felt as though she was watching an episode of Biography.*
“Doyle Finnegan is a bartender extraordinaire. His repertoire of recipes exceeds that required of any American bartender’s school or regulatory agency. He had learned the fine art at a community college bartending course and managed to be
as creative as any expert in the art, and just as chefs are required to create a signature dish before leaving, going off to the best of restaurants, he managed to think of a cocktail no one had seen the likes of. He was educated in Dublin,
Ireland, and emigrated to America at the age of 25. The dark brown haired man, with eerily blue eyes, was quite the enterprising young man.
“By the time he was 35, in 1995, he had managed to invest much of his hard earned money into a bar of his own in Framingham, Massechussettes: Doyle’s.
“While most people have an interest in dogs, cats or fish as pets, Doyle prefers the company of a snake. A king cobra. Together, they run Doyle’s. The cobra is quite a show piece.
“And there ya have it.” Fox Mulder ended his slide show and biography of Doyle Finnegan.
“Yeah, those eyes really are ‘eerie’, Mulder. So these people died how? You didn’t say how they died, Mulder.”
“Neither did the Framingham PD. The autopsies were inconclusive. All three died at home after a night out at Doyle’s.”
“What about the cobra, Mulder? If the autopsy results are a dead end, how does it fit into the case?” Strangulation had occurred to Scully, but there would have been marks on the bodies. “The toxicology report shows nothing remarkable, other than a slightly higher than acceptable level of blood alcohol.”
“That’s why we were called in, Scully. Remember, all the tips I get in this depart-ment put food on your table.”
“Did I even say a word this time about off-beat sources, contacts from crazy informants or a call from someone who worked with you years ago?”
“Now this is why I don’t have to tell you anything like this anymore, Scully. You know me very well now. We have a flight in two hours. Got your overnight bag re-stocked?”
“When don’t I these days?” They had been out in the field a lot lately, and things showed no sign of slowing down.
“Just for the sake of curiosity, how did you hear about this one?”
“One of my off-beat sources.” He knew that would cue the eye roll. Yes, right on time.
“I should have known. Well, let’s get a move on.”
Doyle’s was a friendly, warm, neighborhood tavern. For all intents and purposes, people could bring their families there for a meal and feel at home. As this was a weekday, most people were at work and school.
Frank Batista ordered another Scotch at the bar. “Hey, Doyle!” he slurred. “Another one!”
“Easy does it,” Doyle said with patience and care. “You can’t be spending all your unemployment on drinkin’. I know you put a couple under yer belt before you came here. None of you ever learn.”
“Well, I don’t care. I ain’t got no dependents, so it’s my life, the customer’s always r-r-r-right, and get me my damn drink!”
“My God,” Finnegan muttered as he reached for the bottle,
“Crazy bastard ought to be put out of his misery.” As he poured the whiskey, he reached into his pocket and retrieved a vial of a clear liquid substance, and added a few drops into the glass. *Finnegan’s signature drink*, he whispered to himself. “All right, there ya go. But after this, you’re cut off. And just for you, I’ve made me signature drink.”
“Yeah, right,” Batista sneered. “Cut off when the money runs out. Say, why don’t ya bring out that flute and have that snake do a dance for me?”
“Sure.” Doyle bent down and pulled up a basket that housed his cobra. “Entertainment’s on the house.”
To the strangely sad music in a minor key, the cobra rose from the basket as Batista sipped his Scotch. The size of the reptile was massive, and it slowly swayed to the song. After a moment, Batista only saw it as a blur, and within two minutes he had lost consciousness.
Doyle placed his flute on the bar, and the cobra slithered back down into the basket. “Well, Amber, another customer lost. Mind you, the ambiance should return. Can’t afford someone like him ruining business with his behavior now, can we?”
A young man saw Batista with his head on the bar and went to assess the situation. “Hey, what’s happened to him? He only had two drinks.”
“Two that I know of, Ralph. Just go back to your seat. I’ll let him dry out in me back room. Go on.”
Frank Batista was not going to go home that day. Doyle summoned his assistant to handle business while he disposed of Batista.
FRAMINGHAM POLICE DEPARTMENT
Mulder and Scully had gone straight to the police station to question detectives on the three reported murders.
“All were patrons of Doyle’s,” Mulder repeated. “Detective Burns, we have no definitive cause of death, and these men were found in three separate areas of town. Now, you tell us there are no fingerprints, the forensics experts gave no clue as to whether a weapon was used, yet Doyle Finnegan’s name keeps coming up. He has no criminal record. He’s now an American citizen, but that’s not a crime, so I don’t see how the man fits into any investigation. Well, other than the fact that he is, as you put it, ‘Just about the best bartender in the West’, I really don’t see much of a case yet.”
“That’s just it,” Burns, a balding man in his forties replied.
“We do know that they were all last seen at Doyle’s. There’s something missing here, and I can’t put my finger on it. We do have several accounts of Doyle Finnegan getting out of sorts with the victims, but they were under the influence and getting a bit demanding.”
Scully placed a file on Burns’ desk. “There were no toxins other than alcohol in their blood work, no marks on the bodies and no evidence of any trauma by weapon or otherwise.
We can’t just arrest someone without probable cause or concrete evidence.”
“I know, and that’s what is so damn frustrating about this case.” His thoughts were interrupted with the ringing of his phone. “Excuse me. Burns. Where? All right. I’m on my way. Another frequent patron of Doyle’s was found in a dumpster outside a dry cleaner’s by two high school kids.”
“A dumpster? That’s quite a departure from the first three locations. Had he been at Doyle’s?” Mulder asked.
“Yeah. Scotch on his breath, and a young accountant reported having seen the man at the bar. Swears the victim had consumed only two Scotch’s, and Doyle took him into his back room to sleep it off.”
“I think we should have a look,” Scully announced.
“Then let’s go,” said Burns.
ALLEY BEHIND RUTHERFORD CLEANERS
Cruisers were still on the scene and officers were speaking to the two teen-aged boys who had found the body of Frank Batista. The area had been cordoned off with crime scene tape and the medical examiner was placing the victim in a body bag.
“What’ve we got?” Burns asked.
“Frank Batista, 31, unemployed. No wife or kids, parents live in Springfield, and Zack and Russ here found the body.”
Mulder flashed his badge, as did Scully. “Special Agents Mulder and Scully, FBI. We’d like to ask you a few questions.”
Scully ventured over to get the information from the police.
“Sure,” the tall sixteen-year-old known as Zack offered, all the while looking Mulder straight in the eye and making a grab for his wallet, while Russ linged at Mulder, pushing him into the side of a dumpster.
Mulder wheeled around and grabbed Zack by the collar as a police officer restrained Russ.
“Look, we can either do this the easy way or with charges added”, Mulder warned the one teen. “Now, how did you find the body?”
“Dumpster-hopping,” the shorter boy of the same age answered.
“Zack and me look for broken radios, stereos, things like that and fix them. Then we sell them. Need a motherboard fixed? I can do that.”
Mulder smiled. “I’ll remember that.” Mulder waived the police officer away. “No charges. Yet. You were saying?”
“He was lying pretty far down,” said Russ. “Today they emptied the dumpsters here, so there was hardly anything there but rotten food and a few old rags.”
“I see,” Mulder finished his notes. “So, I know you’re under age, but I think you might know the answer to this one: Where is Doyle’s?”
“Three blocks that way,” Russ answered, pointing west. “Can’t miss it. He has a sign with a cobra over the front.”
“I see. Thanks.” He walked away from the boys and met Scully midway between their car and the cruisers, rubbing his rather sore left ribcage.
“You okay, Mulder?”
“Just a bit winded. Good thing I have you around to keep me in shape. What have you got?”
“Well, the medical examiner is stumped. He’s going to look at the body in more detail tonight. What did you find out?”
“Well, Doyle’s is three blocks west of here, and I think we should find out where the other three bodies were found in relation to the bar. Did you know that these kids are techno wizards?”
“No, Mulder. But do you know how many people die form alcohol poisoning in this country every year?”
“Then how could I know they were techno wizards?”
“Point taken. Why don’t we get the locations the bodies were dumped, find out if there’s a pattern, and if there’s another relationship to Doyle’s nobody’s thought of.”
FRAMINGHAM POLICE STATION
Burns, Mulder and Scully studied a Framingham street map taped to the wall of an office. “Now,” Burns said as he pointed a pen to several push pins in the map, “These places are all about a five minute’s walk to or from Doyle’s. The dumpster is quite a bit closer to the bar this time. There’s another difference, even though the man had last been seen at Doyle’s in daylight, the first three murders took place at night, and
the victims succumbed at their own homes.”
“The autopsy reports showed no indication he doctored the drinks, there was no weapon used, no strangulation or suffocation… but it does seem like Doyle was in a hurry to get this guy out of the way. He was likely dragged to a car and thrown into the trash,” Scully surmised.
“Still,” Mulder said, “This count’s on Doyle’s scorecard, so it’s about him in some way. I wonder what Batista and the others did to tick him off?”
“We asked already. Witnesses to the first case reported Doyle was rather agitated that Todd Stranges, 40, had been drinking before he went into Doyle’s. The remark was something to the effect of, “You’re all alike,” or something like it. And he was
said to have been rather disturbed with the second and third victims for their, uh, state when they arrived.”
“But it’s not legal for him to serve people who seem impaired,” Scully reminded the detective.
“Well, a lot still do serve drunk people until they get caught.
They usually refuse them service instead of killing them,” Burns replied. “Doyle’s past is a mystery to us.”
“Maybe not to the Bureau, Interpol or Dublin Police,” Mulder suggested.
“Computer’s right there on the desk. Knock yourselves out. I’m off duty until noon tomorrow, but my home number is at the desk.
‘Night all. Not that I’m in any hurry for the Wednesday night meatloaf.” Detective Burns closed the door to the little room.
Mulder sat at the desk and began to type, then turned to Scully.
“I guess we should get something to eat. C’mon. I can do the same search on my laptop over take-out.”
“Yes, considering we didn’t have lunch, that’s a wise idea.”
“Say, maybe after that we can go out for a drink some place nice and friendly… ”
“With a dancing cobra as entertainment,” Scully finished.
“Yeah. Great idea, Scully!”
Scully avoided his face, choosing to look at the map. “I’m sorry I didn’t think of it myself,” she said lowly. “But let me remind you about that little rule regarding the ingestion of alcoholic beverages while on duty.”
“Not if we go as working stiffs Fox and Dana instead of Special Agents Mulder and Scully, and beer often goes with certain foods quite nicely, Dana. You know: pretzels.”
She smiled and smacked his arm. “It’s Scully to you.”
Scully sat on the bed going over the autopsy reports regarding the three previous victims, while Mulder sat at the desk looking for any criminal reports about Doyle Finnegan.
“Hey Scully. This guy’s life seems to have begun the moment he left Ireland. His resume outlines his education, but there’s no record of him ever having attended the bartending classes at Trinity College. Guinness and Bushmills Distillery do not have him on record as having been employed, yet his resume says he was at Guinness for two years as a quality control worker, and Bushmills for three. There are no birth records regarding a Doyle Finnegan his age and appearance, and no medical records.
Records here say he was employed at a couple of Boston area establishments in the ten years before he opened Doyle’s. By the way, he currently resides at 462 Nash Street. Other than that, he has no doctor, dentist or podiatrist for that matter.”
“So you’re saying he doesn’t exist before age 25, but that he’s in perfect health and hates dentists? Mulder, everyone is born and lives somewhere. What about aliases?”
“I already ran his picture down at the PD when you were on the phone as we were leaving. His face is memorable, but he doesn’t show up in any database. Not even a school picture.”
“Next of kin?”
Mulder turned to look her straight in the face with a blank expression.
“I didn’t think so.” Scully stuck her fork into a container of fried rice.
“What about the autopsies?”
“I’ve gone over them at least three times and there is absolutely nothing to indicate a cause of death that we can link to Doyle Finnegan or his cobra. It’s possible the second victim died of a stroke, but… ”
“But they cremated him two days after his death. Their religious beliefs dictated he couldn’t be buried on the Sunday. The first and third victims were in their early thirties and in excellent health. Cause of death: Unknown.”
“I think it’s time we met the man. Casual attire, Mulder. And one beer. One.”
Mulder closed his laptop. “No problem. Who wants to see double when you’re looking at a cobra?”
Mulder and Scully entered Doyle’s Tavern just in time to see Amber the cobra swinging and swaying to the mournful tune Finnegan played.
“That’s something you don’t see everyday,” Mulder remarked. He had chosen a blue tee shirt and jeans for the occasion.
Scully, in jeans and an over-sized white shirt looked at the reptile in both amazement and fear. “Those things are poisonous. I wonder how he manages to control it.”
Mulder looked on in fascination as people applauded and cheered.
The tune came to an end and the cobra found her way back into her basket.
A middle-aged woman sat at the bar with her husband and seemed quite impressed. “Ah, Doyle. For my birthday! That’s sweet.”
“Well, thank you, Edna darlin’. Bill here requested it just for you. He wanted somethin’ special for your birthday.”
Edna kissed her husband and finished her lager. “Bill thinks of everything.”
Bill stood and grabbed Edna’s coat. “Well, c’mon, dear. That movie’s about to begin. Thanks, Doyle.”
As the couple left, Scully watched Doyle very carefully. “For someone who doesn’t exist, he’s quite the charmer.”
“Who ever heard of an Irish swami? Waiter, two beers!”
Of course, Doyle Finnegan noticed the pair weren’t regulars. He decided to join Mulder and Scully. It was his habit to assess the clientele, and Scully’s fascination with the snake, as well as Doyle’s ‘eerie’ eyes, hadn’t gone unnoticed by the man.
Mulder gave the ‘careful’ look to Scully and she nodded.
“Well, new here?” Doyle pulled up a chair. “I always like to personally welcome new patrons.”
“Yes,” Mulder replied. “My name’s Fox and this is Dana.” He shook Doyle’s hand.
“Odd name for a man, Fox. Dana, well that’s an intriguing name. You’re married, I take it.”
“No,” Scully answered. “We’re co-workers, it’s been a long day, and we decided to stop in for a beer. So, that was quite a remarkable performance.”
“Oh, you mean the flute and Amber,” Doyle said, smiling. “It’s very popular here. Mind you, it’ll never make it to Vegas.” He laughed, Mulder offered a slight chuckle, and Scully checked the man’s hand for a wedding ring.
“So, it looks like you’ve been quite successful,” Mulder remarked.
“Yes, business is good. Framingham’s been good to me. I should get back to work. It was nice meeting you, Fox and Dana. Drop in any time. Come see how amazing Amber can be.”
When the man had left them, Mulder popped a pretzel into his mouth.
“Not married,” Scully informed him.
“And he was sizing us up as much as we were checking him out.”
By about 10:30, there had been a few more performances by Doyle and his snake, but nothing really out of the ordinary other than the cobra’s dance had happened. So, Mulder and Scully decided to leave and retire for the night, Doyle Finnegan
eying them suspiciously until the door closed behind them.
“He doesn’t seem like the type to lose his temper and murder,” Scully said as they walked to the rental car.
“A lot of them don’t seem that way,” Mulder replied. “You know, with all the information we didn’t find on him, I’d think this was an X-File.”
Scully stopped at the car. “Is that just a feeling on your part, or do you have a file on anyone like him?”
Mulder unlocked the car. “No files. Just call it a hunch. And remember, cases like this are why we get assigned to such interesting guys. Don’t tell me you weren’t a bit taken by the man.”
“Well, no, Mulder. It’s just I haven’t seen that shade of blue in anybody’s eyes before. He does seem kind of overflowing with charm.” Scully fastened her seat belt as Mulder started the car.
“That’s just the type to be suspicious of, Scully. It’s late. May as well turn in and get an early start tomorrow.”
DOYLE FINNEGAN’S APARTMENT
462 NASH STREET
Finnegan carried the cobra and basket into his apartment and locked the door. “Another successful night, Amber. I love me work.” He placed the basket on the carpet in front of the couch, and crossed the room to get to a small desk. As he opened the top drawer, he told the snake, “No sense getting behind on me supply.” He removed a clear vial, syringe and tiny bottle and took them over to the couch.
He carefully reached into the basket, removed the cobra, and injected a sedating substance into his pet. When Amber was sufficiently docile, Doyle Finnegan proceeded to extract venom from her fangs, humming one of his haunting, minor key tunes.
On his coffee table was a notice from his landlord. Finnegan read the paper and crumpled it up, throwing it across the room in a fury. “So he knows what I’m doing, does he? Doesn’t want any exotic pets? Well, I’ll be dealing with him, Amber! Now, just rest for the night and we’ll be safe and sound. Good night, pet.”
The agents decided to confer with Detective Burns, who they had called bright and early.
“Like he doesn’t exist?” The man showed mock surprise. “Everybody is born, grows up and leaves some sort of history, information or whatever.”
“Well, this man doesn’t.” Mulder set down several pages of the research he had done on Doyle Finnegan. “He begins in America and ends up at his own downtown tavern, it would seem. Ireland doesn’t even have any information on this man.”
“His license is up to date, and there’s been no real trouble at Doyle’s Tavern,” Scully added.
“However,” Mulder interjected, “We’re working on a theory and we’re going to stick around. Maybe it’s about time we checked his apartment.”
“On what grounds?” Burns asked. “We really don’t have enough evidence to implicate him in the murders, and we can’t get a warrant without it.”
“Well, that’s a shame. But, uh… ”
“No you don’t,” Scully warned her partner. “Don’t even think about it.”
“Think about what? I wasn’t going to say a thing. I was just going to tell Detective Burns here we were available in case anything is found — in order to get a warrant.”
“Sure,” Burns chuckled. “Haven’t we all ‘not’ thought about getting into places without a warrant?”
“Hey, I was only doing my job,” Scully said sternly.
“Well, while you’re here anyway, who am I to interfere with the Bureau? I’m not even on duty here until noon,” Burns said.
“Okay,” Mulder sighed. “It wouldn’t hurt to talk to whoever covers for Finnegan when he’s not in. Surely he has another bartender. Scully?”
“Good luck, Agents. The man you want to talk to is Avery Perkins. He generally opens the place at around 10.”
“We may as well go for a coffee, then,” Mulder suggested.
“I could use one. Thanks, Detective Burns,” Scully replied.
As they were leaving the station, Scully grabbed Mulder’s arm.
“Just what are you trying to do?” she whispered.
“I know you don’t want me picking the lock, Scully. And I won’t. At least not yet.”
His partner shrugged and followed him out of the building.
KRISPY DREAMS COFFEE SHOP
Mulder and Scully were biding their time over coffee and donuts when Mulder’s cell phone went off.
“Mulder. Where? Yes. We’ll be right there.”
“Yes. There’s been another death. This time, it’s a lot closer to Doyle’s home.”
462 NASH STREET
Paramedics were working on an elderly man when Mulder and Scully reached the building Finnegan lived in. They hoisted him onto a gurney and into the back of the ambulance.
Burns had already arrived. “Well, now this is interesting. Our latest victim right outside Finnegan’s home.”
Scully hopped into the ambulance. “I’m going with them. If he dies, I’ll do the autopsy.”
“You were saying, Detective Burns?”
“Don’t tell me your partner’s a pathologist.”
“Actually, she’s a doctor. She kind of grew into the work as far as forensics goes. What happened here?”
“Male, age 62. Landlord. Perry Duncan. Wandered out into traffic, collapsed on the road, and the woman over there talking to my men thought she had hit him. As it turns out, she hadn’t.”
Mulder went up the stairs to the century old house and entered the building, pulling his gun in the process. He reached Doyle Finnegan’s third floor apartment and knocked on the door.
“Mr. Finnegan! Federal Agent! Open up!” When there was no reply, He kicked the door open. There was no sign of the bartender or his snake.
Avery Perkins had just opened Doyle’s for the late breakfast customers when Finnegan Doyle entered through the back door with the cobra. He was unshaven and appeared secretive.
“Didn’t expect to see you until three, Boss. Can I have Bess make you something?”
“No. I’ll be in me office doin’ the books, and I don’t want to be disturbed.”
“But Boss… What the heck. Anybody here want more coffee?”
A woman waved Perkins over to her table and he poured her and her friend a refill, topping up a third woman’s cup.
“What’s with him?” the first woman asked.
“He’s just… in one of those moods. Enjoy, ladies.”
Mulder and Detective Burns entered the tavern and showed their identification to Perkins.
“He doesn’t want to be disturbed. Something about doing the books. When he gets into that mood of his… ”
“Well, he’s not going to be in a better mood any time soon,” Mulder informed the man.
Doyle had opened his door a crack and was listening. He softly closed the door. He opened the lid to Amber’s basket. “I knew this day would come, but not this soon,” he whispered to the cobra. “We’ll meet again.”
Mulder’s cell phone rang as he was about to go into the back of the tavern. “Mulder. What? Look, Scully. Get a toxicology report for me. We’re taking Finnegan in, then I’ll meet you at the hospital.” Mulder turned to Burns. “The Landlord died. There was an injection site found.”
The two men went straight to Finnegan’s office with guns drawn and knocked. “Open up! We know you’re in there!” Burns shouted.
“It’s unlocked,” Finnegan calmly said.
Mulder opened the door, and there sat Doyle Finnegan, calmly closing his ledger.
“Doyle Finnegan,” Burns began, “You are under arrest for the murder of… ”
As Mulder reached for his handcuffs, the blue-eyed, dark haired young Irishman disappeared before both men’s eyes.
“What the — ?” Burns asked, blinking.
“Yeah. What the — ? is right. Talk about a speedy get away.”
“Well what the hell do we do next? Wait for him to show up again?”
“I guess. But I think it’ll be an awfully long wait,” Mulder answered. “I haven’t dealt with anything like this before, and believe me, I have had some very weird cases.”
“So I heard.” Burns placed his gun into his holster. “What do I tell my superiors?”
“He just disappeared. Personally, I prefer to write up exactly what happened, and leave the file open. I’d better call my partner.” Mulder eyed the snake’s basket. “Umm… I DO suggest you call the animal shelter.”
Scully walked into Mulder’s room as he was typing up his latest information on the Doyle Finnegan case. “All packed, Mulder. Ready to go?”
“The flight’s in two hours, Scully. A new X-File. How about that?”
“Yeah. How about that. I got a call from the hospital lab. No evidence of drugs, toxins or anything else that shouldn’t have been in the man’s body, despite that injection site. Apparently, Burns tells me Mr. Duncan had served Finnegan an eviction notice for breaking the rule stating ‘no exotic pets’. I don’t know if I
believe he just ‘disappeared’, Mulder.”
“Well, we hadn’t been heavily drinking and no, he didn’t have his cobra dance for us or drug us. You saw the look on Burns’ face when we told you.”
“What are you going to say in your report?”
“Case remains unsolved. You should get the autopsy report so we can head for the airport.”
“Gladly. By the way, what happened to the cobra?”
“Oh, that’s right,” Mulder smiled as he teasingly answered his partner. “You were quite taken by Finnegan’s snake.”
“Well, Mulder, she was a charmer.”
“Well, so was Finnegan, and look where that got him. Don’t worry. I’m sure she’s better off without him. Besides, you beat her hands down in any contest. She was taken to the animal shelter.”
“I don’t know whether I should be flattered or insulted, Mulder.” Scully gave Mulder that look of hers that told him to quit while he was ahead.
“What? All I said was… ”
“Don’t. Now, just slither out of that chair and let’s go.”
As Mulder opened his mouth to speak, he thought better of it.
TWO DAYS LATER
An article from the Boston Herald arrived on Mulder’s desk, courtesy of Mr. Avery Perkins, Finnegan’s assistant. The article read that Amber the king cobra, who had been residing contentedly in an enclosure at the Framingham animal shelter pending
transfer to an as yet unnamed zoo, had mysteriously vanished. As the shelter had taken precautions to prevent her escape, and there had been no indications of intrusion, Framingham police had no explanation for the disappearance of the cobra.
Mr. Perkins took over the bar and renamed it “Avery’s”. To this day, he has not heard from Doyle Finnegan, and now owns the deed to the tavern property pending payment of a modest mortgage.
Michael Doherty makes quite the cocktail at his tavern in Paloma, Spain. A king cobra by the name of Amber is a popular attraction as Doherty plays mournful tunes on his flute…