The first victim—that I’m aware of anyway; there may well have been others who never came forward—was a dentist named Smith.
What matters isn’t his identity, it’s what happened to him one fog-bound evening in January outside his practice on North Sixth Avenue in Granford.
As he was fumbling for his car keys in the ill-lit parking lot, a man he was afterwards unable to describe—or rather was able to describe only as dressed in a long black coat flapping about him like a cloak—stepped out of the shadows, stabbed him in the shoulder, and fled with a high-pitched laugh. Fortunately, the wound wasn’t serious enough to prevent Smith from driving himself to Grenadine Community Hospital, where he told police he couldn’t think of anyone who might have it in for him.
—That would make him highly unusual among dentists, wouldn’t it?
Maybe so—but the point is the incident was sufficiently bizarre to catch the eye of Tom Fiedler, the crime reporter at the Granford Daily Dose. The six-inch story he turned it into so excited Van LeVine, the city editor, that he fired off a message to Mike O’Brien across from me at the copydesk.
“I know how late it is but Fiedler’s come up with a talker and it’d be nice if we could get it in ahead of the TV stations.”
O’Brien, who knew a command when he saw one, damned LeVine under his breath and yanked a couple of obits off page 3A to make room for the story.
Hilarious ... bum stabbing ... what a great idea!