Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Trey Washington, Teddy/Chuck, Mel/Johnny (Johnny does not appear in this chapter)
Series Notes: My notes grew too voluminous for the header, so you can find them in a separate entry here.
Fandoms: Public Enemies/Shutter Island
Genres: Angst, AU, Drama, Hurt/Comfort, Mystery
Rating (this chapter): PG-13
Warnings (this chapter): None
Spoilers: For Shutter Island, some scenes were tailored by me to fit this story. Nothing in this story references the major plot twist of the book or movie. I used the same settings and characters, but in a very AU way. For Public Enemies, nothing except for the ultimate fate of John Dillinger, and that’s historical fact, anyway.
General Summary: U.S. Marshals Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule are sent to Shutter Island on a unique assignment, and while there, discover shocking answers to a decades-old mystery.
Chapter Summary: Mel recounts the events of the night of July 22, 1934.
Date Of Completion: April 4, 2010
Date Of Posting: June 6, 2010
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Dennis Lehane, Paramount and Universal do, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1420
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: This is a story that started running through my head as soon as I left the theater after my first viewing. Like the patients on Shutter Island, I can’t escape! ;)
The entire series can be found here.
THE NIGHT JOHN DILLINGER DIED
John Dillinger died,
Justice died, too.
"The Night John Dillinger Died"
Both Marshals noticed Mel’s absence for the second straight day at the breakfast table in the cafeteria.
“Man, those guys on Ward C deserve combat pay,” one of the orderlies said as he buttered his blueberry muffin. “Crazy stuff goes on over there in that hellhole.”
“Yeah, the patients there scare the scariest on these wards,” Trey agreed. He picked up his glass. “I’ll take my chances here on Wards A and B, thanks.” He drank his orange juice.
Teddy murmured to Chuck, “We have to check Mel out.” His partner nodded.
After breakfast, they spent time with a rambling Rachel, and then spoke to McKinney briefly.
Next door to McKinney was Mel Parker’s room.
When they left McKinney’s room, the attending nurse left for infirmary duty. Teddy took out his master key, slipping it into the lock of Mel’s room.
The door opened soundlessly, and Chuck bit his lip as the hall light illuminated a gaunt Mel Parker, knees drawn up as he sat on the cot, arms locked around his knees as he rocked back-and-forth.
“Mel,” Chuck said softly.
He briefly looked up, hair hanging in his eyes, then stared at the floor again. “Go away. You don’t believe me. No one believes me,” he mumbled, starting to rock again. “Johnny and I will die here and end up in that awful cemetery.”
Chuck held out the book, opening it to the page with the picture of Special Agent Melvin Purvis.
“Is this you?”
Mel looked up, the despair in his eyes tightening Chuck’s gut. What must it be like to live without hope?
Mel stared at the black-and-white frontispiece. He reached out and touched its face with a trembling hand.
“Yes,” he whispered.
For a moment, no one spoke, wind rattling the barred window, then Mel looked at Teddy and Chuck.
Chuck nearly winced at the tremulous hope in enormous dark eyes. “We have to hear your story first.” Chuck sat down next to Mel while Teddy drew up the rocking chair.
“Mel, you claim to be Melvin Purvis, the No. 1 G-Man, who disappeared the night John Dillinger died. What happened that night?”
Mel gazed down at the book. “It was…so chaotic that night. Before Johnny came out of the theater, my agents and I waited in the heat, the most sweltering night in Chicago’s history. I was…I was so scared. I knew that it was a trap. I’d tried to contact him earlier that day but had no luck, so I made sure to be involved at the theater that he was most likely to show up at, the Biograph, instead of the Marlboro. Johnny would have no…no chance. It was shoot-on-sight that night. I didn’t know how I could save him, but I knew I’d die trying.” Teddy and Chuck exchanged looks. So Mel was in love with the gangster before his disappearance.
Mel’s eyes took on a faraway look. “Johnny came out, with Polly and Anna, and he walked by me only a few feet away, and the agents started closing in. And…” Mel started rocking again. “They started to shoot…and I screamed Johnny’s name…and I tackled him to the ground…I was hit and Johnny was hit…our blood was mingled…everyone was screaming and I was screaming…on my knees in blood…cradling Johnny…I thought Johnny was dead…but he wasn’t…and the agents dragged us away, me shouting for someone to help him.”
Mel stopped, shivering as he was swept back in time. Chuck gently put a hand on his arm. After a moment, Mel took a deep breath and continued.
“I was begging for them to help us…Johnny had been shot in the head and chest…I couldn’t believe he was still alive. They took us to a hospital and operated on Johnny and fixed my head and shoulder wounds. Even…even before Johnny was ready, they moved us…brought us here in…in…” Mel ground the heel of his hand into his eyes. “I…it’s all fuzzy…some of it…after twenty years of drugs, I sometimes…can’t remember.”
“It’s all right,” Teddy said gently.
Tears shimmered in Mel’s eyes. “They said we were crazy…that we’d killed the Sullivan family in Smallville…all a lie.”
“But why?” Teddy asked.
Shivering, Mel answered, “You won’t believe me.”
“Director Hoover wanted me.”
Teddy and Chuck looked at each other. Mel saw the exchange and seemed to draw in on himself.
“I knew you wouldn’t believe me. Director Hoover is the head of the FBI. How can he be a…a homosexual?” He lowered his head.
“Mel, rumors about Hoover’s sexuality have been floating around Washington for years,” Teddy said.
Mel raised his head. “But do people believe them?”
“With Clyde Tolson as his constant companion, even on vacations together? Yeah, some people believe it.”
“Do you believe me?”
Teddy gripped Mel’s knee. “I do.”
“Me, too,” said Chuck.
Mel looked stunned. “After all these years…” he whispered.
“Where’s Johnny?” Teddy asked. He suddenly realized that they had never seen the other half of this benighted duo.
“In Ward C.” At the Marshals’ alarmed expressions, Mel hastily said, “He’s not dangerous. He…he just blew up and they hauled him away. The frustration just builds, you know? He’s been stuck here for twenty years, and was in prison for nine years before that, just a year of freedom between these prison sentences.” Mel wiped his eyes with his hand. He still couldn’t believe these men were listening to him, really listening. “He was put in prison when he was twenty-one, a ten-year sentence for a fifty-dollar robbery!” Mel’s voice rose in indignation. “He got out a year early and after being shot at the Biograph, ended up here, this time with no hope of parole.”
Chuck felt sick. It certainly sounded like a crazy story, but this man was either Melvin Purvis or a dead ringer.
“If the Bureau took you and Dillinger away, who was the man they charged people two bits to see in the morgue?” Teddy asked.
“A small-time hood who looked like Johnny.” Mel winced. “I know that sounds completely crazy.” He half-laughed, half-sobbed.
“It’s hard to believe, but not impossible,” Chuck assured him.
Mel was wearing that hopeful expression again, which tore at Teddy’s heart.
“So they came up with the story about you and Johnny killing the Sullivans.”
“Yes. Dr. Cawley’s predecessor, Dr. Max Clausen, was in on it, I’m sure. Jayee put Johnny and me here and made sure that we wouldn’t be able to escape or that anyone would ever believe us.”
“Jayee?” Teddy asked.
Mel nodded. “It’s what Hoover wanted me to call him.”
Chuck felt nauseous. He could see how beautiful this man was, even after twenty years of hell. Little wonder that Hoover had lusted after him so long ago.
“Why did he imprison you, and not just Johnny?” he asked.
Mel’s smile was sad. “I chose Johnny over him. He wasn’t very happy.”
“A real prince of a fella,” Teddy muttered.
Chuck felt a growing horror. Because of unrequited love, two men had been sentenced to life in an insane asylum.
Was this story all a figment of a tortured man’s mind? Or had they solved the mystery of whatever happened to Melvin Purvis?
“I have to see Johnny. I haven’t seen him for over a month! I can’t get to him in Ward C. Please, I must see him!”
“Mel, we have to have a reason to go there. You know that anyone entering Ward C has to be accompanied by Cawley and McPherson. They’d never let you come.”
Mel rubbed his eyes fiercely. “I have to see Johnny. I have to know he’s all right. He’s suffered so much.”
Chuck wanted to assure Mel that everything was going to be all right but how could he, when everything was so uncertain?
“We’ll see what we can do,” Teddy said, his voice gentle.
Mel reached out and grasped Teddy’s hand. “Please, get us out of here,” he pleaded, looking at Chuck as tears brimmed in his eyes.
Chuck gently squeezed a thin shoulder. “We’ll do our best.”
The tears spilled down Mel’s cheeks. “Thank you,” he whispered brokenly.
Chuck and Teddy left after a few minutes, locking the door behind them.
“My god,” Teddy said. His eyes locked with Chuck's, both men reeling.