lines from the pulps: james gunn’s deadlier than the male


"She had a full-breasted figure in the Biblical style, the kind that suggests camels and water-jars."

 

There’s sex-talk!

Mrs. Krantz perked up. "About the new one?" she asked avidly.

Mrs. Pollicker nodded. "He smells," she said. "All the time. Like an animal."

Mrs. Krantz opened her mouth with a wet smack of ecstasy. "Oh, my, ain’t you human!”

Mrs. Pollicker stood up straight. "I rather think it is primitive," she said, pleased.

Plus there’s violence! 


Danny took his knife out of his pocket. He had something to say and he meant to move quickly, but his reactions were slow. The red-headed man struck him full in his open mouth, so hard that he smashed his jaw and teeth, and Danny’s mind was full of flashes and darkness. His head hit against the wall, and the red-headed man hit him again. Danny fell forward with his arms around the man’s legs, and the red-headed man brought his arm up in almost an incidental gesture to the side of Danny’s head. After that Danny did not think any more at all, not just because he was unconscious, but because he was dead.

—from James Gunn, Deadlier Than The Male (1950), the source for the legendary 1947 Robert Wise film noir Born to Kill, starring Claire Trevor and Lawrence Tierney.

lines from the pulps: “i’d like to see you naked with a rose in your teeth”


A Taste for Sin

Gil Brewer

A Berkley Original
1961


Bookseller Photo

One…


I stopped the Volks in front of the house on Grove.

It was a small place, white with gray trim, set on a green
lawn among elms and pines.

I took the bill and the two bottles of Martell’s cognac, and
moved up the walk. There were three antiquated red brick
steps and a small stoop with wrought iron rails. I used the
brass knocker; a clown’s head. Appropriate?

Clank—clank—clank—

I’d waited a long time to get this close to Felice Anderson. I
wondered what would happen. There was something going
between us. She had a husband, George, who was the
assistant cashier at the Allayne City Trust Bank. So far that
hadn’t mattered, the way we’d looked at each other when she
came to the store to order booze.

The door opened.

“Well, Mr. Phalen. You finally got here.”

“Jim.”

She smiled. “If I call you Jim, you’ll have to call me Felice.”

Neither of us was fooling the other with this crap.

“A deal.”

She was in smooth soft white belted tightly at the waist. A
slim waist. George Anderson was maybe forty-five, Felice
maybe eighteen. One of those things. She could balance your
libido with her eyes.

“Come in,” she said. “I’ll pay you for that.”

She had a curiously flat, unassuming voice, with a faint lisp.

I went in.

I got a whiff of her perfume. I’d had it before, at the store. It
was something. I’d done a lot of hard thinking about. Felice
Anderson. We just plain weren’t strangers, and we both knew
it. But there was a glass wall between us.

We were in the living room. She smiled again, broad lips
parting, revealing perfect white teeth. She closed the door.
Smooth velvet black hair tumbled down the middle of her
back, to between her shoulder blades. It was wild looking,
brushed to a sheen. Maybe she licked it like a cat. I wanted to
sink my fingers into it. She had Spanish in her, you could tell.
Probably both her mother and father. The look was all through
her. I got an ache. She was the complete opposite of Jinny; the
old nightmare I couldn’t rid myself of.

“Good to see you, Jim.”

All right, I thought. Hit her with it.

“I’d like to see you naked with a rose in your teeth.”

Somewhere a clock ticked.

She gave a short laugh.

“Be right with you, Jim.”

She walked down a hallway, white high heels ringing. She
wore sheer black nylons. Her behind was a round personal
idea.

“Take those bottles into the kitchen,” she called.

The front room took in the front of the house, maybe twenty-five
feet. It was furnished with heavy dark rattan, thick, soggy
cushions with a flower design on them. There were a couple of
bad prints on the walls, some monk’s cloth draperies, and
thick red rag rugs on the hardwood floor.

In the same house with her, alone, it was something.
I went down the hall, glanced to the left. She was in a
bedroom. I saw her face in the mirror of a dressing table, as
she opened a purse. She smiled at me in the mirror. Her face
was heart-shaped, with high round cheek bones. Her eyes
were black.

“The kitchen, Jim.”

I went into the kitchen; modern with lots of stainless steel,
cream paint, red curtains. I put the bottles on the table and
wiped my hands on my pants. I wanted a cigarette.

Oh, you bitch, I thought. You Spanish bitch.

She came into the kitchen.

“How much?”

I looked at the bill and told her.

“Here you go, on the button.”

You bitch, I thought. I pocketed the money. We stood there.

“Let’s have a drink,” she said.

“All right”

It was a goddamned game. That sheet of glass was still
there.

Continue reading

another opening line from the pulps

send another hearse 

by harold q. masur 

 


 

She was vogue on the outside and vague on the inside.

She was fashionable and meticulously put together, very chic, very soignee, with deep auburn hair and wide hazel eyes that blinked at me with a bemused expression.

But despite her vague, uncertain manner, I knew instinctively that here was no standard-type, show-window mannequin, no painted posturer. Beneath the cosmetic mask I sensed an elfin quality, something alive and vibrant, all under strict discipline at the moment.

another opening line from the pulps

Harold Q. Masur, You Can’t Live Forever

It started with a summons, a brunette, and a Turk.

The summons was in my pocket, the brunette was in trouble, and the Turk was dead.

Jennifer Egan: “In recommending the mystery novels of Harold Q. Masur—all, sadly, out of print—I can do no better than quote the first two paragraphs of You Can’t Live Forever . . . In his savvy, stylish novels of the ’40s and ’50s, Masur manages to wink continuously at the detective genre even as he revels in it.” 

—from The Village Voice, “Our Favorite Writers Pick Their Favorite Obscure Books”

http://www.villagevoice.com/2008-05-13/nyc-life/favorite-writers-obscure-books/

 

mickey spillane on writing: “your first line sells the book. your last line sells the next book.”

i-the-jury-753527

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The closing lines of Spillane’s I, The Jury:

“No, Charlotte, I’m the jury now, and the judge, and I have a promise to keep. Beautiful as you are, as much as I almost loved you, I sentence you to death.”

(Her thumbs hooked in the fragile silk of the panties and pulled them down. She stepped out of them as delicately as one coming from a bathtub. She was completely naked now. A suntanned goddess giving herself to her lover. With arms outstretched she walked toward me. Lightly, her tongue ran over her lips, making them glisten with passion. The smell of her was like an exhilarating perfume. Slowly, a sigh escaped her, making the hemispheres of her breasts quiver. She leaned forward to kiss me, her arms going out to encircle my neck.)

The roar of the .45 shook the room. Charlotte staggered back a step. Her eyes were a symphony of incredulity, an unbelieving witness to truth. Slowly, she looked down at the ugly swelling in her naked belly where the bullet went in. A thin trickle of blood welled out.

I stood up in front of her and shoved the gun into my pocket. I turned and looked at the rubber plant behind me. There on the table was the gun, with the safety catch off and the silencer still attached. Those loving arms would have reached it nicely. A face that was waiting to be kissed was really waiting to be splattered with blood when she blew my head off. My blood. When I heard her fall I turned around. Her eyes had pain in them now, the pain preceding death. Pain and unbelief.

“How c-could you?” she gasped.

I only had a moment before talking to a corpse, but I got it in.

“It was easy,” I said.

 

 

 

pulp fiction from el hombre invisible

old doc benway: "You face death all the time, and for that time you are immortal."

"Where He Was Going"
by William S. Burroughs

Farm kitchen, blinds drawn, guns propped in corners. Plates and glasses have been shoved aside to make room for road maps.

Four men lean over the maps. There is a basic sameness in the faces. Kerosene lamps cast a flickering light of death on cheekbones and lips, on the tired, alert eyes.

"Sure to have roadblocks here, and here . . . ."

Ishmael pours a generous portion of whisky into a dirty glass.

"Couldn’t we just hole up here?"

"Uh uh. They don’t rumble us movin’ out, they will close in for a house-to-house search."

"Makes sense."

"Let’s try it here."

And suddenly it occurred to him that he was going to die. Not "sooner or later"–he knew that of course, they all did–but tonight. It came in a puff, like wind that makes a candle flicker, and sick, hollow fear hit him like a kick in the stomach. He doubled slightly forward, supporting himself on the back of a chair.

It’s always like this, he tells himself: the fear, and then a rush of courage and the clean sweet feeling of being born. He read that somewhere, in an old western . . . but the fear can go on and on until you can’t stand it, it’s going to break you, and that’s when the fear breaks . . . you hope.

"Let’s go," he croaks.

He wonders if they are all as scared as he is—his gun seems clumsy and heavy in his hands, alien, malignant—sure they are, but you don’t talk about it. Click of hammers and breeches.

They are in the car now, shutting the door. He is sitting by the car door on the right side. The road is full of holes and water in the holes and deep ruts. Please God we don’t get stuck . . . seeing themselves stumbling around in the woods with the bloodhounds closing in.

"STOP! Douse the light!"

Chug chug . . . another car coming this way. Closer, the light coming around a corner of the narrow road, between heavy timber.

Ishmael gets out slow, his feet like blocks of wood, and stands in the middle of the road, his hands up. The old car sputters to a stop. Old gray man behind the wheel. He walks over slow and shows the old man the wallet.

"FBI."

Ishmael’s lips are numb. This is no pawn-shop badge; it’s a perfect replica of the real thing, with cards to go with it. Made by a forger in Toronto. Cost $150. Flashed him out of some tight spots.

The old man sits there with his face blank.

"We’re looking for some bank robbers. Holed up around here. You live here long?"

"Forty years."

"Must know the area."

He brings out a road map. "Now we’ve got roadblocks up here, and here, and here. Is there any other way they could get out?"

"Yep. Old wagon road cuts in right here. Bit rough, but they could make it. Comes out here on County Road 52. Yep, they could get clean away."

"If your information checks out, you’ll be eligible for a reward of $500." He hands the old man a card. "Just call the office in Tulsa."

"I’ll do that, I surely will." The old man drives on.

The driver studies the map under the dashboard lights: "Make it exactly five and three tenths to the turn-off."

Old man on the phone: "That’s right, posing as a G-man."

Ishmael remembers old Doc Benway saying, "You face death all the time,and for that time you are immortal."

A raccoon crosses the road, its eyes bright green in the headlights, not hurrying, slipping along . . . and it came with a rush, a sudden, evil-smelling emptiness and the raccoon was slipping lightly along the edge of it:  "Get away to Mexico . . . I’ve been there . . . only way to live . . . got five G’s in a money belt . . . go a long way down there. . . . " 

They pull around a corner and light jabs into his eyes and his brain explodes in a white flash and he is freeee, throwing the door open, jumping out in the air as the windshield explodes glinting yellow shards and Tom throws a hand in front of his face.

Very light on his feet, the tommy-gun light in his hands like a dream gun, when a sincere young agent . . . religious son of a bitch too . . . leaps to his feet, rifle levelled. He hasn’t made his dog meat yet, as they call it "Animals!" his fellow agents tell him that’s what they are, animals! and don’t you forget it…

"Get down for chrissakes!" bellows the D.S.


And Ish stitches three .45’s across the boy’s lean young chest, an inch apart. He has the touch.


"It’s an instrument," Machine Gun Kelly told him. "Play it!"

He must have dozed off in the car. Another shoot-out dream. He knows they have been driving all night, home safe now, coming down into a valley. Warm wind and a smell of water.

"Thomas and Charlie."

"What?"

"Name of this town." Ish remembers Thomas and Charlie. From here you climb ten thousand feet to the pass. Remembers Mexico City and his first grifa cigarette. Went crazy on it, wonderful crazy, wandering down Nino Perdido and everywhere he sees sugar skulls and fireworks, kids biting into the skulls.

"Dia de los Muertos," a boy tells him and smiles, showing white teeth and red gums. Very white. Very red. Whiter and redder than life, and he thought, Why not? I done it in the reform school. 

The boy has a gardenia behind his ear. He wears a white spotless cotton shirt and pants to the ankle with sandals. He smells of vanilla . . . Ish used to drink it in reform school. The boy understands. He knows un lugar. They stop to watch two pinwheels spinning in opposite directions . . . he remembers the queasy, floating feeling he got watching it, like being in a fast elevator. 

The boy is smiling now and pointing to the black space between the pinwheels as they sputter out and the blackness spreads wide as all the world and then he knew that was where he was going . . . .

Ishmael died when they picked up the stretcher.

 

—from William S. Burroughs, Tornado Alley. Cherry Valley Editions, 1989


 

Cover of the first U.S. edition.
(from http://www.books.rack111.com/burroughs-books/TA_US_CV_1989.jpg)

Tornado Alley is a collection of short stories and one poem by Beat Generation author, William S. Burroughs, written during the later years of his career and first published in 1989. The first edition of the book included illustrations by S. Clay Wilson.

Notable pieces in the collection include the poem "Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 1986" and the crime melodrama "Where He Was Going," which Burroughs said on his album Dead City Radio was inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s "The Snows of Kilimanjaro."

The collection is dedicated to 1930s gangster John Dillinger, "in hope that he is still alive."

Both "Where He Was Going" and "Thanksgiving Day" were performed by Burroughs on his 1990 spoken word/musical album, Dead City Radio, with "Thanksgiving Day" also being performed by Burroughs in a music video directed by Gus Van Sant to promote the CD. In both the CD and video versions of "Thanksgiving Day", which was retitled "A Thanksgiving Prayer", Burroughs appends the dedication to Dillinger.

 

–from wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tornado_Alley_(book)


 

more miss blandish—the start of chapter 3, wherein we learn “a detective’s life isn’t fit for a dog”

CHAPTER THREE

1

ACROSS the frosted panel of the door ran the legend:

DAVE FENNER. INVESTIGATIONS.

The lettering was in black and recently painted.

The door led into a small, well-furnished office with a desk, two lounging chairs, a good Oriental carpet and wall shelves full of law books recently acquired and never opened.

David Fenner lounged in the desk chair, his feet on the desk. He was staring blankly up at the ceiling. He had the air of a man with nothing to do and all the time in the world to do it in.

Fenner was a massively built man of thirty-three. He was dark, with an attractively ugly face and a pugnacious jaw of a man who likes to get his own way and generally does.

A door to the left of the desk led into the outer office. A wooden barrier divided this room. One side was reserved for waiting clients; the other side was the general office presided over by, Paula Dolan, an attractive girl with raven black wavy hair, large suggestive blue eyes and a figure that Fenner declared was the only asset of value in the newly established business.

Paula sat before an idle typewriter, thumbing through the pages of a lurid magazine called Love. From time to time, she yawned and her eyes continually strayed to the wall clock. The time was twenty minutes after three.

The buzzer sounded on her desk, making her start. She put down the magazine and walked into the inner office.

“Got any cigarettes, honey?” Fenner asked, hunching his muscles so the chair creaked. “I’m all out.”

“I’ve got three left,” Paula said. “You can have two of them.” She went into her office and returned with two cigarettes which she laid on the table.

“That’s pretty generous of you,” Fenner said, lighting up. “Thanks.” He inhaled deeply while he looked Paula over. “That’s a nice shape you’ve got on your bones this afternoon.”

“Yes, isn’t it?” Paula said bitterly. “It doesn’t seem to get me anywhere.”

“How are you making out?” Fenner said, quick to change the subject. “Got anything to do?”

“As much as you have,” Paula said, hoisting herself up on the desk.

“Then you sure must be working yourself to death,” Fenner said, grinning. “Never mind: something’ll turn up.”

“You’ve been saying just that for the past month,” Paula said. She looked worried. “We can’t go on much longer like this, Dave. The Office Equipment people telephoned. Unless you pay the third installment on the furniture by tomorrow, they want it all back.”

Fenner surveyed the room.

“You don’t say! You wouldn’t think anyone in their right minds would want this junk back, would you?”

“Perhaps you didn’t hear what I said,” Paula said ominously. “They’ll take all the furniture away tomorrow unless you pay the third installment. So what shall I have to sit on?”

Fenner looked startled.

“They’re not taking that away as well, are they?”

“Dave Fenner, will you never be serious for half a minute? If we don’t find two hundred dollars by tomorrow morning, we will have to shut down.”

Fenner sighed.

“Money! How much have we got?”

“Ten dollars and fifteen cents.”

“As much as that?” he waved his hand airily. “Why, we’re rich! There’s a guy across the way who’s got nothing but an overdraft.”

“How does that make us rich?” Paula demanded.

“Well, we don’t owe the bank money.”

“That’s not your fault. You’ve tried hard enough to owe them money, haven’t you?”

“I guess that’s right.” Fenner shook his head mournfully. “I don’t think those birds trust me.”

“Oh, no,” Paula said sarcastically. “They just don’t want to embarrass you.” She patted a stray curl into place. “I’m beginning to think you made a mistake opening this office. You were making good money on the Tribune. I never did think this agency idea of yours would work out.” Fenner looked indignant.

“Well, that’s a fine thing to say. Then why did you quit your job and come to work for me? I warned you it could be tough at the start, but nothing short of a machine gun would stop you joining me.” Paula smiled at him.

“Maybe it was because I love you,” she said softly Fenner groaned.

“For the love of Mike, don’t start that all over again. I’ve enough worries without you adding to them. Why don’t you get smart, honey? A girl with your looks and your shape could hook a millionaire. Why waste your time and talents on a loser like me? I’ll tell you something: I’ll always be broke. It’s a tradition in the family. My grandfather was a bankrupt. My father was a pauper. My uncle was a miser: he went crazy because he couldn’t find any money to mise over.”

“When are we going to get married, Dave?”

“Remind me to consult my ouija board sometime,” Fenner said hurriedly. “Why don’t you go home? You’re getting unhealthy ideas sticking around here with nothing to do. Take the afternoon off. Go shampoo your hair or something.”

Paula lifted her shoulders in resigned helplessness. “Why don’t you talk to Ryskind? He might give you your job back if you asked him nicely. You were the best crime reporter in the game, Dave. He must miss you. Why don’t you talk to him?” Fenner shook his head.

“The trouble there is he wouldn’t talk to me. I called him a double-crossing, stony-hearted, brainless moron just before I quit. I also seem to remember I told him if ever he invited me to his parents’ wedding. I wouldn’t go. Somehow, I don’t think he likes me any more.”

A buzzer sounded in the outer office announcing a visitor. “Who do you imagine that could be?” Fenner asked, frowning.

“Probably the man to disconnect the telephone,” Paula said. “We haven’t paid the bill—remember?”

“What do we want a telephone for?” Fenner asked. “We’re not on speaking terms with anyone in town, are we?”

Paula went into the outer office, closing the door after her. In a couple of minutes, she was back, her face alight with excitement.

“Look who’s here!” she said and laid a card on his blotter.

Fenner read the card, then he sat back, gaping at Paula.

“John Blandish! In person?”

“He wants to see you.”

“You’re sure it’s him, not someone impersonating him?”

“I’m sure.”

“Well, what are you waiting for? Shoo him in, baby; shoo him in!”

Paula went to the door and opened it.

“Mr. Fenner is free now, Mr. Blandish. Would you come in?”

She stood aside as John Blandish entered the room, then she went out, leaving the two men together.

Fenner got to his feet. He was surprised Blandish wasn’t a bigger man. Only slightly above middle height, the millionaire seemed puny beside Fenner’s muscular bulk. His eyes gave his face its arresting power and character. They were hard, shrewd and alert eyes of a man who has fought his way to the top with no mercy asked nor given.

Blandish gave Fenner a quick critical look as the two men shook hands.

“I have a proposition for you, Fenner,” Blandish said. “I think you’re the man I’m looking for. I hear you have connections with the underworld. I believe the only way to bring to justice the men who kidnapped my daughter, is to employ someone like you who can freelance among the mobs with no restrictions. What do you think?”

“I think you’re right,” Fenner said, sitting down behind his desk. “Anyway, the theory’s right, but your daughter was kidnapped three months ago. The trail’s pretty cold now.”

“I am aware of that,” Blandish said. He took out a pigskin cigar case and selected a cigar. “I had to give the Federal Agents every chance of finding these men before I started interfering. Well, they haven’t found them. Now I’m going to try. I’ve talked to them and I’ve talked to the Police. It was Captain Brennan who suggested I should contact you. He tells me you have a good reputation as a newspaper man and wide connections among the thugs in this City. He said if I employed you, he would cooperate with you to the best of his ability. I’m prepared to give you the opportunity of finding these men if you are interested. I will pay you three thousand dollars right now and if you find them, you’ll get a further thirty thousand dollars. That’s my proposition. What do you say?”

Fenner sat for a moment slightly stunned, then pulling himself together, he nodded.

“I’ll certainly have a try, Mr. Blandish, but I’m not promising to deliver. The F.B.I. are the best in the world. If they’ve failed to find these hoods, I’ll probably fail too, but I’ll have a try.”

“How do you propose to start?”

“It so happened I covered the kidnapping for the Tribune,” Fenner said. “It was the last job I did before leaving the paper. I’ve got a file covering all the facts. This I want to study. One thing has always struck me as odd. I knew both Riley and Bailey personally. I was continually running into them in dives and clubs when I was checking for information during the course of my work. They were strictly small time. How they ever found the nerve to go through with the kidnapping beats me, and yet, apparently they did. It doesn’t make sense. If you knew the hoodlums the way I know them, you’d feel the same way about these two. Kidnapping is out of character. The most they would ever aspire to is a small bank holdup. Anyway, there it is. They kidnapped your daughter. Then I ask myself how could they have vanished into thin air? How is it none of the ransom money has ever appeared? What are these kidnappers living on if they aren’t spending the ransom? Another thing; Riley had a girl friend: Anna Borg. The Federal Agents spent hours questioning her, but they didn’t get a thing out of her. I know for a fact Riley was crazy about her and yet he just walked out of her life as if she never existed. It doesn’t add up.” He paused, then went on, “I’ll see Brennan right away, Mr. Blandish. I’ll go through the file to make sure I’ve missed nothing there that might give me a lead. In a couple of days I’ll be able to tell you if I think I have a chance or not of finding these men.” He looked searchingly at Mr. Blandish. “You don’t ask me to find your daughter. You think…?”

Blandish’s face hardened.

“She is dead. I have no doubt about that. It would be an impossible thought to think of her still alive and in the hands of such men. No, she’s dead.” He took from his pocket a checkbook and wrote out a check to Fenner for three thousand dollars. “Then I expect to hear from you in two days’ time?”

“That’s right.”

Fenner went with Blandish to the door.

“Money is no object,” Blandish said. “I’m not restricting you. Get among the underworld and let them know there’s money to be had for talking. I’m sure it’s the only way to get the lead we want.”

“You leave it to me,” Fenner said. “I’ll try not to disappoint you.”

When Blandish had gone, Paula came rushing into the room.

“What did he want?” she asked anxiously. “Has he hired you?”

Fenner showed her the check.

“We’re in the money, sweetheart,” he said. “Here, take a look. Three thousand bucks! Saved in the nick of time! You can relax. You’ve still got a chair to park your fanny on.”

2

Captain Charles Brennan, City Police, a fat, red-faced man with blue hard eyes and sandy-colored hair, greying at the temples, reached across his desk to shake hands with Fenner.

“Never thought the day would come when I would be glad to see a detective in my office,” he said. “Sit down. How’s tricks?”

“Could be worse,” Fenner said, sitting down. “I’m not the grumbling kind.”

“I was surprised to hear you had applied for a licence to operate as an investigator,” Brennan said, lighting a cigar. “You should have stuck to newspaper work. A detective’s life isn’t fit for a dog.”

“I don’t aim to live as well as a dog,” Fenner said, cheerfully. “Thanks for the introduction to Blandish.”

Brennan waved his hand airily.

“Between me and you and my aunt’s wooden leg, Blandish has been gradually driving me nuts. With any luck now, he’ll drive you nuts and lay off me.”

Fenner stiffened to attention.

“What do you mean?”

“You wait,” Brennan said with sadistic relish. “Blandish hasn’t got off my neck since his goddamn daughter was snatched. In self-defense I had to suggest he should hire you. Morning, noon and night he was either here in my office or on the telephone. When was I going to find the men who kidnapped his daughter? If I heard that once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. Those words, when I’m dead, will be found engraved on my liver!”

“Well, that’s pretty nice,” Fenner said bitterly, “and I was thinking you were doing me a good turn.”

“I’m no boy scout,” Brennan said. “I’ll tell you this much: you have as much chance of finding those punks as you have of winning a beauty prize.”

Fenner let that ride.

“But they must be somewhere.”

“Sure, they’re somewhere. They could be in Mexico, Canada, heaven or hell. Every policeman in the world has been looking for them for three months—not a sign, but I agree with you, they must be somewhere.”

“How about the girl? Do you think she’s dead?”

“Yeah. She must be dead. Why should they keep her alive? She would only be a danger to them. I wouldn’t mind betting they knocked her off when they killed MacGowan, but where they buried her beats me.”

“How about Anna Borg?” Fenner asked. “What became of her?”

“She’s still around. I’ve had one of my boys trailing her for the past two months, but it’s a waste of time. She has a new boy friend now. I guess she got tired of waiting for Riley to show up. She’s doing an act now at the Paradise Club.”

“Who’s the new boy friend?”

“Eddie Schultz.”

Fenner frowned, then he snapped his fingers.

“I know him, one of the Grisson gang; a tall, big, good-looking punk.”

“That’s him. The Grisson gang have taken over the Paradise Club: a down-at-the-heel joint run by an Italian:

Toni Rocco. They bought him out, put money in the joint and it’s quite a club now.”

Fenner looked interested.

“Where did the money come from? The Grisson gang weren’t in the dough, were they?”

“I checked all that,” Brennan said, looking wise. “Abe Schulberg is financing the club. He’s done a deal with Ma Grisson. She runs the club and gives him a fifty percent cut.”

Fenner lost interest. He lit a cigarette, sliding down in his chair.

“So the trail’s cold?”

“It never was hot. It’s a bitch of a case. The time and money we’ve wasted on it gives me nightmares. We’re no closer to a solution than when we first started.”

Fenner pulled a face. The vision of laying his hands on thirty thousand dollars now began to look remote. He got to his feet. Then a thought struck him.

“What did this Borg girl do for a living when she was going around with Riley?” he asked.

“She did a strip act at the Cosmos Club, strictly for peanuts, but her main meal ticket was Riley.”

“The Cosmos Club?” Fenner suddenly looked thoughtful. He glanced at his watch. “Well, I’m wasting your time, Captain. If I turn up anything, I’ll let you know.”

“You won’t,” Brennan said, grinning. “There’s nothing to turn up.”

In a thoughtful mood, Fenner drove back to his office. He found Paula waiting for him although it was after six o’clock.

“You still here?” he said as he entered the office. “Haven’t you a home to go to?”

“I’m scared to leave in case another millionaire walks in,” Paula said, her blue eyes wide. “Oh, Dave! I’ve been planning how we’ll spend all that beautiful money when we get it”

“The operative word in that pipe dream of a sentence of yours is when.” Fenner walked into his office. Paula trailed after him. “Since you are still working, baby, make yourself useful. Check the dirty file and see if we have anything on Pete Cosmos.”

During the years Fenner had been a newspaperman, he had systematically collected every scrap of information concerning the activities of the big and little gangsters in town. He had collected an enormous library of facts that often came in handy when he was trying to persuade some hood to give him information.

In five minutes, Paula came into the office with a pile of newspaper clippings.

“I don’t know what you’re looking for, Dave,” she said, “but here’s everything we have on Cosmos.”

“Thanks, sweetheart, now you trot off home. I’ve got work to do. How would you like to have dinner with me tonight to celebrate our riches?”

Paula’s face lit up with delighted surprise.

“I’d love it! I’ll wear my new dress! Let’s go to the Champagne Room! I’ve never been there. I hear it’s a knockout.”

“The only knockout about that joint is the check,” Fenner said. “Maybe we might go there when we have got our hooks into the thirty thousand, but not before.”

“Then how about the Astor? For the money, they say it’s the best in town.”

“Don’t be simple, baby. They didn’t say for how much money, did they?” Fenner put his arm around her coaxingly. “I’ll tell you where we’ll go, the Cosmos Club. We’ll combine business with pleasure.”

Paula made a grimace as if she had bitten into a lemon.

“The Cosmos Club? That joint’s not even a dive and the food’s poisonous.”

“Run along, baby, I’ve work to do. I’ll pick you up at eight-thirty at your place,” and turning her, Fenner gave her a slap on her behind, launching her fast to the door.

He sat down at his desk and began to read through the mass of clippings Paula had given him. After some thirty minutes, he made a telephone call, then he put the clippings back into the filing cabinet, turned off the lights in the office, locked up and went down to his car. He drove to his two room apartment where he took a shower and changed into a dark suit. He checked his .38 police special and put it in his shoulder holster.

He found Paula anxiously waiting for him. One of the important facts of life that Paula had learned the hard way was not to keep any man waiting. She was looking cute in a black dress, relieved by a red carnation. The cut of the dress accentuated her figure so that Fenner took a second look.

“What kills me,” Paula said as she got into the car with a generous show of nylon-clad legs, “is I always have to buy my own corsage. The day you think of buying me one, I’ll faint.”

“Put your smelling salts away, baby,” Fenner said, grinning. “I would never think of it. You haven’t a worry in the world.” He edged the car into the traffic. “I’ve got something on Pete. Boy! Won’t his fat face turn red when I start talking to him.”

Paula looked at him.

“I hope we’ll eat sometime,” she said. “I foresee you and that fat Italian sitting glaring at each other and grinding your teeth while I starve to death.”

“We’ll eat first, baby,” Fenner said and patted her knee.

She firmly removed his hand.

“That knee is reserved for my future husband,” she said. “You can have an option on it if you want it, but it’ll have to be in writing.”

Fenner laughed. He liked going out with Paula. They always seemed to have fun together.

The Cosmos Club was full when they arrived, but the maitre d’hotel, a seedy, narrow-eyed Italian, found them a table.

Fenner looked around and decided it was a pretty crummy joint. He hadn’t been in the club for six months. He could see it had changed for the worse.

“Charming little morgue,” Paula said, looking around. “I can’t imagine anyone coming here unless they were too mean to go somewhere else.”

Fenner let that one ride. He was studying the menu. He was hungry. A grubby looking waiter hovered at his side.

After a long discussion they decided on the iced melon, and duck cooked with olives to follow.

“At least we can eat the olives,” Paula said. “Even the cook at the Cosmos Club can’t spoil olives.”

Fenner laughed.

“You wait and see. I bet you they’ll be as tender as golf balls.”

But when the meal was served, neither of them could complain. It wasn’t good, but at least they could eat it.

Between courses, they danced. Paula attempted to get romantic, but Fenner deliberately trod on her toes. The dancing wasn’t a success.

While she was choosing dessert, Fenner pushed back his chair and stood up.

“Business now, baby,” he said. “I’m going to talk to Pete. You go ahead and stuff yourself. I won’t be long.”

Paula smiled at him, her eyes furious.

“Go ahead, Dave darling, don’t worry about me. I have lots and lots to talk to myself about. I’ll expect you when I don’t see you.”

“If we weren’t in a public place,” Fenner said, stung, “I would put you over my knee and slap you humpbacked.”

“A charming thought,” Paula said, waving him away. “Run along and talk to your friend. I hope he spits in your right eye.”

Grinning, Fenner made his way to Pete’s office. He didn’t bother to knock. He walked right in and kicked the door shut behind him.

Pete was adding up figures in a ledger. He looked up, startled. When he saw who it was, he scowled.

“Who told you to bust in here?” he demanded. “What do you want?”

“Hello, fatty,” Fenner said coming over and sitting on the desk. “Long time no see.”

“What do you want?” Pete asked again, glaring at Fenner.

“Have you seen Harry Levane recently?”

Pete stiffened.

“No, and I don’t want to. Why?”

“I’ve just been talking to him. Pete, you are in bad trouble.” Fenner shook his head sadly. “Harry was telling me about the girl you took to Miami last summer. She was a minor. Pete! I’m surprised at you! You stand to get a two-year stretch for that little indiscretion.”

Pete looked as if someone had driven a needle into his behind.

“It’s a lie!” he shouted, his face white. “I don’t know what you’re talking about!”

Fenner smiled pityingly at him.

“Don’t be a chump, Pete. Harry saw you with her. He hasn’t forgotten you got him three years for the Clifford jewel steal. He’s aching to put you away.”

Pete’s face broke out in a sweat.

“I’ll kill the punk! He can’t prove it!”

“He can. He knows who the girl is and he’s talked to her. She’s ready to sign a complaint.”

Pete slumped back in his chair.

“Where is she?” he said, his voice husky. “I’ll talk to her. I’ll fix it. Where is she?”

“I know where she is. I know where Harry is. It’ll cost you, Pete, but what’s money,” Fenner said. “But I’m not telling you if we can’t do a deal. I want information. I’ll trade what you want for what I want.”

Pete glared at him.

“What do you want?”

“Nothing to it, Pete; just a little information. Do you remember Anna Borg?”

Pete looked surprised.

“Yes—what about her?’

“She worked here?”

“That’s right.”

“Did she ever hint that she knew where Riley was hiding out?”

“She didn’t know. I’ll swear to that.”

“She did mention Riley?”

“I’ll say! She was swearing and cursing about him all the time.”

“How did she meet Schultz?”

Pete hesitated.

“This is a trade? You tell me where I contact that little bitch and Harry?”

“It’s a trade.”

“Schultz came here a few days after the snatch,” Pete said. “He wanted to know how he could contact Anna. He said Ma Grisson wanted to talk to the girl. When I told him the Feds were watching Anna, he told me to call her and get her down here in this office. I wasn’t here when they met, but a couple of days later, Anna quit working for me. She said she had been offered a better job. When the Grissons took over the Paradise Club, she started working there. Eddie and she are living together.”

“Why was Ma Grisson interested in the girl?” Fenner asked.

Pete shrugged his shoulders.

“I don’t know.”

Fenner got to his feet. He bent over the desk and scribbled two addresses on a scratch pad.

“There you are,” he said. “I’d contact those two fast. Harry is aching to see you in jail. It’ll cost you plenty to keep his mouth shut.”

As Pete reached for the telephone, Fenner made his way back to the restaurant.

He found Paula talking animatedly to a slim, handsome gigolo who was leaning over her, looking with interest down the front of her dress.

Fenner gave him a heavy nudge.

“Okay, buster, set sail and fade away.”

The gigolo looked quickly at Fenner’s massive shoulders and his pugnacious jaw and he hurriedly backed away.

“Don’t let this ape worry you,” Paula said. “Brush him off. One good smack in the jaw will fix him.”

But the gigolo was already in retreat halfway across the room.

“Hi, baby, I’m surprised at the company you keep,” Fenner said, smiling at her.

Paula leaned back in her chair and smiled at him.

“Did your Italian friend spit in your eye?”

“No, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t want to. Come on, baby. I want to go to bed.”

She looked interested.

“Alone?”

“Yeah, alone,” Fenner said, piloting her out of the restaurant. “I want all my strength for tomorrow. I’m calling on Anna Borg and from what I hear, she’s more than a handful.”

Paula got into the car and straightened her skirt.

“Isn’t she a stripper?”

“Yeah,” Fenner said and grinned. “Don’t look so prim; just because she is, I don’t have to be one of that fan dancer’s fans.”

milestones in American pulp: the cia, secret agents/pulp fiction novelists & jfk’s assassination

For this sentence alone Philip Atlee deserves an enduring spot in the annals of American pulp fiction:

"My rectal sphincter throbbed again, all I needed, and I said ‘nuts to you’ and locked my bowels."
 
— Philip Atlee, The Fer-De-Lance Contract
 

James Atlee Phillips (pen name Philip Atlee) whose "Contract" series of books was comprised of 22 novels about counter-intelligence agent Joe Gall. Gall, a so-called "nullifier," is sent by a secretive U.S. government agency to trouble spots around the globe in order to solve—that is, erase—the problem. Somewhat surprisingly, Raymond Chandler wrote of him: "I admire Philip Atlee’s writing enormously, the hard economy of style, the characterisations, and the interesting and varied backgrounds."


But there are reasons outside of his writing that make it worth remembering
Philip Atlee. For starters, there was more than one pulp novelist in the Atlee Philips family. James Atlee Phillips was the brother of well-known CIA officer David Atlee Phillips, long-rumoured to be an organizing force behind the assassination of JFK. 

In 1978, David Atlee Phillips published a novel about political assassins entitled The Carlos Contract: A Novel of International Terrorism. And then things get more interesting… here are a couple of tantalizing quotes from the Web page http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKphillips.htm:

 
First, David Atlee Phillips, who died of canceron July 7, 1988, left behind an unpublished manuscript entitled The AMLASH Legacy, a novel about a CIA officer working at the Mexico City station in 1963.  From the novel:

I was one of the two case officers who handled Lee Harvey Oswald. After working to establish his Marxist bona fides, we gave him the mission of killing Fidel Castro in Cuba. I helped him when he came to Mexico City to obtain a visa, and when he returned to Dallas to wait for it I saw him twice there. We rehearsed the plan many times: In Havana Oswald was to assassinate Castro with a sniper’s rifle from the upper floor window of a building on the route where Castro often drove in an open jeep. Whether Oswald was a double-agent or a psycho I’m not sure, and I don’t know why he killed Kennedy. But I do know he used precisely the plan we had devised against Castro. Thus the CIA did not anticipate the President’s assassination but it was responsible for it. I share that guilt.

  

There’s also a January, 2003 e-mail by James Atlee Phillips’ son (the folk rock singer Shawn Phillips) to JFK assassination researcher Gary Buell:

The "Confession", you refer to was not in so many words as such. I cannot remember the time frames involved, but this was what was told to me by my father, James Atlee Phillips, who is deceased. He said that David had called him with reference to his (Davids), invitation to a dinner, by a man who was purportedly writing a book on the CIA. At this dinner, was also present a man who was identified only as the "Driver". David told Jim that he knew the man was there to identify him as Raul Salcedo, whose name you should be familiar with, if your research is accurate in this matter. David then told Jim that he had written a letter to the various media, as a "Preemptive Strike," against any and all allegations about his involvement in the JFK assassination. Jim knew that David was the head of the "Retired Intelligence Officers of the CIA", or some such organization, and that he was extremely critical of JFK, and his policies. Jim knew at that point, that David was in some way, seriously involved in this matter and he and David argued rather vehemently, resulting in a silent hiatus between them that lasted almost six years according to Jim. Finally, as David was dying of irreversible lung cancer, he called Jim and there was apparently no reconciliation between them, as Jim asked David pointedly, "Were you in Dallas on that day"? David said, "Yes", and Jim hung the phone up.


The final word on pulp fiction, the CIA and JFK’s murder must make mention of E. Howard Hunt, CIA operative and Watergate “plumber,” who was undoubtedly the greatest writer of pulps (47 novels under his own name and a number of pen names) of any government agency, ever. In January 2007, while on his deathbed, Hunt allegedly confessed to having extensive foreknowledge of the JFK assassination, implicating Lyndon Johnson and the CIA.

 
Here’s an excerpt from William F. Buckley’s obituary of Hunt:
 
I remember with sad amusement an earlier experience of Hunt’s with the law, this time involving his novels. Allen Dulles, then head of CIA, called him in one day and said, Howard, I know the rules are that this office has to clear all manuscripts by our agents. But you write so many, you’re wearing us out. So go ahead and publish your books without our clearance, but use a pseudonym.
 
Hunt handed me his latest book, "Catch Me in Zanzibar," by Gordon Davis. I leafed through it and found printed on the last page, "You have just finished another novel by Howard Hunt." I thought this hilarious. So did Howard. The reaction of Allen Dulles is not recorded.
 
In a 2004 audio recording Hunt named fellow pulp novelist David Phillips as a participant in the JFK assassination:
 
I heard from Frank [Sturgis] that LBJ had designated Cord Meyer, Jr. to undertake a larger organization while keeping it totally secret. Cord Meyer himself was a rather favored member of the Eastern aristocracy. He was a graduate of Yale University and had joined the Marine Corps during the war and lost an eye in the Pacific fighting.
 
I think that LBJ settled on Meyer as an opportunist like himself and a man who had very little left to him in life ever since JFK had taken Cord’s wife as one of his mistresses. I would suggest that Cord Meyer welcomed the approach from LBJ, who was after all only the Vice President at that time and of course could not number Cord Meyer among JFK’s admirers—quite the contrary.
 
As for Dave Phillips, I knew him pretty well at one time. He worked for me during the Guatemala project. He had made himself useful to the agency in Santiago, Chile where he was an American businessman. In any case, his actions, whatever they were, came to the attention of the Santiago station chief and when his resume became known to people in the Western hemisphere division he was brought in to work on Guatemalan operations.
Sturgis and Morales and people of that ilk stayed in apartment houses during preparations for the big event. Their addresses were very subject to change, so that where a fellow like Morales had been one day, you’d not necessarily associated [sic] with that address the following day. In short, it was a very mobile experience.
 
Let me point out at this point, that if I had wanted to fictionalize what went on in Miami and elsewhere during the run up for the big event, I would have done so. But I don’t want any unreality to tinge this particular story, or the information, I should say. I was a benchwarmer on it and I had a reputation for honesty.
 
I think it’s essential to refocus on what this information that I’ve been providing you — and you alone, by the way — consists of. What is important in the story is that we’ve backtracked the chain of command up through Cord Meyer and laying [sic] the doings at the doorstep of LBJ. He, in my opinion, had an almost maniacal urge to become President. He regarded JFK, as he was in fact, an obstacle to achieving that. He could have waited for JFK to finish out his term and then undoubtedly a second term. So that would have put LBJ at the head of a long list of people who were waiting for some change in the executive branch.
 

One can’t help wondering if these dead pulp novelists would have proven to be less dangerous if they had had less of the pulp novelistic imagination in them: history could have been significant;y different but for these CIA officers and operatives adhering to a "boy’s own adventures" credo of live by the pulps, die by the pulps. It seems fitting that Hunt may one day be best remembered through the portrayal of him by one of JFK’s greatest admirers, Norman Mailer, in his 1991 novel Harlot’s Ghost.

Some of E. Howard Hunt’s book covers:

the violent ones by macavityabc.

i came to kill by macavityabc.

one of our agents is missing by macavityabc.

the towers of silence by macavityabc.

HOUSE DICK by levar.

bimini run by macavityabc.

end of a stripper by macavityabc.

calypso caper by macavityabc. 

the rest of chapter two, no orchids for miss blandish

7
 
POLICE SUSPECT RILEY GANG RESPONSIBLE FOR
POLICE SLAYING
Murdered man identified.
John Blandish pays ransom money.
Our reporter learnsthe man shot to death at the Palace Hotel has been identified as Alvin Heinie, the free-lance society gossip writer. It was Heinie who informed the police that the Riley mob had questioned him concerning the movements of John Blandish’s daughter, the kidnapped heiress.
It is understood that the ransom demand of a million dollars is being paid today. Mr. Blandish, fearing for his daughter’s safety has refused to cooperate with the authorities. The Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are standing by. They will go into immediate action when it is known the kidnapped girl is safe.
The police have reason to believe that Alvin Heinie was murdered by the Riley gang as an act of revenge…
Ma Grisson read the story to the gang who listened, grinning.
“Nice work,” Flynn said. “Riley’s getting blamed for everything. I bet if the Chief of Police fell downstairs, he would say Riley had pushed him.” Eddie was looking thoughtful.
“Maybe it’s okay, but I’ve been asking myself who did shoot Heinie. It wasn’t Riley and it wasn’t us. This Borg girl bothers me. I think she knocked Heinie off. Why? We do know she’s connected in some way with Riley. I think we should do something about her.”
“You’re right,” Ma said. “Before we collect the money, we must find out where she fits in. You go into town, Eddie and ask around. You might get a lead on her.”
“Okay,” Eddie said getting to his feet. “You coming with me, Slim?”
Slim was sitting in a corner away from the rest of the mob. He was reading the comics. He didn’t even look up when Eddie spoke to him.
“You go in alone,” Ma said. “Leave your rod here.” Eddie went out into the hall. Ma followed him. “You go and talk to Pete Cosmos,” Ma said. “He knows all the girls in town. Gimme your gun.”
As Eddie handed the .45 over, he said, “Can’t you tell Slim to leave the girl alone, Ma?” Ma stiffened.
“Mind your own business, Eddie,” she said. “You’re a good boy. Don’t start poking your nose into something that doesn’t concern you.”
“Come on, Ma,” Eddie said coaxingly. “That girl’s too nice to have Slim messing her around. Give her a break, can’t you?”
Ma’s eyes suddenly snapped with rage. Her face turned purple.
“Slim wants her,” she said, lowering her voice and glaring at Eddie. “He’s going to have her. You keep out of it! That goes for the rest of you too!”
Eddie showed his disgust.
“To hell with a punk who can only get a girl by filling her with drugs,” he said.
Ma struck him across the mouth with the back of her hand. It was a heavy blow and sent him back on his heels. They stared at each other, then Eddie forced a grin.
“Okay, Ma,” he said. “I was talking out of turn. Forget it”
He left her glaring after him, her face dark with rage.
As he drove downtown, he told himself, he would have to be careful. Ma was as dangerous as Slim. She wouldn’t hesitate to shoot him in the back if she thought he was going to cause trouble in the gang about the Blandish girl. He shrugged his shoulders. He felt sorry for the girl, but he wasn’t going to risk his life for her.
He arrived at the Cosmos Club a little after two p.m. The cleaners were still clearing up after the night before. The girls were rehearsing under the direction of a little man, dressed in a blazer and white trousers. The pianist was pounding out jazz, a cigarette dangling from his lips. The girls, wearing shorts, all smiled at Eddie. He was well known at the club and popular. He paused long enough to pat a few sleek behinds and crack a joke before going on to the office.
Pete Cosmos was sitting at his desk, reading the newspaper. He seemed surprised when Eddie walked in. Pete was a fat ball of a man with a pencil-line moustache and a liking for violent, hand-painted ties. The tie he had on made Eddie blink.
They shook hands.
“Hi, Pete,” Eddie said, sitting on the corner of the desk. “What’s cooking?”
Pete tossed the newspaper on the floor. He shook his head, scowling.
“That’s the trouble,” he said, offering Eddie a cigar. “Nothing’s cooking. Since all this shooting, business has gone to hell. We only had ten people in last night: four of them were my wife’s friends and didn’t pay.”
“Yeah,” Eddie said sympathetically. “I get the same story wherever I go. This punk Riley really seems to have started something.”
Pete lit his cigar.
“I can’t understand it, Eddie. I would never have believed Riley had the nerve to snatch that dame. He was strictly small time. He must have gone nuts. Now if it had been Ma who had pulled the job…”
“She didn’t,” Eddie said. “We’ve been out of town all week.”
“Sure, sure,” Pete said quickly catching the sudden hard note in Eddie’s voice. “I haven’t seen you or the boys for weeks. All the same, if I had snatched the girl, I’d be Very, very careful. As soon as the ransom’s paid and the girl returned, the heat’s going to be turned on that’ll paralyze this town. You mark my words.”
“It’s Riley’s funeral,” Eddie said.
“I’d like to know where he’s hiding,” Pete said.
“Who’s Anna Borg?” Eddie asked casually, studying the glowing tip of his cigar.
“What’s she to you?” Pete asked sharply.
“I want to know who she is,” Eddie said. “Do you know her?”
“Sure.”
“Who is she? What does she do for a living?”
“She totes the gun,” Pete said.
Eddie was surprised.
“Is that a fact? Who does she carry the gun for?”
Pete smiled.
“Who do you think? Riley.”
Eddie whistled.
“Well, well! Certainly news to me.”
“I’ll tell you something else,” Pete said. “Anna’s been left high and dry and the boys are asking why. She and Riley were like that.” He held up two dirty fingers close together. “Then Riley pulls the biggest snatch of the century and Anna’s left out in the cold. It doesn’t make sense.”
“Maybe Riley got tired of her,” Eddie said.
“The boys say not. Anna swears Riley wouldn’t have ditched her. She thinks something’s happened to him.”
Eddie’s face became expressionless.
“You know women,” he said with a sneer. “They’d say anything to save their face. You can bet Riley’s ditched her now he’s heading for the big money. She just won’t admit it.”
Pete shrugged.
“Could be. Anyway, it’s not my business.”
“Is she still living at the Palace Hotel?”
Pete looked curiously at him.
“Why the interest in Anna?”
“Ma wants to know.”
Pete looked surprised.
“Yeah, Anna’s still at the Palace. She has a couple of dicks parked with her. The Feds think Riley came to see her, ran into Heinie who was staying there and couldn’t resist knocking Heinie off for ratting on him. They think Riley might come back to see Anna so they’re waiting for him.”
Eddie rubbed his jaw, his mind busy. Finally, he said, “I want to talk to this baby, Pete. Here’s what you do: telephone her right now and tell her to come here. I’ll talk to her here and the Feds won’t know we’ve met.”
“What do you want to talk to her about?” Pete asked suspiciously. “I’m not getting Anna in trouble. She’s okay with me.”
“No trouble, Pete. Do what I say. Ma’s orders.”
Pete was scared of Ma. He called Anna’s apartment.
“That you, Anna?” he asked while Eddie watched him. “This is Pete. Something’s come up important. I want you over here right away. No, I don’t say it’s a job, but it might lead to one. You’ll come? Okay, I’m waiting for you,” and he hung up.
“Okay?” Eddie asked.
“She’s coming. She’ll be here in half an hour.”
“Thanks, Pete. I’ll tell Ma. She won’t forget you.”
“I’d rather she did forget me,” Pete said uneasily. “And listen, Eddie, no rough stuff with Anna.”
“Relax. I just want a brotherly talk with her.” Eddie grinned. “Suppose you take a walk and leave me here. Come back in an hour.”
Pete shrugged his shoulders.
“Well, it’s time I had lunch. I guess I’d better have it.”
“And Pete,” Eddie said. “You got a gun?”
“What do you want a gun for?” Pete asked startled.
“Come on, come on! Don’t talk so much. Have you got a gun?”
“In the top left hand drawer,” Pete said.
“Okay.You take off.”
When Pete had gone, Eddie went around and sat behind the desk. He opened the drawer and took out a .38 which he laid on the desk. He didn’t intend to take any chances with a girl who carried a gun for Riley. Gun-girls had lots of nerve, and besides, he was pretty sure Anna had knocked Heinie off.
After a wait of thirty minutes, he heard the click of high heels coming down the passage. He put his hand on the gun.
The door swung open and Anna walked in. She was wearing a pale green summer dress and a big straw hat. Eddie thought she looked terrific.
She was halfway across the room before she saw him. She had swung the door to as she had entered. She stopped short, the color leaving her face. Her eyes went to the gun on the desk.
“Hello, baby,” Eddie said. “Come on in. Keep your pants on. This is a friendly meeting, but let’s have your handbag. Pass it over.”
She hesitated, then tossed her handbag on the desk. Eddie scooped it into a drawer. He put the gun in the drawer beside the bag.
“I don’t have to introduce myself, do I?” he said.
She had recovered from the shock of seeing him. The color came back to her face. She moved to a chair and sat down. She crossed her legs, showing him her knees before adjusting her skirt.
“I know who you are,” she said.
He took out a pack of cigarettes, got up and offered her a cigarette. She took it and he lit it. He sat on the edge of the desk close to her.
“What was the idea handing me your address and then yelling for the cops, baby?” he asked. “You nearly had me in trouble.”
She let smoke drift down her nostrils. She didn’t say anything.
“Don’t act sullen, baby. You and me could get along fine together,” he said.
“Could we?” Her blue eyes were cold. “Where’s Frankie?”
“What makes you think I know where Frankie is?”
“You and Flynn met Frankie the night he disappeared. You met him at the filling station outside La Cygne. The boy there is a friend of mine. He called me. He said you and Flynn had guns. The next day, the boy was found shot through the head. Where’s Frankie?”
Eddie was a little startled by this information. He saw now Ma had been smart to have thought of getting rid of the boy.
“I don’t know, baby,” he said. “I guess he’s holed up some place. You should know more about him than I do.” Anna continued to stare coldly at him. “What did you want to pull a gun on Frankie for?” she asked.
“Bailey was jumpy,” Eddie said. “I didn’t pull a gun, it was Flynn. There was nothing to it. He had the Blandish girl with him. I was a dope not to recognize her. If I had recognized her, I’d’ve taken her from Frankie, but I didn’t. I’ve been kicking myself ever since. He told me she was a new girl friend and I fell for it. I let him drive away.”
Two spots of red showed on Anna’s cheeks and her eyes flashed angrily.
“I don’t believe Frankie would walk out on me,” she said. “I think something’s happened to him and you know what it is.”
“You’re wrong, baby,” Eddie said. “I’m just as much in the dark as you are, but I’ve got a few ideas.”
“What ideas?”
“Forget it,” he said, shaking his head. “Why rake over dirt? I know what the boys are saying, but they could be wrong.”
“What are the boys saying?” Anna demanded, her eyes glittering.
“They say Riley’s walked out on you. He’s fallen for this Blandish girl.”
Anna jumped to her feet.
“That’s a lie! Frankie loves me! I know it’s a lie.”
“Sure, sure,” Eddie said. “It could be, but where is he? Why hasn’t he contacted you? When he lays his hands on the ransom, is he going to give you any of it? Doesn’t look like it, does it?”
She began to move around the office. He could see he had undermined her confidence in Riley.
“That Blandish girl’s a beauty,” he went on. “You know it could be that Riley has ideas about her. You’d only be in the way if you were with him. I’m not so sure the boys are wrong about you and Riley. I guess he’s taken you for a ride.”
She confronted him.
“Shut up!” she shrilled. “Frankie wouldn’t do a thing like that to me!”
“They all say that,” Eddie said and moved over to look out of the window. He could see he had said enough. After a moment or so, she came over and stood by him.
“What am I going to do?” she said. “I haven’t a dime.”
“I’ll lend you some money,” Eddie said. “I like you, baby. How much do you want?”
“I wouldn’t take money from you!”
“Okay, suit yourself. Any time you’re short or in trouble, let me know. Pete’ll tell you how to contact me. I’ve got to get moving. Forget Frankie. You’re wasting your time thinking you’ll hear from him. When he gets the ransom he’ll have all the girls after him. So long, baby.”
He went out of the office leaving Anna staring out of the window, tears scalding her eyes.
 
8
 
Flynn looked at his watch.
“Another five minutes,” he said to Woppy who was nursing a Thompson machine gun. “Sweet Christ! I’ll be goddamn glad when this caper’s over.”
“Yeah,” Woppy said. “Still Ma says it’s a cinch and she always knows what she’s talking about”
“Then what the hell are you sweating for?” Flynn demanded.
The two men were sitting in the Buick which was drawn up by the side of the road in the shadows of a clump of shrubs. They had a clear view of the road ahead.
“You aren’t so calm either,” Woppy said, taking out a dirty handkerchief and mopping his face. “What’s the time now?”
“Oh, shut up!” Flynn snarled. He was wishing Eddie had come with him. Woppy got on his nerves. With Eddie, he always felt if they got in a jam, they would get out of it, but Woppy was too excitable. He jumped off the deep end the moment anything started.
“I can hear a car,” Woppy said.
In the distance, headlights appeared above the crest of the road.
“Here he comes!” Flynn said. He scrambled out of the car, pulling a powerful flashlight from his pocket.
The approaching car was traveling fast. When it was about three hundred yards from Flynn, he started flashing the light.
Woppy watched, his hands clutching the machine gun, his heart hammering. Suppose the car was full of Feds, he thought. Those boys never took chances. They would storm past, spraying lead.
The approaching car slowed down. Flynn could see there was only the driver in the car. Blandish was obeying orders all right, he thought. The car swished past him. From the window a bulky object fell and thumped onto the road. The car went on, disappearing into the darkness.
Flynn blew out his cheeks. He ran to the white suitcase and picked it up.
Woppy put down the machine gun and started the car. Flynn scrambled in. He put the suitcase on the floor between his feet.
“Get going!” he said.
Woppy stepped on the gas pedal and the car surged forward. Flynn twisted around and stared through the rear window. They drove fast for three or four miles. No cars followed them.
“It’s okay,” Flynn said. “Let’s get home.”
When they walked into the sitting room, Ma, Slim, Eddie and Doc were all waiting. Flynn dumped the suitcase on the table.
“No trouble, Ma. It went like you said.”
Ma got slowly to her feet and walked over to the table. She snapped back the twin locks of the suitcase. The others crowded around her. Even Slim seemed mildly excited.
She lifted the lid. They all stood staring at the neat packs of bills. They had never seen so much money in their lives.
“Man! Doesn’t that look good!” Eddie said. “Man oh man!”
Slim hung over the money breathing heavily, his mouth hanging open.
“Well, there it is!” Ma said, trying to speak calmly. “A million dollars! At last!”
“Let’s split it up, Ma,” Eddie said. “I’m itching to spend some of my share. Come on! What’s the split going to be?”
“Yeah,” Woppy said, so excited he couldn’t keep still. “What am I going to get, Ma?”
Ma closed the lid of the suitcase. She looked at each man in turn, then she moved heavily to her armchair and sank into it.
The gang watched her, puzzled.
“What’s biting you?” Eddie asked impatiently. “Let’s have the money.”
“Every one of those bills in that case has a number,” Ma said. “You can bet your life the Feds have a list of the numbers. This money is so goddamn hot, it’s on fire.”
“What are you saying?” Eddie demanded, startled. “Can’t we use the stuff?”
“Sure you can if you want a free ride to the gas chamber,” Ma said. “I’m telling you it’s suicide to spend it.”
“Then what the hell did we get it for?” Flynn snarled.
Ma crackled.
“Okay, boys, relax. I’ve taken care of that angle. I’m trading this hot money to Schulberg. He’s willing to sit on it for years, but in return we only get half a million. Still half a million of money you can use is better than a million you can’t use.”
Slim suddenly spat in the fireplace.
“Talk!” he said in disgust. “That’s all you do. Talk!” He went over to the couch and lay down on it. He started to read the comics.
“That’s not so hot, Ma,” Eddie said. “I was expecting a split of two hundred grand.”
Ma laughed.
“I dare say you were.”
“What’s the split then?” Woppy asked looking anxious.
“Each of you is getting three hundred dollars,” Ma said, “and not a dollar more.”
“You kidding? Three hundred bucks?” Eddie said, his face turning red. “What is this?”
“That’s your spending money,” Ma said. “Each of you is entitled to one hundred thousand dollars, but you’re not getting it. I know you boys. If you got your hands on money that size, you’d make a splash that would put the Feds onto you in a week. You couldn’t resist throwing your money around. That’s the way most hoods get caught. They just can’t resist flashing their bankroll and the Feds know it.” She pointed her finger at Eddie. “What story would you tell the Feds if they asked you where you got all your sudden money from? Go on, tell me.”
Eddie started to say something, then stopped. He was quick to see Ma was talking sense.
“You’re right, Ma. This is a hell of a thing, isn’t it? I thought I was going to be rich.”
“Now I’ll tell you what’s going to happen to the money,” Ma said. “We’re going into business. For years now I’ve been wanting to go into business. You boys are going to handle it for me. I’m going to buy the Paradise Club. It’s on the market. We’ll redecorate it, get girls, a good band and we’ll make money. With half a million bucks, we’ll be able to turn the joint into something high class. I’m sick of running a small time gang. We’re moving into big time. From now on, we’re going to be in business. How do you like it?”
The four men relaxed. Slim was the only one who wasn’t listening. He continued to read the comics.
Doc said, “You certainly got a brain in that head of yours, Ma. I’m for it.”
“Me too,” Eddie said. “It’s a swell idea.”
“Suits me,” Flynn said.
“You going to have a restaurant, in the club, Ma?” Woppy asked. “Could I cook?”
Ma grinned.
“You can cook, Woppy. We each will own a fifth of the club’s profits. You’ll all be in the money and you’ll have a reason for being in the money.”
“Wait a minute,” Eddie said. “Suppose the Feds want to know how you financed the deal. What then?”
“That’s taken care of. Schulberg will say he lent me the money. That’s part of the deal.”
“You’ve certainly thought of everything,” Eddie said. “When do we start, Ma?”
“Right away,” Ma said. “The sooner the better. I’ll buy the club tomorrow.”
Flynn said, “And now there’s the girl to be got rid of. Have you talked to Doc about her yet? And where are we going to bury her?”
The genial atmosphere exploded into pieces. Ma stiffened. She went white and then red. Doc’s beaming smile slipped off his face. He looked as if he was going to faint. Slim dropped the newspaper and half sat up, his yellow eyes gleaming.
“Bury her?” Slim said. “What do you mean? Talk to Doc about what?” He swung his feet to the ground.
“Nothing,” Ma said quickly. She looked as if she could kill Flynn.
Eddie decided this was the opportunity for a showdown.
“Just what is going to happen to the girl, Ma?” he asked, edging away from Slim who had got to his feet.
Ma hesitated, but she realized this was no time to back down. Without looking at Slim, she said, “She’s got to go. She knows too much. When she’s asleep…”
“Ma!”
Slim’s voice, slightly high pitched, made them all look at him. He was glaring at his mother, his yellow eyes smouldering.
“What is it?” the old woman asked. She felt a chill of fear around her heart.
“She belongs to me,” Slim said, speaking slowly and distinctly. “No one touches her unless they want to reckon with me first. She belongs to me and I’m keeping her.”
“Look, Slim, don’t be foolish,” Ma said. She spoke with difficulty. Her mouth felt dry. “We can’t keep her. It’s too dangerous. She’s got to go.”
Slim suddenly kicked a chair out of his way. His knife jumped into his hand. Woppy and Doc hurriedly backed away from Ma, leaving her to face Slim alone. She stiffened as Slim began slowly to move towards her.
“Then you’ll reckon with me,” he said viciously. “Do you want me to cut your throat, you old cow? If you touch her—if anyone touches her—I’ll cut you to pieces!”
Eddie slid his gun into his hand. Ma saw the move.
“Put that gun up!” she said hoarsely. She was terrified Eddie was going to shoot her son.
Slim turned on Eddie who backed away.
“You hear me?” Slim screamed. “She’s mine! I’m keeping her! No one’s touching her!”
He stared around at each of them in turn, then he went out, slamming the door behind him.
There was a long pause. Ma was pale. She went slowly to her chair and sat down. She looked suddenly old.
Eddie and Flynn exchanged glances. Eddie shrugged and made for the door. Flynn followed him out of the room.
Woppy, sweating, sat on the couch and pretended to look at the comics. Doc poured himself a stiff drink. The silence in the room was painful.
Slim stood at the head of the stairs, listening. He grinned to himself. At last he had shown his power. He had scared them all. From now on, he was going to have his rightful place in the gang. Ma was going to take second place. He looked down the passage at Miss Blandish’s room. It was time he stopped sitting by her night after night. He must show her he wasn’t only master of his mother, but master of her too.
He started down the passage, his yellow eyes gleaming. He took the key out of the lock after unlocking the door. He went into the room and locked the door.
Miss Blandish watched him come across the room. She saw his new confidence and she guessed what it was to mean to her.
Shuddering, she shut her eyes.

more miss blandish, sans orchids, and more of chapter two


 

3

As a street clock was striking eleven, the Buick slid to a standstill near the Palace Hotel. Eddie and Flynn got out, leaving Woppy at the wheel.
“Stick around,” Eddie said. “If you see any cops, move off, but keep circling. We may need you in a hurry.”
“Rather you than me,” Woppy said and stuck a cigarette on his lip.
Eddie and Flynn walked quickly down the street to the hotel entrance. It wasn’t much of a place. They walked into the lobby which was empty. Behind the desk dozed a fat, elderly man in his shirt sleeves. He blinked open his eyes as Eddie came up.
“You want a room?” the man asked hopefully, getting to his feet.
“No. Who’s in 243?” Eddie asked curtly.
The man stiffened.
“Can’t give you information like that,” he said.
“You’d better call around tomorrow morning and ask at the desk.”
Flynn took out his gun and shoved it into the man’s face.
“You heard what the guy said, didn’t you?” he snarled.
The man’s face went white at the sight of the gun. With trembling hands, he thumbed through the register. Eddie snatched it from him. He ran his finger quickly down the list of numbers.
“Anna Borg,” he said when he arrived at No 243. “Who’s she?” He noted the rooms either side of 243 were vacant.
Flynn slid the gun in his hand and held it by the barrel. He reached forward and clubbed the man on top of his head. The man slid down behind the counter. Eddie craned his neck to look at him.
“You shouldn’t have hit him that hard,” he said. “He looks like a family man. Better tie him up.”
Flynn went around and tied the man’s hands behind him with the man’s tie. Leaving him behind the counter, they walked over to the elevator and rode up to the second floor.
“You stay here,” Eddie said, “and watch the stairs. I’ll call on the dame.”
He started off down the passage, looking for room 243.
He found it at the far end of the passage. He listened, his ear against the door panel. Then he drew his gun and stepped into the dark room. He shut the door, groped for the light switch and turned it on.
He looked around. The small room was empty and untidy. Clothes were scattered on the bed and chair. He recognized the yellow dress the girl had been wearing hanging over the chair back. The dressing table was crowded with cosmetic bottles. The contents of a large powder box had been tipped onto the carpet. When he was satisfied no one was in the room and there was nowhere for anyone to hide, he opened drawers but found nothing to interest him. He wondered where the girl had got to. He left the room, shutting the door and joined Flynn at the head of the stairs. “She isn’t around.”
“Let’s get out of here,” Flynn said. “The room next to hers is empty,” Eddie said. “We’ll wait in there. She may come back.”
“How about the guy downstairs? What happens if someone finds him?”
“I’ll worry about that when he’s found,” Eddie said. “Come on.”
They went silently down the passage to room 241, opened the door and entered. Eddie left the door open a couple of inches. He stood by the door while Flynn went and lay on the bed.
Minutes dragged by. Then just when he was beginning to think he was wasting his time, Eddie heard a sound that alerted him and brought Flynn off the bed and to the door. Both men peered through the crack in the door.
The door exactly opposite room 243 was opening slowly. A girl appeared and looked up and down the passage. Eddie recognized her immediately: she was the blonde he had seen in the street. Before he could make up his mind what to do, she had come out, shut the door and then had run across the passage and into room 243. They heard the door shut and the key turn.
“That the dame?” Flynn asked, breathing hard down Eddie’s neck. “Yeah.”
“Nice,” Flynn said. “What’s she been up to?”
Eddie opened the door wide and moved into the passage.
“I don’t know, but I’m going to find out. You go to the stairs.”
Flynn went off down the passage.
Eddie crossed to the opposite door. He turned the handle and pressed. The door opened. He looked into darkness. He listened, heard nothing. He entered the room.
He turned on the light switch, then he caught his breath sharply. A short fat man lay on the floor. Blood was running from a wound in his head. He had been shot. Eddie didn’t have to go closer to see the man was dead.

4

Ma Grisson had been brooding for some time. There was an expression on her face that warned Doc Williams not to bother her. Doc was playing solitaire. He kept looking at Ma, wondering what was going on in her mind. After a while her stillness got on his nerves and he put down his cards.
“Is there anything worrying you, Ma?” he asked cautiously.
“You get on with your game and leave me alone,” Ma growled.
Doc lifted his shoulders. He got up and went to the front door, opened it and looked into the moonlit darkness. Lighting a cigar, he sat on the top step.
Ma suddenly got to her feet as if she had finally made up her mind. She went over to a cupboard and took from it a length of rubber hose.
Doc heard her movements and he looked around. He saw her climbing the stairs and he saw the rubber hose in her hand. He wondered vaguely what she was doing with it.
Ma Grisson went along the passage to the front room. She unlocked the door and entered the room. It was a small room. The window was covered with planks. There was only a chair, a small table and a mirror on the wall in the room. The threadbare carpet was dirty.
Ma shut the door and looked at Miss Blandish who was sitting up in bed, her eyes wide with alarm. In place of a nightgown she was wearing her slip. Ma sat on the bed. The springs sagged under her great weight.
“I’ve something to say to you,” she said. “Have you ever been hit with a thing like this?” She held up the rubber hose.
Miss Blandish shook her head. She had just woken up out of a troubled sleep. This visit seemed a continuation of her nightmare.
“It hurts,” the old woman said. She hit Miss Blandish on her knee. Although the blanket absorbed some of the blow, it stung. Miss Blandish stiffened. The sleepy look went out of her eyes. She struggled up in bed, clenching her fists; her eyes flashing angrily.
“Don’t you dare touch me again!” she said breathlessly.
Ma Grisson grinned. Her big white teeth made her look wolfish and strangely like her son.
“So what would you do?”
She grabbed Miss Blandish’s wrists in one of her huge hands. She sat grinning as the girl wrenched and pulled in a useless attempt to get free.
“Don’t kid yourself,” Ma said. “I may be old, but I’m much stronger than you. Now I’m going to take some of the starch out of you. Then we’ll have a talk.”
Downstairs, Doc, still sitting on the step, saw Woppy get out of the Buick and come towards him.
“Eddie back yet?” Woppy asked.
“No. What’s happened?”
Woppy pushed past Doc and went into the sitting room. Doc followed him. Woppy picked up a bottle, held it up to the light, then threw it across the room in disgust.
“Isn’t there ever anything to drink in this joint?”
Doc went to the cupboard and opened a new bottle of Scotch.
“What’s happened to Eddie?” he asked as he made two stiff drinks.
“I don’t know,” Woppy said, taking one of the drinks. “We went to the hotel and he and Flynn went in. I hung around, then I saw a couple of cops. I moved off, circled the block and when I got back, I heard shooting. More cops started arriving so I beat it.”
“Sounds as if Eddie’s walked into trouble.”
Woppy shrugged. He emptied his glass.
“He can take care of himself. I should worry.” He paused and cocked his head on one side. “What’s that?”
Doc stiffened and looked uneasily up at the ceiling.
“Sounds like the girl screaming.”
“I’ll go up and see,” Woppy said, starting for the door.
“Better not,” Doc said. “Ma’s with her.”
The two men listened to the high-pitched screaming for a moment, then Woppy, grimacing, went over to the radio and turned it on. The sudden blast of jazz drowned out the screams.
“Maybe I’m getting soft,” Woppy said, wiping his face with his handkerchief, “but there are times when that bitch makes me sick to my stomach.”
Doc drained his glass, then refilled it.
“Better not let her hear you say so,” he said and sat down.
Upstairs Ma Grisson was once more sitting on the bed, breathing hard through her thick nose. She watched Miss Blandish writhing on the bed, tears running down her face, her hands twisting the sheet.
“Now I think we can talk,” Ma said.
She began to speak. What she said made the girl forget her pain. She stared at the old woman as if she couldn’t believe she was hearing correctly. Suddenly she gasped, “No!” Ma went on talking. Miss Blandish sat up and recoiled to the head of the bed, saying “No!”
At last Ma lost patience.
“You can’t get out of it, you little fool!” she snarled. “You’re going to do what I tell you! If you don’t, I’ll beat you again.”
“No… No… No!”
Ma got to her feet and picked up the length of rubber hose. Then she changed her mind.
“I’m spoiling your pretty skin,” she said, “and that won’t do. There are other ways. I’ll get Doc to fix you. I should have thought of that before. Yeah, Doc’ll know how to fix you.”
She went out of the room leaving Miss Blandish, her head buried in the pillow, sobbing wildly.

5

Eddie stared down at Heinie’s body, feeling sweat break out on his face. If the cops walked in now he would be in a hell of a jam, he was thinking. He looked quickly around the room. There had been no struggle. He guessed someone had knocked on the door and when Heinie had opened it, he had been shot. From the small wound in Heinie’s head, Eddie surmised the gun used had been a .25—a woman’s weapon.
He touched Heinie’s hand. It was still warm. Heinie hadn’t been dead longer than half an hour, if that.
Eddie looked into the passage. Flynn was still watching the stairs. Eddie left the room. As an afterthought he carefully wiped the door knob with his handkerchief. Then he crossed to room 243 and tried the door handle. The door was locked. He knocked. Flynn looked down the passage at him. Eddie rapped on the door again. There was no answer. He put his ear against the door panel. He heard the sound of the window being pushed open.
“Hey, you in there,” he called softly. “Come on! Open up!”
Then the silence of the night was split by a woman’s wild screams. From the sound, the woman in 243 was leaning out of the window, yelling her head off.
Eddie jumped back from the door.
“Come on, stupid!” Flynn shouted. “Let’s get out of here!”
Eddie joined him at the head of the stairs and together the two men started down.
“Wait!” Flynn hissed and grabbed Eddie’s arm. He looked down the well of the staircase into the hall. Eddie peered over Flynn’s shoulder. Two cops, guns in hand, were standing in the hall. Suddenly, they moved to the stairs and started up them.
Eddie and Flynn spun around and darted up to the next landing. They could hear people shouting and doors opening.
“The roof!” Eddie panted.
They rushed up to the top landing. They could hear the cops pounding up after them. As they started down the long passage a door nearby opened and a scared-looking man poked his head out. Flynn hit him as he crowded past. The man fell down. From inside the room, a woman started to scream.
There was a door at the end of the passage which led out onto the roof. It was locked. Flynn fired two shots at the lock, then kicked the door open. The noise of the shots in the confined space deafened the two men. Gasping for breath, they stumbled out onto the flat roof and into the cool night air.
Running to the edge of the roof, they took a stiff drop onto the roof of the adjacent building, some fifteen feet below. The moon, hidden behind a cloud, made just enough light for them to see where they were going.
They paused for a moment, trying to decide which way they should go.
“We’d better split up,” Eddie said. “You go left, I’ll go right. Be seeing you.”
Flynn moved off across the roof away from Eddie. There was a sudden shout and Flynn turned in time to see shadowy figures appearing on the upper roof. He fired. One of the figures dropped, and he darted into the darkness.
Screened by a row of chimney stacks, Eddie paused to look down into the street. People were coming out of the various apartment blocks and crowding the streets. A police car was pulling up. From it spilled four cops. They shoved their way through the crowd to the entrance of the hotel. In the distance came the sound of approaching sirens.
Eddie moved off. He lowered himself onto another roof. Crouching in the shadows, he looked back. The roof of the hotel was now alive with moving shadows. A gun banged away from him. One of the shadows slumped out of sight.
Eddie stood, hesitating. None of the cops seemed to be coming his way. They were chasing Flynn. Eddie grinned uneasily. It hadbeen a smart idea to split up.
He moved across the roof to a skylight. His best bet, he told himself, was to get into the building and hide up until it was safe to leave.
Suddenly, without warning, a cop came from behind a chimney stack. The two men gaped at each other, for a moment paralyzed with shock and surprise, then the cop acted quickly. He jerked up his gun, but Eddie was a shade faster. He slammed a punch at the cop’s head and brought his gun butt down on the cop’s gun wrist. The cop reeled back, dropping his gun. Eddie could have shot him, but he knew the sound of the shooting would bring the other cops.
He jumped forward, took a stiff blow to the side of his face from the cop and clubbed the cop with his gun butt.
The cop was tough and full of fight. He was trying to pull his nightstick. He and Eddie grappled. For a long moment, the two men strained together, then Eddie punched the cop off. As he came forward again, Eddie sidestepped him and hit him a crushing blow with the gun butt on the side of his head. The cop dropped like a pole-axed bull.
Panting, Eddie looked anxiously around. He could hear distant shooting. He ran over to the skylight and jerked it open. The bolt holding it in place was flimsy and it snapped at his first heave. He looked into the darkness, then swung his legs into space and dropped. He took out his flashlight and sent the beam around the room. It was full of boxes, trunks and unwanted furniture. Moving to the door, he opened it cautiously and peered out into a dark passage. He listened, then moving forward, he reached the head of the stairs. He turned off his flashlight and made his way down to the lower landing.
Police sirens were now making a deafening noise. He could hear the sound of running footsteps. There was a great deal of distant shouting. He reached the landing and peered over the banisters. Far below, he saw three cops starting up the stairs towards him.
Sweat was running down his face now. This was getting much too hot for comfort, he was thinking.
He whipped around and noiselessly entered the first room near him. The light was on in the room. A woman was leaning far out of the window, looking down at the commotion going on in the street below. He could only see her pyjamaed back and legs, and even under this pressure, he found himself thinking she had a nice shape.
He closed the door and tiptoed across to the woman. He stood close to her, waiting. She must have sensed she was no longer alone for she suddenly straightened and whirled around.
Eddie pounced on her; one hand clamped over her mouth, theother gripped her wrists.
“Make a sound and I’ll break your neck!” he said, holding her against him.
She stared up at him. She was only a kid: she couldn’t have been more than eighteen. Her blue eyes opened very wide. She looked so scared he thought she was going to faint.
“Take it easy,” he said. “I’m not going to hurt you if you don’t make a noise.”
She leaned heavily against him, closing her eyes. He could hear the sound of voices and tramping of feet coming along the passage.
He gave the girl a little shake.
“The cops are looking for me,” he said. “You’ll be all right if you don’t make a noise and do what I tell you. Come on, get into bed.”
He carried her over to the bed and slid her under the sheet.
“Don’t make a sound,” he warned as he took his hand from her mouth.
“I—I won’t,” she said breathlessly, staring up at him.
“Good girl.”
He turned off the light, plunging the room into darkness. He lay down on the floor by the side of the bed away from the door.
“If they come in here and find me,” he said, drawing his gun, “there’s going to be shooting and you could get damaged. So don’t start yelling.”
“I won’t,” the girl said, more confidence in her voice now.
He could hear doors opening and people talking excitedly. It sounded as if the cops were going from room to room.
“It’s up to you, baby,” he said from the floor, “to stall them if they come in here.” He slid his hand under the sheet and took her hand in his. He was surprised she squeezed his hand and he winked to himself in the darkness. “You don’t have to be scared of me.”
“I’m not scared,” she said.
They waited. He could hear her fast breathing and his own heart beats.
Suddenly heavy footfalls sounded outside. The door opened cautiously. Eddie lifted his gun. The girl gripped his hand hard. The beam of a powerful flashlight swung around the room. The girl gave a little scream. “Who is it?” she quavered. The light fell on her.
“Police,” a voice growled from behind the light. “You alone in here?”
“Yes… what is it?”
“A couple of gunmen loose,” the cop said. “Nothing for you to worry about. You should lock your door, miss.”
The door closed and the heavy footsteps receded.
Eddie drew in a deep breath. He let go of the girl’s hand, got to his feet and went over to the door and turned the key in the lock. He came back to the bed and sat on the floor.
“Thanks, baby,” he said. “You did a nice job. I’ll stay here until it’s quiet, then I’ll beat it. Relax, you don’t have to worry about me.”
The girl didn’t say anything. She stared curiously at him, just able to make him out in the dim light coming through the uncurtained window.
After some minutes, Eddie found the floor getting hard. He got up and sat on the end of the bed.
“I’m getting calluses,” he said, grinning. “You get off to sleep if you want to.”
“I don’t want to sleep,” the girl said. “You scared the life out of me, but I’m not so scared now.”
“That’s fine,” Eddie said. “I scared the life out of myself too.”
The sounds in the building had died down. Some of the police cars were moving off. He wondered if Flynn had got away. He guessedhe had. Flynn knew how to take care of himself.
After a long pause, the girl said, “It was just like a movie. All that shooting… if you hadn’t held my hand I would have screamed.”
Eddie looked at her with growing interest.
“I’ll hold it again any time you like.”
She gave a nervous giggle.
“I don’t feel like screaming now.”
He got up and looked out of the window. The crowded street was now deserted. The last of the police cars were moving away.
“Well, I guess I can go. Looks like the show is over.” He came over to the bed and smiled at the girl. “Thanks a lot, baby. You were swell.”
She half sat up in the bed.
“Are you sure it’s safe to go?”
“Yeah. I can’t stay here all night.”
She settled down in the bed.
“Can’t you?” She spoke so softly he scarcely heard what she said, but he did hear. He suddenly grinned.
“Well, there’s no law against it, is there? Do you want me to stay?”
“Now you’re making me blush,” the girl said and hid her face. “What a question to ask a lady.”

6
 
Two days later, an advertisement offering kegs of white paint appeared in the Tribune.
Ma Grisson tossed the newspaper to Doc.
“The money’s ready,” she said. “Now we’ve got to collect it. It’ll be a soft job, Flynn and Woppy can handle it. You write to Blandish, Doc. Tell him to drive to the Maxwell filling station on Highway 71. He’ll know where it is. He’s to get to the Blue Hills golf course at one o’clock.” She looked over at Flynn and Woppy who were listening. “That’s where you boys will be waiting. He is to throw the suitcase out of the car window when he sees a light flashing. He’s not to stop. Warn him he’ll be watched from the moment he leaves his house. If he cooperates with the police or tries anything smart, the girl will suffer.” To Flynn and Woppy, she went on, “You won’t have any trouble. Blandish will be too scared something might happen to the girl. The road’s straight for miles. If you’re followed, drop the suitcase in the road so they can see it, and keep moving. They won’t come after you because of the girl.”
“Tomorrow night?” Flynn asked.
“That’s it.”
Flynn stuck a cigarette on his lower lip.
“Didn’t you say the girl was to be knocked off, Ma?” he said, staring at Ma. “What are we keeping her for?”
Ma stiffened. Her little eyes turned hard.
“She’ll go when we get the money.”
“Why wait?”
“Who do you think you’re talking to?” Ma snarled. “Shut your loose mouth!”
Flynn looked over at Doc who couldn’t meet his direct stare. Doc got up, muttered something under his breath and left the room.
“What’s happening to the girl, Ma?” Flynn asked. “I saw that old quack go into her room last night with a hypo.”
Ma’s face turned purple.
“Did you? If you’ve nothing better to do than to snoop around here, I’ll have to find you something to do.”
The tone of her voice alarmed Flynn.
“Okay, okay,” he said hastily. “I was only shooting the breeze.”
“Shoot it to someone who wants to listen,” Ma snarled. “Get out of here!”
Flynn hurriedly left the room. After a moment’s uneasy hesitation, Woppy followed him. The two men went upstairs and into Eddie’s room.
Eddie was in bed, reading the Sunday comics.
“Hi, you misbegotten freaks!” he said cheerfully. “What’s cooking?”
Flynn sat on the foot of the bed. Woppy straddled a chair, laying his fat arms along the back.
“We’re collecting the dough tomorrow night,” Woppy said. “The ad’s in the Tribune.”
“A million bucks!” Eddie said, lying back on the dirty pillow. “Think of it! At last, we’re in the money!”
“What are you going to do with your cut when you get it?” Woppy asked.
“I’m going to buy an island in the South Seas,” Eddie said, “and I’m going to stock it with beautiful girls in grass skirts.”
Woppy laughed, slapping his fat thigh.
“You and your women! Me—I’m going to start a restaurant. My spaghetti’s going to be world famous.”
Flynn, who had been listening, his vicious face disinterested, suddenly asked, “What’s going on in the girl’s room, Eddie?”
Eddie stopped laughing and stared at Flynn.
“What do you mean?”
“What I say. I’m in the room next to hers and I hear things. Doc goes in there. I’ve seen him with a hypo. Slim sneaks in there too. He was in there from eleven last night to four in the morning.”
Eddie threw the sheet off and got out of bed. “What do you mean—a hypo?”
“You heard me. Doc had a hypo in his hand when he went into her room. Do you think he’s drugging her?”
“Why should he?”
“I don’t know—I’m asking you. Why does Slim go in there?”
Eddie started to throw on his clothes.
“Slim! You don’t think that poisonous moron has ideas about the girl, do you?”
“I tell you I don’t know, but Ma’s goddamn touchy when I mention the girl.”
“I’m going to talk to her,” Eddie said. “I’m not standing for Slim relieving his repressions on that girl. There’s a limit, and goddamn it, that would be the limit!”
“You’d better not,” Woppy said in alarm. “Ma won’t like it. Better keep out of it.”
Eddie ignored him; to Flynn he said, “Watch the stairs. Give me a tip if it looks like Ma’s coming up.”
“Sure,” Flynn said and went out into the passage. He leaned over the banister.
Eddie ran a comb through his hair, put on a tie, then went quickly down the passage to Miss Blandish’s room. The key was in the lock. He turned it and entered the room.
Miss Blandish lay flat on her back on the bed, covered by a grimy sheet. She was staring up at the ceiling.
Eddie closed the door and went over to her.
“Hello, baby,” he said. “How are you getting on?”
Miss Blandish didn’t seem to know he was in the room. She continued to stare up at the ceiling.
Eddie put his hand on her shoulder and shook her gently.
“Wake up, baby,” he said. “What’s going on?”
Slowly, she turned her head and stared at him. Her eyes were blank: the pupils enormously enlarged.
“Go away,” she said, her words blurred.
He sat on the bed.
“You know me—I’m Eddie,” he said. “Wake up! What’s going on?”
She closed her eyes. For several minutes he watched her, then suddenly she began to speak. Her low, lifeless voice was like a medium in a trance talking.
“I wish I was dead,” she said. “They say nothing matters once you are dead.” There was another long pause, while Eddie frowned down at her, then she went on. “Dreams… nothing but horrible dreams. There’s a man who comes here, who seems very real, but he doesn’t really exist. He is tall and thin and he smells of dirt. He stands over me and talks. I don’t understand what he is saying.” She moved under the sheet as if its weight was unbearable to her. There was again a long pause of silence, then she went on, “I pretend to be dead. I want to scream when he comes in, but if I did, he would know I was alive. He stands for hours by me, mumbling.” Then suddenly she screamed out, “Why doesn’t he do something to me?”
Eddie started back, sweat on his face. The awful tone of her scream frightened him. He looked towards the door, wondering if Ma had heard her.
Miss Blandish relaxed again. She was muttering now, moving her body uneasily, her hands twisting the sheet.
“I wish he would do something to me,” she said. “Anything is better than having him standing hour after hour at my side, talking. I wish he would do something to me…”
Flynn poked his head around the door.
“You’d better get out of here. What’s she yelling about?”
Eddie shoved him out of the room and shut and locked the door. He wiped his sweating face with the back of his hand.
“What’s going on in there?” Flynn demanded.
“Something pretty bad,” Eddie said. “She’d be better off dead.”
“Nobody’s better off dead,” Flynn said sharply. “What do you mean?”
Eddie went back to his room. Flynn trailed along behind him.
As Eddie entered, Woppy looked up at him, startled by his bleak expression.
“Get out of here!” Eddie snarled and went over to his bed and lay down on it.
Woppy went quickly out of the room. He looked blankly at Flynn who shrugged his shoulders.
Eddie shut his eyes. For the first time in his life he felt dirty and ashamed of himself.