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Title: A Cue For The Corpse
Author: Emile C. Tepperman
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0603841.txt
Edition: 1
Language: English
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Date first posted: July 2006
Date most recently updated: July 2006

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A Cue For The Corpse (1939)
Emile C. Tepperman



ED RACE heard the little bang while he was shaving, but he paid no
attention to it. It might have been the back-fire of any one of the
ten thousand cars passing on Broadway, eight floors below; or it might
have been a guest in one of the other rooms committing suicide--or
getting murdered. Whatever it was, Ed didn't intend to investigate.

There was a midnight show at the Clyde Theater tonight, and his act
was due at one-ten. It was eleven-thirty now, and he wanted to dress
and eat before he went on. So he finished shaving, and then went into
the bedroom and put on his shirt and tie and vest.

Over the vest he strapped the twin shoulder--holsters containing the
two heavy .45 caliber hair--trigger revolvers which he used in his
gun-juggling and marksmanship act. Then he put on his coat and hat and
turned out the light. With the light out in the room, all the
glittering incandescence of Broadway surged up through the window.
Electric lights flickered and flashed from hundreds of huge signs. Two
blocks down he could see the marquee of the Clyde Theater, where his
own act was headlined:

THIS WEEK ONLY

THE MASKED MARKSMAN

THE MAN WHO CAN MAKE GUNS TALK!

IN PERSON!

Ed grinned at that. He was used to it now, though it had been a little
thrilling for the first couple of years. It was ten years since he had
first gone up in electric lights. And now he was the highest-paid
performer on the Partages Circuit. He liked it. He liked to juggle
those heavy guns, and bring down the house in thunderous applause when
he shot out the flames of a dozen candles in succession thirty feet
across the stage. Every night it was a new thrill.

He pulled open the door and started to step out into the corridor. But
he suddenly stopped with his hand on the knob, and said in surprise,
"Well, for the love of Pete!"

There was a girl in the hall, and she was lugging a dead man by the
feet!

SHE was hardly more than seventeen or eighteen, and her figure was
slender and supple in a thin silk dress. She must have put it on in a
hurry, because, even in the dim light of the hallway, it was easy to
see that she wore nothing at all underneath it. And she had no shoes
or stockings on, either.

He stared.

She was dragging the man by the feet. His shoulders bumped along the
floor, and his arms did a crazy slithering act on the wine-colored
rug. He was on his back, and there was a large black hole in his left
temple. The blood was dried around the wound. His eyes were open and
glazed, and his jaw hung slack. There was no doubt that he was dead.

The girl apparently had dragged him out of Room 814 across the hall,
because the door of that room was ajar. When she heard Ed Race, she
dropped the man's feet as if they were scorching hot. Her eyes became
wide and round. Her lower lip was trembling, and her small breasts
were rising and falling with trip-hammer speed.

She stared at Ed Race without speaking.

Ed said gravely, "Why, you're only a kid. How come you're lugging a
corpse? Don't you know you mustn't touch dead men till the police
come?"

"I want to get rid of the body," she told him matter-of-factly.

"I guessed as much," he said dryly. "Who killed him?"

"I killed him."

Ed raised his eyebrows. "With what?"

"With a gun."

"Why?" he asked.

"Because he was no good. He's a gunman--Lefty Mott. I'm--I was his gun
moll. We had a fight and I shot him."

Ed looked at her thoughtfully. "A gun moll, eh? Aren't you a little
young to be a gun moll?"

"I'm twenty-five!" she lied defiantly.

Ed grinned. "Twenty-five, eh?? A pretty ripe old age at that. Do you
mind telling me what you were going to do with Mr. Lefty Mott?"

"I was going to put him in the incinerator," she said.

"There isn't any incinerator here. This isn't a housekeeping hotel."

Her eyes widened. "But--but I thought every New York building had an
incinerator."

"You haven't been in New York long, have you?" Ed asked.

"I have so! And I'm a moll, too. I'll prove it. Want me to prove it?"

"How?"

"Like this," she said.

She knelt swiftly beside the dead man, and thrust a hand inside his
coat. She brought it out holding a huge automatic which she had taken
from under the corpse's left armpit. It was so heavy she had to hold
it in both hands as she pointed it at Ed.

"You do as I say," she blurted, "or I'll p-plug you like I plugged
him. Get hold of his feet and pull him into your room!"

Just then they heard the clanging of the elevator doors around the
bend in the corridor---and then voices, approaching. Two men were
talking. One was whining, the other gruff and unyielding.

"I tell you, Inspector," Whiny was saying, "Inness plugged Lefty Mott
right in his room. I seen him do it from my window across the street.
He shot him in the head! And Lefty didn't even have a gun!"

The other voice was lower, but clear and authoritative. "All right,
Gimp. We'll see for ourselves. There's an alarm out for Inness
already. You better be giving me a straight steer, or it'll be just
too bad for you!"

"Don't worry, Inspector. I know better than to try anything on you."

There was only a grunt from the Inspector.

Ed Race didn't recognize the whiny voice, but he certainly did know
that other, authoritative voice. That would be Inspector Hansen, Chief
of New York City Detectives. Hansen was a hard man, brilliant and
unemotional. He and Ed Race had never been able to get along together.

Ed looked at the girl, and saw that she was trembling. Her two hands
were shaking so that the muzzle of the heavy automatic was wavering in
a wide arc. If she fired it, she would be sure to hit anything but Ed.
Also, Ed noticed with a grin, that she didn't even know enough to snap
off the safety catch. But she was holding to her bluff. Her voice
assumed a villainous whisper.

"Hurry up and drag this corpse in there, or I'll shoot!"

Ed said, "Well, well. I guess you've got me cold, sister." He
whispered it so that the two men coming down the hall wouldn't hear.
And then he took two steps forward, bent down and seized the defunct
Mr. Lefty Mott by the feet, dragged mightily, and pulled him into the
room.

THE girl uttered a deep sigh of relief and ran in after him. Ed swung
the door shut just as Inspector Hansen and his stool-pigeon came
around the bend of the corridor. He left the door open just a crack,
so as to get a glimpse of them. Behind him he could hear the girl's
quick, labored breathing.

Hansen and Gimp passed right by his room and went directly to the open
door of 814.

Ed watched, saw Hansen look in, then turn and scowl at Gimp, without
saying a word. Gimp looked, in his turn, and exclaimed, "My Gawd,
Inspector, I swear I seen Lefty Mott get shot in there. Someone must
have taken him out!"

Hansen said, "Yeah. I suppose they took him out through the whole
hotel, and then down in the street, and just loaded him in a car,
while all of Broadway watched!"

Gimp shrugged helplessly. "Maybe they dragged him in some other room
on the floor."

Hansen snapped his fingers. "You may be right at that! I'll call
downtown and get some men. Then we'll search every room."

Very slowly and very carefully, Ed closed his door and locked it. He
turned and faced the girl. She had heard what Hansen had said. She was
staring at Ed, wide-eyed. She still held on to the automatic with both
hands.

Ed smiled at her. "Well? You've got me in a nice jam now. When Hansen
searches the floor he'll find this body here and then he'll arrest me
for murder."

There were tears in the girl's eyes. "I--I didn't want to do that to
you. I--I only wanted to get rid of the body."

Ed put out his hand and took the automatic from her. She didn't
resist. He turned it around and showed her the safety catch.

"For a gun moll, you certainly are ignorant of firearms," he said. "In
the future remember, if it's an automatic, it won't shoot unless you
snap this little doo-dad."

He led her to a chair and sat her in it. "All right. Now suppose you
tell me all about it. In the first place, I know you're not a gun
moll. In the second place, I know you didn't kill Lefty Mott. In the
third place, I know you're in a lot of trouble. Maybe I can help you
out."

She sagged back helplessly in the chair, and looked up at him with a
pair of hopeless eyes. "Nobody can help me. You heard what they said
in the hall. That man, Gimp, lied. He told the Inspector that my
brother--that's Jack Inness---killed Lefty Mott. Well, Jack didn't
kill him. I found Lefty dead in Jack's room, and I knew someone was
trying to frame my brother, so I decided to drag the body out of
there. I--"

She was interrupted by a heavy knock at the door. "Police Department!"
a voice rasped. "Open up in there!"

Ed whispered to the girl, "That'll be Inspector Hansen. If he finds
you here, your brother will be connected with the murder. All your
trouble will be wasted. And if he finds me in here he'll surely take
me downtown for questioning, and I won't be able to appear for my
number at the Clyde Theater tonight."

Her eyes opened wide. "You--you're an actor?"

He nodded.

Hansen's knock was repeated, this time more loudly. "Open up, I say! I
know there's someone in there. I know you've got a dead body in there.
There's blood on the door-sill here!"

The girl was on her feet in a panic. "What---what'll we do?"

Ed leaped across to the closet, pulled one of his topcoats off a
hanger, and threw it over her shoulders. "Put that on. You can't go
out in the street in that thin dress."

He seized her arm, dragged her to the window. Hansen kept on knocking
at the door. Now he was using the butt of his revolver "Better open
up. It'll go hard with you, whoever--"

The rest of his voice was lost because, Ed had the window up, and had
pushed the girl out onto the terrace, and was out after her. He closed
the window from the outside, leaving Lefty Mott in there all alone, in
the majestic splendor of death.

The girl shrugged into the sleeves of the topcoat, and Ed led her all
the way down to the end of the terrace. The next to the last window
along the terrace opened on to the corridor near the freight elevator
shaft. Ed slid the window up, crawled in, the girl following. They
were around the bend of the corridor now, and they could hear Hansen
still hammering at the door.

Ed grinned and said, "I hope my friend the Inspector doesn't get high
blood pressure over there!" He led her past the freight elevator doors
to the fire-door. He pushed it open, and they both ran down the stairs
to the seventh floor. On the seventh, Ed slowed up to a walk. He
looked at the girl. "That's a man's topcoat you're wearing, but I
guess it'll pass. Come on."

HE WENT to the passenger elevator shaft, and rang the down button. In
a moment a cage arrived, and the door opened. Ed and the girl stepped
in, and the elevator descended. The elevator operator said, "Hello,
Mr. Race. What you doing on the seventh? I thought you was on the
eighth."

"I had to pick up Miss Smith here," Ed told him.

"You missed some excitement," the operator said. "Seems like there's
been a killing up on your floor. There's a police inspector up there,
and he's going through all the rooms."

"Is that so?" Ed said. "I wonder who killed whom." He took a ten-
dollar bill out of his pocket, folded it into a small wad and gave it
to the operator. "Look, Sammy, do you think this would improve or
spoil your memory?"

Sammy peeked at the denomination of the bill, and grinned. "It would
make me suffer from amnesia, Mr. Race!"

"Okay. Just forget you saw me and Miss Smith. Oke?"

Sammy winked. "Oke." Suddenly he became doubtful. "But if it's
murder--they can give you the chair for being after the fact--"

"Don't worry, Sammy. I didn't do murder. Neither did Miss Smith."

"Well, Mr. Race, if you was to make it twenty--"

Ed sighed and took out another ten-dollar bill. "All right, Jesse
James."

They were on the ground floor now, and Sammy grinned, pocketed the
extra ten, and opened the sliding door. Ed stepped out, holding the
girl by the arm. He started to cross the lobby, and then stopped,
making a little grimace of disgust.

Three men had just come in, and were hurrying toward the elevators.
"Those are Inspector Hansen's men," he told the girl. "Sergeant
Bickert and two detectives. They'll tell Hansen they saw me coming
out. And he'll learn that it's my room the body is in--"

The three men stopped directly in front of Ed and the girl.

Sergeant Bickert's eyes flicked swiftly over her, then swung to Ed.
"Why hello, Mr. Masked Marksman. Fancy seeing you here--at a time when
there's been a killing, too. Don't it beat everything how you're
always around when there's a murder!"

Ed looked very innocent. "Murder, Bickert? Has some one been murdered
in this hotel?"

Bickert was looking at him suspiciously. "Yeah. On the eighth floor.
Might I ask, Mr. Race, what floor is your room on?"

Ed gave him a grin. "You might ask, Sergeant, but why should I reply?
I have no intention of inviting you up for a drink. And now---" he
took the girl's arm and started to push past the three detectives--"if
you'll excuse me, Miss Smith and I have a little business to attend
to."

Bickert put out an arm to bar his way. "Just a moment, Mr. Masked
Marksman. This Miss Smith here--what is she, some kind of a back-to-
nature girl?"

Ed scowled. "What do you mean?"

Bickert snickered. "I've heard of people walking barefoot in the
country. But--" he shook his head sympathetically "she's gonna find it
tough walking on the pavement without shoes or stockings!"

For the first time Ed remembered that the girl was barefoot.

"Miss Smith is a toe dancer," he said stiffly. "She's joining my act
tonight. She dances with two candles in her hair, and I shoot the
candles. She always walks barefoot, to perfect her toe dancing."

"Well, well," said Bickert. "A toe dancer, huh? This whole business
looks very interesting. Suppose we all go up to the eighth floor and
talk to Inspector Hansen. I'm sure he'll be glad to see you."

The sergeant put out a big ham-like hand and took the girl's arm.
"Come on, Miss Toe Dancer. We're going up. And you, too, Race!" He
motioned to the two detectives and they filed into Sammy's elevator.

Bickert jerked his head at Ed. "You next, Mr. Masked Marksman."

Ed said mildly, "You are really an unreasonable fellow, Bickert. I'm
sure you'll never forgive me for this."

He wrenched Bickert's hand off the girl's arm, then gave him a hearty
shove which sent him hurtling into the elevator cage to collide with
the two detectives. Then Ed winked at Sammy.

Sammy returned the wink and slid the door shut, cooping the three
detectives in the cage. Then he sent the elevator up. Ed saw the
indicator go to five before it stopped. He grinned.

"Sammy is a good boy. I owe him another twenty for that!"

In the meantime he was propelling the girl swiftly out of the lobby,
and into the street. "We only have about a minute and a half start on
Bickert and his boyfriends," Ed told her. "They're on the way down
already!"

THERE was a police squad car parked at the curb, right alongside the
"No Parking" sign in front of the hotel. It was the car that Bickert
had come in. Ed looked for a cab, saw one cruising toward the hotel
entrance, and started to hail it. Just then some one said, "In there!"

He felt something hard jabbing into his back. Two men had come up on
either side of himself and the girl. One man was at his left, and it
was he who was jabbing a gun into his ribs. Another man on the girl's
right, had hold of her arm, and he was poking a gun at her out of the
pocket of his topcoat.

The man next to Ed jerked his head toward a limousine that had pulled
up just behind the empty police squad car. He was short and skinny,
and he had wide, bulging eyes, and buck teeth. There were hundreds of
people passing, but no one noticed the concealed guns in the hands of
Bulgy--eyes and his companion.

Grace Innes was staring at Bulgy-eyes. "You--you were in my brother's
room talking to Lefty Mott. You killed Lefty!"

"Snap it up!" Bulgy-eyes snarled. "Or I'll let you have it, too!"

"Now isn't that nice!" said Ed. He swung suddenly to the left, his
elbow jamming the gun out of alignment with his ribs. And he continued
that motion, bringing his right fist all the way around to connect in
a vicious smack to the side of Bulgy-eyes' head. Bulgy's gun exploded
into the pavement, and he went cascading backward into a group of
passers-by, clawing to regain his balance.

Ed whirled back to the right, snaking the .45 out of his left-hand
holster. But he was too late. The other man had hustled the girl
across the pavement and into the waiting limousine. Just as Ed turned,
the limousine's door slammed shut and it spurted away from the curb
with wide-open accelerator. For an instant, Ed caught a glimpse of a
face at the back window of the fleeing car--a long, thin face with
black hair parted slickly in the middle. It was a face he knew.

"Sandoval!" he exclaimed, under his breath.

The limousine was out in traffic now. Another car came up behind it,
and Ed couldn't shoot at the tires. The rest of Rick Sandoval's car,
he knew, would be bullet-proof. And then the limousine was gone from
sight, turning the corner into the side street.

There was a shout behind Ed, and he swung around to see Sergeant
Bickert and his two detectives erupting from the Longmont Hotel. They
had seen Ed and they started for him, but Bickert collided with Bulgy-
eyes, who was just scrambling to his feet, picking up the gun he had
dropped. A crowd of passers-by was surging around, all trying to keep
as far away as possible from the guns in Ed's hand and in that of
Bulgy--eyes. And in their efforts to escape, they impeded the progress
of Bickert's two side-kicks, who were trying to get to Ed Race.

Ed seized the opportunity to turn and run. He kept his revolver out,
and weaved through the crowd toward the Fiftieth Street subway kiosk.
Men and women got out of his way and he raced down the steps. A local
train was roaring into the station, but Ed didn't make for it.

He ran past the cashier's booth to the other stairway at the south end
of the station, and mounted the steps two at a time. They brought him
up at the southwest corner of Fiftieth. He looked across the street
and saw a crowd gathered in front of the other kiosk. They were
looking down there, apparently after the detectives who had pursued
him, and someone in the crowd shouted, "He got away on the train!"

Ed grinned sourly and turned away. He headed west along Fiftieth
Street. He wasn't by any means out of trouble. Hansen and Bickert
could easily pick him up tonight when he went on the stage at the
Clyde.

He had struck his chin out this time, for fair. There was no sense in
it. A girl he had never seen before was in trouble. Her brother was
involved in a murder. Rick Sandoval, New York's Number One Gambling
Baron, was interested in it somehow. That was all Ed Race knew of the
setup. And with that little knowledge, he was in it up to his neck.

Thus far he was guilty of hiding the corpse of a murdered man, aiding
a suspect to escape, assaulting a police officer, and creating a
disturbance on a public street. Inspector Hansen would throw the book
at him. And he had to face the music.

Ed Race was too well known to just pack up and run away. Besides, he
would never do that. Somehow, he was convinced that the girl and her
brother were the victims of some kind of elaborate plot on the part of
Rick Sandoval. All he had to go on was the fact that he had seen
Sandoval's face for an instant in the limousine. But when Hansen and
Bickert picked him up tonight at the Clyde, he wouldn't be able to
offer a word in his own defense.

He was half way down the block when he discovered that some one had
fallen into step alongside him, at his left. It was a man of about
thirty-five, with sharply chiseled features. He had a straight nose
and thin lips, and a stubborn chin, and brown hair which was thinning
a little at the top. He had his hat in his hand in front of him, and
he raised the hat a bit to show Ed the snout of a snub-nosed automatic
underneath it. The automatic was pointing at Ed.

"Just keep walking!" he ordered grimly. "I want to talk to you."

ED RACE sighed. This was the third time within twenty minutes that a
gun had been pointed at him. The fellow looked hard and coldly
efficient, so Ed kept on walking. His hands swung free at his sides,
ready for a lightning flash to one of his shoulder holsters.

"Go on and talk," he said.

"Where did they take my sister?" the man asked. "You fingered her for
Rick Sandoval to grab. Well, you better cough up the dope. I want to
know where Sandoval took her. In case you don't tell me quick, I'll
give you a nice piece of lead in the stomach. And you know lead can't
be digested."

He spoke coolly, but Ed could see a deep burning desperation in his
eyes.

"You're Jack Inness," he said.

Inness's lips curled. "Maybe you didn't know it! Don't stall. Where
did Sandoval take Gracie?"

They were walking down the street just like two acquaintances
conversing amiably. None of the passers-by gave them a glance. But the
hat in Inness's hand came up a little, and the muzzle of the automatic
centered on Ed's stomach.

"You sap," Ed told him. "I was trying to help your sister. She found a
dead body in your room, and she dragged it out into the hall. The
police came along, and I helped her get the body into my room just in
time. Then I took her downstairs. Sandoval was waiting in the
limousine, and they grabbed her."

Inness's eyes widened. "A dead body! Who?"

"Lefty Mott."

Inness cursed under his breath. "Lefty was my trigger man. They got
him. And they figured to frame me for it!"

Ed Race looked disgusted and puzzled. "Your trigger man! My God, what
is this? First a seventeen-year-old girl tries to convince me that
she's a gun moll. Then some muggs of Sandoval's try to convince me
they're tough guys. Then you come along and try to tell me you're a
big shot, with a trigger-man of your own. If this is a comedy of some
kind, I know one guy that isn't enjoying it, Lefty Mott. And you can't
be such a big shot. Because I never heard of anyone named Inness in
the rackets."

Inness sighed, took the gun from under the hat and thrust it in his
pocket. "I guess you're on the up-and-up," he said. "Maybe you never
heard the name Inness. I didn't use it. But you've heard of 'Gentleman
Jack' English?"

Ed nodded. A sudden gleam of understanding came into his eyes. "I
should have known. You used to run the gambling racket in this town.
Then the Federal Government caught up with you on income tax evasion,
and you went to Atlanta for three years. You were paroled just a few
weeks ago."

"That's right. I used the name of English instead of Inness, because I
didn't want my sister Gracie mixed up in the rackets," was the reply.
"Gracie thinks I've been traveling in South America for the past three
years. When I wrote her that I was back in New York, she came here
from school to meet me. I didn't want her around, because I knew there
was going to be trouble with Sandoval. Rick Sandoval--" Inness's lips
twisted, "took over the racket while I was away. The mob went with
him. Lefty Mott was the only one that stuck with me. It was Lefty that
sent my sister Grace the letters and money from South America during
the three years I was in the pen."

"I see," Ed said slowly. "And Sandoval's crowd killed Lefty Mott in
your room, so the police would arrest you for it. Even if you aren't
convicted, it'll break your parole, and automatically send you back to
the pen. And Sandoval will still have a clear field!"

Gentleman Jack English nodded bitterly. "When Grace showed up in New
York, I acted like a sap and took a room for her right next to my own.
I forgot that Sandoval had seen her picture lots of times in the old
days, and would recognize her. She doesn't even know that her brother
is Gentleman Jack English. I've kept her in a convent school all these
years."

"Something tells me," Ed said dryly, "that the girls in that school
smuggled in a few detective stories on the side. She knew a lot about
gun molls and burning bodies in incinerators--just the kind of stuff
they get in some books."

"I don't understand what Sandoval wanted to snatch Grace for," Jack
English said. "He had me framed okay without that--"

"I'll tell you why," Ed said with a harsh note creeping into his
voice. "Grace got a glimpse of the murderer!"

Gentleman Jack stopped short in his tracks. All the color drained from
his face. "Then they'll kill her!" he said, very low. "They'll surely
never let her live!"

"If they kill an innocent little kid like Grace--"

Gentleman Jack Inness uttered a hoarse, tortured laugh. "You don't
know Sandoval. He's running the rackets worse than I ever ran them.
He'll stick Gracie's feet in a slab of concrete, and drop her in the
river!" There was a hot, mad light in his eyes. "God!" he muttered.
"All the things I used to do are coming back at me now. That boathouse
I used to have on the Hudson, at Sixty--eighth Street--Sandoval's
still using it. God help me, Race--I've done plenty of bad things in
my time in that boathouse. And now--" there was a sob in his voice--
"it's my own sister's turn!"

He went to the curb, and waved wildly to a cruising cab.

Ed Race put a hand on his arm. "What are you going to do, Inness?"

Gentleman Jack's teeth showed in a snarl. "There's an alarm out for me
for the murder of Lefty Mott. I can't ask the cops to help on this.
I'm going up to that boathouse and take it apart myself!"

He jumped into the cab, yelled to the driver: "Foot of West Sixty-
eighth Street!"

Ed Race exclaimed, "Look here, Inness, I'm going with you--"

But Gentleman Jack slammed the door shut in his face. "Nothing doing,
Race. Stay out of this. It's my headache."

The cab spurted away from the curb.

And just then, a radio patrol car came cruising past.

ED RACE saw it all from where he stood at the curb. The radio car
contained a sergeant and a driver. Ed saw the sergeant stare into the
cab where Inness was sitting. He heard the sergeant exclaim, "There's
Gentleman Jack!"

The driver of the police car swung in to cut off the taxicab.

Gentleman Jack opened the door of the car, leaped out and started to
run.

The sergeant in the radio car deliberately raised his gun and fired
once.

Gentleman Jack sprawled headlong on his face, with blood spurting from
a wound in his back just over the heart.

Ed Race cursed softly to himself as he ran over to where Inness was
lying on his face. The sergeant had also reached Gentleman Jack, and
Ed helped him turn the dying man over on his back.

Gentleman Jack groaned. His lips were flecked with blood. He knew he
was dying. His eyes swept past the sergeant, and locked with the
staring eyes of Ed Race.

"I got what was coming to me. But Gracie---for God's sake, don't let
her get it, too...."

Ed Race gulped. He pressed Gentleman Jack's hand, and nodded an
unspoken promise.

Inness smiled. He closed his eyes. His head dropped back into the
sergeant's arms. He was dead.

The sergeant looked at Ed. "What the hell was he talking about?"

Ed shrugged. "I wouldn't know. I'm just a passer-by."

A crowd was pressing close about them. Ed slid out inconspicuously to
the edge of the crowd, and moved over to the taxicab out of which
Inness had jumped. His eyes were bleak. "Foot of West Sixty-eighth
Street!" he said to the driver.

AS THE cab pulled away, Ed saw the police sergeant getting up from
beside the dead body of Gentleman Jack Inness, and staring after him.
The sergeant was just realizing that Ed Race had been more than an
innocent bystander, that he must in some way have been connected with
Inness. Several bystanders had heard Ed's order to the cab driver, and
Ed knew that the police would not be far behind him.

As the cab swung west, Ed stared ahead grimly. His word was given to a
dead man. And even if he had not promised, the thought of innocent
little Gracie Inness sinking helplessly to the bottom of the river
with her feet buried in a slab of concrete, would have impelled him to
go ahead. He knew that what he had to do, he must do alone. For at
this moment he could not call upon the police. Inspector Hansen or
Sergeant Bickert would cap him in jail first, and question him.

To send the police on a raid of the 68th Street boathouse would be
equivalent to signing Grace Inness's death warrant. For Rick Sandoval
would be sure to see to it that she was the first to die. Sandoval and
his gang could not afford to have her remain alive to identify the
killer of Lefty Mott.

At 67th Street and Twelfth Avenue, Ed Race dismissed his cab, and
walked a block north. He spotted the boathouse at once. It was a low,
well--kept structure jutting out into the river. A sign across the
door read:

SANDOVAL BOAT CLUB

Jack Inness had once owned all that property. Ed recalled hearing
through underground rumor, that, when Inness went to jail, he had
deeded all his holdings to Sandoval to administer for him. And
Sandoval had immediately proceeded to double-cross his former chief
and to use all this property as his own.

This same boat club had figured in the death of many a man who in the
past had dared to defy the underworld rule of Gentleman Jack Inness.

Ed Race came to a stop directly across the street from the Boat Club.
There was a single dim light at the side of the building, and he could
see that a long, sleek cabin-cruiser was tied up at the dock alongside
the low building.

Ed Race's eyes were bleak as he crossed the street. His hands swung
low at his sides. As he reached the entrance of the building, a dark
figure separated itself from the shadows, and barred the door.

"Hello, Butch," said Ed. The blood raced in his veins. Now he was sure
that Gentleman Jack had not been mistaken. This must be where they had
taken Grace Inness, otherwise why would Butch Halsey, Sandoval's
personal bodyguard, be on watch here?

Butch Halsey had his hand in his coat pocket. "What you doin' here--
Race?"

Ed smiled thinly. "Just going in to see Rick Sandoval," he said.

"Sandoval ain't here," Butch told him.

"I'll see for myself, thank you."

Ed started to go in, and Butch barred the way. "Scram," he said. His
hand came out of his pocket with a wicked little gunmetal automatic.

But he had no chance against Ed Race, whose exhibitions of lightning
draws nightly amazed the audiences at the Clyde Theater. Ed's right
hand streaked in almost imperceptible motion, and somehow as if by
magic, a huge, long-barreled .45 was coming down in a short, wicked
arc. The barrel smashed against Butch's wrist, and he dropped the
automatic.

Ed was smiling casually, but there was a deadly glint in his eyes.

"Now," he said softly, "turn around and open that door and go in."

Butch gulped. He was no longer the tough gangster bodyguard. He had no
guts to buck a lightning draw like Ed's. "The--the door is locked," he
gulped.

Ed's eyes rested on a bell alongside the door. "All right. There must
be a signal to get the door open. Ring that bell properly."

BUTCH hesitated for the space of ten seconds. He looked into Ed's
eyes, and what he saw there made up his mind for him. Slowly he turned
around and put his thumb on the bell button. He pressed it twice, then
stopped, and pressed it three times swiftly again. Almost at once, a
buzzer sounded. Butch pushed the door open. Ed took out one of his
guns and nudged him in the back. Butch understood, and led the way
down the dark hallway. There was a light at the far end of the
building, and Ed urged the husky bodyguard ahead of him toward that
light. They could hear voices inside. Someone called out, "Hurry up,
Butch. Give us a hand with this!"

Ed and Butch reached the entrance to the room at the rear. The far end
of the room had sliding doors which opened on to the pier. Three men
were standing around the figure of Grace Inness. For a moment, as Ed
looked at that tableau, it seemed to him that little Grace Inness was
taller than any of the three men.

Grace Inness was not standing on the floor. Her feet were resting in a
slab of concrete about three feet square and three feet high. They
were buried up to the ankles, in the concrete. Rick Sandoval and two
of his men were pushing the heavy slab out on to the pier. It was
evidently their intention to get their victim on to the cabin-cruiser,
take her out into the center of the river, and drop her over.

The gaunt face of Sandoval looked up at Butch, who was in the doorway
in front of Ed Race.

"Come on, Butch," he called. "You have the shoulders for this."

And then Sandoval saw Ed Race behind the big bodyguard. He uttered a
shout of warning to the other two men, and dropped to the floor. A gun
came into his hand. The other two men went to their knees behind the
suddenly huddled figure of Grace Inness. Butch Halsey squealed as
shots from their three guns came thundering at the doorway. They
weren't worried about Butch.

Halsey took the first fusillade in his chest, and fell forward,
leaving Ed alone.

Grace Inness was staring in Ed's direction, unable to move out of the
concrete bed in which she had been encased. She was a perfect shield
for Sandoval and the two gunmen. That is, she would have made a
perfect shield against anyone except The Masked Marksman.

Ed Race stood spraddle-legged.

The two hair-trigger .45 caliber revolvers were in his hands, bucking
and roaring as he fired carefully.

His first shot chipped an edge off the concrete block, sending the
splinters into the eyes of one of the gunmen. The man dropped his gun
and screamed.

Sandoval and the remaining thug kept on shooting. But they were not
aiming. They were just triggering their guns in blind fear. Both of
them knew who Ed Race was. They had seen The Masked Marksman on the
stage.

They knew that if Ed could see only an inch of their bodies, he could
hit that inch. So they squirmed close to the ground, pressing together
behind the three-foot concrete slab, seeking all the protection they
could. And from that position, their shooting was none too certain.

Ed saw a shoulder and fired once, hitting it. The gunman with Sandoval
squealed and fell flat on the ground. Sandoval cursed, and raised his
gun, pointing directly up at Grace Inness.

"Stop shooting, Race," he yelled, "or I'll kill the girl!"

Ed Race laughed harshly. All he could see of Sandoval to shoot at was
the barrel of his gun jutting up from behind the concrete slab, and
pointing at Grace. That barrel was no wider than a candle.

The two slugs whined through the air, THE END converging upon that
tiny target. The gun was smashed from Sandoval's hand, and went
spinning across the floor. Sandoval cursed, and rolled over. In his
left hand he seized the gun dropped by one of his men. But Ed Race had
already leaped across the room toward the slab.

He pulled the trigger of his right-hand gun four times in quick
succession. The four slugs smashed Sandoval's right wrist.

"Don't--shoot any more!" he begged.

Ed's eyes glinted with a bleak light.

Abruptly, the sound of a police siren cut through the air outside,
accompanied by the screaming of tires on pavement. In a moment,
uniformed men flooded into the building, headed by Hansen.

Ed Race holstered his guns. "You can arrest me now if you want to,
Hansen," he said dryly. "But I think you've got bigger fish for your
net!"

He turned, just in time to catch the slumping body of Grace Inness as
she fell.

"By God," Inspector Hansen exclaimed, "what's been going on here,
Race?"

"Nothing much," said Ed. "Except that you've got Rick Sandoval cold
for attempted murder. And when Grace Inness comes out of her fainting
spell, she can identify the murderer of Lefty Mott. Now, you might get
some pick-axes and chip this concrete off her feet."

Hansen swore softly. He motioned to his men to find axes. Then he
looked at Ed. "You shot it out with this mob?"

Ed nodded. "I had to do the job myself. You wouldn't have given me a
chance to explain."

Inspector Hansen grunted. "Frankly, Race, I don't like you. But I got
to give the devil his due. You did a nice piece of work."

"Thanks," said Ed, starting for the door. "I'll be down at
headquarters later, to sign a statement. In the meantime, take good
care of Gracie. I'm going to see that she gets a good start in life--
the kind her brother would have liked to see her get."

"Hey, wait a minute!" Hansen yelled. "Where are you going?"

"It's one o'clock," Ed called back from the doorway. "I have a curtain
call at the Clyde at one-ten--to put on an exhibition of real
shooting!"



THE END





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