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Popular Detective, August, 1941
Seasoned Crime
By C. K. M. Scanlon
Author of “Killer’s Loot,” “The Murder Chase,” etc.
HE bright lights of the bus station
refreshment room in the small New
Jersey town gleamed down on
Austin Tyler’s handsome face and wavy
auburn hair. He looked like a young
leading man in some stage production as
he sat at the counter sipping the last of his
coffee, and occasionally gazing at the rain
washing against the window panes. The
weather had been bad ever since the bus
left Washington, D. C., bound for New
Only six other passengers were making
the trip. Five of them were in the
refreshment room now, but the sixth had
remained in his seat in the coach.
Tyler was quite conscious of the fact
that some of these people were watching
him. He knew he had an air about him, for
until two years ago Austin Tyler had been
quite a success as a juvenile, and there still
were times when he could not resist
acting. In fact he had managed to make
quite a ceremony of drinking a cup of
Idly he watched the man he had heard
called John Haynes reappear from the
washroom. The stout salesman seated
himself at a table in one corner of the
room and started eating the hamburger on
a roll the counter man brought him. Tyler
mentally grinned as he noticed the watery
ketchup the stout man was using. This was
the third hamburger Haynes had eaten, for
he had gulped down two more before he
had gone into the washroom five minutes
ago. Apparently he didn’t mind the
weakness of the ketchup, for he had used it
every time.
“Nasty night,” Tyler said, his voice
deep and musical, his gaze fixed on the
dish-faced man who had charge of the
lunch room as the fellow stepped behind
the counter. “Reminds me of the rainy
season Down Under.”
“Yeah,” said the counterman, whose
name was Joe Higgins.
Tyler frowned as he heard a chuckle.
The small, thin-faced man he had noticed
among the bus passengers had just stepped
in out of the rain, and appeared to find the
remarks amusing. However, the two
middle-aged women who looked like
school teachers appeared quite impressed
by Tyler’s voice. Martha Lawrence, the
pretty, dark-haired girl whom Tyler knew
was one of Washington’s most popular
young society girls—of the plenty-offamily-background-no-money type,
however. She did not look up from her
“Down Under is what we call New
Zealand,” announced Tyler, as he paid for
his coffee and slid off the stool.
“Doubtlessly you’ve heard of the place.”
“Yeah.” Higgins yawned. “I’ve
covered all of New Zealand, been on both
North Island and South Island.”
YLER felt foolish as he left the lunch
room and hurried through the rain to
the bus a short distance away. He had
never been near New Zealand in his life.
Why did he always have to put on an act,
he wondered. After all, that was no longer
necessary since he had become a private
detective instead of an actor.
“Ham!” he muttered. “That’s what I
am—a ham. It’s a wonder I didn’t start
spouting Shakespeare.”
He entered the bus and walked back to
his seat in the rear of the coach. The big
vehicle was deserted save for one man
slumped down in his seat, apparently
sound asleep. Tyler passed him with no
more than a casual glance. The rain
drummed steadily upon the roof of the
bus, and outside the shadows were bleak
and gloomy.
It was not until Tyler had taken his
seat that he recalled the man up ahead had
been with Martha Lawrence. Why had he
remained in the bus and let her go into the
refreshment room alone, Tyler wondered.
It didn’t seem quite natural.
He sat staring at the back of the darkhaired young man, and as he did, Austin
Tyler’s eyes narrowed. He had caught a
faint gleam of something red on the back
of the man’s neck—a spot that might be
blood. Tyler got to his feet and went
closer. He stood for an instant with his
hand on the back of the seat as he gazed at
the motionless man.
“Bus Number Thirty leaving for New
York,” came through the loud speaker of
the depot. “Passengers please return to
their seats. Bus Number Thirty now
The driver climbed into the bus, a
black slicker protecting his uniform from
the rain. He looked at Tyler, standing
beside the motionless figure slumped
down in the seat.
“What’s the matter?” asked the driver.
“That guy sick?”
Tyler reached out and caught the darkhaired man’s wrist. His fingers were
seeking a pulse, but he could not find any.
The flesh felt clammy, was beginning to
turn cold. Tyler raised his head and looked
at the driver.
“This guy is dead,” he said,
deliberately making his tone hardboiled
for the bus driver’s benefit. “It looks like
The bus driver had plenty of nerve,
and it took a lot to get him excited. He
walked down the aisle and stood looking
at the corpse. Finally he nodded.
“Yeah, could be,” he said gruffly.
“You know him?”
“Not by name. Face seems familiar
though.” Tyler frowned. “Miss Lawrence,
that pretty dark-haired girl passenger, was
with him. You better have the dispatcher
get the police.”
The bus driver quickly left the bus.
There were voices and footsteps out in
the rain. The driver evidently had not
stopped to warn them, and the other
passengers were climbing back into the
bus. The fat man, Haynes, was the first to
appear. He stood there with his mouth
opening and closing like a character
talking in a silent picture. Martha
Lawrence followed him into the coach.
Her dark eyes widened as she saw Austin
Tyler standing beside the corpse. With a
little moan she rushed down the aisle.
“He—he’s—” She couldn’t force
herself to utter the word, but her eyes were
pleading as she stared at Tyler.
“I’m afraid so, Miss Lawrence,” Tyler
said gently. “But we better try and get a
doctor to be sure.” The small, thin-faced
man heard him as he pushed his way into
the bus. He assumed a professional air as
he went to his seat, opened his bag and
took out a physician’s case.
“I’m Doctor Henry Mathew,” he said.
“Glad to be of service, of course.”
E BEGAN his examination of the
dark-haired young man. The fat
salesman had slumped down in his seat
and was watching the doctor. The two
middle-aged women had not yet boarded
the bus. Evidently the driver had finally
thought of telling the passengers that
something was wrong.
Tyler looked closely at the Lawrence
girl and noticed how white her face had
grown. He led her over to one of the seats
and made her sit down.
“A close relation?” he asked, as he
dropped down beside her.
“No. Just—just a friend. His name is—
was—Bob Clark. We were going to New
York. I’m to be married tomorrow and
Bob was to have been a wedding guest, at
my invitation.” Martha Lawrence
shuddered. “Perhaps you were mistaken
and, he isn’t—”
Dr. Mathew stood up, and there was
something quite final in the gesture.
“This man is dead,” he announced.
“As far as I can judge he has been
poisoned, apparently by a hypo injected
into the back of his neck.”
“Then it’s murder!” murmured Martha
No one else spoke, and the rain
pattering on the roof seemed like the
drumming of ghost fingers. A police siren
was like the wailing of a banshee
somewhere out in the darkness of the
night. It grew louder, finally to blend with
the squealing of brakes as the police
arrived. Two carloads of them. And they
went to work quickly.
The bus passengers were ordered back
into the refreshment room. Detectives
barked questions at them, jotted down
names and addresses. They had all been in
the refreshment room or nearby when the
murder had occurred.
Austin Tyler expected trouble, because
he had been alone when he had found the
body. But his credentials as one of the
operatives for one of the biggest private H
detective agencies in Washington carried
weight. The southern New Jersey police
willingly accepted his story. They did not
even hint that he might have murdered
Bob Clark.
But the bus driver, whose name proved
to be Grogan, caused plenty of trouble.
“Get this over with, will you, guys?”
he kept repeating. “I got to get goin’ to
finish the run on time. Hurry up!”
Finally the body had been removed,
and Washington had been notified. The
passengers had been told they could
continue their journey, but the murderer
had not been found.
“Anything unusual about the corpse?”
Tyler asked the captain of detectives who
was in charge of the police. “Reason for
the murder, I mean.”
“Might have been robbery,” answered
the captain. “His wallet is missing—and
there are no papers in his inside coat
“Thanks,” said Tyler. “That means
something all right.”
As he turned away John Haynes came
waddling up to him. The fat man placed
his hand on Tyler’s wrist. His fingers were
moist and flabby, his shirt cuff sticky.
“I don’t like this,” Haynes said
nervously. “Whoever did it might strike
again! Anyone of us could be murdered
and robbed.”
The stout man was in a pitiful state of
terror, Tyler saw. The inclination to act
swept over the ex-juvenile. His expression
grew sinister, and when he spoke he
sounded like the menace in a horror
“You’re right,” he said grimly. “It
might happen to any of us!”
HAYNES gave him a startled look and
moved hastily away. Tyler climbed into
the bus with the other passengers as the
coach continued on its journey. He took
the seat next to Martha Lawrence and
discovered that the girl was anxious to
“I feel so terrible about the whole
thing,” she said. “Yet I guess this isn’t
anything compared to what Basil has been
going through.”
“Basil?” asked Tyler. “Who is he?”
“Sir Basil Martin—the man I’m going
to marry,” said Martha. “He just arrived in
New York from England yesterday on the
Clipper. He came over on a special
mission and we decided that we would get
married while he was here. He has to go
back in a few days. I expect to go with
“I see,” said Tyler as the bus roared
through the night. “Did Bob Clark know
Sir Basil?”
“I don’t believe so,” said Martha. “But
he seemed quite anxious to meet the man I
was going to marry.” She sighed. “Poor
Bob! We quarreled just before I went into
the lunch room at the bus stop. He thought
he was in love with me—and tried to
persuade me not to marry Basil. He was
peeved—that was why he didn’t come into
the refreshment room with me. I—I wish
he had.”
“So do I,” said Tyler. “But of course,
that really didn’t make any difference.
Whoever killed him would probably have
tried to find some other opportunity to do
it.” Tyler’s tone grew hard. “I’m a private
detective, as you know, Miss Lawrence,
and I want you to let me guard you until
after your wedding.”
“Why?” she asked, looking at him
“Because I’m afraid that your life is in
danger,” Tyler said grimly. “Apparently
Clark was killed because the murderer
wanted something he had in his
“Maybe that’s why he gave me that
envelope to keep for him!” Martha said
Austin Tyler’s eyes narrowed as he
heard the girl’s words. He glanced at Dr.
Mathew, seated up the aisle ahead of them
on the left. The physician was reading a
magazine and appeared oblivious of his
surroundings. Tyler had not forgotten that
Clark had been killed by poison injected
by a hypodermic needle—the sort of
murder weapon that a doctor might use.
John Haynes was also up ahead,
slumped down in his seat like a mountain
of jelly. The two school teachers sat in
front of the fat man, and they were
obviously frightened. Tyler was sure that
the others were too far away to be able to
overhear the girl and himself as they
talked the matter over.
“What was in the envelope?” he asked
“I don’t know,” said Martha, fumbling
with her purse. “I’ll show it to you. I have
it here in my bag.”
“No, don’t!” said Tyler quickly. “Not
now. The murderer may not know you
have it, if that is what he is after—though
he may guess. Don’t give him a chance to
be sure. It’s too dangerous! Remember
we’re dealing with a killer.’”
Martha Lawrence was far from a fool.
She evidently realized that any of the other
passengers might be watching her.
Casually she opened her purse, took out
her vanity case, then snapped the bag shut
again. She looked at her pretty face in the
mirror of the vanity and quickly powdered
her nose.
“You will take Bob Clark’s place as
one of the guests at my wedding, Mr.
Tyler,” she said. “It is to be a noon
wedding, and so please dress formally.”
“Very good, Miss,” said Tyler, with a
mocking light in his eyes. “And now
suppose we change the subject . . . Have
you read any good books lately?”
ARTHA managed to laugh a little,
in spite of her distress, and they
chatted casually until the bus finally
arrived at the bus depot in New York.
Here Tyler gathered up the girl’s luggage
and his own and they took a taxi to the
hotel where a she planned to stay. Tyler
turned the girl over to a tall; good-looking
young Englishman who was waiting in the
lobby with Martha’s aunt. Tyler decided
he liked Sir Basil as soon as they had met,
and the young attaché was suave and
Austin Tyler learned that the wedding
was to take place in the hotel and that most
of the wedding party were staying there.
He registered, then turned in for the night.
He slept well and was up early in the
morning. As soon as he had breakfasted he
put in a long distance call to the detective
agency in Washington which employed
Swiftly he told his boss what had
occurred on the bus.
“Robert Clark!” exclaimed Kenneth
Small, the head of the agency as he heard
Tyler’s story. “Of course I want you to
stay with the case. We’ve already heard
about the murder here—it’s big stuff.
Clark was on some sort of important
Government job. If you can do anything
toward clearing up this business it will be
a feather in the agency’s cap. Go to it,
Tyler talked a little longer and then
hung up. He bought a morning paper and
glanced over the war news on the front
page. Then skimmed through the rest by
the paper. An item on Page Three caught
his eye. It was an account of a. bus driver
being killed in a hit-and-run auto accident
during the night—and the bus driver had
been named Tim Grogan.
“Grogan!” exclaimed Tyler. “That was
the name of the man who drove our bus
last night: He was outside when Clark was
killed. Maybe the murderer felt that
Grogan knew too much.” Tyler frowned.
“Still it may have been just an accident.”
He grew conscious that a page boy was
calling out his name as the bellhop made
his way swiftly through the ornate lobby
of the big hotel. Tyler beckoned the boy to
“Mr. Austin Tyler?” asked the boy,
and, as Tyler nodded, “You’re wanted on
the telephone, sir. This way, please.”
The boy led Tyler to a booth. The tall,
red-headed detective tipped the boy and
picked up the phone.
“This is Mr. Tyler,” he said to the
hotel operator.
“Oh, yes, Mr. Tyler, I have a call for
you. Just a moment and I’ll connect you.”
“Hello, Tyler?” demanded a masculine
voice over the wire. “This is John Haynes,
your recent bus companion. It’s vital that I
see you at once.”
“Why?” demanded Tyler shortly.
“It’s a matter of life and death,”
declared Haynes.
“What do you mean—life and death?”
asked Tyler.
“My life is in danger,” said Haynes.
“I’m sure of it. I’m at the Skyscraper
Hotel. Won’t you please come over here at
once? I’m in Room Eighteen-forty-seven.”
“Why should I come over there?”
demanded Tyler.
“Because I’ve learned something
important regarding that murder on the
bus!” said Haynes hastily. “I can’t talk
now. I—”
He broke off abruptly, and what
sounded like a heavy thud came over the
Tyler scowled as he hung up hastily. It
sounded as if the fat man actually was in
trouble. Austin Tyler decided he had better
investigate. This might prove interesting.
WENTY minutes later he was at the
Skyscraper Hotel and in an elevator
being taken up to the eighteenth floor. He
had announced that Mr. Haynes was
expecting him. He walked down the
heavily carpeted corridor and found Room
1847. Quickly he assured himself that his
gun was in his shoulder holster as he
discovered the door of the room was
standing half open, for he sensed danger.
Pushing the door open, he glanced into
the room. It appeared empty but the low
window was wide open and a man’s coat
was lying on the floor as though someone
had hastily discarded the garment before
jumping out of that open window.
“Good Lord!” muttered Tyler.
He dashed toward the window, and
had almost reached it when his ankle
struck against something that tripped him.
As he fell he just managed to grab the
lower sill of the window in time from
keeping himself from being hurled out into
Cold sweat beaded his forehead as he
scrambled back to safety. Death had been
horribly close. He glanced down and saw
the thin but strong strand of copper wire
that was stretched across the room.
He went to the window and peered out.
It was a sheer eighteen-story drop to the
street below. Traffic was moving along the
street, and pedestrians crossed the
sidewalks. There was no sign that John
Haynes had jumped from the window.
Austin Tyler stepped back from the
window, and as he did, a crumpled square
of paper on the floor caught his eye. He
picked up the paper and smoothed it out. It
was a printed blank such as doctors use to
write out prescriptions. Across the top was
printed “Henry Mathew, M.D.”, and a
New York address.
Tyler whirled as he heard a slight
sound near the door. John Haynes stood
there. The stout man glared at Tyler wideT
eyed. Haynes wore no coat and one of his
wrists was bleeding from a small cut.
“That doctor!” he muttered. “He’s a
“What happened?” demanded Tyler
“Dr. Mathew came here a little while
ago,” said Haynes. “He pointed a gun at
me, and forced me to phone you and ask
you to come here to my room. I was going
to try and warn you over the phone when
you started questioning me, but Mathew
hit me over the head with the gun and
knocked me out.”
“Go on,” said Tyler, as Haynes paused.
“When I regained consciousness I
found myself tied up in another room on
this floor of the hotel. My hands and feet
were tied and I was gagged—but I
managed to break the ropes that bound my
arms. Cut my wrist doing it. Then I came
back here, and found you.”
“The murderer planned it well,” Tyler
said. “We’d better report this to the
“All right,” said Haynes doubtfully.
“But I’m afraid that while the police are
questioning us something may happen to
that pretty girl—that Miss Lawrence who
is to be married today.”
“You’re right,” exclaimed Tyler. “I’m
going back to her hotel and make sure she
is safe until the wedding takes place.”
As he hurried out of the room, he
heard Haynes close the door softly from
inside. Tyler rang for the elevator and
quickly descended when a car stopped for
UST1N TYLER was quite busy
during the remainder of the morning.
He first got in touch with the bride and
groom and assured himself they were quite
safe, then he phoned an inspector he knew
in the New York Police Department and
had a talk with the man.
Shortly before noon, Tyler appeared
among the wedding guests who had
gathered in the Regal Suite which had
been engaged for the wedding. All of the
wedding gifts were piled on a long table at
one end of the room which had not yet
been opened to the guests. Here Tyler
found Martha Lawrence in her bridal
gown, examining the presents.
“Oh, I’ve been wondering if you were
here, Mr. Tyler,” she said. “I just received
a package that hasn’t been opened yet. I
wonder who it is from? There’s no card
with it.”
“Let me open it for you,” said Tyler.
He unwrapped the square box and
lifted the cover. The girl raised her hands
in horror as she saw what was inside the
box. An alarm clock attached to storage
batteries had been rigged up to sticks of
dynamite so that it formed a time bomb.
“Look out!” shouted Tyler as he
caught a glimpse of a hand holding a gun
that appeared around the edge of the half
open door.
He fired the automatic that swiftly
appeared in his own right hand, while his
left reached for the second gun in the
shoulder holster beneath his right arm-pit.
The gun in the doorway roared at the
same instant, but the bullet that had been
aimed at the bride went wild as the slug
from Tyler’s automatic plowed into the
killer’s hand. The door swung open
completely and John Haynes stood there
with blood dripping from his shattered
Men came running with Sir Basil
Martin and grabbed Haynes—plainclothes
men who had been placed among the
wedding guests by the police inspector at
Tyler’s suggestion.
“We’ve got him!” Tyler said. “There’s
the man who murdered Bob Clark, and
tried to kill me in his hotel room. He must
have been desperate, or he would never
have sent the bomb to—”
Tyler broke off abruptly and hastily
disconnected the wires attached to the
dynamite and the clock.
“That was close,” he muttered. “This
thing was set to go off at twelve o’clock
and it is three minutes of twelve now.”
“But what on earth was the reason for
it all?” demanded Sir Basil. “I don’t
understand quite.”
“You came over here on a special
mission, didn’t you, Sir Basil?” demanded
Tyler. “You were to take some important
papers back with you, I believe?”
“Quite so.” Sir Basil nodded.
“Clark was carrying those papers.
Haynes here apparently is a Fifth
Columnist of some sort. He killed Clark in
order to keep those papers from reaching
you. After he had committed the murder
he found that the papers weren’t on the
dead man.”
“That was because Bob gave me the
envelope containing the papers to keep for
him,” said Martha quickly.
“Right.” Tyler nodded. “I suspected
Haynes when I discovered that what I
thought was blood on the neck of the
murdered man was actually ketchup.
Haynes had been eating hamburgers in the
refreshment room and putting ketchup on
them. When he went out into the
washroom—he must have climbed out
through a window, murdered Clark, and
come back into the washroom through the
window, and casually back into the lunch
“What made you so sure about the
ketchup?” demanded the inspector who
was present with his men.
“Haynes put his hand on my wrist at
the bus station and I noticed that the shirt
cuff was sticky,” said Tyler. “Evidently
there was still ketchup on the inside of the
sleeve. That was when I really started
suspecting him.”
YLER explained how Haynes had
phoned him and asked him to come to
his hotel room, and told what had
happened there.
“Leaving a prescription blank that he
must have stolen from Dr. Mathew in
order to make the doctor a suspect if I was
found dead beneath the window was
smart,” said Tyler. “But not quite smart
enough. I didn’t believe it. Doctors don’t
usually toss away prescription blanks like
that unless they change their mind about
what they have written on the paper. That
one was blank.”
“But Haynes story of having been tied
up might have sounded convincing,” said
the inspector.
“It did until he told me that he had cut
his wrist on the rope. It wasn’t the sort of a
wound a rope would make—looked more
like it had been done with a safety razor
blade.” Tyler smiled. “I guess you can go
on with the wedding now, folks. I’m sure
there won’t be any more trouble. The
murderer used too much ketchup in
seasoning his own crime.”

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