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Spicy-Adventure Stories, August, 1935
By Ellery Watson Calder
He laid his last five-spot on 13—and a lovely
girl claimed his winnings! What did she know
of the grim secret that made him a hunted
fugitive?
LOOKED at my last five-buck chip. If I
lost it, I’d be plenty broke. I hesitated.
Then I said, “What the hell!” and slapped
the chip down on a black square that was
numbered with a big 13.
The Mex croupier flipped his little ivory
ball. It ran around the top rim of the wheel.
Then it clicked downward. I held my left
ventricle.
The wheel slowed. The Mex croupier said,
“Thirteen wins.” He counted out thirty-five
blue chips, shoved them out into the middle of
the roulette table.
I reached for the pile. One hundred and
seventy-five simoleons looked big to me.
Maybe Lady Luck was with me after all!
And then a good-looking red-haired dame
alongside me said, “I beg your pardon. That
was my bet.” She reached out under my nose
and raked in the stack of blue chips.
I stared at her. If she’d been a man I’d
have poked her in the snoot. But she wasn’t a
man. She was a girl—a young girl. And she
was damned attractive. Her hair wasn’t
exactly red; it was auburn, with glints of gold
in it. Her eyes were greenish, and they had
flecks of gold also.
The rest of her was a complete knockout.
She was wearing an evening-gown that didn’t
leave much to the imagination. It was slashed
plenty low in front, so that I could see the
creamy crevice between her round, hard
young breasts. Her curving hips were the kind
you’d like to pat.
She gave me a cold, haughty glare. Her
expression was as insolent as go-to-hell. I
grinned at her and said, “Sorry, sister. My
mistake.” I turned and strolled out of the
Casino, into the soft warm night. I set fire to a
gasper and wondered what the devil I’d do
now.
If I’d had the price of a quart of Scotch.
I’d have tried to get drunk. And if I hadn’t
hocked my return ticket to San Diego I might
I
Spicy-Adventure Stories
2
have taken a chance on slipping back into the
States. Even though such a move would
probably have meant jail. After all, a guy gets
three square meals a day in the hoosegow.
HEARD somebody coming up behind me
in the darkness. I turned. It was a girl. It
was the red-haired wren who’d cabbaged my
thirty-five blue chips. She looked at me and
said, “You’re Steve King, aren’t you?”
I grinned and said, “Not for publication.”
She said, “I know all about you, Steve
King. You were a pilot on the Trans-American
Air Lines. You washed out your ship over the
desert near Victorville—killing three
passengers. You were accused of being dogdrunk at the time. The Department of
Commerce inspectors would have you in a cell
right now—if they could find you.”
I flipped away my cigarette and said “For
a youngster, you certainly know one hell of a
lot.”
She laughed. It was a musical laugh, but
there wasn’t much mirth in it. She said. “I
know more than that. I know a few things that
even you don’t know, Steve King. For
instance. I know that you weren’t really drunk
when your plane crashed on the desert.
Somebody poured a pint of gin down your
throat while you were unconscious, after the
crack-up. And I know what caused that crackup, too.”
I looked at her. “What caused it?” I
whispered quietly.
She said, “Somebody filed almost through
your control-wires, just before you took off
from Glendale.”
I took a deep breath. She’d told me some
things I’d been wondering about— things that
had puzzled me plenty during the past week. I
said, “What’s the game, baby? How about
giving me the low-down? I think I can use you
in my business.”
I had an idea in the back of my head as I
spoke. If this dame knew so much, maybe I
could take her before a board of inquiry;
maybe her testimony would put me in the
clear!
She shook a decisive negative. “No, you
can’t use me in your business,” she said softly.
“But, maybe I can use you in mine.” Then she
reached down into the low decolletage of her
dress, fumbled between her firm white breasts.
She brought out a wadded roll of bills. She
handed them to me. She said, “Here’s your
money. I laid claim to your bet so I’d have an
excuse to talk to you later.”
I took the money. I envied that wad of
greenbacks. They’d rested in a place where I’d
have liked to put my hands. I said, “Thanks.
And now maybe you wouldn’t mind telling
me what this is all about.”
She said, “Are you staying here at Agua
Caliente?”
“Why not?” I shrugged. “It’s a good a
place as any—while the dough holds out.”
She looked into my eyes. Then she said, “I
want you to come up to my hotel room at
eleven o’clock tonight. The Caliente Hotel.
Room 314.” Then her voice changed, grew
grim and somehow warning. “But don’t get
any funny ideas, Steve King. Because I’m not
that kind.”
“You’ll be as safe with me as though you
were in the arms of your mother,” I told her.
She sniffed. Then she turned and went
back into the casino. I watched the lithe, feline
grace of her hips as she walked. Her smooth
flesh rippled under the tightness of her
evening gown. I liked that.
WENT into the bar and killed time with
some Scotch highballs. Pretty soon it was
eleven o’clock. I walked over to the hotel and
went upstairs Room 314. I knocked.
The door opened. The auburn-haired girl
stood aside to let me enter. Then she closed
the door and locked it.
I looked over. My heart bounced up and
down like a cage full of loose rubber balls.
I
I
The Black 13
3
She had discarded her evening-gown. She was
clad in a flowing diaphanous negligee. Black
crepe it was, and her white body showed
through it like a Turk’s dream of paradise.
I’ve seen a lot of legs in my time, but none
like this girl’s. They were gorgeous. So were
her firm, heavy breasts. So were her lips, her
eyes, her hair. She was perfect. She wasn’t
wearing a single stitch under that black
negligee.
She said, “When you’ve finished
inspecting me, you can go and hide in that
closet over there.” She pointed.
I looked at the closet. Then I looked at the
girl “What kind of shenanigan is this?” I
wanted to know.
She said, “There’s a man coming here in
ten minutes. When his back is turned, I want
you to bat him over the head. Then we’ll take
him down the fire-escape. I’ve got a coupe
parked near. And there’s a plane waiting at the
landing field. You’re to fly us back over the
border.”
I went toward the door that led into the
corridor. I said, “No, thanks. I’m in plenty
dutch already. You’d better get another boy.”
Her blue eyes widened. “You—you’re
backing out on me?” She came toward me.
Maybe it was an accident and perhaps it
wasn’t, but the front of her negligee gaped
open. I saw more than a generous hint of her
pink-tipped, cream-white breasts. She came
close to me, touched my arm with her fingers.
I got quite a thrill out of that. I looked into
her eyes, tried to fathom them. I wasn’t quite
sure whether she was giving me the come-on
stuff, or whether she was just trying to suck
me into a jam. There was one way of finding
out.
I grabbed her around the waist and pulled
her against me. I kissed her. While I was
kissing her, I pulled her negligee all the way
open and fondled her breasts with my hand.
She backed off and slammed her clenched
fist into my mug, as hard as she could paste
me. A little diamond ring on her finger split
my lip. Her eyes blazed; her bosom heaved up
and down. She said, “You lousy rat! I told you
I wasn’t that sort. Now—get to hell out of
here!”
She was mad clear through. And I was
glad. Because now I know she was on the
level. I grinned and said, “I was just testing
you, baby. I was trying to find out if you’d
play.”
“You found out!” she rasped. “Now get
out. I can do without you. I don’t need you.”
I said. “How about the guy you want
slugged?” I went toward her, tried to reason
with her.
She backed off. She opened a bureau
drawer. She flashed a wicked-looking roscoe
at my guts. She said, “Get out—before I let
atmosphere through your liver!”
GOT out. She slammed the door in my
face. I heard a choked sob from the other
side of the door.
I went downstairs. I was worried. That girl
had trouble on her mind—had wanted me to
help her. And I’d foozled my chance.
I went out of the hotel, walked around
toward the back of the building. There was a
fire-escape. It led up past the red-haired girl’s
room. I knew she was going to have a guy in
her room pretty soon. A guy she wanted coldcocked. But how in hell she was going to
manage it by herself was beyond me.
“She’s going to need help,” I told myself. I
reached up, grabbed the lowest rung of the
fire-escape, pulled it down. I started climbing.
Pretty soon I was outside the auburnhaired wren’s bedroom window. The shade
was drawn: but there was a narrow edge of
light at the bottom, where it didn’t come quite
to the sill. I peered in.
The girl was sitting on the edge of her bed,
waiting. Her eyes looked suspiciously redrimmed. Her lower lip trembled.
I heard a soft knock. The girl sprang to her
I
Spicy-Adventure Stories
4
feet, opened the bedroom door. A guy came
in.
He was olive-dark, and he wore a pointed
moustache. He was tall and powerfullybuilt—almost as big as I am. He grabbed for
the girl. He kissed her. She didn’t seem to
mind. She pressed herself against him. His
hand fumbled over her hips, through her thin
negligee. That made me sore, for some reason
or other.
I heard him say, “God you’re sweet!”
Then he kissed her again.
After a while she broke loose from him.
She said, “How about a little drink, Leo?”
“Sure!” he grinned at her.
She turned her back to him, went to her
bureau, pulled out a bottle and two glasses.
She was facing me, although she didn’t know
it. I heard her say, “Did you bring . . . those
plans?” He grunted. “Yes. I brought them.” I
saw her reach into the drawer pull out a tiny
vial. She poured some colorless liquid into
one of the glasses. Then she filled both glasses
with whiskey.
She turned, handed one of the drinks to the
olive-skinned guy. It was the one she had
dumped that colorless liquid into. I caught the
play. She was handing him a Mickey Finn.
He took the drink, raised it to his lips.
Then, suddenly, he lowered it untasted. “Just
to be sure, my dear,” he purred silkily,
“suppose we exchange drinks?”
The girl stiffened. So did I. I knew she was
in a jam—and I couldn’t see how she was
going to wiggle out of it.
But she was game. She exchanged glasses
with the mug. As she raised the doped
whiskey to her mouth, she half, turned. I saw
her make a move to pour it on a potted fern.
But the dark-faced guy was watching her
in the bureau mirror. He leaped to his feet,
grabbed her savagely. “Damn you!” he rasped.
“Just as I thought. You were going to doublecross me—!”
She tried to scream. He smothered her
mouth with his palm. He ripped at the
negligee, clawed it away from her naked
breasts. He drew back his fist to smash it into
those trembling, creamy hillocks—
I smashed myself in through the window,
leaped at the guy. My hands went around his
throat. I throttled him.
His face got red. He gasped for breath. I
tightened the pressure of my fingers around
his throat. I shook him.
He went limp. His knees sagged; I lowered
him to the floor. Then I doubled my fist and
slugged him on the jaw, to make sure.
I turned to the white-faced, auburn-haired
girl. I grinned and said, “Well, you needed me
after all!”
“Th-thank you!” she whispered faintly.
Then she went to her knees beside the
outstretched olive-skinned mug and fumbled
at the inner pocket of his coat. Her hands
came out with a small leather folder. She
opened it, stared at its contents.
“They’re all here!” she cried. She leaped
to her feet, faced me. “You—you’ll help me
take him to the plane? You’ll fly us north?”
I said, “Yeah. I’m in so damned deep now
I might as well go the whole route.”
“I’ll get dressed!” she breathed swiftly. In
her haste, she probably forgot that I was
watching. I saw her nearly naked body—and it
did things to my arteries. Her breasts were like
white melons, gloriously rounded and softlooking, and her flat, deeply-indented tummy
made my hands itch to touch her.
Her rounded hips—well, I almost lost
control when she turned her back to me and
dived for the closet where her dress was
hanging.
SHE had laid that flat leather case on the bed—the case she’d taken from the oliveskinned guy’s pocket. While her back was
turned to me, I picked up the thing and
examined it. There were some folded papers
inside. I don’t know what made me do it, but I
The Black 13
5
sneaked the paper out of the case, slipped
them into my coat pocket.
I whipped out an old letter of my own,
shoved it into the case. I tossed it back to the
bed, just as the girl turned.
She had inserted her lovely legs into a
brief, provocative step-in that was fringed
with naughty black lace. She was struggling
with the snaps of a brassiere that cupped her
overflowing voluptuous breasts. She fastened
the snaps; drew tissue-thin chiffon hose up
over her delicious legs; slipped her tiny feet
into high-heeled pumps.
She wriggled into a dress. Then she turned
to me. “Grab that guy and come on!” she
spoke sharply, excitedly. She snatched up the
leather case.
I picked up the dark-faced fellow’s
unconscious form, slung it over my shoulder.
The red-haired girl went ahead of me to the
window. She threw a leg over the sill. Her
skirt went up. I saw a flash of white thigh
topped by an edge of black lace. Then she was
out on the fire-escape, descending into the
black night.
I went after her, with the unconscious guy
still over my shoulder.
When I got to the ground, the girl was
already behind the wheel of a coupe. She had
the motor going. I dumped the mug she’d
called Leo into the machine and scrambled in
after him. I slammed the door. The coupe shot
forward.
I said, “Don’t you think it’s about time
you were telling me something about this
business, baby?”
Her face was set in purposeful lines. “All
right. I guess you’re entitled to know,” she
spoke softly. “It all started when your plane
smashed on the desert near Victorville”
That almost floored me. I said, “What—?”
She nodded grimly. “There was a
Government agent aboard your plane. He was
carrying a certain formula back to
Washington—the formula for a new and
deadly poison gas.” For a single instant she
turned to me. “Did you ever hear of the Black
Thirteen?” she asked me.
I said, “Yes. I bet on it tonight and you
grabbed my chips.”
I saw the ghost of a smile hovering around
the corners of her kiss-inviting mouth. “That’s
what gave me the hunch to ask your help,” she
admitted. “I recognized you as Steve King the
pilot of the plane that had crashed. The
coincidence of your playing the black thirteen
at roulette—and winning—made me do . . .
what I did.”
I said, “I don’t see any coincidence.”
HE stepped down on the gas, tooled the
coupe out toward the flying-field. “The
Black Thirteen is an organization of
international spies,” she told me tersely.
“They knew about the Government agent
being aboard your ship; knew he was carrying
the new poison gas formula. They filed your
controls, caused your plane to smash on the
desert The Government agent was killed.
Members of the Black Thirteen were
following in another ship. They landed by the
wreckage of your plane, stole the formula
from the dead body of the Government
messenger, poured gin down your throat and
got away.”
I stared at her in frank amazement. I said,
“How in hell did you learn all this? Who are
you, anyhow?”
Moisture glistened suddenly in her blue
eyes. “My name is Yolande Carteret,” she
whispered faintly. “The Government man was
Ted Carteret. He was my . . . my brother.” Her
shoulders sagged. “Ted had told me he feared
some mishap; told me about the Black
Thirteen. When I heard that Ted was . . . dead,
I—I started out to trail his murderers; started
out on my own hook.”
I whispered, “Good God! You poor kid!”
“I traced the Black Thirteen here to
Mexico—to Aqua Caliente,” the girl went on.
S
Spicy-Adventure Stories
6
I scraped acquaintance with the leader of the
band. His name is Leo D’Issay—the man
we’ve got here in the car with us. I pretended
that I, too, was a spy—a free-lance. I learned
that D’Issay still had the formula; was
negotiating with several foreign powers. He
intended to sell it to the highest bidder, I—I
vamped him . . . lured him with my b-body.
He fell for me. I persuaded him to doublecross his associates. Together, we planned to
get away with the formula, sell it, settle down
together in some South American country.
“And you were all set to slug him and get
the plans away from him?” I said.
Yolande Carteret nodded.
I said, “But now that you got the leather
case—why bring D’Issay along?”
“I want to turn him over to the authorities.
I want him to hang for the murder of my
brother!” she flared vengefully. And at that
moment she swung the coupe into the dark,
unlighted entrance to the flying-field.
“You’ve a plane here?” I whispered.
“Yes. I chartered it after I met you in the
Casino,” she told me. She braked the coupe to
a slewing, tire-screeching halt.
I started to get out. A masked hombre
jammed a roscoe into my belly and said
“Reach. Reach high!”
I reached. Out of the tail of my eye, I saw
three or four beefy-looking birds grabbing at
Yolande Carteret. She tried to scream. They
gagged her. A hand dipped down into the
bosom of her dress ripping the cloth. I saw
red. But I couldn’t do anything with the
muzzle of an automatic boring into my upper
bowel.
Over the red-haired girl’s muffled gasp, I
heard a masculine voice, “Yeah—here it is!
Here’s the leather case with the formula in it!”
They snatched the case from Yolande
Carteret’s bosom.
Then two of the gang picked up Leo
D’Issay’s limp form, carried him forward into
the night. The others prodded at me, shoved
the red-haired girl along beside me. We
stumbled toward a dark hangar.
Y brain was racing. I knew that we had
stumbled into the hands of Leo
D’Issay’s spy-ring; that we had been captured
by the Black Thirteen. In some way, they had
got wind of D’Issay’s plan to double-cross
them; had ambushed us at the last minute.
We reached the unlighted hangar. One of
our captors snapped on a single light. I saw
the trussed, gagged figures of two flying-field
attendants. The Black Thirteen had evidently
overpowered them; were now in full
possession of the field. My heart sank.
One of the masked men faced his fellows.
He spoke, in a thickly guttural, Teutonic
accent. “We shall kill D’Issay and these other
two, ja? Then we take the airplane and fly
north, nein?”
“Nix!” a voice rasped. “Bundle all three of
them into the ship. We’ll dump ’em out after
we’re five thousand feet up. We’ll drop ’em
over the desert. They won’t be so easily found
that way.”
“Sehr Gut!” the Teutonic accent replied.
“Load them in!”
Many hands laid hold of a big, tri-motored
cabin ship, wheeled it out onto the tarmac. My
heart squeezed a little when I saw that the
crate was the same type I’d been flying on my
transcontinental run. I wondered . . .
On the floor, Leo D’Issay stirred feebly.
He was just coming out from under the effects
of that throttling I’d given him—the throttling,
and the crack on the jaw I’d added for good
measure. One of the masked men leaped at
D’Issay, smashed the butt of an automatic
against his skull. The spy-chief sagged back
again, once more unconscious.
He was lifted, shoved into the capacious
cabin of the big ship. Then Yolande Carteret
was pushed inside the plane; and finally, I felt
myself prodded into the cabin.
Nobody had thought to switch on the
M
The Black 13
7
ship’s cabin-lights. In the gloom, I seized a
desperate opportunity. My hand dived into my
pocket, extracted one of the sheets of paper I’d
taken from that flat leather case back in the
red-haired girl’s hotel room. As I passed a
seat, I slipped the paper into a pocket in the
chair’s padded back—a pocket that contained
water-proof paper bags. Every passenger
plane carries them for air-sick passengers.
My movement went unnoticed. The
masked members of the Black Thirteen were
all in the cabin now. One of them climbed
forward into the pilot’s room. I heard the
moaning sound of released inertia starters. The
ship’s three radial Wasps coughed and barked
into roaring life. The man at the controls
revved his motors expertly.
I sank into a seat. Across from me, one of
the gang held a roscoe trained at my
wishbone. Ahead of me, Yolande Carteret was
similarly guarded. She turned white, stricken
features toward me. She said. “I—I’m sorry I
got you into this, Steve King—”
I sneered at her and said, “Nuts, baby! I
don’t need your damn’ sympathy. Save it!”
She shrank back as though I’d whaled her
across the face. Her eyes widened. I gave her a
raucous horse-laugh. She turned from me;
tried to cover her exposed breasts where
prying fingers had torn her frock. Her
shoulders slumped.
I felt an aching lump in my throat. She
was so damned, pathetically wistful. . . But I
had a part to play. I couldn’t tip my hand by
showing my real feelings for her. I heard the
triplet Wasps roar suddenly. The big ship
rumbled and bumped across the field,
gathering speed. Abruptly the bumping
stopped. We were off the ground!
N the sound-proof insulated cabin, the
roaring motors were only a droning
whisper. I leaned toward the masked guy who
was guarding me, I said, “So you birds figure
on dumping the three of us overboard, do
you?”
He said. “Ja. Yes.” He was the mug with
the Germanic accent.
I grinned in his face and said “That’s too
bad. Because if you bump me off, you won’t
have that gas formula!”
He stiffened. His little, pig-like eyes
glared at me through the slits in his mask.
“What do you mean?” he rasped. His
automatic raised. Its black muzzle looked
ready to cough in my face.
I made my voice sound steady, casual. I
said. “You think you’ve recovered the
formula. You think you’ve got it in the leather
case you took from this dame.” I gestured
toward Yolande Carteret. “Well, you
haven’t!”
He gasped, fumbled in his pocket,
withdrew that little leather case. He opened it.
I saw his heavy jaw drop. “Gott verdammte—
!” he roared.
In front of me, the auburn-haired girl’s
eyes widened. I leered at her. “Surprised, eh,
baby? You didn’t know I’d double-crossed
you, did you?” Then I turned back to my
masked guard, I said, “You see, you haven’t
got the formula. I’ve got it.”
He leaped at me, bore me backward. I let
him. I didn’t put up any fight. I felt his thick
fingers delving into my pockets. He grabbed
out some papers, stared at them. “So!” he
rasped. “Here is the formula! Gott—it iss a
good thing I found them before we dropped
you!”
I laughed and said, “You haven’t got all
the formula. There’s part of it missing. And
without that missing part, your half isn’t any
damned good. Now what do you think of
that?”
HE other members of the Black Thirteen
were crowding close now. A mutter went
up from them. It sounded vicious, threatening.
I looked at the auburn-haired Carteret girl. Her
eyes bored into mine, coldly, disgustedly. I
I T
Spicy-Adventure Stories
8
traded sneers with her. Then I faced our
captors. I said, “Well, boys, suppose I make a
deal with you.”
“You will tell us where iss the missing
paper, or we kill you right now!”
I shrugged. “Go ahead. But if you do,
you’ll never find that missing formula-sheet. I
didn’t bring it with me. And after I’m dead
you’ll never find it—not if you search till hell
goes into the refrigerator business!”
Hard hands grasped at me, shook me.
“Where is that paper?”
“I’m not telling—until I have your word
you won’t bump me off. I don’t give a damn
what you do with D’Issay or this red-haired
skirt. But I want assurance that I’ll get out of
this mess alive—and with a cut of the profits!”
I grinned.
Yolande Carteret gasped. “You—you’d
sell me out—like that—!”
I said, “Sure I’d sell you out. You don’t
spell anything to me, baby. It’s my neck I’m
looking out for!” I put plenty of venom in my
voice. It evidently went across with the
masked men. They muttered among
themselves.
Then the guy with the Teutonic accent
said, “Very well, mein Herr. We agree to your
terms. Tell us where the paper we can find,
and we promise to gif you a share of the
proceeds,”
I said, “Let’s go forward. I don’t want this
dame listening when I tell you what I did with
it.” I stepped boldly toward the front end of
the cabin.
The Black Thirteen followed me. I leaned
toward the masked Teuton, put my lips against
his ear. He was listening so hard he forgot
about keeping his roscoe in my kidneys.
That’s what I’d been hoping for. I drew a deep
breath. Then I yelled, “To hell with you!” into
his ear. I yelled it so loud that he jumped
backward. And as he jumped, I twisted the
automatic from his hand.
I leaped behind him, used him for a shield.
His companions sprang at us. Every one of
them had a gat. “Shoot him! Kill Heinrich if
we must—but get Steve King!” a voice rasped.
And with that, hell tore loose.
A crashing inferno of flame and sound and
bullets filled the cabin. I felt a dozen lead
slugs into the shrieking figure of the masked
man who shielded me. He slumped. I held up
his body. Then I started firing.
I fired deliberately, slowly. I didn’t have
any bullets to waste. Before me two men
crumpled and pitched forward with holes
through their skulls. I took careful aim. I
didn’t want to hit Yolande Carteret, who
crouched in the rear of the ship. I drew a bead
full on the heart of a masked, leaping spy, I
pulled the trigger. My man went down,
wailing weirdly.
The remaining members of the Thirteen
were fanning slugs at me as fast as they could
shoot. Hot lead whistled past my ear. I felt the
plane lurching suddenly; felt it drop into a
sickening dive—
“Good God!” I rasped in my throat.
They’ve killed the pilot! We’re going down
out of control!”
I blasted loose with my remaining bullets.
Four masked figures sprawled down. But there
were four left—and my automatic was empty.
. . . !
HEY struggled toward me. I raised my
voice. “Stop where you are!” I grated
harshly. “Your pilot’s dead! We’re due to
crash in another minute! Maybe I can pull us
out of the spin— if you give me the chance!
Take your choice. Let me get to the controls—
or we all die together!”
The masked four hesitated. They glared at
me. Then, “Go on—save us!” they shouted
wildly
I said, “Throw down your guns!” They
obeyed. I yelled to Yolande Carteret “Grab a
gat, baby! Keep these mugs covered!”
She sprang forward, picked up a roscoe,
T
The Black 13
9
herded the masked spies back. Then I hurled
myself up forward into the pilot’s room.
There was a slumped figure over the left
side of the dual controls. He had a bullet-hole
in the back of his head. I flung myself into the
right-hand side of the pilot’s cabin, grabbed
the wheel, kicked hard at the rudder. Below
me, the moon-drenched earth was rising,
whirling—
I smashed at my port throttle, gunned the
roaring Wasp. I twisted the wheel, jerked it
back. The big crate shivered and shuddered
under me; began to flatten out of its dizzying
spin. I felt my landing-gear brush faintly
against some tree-tops . . . and then I pulled
the ship’s nose upward, fed soup to all three
motors. Cold sweat ran into my eyes. I felt
sick, nauseated. We had missed a crack-up by
bare inches.
I drew a deep breath. Then I reached for
the radio transmitter, switched it on, flung a
message into the night. . .
HEN I set the big ship down at San
Diego, the cops were waiting. They
took D’Issay and the remaining four members
of his Black Thirteen off to the calaboose.
And when they had gone, I turned to Yolande
Carteret.
I smiled at her. I said, “Now you know
why I pretended to double-cross you, don’t
you, my dear?”
She looked into my eyes. “Y-yes,” she
whispered faintly. The torn neck of her frock
gaped open. I saw a hint of swelling white
breasts. I touched them, tentatively, with my
hands; explored their creamy-white, velvety
surface. . . She melted against me.
I said, “Do you know you drive me nuts,
Yolande? Do you know I’m screwy about
you?”
She smiled at me, tremulously. “What—
what are you going to do about it, Steve?” she
whispered.
I grabbed her, kissed her parted lips.
“Plenty!” I told her.
W

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