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Transcript

Ten Detective Aces, June, 1941
TEN DETECTIVE ACES 2
T MIDNIGHT when K. C. Jones,
Hollywood troubleshooter, tooled
his big canary-colored roadster
into the DO-DRIVE-INN, it was jammed.
Jones was forced to wedge into a space
between two empty cars and the acres of
woods that ran around one side of the
place.
He cut the motor and one of the
shapely car-hops weaving around the
parked cars, neatly balancing trays of
food, came toward him.
She was tall and trim. A saucy military
cap perched jauntily on her platinum curls.
A gold-braided vestee snugged jealousy to
her curves and red satin tights gave extra
glamour to her already perfect legs as she
came up to the car.
“Yes, sir,” she said. “What can I do for
you?”
Jones didn’t tell her. He looked at the
dimples in her elbows and said with a
sigh: “I’m sorry, sweet, but I want Donna
Marlo to take my order.”
The doll straightened up. The smile
stiffened but stayed. “Yes, sir,” she told
him, and turned away. “I’ll go get her.
Maybe some other time I can have the
pleasure.”
She smiled and winked and walked
away. She had a swing and sway that
made Jones realize why they had picked
that particular type of uniform.
A sound from the darkness of the
thickets on the other side of the car made
Jones reluctantly turn his gaze that way.
Out of the bushes a shadowy figure darted
toward the car. A head popped up above
the door across from the driver’s seat. It
would have been a lovely head if the long,
ebon black hair hadn’t been so tangled and
disheveled. If the face hadn’t been drawn
and drained of all color, with the eyes
haunted black pools of fear, and the full
lips sucked between taut teeth.
“Donna! Donna Marlo!” K. C. Jones
gasped. “What the hell is it, honey?”
He slid across and eased open the
door. He saw Donna Marlo crouching
there, her whole body trembling, a tiny,
pearl-handled automatic dangling limply
from her pallid fingers.
Helping her into the car, Jones saw
that her cute little semi-military uniform
was twisted and torn in several places. An
angry red scratch glowed on one of
Donna’s smooth white arms and a
splotchy blue bruise smudged her cheek
bone.
He plucked the automatic from her
nervous, twisting white fingers.
“Get out of here!” she told him. She
had trouble getting the words past the
lump in her throat. “Take me away from
here, K. C.! Hurry! Hurry!”
“Maybe that’s not the right thing,” he
said. “Give me a quick line on it, kid. If
you’re right we scram. If not—”
She twisted and came over into his
arms and smashed her face against the
shoulder of his checkered sport coat. The
strain of her sobbing almost shook the car.
“I—I can’t!” she choked. “I can’t talk,
I can’t think, until you get me away from
here.”
He turned away and while she buried
her face in her slim, pale hands he gunned
the motor alive, slammed into reverse on a
half turn, shot the long yellow car around
and onto the highway.
HILE she fought for control Jones
drove and talked to her in a soft,
steadying voice: “Get a grip, Donna. Your
brother, Tom, wrote that you’d come out
here looking for a movie job and asked me
to keep a brotherly eye on you. I gave my
word I would. Tom Marlo saved my life
when we were kids, Donna. Whatever it is,
I’m with you. I know my way around. I’m
a studio dick and I know the cops.
Whatever it—”
A
W
SLAUGHTER—WITH A SMILE 3
She lifted her head then. “But this—
this is murder!” she cut in. Her voice
broke, hoarsely. “It’s my boss, Joel
Krasner, the manager of the DO-DRIVEINN! K. C., what am I going to do?”
He concentrated on getting around a
trailer truck on a curve at sixty before he
answered. “Why did you kill him, Donna?
Give me the whole thing and then we can
figure.”
“I didn’t kill him. I didn’t!” She
repeated it over and over.
She pulled a paper napkin from her
pocket and blew her nose. Then with one
hand gripping the top of the door and the
other one balled in her lap she started to
talk fast.
“All the girls hated Krasner,” she said.
“He was always after them. For the past
month he’d been concentrating on me. I
tried to be tactful, but you can’t with
Krasner. Finally I slapped him and told
him off. He gave me my notice. Tonight
was my last night.”
“Why didn’t you tell me, honey?
I’d’ve pulled you out of the joint, got you
another job. You don’t have to put up
with—”
“I was afraid you’d kill him, K. C., or
think maybe I’d led him on or something. .
. . Anyhow, tonight Vilma Manners—
she’s in charge of all the girls—told me
Krasner wanted to see me right away. As
soon as I got into his private office
upstairs he tried to kiss me. He didn’t say
a word. He just—K. C., he was like a wild
man. I couldn’t talk to him. I couldn’t do
anything. I fought and scratched and
kicked and then—and then there was a
shot. He sort of went all loose. I stepped
away and he fell to the floor.”
Donna stopped and pushed both hands
up into her hair at the temples and took in
a deep sobbing breath.
“I don’t know how long I stood there
before I looked up toward the window. It
was open. There was a table next to it and
that—that gun was lying on it. Smoke was
still coming out of the barrel. I finally ran
to the window and looked out on the roof
that runs all around the building like a
narrow porch. It was very dark there in the
back with nothing but the woods. I—I
didn’t see a sign of anyone.”
“While you were fighting with Krasner
someone out on the roof shot through the
window at him, then dumped the gun in on
the table and scrammed,” Jones summed it
up. His eyes squinched into a frown.
She continued, so low it was almost a
whisper: “I went over and picked up the
gun. I went out of the office and locked
the door and ran down the back stairs and
out and through the woods, hoping you’d
be parked where I could signal to you. I
tossed the key away in the woods.”
“Don’t tell me any more for a few
minutes,” Jones said. “I want to think.”
Donna had had trouble with Krasner,
the boss of the place. Probably all the
other girls knew about it since they’d been
through the same thing. But Donna had
told him off. He had fired her. On her last
night she had gone to his office, was in
there alone with him. They had fought and
struggled. Krasner was killed with a little
lady’s automatic. Showing plenty of signs
of wear and tear Donna had run away. She
had skipped out on a murder. It was the
tightest frame K. C. Jones had ever run
into. People had been hung on less
evidence. The girl was in a spot.
He said: “You gave me that straight,
Donna? It doesn’t make any difference to
me, personally, but I’ve got to have it right
before I can figure how to help you.”
“That’s what happened, K. C.,” she
answered. “I’d tell you. I—I didn’t kill
him. . . . Why did they do it? Why did I
have to be there?”
“We’ll see,” he said.
He headed into the hills, then, to the
TEN DETECTIVE ACES 4
summer place of a star at Acme
Productions, Inc., where he worked. The
actress was away on location and the place
was ideal for a hideout.
There were no neighbors for several
miles on either side. He broke in through a
cellar window and made Donna
comfortable and just before he left he said:
“Did anyone see you when you left
Krasner’s office, Donna?”
“I—I don’t think so,” she answered
hesitantly. “I don’t know, K. C. I ran. I
didn’t look.”
HEN K. C. Jones got back to the
DO-DRIVE-INN, Matty Doyle, the
big redfaced Irishman in charge of
Hollywood Homicide, was telling one of
his men to break up the police blockade at
the exits and let the customers go home.
Spotting Jones as he pushed through
the jam of car-hops and kitchen help into
the big main hall of the Inn, Doyle waved
a huge red paw at him.
“Go on home, Jones,” he hollered.
“There ain’t no Acme stars mixed up in
this.”
Jones grinned and kept pushing
through the path that opened up before
him until a voice screamed: “There he is!
That’s the man who asked for Donna
Marlo!”
The trim, platinum-haired car-hop who
had so fascinated Jones before, was
stabbing a finger at him. She wasn’t any
glamour girl now. Her eyes were redrimmed from crying. Her cheeks were
streaked with mascara. “Yeah,” Jones said.
“I’m the guy.” He had counted on this and
was ready. “I was here before looking for
Donna and she didn’t come right away and
I had someplace else to go and couldn’t
wait. I come back now and find the place
in an uproar. What’s cookin’?”
Matty Doyle came up close to Jones
and thrust his heavy, ruddy face right in
front of the detective’s. “Some day, K. C.
Jones,” he said, tightly, and tugged at the
big drooping lobes of his ears, “some day
I’m gonna kill you. I should have known
you’d be in on this. I got an open and shut
case with the Marlo kid a cinch for a jury,
and she gets away from me. I can’t find
her anywhere!”
K. C. Jones permitted a grin to soften
the grimness of his lean features. “I’ll save
you some questions, Matty,” he said. “I’m
a close friend of Donna Marlo’s. Every
night after I get through at the studio I
come out here to see her. Tonight—you
heard me before about tonight.”
A man about Jones’ height, with wellknit shoulders setting off a midnight blue
gabardine suit, pushed toward them. He
had an ugly looking horse face and
eyebrows plucked into thin lines. Those
eyebrows must have been beauts,
naturally. All around the remains of them
was a half inch ring of stubble blue as a
freshly shaved beard. Horse-face said:
“This man probably knows where the
girl is, officer.” He raised the plucked
brows halfway to his hairline. “He
probably got her out of here.”
Doyle looked happy at this thought.
Jones didn’t even look at the speaker. He
said to Doyle: “I don’t like our brainy
friend, Matty. If you want any help from
me, get him out of here.”
Before the homicide man could
answer, a Junoesque redhead in a slightly
more conservative version of the car-hops’
uniform joined the group. She pursed thin
orange lips at Jones.
“Mr. Doyle,” she said, and nodded her
head of geranium colored hair toward the
man in the blue gabardine, “Mr. Deeland,
there, made an excellent suggestion. Since
this—this person was so friendly with the
murderess, perhaps—”
“Listen, carrot-top,” Jones cut in,
“where were you when the murder
W
SLAUGHTER—WITH A SMILE 5
happened?”
“Right here, supervising service,” she
snapped back. “All the girls will bear
witness to that.”
For a second she looked as though she
would fly at Jones’ throat in indignant
fury. Her long, flame-colored nails clawed
in and out, tensely at her sides. But there
was something about the whole setup of
K. C. Jones that made her change her
mind. She took her glance away with a
quick, furious toss of her head.
“Who are these people?” Jones asked
Doyle.
Again Matty Doyle’s slow brain was
caught short. The redhead wheeled on
Jones. “I’m Vilma Manners, head of the
car-service girls here, and Mr. Krasner—
the—the murdered man’s—right hand
assistant. . . . The gentleman in the blue
suit is Mr. Nils Deeland, a beef salesman
who was taking an order from me when—
when this all happened.”
“Charmed,” Jones said, without
looking at her. “Who discovered the
murder everybody’s talking about,
Doyle?”
Doyle’s rugged red face took on an
important look. He jerked a horny thumb
toward the platinum blonde with the red
eyes and streaked face. “That blonde carhop, Ann Gorman,” he boomed. “She
asked Red, here, I mean Miss Manners,
where Donna Marlo was, that a customer
wanted her. Miss Manners then realized
that the Marlo dame had been up in
Krasner’s office for quite awhile and sent
the blonde up to check. She found the door
of the office locked. They broke it down
and found Krasner dead on the floor.”
ONES stared at the platinum-head and
she got very self-conscious and rubbed
at her already messed up eyes. “Uh-huh,”
he said, and turned toward the door. He
waved his hand. “Have a nice time,
Matty.”
Doyle bellowed: “Come back here,
Jones! You can’t leave this place. I—I’m
holding you.”
“You are?” the studio detective said
cheerfully. “What charge, Matty? Because
I happen to know the girl you’re trying to
pin a murder rap on? Come, come!”
Jones turned away again and went on
out, leaving Matty Doyle red and
sputtering and wrapping a flabby ear-lobe
around one of his fingers.
Outside K. C. Jones grabbed the arm
of a little brunette car-hop. He fished a
dollar bill from his pocket and pressed it
into her hand. He told her: “Sweet,
suppose you tell me what Ann Gorman,
your silver-haired co-worker, has been
bawling about.”
The girl folded the bill carefully. “Ann
Gorman has been working here for three
years,” she said, tucking the now tiny
piece of money into the low neckline of
her uniform. “She’s something special to
the boss, Krasner. She never talked much,
but we all knew. Why was she crying?
Maybe she loved the guy. I wouldn’t
know. I never been in love.”
“I bet you get along though, honey.”
Jones grinned. “Thanks. I’ll see you.”
He left the Inn, climbed into his canary
roadster and started in the direction of
Donna’s hideout.
About a mile from DO-DRIVE-INN, a
pair of headlights got behind the yellow
roadster. They weren’t the lights of a
police car. They stayed always the same
distance behind.
Half way to the dirt road that led to the
summer cabin where Donna Marlo was
hiding out, Jones was sure he was being
tailed.
He stopped the roadster squarely in the
middle of a lonely stretch of highway. He
grinned, got out and started walking
briskly back toward the headlights of the
J
TEN DETECTIVE ACES 6
now motionless car behind.
Suddenly the car went into reverse.
Jones sprinted toward it. He took a dozen
steps and a flash of orange spat from a side
window and a white hot pain seared his
shoulder and spun him half around. He
clapped his hand over the wound. He took
a flying leap into the ditch at the side of
the road. When he worked his own gun out
the killer’s car was swerving backward
into a narrow country lane. It jolted to a
stop, then spurted forward and careened
off into the dark, back the way it had
come. Jones watched the fading tail light
for a moment and with one hand squeezing
his shoulder walked back to his own car.
He reached the hideout ten minutes later.
HEN he entered the cabin, he put
his hand up toward Donna who sat
up, startled, pressing a hand to her mouth
when she saw the blood on his fingers
where they were pressing into his
wounded shoulder.
“It’s all right,” he assured her. “Just
creased the flesh. But if I hadn’t been
running, making a jogging target—”
He told her what had happened while
Donna ripped up a bed sheet and got a
bottle of iodine from a medicine cabinet.
“They were going to follow me and
find you,” he concluded, “then notify the
police. They wanted this frame complete.
We’ve got ‘em worried. . . . In thinking
this over, Donna I’ve sort of got the idea
that this frame you’re hung in was very
ably aided and abetted by that head carhop, Vilma Manners. She sent you up to
see Krasner. In other words she’s one
person who knew you were there. She also
sent the blonde up to find out what was
keeping you. But she’s clean with a pat
alibi. And I’m lost until I get the profit
angle on Krasner’s murder. Somebody has
to get something out of it.”
Jones questioned Donna about
different people at the Inn. He learned that
Krasner and the redhead, Vilma Manners,
ran the place between them, with Vilma
handling the books and the ordering and
most of the business end, and going over
things once a month with Krasner.
According to Donna, Krasner was single
and had no family. There was no angle
there. Nils Deeland, the beef salesman,
was around a lot, but apparently only
because of the large volume of hamburger
beef used by the Inn. He had always
appeared on the best of terms with
Krasner. That was about all Donna could
help him.
After she had dressed his wound, Jones
curled up on a couch while Donna retired
in the bedroom. He went to sleep on the
thing. The first thing in the morning he hit
for town. Morning papers gave the affair
at the Inn quite a play. A picture of Donna
bore the caption: “Where is this girl?” She
was the only suspect and the police had
built up quite a case of circumstantial
evidence.
At the end of the article a paragraph
said that Nicholas Kappos, the owner of
the DO-DRIVE-INN, had gone to the
place right after the murder, to take charge
and go over the books. He had found that
during the past three weeks each day’s
entries had been juggled and that
apparently Joel Krasner, previous to his
murder, had clipped Kappos for a little
over $30,000.
K. C. Jones smoked a whole cigaret
over that without moving from the spot.
He called Monte Pressen, president of
Acme Productions, a few minutes later,
changed his voice and as Mr. K. C. Jones’
landlord, explained: “Mr. Jones will not be
able to report to work today because of an
injured shoulder.”
Then he visited seven pawn-shops
before he found an uncle that recognized
the little pearl handled automatic he had
W
SLAUGHTER—WITH A SMILE 7
taken from Donna the night before.
“Of course,” the thin-faced shylock
told him. “It was purchased by a young
lady.”
Jones flashed his badge, being careful
not to let it be examined too closely and
got to look at the register of the purchase,
which was made for police records. It
showed that the gun had been bought by
Miss Donna Marlo, for protection. Miss
Marlo had told the shop-keeper that there
had been several burglaries in her
neighborhood.
“What did Miss Marlo look like?” J
ones asked.
The pawn-broker shrugged bony
shoulders. “I can give only a vague
description. She was a striking woman,
tall, well built, well dressed. I believe she
wore a veil.”
“Did she have red hair?”
“That I couldn’t tell you.” Uncle
shrugged again. “But I doubt it or I would
have remembered.”
On the phone, posing as Mathew
Doyle of homicide, K. C. Jones called all
the banks in the city, and at the last one
learned that Joel Krasner and Vilma
Manners both had accounts there. Krasner
had a balance of less than $500. If he had
been making inroads on the profits from
the DO-DRIVE-INN, he had not deposited
them in the bank.
Vilma’s balance was $325. She had
made no deposits within the last month,
but that morning had closed out her
account.
Then Jones checked with all the
investment houses. He found no record of
Krasner playing the market. If the
restaurant manager was a horse plunger
Jones would have heard about him. It
began to look very much like Krasner had
not taken the money himself.
T CAME thick and fast after that. Jones
went out to the DO-DRIVE-INN and
was told that Vilma Manners had resigned
that morning. Mr. Kappos was running
things all by his lonesome.
K. C. Jones was now quite interested
in the affairs of Vilma Manners. He was
almost positive that she had been the one
who had bought the murder gun in
Donna’s name. Even though she had been
careful to bundle her flaming hair all up
under her hat so it would not be
remembered. Jones set out for town once
more and the railroad depot.
He was a little disappointed to find that
Vilma had not made reservations on any
trains. Inquiries at all the steamship travel
agencies got him nowhere, either.
But out at the airport he spotted a
figure at the ticket window in a blue
gabardine suit. This figure had a horse
face and plucked eyebrows and had
bought two tickets for a plane trip to New
York City.
Jones tailed Nils Deeland, the beef
salesman, to his home. It was a small
summer cottage out near Beverly Hills.
Jones jotted down the address and returned
to town for a luncheon of a half dozen
cups of coffee. He went to the afternoon
show of a second rate movie house and
closed his eyes and sat in the dark and put
the business all together.
He got this: Vilma Manners and Nils
Deeland had figured the situation at the
DO-DRIVE-INN as ripe for a perfect
crime. Vilma, handling the money and the
books for Krasner, had given him a
systematic daily fleecing. She had either
kept the money at her home or given it to
Deeland to hold for her. Three weeks of
this and it was getting close to the time of
month when she would have to go over the
books with Krasner. That time just
couldn’t come or the whole thing would be
discovered. So they decided to kill the Inn
I
TEN DETECTIVE ACES 8
manager. Donna as a harassed girl
employee made a perfect cat’s-paw for
them.
Jones figured the murder like this:
Vilma called Krasner on a house phone
and imitating Donna’s voice, told him that
since this was her last night she had
thought the thing over and had changed
her mind regarding Krasner’s attentions.
Krasner had asked her to come right up to
his office and talk it over.
Then Vilma had Deeland take the
pearl-handled automatic, go up to the roof
outside Krasner’s office window and wait
for the inevitable to happen when Donna
arrived after being sent up by Vilma. But
Donna Marlo had scotched things a little
by running away and taking the murder
gun with her. And by knowing K. C.
Jones.
By the time he had got that far, Jones
was boiling. He kept thinking that while a
smug pair of murderers were gloating over
the success of their crime, a sweet little kid
like Donna Marlo was hiding out like a
hunted animal. He kept remembering that
he had promised Donna’s brother that he
would take care of her.
He left the theatre with a plan to show
up the real murderers half formulated. As
he drove up to Donna’s hide-out, he
completed it. It was wild, and it was
dangerous, but it had to be tried. So far all
he had on Deeland and Vilma Manners
was a case that he had built up in his own
mind. Mostly conjecture. He had to have
proof. And Matty Doyle couldn’t see
beyond his nose. The Homicide head
wouldn’t even give Jones’ story a thought
unless he was forced to it.
Jones got Donna and taking her with
him, started back to town. On the way they
pulled into the DO-DRIVE-INN. It was
dark now and Donna slouched way down
in the seat and no one spotted her. Jones
got Ann Gorman to come out to the car.
He talked fast and seriously to the
platinum-haired car-hop.
He said: “Ann, I’m going to dish it
straight, so let’s not play games on this.
Either you’ll help me or you won’t. I know
about you and Krasner. Did you love the
guy?” Ann Gorman flushed from the deep
Vee of her uniform to the roots of her
silver hair. A vein stood out and throbbed
in her forehead. She opened her mouth to
speak but K. C. Jones rushed on:
“All right, Ann. All right. I know who
killed Joel Krasner. You can help me
prove it. Will you do it?”
The girl stared at Jones and tears
started to well up in her eyes. She choked
out: “You know, that—that business I
gave you when you stopped here the—
other night. It was just an act. I make my
living bein’ cute like that. Joel Krasner
was the lowest louse on this earth, but I
loved him, Mr. Jones. . . . What do you
want me to do?”
WO HOURS later K. C. Jones’ canary
colored roadster and a big police
sedan pulled up to the curb on a little side
street near Beverly Hills. Jones, Donna
and Ann Gorman got out of the roadster.
Matty Doyle and two plainclothesmen got
out of the police car.
Doyle grabbed Jones by both
shoulders. His great red face wore an
agonized frown. His huge earlobes were
flaming. He said:
“I don’t like this, K. C. I don’t know
why I’m doing it. If this doesn’t work—if
you get me in trouble—”
“Look, Matty,” Jones knocked Doyle’s
husky hands from his shoulders. “You’ve
got Donna Marlo haven’t you? And I
promised to give you that horse-betting
system that I used to pick ten longshot
winners after this is an over, didn’t I?”
Doyle nodded unhappily.
“All right,” Jones said. “You just take
T
SLAUGHTER—WITH A SMILE 9
Donna with you and station yourselves
outside of Nils Deeland’s windows. Keep
out of sight and listen to what goes on. I’ll
do the rest.”
They went up the street toward the
little bungalow home of Nils Deeland.
Jones and Ann Gorman went right up to
the door. When Deeland answered their
ring, Jones shoved his gun into the horsefaced man’s stomach and pushed on
inside.
“What—what is this?” Deeland
stammered. His plucked brows did
acrobatics. He looked from Jones to Ann
Gorman, flicking fast glances back and
forth.
“Just this,” Jones said. He walked up
to Deeland, tucking his gun back into his
pocket. There was no effort to it. His hand
dropped loosely to his side and formed a
fist and came rocketing upward like a
flashing meteor. All in the wink of an eye.
Nils Deeland never even knew what
happened. As he started to fold, Jones
caught him under the arms. He dragged
him into the living room, dropped him
limply into a stuffed chair with its back to
the door.
He turned to the platinum blond. “I
don’t know how long we have to wait,” he
told her. “Their plane is due to leave in
half an hour. I don’t know what their
arrangement was, but one sure thing, even
if Vilma Manners wasn’t supposed to
come here and meet him, she’s going to
soon get worried if she is waiting for him
someplace, and check around here to see
what’s up. I’m going to duck. When you
hear her enter the front door, start your
spiel the way I told you.”
Ann Gorman nodded grimly and as
Jones stationed himself behind some
drapes, she perched on a footstool in front
of the chair where sat the unconscious
Deeland. She put one hand on his knee.
From the doorway it would look as though
she was pleading with him.
It was ten minutes before the front
door of the bungalow was heard to open.
Footsteps sounded in the hall and Ann
Gorman started to talk.
“Don’t worry about her, Nils, darling,”
she said softly, pleadingly. “The plan
we’ve cooked up will leave her holding
the bag. What good is her word against
both of ours? I’ll use her ticket like you
said, and—”
Vilma Manners stood in the doorway
of the room. Her husky voice broke in:
“You little double-crossing rat!”
The statuesque redhead’s green eyes
were blazing. Her mouth was a slash of
thin orange. She fumbled a hand into her
purse. “Stand up, Nils, you murdering
louse!” she spat out. “I’ll show you you
can’t double cross me!”
At the first flash of the pistol Vilma
whipped from her bag, K. C. Jones
stepped out from behind the drapes. His
own gun was in his hand. He squeezed the
trigger and Vilma Manners dropped the
pistol with an animal-like howl of pain and
grabbed at the spurt of blood from her
wrist.
As Matty Doyle and his men swarmed
through the windows, the big horse-faced
man in the chair stirred. No one noticed.
They were too busy watching K. C. Jones
as he walked toward Vilma, twirling his
gun on his finger.
“It’s all up, Vilma,” he bluffed. “We
got the goods on Nils and he spilled the
whole thing. He told us how you killed
Krasner, and—”
“I didn’t kill him!” the redheaded
woman screamed. Her eyes were rolled
back into her head now. “He did that.
Deeland planned the whole thing. He—”
She cut off short. Nils Deeland came
up out of his chair in a leaping dive for the
door. He never reached it. K. C. Jones’
foot tangled between his legs and Deeland
TEN DETECTIVE ACES 10
went slamming against a wall. When he
bounced off a fist rocked to the side of his
cheek and he went staggering back facefirst into the chair he had just vacated. K.
C. Jones sucked his knuckles and hunched
his wounded shoulder and made a wincing
face.
Back at headquarters after Deeland and
Vilma Manners had been booked for the
murder of Joel Krasner, Matty Doyle
beamed at K. C. Jones. “Hey, Jones,” he
gurgled. “That system. Remember?”
“Sure,” Acme Production’s
troubleshooter said. “It’s a very simple
system, Matty. You play the horse in
number one post position—next to the
rail—whenever it’s carrying the lightest
weight in the race. That’s all.”
Doyle frowned. “You—you hit ten
straight winners with that?” he exclaimed
incredulously.
“Certainly.” Jones pushed his stiffened
fingers into the Homicide head’s paunch,
playfully. “Three years ago. And then I
lost twenty straight. I haven’t played it
since. . . . Well, lots of luck, Matty.”
K. C. Jones took Donna’s arm and
walked out of headquarters. Behind them
Matty Doyle was mumbling, “Three years
ago—three years—why that—” and
getting redder and redder.
Donna Marlo hugged Jones’ arm.
“You’re pretty swell, K. C.,” she told him
softly.
Jones hailed a cab. “You go on home,
kid,” he told Donna. “Your brother’d have
a fit if he knew I had you up so late.”

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