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Ten Detective Aces, May, 1948
Snooty Piper and Scoop Binney, those sappy Beantown news-sleuths,
Get slated for early planting when they dig into a . . .
Hayseed Homicide
“Dizzy Duo” Yarn
By Joe Archibald
NOOTY PIPER wins a football pool
one day and the take is over a
hundred bucks. Right away he jumps
to the nearest phone in the city room of the
Boston Evening Star and calls a dame.
Then he comes over to where I am
sweating out a tough lead on a story and
says he has fixed me up, too.
“I hope you never get sentenced to
burn,” I sniff. “Somehow you will see to it
I am in the next chair. Why don’t you put
the easy scratch in the bank for a rainy
day?”
“It is drizzlin’ outside now, Scoop,” the
crackpot says. “Anyway, how much
interest does a bank give you? I just called
Gloria Schmitzhuber an’ told her to get a
friend. We will meet the two cheesecakes
in front of Piro’s.”
“How does this lead sound, Snooty?
‘The indubitable fact that some crimes do
pay is borne out by the following list of
those called unsolved in the files of our
own police department. The slaying of the
Harvard College widow, the liquidation of
Benny the Burp, Bubble Gum Vending
Machine King, via the Charles River, the
assassination of a cop and a payroll
chaperone in Sullivan Square and the theft
of twenty-one grand—’ ”
“Abigail must be mad at the police
commissioner once more,” Snooty says.
“Why is she gettin’ Guppy to needle the
cops, Scoop?”
S
HAYSEED HOMICIDE 2
“Maybe he gave an order she should
also stop at red lights,” I says. Abigail
Hepplethwaite is a fabulously rich old babe
out in Back Bay who has more pull in
Boston than all the molar extractors
combined. She could carpet the road
between South Africa and Siberia with
thousand-buck bills and have enough left to
pay Europe’s board bill.
“Don’t forget the robberies at Braves
Field and Fenway Park the last couple of
years,” Snooty says. “Look, it is five P. M.,
so knock off until tomorrow, Scoop.”
“Who was the suspects they had on that
Sullivan Square slaughter?”
“Ask me the date Lee surrendered,”
Snooty retorts. “I was the worst bum in
ancient history.”
E MEET the bimbos in front of
Piro’s, a hot spot a block from Park
Square. I take one quick gander at a lumpy
blonde and start to run but find she has
already hooked her arm through mine.
“Hee, hee, your frien’ is bashful,” she
giggles at Snooty, who is telling his babe
what a shame it is she has to let down the
old hem to get that New Look.
She is a wiry redhead evidently trying
to look like Hepburn. I am sure I could of
hung my hat on one of her cheekbones. She
has flared nostrils like a horse sniffing at
smoke in a burning barn.
Snooty says my handicap is named
Essie Garbitsch, and I make her spell it to
be sure. We trip inside Piro’s and get a
table behind a post, which means at times I
get a break.
We’ll save on zombies, I says to
myself, as we have already got two.
The waiter comes and leers at us.
My babe says, “I’ll take one of them
boxcars.”
“Make mine a clover blossom,” Gloria
Schmitzhuber chips.
“Yeah? An’ what will you—er—
gentlemen have?” the flunkey asks.
“Dry Martini,” Snooty sighs.
“Likewise,” I says. “But it should be a
mickey. I—”
“Them dry cocktails are fakes,” Essie
says, slapping a powder puff against her
pan until I wonder am I in a flour mill. “I
had one the other night and spilt it in my
lap and it was just as wet as any other
snort.”
I wish the joint would get raided. The
waiter seems quite glad to leave. Then in
comes a male citizen who has with him a
snappy babe wearing a strapless evening
gown and the dolls with us applaud.
“It ain’t the floor show yet,” I choke
out.
“Shall we dance, sugar?” Essie
Garbitsch says to me, grabbing me by the
arm and yanking me out of the chair.
We dance and it is not easy. It is like
pushing a pushcart loaded with anvils
through Filene’s basement on Saturday
P.M. I ask the babe quite pleasantly to stop
using my left wing for a pump handle, and
she says, “You’re cute. Say, where you
from?”
“Where I should have stayed,” I retort,
and then we pass Snooty and his dame and
I hear the carrot-top ask him does he know
the Charleston. It is murder.
When the music stops and gives us a
reprieve, we limp to our table, and then we
see the odd-looking character wearing a
blonde on each arm. The trio is being
seated at the next table to us. The dolls are
in no pain; they are higher than prices.
“How’d they let that lug in here?” Essie
Garbitsch wants to know. “I thought it was
a refined joint?”
But I am too interested in the arrival. It
is very apparent that it is his first try in cafe
society, for he is as much out of place in
Piro’s as a polecat in an aviary. He wears a
shiny blue serge suit, the sleeves of which
end too soon below his elbows. His dome,
W
TEN DETECTIVE ACES 3
which is as round as a muskmelon, is
topped by gingery colored hair sporting the
biggest cowlick I ever saw. He has buck
teeth and a pair of eyes the color of blue
overalls that have been through the wash a
hundred and three times.
“I wonder did he get his milking
done?” Snooty quips, and the babes howl.
“If he did he never brought none with
him,” Gloria giggles. “He’s petrified, not
homogenized, Snooty!”
The oaf’s blondes yelp for red-eye.
Hiram calls the waiter and I bet all the hogs
within a hundred miles of Boston get on
the move. A citizen in a tux comes over
and admonishes the hayshaker. The wrens
tell him to go and drop dead.
I lean close to Snooty. “This is goin’ to
be good. You can have the floor show.”
“It’s my night to howl!” the fugitive
from a plough yips. “Le’s have
champagne! Four quarts, by gorry! Li’l
service here!” He bangs the table with a fist
as big as a three-rib roast and the water jug
bounces and irrigates the bistro floorman’s
trousers.
“You tell ‘em, Horace!” a blonde yips,
picking up a big stalk of wet celery and
cramming it in the hanky pocket of the
night spot bouncer’s tux. That does it. The
outraged citizen calls another employee
and rolls up a sleeve.
“Oh, so you wanna get tough, hah?” the
blonde yips and throws her reticule. It hits
the bouncer right where he smells and he
reeks on his heels.
“Le’s rassle!” the ginger-locked gee
yelps and picks up the boy in the tux and
throws him halfway to the orchestra.
Essie Garbitsch is delighted. “I bet it’s
part of the act, Scoop! What a renovation,
huh?”
IVE minutes later the babe has changed
her mind. Six tables are upside down
and she is under one of them. Outside four
big cops are loading the hick and h1s
geishas into the wagon. A bouncer is
staggering to and fro, counting his teeth.
He also has one eye closing rapidly. The
doll in the strapless evening wrapper is
quite frantic as some wires have snapped
loose in the shuffle. A chivalrous character
wraps her up in some drapes he has yanked
down. What a rhubarb! The best part of it
all is that a lot of the tabs got stepped on or
lost.
Order is finally restored and the
orchestra plays. “Shall we danth?” Essie
says to me, and I suggest we look for her
partial plate. There is a gap in her choppers
a nice fat cigar would fit in very snugly.
Me and Snooty get rid of the pair at one
A.M. and taxi to our rooming house. “Iwa
Jima must have been somethin’ like that,
Scoop,” the crackpot says, taking off his
shoes. “If that blister I had would stamp
juice out of grapes instead of dancin’, she’d
make dough.”
“Don’t look at me,” I reply. “I could of
dug up better numbers in a Revolutionary
churchyard.”
We arrive at the city room the next A.
M. a trifle late. Two hours to be exact, and
it is a good thing an irate citizen is
threatening to murder Dogface Woolsey at
the time, thereby distracting the redactor’s
attention.
“Why threaten me?” Dogface
screeches. “I ain’t runnin’ this rag! I just do
what Guppy says. Leggo my lapel!”
“It is the police commissioner,” Snooty
says.
“Awright, lemonhead, I’ll talk to
Guppy! No old babe, no matter how much
of a sock she has, isn’t goin’ to make no
bum out of me, understand? Yeah, my boys
only held her up while some fire engines
go by. Only about two minutes is all! Just a
chocolate factory is on fire!”
“The way I heard it,” Snooty calls out,
“she told the cops so what as she’d finance
F
HAYSEED HOMICIDE 4
a new one. Being stopped made her almost
too late to get to the bookie’s. She had a
forty-to-one shot a jockey tipped her off on
and—”
“You keep outta this!” Dogface howls.
“Binney, that story ready yet which you
started ten days ago?”
“Forgetting who the suspects was in
that Sullivan Square murder and robbery is
holding me up,” I says. “I got to go to the
morgue.”
“You all will,” the commissioner says,
“if you don’t lay off my department.”
“It would be to the best interests of the
taxpayers if we did lay ‘em off,” Snooty
says. “Especially Iron Jaw O’Shaughnessy.
What has he got on the City Hall?”
Dogface jumped up, holding the paste
jar in his right mitt like Lujack of Notre
Dame ready to fire a pass. “Both of you
jerks get out of here!” he snarls.
We go and wind up later at the Greek’s.
Snooty says his tongue tastes like it was
used as a shoeshine rag.
“Mine ain’t exactly hygienic,” I admit.
“Who were the two gees that were
suspected, Snooty?”
“There were seven all told,” he says. “I
remember they picked up Two-Trigger
Atombi and Nitro Armitage, the two crude
operators who later got three for five each
for a punch job on a safe in East Boston.
Then I think there was Baby Lips
Brophy—”
“I recall some cops chased a sedan all
the way down the pike to Ipswich where
they lost it in a fog,” I says. “Iron Jaw took
a left turn and dropped into a river.”
“And they sent to Newburyport for a
steam shovel,” Snooty chuckles.
A few days later Abigail Hepplethwaite
takes off her spurs and promises that the
commissioner will soon get a raise. She has
had her fun. The old doll would switch the
North and South railroad terminals around
just for a lark. Things move along about
normal until one night me and Snooty take
a drive along the pike with Gloria and
Essie and stop at a roadside stand for
hotdogs and coffee. It is nice to stop after a
ride in Snooty’s 1930 Gnash Six. There are
more springs in Death Valley than there are
in his jalopy and it is a caution how he
stops without brakes.
E are wolfing the weenies when a
goggle-eyed native traipses in and
asks for two coffees and a cup of
doughnuts. “Ha,” he says, “I ain’t meself
tonight. What you think happened?”
“You lay offen the reefers,” Essie
Garbitsch warns.
“Huh?” says the citizen. Then he gets
it. “No, I don’t mean it like that. There was
a murder last night. I just saw the body.
Somebody murdered Horace Pickering. He
never got in Ipswich with his milk today
an’ his customers kept callin’ him. Never
missed a day since he was here, so they
called the cops an’ said they should better
check as maybe he was kicked by a horse
or somethin’. Well, they did, but he wasn’t
kicked by no horse.”
“Let’s go,” Snooty says. “How do we
get to the farm, pal?”
“Next road you come to towards
Newburyport to the right. Go about a mile
an’ a half—you’ll see the police cars.”
“Oh, this is like a radio program,
Essie,” Gloria Schmitzhuber yelps. “Let’s
hurry.”
“This is official business,” Snooty
Piper says sternly. “You and Essie grab a
bus back.”
“Why, of all the adulterated nerve,
Essie!” Gloria huffs. “You’d think we was
married to these bums!”
“Precious forbid,” Essie snorts.
“Anyways, dearie, look at the two
handsome truck drivers just coming in!”
She glares at me. “Get lost!”
“Come on, Scoop,” Snooty urges.
W
TEN DETECTIVE ACES 5
We drive away from the roadside stand
and out onto the Pike, Snooty hardly
looking where he’s going. A truck trailer
half as long as a through freight nearly
splatters us.
“I wonder how some guys get a
license!” Snooty says indignantly while I
swallow my ticket and drop it into place.
Suddenly he lets go of the wheel and we
angle toward a Greyhound bus. “Horace!
Why, that was the name of that character
we saw at Piro’s with the two blondes.
Hey, watch where you’re goin’, Scoop!”
“You forget,” I choke out. “You’re
drivin’.”
We finally approach the farm and see
three cars in the yard. Snooty nearly
liquidates a pig, six hens, and a brindle cow
as we go through the gate. A cop holds up a
hand and Snooty steps on the brakes he
hasn’t got. We stop because a barn gets in
our way. We climb out and show our
credentials.
“I hope you are acquainted with the Bill
of Rights, my friend,” Snooty argues. “This
is a free press in the U.S. If you want to
suppress us, we will call the U.N. The
public has a right to know—”
“Did I say anythin’?” the cop wedges
in. “Stop beefin’ and go look at the stiff.”
“Oh, brother!” I sigh.
The corpse is in the kitchen. We let out
twin gasps as we ogle it. It is the remains of
none other than the character who upset the
aplomb of Piro’s not so long ago. Rigor
mortis has not spared the horses with
Horace. There are two bullet holes through
the bib of his overalls.
“Been dead for about eighteen hours, I
figure,” the cadaver connoisseur opines.
“Hell hath no fury like a woman
scorned,” a local gendarme quotes. We turn
and look at him. He is holding a dame’s
compact in his hand.
“Don’t tell me he brought them blondes
out here!” I say sotto voice to Snooty.
“Open and shut case,” a plainclothes
cop from Newburyport says. “That French
babe come back an’ fixed his apple cart. Or
should I say milk wagon?”
“We’re from the press in Boston,”
Snooty says. “I would like to get the
details.”
“Huh? Well, Horace married the doll
only about a year ago—he got her over
from Paree,” a native explains. “It looks
like he give her a snow job about how big a
place he had and that he had a sock in the
bank. Huh, he never had a dime, an’ this
place was mortgaged to the hilt. He never
took her nowheres an’ didn’t give her any
new clothes. So she runs off an’ leaves
him.
“Well, she must’ve found out he’d been
kiddin’ her as only a month ago he pays off
his mortgage, paints the house an’ barn and
buys a new jalopy. He goes off oncet in a
while on a bender. Can you blame the
French babe? So she comes back an’
demands her share of what he’s got. He
don’t give an’ she lets him have it. Initials
on this compact are M. R.”
“Her name was Madelon Rissette,” a
cop says. “We found that thing on the
floor. You can see the dishes ain’t cleared
from the table. He was eatin’ with
somebody. We have called headquarters
and have sent out the alarm. The doll won’t
get far. It goes to show what you get for
treatin’ a dame like that.”
“So all at once Horace got in the high
brackets,” Snooty says. “Say, is this
Ipswich?”
“Yeah.”
“It’s famous for plenty of clams,” I
says.
“That wasn’t funny, Scoop,” Snooty
sniffs. “And shut up. I want to think of
something.” The crackpot sits down at the
table and absently stares at the remains of a
late repast.
HAYSEED HOMICIDE 6
HE medical character gives an
authorization to have the remains taken
to the deep freeze. He snaps his bag shut
and makes his exit.
“She sure turned the joint upside down
lookin’ for dough,” a cop remarks.
“Horace’s pockets were as clean as a
baby’s conscience.”
“Horace bought a brindle bull offen me
a week ago,” a native says. “Handed me a
five hundred dollar bill I couldn’t change.
He still owes me fer it.”
“Half a grand?” Snooty yelps.
“Like I been sayin’ to Edie—” the
native goes on, “she’s my wife—it all
happened just after Horace cleared a piece
of ground to plant in potaters. Well, he
ain’t planted any after all that work. Edie
says maybe Horace struck a gold mine.”
The phone rings and a cop gets it.
“Sergeant Longfellow speakin’. What?
You grabbed her already? Gettin’ on a
train? We’ll be right in.”
We leave two cops guarding Horace
Pickering’s homestead and they get orders
to see everything is left just as it is. We
drive to Newburyport and go into the
bastille to see the French babe. No, she
isn’t. She is maybe the homeliest babe ever
looked cross-eyed at the Eiffel Tower. She
has no more waistline than a plastic balloon
and the only thing that could improve her
looks would be a guillotine.
“Peegs an’ she-hens!” she screeches.
“Vooze leaf me go! I deedn’t keel ze bom,
nevair!”
The cops grill the femme for nearly an
hour. She admits she was in the farmhouse
at ten P.M., but left an hour later. She tried
to get enough money out of Horace to grab
a boat back to Paree, but he wouldn’t cut
loose with a thin dime. She did whang him
one with a skillet but it failed to etherize
the rustic. Then she was tossed out of the
maison.
“I get ze boss ici an’ eet ees where I
been all ze time planneeng ze murdair,
vooze say. Bah, I want ze American
console, oui! An’ anozzer ceegaret!”
“A likely story,” a cop sighs. “Lock her
up again. It’ll take us a couple of days to
pin it on the babe so it’ll stick, boys.”
“What do you think?” I says to Snooty.
“Let’s drive back to the farm, Scoop, as
what I’m thinkin’ you would scoff at.
Would it seem odd to you that a citizen
should prefer maple syrup over catchup on
a fried egg?”
“Snooty, we pass the Danvers nut hatch
on the way back to Boston. Stop in and get
a reading, will you?”
“I’ll show you, Scoop,” Snooty says.
“Aren’t you catching on?”
“The Frog femme was at the farm at
about the right time. She admits it,” I says.
“She had the only reason to rub out
Horace.”
“Maybe,” Snooty says.
The cops let us in the farmhouse again.
Snooty shows me the cold fried egg and the
goo on it. There is a bottle of maple syrup
on the table. “Huh, there is no accountin’
for tastes,” I sniff. “I had a second cousin
put celery salt on apple pie!”
“Yeah? An’ you remembered it, even if
he was only a second cousin!” Snooty
yelps. “You give me a swell idea, Scoop!”
“I did? Don’t mention it,” I says.
“Let’s go out and look where Horace
made a place to plant spuds,” Snooty says.
What else was there to do? I follow the
gland case across the yard, over a patch of
ground recently fertilized and through a
barbed wire fence on which I leave part of
the seat of my pants. We find ourselves in a
clearing and look at a pile of brush and
pieces of old stumps Horace has dynamited
loose. Snooty keeps mooching around and
soon he comes to an old half-dead oak tree
and drops on all fours.
T
TEN DETECTIVE ACES 7
“Come here, Scoop!” he yelps. I join
him and I see where somebody has
excavated near the roots. “It is where the
hayshaker was goin’ to plant dynamite,
Scoop. But instead he hit the jackpot.”
“What could spill out but acorns?” I
ask, then keep my mouth open. “Say, this is
near Ipswich, Snooty. And from here you
can see the river where Iron Jaw fell in.
They never found the scratch from the
Sullivan Square crime.”
“You catch on quick, beetlehead,”
Snooty sneers. “All we have to do now,
Scoop, is find out the whereabouts of all
the suspects they pinched at the time. But I
got an’ idea.”
“I was afraid of that,” I gulp.
E GO to headquarters when we get
back to the big town. We check on
several characters whose whereabouts are
of continued interest to the cops. Baby Lips
Brophy is doing ten to twenty up in Maine.
Eno Saltz departed this world six months
ago after a losing argument with a
gendarme out in Woburn. Ipsy Fink is
doing a stretch at Sing Sing, N. Y., a
sentence which will never have a period
after it. Two-Trigger Atombi is still in the
State clink in Charlestown because of
getting caught digging a tunnel not three
months ago. His pal, Nitro Armitage, is out
on parole.
Iron Jaw O’Shaughnessy comes in as
we get up to go. Despite the cost of victuals
the big slob looks more ponderous than
ever. He leers at us and wants to know
what in aitch we are up to, and how was it
we happened to be out in the sticks just at
the time the apple knocker was expunged
by his war bride.
“It is metrophysical,” Snooty says.
“Binney is my psy-kick. Get it? Come on,
Scoop.”
Iron Jaw scratches his dome. “Hah,” he
scoffs. “I jus’ read about it in the paper.
The way I figger it the rube brought some
lettuce back from the black markets when
he was a G.I. He waited awhile before he
started the spree. That French pigeon’ll
sing ‘fore mornin’. But Ipswich—that was
where I—” He stopped, his mouth wide
open.
We leave Iron Jaw there playing like he
had a brain. We go home, such as it is.
Snooty Piper starts rummaging through his
old trunk after huddling with himself for
almost an hour.
“So maybe the hayseeder did find the
loot,” I says. “But who put it there?”
“Here is what I been lookin’ for,”
Snooty says, waving a booklet at me. “You
remember that shindig we went to at the
big house over a year ago, Scoop? The
cons put on a show and had programs made
which were like high school year books. It
was quite a gag. Maybe what I want to
know is in this. Ha, State Pen & Scroll.”
We look through the book. It is a howl.
Then we come to the half-tone of Randolph
“Nitro” Armitage. Snooty reads the type
under it out loud.
“ ‘Born in Punxatawney, Pa. Who
knows when? Nickname, Nitro. Attended
State Industrial School and got his B.S.
(Burglary Specialist). Matriculated at
Lyman Reform School Dorchester. Studied
Civil Engineering for awhile but gave it up
when his tunnel ended in the warden’s
office. . . Halfback on the State Pen Tigers.
Likes redheads, especially if they’re named
Lola and live in Chelsea, and corn syrup on
his eggs. Not likely to succeed. . .”
Snooty suddenly snaps his fingers.
“That is it, Scoop!” he yelps. “Of course
they wouldn’t give maple syrup to cons so
Nitro used the next best. I don’t know why
the F.B.I. don’t come after me.”
“Be patient,” I says. “They will. Now
what?”
“In the mornin’ we will go to East
Boston an’ brief the flatfoot who got the
W
HAYSEED HOMICIDE 8
goods on Nitro and Two-Trigger. Say, I
wonder if the dames are still sore at us.
That Gloria is my type, Scoop. I’ll phone
her first thing tomorrow night after
supper.”
At nine A.M. we are in the East Boston
bastille quizzing a lumpy dick named
O’Brannigan. “Yeah,” he says. “I kept on
that punk’s tail for ten days ‘fore I got the
goods on him, Piper. Had a moll with him
one night in a joint on the road to Concord.
A redtop. Looked a lot like that Hollywood
babe, Hepburn.”
I feel faint. “No, no!” I says under what
breath I have left. “A thousand times no!”
“Of course,” Snooty scoffs. “It would
have to be a coincidence, Scoop.”
“This cupcake worked in a beauty
saloon in Dorchester,” O’Brannigan goes
on. “Lola somethin’ or other.”
“Come on, Scoop.” Snooty gets up and
has to use both hands to lift his hat off the
cop’s desk.
“I don’t believe it,” I says over and
over.
“We’re bein’ silly,” Snooty Piper says.
We visit nine gin mills between the
hours of ten A.M. and four P.M. Finally we
wind up at the Greek’s and Snooty makes a
phone call. He comes back with his left ear
as red as a boiled shrimp.
“She says to drop dead again,” he
chokes out. “It’ll be just too bad,” she says,
“if I dare see her again as her boy friend is
the kind would tear off my leg and beat me
to death with it afterwards. Anyway, she
says she expects to move to New York
very soon. Now let’s see.” Snooty whips
out his Wolf Patrol Book and flips the
pages. “Here it is. Gloria Schmitzhuber,
Apt. B 29, Sholder Arms.
“You’ll go there all alone,” I says
flatly.
“I have got to be sure, don’t I?” Snooty
sighs. “Suppose I should never know?”
“Don’t you think we should confide in
the police department?” I asked sweetly.
“If it was Nitro who stashed the clams out
under the old tree, they would love to know
about it.”
“And put him on his guard?” Snooty
yips. “We’ll wait a couple more days to see
if my idea will work.”
HE next day the journals say that the
French babe hasn’t sung and keeps
howling for the U. S. Consul and a
transatlantic phone to call up DeGaulle. We
walk into the city room of the Evening Star
and find a character cleaning the empty
bottles out from under Snooty’s desk.
Snooty asks the meaning of it all.
“You’re fired,” Dogface Woolsey says
with relish. “Make that two!”
“I’ve changed my mind, Snooty,” I
says sadly. “I would like to make sure of
Essie Garbitsch, too, as maybe she is an exstrangler and four-time poisoner.”
“You’ll regret this, Dogface!” Snooty
exclaims as we depart.
We go over to Chelsea and keep tabs
on the modest brick pueblo where Gloria
hives up. At five P.M, she enters the joint.
At seven she saunters out.
“I feel awful, Scoop,” Snooty says.
“Look at her and tell me could she do
anything dishonest.”
“Huh? Sincet you ask me I would bet
ten to one she is not goin’ to a Bible
Class,” I reply.
“Ob, she don’t look that bad,” Snooty
sighs. We trail the babe to a delicatessen
and then duck into a doorway adjoining the
baloney bazaar and wait some more.
“I know how to find out if she is really
Nitro’s cupcake, Scoop. It might take a
little time.”
“What else have we got more of to
spare?” I snap.
Gloria Schmitzhuber traipses out and
wends her way homeward, and Snooty
leads me into the delicatessen. He flashes
T
TEN DETECTIVE ACES 9
afire badge quick and says he is from
headquarters. I turn to run, but the gag
works.
“The redhead that just went out,”
Snooty says to the fat dame on duty.
“Could I see what she bought just now?”
“Sure, I scribbled it down on this old
paper bag an’ added it up. You couldn’t
never read me writin’. Two pounds cold
ham, half pound potater salad, two dill
pickles, pound of cheese, two apple
turnovers, two choc’lit eclairs, an’ a bottle
of maple syrup.”
We turn toward the door in unison and
reel out like two drunks. Snooty grabs at a
lamp post and holds on. A harness bull
comes up an’ taps me on the shoulder. “Git
that bum home or I’ll lock ‘im up. Tell ‘im
if we find his lost weekend we’ll get in
touch with him.”
Snooty is quite himself when we get to
the next block, not that it means much.
“Scoop, we could still be wrong. Two
apple turnovers, two éclairs—let’s ask is
she havin’ company.”
“Wait here a sec,” I says, butterflies
consolidating the beachhead in my
stomach. “The landlady asked this mornin’
would I git her some thread an’ I forgot the
number.”
“Make it fast, Scoop,” Snooty says,
none the wiser. I hop into the cigar store
and call a number, talk faster than a
tobacco auctioneer for forty seconds, and
then hang up. “Come on, Snooty,” I says.
“I never heard you more confident,” the
crackpot says.
We walk into the Sholder Arms and get
into the elevator. We leave it and walk
down a hall and stop in front of a door
marked B29. Snooty Piper knocks. Gloria
Schmitzhuber does not answer for nearly
five minutes. Then she opens the door and
peers out.
“You!” she squawks. “Go ‘way!” She
tries to slam the door but Snooty has his
foot in it in more ways than one. “Lola,
huh? All the time you was a crook’s moll!
So Nitro come back to you with over
twenty grand!”
“Fourteen,” the doll says quick. “I
mean—what am I sayin’?”
HE is very dumb. Under her cosmetics
she gets the color of a clam that has just
been steamed. Then a door bursts open and
a very ugly and disheveled gee jumps at us
with a Roscoe in his fist. “Yeah, go ahead
an’ tell your life history, babe. Why I come
here las’ night, and everything.”
“The housing shortage of course,
Nitro,” Snooty says, “So you bumped the
farmer boy an’ got what was left of that
payroll you an’ Two-Trigger hid under a
tree. You made the mistake of supping with
the victim and putting maple syrup on your
eggs. It is quite a scoop for us newspaper
citizens.”
“They work close with cops!” Nitro
yelps at the doll. “I ought to bump you with
‘em! Well, we got to work fast if we want
to see the bright lights which ain’t got volts
in ‘em, you dumb chick! Git some rope!”
“I’ll haul in the clothesline,” the doll
says. “Why tie ‘em up after you shoot
‘em?”
“Shoot ‘em? No noise, see? That
kitchen ain’t more’n three times as big as a
phone booth an’ should fill quick with gas.
Catch on, blubberhead?” Nitro howls. “The
gas will choke the life out of them. You
want Broadway an’ a mink coat, Baby?”
“For them I’d shoot me own grandma,”
the redhead cries out happily, heading for
the kitchen. Snooty Piper looks for an out
and then shakes his dome at me.
“Yeah, pal,” I says, as Nitro drives us at
gun point into the kitchen. “Let’s take it
like men.”
“I never saw you as brave as this
before,” Snooty chokes out. “Look, this is
for real, Scoop.”
S
HAYSEED HOMICIDE 10
“Chin up, white tie for dinner, Snooty,”
I says, and then we are on the floor getting
tied up. Then the redhead blows out a pilot
light and turns on the farewell fog.
“Come on, Baby,” Nitro says. “Next
stop—Broadway an’ the hot spots!” They
go out and shut and lock the door.
“Scoop, it is the end,” Snooty chokes
out and then inhales a slug of public utility
vapor.
I feel little people with ice-cold feet run
up and down my spine. Did I forget to give
the cops the address? My noggin gets as
light as Betty Crocker’s angel food cake.
Looks like I did. Good-by, Snooty, ol’ pal!
It is not so bad, choking with gas. Me
and Snooty soon are romping hand in hand
over a field of cotton batten. Canaries are
singing and frogs are making with deep
bong-bongs in a nearby lily pond. Then
three big white birds wearing blue coats
swoop down and lift us up and we soar
blithely through space. Up and up and up. .
. .
“Ain’t is wonderful, Snooty?” I says.
“It is a good thing all citizens do not know
what’s comin’ or they’d all knock
themselves off. Just floating an’ floating—
what did you say?”
“Keep on pumpin’,” a voice says. It
sounds like Snooty’s. “I think I saw his ear
wiggle. Hey, Scoop, snap out of it!”
I do. I am on the floor looking up at
some cops and at Snooty Piper. “He
swallered enough to fry a carload of veal
chops,” another familiar voice says. “You
couldn’t never kill either of these clucks.”
“Iron Jaw,” I says weakly, and sit up. I
see Nitro Armitage out in the next room
with the shackles on, and the babe is on the
sofa with him and is not pleased with the
jewelry she has on either. The things she
says—tsk-tsk!
“So you called the cops, Scoop, you
double-crosser,” Snooty sniffs.
“I hope you will forgive me,” I cry out
hysterically and make a try for his
windpipe. I faint instead.
I am in a healing hacienda later and
Snooty sits at my bedside. “Well, Nitro had
to confess,” he says. “The cops have the
rest of the loot. Gloria—er—Lola says for
me to please understand. She didn’t even
know Nitro was in circulation until he
showed up last night. When she saw the
fourteen grand, she said, she forgot she
wanted to go straight. She ain’t got a bad
heart, Scoop.”
A nurse comes in. She is a redhead with
greenish lamps. She gives me orange juice.
After a word or two with Snooty Piper she
gives him her telephone number. I pull the
sheets up over my dome and scream.
“No—no! It is where we come in!”
“He’s the nervous type,” Snooty tells
the nurse. “Look, how about a little drive in
the country when you knock off, huh? I’ll
fill up with gas—”
It is then I throw the water pitcher.
They have to make up a bed for Snooty and
book him for an X-ray. Some day I’ll really
get rid of him.

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