Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
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PETER CHEYNEY

CHICAGO PAY-OFF

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RGL e-Book Cover 2017



Published under syndication in, e.g.,
The Barrier Miner, Broken Hill, NSW, Australia, 12 October 1935
The Queenslander, Brisbane, Australia, 29 Jul 1937
The Daily News, Perth, Australia, 21 October 1937 (this version)

Collected in You Can't Hit a Woman,
William Collins, London, England, 1937

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2017
Version Date: 2017-09-21
Produced by Terry Walker and Roy Glashan

The text of this book is in the public domain in Australia.
All original content added by RGL is protected by copyright.

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"YOU can't beat the rap. I've met guys who thought they could miss the pay-off; but they was always unlucky.

"Remember Two-time Caselli? I worked for him once. He was a great guy—sometimes.

"Well, one night Two-time is sitting in his swell pent-house apartment doin' a bit of quiet thinkin'. He is figurin' out that the rackets is all gettin' washed up; that it is time he pulled somethin' really big an' got out of it. Chicago is not so good for him. Why? 'Cause Snetkin, the straight cop, who's runnin' the Homicide Squad at Police Headquarters, has got an idea in his head that he's goin' to pull in Two-time. He reckons that Two-time has been gettin' away with a durn sight too much for the last seven years, an' he's just waitin' for a chance to get the hooks on the big boy. See?

"Two-time walks over an' has a look at himself in the mirror over the fireplace. He looks good to him. He's a bit jowly, maybe, an' a little bit fat, but he's still got that 'come-on' look that the dames fall for, an' his hair is still nice an' wavy, even if it is a bit thin on the dome. He stands there lookin' at himself, admirin' his five-dollar tie, his thirty-dollar silk shirt, an' wonderin' just what it is he's goin' to make the big clean-up over. You got to understand his main racket was liquor, an' the liquor racket ain't been so good since they pulled Capone in.

"Comin' up in the elevator is Jenny, an' does she look swell? There ain't no doubt that Jenny is easy to look at. Her clothes is all Fifth Avenue, an' she's wearin' a Persian lamb coat an' muff. Parked inside the muff is a .38 Colt automatic.

"Her face is nice an' kind an' pretty an' smilin', just like the cat what swallowed the canary. Believe it or not, that girl, Jenny, on this particular night, looked swell. And how!

"Jenny is the wise baby. Five years ago she comes in to New York from a Connecticut farm. She was twenty-two an' had a hundred-an'-fifty dollars an' a lotta hope. After kickin' around New York, wearin' out her Oxfords on the streets that ain't paved with gold so that you'd notice it, the money goes an' the hope gets part worn.

"Then she runs into Two-time. He gives her the once-over an' fixes her up with a job at the Green Parrot night club which, as you know, is a pretty good place for girls that ain't so good, an' six months after that Jenny knows all the answers.

"She sticks along with Two-time for a year, an' when Jimmy Pereira, who is a real booze boss, puts a couple of slugs into Two-time one night for old time's sake, and Two-time goes to hospital, Jenny decides she'll change partners.

"She goes along with Pereira an' what Two-time forgot to teach her Pereira starts to hand out with both hands. So, by this time, she's pretty good. What she knows would fill a Carnegie library, an' what she don't know is what stamp collectors could stick under the stamp an' still not miss.

"Jenny pushes open the door of Two-time's apartment an' walks straight in. He just grins.

"'Well, fancy seein' you, Jenny,' says Two-time. 'My, but you're lookin' swell. Whata you doin' in Chicago?'

"She sits down. 'I'll tell you in a minute, Twotime,' she says.

"He gives her a straight gin an' he stands in front of the fire, fingering his tie an' lookin' at her. Two-time is feelin' pretty good. You gotta know that he got the name 'Two-time' 'cause he said the dames always came back twice. An' he's standin' up there, thinkin' that it's the old story with Jenny, an' that she just couldn't keep away from him. After a minute he says to her: 'Well, babe, what's the riot?'

"She finishes her drink an' she looks up. Two-time is thinkin' that she's still a mighty pretty woman. 'Here's the latest, Two-time,' she says, 'They're springin' Pereira today.'

"Two-time whistles. 'You don't say,' he says. 'The dirty rat. So they're goin' to let him out, are they? Go on, Jenny.'

"'It's this way,' she says. 'He phoned me this mornin' an' told me that he was comin' to Chicago tonight an' I was to get a quiet room for him in a quiet hotel so's he could do a little bit of business before he scrammed out of it. You see, Jimmy ain't feelin' so good. First of all, gettin' sent up was a' surprise to him when he thought he had everybody nicely fixed an', secondly, he's got an idea that there are one or two guys, includin' yourself, Two-time, round this burg who'd be only too glad to take a pot at him.'

"Two-time nods. 'Well, what's he comin' here for?' he asks.

"Jenny grins. 'He's comin' here for the dough, Two-time,' she says. 'It might surprise you to hear that he's got 200,000 dollars United. States currency stacked in the safe deposit right here.

"Two-time whistles an' starts to do some quick thinkin'. Jenny goes on. 'This mornin' on the phone Jimmy gives me the lay-out. When he gets here, which will be at seven o'clock, he's goin' straight to the hotel. I'm goin' round there to meet him an' he's goin' to give me the key of the safe deposit box. Then I'm supposed to go round an' get the money. Then I give him the tip-off that all's clear an' that there ain't any guys watchin' round on the entrance to the hotel, an' then he figures we're goin' to scram up to New York.'

"'So what?' says Two-time.

"Jenny smiles. 'Well, that's where he's makin' the one big mistake,' she says, an' her voice is grim. 'Here's how I've got it fixed. I've got him a room, No. 73, at Mitzler's Hotel on Grape Street. This room is at the back of the hotel an' looks out over the Barrel Street alley, an' on the other side of that alley is the back of the Penfold Hotel.'

"'At seven o'clock tonight I'm goin' round to Mitzler's to meet him an' get the key. Then I'm supposed to go off to the safe deposit to get the satchel, but I ain't goin' to. I'm goin' to slip round the corner into the Penfold, an' I'm goin' to meet you in the long bar, an' I'm goin' to slip you the safe deposit key. All you do is to jump a cab, go round to the safe deposit an' get the satchel with the dough. Directly you go I go upstairs to the third floor. There's a bathroom there, an' the window looks right across the alley, right into the window of room No. 73. I fixed with Jimmy that I'll signal him that's all clear from that window after I've got back with the money, but I ain't. The only all clear I'm goin' to give him when he comes to the window of No. 73 is with this!'

"An' she tips her muff an' shoots out the .38 Colt.

"Two-time whistles. 'Gee, kid, so you're goin' to shoot him across the alley. What a swell idea! What an alibi!'

"O.K., she says. 'Now directly you've got the satchel, you take another cab an' you go straight off to the railway depot an' book a compartment on the Now York Flyer. Directly I've done the job I get into a cab an' meet you down there. We open the satchel an' split the dough. You go your way an' I go mine. How's it go. Two-time?'

"Two-time stands in front of the fire, fingerin' his tie an' lookin' down at her. Then he just smiles an' he says: 'It's a great idea, kid. I'm sold on it. I'll be waitin' for you in' the long bar at the Penfold at seven-fifteen. How's that?'

"She gets up. 'O.K., Two-time,' she says, 'let's have a drink on. that.'

"An' they stand there drinkin' gin straights an' smilin'"

"AT seven-fifteen Two-time's standin' round in the bar at the Penfold, drinkin' highballs an' feelin' pretty good with himself. All the time he's got one eye on the door.

"Then Jenny blows in. She walks straight up to him an' she slips him the key with her right hand. The left is busy inside her muff. 'Go to it, Two-time,' she whispers, 'an' be quick. I'm goin' to hang round here for ten minutes, an' then I'm goin' to bump him. See you down at the depot.'

"Two-time cocks his hat an' puts the key into his waistcoat pocket. 'O.K., babe,' he says, 'I'll be there with bells!'

"An' he scrams. Outside he gets a yellow cab an' drives good an' fast round to the safe deposit. Everythin' is fine. Three minutes later, with the satchel in his hand, he gets back into the cab an' he drives down to the depot, but he don't book any compartment on the New York Flyer as arranged. He just buys a single ticket to New York. Then he waits around.

"Pretty soon along comes Jenny. She's still smilin' but she's got a little strained look around the mouth, Two-time thinks. She comes up to him. 'Well, Two-time,' she says. 'Here we go.'

"He looks down at her an' he grins.

"'You know, Jenny,' he says, 'you're a fool dame. You don't ever learn nothin'. You don't really think I'm goin' to give you any of this dough, do you? You know,' he goes on, 'you break my heart sometimes. You're just as big a mug as when I first picked you up in New York.

"'You was a big blue-eyed babe, an' that's what you still are. Didn't you learn nothin' from me or Pereira? Ain't the rackets taught you nothin'?'

"He hands her the ticket. 'There you are, kid,' he says. 'There's your railway ticket an' now scram out of it an' think yourself durn lucky to make a getaway.'

"Jenny looks at him. Her eyes are blue an' wide. 'Do you mean to tell me you ain't givin' me my share of the jack?' she says, pointin' to the satchel.

"Two-time grins at her. 'Not a cent, baby,' he says. 'Now scram out of it!'

"She scrams.

"Two-time stands watchin' the train steam out. Then he turns an' walks away. He's feelin' pretty good. Here's the big clean-up he's been looking for. Two hundred thousan' an' all the better 'cause it's Pereira's. Two-time grins as he thinks to himself that it's durn funny that the girl who he threw over before she went to Pereira should be the one who bumps off Pereira an' hands Two-time all this dough.

"Outside the station he calls a cab an' drives round to his apartment. He gets in the elevator an' goes up. Things is pretty good. He's plannin' a big night.

"He gets out of the elevator an' opens his apartment door. Opposite, on the other side of the room in the darkness he sees a spot of light. He snaps on the electricity.

"The spot of light is the end of the cigar stuck in the mouth of Snetkin, Chief of the Homicide Squad, who's sittin' in the corner with a couple of his boys.

"Snetkin grins. 'Hallo, Two-time, he says, 'How're you goin'? I wanna talk to you.'

"Two-time throws the satchel on the table. 'Say, Snetkin,' he says, 'you got your nerve, comin' into my place like this. This ain't a waitin' room. What's eatin' you?'

"Snetkin knocks the ash off the end of his cigar. 'Somebody bumped Jimmy Pereira tonight, Two-time,' he says. 'He was shot in front of a window in room 73 at Mitzler's an' that window looks across to a bathroom at the back of the Penfold Hotel, an' you was seen in the Penfold bar tonight at seven-fifteen. Well, what about it, baby?'

"'What about what?' says Two-time. 'Are you suggestin' that I bumped Pereira?

"Snetkin grins. 'I ain't suggestin', I'm tellin' you,' he says. 'You shot him from the bathroom in Penfolds across the alley.'

"Yeah,' says Two-time. 'Ain't you the funny bozo? So I killed Jimmy Pereira, did I? Say, where do you get that stuff, Snetkin? I ain't even seen Pereira.'

"Snetkin grins again. 'Listen, kiddo,' he says. Pereira's girl, Jenny-the-Red, 'phoned up tonight at 7.20 that she had seen you in the long bar at the Penfold an' that you told her that you was goin' upstairs to bump Jimmy Pereira. Well? You went up an' you done it, didn't you?'

"Two-time does some quick thinkin'. He's remembering Jenny's wide blue eyes. He comes to the conclusion that he's in dutch an' that he'd better spill the whole works. So he tells Snetkin all about it.

"Snetkin just laughs some more. 'It's a great story, Two-time,' he says, 'but it just don't wash. First of all, let me tell you this. Pereira arrived at Mitzler's hotel at six o'clock tonight, not seven, an' he sent the girl round to the safe deposit for the money right away, an' she took it back to him. We found the bag with the dough in by the side of his body. By the way, what have you got in that satchel?' asks Snetkin, grinnin'.

"He gets up an' walks across' to the table, an' he picks up the satchel. He takes out a penknife an' he cuts the lock off, an' he tips the satchel up an' there falls out on the table two .38 colt automatics.

"Snetkin picks one up an' smells it. Then he picks the other one up an' pulls out the magazine. 'Well, baby,' he says to Two-time, 'look at this'. Two shots fired out of this gun an' we found two in Pereira. Big boy, you're headin' straight for the chair. We got you this time!'

"Two-time don't say nothin'. He's just thinkin'. He's just rememberin' what he said to Jenny down at the depot, that she was still a mug.

"He gets it. He looks at Snetkin an' he grins.

"'It's a pinch, Snetkin,' he says. 'Say, I reckon that whoever christened me Two-time was right. I been clever once too often!'

"He puts out his hands for the handcuffs that Snetkin was fingerin'.

"'Let's be goin', boys,' says Two-time."


THE END


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
Go to Home Page
This work is in the Australian public domain.
If it is under copyright in your country of residence,
do not download or redistribute this file.
Original content added by RGL (e.g., introductions, notes,
RGL covers) is proprietary and protected by copyright.