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.

PETER CHEYNEY

LOVE WITH A GUN

Cover Image

RGL e-Book Cover 2017



First published in Illustrated, Odham's, London, 4 Mar 1939
Published under syndication in, e.g.,
The Adelaide Mail, Australia, 13 May 1939 (this version)
Collected in "Love with a Gun and Other Stories,"
Todd Publishing Co. (Polybooks), London, England, 1943

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2017
Version Date: 2017-06-22
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.

Click here for more books by this author



Cover Image

"Love with a Gun." Headpiece from The Adelaide Mail, 13 May 1939



DURING the last ten years everybody who is anybody at all in the United States has been singing a song, the refrain of which is: 'Crime Doesn't Pay.' It is also a fact that it doesn't. But today, in the North Clark area in Chicago, there is a cigar emporium which boasts above its handsome facade the name 'Eddie' in artistic, chromium italics. There are four other cigar emporiums and a couple of soda-stands sporting the same name and the same proprietor.

'Eddie' is not really his name, but so far as I know (and this goes for the G-men, too), 'Eddie' is the only real, dyed-in-the-wool gangster of the 1929 hooch-running, hijacking, shop-blasting, racketeering period who ever showed a profit on crime. He got away with it because he gave it best.

However, I must be careful what I say about this, because his wife, Gerda—who is a friend of mine—is inclined to get a little ritzy with people who try to take a quiet poke at Eddie, and I don't want to get my ears slapped back—even by post!


IN 1929 Chicago was as wide-open as a town which had won medals for prohibition-dodging ever since the United States went dry could be. The mobs, politicians, free-lance gunmen, and, I regret to say, some of the policemen (both great and small) were all linked together in one big mix-up of crime. So that authority sometimes found it difficult to sort itself out.

There were, however, a large percentage of police officers who had never taken graft and who sometimes, to, their own disadvantage, did their duty. Among these was Police Captain Nils Olinsen, a six-foot, blue eyed, two-fisted specimen of humanity whose parental background had been a Swedish father and an Irish mother—which is a background good enough for anybody—especially in Chicago. After the Purple Mob carried out a little wholesale execution one evening on the North Side (which, by the way, is a nice part of the city and doesn't like wholesale murder), Olinsen went out and arrested someone who was so well in with everyone in local politics, from the cheapest ward-heeler to the most expensive big-time civic grafter, that he had, in the past, enjoyed complete immunity from police interference.

This in itself should indicate that Olinsen—who was a man of fifty—still had his nerve. But the nerve served no good purpose.

THE next morning the gentleman responsible for the killings was out on bail, and Olinsen had received an official memo politely informing him that he was transferred to a police precinct right away on the other side of the North Clark Street area—a precinct where nothing ever happened and a still ambitious police captain might sit all day and twiddle his thumbs without ever a chance of further promotion.

This process (they called it 'sending to Siberia') was a neat method used by mob-interested politicians for 'toning down' too-enthusiastic police officers. Usually it broke their hearts in a month. In this case it did not. Olinsen grinned when he read the memo, and went over to his new precincts. He took with him two detectives (also transferred for their part in the arrest) named Yates and Shansy. On their way Shansy—who was an Irishman—said he had bought a couple of new 'patience' games that they could use over in the new office; that they had got to make the time pass somehow!


THREE months afterwards fate decided to take a hand, and a gentleman by the name of Anselmo Perruqui 'moved in' on the North Clark Street district. Perruqui had been in the liquor business. He had, it was estimated, 'bumped off' in the process of making his money as many, if not more, competitors than most of his predecessors. This fact in itself marked him out as a big shot.

But Perruqui, whose ambition was still unsatisfied, decided to expand, and to begin operations among the dyeing and cleaning factories that abounded on the North Clark Street side. Having settled in, Anselmo Perruqui proceeded to send his emissaries round the district politely inviting the more important dyers and cleaners to become members of his 'protective association.'

Such individuals as were inclined to hesitate were informed smilingly that it would be a good thing for them to make up their minds quickly, otherwise somebody might throw a 'pineapple' into the dye works—a 'pineapple' being a neat and handy-sized bomb which was then very popular with most of the boys who carried out blasting operations on reluctant subscribers.

It is an unfortunate fact that the majority of the dyeing and cleaning potentates in the district came to the conclusion that they would rather pay Perruqui and not have their shops bombed or their lorries hi-jacked and the contents burned—all except one obstinate individual, Jake Sharman, of Sharman Cleaners Incorporated ('We Dye to Please You'), who was very rude to the Perruqui envoy. The sad result was that three days afterwards some ill-intentioned person threw a 'pineapple' through the open doorway of Sharman's biggest shop in Barrell street. The place was wrecked, and, foaming at the mouth, Jake telephoned through to Nils Olinsen and asked whether there were any police in the district and if so what were they doing.

Nils moved quickly. He wanted to get an open-and-shut case against the actual bomb-thrower. Yates and Shansy were unknown in the area, and within one hour of Sharman's telephone call they were out and about in the pool-rooms and speakeasies with which the district was—and still is—honeycombed.

Shansy was the lucky one. Within twenty-four hours he had got a line on the 'pineapple' expert, and within another twelve he was able to report to Olinsen that the thrower of the bomb was an individual of twenty-five years of age, who was extremely good-looking, very popular with the girls, and who rejoiced in the name of 'Eddie'—nobody seeming to know what his other name was.

Shansy was also able to report that Eddie was a fairly recent recruit to Perruqui's bomb squad, and had lived in the North Clark Street area most of his life. Olinsen grunted and ordered Shansy to bring in the bomber, with the result that forty-eight hours afterwards Shansy appeared at the precinct with Eddie, whose face was wreathed in a charming and innocent smile, which told of his complete astonishment at being suspected of anything at all.

With a well-chewed cigar sticking out of the corner of his mouth Olinsen sat behind his desk in a tilted-back chair, and regarded Eddie with a certain disgust.

'So you're the clever boy who blasted out the Sharman shop-front, hey?' he said. 'I suppose you've got an alibi?'

'Sure,' said Eddie casually. ''The Sharman shop was blasted at eleven o'clock Tuesday morning. Well, right then I was over at Seegar's Pool Hall on Twelfth, an' there are about forty guys who was in there at the time can tell you so.' His smile became more disarming than ever.

'I know,' said Olinsen. 'I know all about it. You had your alibi fixed before you did the job. Perruqui looked after that, and you're standing on the fact that even if somebody did see you on the job they haven't got the nerve to go into the witness box and say so. They'd be too well "looked after" by some of your friends.'

He looked Eddie over from top to toe.

'You're a nice-lookin' fella,' he said, 'for a lousy punk. A kid. You've got good shoulders, strong arms an' legs, an' a sweet smile. I suppose the girls go for you. I know all about you. You haven't got a police record because you've only just joined up with Perruqui. I wish you had!'

He threw the stub of his cigar into the waste basket.

'You're a cheap punk—one of the results of prohibition,' he went on. 'You're a dumb kid an' you reckon its only mugs that work for a living. You think that you can draw down a couple of hundred dollars a week from Perruqui an' that everything will be jake forever.'

He paused for the moment, but Eddie didn't say anything.

'I know how you mugs get into the rackets,' he continued. 'I haven't been a policeman for twenty-five years for nothin'. You start off as kids pinching apples off street stands, an' then you go into the newspaper business and stand on street corners tipping off smalltime yeggs when a copper's coming their way.

'After a bit you grow up, an' the only thing you want to do is to join up with a mob. You end up in Sing Sing, in the electric chair, or in the morgue. I wonder which of the three things is goin' to happen to you.'

Eddie's smile grew wider. Olinsen thought he was a damn good-looking kid.

'I wouldn't know,' said Eddie. 'You know everything. You tell me!'

The police captain wrinkled his brows in disgust.

'Get out of here,' he said. 'I've nothing that I can hold you on. I know you blasted Sharman's place an' so do you, but I can't prove it, and you know I can't.

'But I'm warning you. The next time I get something on you—I don't care what it is—I'll get one of my boys to take you up an alley an' let you loose. He can do a little pistol practice on you while you're runnin'. Now scram!'

Eddie tipped his hat and smiled sweetly. 'You're the boss,' he said. 'Thank you for havin' me round. It's been so nice!'

He walked out of Olinsen's office with a light and airy step. Outside in the corridor Shansy awaited him.

'Come on, punk,' said Shansy. 'Get goin'. I don't like you cheap mobsters. One of these days I'm goin' to send you a coupla visitin' cards outa the end of my gun!'

But Eddie was not listening. Through the swing doors at the entrance end of the corridor came a girl. She was twenty-two years of age, and she was the sort of girl who made you give a gasp when you looked at her. She was an ash blonde, with a lovely face, a lovely figure, and everything that goes with it.

'Boy!' murmured Eddie. 'Can you see what I see?'

'Keep moving, louse,' growled Shansy. 'An' don't look at Miss Olinsen that way. You ain't fit to look at any decent dame.'

Eddie said nothing, but he appeared to be thinking deeply. Then he grinned at Shansy and got out.


FOUR days afterwards a carload of Perruqui's henchmen stuck up a branch bank not half a mile from the precinct. They killed a cashier and wounded two customers. This time there was evidence. The getaway car was found, and a witness came forward who was prepared to swear to the identity of one of the mobsters. Quite obviously it was a Perruqui job, and Olinsen went after Perruqui with both hands. And that night he raided two 'speaks' where Perruqui's boys used to hang out, and collected six of them in a patrol wagon. The day afterwards Yates picked up Perruqui's 'chief of staff' on Walnut Avenue, and shot him dead when he attempted a getaway. Perruqui began to get very annoyed with Olinsen.

The next afternoon Gerda Olinsen left home to visit her father at the precinct. She did not arrive. At 6 o'clock in the evening Olinsen and his wife began to worry. At 8 o'clock they realised that they had something to worry about. An anonymous telephone call came through to the precinct and the caller said that if Olinsen wanted to see his daughter again—alive—maybe he'd like to lay off being so active and to accept bail for the six Perruqui mobsters that he had in the can. Perruqui had snatched Gerda.

It was next morning that Shansy remembered Eddie's remark about Gerda on the day that Olinsen had had him picked up for questioning.

'He's the punk who's behind this.' said Shansy. 'I reckon that when you started in on Perruqui this so-an'-so told the big shot about seein' Gerda round here, and suggested that snatchin' her would just about even off the book.' He scratched his head.

'What are you goin' to do about it?' he asked.

Olinsen thought for a moment He looked very grim. Then:

'I think you're right, Shansy,' he said. 'That kid's behind this snatch. Get every man in the precinct out lookin' for Eddie. Cover every joint he's ever been seen in, an' when you've found him just don't do a thing. Just let me know. I'd like to deal with him personally.'

'O.K.,' said Shansy.

He hoped that Olinsen would get Eddie before something happened to Gerda. But nothing was heard of Gerda.


THREE weeks afterwards Shansy got a line on Eddie. And that afternoon he telephoned through to Olinsen, whose hair had gone a little greyer, that Eddie was living at the Altimira Hotel on Green street at Sloane; that he had a suite on the third floor at the back, No. 264B, and that he was in the hotel right then.

'O.K., Shansy, thanks a lot. Just come in, will you? I'll handle this.'

Then be put his service pistol in its holster and took a cab to the Altimira. He went straight into the lift, up to the third floor, and along the corridor to 264B. The door was locked, but that didn't worry Olinsen. He drew his pistol and shot the lock off. Then he stepped into the room.

On the other side of the room, behind a desk, sat Eddie, writing a letter. He put his hand into the desk drawer as Olinsen came in.

'Take your hand out of that drawer,' said Olinsen. 'Put both your hands on the table. Maybe you remember a little talk I had with you not so long ago. I told you that guys like you always ended up in Sing Sing, in the electric chair, or in the morgue. Remember?'

'Well, you're goin' to the morgue. But before you go I'd like to know where my daughter Gerda is, an' if you're wise you'll come across, because, as you probably know, there are two ways of shooting a mobster—a quick way an' a slow way. If you don't talk I'll give it to you where it'll hurt most an' take longest.'

Eddie didn't say anything. He had the same wide-awake smile across his thin, handsome face. He was just about to say something when Olinsen saw the smile disappear from Eddie's face. He saw, too, that Eddie was looking beyond him at the door behind Olinsen's back.

Olinsen grinned. It was an old trick to try and make the man holding the gun look behind him? He didn't fall for it. He just jerked up his pistol so that it covered Eddie. And in that split second Eddie's hand went into the drawer again and re-appeared holding a nasty looking snub-nosed .38 revolver. Olinsen squeezed the trigger, and Eddie slumped over the desk, but as he did so the police captain noticed that his eyes were still on the door.

Olinsen looked behind him. Perruqui stood on the doorway. He had a gun in his hand, and he was in the act of raising it when Eddie, slumped over the desk, fired first. Olinsen thought it was for him. But he was wrong. Eddie's shot hit Perruqui squarely between the eyes. The big shot just crumpled and flopped on to the floor. Olinsen put up his gun and went over to Eddie, who was still grinning vaguely.

'I don't get this,' said Olinsen. 'What's it mean?'

'You listen to me,' said Eddie. 'Because I don't feel like a long conversation. Perruqui snatched Gerda an' I expect he'd given her the works before now, but didn't sorta like the idea. I saw her the day you gave me that long spiel about mobsters, an' your sermon an' her eyes sorta matched up—if you get me.

'O.K. Well, I snatched her off Perruqui. She's locked in the end room of this suite. I kept her there because I knew he was lookin' for me—and her. She's O.K.' He managed a rather feeble grin. 'An' you can telephone for an ambulance,' he said. 'I need a little attention. Not that I'm goin' to die, because everybody knows you damn coppers can't shoot straight!'

He flopped over the desk.


ON the day that Olinsen told Yates and Shansy that he'd given permission to Gerda to marry Eddie, both those boys nearly died of heart disease. They spent the evening drinking double highballs and talking about whether crime didn't really pay and how the hell was it right that a punk like Eddie should get away with a girl like Gerda. What they didn't realise, of course, was that Eddie wasn't really a crook. He only thought he was. And I am finishing on this note because, as I have already told you, I do not want to get my ears slapped by Gerda—even by post!



Cover Image

"Love with a Gun and Other Stories"
Cover of Polybooks collection, 1943



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.