Roy Glashan's Library
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First published in Detective Tales, July 1936

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2020
Version date: 2020-11-22
Produced by Matthias Kaether and Roy Glashan

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Detective Tales, July 1936, with "Flatfoot Breed"


If bullets started flying, one of the kids would certainly be hit!

Dan O'Fallon went for a ride in that death car—
because not to do so would have meant death for others!

DETECTIVE Frank Fallon crouched in the dank cellar's tar-barrel murk. His eyes smarted, trying to make out the staircase he knew to be somewhere in front of him, and his palm ached with the grind of the gun-butt on which it was clenched.

Overhead, heavy feet thumped dully on a tenement hallway's uncarpeted flooring. Then there was muffled sound of knuckles rapping on door-wood and the unintelligible rumble of a hoarse voice.

Frank Fallon's spine prickled. Hell was going to break loose in a second. That was John Forbes, calling on Matches Lessagno and Tony Gato to come out of their hideout in the janitor's flat from which the stairs descended. Ike Levy was at the foot of the fire escape outside. The three detectives had the three rat-holes stopped, but if the dope-sellers made a break there would be only one cop to the two of them, whichever way they tried to get out.

Forbes rapped again. Nothing happened. Maybe the stoolie had lied. Maybe Matches had been warned, again, and had flown the coop, in spite of the fact that Frank and Ike and John had kept the tip to themselves. Frank Fallon almost hoped that was so. Lessagno and Gato were vicious killers. Cop-killers.

Wood scraped against wood. Abruptly a grey oblong cut through the unseen ceiling. It was blotted by a shapeless, Stygian form that slid soundless down the still invisible staircase. Another followed. A pulse throbbed in Frank Fallon's temples.

"Put 'em up," he growled. "I've got you covered." Jumped sideways.

Someone grunted—and orange-red jets spat out of the darkness. Fallon heard lead slash the spot where he'd been. His own gat jumped in his hand, belching flame. The basement was filled with thunder, was laced with fiery, lethal streaks. Wood-crash, splintering sharply through the gunfire tumult, told that Forbes was smashing down the flat door.

Frank Fallon kept moving as he fired. The furnace, toward the back, could shelter him. But that would give the thugs a clear way to the front exit. He stayed out in the open where there was no protection.

A gurgling scream heralded a hit. A pellet gonged on an iron column. Ricocheting lead seared the detective's wrist, jolted his gat out of it.

He went down on a knee to grope for the clattering weapon with his left. Red fire knifed his shoulder. The darkness exploded into a monstrous white blaze in his skull.

DAN FALLON, big and raw-boned and ungainly in the blue serge suit he wore on Sundays and holidays, leaned back in a creaking kitchen chair. He was dog-tired. Twice as tired than as if he had been wrestling crates all day across the loading platform at Universal Drug's warehouse. Tired and kind of empty inside, like a sucked orange. The only other time he had ever felt anything like this was after he had finished the written examination down at Police Headquarters for which he had studied so hard, and for which Frank had drilled him every night.

Today too, he had been down at Headquarters. Not to take an examination. To stand in a high-arched lobby and stare at a name new-cut in a cold marble slab. To read it again and again. Frank Fallon, II. To read the gilt letters at the head of the list, Dead with Honor, and to read that other name near the top of the list. Frank Fallon. That one had been carved long ago, longer ago than Dan could remember.

But she could remember, the tiny, shrivelled woman who had stood straight and brave under that slab while the Mayor himself pinned a medal on the black satin of her mourning. She could remember when that first Frank Fallon had been white with newness, and another Mayor had pinned another medal on her mourning.

Mom was inside now. Asleep. At least Dan hoped she was asleep.

There was a knock at the hall door. Dan got to his feet, lumbered across to it. It was a postman who had knocked and he thrust a long, official-looking envelope at Dan.

"Special delivery," he said. "Sign here."

Dan looked at the envelope the postman had given him. It was shaking a little in his hamlike red hand. His name was typewritten on it, and 220 Morris Street. In the corner was printed, "City of New York, Police Department, 240 Centre Street, New York." Dan was afraid to open the letter. He was afraid it would say, "Failed."

It didn't say failed. It said Passed. It said, "Standing on List of Police Eligibles—67!" Dan's blood boiled with elation. A shout tore at his throat. He didn't yell because that would wake Mom, but he danced a silent, clumsy jig.

A narrow slip jolted out of the envelope, scaled to the floor. Dan stopped his bear-dance, picked up the paper. The writing on it was in pencil:


I'm sending this to you Special Delivery because it will mean more getting to you today. There will be a hundred appointments next week and you are sure to be included.

If your father, alongside of whom I pounded the beat twenty years ago, were alive he would be very proud. He was a real cop, and so was your brother. Remember that you are a Fallon. And that Matches Lessagno is still at liberty. Best wishes.

Richard Rourke, Inspector of Police.

Gosh! This would make Mom feel better if she knew it. He could hardly wait to tell her. Maybe she wasn't asleep. Dan tiptoed into a narrow passage, reached a bedroom door, opened it softly. Very softly—

Mary Fallon wasn't asleep. She wasn't even lying down. She was kneeling alongside her bed, and her hands were together, palm to palm, and her eyes were closed so that she did not see her son peering in.

She was speaking, in a low, rapt tone. She was talking familiarly to One Who to her was a living, palpable Presence. "Dear God," she was saying. "I know You won't do it. I know You won't let them take my baby from me. It was Your will that the others should go. Because You made them fine and noble and brave so that when they were given a trust they carried it out even though it meant death to do so. But Danny's all I have left. I couldn't bear it to see him swaggering out in the blue and the brass, and to fear every minute, every second that he is not in my sight that the next time I see him he will be bloody and lifeless. Every minute would be a separate, terrible agony. Don't let him get on the Force. Make them flunk him...."

Dan Fallon didn't hear any more. He had closed the door softly as he had opened it and he was stumbling back to the kitchen. The life was out of him, and the joy. He moved gropingly, like an old, old man.

There was a bottle of ink, a pen, and paper in the dish closet. Dan got them out. He sat down at the table, pushed back the red-checked cloth, and started writing:

Police Department, New York City.


Due to circumstances beyond my control I must request that you strike my name from the police eligible list.


Daniel Fallon.

He folded the letter, carefully, neatly. There wasn't any envelope. He'd get one at lunch time and mail the letter then. If he put it in the pocket of the jacket he wore to work he would be sure not to forget it. No danger of that.

THE noon whistles blew, but Dan Fallon was unloading a truckload of drugs and it looked like rain. In about ten minutes he slid the last jute bag off his shoulder, in the dim safety of the receiving floor, turned to get his jacket and go out to lunch. Not to lunch. He didn't feel like eating. To get an envelope and a stamp and—

"Fallon!" Roger Stanley was calling him from the doorway to the office. "Come here a minute, please." The superannuated shipping clerk had a package in his hand, about the size of a candy box. It was tied with bright red whipcord that was fastened with a metal seal. That meant it contained narcotics, Dan knew. Morphine or cocaine.

"What the blue blazes do you want?" he growled, pounding up to Stanley.

The old man pursed fleshless lips.

"Will you do me a favor? The Regal Sanitarium just 'phoned for this stuff. They need it in a hurry, for some emergency operation, and the special messenger is out. I can't trust the kids that are here. I'll see you get extra time if you'll hustle it over. Regal's at Morris Street and—"

"Yeah. I know. Next door to where I live. Give me it." The package was heavier in his hand than he had expected.

"Be sure to get the signed narcotic order. It's imp—"

"All right." Dan's rejoinder cut off the high-pitched, querulous voice that was rasping nerves he never knew he had. He jolted stiff-legged out to the street. The walk would do him good. It was only about ten blocks.

Morris Street was bustling with kids hurrying back to school. Dan Fallon crossed a debris-strewn gutter to the two-hundred block.

"Danny! What are you doing here?"

He stopped, looked up to the first floor window of the tenement.

"Hello, Mom."

The little old lady was leaning out of the window and her faded eyes were anxious, deep-sunk in a seamed, yellow-grey face.

"I'm not fired, if that's what you're thinking." He grinned reassuringly. "I'm just taking this over to the Sanitarium." He pulled the red-tied package out of the pocket where he'd shoved it. "It's narcotics. Dope. Bet a junk-peddler would give a couple of grand for what's in here."

She'd get a kick out of knowing how much he was trusted.

"Oh, Danny! Isn't it dangerous?"

He laughed. "On Morris Street, Mom? Listen, you stay there and I'll chin a minute with you on my way back. They're in a hurry for this and I got to get it to them."

Dan turned away, started off. A coupé slid along the curb. Stopped just ahead of him. Its door opened across his path. A low voice said, "Get in here. Pronto!"

Metal glinted from the dim interior of the little car, blued metal of an automatic snouting at him. A hatchet-sharp face was vague above it.

"Step on it. Or I'll let you have it." Muscles tightened in Dan's thighs, his biceps. A little girl laughed, right behind him, reminding him that the sidewalk was crowded with youngsters. If bullets started flying one of them would be sure to be hit.

"All right," Dan Fallon said, smoothly. "Keep your shirt on." The running-board swayed under the pressure of his foot and then he was inside the coupé, on the leather seat. The iron jabbed into his side. "Close the door."

Fallon reached out to obey. The motion swung him so that he looked up, straight at the window out of which Mom had leaned. She was still there. Her hand was lifted and there was something in it. Something gold.

The car leaped into motion, twisted around a corner. Shot along a sleazy, tenement-bordered block and twisted again. The driver was laying a zigzag trail the cops couldn't follow even if Mom could get word to them. She couldn't—not word that would do any good. Dan didn't have to see them to know the license plates were so covered with mud Mom couldn't have read them.

He was on his own, alone with the gun and the killer who held it. Not alone. Two phantoms rode with Dan Fallon. Two invisible wraiths evoked by the little disk on which the sun had flashed yellow in a shriveled, toil-roughened hand.

The gat was a dull, thrusting pain against his ribs. "Shove that package in the door-pocket," the man lipped. Dan did as he was told. The fox-faced one chuckled, gloatingly. "Nice of Universal Drug to send it to me by special messenger."

"You—you knew it was coming?" The coupé bumped over torn-up paving, slewed into Sixth Avenue. It was going uptown.

"Why the hell shouldn't I know? Didn't I 'phone for it."

That made Dan feel better, just a little. It hadn't been his dumb bragging to Mom, then, that had gotten him into this mess. His damn-fool yelling to give her a kick out of how much he was trusted.

Trusted! That was a laugh! Hell of a guy he was to trust with anything. Good thing he wasn't going to be a cop. Was he going to be anything, after this?

The fellow was driving one-handed as dextrously as another could with two. He was stopping at red lights, wasn't going too fast. He wasn't taking any chances on a traffic cop's getting too nosy. The wheel-rim plucked at the cuff of his glove and his captive saw a puckered scar, braceleting white a swarthy wrist.

A pulse throbbed in Dan's temple.

"We don't know his mug, but he's marked by a match-burn on his wrist."

Frank's voice, from the grave, whispering in his ear. This was Matches Lessagno!

The coupé went under the "El" at Fifty-Third Street, and Central Park wasn't far ahead. There were deserted by-roads in there where Lessagno could....

"You're a lucky stiff," Matches remarked. "If I didn't have to get the stuff tuh the two-ten train at Grand Central I'd take you out o' town—an' leave you there."

Lessagno wasn't going to kill him! He was going to let him go!

At Fifty-Seventh Street a red light turned to green. The car started to slide past a traffic cop, the last one before the Park....

A sunbeam, reflected from the Lord alone knew what, made a dancing, golden disk on Dan Fallon's breast. Vanished....

Dan slewed around, flailed a fist for the pointed, grim jaw alongside him. Something popped flatly. Anguish knifed Dan's belly. His knuckles landed, weakly. Red-hot pain burned up from his middle to his chest, his brain. His arms were around Lessagno. The thin frame he held on to jerked. The popping noise sounded again and new, fierce torture sliced through Dan. The sunlight faded. Everything was in a topsy-turvy flurry. Someone shouted. Blue shoulders, brass buttons, hung in the whirling dimness—

THE sheets were cool against Dan Fallon's thighs and his insides didn't hurt too much. He opened his eyes to the lined, austere white of a hospital room.

Someone was moving, to his right. He rolled eyeballs in that direction and he saw Mom, bent and small and feeble. She was sitting on a chair and on a small table alongside of her were a little pile of coins, a wallet, a handkerchief. The things that had been in Dan's work-jacket. There was a paper in her hand and she was reading it. A paper that had been neatly folded....

Too bad she had found it! He had wanted her to think he had flunked—

"He's a fine boy, Mrs. Fallon." Dan couldn't see the man who spoke but he knew the voice. He had heard it at Frank's funeral. It was Inspector Rourke.

"He's got the blood of his father and brother in him," the voice went on. "The blood and the backbone. We got it out of Lessagno that the boy knew he wasn't going to be killed. Dan took the awful chance he did just because it was his duty to protect the narcotics. It's men like him that's the life of the Force."

"He's my life too." Mom looked up from the letter and her face was grey, the grey, almost, of Death. "All I have left—" It was as if she argued with the grizzled veteran, and he not realizing it. No. She was looking at someone only she could see. "My—our youngest—"

"It's the spirit of the Fallons he has." The Inspector was an old man and garrulous. "The courage to do his duty no matter what the odds. He belongs to the Force. It's his birthright."

"Mom!" Dan pleaded. "Give it to him."

"His birthright," she whispered. Her fingers tightened on the letter. She was going to hand it to the Inspector! She was—The paper tore across and across. Many times. The bits of white fluttered like snow to the black cloth across her lap.


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
Go to Home Page
This work is out of copyright in countries with a copyright
period of 70 years or less, after the year of the author's death.
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.