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First published in The Spider magazine, December 1937

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2020
Version date: 2020-10-01
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The Spider, December 1937, with "Dead Man's Bullets"

The one witness, who could save Ed Race's friend from the gallows, had been brutally shot down—his lips closed forever. But the Masked Marksman, whose trained guns were flaming magic, still knew the way to make the dead rise up and fight again!

THE train jolted around a curve, and the fat man sitting next to Ed Race was almost precipitated into his lap. When the trail straightened out, Ed rearranged his newspaper, which had been crumpled in the tangle. The fat man had been smoking a fat cigar, and its ashes were all over Ed's trousers.

Ed nodded in recognition of his neighbor's profuse apologies.

"These damned day coaches, sir! There ought to be a law against them. I'll be glad when I get to Torrid City. My name's Beglin, sir—Amos Beglin." The fat man smiled, a bit nervously. "I see you're going to Torrid City, too." He glanced at Ed's ticket, which was inserted into the upholstery in the seat in front of them.

Ed hadn't given his neighbor much attention during the trip from Philadelphia. Now, he turned to look at him. "Yes," he told Mr. Amos Beglin. "I'm headed for Torrid City, too. They say it's as hot as its name."

Beglin applied a match to his cigar. His hand was shaking so that the flame flickered. "Damn it!" he exclaimed peevishly. "I'm nervous as a radio amateur." He tried a second match, got the cigar going. "You see, I'm a witness in that Clay Manning murder case. It goes on today, and the defense lawyer phoned me to come right up from Philly."

Ed Race tensed. "You—you're a defense witness?" he asked.

"That's right. I'm Clay Manning's boss. Prosecutor Kedrick contends that Clay Manning shot Hilda Worth at eight o'clock in the evening on September twentieth. Well, at eight o'clock that night, I was talking to Clay on the long distance. I got him at his hotel—the Empire. You see, if he was talking to me at eight, he couldn't have been out at the Worth place, which is forty miles from Torrid City. My testimony will clear Clay absolutely!"

Ed Race's eyes were bright. "That's good news to me, Mr. Beglin. My name is Race. I'm a good friend of Clay Manning. I was coming out to testify for him as a character witness."

Amos Beglin smiled broadly. "Why, of course! I've heard Clay talk about you. You're the vaudeville star who juggles guns on the stage, and knocks their eyes out with your marksmanship. They call you 'The Masked Marksman.' I've seen you a dozen times —in fact, I go every time you play Philly. But I didn't recognize you on account of that mask you always wear on the stage."

ED RACE smiled. He was used to the admiration of the public. His headline vaudeville number was familiar to theater-goers from coast to coast. He juggled six heavy .45 caliber revolvers on the stage, with the ease with which another might have juggled dumbbells. And he received enough in salary from the Partages Circuit to live comfortably and to bank large sums every year. But there was a restless something within him which did not permit him to rest upon that success. His nervous energy craved other outlets—outlets in which danger would play a predominant part. So, he had chosen for himself an avocation that would satisfy that craving for danger. He dabbled in criminology on the side.

He held licenses as a private detective in a dozen states, and his name was hated in the underworld as much as he was admired in the vaudeville world. He always carried two of his hair-trigger .45's in shoulder holsters, and those fast-talking guns had blazed a reputation for Ed Race in the world of crime-fighting that was fully the equal of the Masked Marksman's reputation in the world of entertainment.

When Ed Race had heard that his friend, Clay Manning, was in serious trouble in Torrid City, he had phoned Manning's counsel, and taken the first train. The newspaper accounts of the case had given a pretty hopeless picture of Clay Manning's chances. But this meeting with Amos Beglin raised Ed's hopes.

It was apparent that John Stoneman, Manning's lawyer, had kept Beglin in the background, as a surprise witness. Now Ed smiled almost paternally at the fat man. "Let's stick together," he said. "It begins to look pretty good for Clay. I'd never believe he killed that girl."

THE train was slowing up, and the conductor came down the aisle announcing that the next stop was Torrid City. Amos Beglin motioned to the baggage-rack over their heads. "Would you mind, Mr. Race? I'm so damned fat, I can't do a thing for myself."

Ed smiled, and got up to reach down Beglin's tan suitcase, which was next to his own. And it was that little act of courtesy which probably saved his life...

Things happened fast.

He didn't see the telegraph messenger who came into the car, but he heard the boy calling, "Telegram for Mr. Beglin. Mr. Beglin—"

Amos Beglin motioned to the messenger. "Here, boy! I'm Mr. Beglin!"

Ed was lifting the valise off the rack, when he heard a gasp from behind him. Beglin's voice, suddenly thick with terror, followed the gasp. "Oh God, no—"

Ed turned his head automatically, while his hand balanced the tan suitcase.

Two men stood in the aisle, near the vestibule of the car. One had a revolver, the other carried a wicked, gleaming submachine gun under his arm. Both wore caps low down over their faces, and their coat collars were turned up. Ed could see eyes gleaming murderously under the peaks of those caps—eyes that were fixed upon Amos Beglin.

A scream welled in Amos Beglin's throat. "No, no! Don't shoot —"

And then the machine gun began to chatter, to buck in the grip of the gunner as he began to empty the clip into Beglin's body. Beglin screamed once, and then collapsed in the seat.

Ed Race reacted with the swift speed of a man who has been trained to meet danger and emergency. His hand fell away from the tan suitcase, which toppled down onto the seat in front. His right hand did not cease its downward movement, but snaked in and out from his shoulder holster, emerging with one of the .45's.

Slugs from that .45 smashed accurately into the faces of those two gunmen, crashing them backward into the vestibule. The machine gun flew upward from the dead, nerveless hands of its operator, while the second thug fell with a bullet in his forehead.

Women screamed in the car, and a police whistle shrilled somewhere outside.

Ed Race's eyes were bleak and cold. On the stage, he was called upon to give daily exhibitions of accurate shooting which left his audiences gasping with amazement. Had he remained sitting in the seat next to Beglin, some of the slugs from that machine gun would undoubtedly have smashed into his body. But he would still have managed to get those two gunmen.

HE did not spare those two a second glance, for he knew where he had hit them. He whirled, bent, and peered out of the open window. Those two had boarded the train from the station, on the heels of the telegraph messenger. They must have accomplices in the station. Ed's narrowed eyes, darting across the station, spotted a long touring sedan. It was moving slowly up the street, alongside the station, and a face was framed in the side window —a face that was thin, saturnine, almost vicious.

The getaway car? He could not be sure. The sedan was crawling along, and its door swung open; the face disappeared from the window and a black-gloved hand reached out and pulled the door shut. Then the sedan slid smoothly away, turning the corner. Ed's glance darted to the license plate on the rear. It was indistinguishable, blurred with mud.

Ed turned from the window. He was morally certain that had been the getaway car for these two gunmen. But he couldn't shoot at it without more certainty. However, he'd not forget that face in the window. It was indelibly etched in his mind—a narrow, long head, thin lips, pointed chin, high flat ears, wearing a black derby hat...

Ed holstered his guns, let his glance drop to the seat beside him. There was a cold feeling within him. He was prepared for what he saw. The messenger boy lay on his back in the aisle, still, white face staring upward out of unseeing eyes. He had been almost cut in two by that merciless stream of machine gun slugs. And in the seat beside Ed, his quivering body jammed against Ed's knees, Amos Beglin was slumped. His head was bowed, double chin resting upon his bloody chest.

"I'm—done, Race. But you—paid off—for me. Thanks."

Ed placed a hand behind his neck, tried to support his head. "Take it easy, old man. We'll get you to a hospital."

"No—use. I'm—through. You—got to tell them my story. Tell them—I talked to Clay Manning—on phone—" his voice was growing weaker, lower—"on September twentieth—at the Empire Hotel, at—eight o'clock—evening, That'll—clear Clay..."

The words trailed off into a wheeze, a rattle—and then silence. Beglin's body stiffened, relaxed. He was dead.

Ed Race looked up bitterly to the two police officers and the ambulance interne who had pushed their way through the car. "Too late," he told them. Then he looked down at the dead man in his arms. "No, Amos Beglin," he said softly, "I haven't paid off for you in full, yet. There's going to be hell popping in Torrid City before your account is square!"

PROSECUTOR Kedrick, District Attorney of Torrid County, was a tall man in his middle forties, with a high, ambitious forehead and a firm, pugnacious jaw. His eyes were hard, flint-like as they centered on Ed Race.

"And your story is," he was saying with a slightly sardonic tone of incredulity, "that Beglin lived just long enough to make this statement to you, and then he died? You want me to believe that?"

Ed Race stirred in his chair, across from Kedrick's desk. His jaw muscles bulged, and a little vein stood out on the right side of his forehead. He glanced around the room at the others present. There were two newspaper reporters, inconspicuous in a corner; there was an official stenographer, seated at one end of the desk; and John Stoneman, Clay Manning's lawyer, stood by the window. Stoneman had his back to the room, and was looking out across the courtyard toward the county jail opposite.

Ed Race did not take his eyes from the prosecutor's face. "I don't give a damn what you believe, Kedrick. That's exactly what happened. I'll remember Amos Beglin's every word, if I live to be a hundred. And that's what I'm going to tell the jury when Clay Manning goes on trial today!"

Kedrick smiled thinly. "I doubt if the judge will allow that statement to go to the jury, my friend. It's hearsay. You can't testify to what a third party told you—"

John Stoneman, the defense attorney, turned away from the window, faced the room. He was a calm man, with a mild and well modulated voice. "I think Mr. Race's testimony will be admissible, Kedrick," he said. "What Beglin told him was a statement made with the knowledge that he was dying—"

Kedrick grunted impatiently. "That would be true only of a confession."

Ed Race arose. The prosecutor broke off as he glimpsed the look in Ed's eyes. Ed stood tall and lank, facing the district attorney. "Do you mean to say," he demanded of Kedrick, "that you will try to keep my evidence of Beglin's dying statement out of court? You must know damn well that Clay Manning didn't kill Hilda Worth. In spite of that knowledge, are you going to try to convict him? Are you going to try to keep from the jury evidence which might acquit him?" He glared.

Kedrick nodded. "My business is to prosecute," he clipped out. "I am not a judge of a defendant's guilt or innocence. My duty is to present everything that would tend to convict him in the eyes of the jury. And Stoneman's duty is to try to get him acquitted."

For a long minute, the eyes of the two men locked. At last, Ed Race said, "All right, Kedrick. I'm going to make a monkey of you. I'm going out into Torrid City and turn the town upside down. And I'm going to find the real murderer of Hilda Worth."

Stoneman broke in, "Now don't loose your temper, Mr. Race. Cray hasn't been convicted yet. With your testimony, I think we'll have a chance—"

"A chance!" Ed burst out. "Sure we'll have a chance. The jury ought to believe what I'll tell them. But I want Clay Manning to have more than a chance. I want him to go free, without a doubt. And in order to do that, I've got to find the real murderer!"

Kedrick shrugged. "As you choose, Mr. Race. I will not detain you in the shooting of those two gunmen on the train, as it was clearly a case of self-defense. But there is the question of your carrying concealed weapons—"

Ed grinned sourly. He fished a wallet from his pocket, and slapped down two official papers upon Kedrick's desk. One was a license to carry a gun, the other a license permitting Ed Race to do business in the State of Pennsylvania as a private detective.

"You knew I had those," Ed told him coldly. "But if I weren't carrying them with me, you'd have used it as an excuse to detain me!"

Kedrick shrugged, spread his hands. "Merely a formality, Race. But you're free to go now."

"I'll want a pass," Ed said. "A pass to see Clay Manning."

"With pleasure," Kedrick assented. "No one can say that I'm unfair to a prisoner." He wrote out a pass, handed it across the desk. "And may I inquire just how you propose to go about catching this 'real' murderer, as you call him? It's nine o'clock. Clay Manning goes on trial at ten. You have only an hour —"

OVER Kedrick's shoulder, Ed caught John Stoneman's warning glance, accompanied by a swift shake of the head. Stoneman was trying to tell him not to answer Kedrick's question. But Ed deliberately disregarded the warning. "I'm going out to Hilda Worth's place," he informed the prosecutor. "I think I can promise you that I will have some startling information for the trial."

He said it knowingly, with a little touch of secrecy. And Kedrick frowned.

"If you have any leads or clues, Race, it is your duty to turn them over to the police—"

Ed laughed loud and harshly. "So that they can be buried? No, sir!"

He arose. "I'll be back while the trial is going on!"

John Stoneman accompanied him to the door. The two reporters started out also, and Kedrick called after them, "Graham! And you, Young! Remember you were here by courtesy only. Nothing in your papers until after the trial!"

The two reporters nodded.

Out in the corridor, Graham accosted Ed. "Excuse me, Mr. Race. I'm Graham, of the Star. Do you really have something which will help you prove that someone else killed Hilda Worth?"

Ed Race nodded slowly. "Be in court," he said shortly. "You've got a surprise coming."

He left Graham staring after him, and took Stoneman's arm. "Let's go over and see Clay."

Stoneman looked worried. "You really haven't anything, have you, Race? You're bluffing about special information? You don't expect to find anything at Hilda Worth's place, do you?"

"Of course not. But I want everybody to know where I'm going this morning. Kedrick is worried that my testimony about Beglin's dying statement will acquit Clay. All right, if Kedrick is worried, the true murderer of Hilda Worth will also be worried. He may decide that it would be a good idea to stop me, the way Amos Beglin was stopped."

Stoneman gasped. "You mean—you think they'll go after you with machine guns?"

"I hope they will!" Ed said grimly. "And I'm making it as easy as possible for them, by telling them where I'll be this morning!"

THE interview with Clay Manning was necessarily short, because the trial would start in less than an hour. Ed hadn't seen Clay for almost two years, and he was startled at the change in his friend.

Clay Manning had once shared vaudeville headlines with Ed Race. His voice, a deep full baritone, had enchanted audiences. But he had found that he could write as well as he could sing, and he had left the stage to become a feature writer for the Beglin Syndicate. His exposes of small-town rackets had attracted wide attention, though written under a pseudonym.

"I came to this town," he told Ed as they walked up and down in the prison corridor, "because I had a tip that Hilda Worth could give me information about a gambling racket that's being worked here in Torrid City. I checked in at the Empire, and Amos Beglin, who was my managing editor, phoned me at eight o'clock."

John Stoneman interrupted to explain, "That, Mr. Race, is the time which the coroner fixes as the hour when Hilda Worth was shot. That will be corroborated by a waitress in Hilda Worth's roadhouse, who will testify that she heard two shots at about eight o'clock, from Hilda's private office in the rear of the building. At the time, she thought it was the backfire of an automobile, and paid no attention."

"I see," said Ed. He turned to Manning. "What about Beglin's phone call, Clay? Won't the operator in the Empire corroborate it?"

Manning's eyes were etched with the dark lines of worry. "No, Ed. That girl has left town, apparently. She quit her job the day after the murder, and hasn't been seen since." He added bitterly, "Mr. Stoneman has put in a lot of work on this case, but, after all, he hasn't the facilities of the district attorney to trace missing witnesses."

Stoneman nodded. "And that will be a strong point for the prosecution in refutation of Beglin's dying testimony. I can just imagine Kedrick acidly telling the jury that, if Clay did talk on the phone at eight o'clock, we should have produced the telephone operator. And the rules of evidence won't even allow us to show the jury that the operator has disappeared!"

"I suppose the telephone company has a record of the call?" Ed asked.

"They have. But it doesn't prove that it was really Clay on the phone."

"All right," Ed said. "What happened after you got the phone call?"

Manning was smoking a cigarette nervously. "I drove out to Hilda Worth's. My car was parked in back of the Empire, and it's just my luck that no one saw me go out. Hilda Worth ran a road-house on the main highway—the Pigeon Inn. Its forty miles out. I had already talked to her on the phone, and she said she had information for me that would blow the whole county wide open.

"It seems that she was running a gambling room upstairs in the Pigeon Inn, and someone higher up was taking all her profits for protection. When she balked, they raided her, and pretty near destroyed the place. They ruined the fixtures, tables, kitchen, everything. It represented an investment of many thousands of dollars for her, and she was plenty sore. She was just managing to run the place with one waitress and a cook, until she could raise the money to make the necessary repairs. She told me on the phone to be careful and come in the back way, because she might be watched."

Ed nodded. "So you drove out there, and went in the back way —"

"And found Hilda Worth dead on the floor, with two slugs in the back of her head!" Manning crushed his cigarette viciously on the floor. "They knew I was coming out, Ed. They had the thing all framed and ready. The gun was on the floor. I didn't touch it, but the police found no prints. It had been wiped clean. I started to back out of there, and two State Troopers were waiting for me with drawn guns outside. Someone had phoned them, anonymously."

Ed Race pondered for a moment. "Don't you know anything at all about this gambling racket? Didn't Hilda Worth give you any hint on the phone? Didn't you talk about it to anyone here in Torrid City?"

"Hilda Worth didn't give me any dope on the phone. She only said she could tell me who was the top man that was getting the protection money. I talked to Kedrick when I first arrived in town. I asked him if he'd follow up any dope I got here on the gambling racket, but I didn't tell him from whom I was getting it. I also talked to Stan Ormsby, the publisher of the Star. He subscribes to the Beglin Syndicate, and I wanted to arrange with him to put the story on his presses the minute I got it. But I didn't tell him, either, where the information was coming from."

"I think I've got something to work on, Clay," Ed told him. "I'm going now. Mr. Stoneman, you try to prolong that trial as long as you can, till I get back." He shook hands with Clay Manning, and left with the lawyer.

THEY went through the courthouse from the jail, and Stoneman said, "I've got to get into the courtroom, Race. Good luck to you. But for God's sake, don't take too many chances. I need your testimony about Beglin's dying statement. Without that, we're licked cold—"

He broke off jerkily, as Ed gripped his arm hard. "Who's that, coming out of Kedrick's office?"

That face he would never forget—the long, narrow head, thin lips, pointed chin, high, flat ears. It was the face he had glimpsed in the touring-sedan outside the station. And here was its owner, walking out of Prosecutor Kedrick's office!

Stoneman threw a quick glance in that direction. He frowned. "Why, that's Flint Ormsby, Stan Ormsby's brother. Stan Ormsby is the publisher of the Star—the man Clay Manning was to give the story to when it broke. Flint Ormsby is on the district attorney's confidential staff. His brother got him the job."

"I see," Ed said softly. "I'm going, Stoneman. Be seeing you!"

He left the attorney, and walked swiftly toward the street, in the wake of the saturnine-faced Flint Ormsby. His elbows nudged his sides as he walked, bringing the two shoulder holsters forward under his coat, so that he could reach them with greater ease.

When he got to the door of the courthouse, he saw Flint Ormsby crossing the street, to enter the same touring-sedan that he had seen at the station. The sedan did not leave, but Ed could see the driver step on the starter. He could also see Ormsby's face in the rear. There were two more men in there with him, but they were keeping far back.

As he reached the sidewalk, a cab from the hack stand down at the corner pulled out of the line and braked at the curb in front of him. The driver grinned ingratiatingly. "Taxi, sir?"

Ed nodded. "Know where the Pigeon Inn is?" he asked.

"Yes, sir. Out on the highway—about forty miles. I'll make you a flat rate of five bucks. That all right with you?"

Ed raised his eyebrows. That was pretty cheap. "All right. Take me out there."

He got in, and the driver made a complete turn in the middle of the street, passing within a couple of feet of the touring-sedan as he turned. Ed, watching keenly, with both hands close to his guns, saw the driver make a slight signal with his hand. At once, the driver of the sedan gunned his motor, and leaped ahead, passing the cab. It headed swiftly up Main Street toward the open highway, with Ed's cab far behind.

Ed leaned back in his seat and smiled. They knew where he was going. They were going to wait until he got into the open country.

THE cab left the town behind, and swung out into the open road. Ed glanced at the clock. The driver had not put the flag down, because he was making a special rate. He couldn't tell how far they had traveled, but he judged they were about fifteen miles out.

Ed leaned back once more. From the identification card, he noted that the cabby's name was Michael Pond. He waited while the cab rolled on for about another ten miles, watching constantly ahead for a sight of the touring-sedan.

The country was flat farm land here, with an occasional gas station or roadside stand. It was growing more and more lonely. Ed wondered if Ormsby would wait for him on the road, or go on to the Pigeon Inn to waylay him there. He decided not to take a chance on that.

He tapped on the glass. "Pull up at the side of the road," he ordered.

The driver did not stop. "We'll be there pretty soon, mister —"

"I said—pull up!" Ed rapped. His gun was out, boring into the back of Michael Pond's neck.

Pond squirmed under the feel of the cold metal. Ed could see, in the rear-vision mirror, that the man's eyes were narrowing. He tooled the cab to a halt at the side of the road. "W-what's the idea, mister?"

Ed said, "I'll show you. Just come in back. And do it quick!"

He emphasized the order with an additional poke of the gun, and Pond got out, came around and clambered into the rear compartment beside Ed. There was dawning dread in his eyes, and he kept his hands in the air.

Ed frisked him swiftly, and found a shiny .32 in his side coat pocket. He grinned at the man. "Since when do cab drivers carry those things?"

The driver opened his mouth to say something, thought better of it, and shut up. Ed took off the man's belt, and said, "Turn around, now."

"B-but what's the idea, mister? I don't get the idea."

"You'll get the idea—soon enough. Put your hands in back of you, and face the other way."

Pond obeyed, and Ed twisted the belt around the man's two wrists, then knotted it tightly. He pushed Pond over into a corner, then took off his own belt, and passed it under Pond's right armpit, attaching the other end to the rear-window handle. This served to keep the bound man erect in the rear seat. Now, Ed took off his own hat, put on the driver's cap, placing his hat on the driver.

Pond's eyes opened wide, and naked terror showed in them. "For Gawd's sake, don't do that, mister. They'll think I'm you —Look, let's move on while we—"

He bit the words off, realizing that he had said too much. He cowered into the corner.

Ed grinned thinly. "Now, you get the idea, Mr. Pond. I'm going to drive this hack. You'll be the passenger. When your friend, Flint Ormsby and his gang stop us, they'll spray this passenger compartment with lead. You'll get the slugs that will be intended for me!"

Michael Pond's mouth quivered. "Gawd, no!"

ED said nothing. He got in front, behind the wheel, and started the cab. He drove slowly, giving the bound man time to mull over his situation. They passed a gas station, went on for a couple of miles, and approached another. The silence was growing intense.

At last, the hoarse voice of Pond came from the rear. "Mister, I got a wife and two kids—"

Ed held the wheel tight. The man was beginning to break. "That's too bad," he said. "You should have thought of that before you went in for murder. Murderers mustn't mind reverse English."

He slowed down a little, waiting for the next plea. It came quickly. "I ain't a murderer, mister. I was only taking orders from Ormsby. If I didn't, I'd have got it myself. A man can't work in this town, or live in this town, without doing what he's told."

"I can't feel sorry for you. Your crowd is framing my friend, Clay Manning. You would have driven me to my death right now, if I hadn't been wise. Sorry, but you'll have to take it."

They passed the gas station, went on another hundred feet. "T-they'll be waiting a half mile down the road," Pond's tortured voice gasped. "They'll riddle me with lead."

"That's right," Ed told him cheerfully.

"S-suppose I talked, mister? S-suppose I cleared your friend, this guy Manning?"

Ed's spine tingled with a thrill of triumph. But he restrained himself, looked ahead along the road, trying not to show his eagerness. "How do I know you can do that? You're only a cab driver. What would you know?"

Pond's voice grated harshly. "What would I know? I drove this cab out after Manning, when he left the Empire Hotel that day—me and another guy. We watched Manning go into the Pigeon Inn through the back way, an' then we went and phoned the State Troopers. It's Flint Ormsby, and his brother, Stan, that's running the gambling racket in this county. Graham, the Star reporter, gets the inside dope for them, and they do the shakin' down. Flint Ormsby is dynamite. He likes to do his own killings. It was him that shot Hilda Worth, but I ain't got the proof o' that. But I know Hilda was dead when Clay Manning got there that day! Kedrick wasn't in it at all. Ormsby's pulled the wool over his eyes swell!"

Ed had stopped the car. "You'll write that down for me?"

"I'll write, mister. Yeah. Only don't drive that other half mile!"

Ed nodded. He swung the car around in a complete turn, raced back to the gas station. To the startled attendant, he waved an imperative hand. "Come here and be a witness to this confession!"

He released Pond's arms, thrust paper and fountain-pen at him.

"Write!" he ordered.

Slowly, laboriously, while Ed dangled his .45 suggestively, Pond wrote out everything he had told Ed. The gas station attendant's eyes widened as he read over Pond's shoulder. "Wow! Will this bust the county wide open!"

"That's what Hilda Worth wanted to do," Ed told him dryly.

He was folding the confession, putting it in his pocket, when his eyes narrowed. The black touring-sedan had appeared down the road, retracing its course.

Ed Race's eyes glinted. "They're coming back to see what's holding us up," he said. "Well, well. This will be a pleasure!"

He motioned to the attendant. "Get inside. There'll be a lot of shooting here in a minute!"

Pond cowered in the back of the cab, and Ed waited alongside it, on the far side of the cab from the road. There wasn't long to wait.

THE touring-sedan slowed up, pulling into the driveway. Ormsby stepped out of it, followed by two other men from the rear. They glanced suspiciously about.

Ed stepped out from behind it, took off his chauffeur's cap, and threw it away. He faced the four men, crouching, hands at his sides.

"Here I am, boys," he said mildly.

Ormsby spat out a curse, and his hand darted to his shoulder holster. The other men followed suit.

Ed Race did not seem to have moved. But his hands were suddenly, miraculously, holding two thundering, death-spitting .45 caliber revolvers. That same lightning-fast, eye-defying speed that he demonstrated on the stage, was now being exhibited free, here on the highway. But the men who faced him paid for the exhibition with their lives.

They fired scattered shots, but their slugs went wide, for the twin streams of bullets from Ed's guns mowed them down before they could aim. He shot four times, twice from each gun— and each shot was a bull's-eye, square in the center of a forehead.

The driver of the touring-sedan came leaping out of it with gun in hand, and Ed fired once more. His eyes were cold, bleak, as he stood there spraddle-legged, smoking guns in his hands, and gazed down at the ground, littered with bodies. The gas station attendant came out. "Lord, what shooting! One against four!"

Ed grinned at him. "Some show, eh? Where's your phone?"

He kept his eye on Pond, still cowering in the cab, while he got John Stoneman at the county courthouse. "You can ask for an adjournment till I get back to town. The case is broken," he told the defense attorney. "And you can tell Kedrick for me, that I apologize to him. I thought he was a crook, and I find he was only a prig!"


Roy Glashan's Library
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