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First published in Ace G-Man Stories, Nov/Dec 1939

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2021
Version Date: 2022-07-28

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Ace G-Man Stories, November 1939, with "The Suicide Squad Pays Off"

The Black Sheep of the F.B.I. turn a terror-ridden town upside down
in a finish-fight with a gang that had decreed death for all G-men!



BUSINESS was good tonight at the swanky Sunset Club, on the edge of Biscayne Bay. The winter season had started early. The hotels on Biscayne Boulevard in Miami proper, as well as those across the Causeway on Miami Beach, were well filled with pale anaemic men and women from the North who had come down in search of warm weather—and thrills.

But the race tracks hadn't opened yet, and only one dog track was operating. So in the evening the crowds sought their thrills at the dice and roulette tables of exotic places like the Sunset Club, where the smallest bet permitted was five dollars, and where Cuba Librés cost a dollar a piece.

The swing band was going hot and strong, and almost a hundred couples were dancing between courses. Later, when they finished dinner, they'd wander into one of the two gaming-rooms in the south wing of the Club. The dice table was already working in the Green Room, where half a dozen men in white evening clothes and as many women were eagerly testing their luck.

One of those patrons was a young fellow with curly hair and blue eyes. Unlike the other patrons, this young man had the intense and concentrated look of one who is intent on accomplishing some definite purpose. He was a little nervous, and his hand kept moving up toward a very noticeable bulge under his left armpit. He was trying to appear at ease, like the other players, but his very efforts to efface himself in the crowd around the table attracted attention to himself.

Two so-called "assistant managers"—who were really high-class bouncers in evening clothes—were watching him. So was the croupier at the dice table. Word had gone around the room that a cop was here.

The croupier raised his green eyeshade, and made a signal to the cashier, who sat in a cage in a corner. The cashier hurriedly came out with a drawer-full of money. One of the assistant managers walked with the cashier, and whispered to him, "Hurry up. That table's loaded with hot dough. Switch it quick!"

The cashier nodded and hurried across the room. But the dice had already come around to the curly-haired young man. He put a ten-dollar bill on the table, on the square marked, "To Win," and rolled the dice. The ivories bounced at the baseboard, and came to rest with a five and a two up. The croupier droned, "It's a seven. The gentleman wins!" He took a ten-dollar bill from the drawer and placed it on top of the young man's bill. He might have wanted to wait for the cashier to bring the other drawer of money, but it would have looked funny to the other patrons at the table. So he laid the money down.

The young man, instead of shooting again, picked up the two ten-dollar bills. He put his own away, and examined the one the croupier had given him. His face flushed as he studied the serial numbers.

The other patrons were not paying him any attention, for the one next to him had picked up the dice when he relinquished them.

He looked up and saw the cashier who had arrived at the table, and who was quickly exchanging the money drawers. A quick, hot light leaped into the young man's eyes. He hurried around the table to the croupier's box. But he never reached it. The two "assistant managers" had closed in on him swiftly, as soon as they saw him examining the serial number on the bill.

Suddenly, the young man stiffened as he felt the presence of the two thugs on either side of him. Too late, he tried to go for his shoulder holster. They each had him by an arm. The thug on the right raised a hand and brought it down in a lightning motion. Something hard and vicious crunched against the young man's skull. He would have slumped to the floor if he had not been supported on both sides.

At the same instant, the cashier and the croupier, who were on the opposite side of the dice table, fell into a loud and vociferous argument about counting the money. The cashier insisted on counting the money in the drawer he was changing, and the croupier seemed to be insulted that his integrity was being questioned.

The patrons watched the argument with interest, not suspecting that it was being staged for their special benefit, to draw their attention from the two "assistant managers" who were dragging the unconscious young man, as if he were drunk, to a door at the rear of the gaming room. As soon as they disappeared through that door, the cashier and the croupier settled their argument amicably, and the play was resumed. No one noticed the absence of the curly-haired young man.

THE two bouncers half-carried, half-dragged the unconscious young man through the doorway and then along a narrow hall. One of them, who looked like a powerful bruiser, with a barrel chest and a bull neck, slung him over a shoulder, and carried him up a flight of stairs, with the other leading the way. They stopped before a door marked, Manager's Office, and the smaller one knocked.

"Who?" asked some one on the inside.

"It's me—Nick Fabian, Kris. Open up, quick. Bugs and me have caught a copper!"

There was a muttered curse within, and a moment later a lock clicked, and the door was opened by a tall, nattily dressed man, with a small waxed moustache, and black hair parted in the middle and pasted down with copious doses of hair tonic. His sharp, pin-point eyes flickered from Nick Fabian to Bugs, and the burden the latter was carrying. He quickly stood aside.

"Come in—quick!" he ordered.

He shut the door after them, and locked it, then motioned to a couch. "Put him there. What happened?"

Bugs dropped the unconscious young man unceremoniously on the couch, while Nick Fabian explained.

"He's a dick, Kris. He tumbled to the hot dough, and he started for the rest of it, so Bugs and me grabbed him and clipped him before he could start something. He was a pushover."

The young man was stirring. He moaned, and opened his eyes. For a second he was dazed, and then realization hit him. He sprang to his feet, clawing at his shoulder holster.

Bugs said, "Nuts!" and hit him again with the blackjack. This time the young man folded up for good.

"What the hell!" said Kris. "We got to cover up. We got to get rid of this punk."

"Do we knock him off?" asked Nick Fabian.

Kris didn't answer. For a moment he twirled the end of his waxed moustache. Then he knelt beside the unconscious dick, and started to go through his pockets. He took out the revolver and raised his eyebrows when he saw that it was a brand new .38 Service Special.

"He must be a beginner. His gun hasn't been used much."

Kris Mungo went through the other pockets, and found a wallet. He opened it, and whistled. There was a gold badge pinned inside it, and there was an identification card under the glassine window. The gold badge had lettering around the outside:


The identification card gave his name as Thomas Grant, Special Agent-in-training.

"Hell," said Mungo. "The guy's only a rookie. The Feds can't have anything on us if they only sent a rookie. He must have been making the rounds of the spots, just fishing for something. It's his hard luck he got a bite!"

"So well?" Nick Fabian asked impatiently. "Do we give it to him?"

"Not yet," said Mungo. "I better call the big boss."

He went to the phone, and lifted the receiver. When he got the operator he put his lips close to the mouthpiece, and whispered a number. He waited, drumming with his fingers on the desk-top. In a moment he had his party.

"Boss," he said, "this is Kris Mungo. We're in a jam here."

"What kind of jam?" asked a hard, authoritative voice.

"Well, I don't like to mention it over the phone. It's a Boy Scout."

"Boy Scout?"

"Yeah. You know—from Washington."

"Oh!" There was a second of silence. Then, "Did he get anything?"

"Yeah. But we got him here. We got to get rid of him."

"I see. All right. I'll be right over."

Mungo hung up, and nodded to Nick and Bugs. "The boss is coming over. Go downstairs and act as if nothing happened. I'll call you when I need you."

ACROSS the Causeway, in a terrace apartment in Miami Beach overlooking the ocean, Mr. Humbert Considine hung up the phone with an impatient frown upon his cold, aristocratic face. He rang a bell, and a Jap butler appeared as if by magic.

"My hat, Yoshi," Mr. Considine said curtly. "And have the maroon car ready at once."

Downstairs in front of the building, two-hard-bitten men were standing at the entrance, and the maroon car was at the curb, with another grim-faced man at the wheel. As Mr. Considine came out, he said swiftly to the two men at the entrance, "Follow me. To the Sunset Club. Be sure no one is tailing us."

He got into the maroon car and said, "Sunset Club, Peavey," to the chauffeur.

When his car pulled away, the two men at the entrance went into the alley at the side of the house, and immediately pulled out, driving a grey sedan. They kept fifty feet behind Mr. Considine's limousine all the way across the Causeway, and up Biscayne Boulevard to the Sunset Club. They remained in the car when Mr. Considine got out and entered the club. Peavey, the chauffeur, went along with Considine, keeping just behind him, with a hand upon a gun in his pocket, and a sharp, wary look upon his face.

Mr. Considine nodded to the doorman, who saluted respectfully. Then he entered the lobby, but did not go into the main dining-room. He opened a small door at the left of the lobby, using a key of his own, and climbed a flight of stairs to Kris Mungo's office, with Peavey at his heel.

He rapped sharply at Mungo's door, and immediately it was opened. Mungo stood aside for him and Peavey to enter, then locked the door after them.

"There he is, boss," said Mungo, indicating the young G-man on the couch.

Young Thomas Grant was conscious once more. Mungo had seated him upright on the couch, and had tied his hands behind his back with picture-wire. He looked up with an attitude of grim defiance at Mr. Humbert Considine.

Considine listened a moment, while Mungo whispered the story in his ear. All the time that he listened, his cold eyes were fixed upon the young G-man. When Mungo finished he said, "Well, I guess it was the only thing to do. I'll handle it."

He came and stood close to the couch. "Well, Mr. Thomas Grant," he said, "it looks as if you uncovered something big. Too big."

Young Grant's lips were set tight. "That bill I got at the dice table was part of the ransom money from the Pincus kidnaping last August. You've been passing the ransom money out through your gambling houses, Considine. You were behind the Pincus kidnaping—and God knows how many others!"

Mr. Humbert Considine nodded gravely. "That's right, Grant. I admit it."

"You'll hang for it," said Grant.

Considine smiled. "I don't think so!"

Young Grant's face was pale. "I know what's in your mind, you devil. You're going to kill me. Well, that won't help you. The Field Office knows where I was working. We've had a dozen men out, looking for traces of that ransom money. When my body is found, they'll know who killed me."

"Maybe they will," said Considine. "But knowledge isn't enough. They have to prove it, in order to hang me. Don't forget, my young friend, that I am also a lawyer."

"That's what I can't understand," said Grant. "You're a clever lawyer. You could have made a good living at that. But it wasn't enough for you. You took over the rackets from the mobsters you defended. You control most of the slot-machines in Miami, and half a dozen night clubs like this one. But that wasn't enough, either, it seems. You also had to go in for kidnaping!"

Mr. Considine raised an eyebrow. "There are many things you don't understand, my young friend. And some"—he heaved a mock sigh—"that you never will. It's too bad you found that ten-dollar bill—too bad for you."

"You're crazy," blurted young Grant. "You can't kill me and get away with it. Everything will point to you. The Miami police are honest. They'll cooperate with the F.B.I. My murder will be laid on your doorstep—"

"Not the way I'm going to do it!" said Mr. Considine.

He turned away from the G-man, and nodded to Mungo, who picked up the phone and said into it, "Tell Nick Fabian and Bugs Nestor to come right up."

"Have Nick and Bugs take him down the back way," Considine ordered. "There will be a grey sedan in the alley, with two of my men in it. Put him in that car. Everything will be all right. Stop passing that hot money at the dice table for a couple of days."

He brushed an imaginary speck off the lapel of his white evening coat, smiled almost pleasantly at young Grant, and went out...


FORTY-EIGHT hours later, five men were standing around a coffin in a mortuary parlor in the small town of Blakewell, North Carolina. One of the five was the local chief of police of Blakewell. The second was the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States Department of Justice. The other three were men whose names were poison to the underworld from coast to coast—Kerrigan and Murdoch and Klaw.

Those three were unofficially known as the Black Sheep of the F.B.I. They were never sent out on a routine assignment, but always rated the calls where death was practically a certainty. They were the Suicide Squad of the F.B.I. Not so long ago there had been five of them. Now there were only three. Tomorrow there might be only two—or one... or none. But one thing was sure—that when they died, they'd take their killers to Hell along with them.

Neither Kerrigan nor Murdoch nor Klaw said a word as they stood around that grim black coffin and looked down into the face of young Special Agent Thomas Grant. The mortician had done a pretty good job on him, but the scars of an ugly accident were still visible upon that young face.

It was the Director who spoke first. His voice was just a little shaky.

"Tommy Grant was the youngest member of the Bureau," he said. "He was found last night at the wheel of a wrecked car, on the road just outside of town. There was a half-filled bottle of whiskey on the seat alongside of him. Everything points to the fact that he was driving while intoxicated, and crashed."

Kerrigan and Murdoch and Klaw shifted uncomfortably, and glanced at each other. Then Stephen Klaw, the smallest of the three, cleared his throat. "I don't believe it, Chief. I knew Tommy while he was in training school. The kid didn't drink."

The Director nodded. "That's right, Steve. That's the reason I sent for you and Kerrigan and Murdoch. I have a job for you three—if you want to tackle it."

The three of them tensed, their eyes suddenly livening up.

"You think Tommy Grant was murdered?" big Johnny Kerrigan asked.

"Yes," said the Director. "I'm sure of it. He was working in Miami, not here in Carolina. He had a routine assignment out of the Miami Field Office, to check night clubs and gambling houses for ransom money from the Pincus and other kidnaping cases. He was covering Considine's clubs. The last night he was heard from, he was going to the Sunset Club. But everybody there swears he never showed up. We're supposed to believe that instead of working that night, he went out on a drunken spree, hired a car, and drove all the way up here—then crashed. The auto renting agency in Miami that owns the car, swears that the kid rented it. A gas station attendant in Georgia swears the kid stopped there and bought ten gallons of gas and a quart of oil."

The Director paused, and looked across the coffin of Tommy Grant at Kerrigan and Murdoch and Klaw. "Everything fits in beautifully—too beautifully. For my part, I'm sure Tommy was murdered—by Humbert Considine's men!"

"Then why not take them all in for questioning?" demanded Dan Murdoch, his dark eyes flashing. "A story like that could be broken by questioning all the employees separately—"

"You don't appreciate the cleverness of this crime, Dan!" the Director interrupted. "Tommy Grant's body was found here in North Carolina. All the evidence points to the fact that Tommy died right here. Therefore, the investigation falls under the jurisdiction of the North Carolina authorities. The F.B.I. has the right to investigate, also. But we have no right to go into Florida and make arrests unless we can find evidence to prove that Tommy died in Florida. The Miami police are eager to help, because they are also sure that Considine is responsible for Tommy's death. But if they tried to take in any of Considine's men for questioning, he could get a writ of habeas corpus at once. You see, Considine is too devilishly clever. By leaving Tommy's body in another state he has practically blocked any legal investigation in Miami."

Dan Murdoch suddenly smiled. "I see," he said softly. "I was wondering where we fitted in."

The Director's stern face softened momentarily. "I see I don't have to spell it out for you boys. The only way to break this case is by forcing Humbert Considine's hand in some way. It can't be done officially. It can't be done by F.B.I. Agents."

Stephen Klaw's eyes were glittering. "In that case, sir," he said, "Special Agents Kerrigan and Murdoch and Klaw hereby tender their resignations from the Federal Bureau of Investigation—to take effect immediately!"

The Director smiled. "Your resignations are accepted," he said. "Under the law, you are permitted to recall your resignations within ten days, and rejoin the Service. I'll be waiting to hear from you. And I pray to God that you'll all three of you come out of this alive!"

As they stepped out of the mortuary chamber, he shook hands with each of them in turn. Then Kerrigan and Murdoch and Klaw walked solemnly down the street to Dan Murdoch's car, in which they had driven here from Washington.

From a pocket in the car, Dan Murdoch took a bottle of twenty-year-old Scotch whiskey, which he kept for such occasions. He filled three small paper cups.

They raised the cups to their lips. "To Tommy Grant," said Dan Murdoch. They drank.

Then Stephen Klaw took the bottle, and filled the cups again.

"And here," he said, "is luck to Humbert Considine—he's going to need it!"

IN accordance with their usual custom, Kerrigan and Murdoch and Klaw never went into a town on a job together. Stephen Klaw arrived first by train. Kerrigan and Murdoch, who were driving in, would get here in two or three hours.

Klaw checked in at the Tamiami Hotel, only a block north of the Sunset Club, on Biscayne Boulevard. He stayed in his room only long enough to get two extra clips out of his bag for his two automatics, and went down into the lobby.

It was fairly busy down here. At one end of the lobby there was a gay crowd of men and women, playing the slot-machines. Others were standing around and chatting, or sitting at small tables and drinking long cool drinks which were brought to them by waiters from the bar in the rear.

Stephen Klaw stopped by the desk for a moment, and surveyed the crowd. As he stood there, slim and wiry in white jacket and blue trousers, he might almost have been mistaken for a kid—were it not for those expressionless slate-grey eyes of his.

The clerk leaned over the desk and asked, "Is there anything I can do for you, sir?"

Klaw shook his head. Then he asked, "Whose slot-machines are those—Considine's?"

The clerk nodded. "Yes, sir. We used to have other machines, but after two stench-bombs were left in the cellar, we put in Considine's. They're not as good as the ones we used to have. Considine's machines are rigged so they only pay off about two percent."

"Thanks," said Steve. He left the desk and walked over toward the row of "one-armed bandits." There were eight of the machines, and they were all being busily played. There were two nickel machines, two for dimes, two for quarters and two for half-dollars.

An attendant with pockets full of coins stood at one side, making change for anyone who ran short of coins. This attendant was a heavy-set bruiser, and there was a noticeable bulge under his left armpit. His presence here was not so much for the convenience of the customers, as for the protection of the machines from damage by rival outfits.

Steve Klaw waited until one of the quarter machines was free. He went over to it and slipped a quarter in the slot. Then he pulled the handle sharply, but not all the way down, and pushed it back up again at once. The machine jammed. It was a trick he had learned in the F.B.I. research laboratory, where a complete study had been made of various gambling devices.

The player at the machine next to Steve's said, "Looks like it's busted."

Steve said, "Yeah." He began to pound at the face of the machine, and then began to shake it so that all the quarters in the jackpot box rattled.

The attendant pushed his way roughly through the crowd to Steve's side and growled.

"Hey, you! What you doin'?"

Stephen Klaw looked up at him. "It's jammed," he said mildly.

"Well, you don't have to bust it!" the attendant growled.

"Oh, no," said Steve. "I wouldn't want to bust it—much."

He shook it hard, and the machine started to topple off the stand. It swayed precariously, and the attendant yelled, "Hey!" and grabbed for it.

Steve gave it an extra shove, and it went over, hitting the floor with a resounding crash. It burst open, and a flood of quarters went cascading all over the lobby.

The customers jumped out of the way, laughing. Many of the women got down on their knees and began picking up the coins. They considered it a huge joke.

The burly attendant became red in the face. "You done that on purpose!" he yelled, towering over Stephen Klaw. He put a big paw on Steve's shoulder. "I'll show you—"

"Take your hand off me," Steve said coldly.

"Wise guy, huh!" barked the husky. "Well, see how you like this!" He kept his left hand on Steve's shoulder, and swung a wicked right at the G-man's jaw.

Klaw twisted away from the blow with effortless ease, and dug a left hook into the bruiser's stomach. Almost at the same time, like a snake flicking up at a victim, his right crashed into the other's jaw. That blow was deceptive. To anyone who saw it, it did not seem possible that Stephen Klaw's slim body could pack so much dynamite. The bruiser's head snapped back, and he went tottering backward, among the quarters and the debris of the wrecked machine, clawing for balance.

Steve grinned wickedly, and followed him up with a right deep into his stomach that sent him hurtling back into the row of machines. The big man hit them hard, and three of the one-armed bandits went crashing to the floor on top of him.

Stephen Klaw massaged his knuckles. "So sorry," he said to the hotel manager, who had come running out hastily. "Some one ought to teach better manners to these slot-machine gangsters."

The manager was groaning. The clerk had whispered to him that Klaw was a guest. "This is terrible, sir. You've made a lot of trouble for yourself. You don't know how vicious these thugs are. I wish I didn't have to keep the machines here. They'll surely do you harm, sir. Considine will be in a murderous rage when he hears that four of his machines have been wrecked. Perhaps you had better move—"

"On the contrary," Steve said smoothly. "I insist that when Considine inquires, you tell him that the damage was caused by—Stephen Klaw!"

He left the manager open-mouthed, and strolled out of the hotel.


STEPHEN KLAW walked down Biscayne Boulevard, but avoided going into the Sunset Club. He turned west on Flagler Street, however, and entered a narrow building over whose door there was a sign reading, "Nick's Coffee House."

There was a narrow flight of stairs to the upper floor. Here, a thin-lipped gunman stood on guard before a door.

"Where to, mister?" he asked.

"I crave," Steve said, "to play some stud poker."

The guard studied him, narrow-eyed. "I ain't seen you here before."

"I just came down from the North," Steve said. "A friend told me to look this place up. He said to ask for Sammy Lax."

"Okay," said the guard. "You can go in."

Steve opened the door and stepped inside. He found himself in a huge room, thick with cigarette smoke. There were almost a hundred men present.

At one end of the room, across the entire wall, there was a huge blackboard, upon which were marked the names of every race track in the country operating at the time, with the names of the horses and jockeys.

During the daytime, this place was a book-making office. In the evening, it was a gambling-room. At the rear there was a row of windows, closed now, where patrons made their bets and were paid off. In the center of the room there were three busy dice tables, with sweating men crowded around them. No women were permitted here. At the left, there were three smaller tables, at which intent men were playing stud or faro. Each table had a house man dealing, and the house took a cut from each pot. Circulating around the room were five or six tough-looking thugs, with guns bulging under their coats. They were here to keep order, and to protect the large amounts of cash at the dice and card tables.

A big, fat man with a double chin came over to Steve. "Welcome, stranger," he said. "I'm Sammy Lax. Just call me Sammy. Looking for a game?"

"A little stud," said Steve.

"Sure. We got two stud tables. One's a dollar and two. The other's five dollars in the kitty each deal, and table stakes."

"I'll take the table stakes," Steve told him.

"You got to buy a hundred-dollar stack."

"Suits me." Steve took out a thick roll of bills.

Sammy Lax's eyes brightened. "Come right along, stranger." He put a fat arm around Steve's shoulder, and led him through the fog of smoke to the stud table. As they walked, he pressed a little close to Steve, and his hand brushed, as if by accident, against Steve's hip pockets.

At the table he said to the five men already playing, "Here's a sixth, boys." He patted Steve on the shoulder, and his hand touched lightly but surely at the spot where one would carry a shoulder holster. Apparently satisfied that the newcomer had no weapons, he pulled out a chair for Steve, who seated himself, and handed a hundred dollars to the house man, who gave him a stack of chips.

The players were all silent and intent upon their game. They nodded to Steve, sizing him up covertly. At least three of them were professional gamblers employed by the house, sitting in the game on the chance that a sucker would come in. Then they would raise the pot when one of them had a good hand, thus drawing attention away from whichever one of them had the winning cards. Steve could tell that they were busy estimating how much money he had with him.

He went into the first few hands on everything, dropping forty dollars in ten minutes. He lost one large pot on three aces, to a low straight, and the dealer said, "Tough luck, bud. I was sure you were tops."

Steve shrugged. Negligently he asked, "This isn't one of Humbert Considine's spots, is it?"

He could see the other men at the table stiffen. The dealer's swift and agile hands faltered for an instant in dealing, then proceeded smoothly.

"Why do you ask?" the dealer demanded sharply.

"Just out of curiosity," Steve said. "I've heard that Considine is a dirty crook. I wouldn't want to play in one of his houses. They say all his dealers are crooked."

THE dealer didn't answer. He kept on passing the cards around, and Steve got a king in the hole, and a deuce showing. His next card was a deuce, giving him a pair. He bet five dollars. All the others stayed. Steve's next card was a king, and another player, whom the rest called Al, got two sevens and a queen showing. Al bet five dollars, and Steve raised it twenty. Al saw the bet, and one of the other players unexpectedly raised the pot fifty dollars. Steve had just fifty dollars' worth of chips in front of him. He pushed them in.

"You can buy more chips if you need them," the dealer said. "Or you can have me deal the hand out at table stakes."

"I'll buy more chips after the next card," Steve said.

The dealer nodded, and dealt. Al got another seven with his queen and two sevens, giving him three of a kind showing. Steve got another king, giving him three kings full.

Al, who had the highest hand showing, bet twenty dollars.

"Your bet, mister. Want to buy more?" The dealer asked Steve.

STEVE pushed his chair back a little. His hands were dug deep in his jacket pockets. His slate-grey eyes were absolutely without expression. But there was a hard smile at his lips.

"No," he said, speaking very loud, so that his voice carried above the hubbub at the dice tables. "I'm not buying any more chips. This is a clip joint. You dealt that last round of cards off the bottom of the deck!"

There was a sudden deadly hush in the huge room. Even the rattle of the dice ceased.

In that hush, Steve leaned across the table, taking his left hand out of his pocket, and flipped over Al's hole card. It was a seven.

Steve put his hand back in his pocket. "Four of a kind!" he said. "Against a full house. What a spot for a killing!"

The dealer snarled, "Why, you little punk! You say I dealt crooked? I'll push your teeth in—"

He stopped, looking at the big, flabby figure of Sammy Lax, who had come up to the table. Behind Sammy Lax, the four or five gunmen-guards were converging on the table.

Steve Klaw stood up, keeping his hands in his pockets.

Sammy Lax looked at him with a hurt expression. "Now, mister, I'm sure you know better than to come here looking for trouble. If that's what you're after, we can give it to you."

"Trouble," said Stephen Klaw, "is exactly what I'm after."

He kicked the chair out of the way, and took two quick steps to the left, setting his back against the wall. His two hands came out of his pockets, each gripping a small black automatic. One of the guns centered on Sammy Lax's stomach. The other moved in a narrow arc, covering the converging gunmen, who had also drawn guns.

Klaw's glance swept the room.

"Well," he asked. "Who wants to start giving me this trouble? Or do I get my money back?"

One of the gunmen at the extreme left raised his revolver in a lightning motion, thinking that Steve wasn't looking at him. But Klaw flipped his wrist around, and pulled the trigger.

His automatic barked before the gunman could fire, and the man cried out hoarsely and dropped the revolver. His face became green with pain, and he hugged a shattered right arm against his side.

That was the signal for pandemonium to break loose in the place. The players around the dice tables began to mill all over the room, some making for the door, others crowding against the croupiers. Eager hands dug into the money boxes of the croupiers at the dice tables, plucking out handfuls of bills. This was a chance that came only once in a lifetime—a fight in a gambling-house, with the guards busy, and no one to stop them from helping themselves!

Steve Klaw had not remained stationary after firing that one shot. He jumped forward and got a grip of Sammy Lax's coat. He yanked the big man off balance, swung him around and pulled him in front of himself as a shield against the guns in the room. He kept one of his automatics against Sammy's spine, and thrust the other one menacingly out in front of the big manager.

"All right, Sammy," he said. "Tell your stooges to scram."

Sammy Lax was groaning. "My God, they're taking all the dough! There's fifty grand in this room, an' they're taking it all away!"

THE gunmen had been closing in, trying to get a shot at Klaw past the manager's bulk. Now, at Sammy's shouts, they turned belatedly to protect the money boxes. But they were all empty, and the crowd was streaming out like a flood.

Stephen Klaw took swift advantage of that momentary shift in the attention of the gunmen. He gave Sammy Lax a hard shove, and sent him sprawling to the floor. Then he swung around and kicked over the stud table at which he had been playing, and which was deserted now. Then he raced across the room toward the milling stream of men who were pushing out through the doorway.

One of the gunmen saw him and yelled, "There goes that punk!"

He fired as he yelled, and the slug whined past Steve's head, smashed into one of the men massed in the doorway. Steve snapped a shot which caught the gunman in the shoulder, whirling him around like a top. Now the others were turning their fire on Steve, disregarding the fact that every bullet that missed him buried itself in one of the men in the crowd.

Steve's eyes became grim. Instead of trying to get out, he sprang back across the room, and up-ended one of the long dice tables. He leaped behind this, with a fusillade of shots following him, and used it as a barricade. He crouched behind it, with only his head showing, and fired methodically and coolly, shooting not to kill, but to disable.

His two guns kept blazing twin streams of lead at the gunmen. There were only two of them left on their feet now, and these two decided it wasn't worth it. They turned and ran toward the rear, disappearing through a door alongside the pay-off windows.

The room was cleared now, except for the wounded gunmen, and one of the patrons, who was hit in the leg. The rest of the customers had gotten away with all the cash in the place.

Sammy Lax was picking himself up from the floor, and clawing at a gun in his hip pocket. Steve Klaw grinned thinly, and came over to him.

Sammy saw him coming, cursed, and got the gun all the way out.

Steve covered the last three feet in a running leap, and smacked down with an automatic upon Sammy's wrist. Sammy Lax howled, and dropped the gun. Steve pocketed his automatics, as he heard the sound of a police siren out in the street. He grinned at Sammy Lax.

"When you see Humbert Considine," he said, "tell him the guy who wrecked his place is Stephen Klaw!" He stepped in close and brought up a sweet uppercut to the big man's chin that laid him down on the floor.

Then Steve turned and sprinted for that back door through which the gunmen had fled. It led out into a backyard, and by the time the police got upstairs, Stephen Klaw was out on First Street, which runs parallel to Flagler. He was whistling very contentedly as he stepped into a dark doorway and inserted new clips in his automatics...


IT was now nine P.M., and the crowds were out thickly on Biscayne Boulevard. The restaurants and cafeterias were busy, and busses were picking up hundreds of people headed for the Dog Track. Steve had two hours more in which to work, because Kerrigan and Murdoch couldn't possibly get in before eleven.

He got a cab, and drove over the County Causeway, which links Miami to Miami Beach, across Biscayne Bay. Considine had a number of spots on the beach, and Steve visited two or three of them, causing considerable damage and confusion at all of them, and being careful to leave his name at each.

Then, about a quarter of eleven, he headed back to his hotel.

The clerk looked at him queerly when he got his key. Steve grinned, glancing at the row of newly installed machines in the lobby. There was a new attendant in charge of them, who carefully avoided looking at Steve. Also, there were three or four hard-faced men lounging in the lobby, with an elaborate appearance of idleness.

Steve grinned at the clerk. "I see Considine works fast," he remarked. "He must have a lot of machines in reserve."

The clerk was worried. He glanced furtively around to see if he was observed, then he said swiftly. "I wouldn't go upstairs if I were you, Mr. Klaw."

Steve raised his eyebrows. "Thanks for the tip." He took out a ten-dollar bill and slipped it across the counter. "Buy yourself a slot-machine with that. And if two men by the name of Kerrigan and Murdoch come asking for me, give them a duplicate key to my room, and send them up without delay. Okay?"

"Thank you, Mr. Klaw," said the clerk.

As Steve made for the elevator the clerk looked after him as one looks after a dear departed friend.

At the fifth floor Steve got out of the elevator and went to the door of 517, his room. He glanced up and down the corridor, making sure there was no one lying in wait out here. He noisily inserted the key, and turned it. He turned the knob, pushing the door open just a crack. Then he stuck both his hands in his jacket pockets, and kicked the door wide open.

Two men were visible to him inside the room. The one sitting on the bed had dun-colored hair, and a split lip. The one sitting on the chair by the window had a toothpick in his mouth. Both of them had guns, and the guns were trained on the door through which Stephen Klaw came.

"Keep comin' in, mister," said the one on the bed. "Don't stop."

Steve stopped, standing alongside the half-open door. He looked nonchalant, with his hands in his pockets.

"What do you want?" he asked them.

The one with the toothpick grinned. "You're the guy that's been goin' around town raisin' hell and giving the name of Stephen Klaw?"

"That's right."

"Well, the boss wants to talk to you. You're coming with us."

"Who's your boss—Considine?"

Split-lip growled, and got up from the bed. He kept the gun pointing at Steve. "You'll find out—plenty. Turn around while I frisk you."

"Perhaps," said Steve, "it would be better for you both if you put away your guns and went out of here now."

Split-lip growled again. "Come here, Looney," he said to the one with the toothpick, "and keep him covered while I frisk him."

"Okey-doke, Mike," said Looney. He got up from the chair and came over to the door, with his gun handy. "Stick up your mitts, punk. The boss said to bring you back in one piece—if possible. If not, to leave you stiff. So take your choice."

"I'm sorry," said Stephen Klaw. "Very sorry to have to do this."

He shot from his pockets—once with each gun.

Looney took the slug high in the shoulder, where Steve had intended it to go. But unfortunately, Mike moved sharply to one side at the moment when Steve fired, and the bullet caught him square in the heart instead of in the shoulder.

He dropped like a ton of bricks, while Looney gasped with the shock of the impact, and slumped against the wall. He let the gun fall from his nerveless fingers, and just stared at Steve with a stunned look.

STEPHEN KLAW came all the way into the room, and kicked the door shut. He pocketed his automatics, and pushed Mike's body out of the way. Then he helped Looney over to the bed. He laid him on it, and helped him off with his coat, then ripped away the shirt.

The wound was bleeding freely. The bullet had gone through the fleshy part of the shoulder, and come out at the back.

"I guess you'll be all right," Steve told him. "Lie still till I fix you up."

He opened one of his bags and took out bandage and iodine. He got hot water and a towel from the bathroom, and washed the wound, cleansed it, and bound it up.

Looney lay quietly with his eyes closed while Steve worked over him.

"Thanks, pal," he said. "It's more than I'd do for you."

"Don't mention it," said Steve. "You're going to do a lot for me before I'm through with you."

"What do you mean?"

"You're going to help me get Considine."

"Nuts," said Looney. "I ain't no rat."

"You will be," Steve assured him.

He took a pair of handcuffs from his bag, and cuffed Looney's left wrist to the bed post.

Looney's eyes widened at sight of the bracelets.

"Hey! Are you a cop? We thought you was a trigger guy trying to muscle in on the boss's territory."

"I'm not a cop," Steve told him truthfully.

"Then—then how did you get these bracelets? They're official handcuffs."

Steve grinned. "They used to belong to a G-man."

Looney exclaimed. "You're a hard guy, ain't you?"

"What do you think?"

Klaw didn't give him a chance to answer that one. He had changed to another coat while he was talking, and had taken two more extra clips from the bag. He started for the door.

"Listen," Looney called after him. "You gonna leave me here for long?"

"Not long," Steve told him, and went out and locked the door after him.

He took the elevator down to the lobby, and saw Kerrigan and Murdoch at the desk, inquiring for him. Also, he saw the astonished looks on the faces of the four or five men who had watched him go up, and who were obviously planted there by Considine.

Johnny Kerrigan saw him, and started to call out across the lobby, but Steve just raised one eyebrow, and kept on walking. Johnny took the hint, and turned back to the desk, nudging Dan Murdoch. The clerk started to point Steve out to them, but Johnny Kerrigan said something to him quickly, and he stopped.

Stephen Klaw crossed the lobby, passed the slot-machines, which were still getting a heavy play, and went into one of the telephone booths. From inside the booth he could command a view of most of the lobby, and he saw two of Considine's men inconspicuously following him. One of them sidled into the adjoining phone booth.

For this one's benefit, Steve picked up the receiver, but held the hook down. In a loud voice he said, "I want to get Detroit!"

Then he released the hook and gave the operator the number of the Tamiami Hotel. In a moment he saw the clerk at the desk pick up the phone, and heard the clerk's voice say, "Tamiami Hotel, good evening."

"Let me talk to Mr. Murdoch—one of the two men at the desk," Steve said.

He saw the clerk hand the phone to Dan Murdoch.

"Dan!" he said swiftly. "Hold on a second."

He covered the mouthpiece, and raised his voice for the benefit of the man in the next booth. "Detroit? I want a person-to-person call to Jack Slade, in the Imperial Hotel!"

Jack Slade was the number one racket boss of Detroit, and Steve knew this would impress the eavesdropper. Then he removed his hand from the mouthpiece, and lowered his voice.

"Dan, there are two lobsters up in my room. One is broiled, the other is kicking. Get the key and go up and talk to the live one. I'm going to the Sunset Club. Tell Johnny to tail me, and watch for the cue to start action—"

"Nix, Shrimp," said Dan. "We'll both tail you. Let the lobster wait upstairs. How you been doing?"

"Pretty good. I've got Considine after me. There are four or five gorillas right here in the lobby. They're kind of wondering what happened to their two pals upstairs. I think I see one just going up to investigate. Listen, Dan, you go up and handle him, and let Johnny cover me. You can come over later. I'll wait fifteen minutes before starting fireworks."

"Okay," said Dan. "But if you start without me, I'll wring your neck, Shrimp."

"Okay, Mope," said Steve. "Hang up."

Dan Murdoch hung up, as Steve clicked the hook down, and raised his voice once more. "Hello," he fairly shouted. "Is this Jack Slade? How are you, Jack? This is Steve. Say, I'm going to town on Considine's layouts. We'll have him eating out of our hand in no time. Yeah, everything is jake. Better send a bunch of the boys over by plane."

He kept on his imaginary conversation for another minute or so, and then hung up.

HE stepped out of the booth, and the eavesdropper came out of the adjoining one and fell in step beside him, and the other Considine man, who had been standing near by, fell in step at his other side.

"Just keep walking, bo," said the one at the left. He was getting the gun in his coat pocket into position against Steve's ribs as he spoke, and he was unprepared for Steve's quick reaction.

Steve simply stopped walking, and the two hoods couldn't help but finish the step they had begun to take. That put them slightly ahead of Steve.

Steve's two automatics came out of his pockets. He held them low, where they couldn't be seen by the patrons in the lobby, and pointed them at the two thugs. They turned their heads, and froze where they stood.

Steve grinned at them disarmingly. "Take your hands out of your pockets—empty!" he ordered.

Slowly, the two men brought their hands out, and held them in plain view.

"Nice boys," said Steve. "Now, keep walking. Scram out of here. Next time I see either of you, I'll shoot on sight."

"Listen," said the one who had eavesdropped. "You're nuts if you think you can muscle in. Now we know who you are. You're one of Jack Slade's Detroit mob. Well, you guys can't come in here and take over. Our boss is too big for you. If you guys want in on the racket, why don't you come over and talk it over with the boss? He might give you a piece of territory. There's plenty for everybody down here."

"Nix," said Steve. "We like the slot-machine racket, and the gambling spots. But we ain't tying up with any outfit that goes in for snatching. That's a Federal rap."

He slipped the automatics back in his pockets, but kept his hands on them. Out of the corner of his eyes he saw that Dan Murdoch had taken the elevator up, and that Johnny Kerrigan was watching him out of the corner of his eye.

The Considine hood at his left tried again. "Hell, how do you know about snatching?"

Steve grinned. "We get around a lot. And we hear a lot. The Feds are going to come down on your boss like a ton of bricks. We hear Considine has been passing the hot snatch money through his gambling spots, and a G-man tumbled, and he knocked off the G-man. Well, when your boss gets the works from the Feds, we're gonna be right here on the spot to take over the rackets!"

The hood looked terribly worried.

"That Pincus snatch was a bad one," Steve said. "And killing the G-man was a dumb move."

"Hell," said the hood, "nobody can put the finger on us for that. The boss is too smart. He's a lawyer."

"Well," said Steve, "let's go up to my room first."

The hoods looked at each other, and shrugged.

"Okay, pal. Maybe we can convince you. You got the drop on us, anyway."

The three of them started for the elevators, with Steve just a little behind.

The other Considine men in the lobby had been watching closely, and they had caught the by-play with the guns. They were converging slowly toward Steve and his two new acquaintances, and Johnny Kerrigan was moving around so as to get a point of vantage.

But the hood at Steve's left, who was apparently in command, shook his head almost imperceptibly in the negative, and the other gunmen let them go. They got into the elevator and rode up to the fifth with Steve still keeping behind them.

"You don't have to worry," said the spokesman of the two when they got out of the elevator. "As long as we're gonna talk this over friendly like, you don't have to worry that we'll jump you."

"I'm not worried," Steve told them. He took out his two automatics "I'm just playing safe." He prodded them along to the door of 517, and kicked it.

"Who...?" asked Dan Murdoch.

Dan opened the door. He grinned when he saw Steve's two companions.

"A regular round-up, eh, Shrimp?"

"In!" Steve ordered the two hoods, motioning with his automatics.

THE two gunmen began to suspect they had not been invited up here just for a conference. When they got inside and Dan had closed the door they became certain of it. They stared from the dead body of Mike to the manacled figure of Looney on the bed.

Stephen Klaw kept them covered while Murdoch frisked them both.

"This one," said Steve, indicating the hood who had done all the talking, "knows about Considine's snatch racket. He also knows something about the bumping of that G-man. I think you'll have to stay here, Dan, and sort of keep an eye on them, while Johnny and I go over to the Sunset Club." He grinned. "Too bad, Dan. Looks like you'll miss the fun."

Murdoch had a sour look on his face. "Damn you, Shrimp, the next time we go on a job, I'm getting the action!"

"In the meantime," Steve continued imperturbably, "you can talk to these—gentlemen, and see what you can learn."

He took the elevator down, and came out into the lobby. He almost burst out laughing at the expression of blank amazement on the faces of the remaining Considine men down there. They had certainly not expected Klaw to come down alone this time.

Steve walked past them as if he didn't know them, winked at Johnny Kerrigan who was standing near the door.

He walked down one block toward the Sunset Club. Once he glanced behind him, and saw the Considine men following him in a tight group about fifty feet behind, and Johnny Kerrigan ambling along behind them. Everything was going fine so far.


KLAW was one of a dozen people entering the Sunset Club, some from taxicabs, others from nearby hotels. It was almost midnight, and the last race at the dog track was over, so the crowds were streaming back into Miami.

Steve came into the foyer of the club behind a party of two men and three women, and the doorman didn't even notice him. He followed the crowd across the dining-room toward the south wing, where the gambling-tables were located.

Steve wandered around for a few minutes, watching the entrance. Right after he came in, he saw the group of Considine thugs enter. They spotted him at once, and spread out around the room so as to be on all sides of him.

Steve acted as if he had not seen them. But he made sure to keep one hand in a pocket at all times. Two minutes more, and he saw Johnny Kerrigan's big stevedore shoulders appear in the doorway.

Steve started to push his way in toward one of the dice tables.

The two "assistant managers" suddenly appeared at the fringe of the crowd, and one of them tapped him on the shoulder. Steve did not know him at the time, but it was Nick Fabian. The other one was Bugs Nestor.

Steve frowned, and turned around, looking up at Fabian's brutal face.

"Well?" he asked.

"Excuse me, mister," said Fabian. "Have you got a card of admission?"

Steve raised his eyebrows. "Who ever heard of a card of admission to a dump like this?"

He said it in a very loud voice, so that all the people pressing around the dice table heard him. Several of them turned to watch, scenting a fight, perhaps thinking it was a noisy drunk who was going to get the bounce.

Nick Fabian's face broadened in an ugly scowl. "Look, mister, I think you better get out of here. You ain't wanted here."

He put a hand on Steve's shoulder to turn him around.

Stephen Klaw turned all right—but much faster than Fabian had expected. His left fist came around with all the force of his lithe body behind it, and slammed into the side of Fabian's face. The knuckles cut a raw line in his cheek.

"I don't like anyone to put his hands on me!" Steve said.

Fabian's eyes were murderous. He wiped the blood from his cheek, and came in at Steve. Suddenly, a circle was cleared around them. The only other one near them was Bugs Nestor, who was a little behind Steve. Fabian signaled to Nestor with his hand, and Nestor yanked his gun out and stepped in toward Klaw.

But someone else stepped in much faster. Big Johnny Kerrigan came up behind Nestor on noiseless, gum-soled shoes, and got a grip on his gun arm with the powerful fingers of his right hand. He whispered in Nestor's ear.

"Let it be a fair fight, pal."

Nestor squirmed in that crushing grip, but he couldn't get enough strength back in his arm to raise the gun.

In the meantime, Nick Fabian had his own gun out. He began, "Now you punk, we'll see—"

He didn't get any farther, because Stephen Klaw suddenly had an automatic in his hand, and the automatic was smashing down at Fabian's wrist. It struck bone with a crunching sound, and Fabian's snarling challenge changed to a cry of pain.

Steve said, "So sorry, mister. I forgot to tell you I also don't like people shooting me!"

He took Fabian's gun out of his resistless hand, broke it, and took the cartridges out. He put them in his pocket, and threw the revolver carelessly on the floor. Then he turned and faced the room.

"Any one else want to try something?" he asked.

"Look out, Shrimp—to your left!" yelled Johnny Kerrigan, and at the same time he sent Bugs Nestor hurtling away from him with a powerful shove, and threw down his gun on a small group of croupiers and guards who had pulled guns and were coming in at Steve from the left.

Johnny fired five times quick, and Steve, moving more by reflex motion, swiveled and fired in the same direction, his shots blending their raucous thunder with those of Kerrigan's.

The gunmen scattered under that blast, leaving two of their number writhing on the floor.

Men and women patrons began to mill around in panic. Women screamed above the thunder of the guns, and men tried to shield them with their bodies.

"This way, Shrimp!" shouted Johnny Kerrigan, backing toward the door at the side, which led to the upper floor. He kept his gun belching at the gunmen, and Steve brought out his second automatic and joined the chorus, backing toward Kerrigan.

Kerrigan reached behind him and yanked the door open, and they both slipped through.

Steve turned and grinned at Johnny. "Nice going, Mope."

"Not bad, Shrimp, not bad," said Johnny Kerrigan. "How about we go upstairs and see what makes this club tick?"

"Good idea," said Steve.

THEY started up the flight, and a door at the head of the stairs opened. Kris Mungo appeared. He had a burnished sub-machine gun in his hands, and as soon as he saw Klaw and Kerrigan he dropped flat on the floor of the landing up above, and poked the muzzle of the gun over the edge.

"Drop your rods," he ordered, "or I'll spray the two of you!"

Steve and Johnny squinted up toward the landing, but there was nothing to be seen of Mungo to shoot at—only the muzzle of the Thompson.

Steve said hurriedly to Johnny, "He'll have to lift his head up to shoot. I'm going up after him. When he raises his head, you pot him!"

He didn't give Kerrigan a chance to argue, but launched himself up the stairs.

"You damned fool, Shrimp!" Kerrigan shouted. His own gun was empty, and he knew that both of Klaw's clips were exhausted. They didn't have a chance.

Steve covered three or four steps of the flight, and Mungo, who dared not show his head to aim after what he had heard, blindly pulled the trip of the sub-machine gun. The muzzle was elevated far too much, and the burst went over Steve's head, burying itself in the sloping ceiling under the stairway.

Mungo lifted his head now to see what damage he had done, and when he glimpsed Steve coming up the stairs, he gave way to momentary panic, turned to run. Then he stopped short, with a nasty smile under his waxed moustache. He had just realized that neither Steve nor Johnny were shooting at him. And he was smart enough to understand why.

He turned around gloatingly, and pointed the weapon down at Steve.

"All right, you punks!" he snarled. "Take it now!"

Steve started to run up the remaining steps, and Johnny Kerrigan let out a roar of rage and sprang up after him.

Steve was only a third of the way up the flight, and Johnny just starting up. The muzzle of the Thompson was trained on them point-blank. Mungo couldn't miss. He waited just a fraction of a second, allowing Steve to get just a bit closer, but still not close enough. Then his finger began to tighten on the trip.

He should never have waited that fraction of a second. Because just as his finger began to grow taut, a grim and terrible figure appeared in the doorway of his own office, behind him.

It was the figure of Dan Murdoch.

Murdoch's face was set and grim, as he moved with all the lightning speed of which his long and supple body was capable. His arm snaked out and he smashed sideways with the edge of his open palm against the side of Mungo's neck. Mungo was sent staggering to the right, against the wall. Involuntarily his finger pulled the trip of the sub-machine gun, but Dan Murdoch had foreseen that. His other arm was already swinging up. It hit the barrel, sending it upward, and the short spray of lead beat a staccato tattoo upon the ceiling.

Mungo was snarling like a cornered beast now. He swung around, trying to level his weapon at Dan Murdoch.

But Steve Klaw was at the top. He hurled himself into Mungo, sending him crashing into Dan, who uppercut him beautifully. Mungo's head snapped back, he let go of the Thompson.

Before he could reach it, Murdoch caught him, holding him up, while Steve Klaw grabbed the sub-machine gun.

Johnny Kerrigan came storming up to the top, and patted Murdoch on the shoulder.

"How the hell did you get here?" Steve demanded. "I thought you were watching those bozos!"

Dan grinned sheepishly. "I got the itch to see what was going on, so I tapped them both on the bean and left them on the floor. When I got here I heard shooting, and people were streaming out through the front entrance, so I went around the back. There was an auto parked in the alley, and an open window above it. So I climbed to the car's roof, and in through the window, and what do I see but this ginzo about to perform a major operation on you two dubs!"

Police sirens were shrieking in the distance.

"Let's go," said Johnny Kerrigan. "Don't forget we're only private citizens now. We'd have a lot of explaining to do to the police."

"What about him?" Dan asked, jerking his head down at the limp form of Kris Mungo.

"We'll take him along," Steve decided. "If we corral enough of these birds, we should piece together some dope on Considine."

"Let's go!" said Johnny. He stooped and hefted Mungo up over his shoulder, and the three of them trooped into Mungo's office. They climbed out of the window, landing on top of the car, which was still parked in the alley.

"We can't go out that way," Kerrigan said. "This alley runs down into the next street."

Steve was peering into the parked car. "Very nice of this gentleman, whoever he is," he said. "The ignition key is right here. Pile in, boys!"


AT eleven o'clock that evening, Mr. Humbert Considine had been very angry. By midnight, he was in a cold rage, ordering all his thugs and gunmen available out on the job of trapping this Stephen Klaw who seemed to be bent on muscling into the racket, single-handed. By one A.M. he was beginning to be a little worried. By two o'clock he was frenziedly anxious.

The reports coming in to him were increasingly bad. His two private killers, Mike Stich and Looney Platz, had gone to the Tamiami Hotel to lie in wait for this Stephen Klaw and bring him in. That was the last he had heard from them. Then the Sunset Club got the works, with the place in a shambles, and the police called in. It seemed from the reports, that this Klaw had been reinforced by a couple of other fire-eaters, and they had just taken the Sunset Club apart, and kidnaped Kris Mungo. Then these three had gone on a real tear, visiting another half-dozen Considine spots, and acting with their usual gentle savagery.

So by two o'clock in the morning Mr. Humbert Considine was beside himself with fear and anxiety. So far, almost twenty of his most vicious thugs were dead, wounded or missing. His night club spots were wrecked, and his slot-machines were a shambles. Desperately, he got his hat, left his apartment and drove in his big maroon limousine, across the County Causeway to police headquarters in Miami. Since he didn't have his two precious bodyguards with him—Mike and Looney having been sent out to trap Klaw—Considine had to content himself with two big .45 calibre revolvers, and his chauffeur.

At police headquarters he got out of his car and stormed into the office of Detective-Captain Schultz, who was in charge at night.

"By God, Schultz," he shouted, "I want some action. I want some protection. Are you going to let that Klaw and his hellions ruin my whole business?"

Captain Schultz didn't care much for Considine. But they had never been able to prove a crime against him, and as long as he was apparently an honest business man, he was entitled to courteous treatment by the police.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Considine," said Captain Schultz, barely repressing a smile at sight of the Big Boss's evident agitation. "But we've been doing everything in our power. We just don't seem able to catch up to those three hellions. They move too fast for us. I just got a report that they wrecked one of your places out on the Tamiami Trail. They must be plain crazy—or else they're the three bravest guys in the world. They walk into the toughest spots—and come out with whole skins. You'd think they were begging to get knocked off!"

Humbert Considine smashed a fist down on the captain's desk. "I want some action. I'll be ruined. Put police guards at all my places!"

Schultz looked at him sourly. "You know how we feel about slot-machines, Considine. I don't care if every one of them gets smashed. And anyway, you never looked for police help before. You always seemed to have enough armed guards without the police. How come now?"

"Damn you, Schultz," barked Considine, "you'll be sorry for this. Don't forget I have plenty of influence. I make a big contribution to the campaign fund every year. I'll get the commissioner to come down on you like a ton of bricks!"

Captain Schultz shrugged. "In the meantime, it looks like these three troubleshooters have already come down on you like a ton of bricks."

"Who are they, anyway?" Considine demanded. "Have you any idea?"

"Well," said Captain Schultz judiciously, "there are a lot of rumors going around. Some say that those three are the advance guard of a big gang from the North that's getting ready to muscle into the rackets. Others say that they're G-men, tearing the town apart to find the killer of one of their boys. It seems a G-man was found dead up in Carolina, and they suspect he was killed down here. You wouldn't know anything about that, Mr. Considine—would you?"

Considine's face had become sphinx-like as Schultz talked.

"G-men?" he said queerly. "No. I don't know anything about that. Why should I?"

"Well, I don't know," Captain Schultz said innocently. "Only that G-man was thought to have been in the Sunset Club the night he was killed. Of course, all your boys deny having seen him, so I guess it was all a mistake. But I wouldn't want to have to convince those three devils. Their names are Kerrigan, and Murdoch and Klaw. The rumors say they are called the Suicide Squad, and they sure live up to their name."

"This is outrageous!" Considine shouted. "I'll telephone Washington at once, and have the F.B.I. order them back to Washington!"

"I'm afraid that won't help you, Mr. Considine." There was a twinkle in Schultz's eye. "You see, three men with those names resigned yesterday."

Considine stormed out of police headquarters, and climbed into his car. Peavey, the chauffeur, said, "Where to, Boss?"

"The Tamiami Hotel!" he snapped. "I want to see what's become of Mike and Looney!"

WHEN they pulled up in front of the Tamiami Hotel, Considine put a hand on one of his guns, and started to get out of the car. But just as he got the door open, a slim, wiry fellow who looked like a kid appeared from nowhere, and putting a hand on Considine's chest, shoved him back into the seat. Then the newcomer slipped in alongside him, and there were suddenly two automatics in his hands. One of the guns bored into Considine's ribs, the other pointed unwaveringly at the back of Peavey's head.

"Just keep on driving, Mr. Chauffeur," the newcomer said in a conversational tone of voice. "Or, if you prefer it, I'll shoot you in the back of the head, and take the wheel myself."

Peavey turned around, looked into the slate-grey eyes behind the gun, and gulped. "I'll drive," he said.

"Smart boy," approved Stephen Klaw. "Go down on Biscayne, and turn east to the Tamiami Trail. I'll tell you when to stop."

Humbert Considine stirred uneasily. "Look here," he said. "I guess you're that Stephen Klaw who's been wrecking my places. Now maybe we can talk business—"

"No," said Klaw. "We can't talk business."

Considine glanced at him sideways, as the limousine sped west on Flagler Street. "What's your object in all this?" he demanded. "If you're trying to muscle in for some out-of-town mob—"

"I'm not trying to muscle in," said Steve. He raised his voice a bit, talking to Peavey. "Swing south at the next corner. When you hit the Tamiami Trail, slow down."

Considine was surreptitiously wriggling the gun out of his left-hand pocket, which was on the other side from Steve. He got it almost all the way out, when Steve calmly leaned across him and hit his wrist hard with the barrel of the automatic.

Considine let the gun drop back in his pocket, and gasped with the pain of the blow.

"Damn you," he grated, "you'll go to jail for life for this. I'll get you—"

"You're not getting anybody," Steve told him. "You're through. You didn't know it, but you were through when you knocked off Tommy Grant."

Considine drew in his breath sharply, "Then you're a G-man!"

Steve didn't answer.

"Listen," Considine said desperately. "I swear to you I didn't have anything to do with that—"

"Stop right here, Mr. Chauffeur," Stephen Klaw said, disregarding him entirely. "In front of this building."

The building was an old structure, low and rambling. Projecting from the front porch there was a sign which read:


"Say!" exclaimed Considine. "That's one of my places!"

"It was," Steve corrected. "My friends and I have taken it over for tonight. We brought a few of your friends over."

He opened the door and stepped out, with his guns covering Peavey and Considine.

"All right," he said. "Last stop."

Stephen Klaw herded them inside at the point of his gun. The door was opened for them by Dan Murdoch, who smiled sourly when he saw Considine.

"Just in time to join the party," he said.

DAN led them into the large dining-room, which occupied the front part of the building. At one end of the room the floor had been cleared of chairs and tables, and four men were lined up there, against the wall. Johnny Kerrigan was keeping watch on them, with the machine-gun which they had taken from Kris Mungo.

Considine's eyes narrowed as he noted who those four were. Two were the hoods whom Steve had brought up to his room for Dan to guard. Looney was the third, and Kris Mungo the fourth.

Stephen Klaw shoved Considine and Peavey over against the wall to join them.

"What—what are you going to do?" Considine asked.

Johnny Kerrigan got up from the chair in which he had been sitting, and raised the sub-machine gun to his shoulder.

"Say when, Steve," he said to Klaw.

Steve nodded. "I guess we're all set—"

"Wait!" cried Considine. He turned to look at the others in the line with him. They all seemed without hope. Kris Mungo looked crookedly at Considine. "It's curtains for us," he said. "These three guys are the Suicide Squad. They're gonna knock us off and take the rap for it."

Considine's face was white. "Wait! No! You can't do that. You can't slaughter us—"

"Did you ever hear of the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre?" Dan Murdoch asked. "It's going to be repeated now. You were all implicated in the murder of Tommy Grant. We can't prove it in court. But we know you six killed him. So we're paying off."

Looney, who was standing awkwardly with his wounded shoulder, said bitterly, "Well, you gotta learn how to take it in this racket. I told the boss not to burn that G-man."

Considine turned on him viciously. "Shut up, you fool. They won't go through with it. They're just trying to get us to talk!"

"That's partly right," said Stephen Klaw. "We'd rather have you talk. We'd rather see you convicted in court, and hang for it. But if you won't talk, then it's this!" He motioned to the machine-gun.

Kris Mungo wet his lips. "Listen," he said hoarsely. "Suppose a guy talked. Would he get a break?"

"You would," said Steve. "If you gave us enough to hang Considine."

"All right, then. I'll talk!"

Looney had been leaning weakly against the wall. He straightened up and lunged at Mungo. "You dirty rat—"

For a minute they were tangled, and Dan Murdoch jumped in to drag them apart. In the confusion, Considine yanked out his two .45 calibre revolvers, and started racing toward the rear of the dining-room.

Johnny raised the sub-machine gun, but he couldn't shoot, because the others were in the line of fire.

Considine reached the rear door, leading into the kitchen, but he didn't go through. Instead, he reached up and pulled the electric switch behind the door. The room was plunged in darkness.

Considine's guns began to spit flame into the room. He was firing viciously, indiscriminately, not caring whether he hit friend or foe.

In the darkness there were sounds of struggle as several of the men jumped Dan Murdoch, who was closest to them. Johnny Kerrigan swore softly, as he dropped the Thompson gun, and pitched into the fight in the darkness.

Only Stephen Klaw saw the opening at the back door, and guessed that Considine was slipping through to make good his escape. Klaw leaped after him, and orange flame spat out at him. The ball sang past his ear, and someone behind him cried out. He thought he recognized Looney's voice, but he didn't stop to find out who had been hit. He raced after Considine, plunging through the dark kitchen. He saw the back door open into the yard, and started to blaze away with his two automatics in answer to Considine's.

Steve ran through the hail of lead, and emerged into the yard. By the trickle of moonlight slanting across the yard, he saw Considine duck behind a row of beer barrels, and poke the .45s out at him.

Steve kept on running, and Considine shot hastily, frantically. The big guns bucked in his hands, throwing the shots high. He fired twice with each gun before Steve reached the barrels and leaped over them. Considine cried out in fright, and turned to run, but Klaw made a flying tackle and tripped him. The two of them sprawled on the ground, as Considine brought up a knee to Steve's groin. Steve sensed the blow coming, and twisted over on his side, and the knee caught him in the hip.

Considine tried to bring his guns to bear on Steve, but Steve smashed him in the face with the barrel of one of the automatics.

He felt bone crunch under the blow, Considine whimpered, and covered his face. "I quit!" he cried.

STEVE dragged him up by the collar, back into the dining-room. The lights were on again. One of the two hoods was lying dead on the floor, and Looney was bleeding from a high stomach wound.

Dan Murdoch said, "Considine's bullet got him."

Kris Mungo, Peavey, and the other hood were standing against the wall again with their hands high in the air.

Steve shoved Considine into a chair. The slot-machine king had his face covered with both hands, and a trickle of blood was seeping through.

"My nose!" he moaned.

Steve paid him no attention. He joined Dan Murdoch, who was kneeling beside the dying Looney.

Looney looked up at them, and his lips tried to form words. The effort was terrible to see. His face was beaded with sweat. He was holding both hands against his stomach.

"I... guess... I'm done!" he managed to get out. "Considine shot me... didn't care who he... killed. Rat."

"Will you sign a statement?" Stephen Klaw asked.

Looney's lips twisted into a ghastly smile. "You told me... I'd be a... rat. You were right. Get... me a priest!"

An hour later, they had Looney's deathbed confession, and a signed statement from Kris Mungo and from Peavey, who had also decided to climb on the bandwagon. They saw Considine led away to jail, and Captain Schultz came over and grinned at them.

"There are a lot of charges against you boys, especially Klaw. But I guess it was all in the line of duty. You were G-men, and you were after a murderer—"

"Wait a minute," said Stephen Klaw. "We're not G-men. We resigned—"

Captain Schultz grinned broadly. "That's what I thought, too. But I was just on the phone, talking to your Director. He says he knows nothing about any resignations. He says you were on duty, and that you're to report back to Washington at once."

"Gypped!" said Johnny Kerrigan. "The Chief tore up those resignations on us. And I was looking forward to nine-days' vacation before going back!"


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
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