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Anyone who knew him laughed at the thought of Jonathan Rumley being killed by a hit-and-run driver while he was fixing a tire. The idea of Rumley stooping to manual labor, under any circumstances!

Dead Men Don't Move

Chief Howard Story

By Thomas Thursday

THAT'S THE time the call came into Headquarters, 8:15 A.M.; it was Signal 17, meaning accident, and was radioed by Officers Suggs and Stanton, Car 22. They informed Lieut. Rice that a dead man was under a new Caddie coupe, with the right wheel jacked up.

The signal should have been 27; that means homicide, murder.

The scene: Less than five feet this side of the county-city line, on the Tamiami Trail. If it had been five-feet one inch over the line it would have been a job for John Tyler, of the sheriff's CBI. John did not complain about the matter; the cases in the county drove him nuts.

I was at the wheel of the car that drove Chief Howard, along with Frank Mullady, of Identification Bureau. The chief lets me drive because he says I should be good for something. I used to be on street traffic, but I took a course in fingerprinting and general criminalistics, then asked to be assigned to Homicide. Howard still wonders why.

The chief took a quick glance at the scene, then looked down at the still male form lying under the rear of the car. The locale was lonely, except for a few early motorists heading West toward Tampa and St. Pete.

The back of the dark brown hair was matted with blood. The right rear wheel was jacked up. The observation of any novice would be to the effect that some careless or drunk driver had hit the Caddie while the guy was changing his flat tire. Which, of course, was the surface evidence. But the homicide officer who goes by surface evidence alone will soon learn that he should have remained behind some hamburger counter.

Just then Dick Rundell, of the Herald, and Sandy Schnier, of the News drove up as if they were practicing for the Indianapolis Speedway. Both guys covered Headquarters, and a few other things, for their papers. Dick was driving and Sandy said a prayer of thanks when he got out in one piece.

"What's going on here?" asked Rundell, smacking his chops over a possible headline item.

"We have been casting for catfish in the canal," I said. "The chief loves to eat catfish. You guys care for catfish?"

"Nuts," says Sandy. "That ain't no catfish lying under the back of the car."

The chief paid less attention to the reporters than if they were absent. He examined the road, sand-gravel. A single set of footprints were noticeable. I observed that the clothing of the corpse was hardly wrinkled. If this was really a hitand-run job, it was about the neatest in all accident history.

The jack under the car was not only strange, but out of place in such a car's equipment. It was of the heavy, old-fashioned type, and the top cog was missing.

The chief frisked the pockets and came out with a billfold. When he read the name of the deceased his eyebrows went up an inch and a half.

"So who is he?" demanded Dick Rundell.

"It's neither Eisenhower nor Napoleon," I said.

"This looks tough." said the chief. "I think I'll let you news gents solve it for us, or don't you see those TV and mystery movies? In those plays the police are just in the way, getting in the hair of the reporters, who have all the brains."

"I love them things," says Sandy. "The official cops always wind up looking stupid; it's either the star reporter or the great private eye-wash who solves the murder."

"Yeah," I says, "me and the chief got tossed out of the Tivoli theatre last week for enjoying one of those fairy tales in technicolor. The gem of gizzum was called The Corpse Can't Speak English. We started to giggle in the first reel and the usher asked us to please shut up, claiming that the picture was not starring Jackie Gleason or George Gobel. The guy who wrote the screenplay must have got his notions of official police procedure by spending his time in the Young Women's Christian Association."

"What I enjoyed about the story," said the chief, "was when the star reporter kept insulting the chief; aided by the private detective."

"Who informed the chief he was being insulted?" demanded Rundell, with a cherubic grin.

"The guy who wrote the screenplay, I guess," said Sandy.

"Me," I says, "I got a kick out of the part where the private eye-wash picked up the murder weapon. It's a .38 and he picks it up with his handkerchief, to preserve—he thinks—fingerprints."

"Doesn't that smudge them?" asked Sandy.

"It should," I says, "according to Lesson 29 in my Correspondence course. It says—"

Rundell leaned over and looked at the body under the car. "Face looks like someone I know."

"No doubt," said Sandy. "Herald reporters know all the dead ones."

Frank Mullady began to pack his ID kit.

"Okay," said Frank to the chief. "that does it."

"Who is he?" asked Sandy.

"Jonathan Rumley," said Howard. "The Jonathan Rumley, of the Rumley & Racine Department Store."

"That name should be good for a streamer headline," I said. "If he was a flophouse wino, he would have his passing printed near the classified ad sections, account of the flophouse wino not placing two full-page ads in your sheet every day, with six on Sunday."

"You flatfeet don't under...

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