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It was clear enough that Gouldner had been murdered,
but what could have been the motive for killing a man who had no enemies?
And what was the meaning of some or the peculiar objects that were found
among the dead man's effects? Could the motive for his death be explained
by these pipes and various boxes with false bottoms?

Death Has No Double

By Richard Cortez

THE BATTERED old Ingersoll ticked merrily away as I sat at my desk and cursed myself over and over again. Why did I have to be in New Orleans and on a routine job, I mooned, just when this thing had broken? In the ten years that I had been in Hollywood, chasing everything from cranks to blackmailers, I would have offered my right arm for the opportunity to do anything for John Gouldner. He had given me my start in this racket. But now that I could repay the guy, I wasn't Johnny-on-the-spot.

I reached over to the phone, dialed the familiar number of the Gazette, heard a click and a buzz, and then the equally familiar voice of the switchboard girl. I asked for Bill Kane, heard her say something—"just a moment pleazz"—and then Bill was on.

I said: "Hello, Bill. This is Mike Olsen."

"H'ya, Mike; when did you get back to town?"

"Just this afternoon—too late to get in on the Gouldner case."

He grunted sympathetically. "Yeah, that's too bad. I told her that if anybody could crack the thing wide open, it would be you."

"Who's she?" I asked quickly.

"Why, Mrs. Gouldner, of course." He hesitated a moment, then went on. "Look, I gather you haven't gotten all the details yet, so maybe I'd better fill in the spaces. Move over to that moth- eaten thing you call an easy chair and make yourself comfortable."

Kane was right about the chair and the rest of the office, I thought. I dragged the phone over to the easy chair. When I hit the seat, I heard a few loose springs hit the floor. If I ever got a few bucks ahead, I'd redecorate the joint. Lord knows, it needed it.

"You still there, Mike?"

"Just getting my carcass settled in the chair," I muttered. "Okay, shoot."

"Well, maybe there's less to tell than I thought at first," he said. "But here's the picture of what I know. A few days ago, I got a call from Mrs. Gouldner, and she sounded plenty worried. She wanted to know if I knew where you were. I told her that you were finishing a case down South some where, and she nearly blew her top. When I wanted to know what all the fuss was about, she wouldn't tell me; I guess she figured that, being a reporter, I couldn't keep my mouth shut. After I convinced her that I could keep a secret—being dope enough to steal the bread right out of my own mouth—she asked me to meet her somewhere. I suggested the Blue Grotto, and she okayed it.

"She was there bright and early the next night, and she brought her best worried look along. It seems her husband had a habit of disappearing a few days at a time. He would return after his vanishing act and behave like a lion who had just been caught and put into a cage. I asked her if it could be another woman. She said she'd thought that might be, at first, but she followed him and he went to peculiar places, like waterfront dives and broken-down shacks. He would meet tough looking men, and they'd talk for hours. I asked her if business was bad at the LaSalle Studios, but she ruled out that angle, too; Gouldner's business was having the best year of its career.

"By that time, I'd figured that it was going to be a job of hunting down clues, so I offered my services. She must have been pretty desperate, because she snapped it up."

I'd been listening to Kane's story pretty closely, but that seemed to be all of it. "Did you find out anything about old man Gouldner's actions?"

"Not a damn thing," he answered. "That's why I'm happy to see you back. And I've got a hunch that you really have yourself a case this time."

"I've got the same hunch," I agreed, slowly. "Well, thanks for what you could tell me, chum. I'll see that you get first break on the story—that is, if there is any."

Kane chuckled. "You'd better. Why else would I be spilling what I know to you? Anyhow, here's luck, Mike; it's going to take a good man to fit all the parts of this thing together."

I got a picture of Kane tiltin...

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