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Death Is Too Easy

Arthur J. Burks
Author of "Thistle Fen," "The Execution of Chopper Gun," etc.

Officer Truce Didn't Like to Kill—But He Forgot His Squeamishness When His Partner Was Trapped!

"CALLING Car Seventeen! Seventeen! Seventeen! Go to Ninth and Harvard! Ninth and Harvard! Burglary! See the woman! See the woman! That is all!"

The voice came droning over the radio. John Loess, driving the car, snorted with disgust.

"That's us," he said. "Probably a cat got into the window box and made a noise, and the woman's out on the sidewalk in her nighty waiting for the coppers to hold her hand for her until she gets over being scared."

"It's a yell for help, Jack," said Martin Truce, his co-prowler. "It's our job to answer 'em. And maybe there is a robber, and you can kill somebody!"

Thus Martin Truce effectually shut the mouth of complaining John Loess, who had just made headlines in all California newspapers by killing his third criminal in a gunfight. They were beginning to say that he was a modern Wyatt Earp, a streamlined Wild Bill Hickok, and he was rather liking it—or so Martin Truce thought.

John Loess snorted and gave the car the gun. It jumped under them both. Loess was a perfect driver, could handle any car, even in the Los Angeles traffic, probably the world's toughest. That traffic, according to Los Angeles coppers, would whiten the hair of the best New York drivers with its speed.

John Loess knew every shortcut, every rule of the road. What he didn't know he could guess at. He never grazed anybody's fenders, never hit a pedestrian, but he scared plenty, and he came entirely too close to many cars for the comfort of their drivers.

John Loess, at twenty-four, was a hard, disillusioned young man who found little good in anybody, and none at all even in petty criminals. He liked Martin Truce, however, mostly because Truce, an older man, with vaster experience behind him, didn't hesitate to express his thoughts about Loess or anybody else. Martin Truce was a straight shooter with guns and words.

The scream of rubber matched the wail of the siren. The prowl car took the turn into Harvard on two wheels. It just missed an old man who discovered, at the last moment, that he, who hadn't walked without a cane for years, could still jump for his life. Martin Truce clucked disapproval.

"Well, I didn't hit him, did I?" said Loess.

There wasn't a "woman" to see, but there was trouble on the corner. Two men were fighting with one man. The one man was in pajamas, the two men in rough clothes. It was a commentary on the speed of the police that Loess and Truce had arrived so hard upon the heels of the robbery, whatever it had been. The car swung in to the curb. The man in pajamas went down. The two men whirled toward the back of the house before which the fight was taking place.

The man in pajamas, his head covered with blood, cried out as he collapsed.

"Don't let them get away! Don't—"

The two officers didn't hesitate. Their gun hands were already rising as they ran across the lawn to the man in pajamas. The two guns spoke, at the same time. The two running men went down. One of them lay very still. The other writhed in anguish. His moans could be heard easily by the two coppers, who now knelt beside the man in pajamas.

"A woman telephoned the police," said Loess, studying the situation. "One of the burglars caught her at it. Her husband, if that's who this gent is, then tried to grab and hold one or both of the burglars. The other joined in, and they used their jacks on him."

THEY left the man in pajamas, strode to the two men on the ground in the shadows between this house and its nearest neighbor.

"I took the one that's still moving!" said Truce quietly.

Loess didn't say anything. He could sense reproof in the voice of his partner. Truce took the weapon of the man whose kneecap he had broken. Loess merely grunted.

"That makes four, eh?" said Truce. "It wasn't necessary. You're a crack-shot. You could have brought him down, same's I did this one."

"If you'd done as I did, these lads wouldn't have had to be tried in...

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