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Defective Bureau

By Joe Archibald

Willie Klump, the Hawkeye Hawkshaw, is a new type of Four-F—fast, furious, ferocious and funny!

WILLIAM J. KLUMP, President of the Hawkeye Detective Agency, Inc., sat on a hard bench outside of a row of frosted glass partitions on the other side of which certain citizens were being examined by M.D.s chosen by a draft board. Willie, although he had been weeded out before by the medics, was being given another chance to prove that he could help hold a beach-head on some foreign shore.

Gobbets of sweat the size of giant tapioca glistened on Willie's roundish countenance, but if he was nervous, the character sitting next to him was good for a straitjacket. He was a gee clad in expensive all-wool and he had a sparkler on the pinky of the hand that was busily stowing a string of licorice in his mouth. The draftee looked quite healthy, Willie thought. His long face was swarthy and he had a pair of shoulders that reminded the private sleuth of the physical culture ads.

"You think they'll take you?" Willie asked, to make conversation.

"My pals are bettin' four to one on me to beat the—I mean git turned down," the selectee said. "Er—if a fairy godmother comes along I'd ast her to swap your torso for mine with the exception of the faces, of course. I would be a cinch to stay Four-F. Have a bite of licorice, huh!"

The character wiped his face with a silk hanky and chewed at a pretty fingernail. Willie accepted a string of licorice a foot long and bit two inches off it and started chewing. Half an hour later he wondered why he got even more jittery. Butterflies were doing chandelles and Immelmanns inside his stomach and his ticker suddenly seemed to turn over on its side like a tanker that has just absorbed a torp.

"All right, you two guys," a tough individual wearing a white coat called out and Willie got up and shuffled into the horrible place.

The M.D.'s lost no time with him. One tapped his chest and got a funny look in his eye. He put the stethoscope in place and listened to the wild turbulence going on under Willie's breastbone.

"How did you ever get up the stairs?" the doc sniffed, and shoved Willie into another cubicle. Here they looked, at the detective's puppies and they shook their heads.

"How am I doin' so far?" Willie asked from as far down as his knees.

"By rights you shouldn't even be alive," a medic said. "Go on in and see the psychiatrist."

WILLIE did. When he was told to get his clothes on twenty minutes later, he was much relieved. A medic handed him a small card and grinned. Willie read the print on the little card. It said:


"I need a mortician?" Willie gulped. "My eyes bad, too?"

"They're twenty-eighty, and you can look that up," an M.D. said. "You got talipes valgus, a cardiographical phenomenon, and besides you are a psychoneurotic."

"Does that mean I am turned down!" Willie groaned.

"At the minute you could not qualify for a Girl Scout scrap drive, Klump. Whoever sent you back again?"

Willie sat down outside for a few moments and his ticker was beating his ribs as if it had suddenly got very angry with them. The pump felt as big as one of the shoes of "Satchelfoot" Kelly, of Police Headquarters, and no tom-tom ever went closer to town. Well, he would ask for the War Bonds Gertie was keeping for him so he could see the Mayo brothers and even John Hopkins.

"Hiya, pal," a voice said and Willie looked up and, saw the draftee with the dazzling dornick on his pinky. "I collect that bet. They turned me down with a tricky ticker, and who would ever figger I wa'n't in the bloom of health?"

"I got three times more the matter with me than you," Willie sighed. "Well, I'll rest another minute and then try and git home."

Two M.D.s went by.

"I would have bet that one would have been on Truk within six months, George," said one. "You never know, do you?"

"It is the life he leads, Eddie. Them night-club guys hear so much boogiewoogie and torch singin', their hearts gets pulled out of shape. Why, I saw a dame in one of 'em that made mine do tricks like a trained seal. But four in one day, George!"

William Klump finally decided to risk the walk back to his rooming house.

Once in the sanctuary of his four walls, he sat down and remained quiet. His pump started putting on the brakes and soon it seemed to have reached a normal tempo. While enjoying some health he guessed he had better call Gertrude Mudgett. He went out into the hall, dropped a nickel in the pay phone and twirled the dial.

"This is Willie, Gert. Don't talk, but listen, as I can't stand up too long. It might prove fatal. Meet me at the place we et last night at twelve-thirty. G'by."

"Are you nuts?" Gertie asked William Klump when they met. "The next time you don't gimme a chance to talk, I'll—"

"Now, look," Willie gulped. "You got to remember not to git me excited, Gert. I just come from my physical an' I got a cardigraphical phrenomenon, a terrible case of—wait—I got it writ down. T-a-l-i-p-e-s V-a-l-g-u-s. Also I am a psychroexotic."

"I—I knew you was a freak but—" Gertie Mudgett took some smelling salts from her reticule and inhaled deeply. "Willie, how long you got to live?"

"Maybe weeks," Willie said. "I relieve you of the trough we plighted and you are free, Gertie. I will not be a invalid on somebody's shoulders. Huh?" He looked up at the waiter. "Er—tea an' milk toast."

"I'll take the goulash with noodles," Gertie Mudgett said. "A side dish of spaghetti, apple pie ala mode. Oh, this is terrible, Willie, as I just put a deposit on a dinin' room suit. After we will go to a clinic an'—"

"It is no use," Willie said. "The War Bonds are yours, Gert. Just give me what cash you are savin' for me so's I can have a last fling. I would like to buy a new suit as it would be disgraceful to git caught dead in the one I got on. Ha-ha, let's eat an' drink an' be merry as tomorrow. . . Waiter, make that lamb stew an' rice puddin'."

Gertie took a hanky from her warbag and started sobbing and Willie got impatient with her and raised his voice until a big customer came over and told him he should be ashamed of brow-beating a defenseless woman.

"You're goin' to leave me, Willie!" Gertie sobbed. "In just a few weeks, you said."

"Desertin' your wife, you dirty crumb!" the customer yelped.

"Don't incite me," Willie gulped. "She means—"

THE interventionist got Willie by the coat collar and lifted and then Gertie Mudgett screamed and threw her handbag and it hit the chivalrous one on the side of the pate and he staggered backward and bumped into a lackey carrying a big tray of dishes, and in a second or two they were just so much crockery the dishwashers would not have to worry about.

The manager and his aids ejected all the recalcitrants and Willie, picking up his hat from the gutter, wondered how soon he would drop dead. Across the street a hurdygurdy ground out a tune that once had caught the public's fancy. It was: "I'll Be Glad When You're Dead, You Rascal, You!"

"Quick, the smellin' salts, Gertie," Willie groaned. "Then walk me home but slow."

"Er—it wouldn't be fair for me to throw away my life, Willie," Gertie said. "You might linger for ten years or so. I will send you your eighty dollars in cash tomorrer, sure. Just think how much more romantic it would of been if you was only killed on Guadal's canal instead of just goin' natural from a Four-F condition."

"Yeah," Willie said. "Some people git all the breaks. Here is where I live so just help me up the steps. Farewell, Gertie, my love, if I don't see you in the mornin'."

Alone, Willie listened to the beat of his ticker and timed it with a dollar watch and his pump seemed to be doing ninety-nine thumps a minute, but the turnip could be fast as usual. After a while he gave himself a good talking to and asked himself was he a man or a mouse. Why, he could maybe nab six dishonest characters hampering the vital war effort before he died in harness. He would go right over to his office.

There was a letter on Willie's desk. He opened it and read the circular. The stationery was adorned by an engraving of a very imposing edifice surrounded by tall, thin, pointed trees. It was captioned:


"News sure travels fast," Willie sighed. "Anyway, I could afford to rest in such a spiffy moratorium. Not a single peep out of a client. Oh, that may be one now."

He picked up the phone and heard a familiar voice. It was Satchelfoot Kelly, his worst allergy.

"What you want?" he snapped.

"I heard the news, Willie," Satchelfoot said. "Send that seven bucks you owe me quick."

"You'd think I was goin' to die," Willie yelped. "What? Should you guys omit flowers? Sure. . . . What am I sayin'? Satchelfoot, you have gone and done what?"

"We boys are chippin' in to buy you a gold name plate, Willie. So I'll need the seven bucks."

"Oh, that's different. But you shouldn't have." Willie gulped, deeply touched. "I'll send it right down, the seven bucks."

"What was that?" Satchelfoot suddenly said to somebody downtown. "Murder? Where?"

A faint voice reached Willie's pricked ears.

"Avenue A, Kelly. In an alley near Twenty-ninth Street. They picked up—a— stiff."

Satchelfoot had no sooner hung up than Willie reached for his Truly Warmer, 1940, and slapped it atop his corn-colored locks.

He would take a cab and save his waning strength. It was a good thing Gertie had taken his eighty bucks out of storage. He was walking into the alley just as the squad car unloaded Satchelfoot and three understudies. Kelly roared at him and Willie held his index finger to his lips.

"I mustn't git too incited, Satchelfoot, or I will drop dead right here. One corpse at a time, ha-ha."

"Willie, you go back to bed!"

"I am a criminal hunter to the last, Satchelfoot," Willie said dramatically. "The show must go on an' would you deny me a chance to git in on what is my last case? Even you?"

"Awright, Willie," Kelly said. "Just sit over there on that old packin' case. Here is a aspirin. But if you interfere in any way, I will knock you kickin' from what borrowed time you are workin' on, see?"

The defunct person was reposing near a dark doorway and he wore a goatee. There were two bullet-holes in his pate where one would have been quite enough and a pair of thick-lensed cheaters were dangling from one of his ears. The cadaver wore a fashionable double-breasted pin-stripe, the pockets of which were as clean of legal tender and personal papers as the Ukraine is of Nazi flags.

WILLIE sneaked up and got a good gander at the remains while the corpse expert made his diagnosis.

"Been dead nearly eleven hours." The cadaver connoisseur got up and snapped his bag shut; "Death caused by two bullets in the head. This is murder."

"I don't see how they spot them things so quick," Willie said. "Who is it?"

"No indentification," Satchelfoot replied. "You go back an' sit down, Willie, or that stiff won't be lonesome in the wagon when they haul it away. Oh, it is just my luck you couldn't live from just one punch. How can you stand there and look when you are almost one yourself, huh?"

"I forgot myself," Willie said. "I mustn't git incited."

"That geezer has a familiar look," a cop said. "Somewhere I've seen the old goat, an' I am sure it was not in a church choir. It looks like he was dumped out here from a jaloppy as there is no mud on his shoes an' it rained las' night."

"Who is deductin' here?" Kelly snapped. "I'll attend to all them angles, O'Riley. Well, we'll take his prints an' see was he ever afoul of the law and we'll put a description of him in all the papers. He had to live somewheres and if he was not known to nobody, nobody would have bothered to hide who he was."

"I hate to protrude," Willie said. "Did you look in his watch-pocket, though? The last couple years there has been none in suits but this character might have been wearin' one that . . . I left a buck in my watch-pocket in Nineteen-thirty-seven and did not remember to look until Nineteen- forty-three."

"Huh?" Satchelfoot growled. "Awright, just to humor the idiot, guys."

Kelly found a folded piece of paper in the corpse's watch-pocket. It said:

In case of my death, look for Ricardo Calavo.

"Me and Dunninger," Willie Klump remarked. "Do you need any more help solvin' the crime, Satchelfoot?"

The detective pulled Willie's necktie until Willie nearly choked. He pulled Willie's hat down over his eyes and pushed him over an ashcan.

"Look, you got to remember, Kelly," Willie protested. "You git me just too much incited an'—"

"I forgot," Kelly said. "This Calavo runs a nocturnal bistro on East Forty-ninth. We have had him in the line-up once and he was once in partners with a citizen named Luigi Stiletto who was a very rough guy at one time. We will go and arrest Calavo and take him to the corpse and make him indentify it."

"Can I go?" Willie asked. "I got to die in harness."

"Like any jassack," Satchelfoot Kelly said. "Awright, ol' pal."

Ricardo Calavo was not at his bistro, the Quien Sabe. They found him in his hotel a block away and they ousted him from his inner-spring.

"You are under arrest for the murder of a certain John Doe," Satchelfoot Kelly said. "Git on your wraps, Ricky, and we will let you look at the remains so's you can tell who he is."

"Just as if he wouldn't know already," the president of the Hawkeye Detective Agency sniffed.

"I never killed nobody last night," Ricardo protested. "I was . . . You can't frame me, you big Mick!"

"We got it in writin', from the victim, Junior," Satchelfoot said. "You are cooked like an eight-minute lobster."

Willie Klump and the law rushed Ricardo to the depository for the deceased and made the hot spot maestro look at the defunct character with the goatee. Calavo shook his head and said he had not been acquainted with the loser.

"Look," Satchelfoot said, spreading the note the corpse had left behind in front of the Latin's bewildered optics. "If you do not know the guy, why should he put the finger on you, Ricky?"

"I don't git it," Calavo said.

"Le's have the old alibi then," Kelly sighed. "Where was you between the hours of eight last night an' maybe four this A.M.?"

"I was—it is none of your business," Calavo clipped. "Let me consult my lawyer."

"We will go downtown, pal," Satchelfoot said. "We will hold you excommunicado, Calavo. If you git bail then Hitler will git Chicago. "

AT HEADQUARTERS there was some important developments and they were to the effect that the prints taken of the fingers of the bearded stiff coincided with Bertillon smudges of a certain citizen named Nicodemus Rudge who had once been jugged for practicing medicine and the like without a license or diploma from even a barber's college. The picture of Rudge in the gallery lacked chin shrubbery.

"I get it!" Satchelfoot yelped at Calavo. "He changed his name, grew spinach, and treated crooks who got nicked by bullets and such. Awright, come clean, Calavo. Name the deceased."

"I am innercent!" the night-club boniface iterated. "Where's my mouthpiece?"

"Why be so stubborn?" Willie asked the prisoner. "If you got an alibi you are in the clear. If not you will not live maybe as long as me, Calavo."

"You stay out of this, Klump!" Kelly howled. "In two minutes I will slug you."

"Don't you dare git me incited," Willie reminded Kelly. "It could be fatal."

"What was it you said you got?" a cop asked Willie.

"Talipes valgus," Willie groaned. "Among two other terrible ailments. By rights 1 should be dead an hour ago."

"You git away, from us, then," Satchelfoot yipped. "It could be catchin'."

"Even with your badge you could not even catch a cold," Willie sniffed.

"We'll break Calavo down before tomorrer," Kelly said, ignoring Willie's remark.

"I bet this is the fastest any criminal was caught."

William Klump was sitting in his office late that afternoon when the news came out. Gertie Mudgett called him on the phone, being that anxious to know whether or not Willie had died.

"I'm so glad to hear your voice," his torch said. "You see where a landlady reckernized the description of the murdered man already? It was a— Wait, I'll look at the paper agin, Willie. It was a Dr. Alfred Q. Rickett, M.D., and he had an office at Three Hun'red an' Eleven East Sixty- seventh."

"I'll go right over there," Willie said.

"No, the excitement could kill you, Willie!"

"I must die in harness," Willie said and hung up.

Twenty minutes later he was ringing the bell of a rooming house not far from the East River and in a few moments· the landlady opened the door. She was a bony Hibernian with a voice like a cross-cut saw biting through hickory. It was as loud as a bull horn on a flat-top.

"What you want?" she asked Willie.

Willie flashed his badge.

"The law," he said.

"Oh, you want to look at Rickett's room, huh? Well, don't make no fuss, as this is a respectable house. Foller me."

Willie was in the shabby office of the ex-pseudo M.D. and looking at a sample of the deceased's writing when Satchelfoot Kelly and three cops entered. Right then and there William Klump should have passed out with too much excitement as Satchelfoot buffeted him with the palm of his big right hand and nearly heaved him out of the window.

"I tol' you not to go buttin' in, di'n't I, you comic book slewfoot."

"My heart," Willie gasped. "Oh, I'm dyin'. Git an aspirin or some digitaltis."

"Oh, gosh!" Kelly gulped. "I'm sorry, Willie. I—"

"Let the show go on," Willie wheezed. "I'm okay, pals—now."

"Handwritin' jibes," Satchelfoot said as he grabbed some paper out of Willie's hands. "Lookit, a small card stuck in the winder. Says he is an M.D." Satchelfoot prowled about the second floor front and picked up odds and ends. "This will cook Calavo, guys. Huh, only an exter suit of clothes, a cheap imitation leather suitcase, nothin' much else. Le's go."

William J. Klump accompanied the manhunters downtown and there he watched Satchelfoot threaten Calavo and get him ready for the grill room.

"His writin' matches!" Kelly howled at the incarcerated one. "Why don't you give up and we will try an' git you out of the jolting arm chair, Ricky."

"I'll beat this rap," the night-club character said, just as two visitors came to see him.

ONE of the arrivals carried a briefcase and introduced himself as Roscoe J. Stench, attorney-at-law. He had ten grand to spring Calavo, he said.

"Two million couldn't, or haven't you heard?" Satchelfoot sniffed. "It is a first- degree murder rap we are indictin' this guy for. Say," he said to the mouthpiece's companion. "Ain't we seen each other before?"

"Perhaps," the citizen replied quite insolently, "I am Ricardo Calavo's partner at the Quien Sabe—Nick Salerno."

"You look like a beach-head we took once," Kelly said. "For somethin'. I'll think of it 'fore long."

"Look, Rick," Salerno begged. "Give 'em the alibi as you got to have one."

"He ain't kiddin'," Willie said, and timed his heartbeats with his dollar watch.

"It is nobody's business where I was," Calavo said, starting to sweat like a Jap in a burning pill-box.

Satchelfoot took something out of his packet, crammed it into his mouth, and started chewing.

"Awright, you got a secret, sweetheart, which you want to take to your grave, huh? It is okay by us."

"He is too stubborn," Willie said. "You got some more gum, Kelly?"

"It is not gum," Kelly said. "Let's take the culprit into the grill room and sweat him out like one of them bombers. You better go home an' rest now, Willie."

"I think I should, Satchelfoot. Will you walk me to the subway, as I am afraid I may not make it."

Halfway to the kiosk, Satchelfoot suddenly caught at Willie's sleeve and hung on.

"M-my pump, Willie. It's . . . Oh, I'm dyin'! I gone an' caught what you got. Oh, you was always poison to me. Let me sit down on this hydrant, Willie. Shoo that dog away. Oh, my ticker is hammerin' somethin awful an' . . . Get a doctor, Willie!"

"It is maybe only a cute indigestion you got," Willie said. "Somethin' you et. What was it?"

"Nothin' but a ribbon of licorish I picked up from a dish in that fake croaker's office," Satchelfoot said. "Git me to a real M.D."

Willie did. They sat for an hour waiting and finally Kelly said his ticker was not doing double time and he guessed he could get home all right. Suddenly Willie snapped his fingers and remembered how Nick Salerno had looked at him and then had kept mopping his pan with a hanky. It was the different suit Salerno had worn that had fooled Willie.

Why, that character was the same one that had sat next to him when he had taken the fatal medical, the one who had given him a string of licorice.

"You go on back," Willie said to Satchelfoot. "An' grill Calavo, as I got to go somewheres and think. This excitement'll kill me yet."

William Klump went to his office, took paper and pencil and scribbled down thoughts as they occurred inside his noggin.


No.1. Licorish. First there was Nick Salerno and me. Then Kelly. Kelly picked up the stuff in the office of the late Dr. Rickett. Kelly's ticker revved up. Why, licorish is the most healthy of candy, my ma always said. I got to go and see that M.D.'s office again. What am I sayin'?

No.2. Calavo has no alibi but he has got no ticker trouble. Nick Salerno was eatin' licorish that day, but he looks healthy as a owl, but the M.D.s turned him down from a soldier suit. Funny, my pump has held out even though Satchelfoot has cuffed me around. I might still have a chance to live.


William J. Klump put his hat back on and went over by the East River and flashed his badge at the female boniface once more. The landlady let Willie fine- comb the second floor front.

"Funny thing," she said as the private sleuth searched, "I found a li'l ironin' board in his closet, and a flat-iron, but he never had no suit on that ever looked pressed."

"You know I think I'll take this ol' suitcase," Willie said. "I am goin' on a vacation soon an' have not got one. You mind?"

"Not at all," the old doll said. "But will you flatfeet stop comin' here? The joint has got two stripes on it anyways."

That night in his rooming house, Willie tore the suitcase apart. Funny stuff they put in such a crumby piece of luggage, he thought. He examined the strips of stuff he found between the cheap inner lining and the imitation leather. They were perforated ribbons and Willie wondered why Dr. Rickett should want to insulate a suitcase.

HE SAT there thinking and chewing at the end of one of the ribbons and an hour later his pump went haywire again and it felt as if a dozen giant Mex jumping beans were holding May Day inside it. Willie lay down until the ticker calmed down.

Well, the third attack always told. A knock on his door lifted him off his bed and he opened the door and was told he had a phone call. It was Satchelfoot Kelly.

"I feel fine now, Willie," Kelly said. "Say, Salerno told us on the q.t. that Calavo an' Rickett had a run-in not so long ago because Rickett soaked him a grand to fix up a citizen who was shot in the Quien Sabe. An' it was a forgery rap we picked that Salerno up for once. He beat the rap. . . . How you feel, Willie?"

"I had another attack, Satchelfoot, an' I guess another will do the job. You said—"

Kelly had hung up. Willie hurried back into his room and wiped fretting juice off his bucolic countenance and sat down and wrote down some more notes. Oh, Satchelfoot was dumb. Kelly, he was sure, was positive that expectant fathers hurried to fraternity houses when the time came.

Willie went out and purchased some licorice that came in long strings. The rest of the evening he experimented with it and even chewed some. He got no ill effects.

He borrowed a flat-iron from the landlady. At midnight he felt like Columbus when that explorer finally spotted the U. S. Of course, he could be wrong, he thought. He picked up three inches of licorice and chewed it as he undressed for bed. An hour later he had another attack and when it was over and he was still alive, he scratched his head until it was sore.

William J. Klump felt refreshed in the morning and it frightened him. Maybe it was the relapse that came before the fatal plunge.

"Well, I'll beat the rap," he mumbled. "The plans I got will maybe hasten the end without no sufferin'. First, I must see the M.D.s that examine characters to send to beach-heads and islands. Then I will go to see what is cookin' in the Quien Sabe later in the day."

Willie conferred with the M.D.s. They examined his ticker and told him it was as sound as the Federal Reserve but later on assured him he still was a victim of talipes valgus and that he was psychoneurotic in any language. Willie went out and broke off a piece of licorice and chewed it and he went back in and asked for another pump analysis. This time he was told he had a distinct cardiac rhubarb and the M.D. hustled Willie into an office and called all the appraisers of torsos in with him.

An hour later, Willie Klump departed and there was a bewildered expression in his wide banjo eyes. He went to a tavern and had beer and wrote down some more notes and read the ones he had jotted down before. He thought of the two holes in the head of a murder victim and wondered if one would be made in his anatomy as large as either of them. Well, what could a talipes valgus victim lose?

At five P.M. Willie was sitting in the office of Nick Salerno just over the Quien Sabe where activity was beginning to take place.

"I just figgered I'd come an' ast some questions, Nick," Willie said. "Now this Calavo threatened Rickett for clippin' him for an absorbent fee, huh?"

"Yeah, Ricardo was too impulsive." Nick grinned. "Have a cigar, Inspector? Funny, we should have both been examined for the draft at the same time, huh? Didn't reckernize you at Headquarters."

"Ain't it?" Willie gulped, ice cubes clattering up and down his backbone. "With no alibi, Calavo is sure to git the main dish in the state roastisserie an' you will have this joint—er—place all to yourself, Nick. No, I don't care for no cigar as my pump—ha-ha."

"Mine, too," Nick Salerno said. "But these are special made without too much nicotine, Inspector."

Willie looked at his dollar watch and wiped his pan once more with a hanky already as wet as Mussolini.

"Well, I guess I'll have to be goin' as-"

The phone on Salerno's desk jangled and Willie lifted a few inches off his chair. The bistro expert picked it up and said:


WILLIE squirmed and tried to look nonchalant. "Huh?" Salerno growled. "You mean I got to come up there right away at this hour? Look, why don't you mugs git things right the first time? Wha-a-a-a? Keep a civil tongue in my head as this is . . . Awright, I'll be there in a half-hour." He banged the phone on its cradle and looked at Willie. "Imagine it, them croakers wa'n't satisfied about some of us who was turned down, Klump! This one said I coulda run up and down the hall like a Nurmi before I got my ticker cased. I got to go there an'-"

"Then I'll be goin," Willie said, got up and walked out.

He closed the door behind him, stood there and put his ear to the keyhole, then his good right eye. He saw Nick Salerno pull out a desk drawer and remove something wrapped up in crinkly paper. William J. Klump immediately opened the door and barged into the office again. Nick Salerno spun on his heels, the package clutched in his hand.

"Look, you got a nerve comin' back without knockin', you punk!"

"What you got there?" Willie wanted to know in no uncertain terms. "Licorish?"

"Yeah. . . . Say, what's it to ya?" Salerno dropped back into his chair and half-murdered Willie with his eyes.

"Nothin', only I am a patriotic citizen who hates draft dodgers, you dishonest gee!" Willie roared. "You have got nitroglycerin in that licorice which makes a guy's pump do more tricks than a trained seal. I know, as when you give me some that day where we was examined, mine turned out more horsepower than a Pratt and Whitney, Nick! Dr. Rickett got that stuff from some defense worker somewheres, as it is called cordite an' comes in little ribbons you don't buy at Macy's. I have got it on you cold!"


Willie expected it. Nick Salerno dropped his licorice sticks and grabbed a Roscoe from the still-open desk drawer and opened fire and Willie Klump ducked the first pellet of destruction and slid ala Pepper Martin across the broadloom and got his hands around Nick's ankles. The second slug went through the brim of Willie's hat and then he jerked Salerno off his pins and wrapped his incisors and bicuspids around Nick's shin. Salerno got one of Willie's big ears in his mouth and started chewing, and at the same time beat at Willie's noggin with the Betsy.

Two of Salerno's retainers invaded the battle area and one fired and a bullet burned along Nick's buttocks.

"Not yet, you punks, as I—I—am on top!" he yelped.

Willie was sure his teeth touched bone and Nick screeched in agony and dropped the Roscoe and rolled over and over with Willie until they banged against a filing cabinet and a big loving cup won by Nick Salerno for his excellence in a pool tourney toppled and fell right down on Nick's skull. The rough person grunted and stiffened perceptibly, and Willie yanked him atop of him and dared the crooks to shoot. They were about to take the dare when some cops barged in.

Willie Klump was a little gaga as he yelped:

"I have took Salerno. Cable headquarters at once!"

Satchelfoot Kelly was there when Willie was in shape to talk.

"It is quite a case," Willie said. "This Nick Salerno was beatin' the draft by purchasin' cordite pressed into licorish sticks by Dr. Rickett. Him an' me was turned down the same day because we et some licorish an' when Satchelfoot got his heart attack from somethin' he picked up in Rickett's, I knew there was somethin' fishy about cardigraphicals they took at the examinin' room. The M.D.s tasted the stuff and knew right away the licorish was loaded with cordite!"

"Huh?" Kelly gulped. "This punk was an excessory of Calavo's?"

"Not quite," Willie mumbled. "It looks to me like the quack croaker sold the draft exemption sweetmeats to a lot of citizens like Nick and maybe was blackmailin' them afterwards. And Nick Salerno figured maybe the M.D. would git caught sooner or later an' sing like a canary caught in a seed bin an' would turn over all citizens who had bought the licorish. Nick was not very patriotic. So he wanted Rickett out of the way an' framed Calavo after shootin' the quack. You got Nick Salerno's gat an' I bet it fired the shots that liquidated Dr. Rickett!"

"Y'got me," Nick Salerno gulped. "You can prove that awright. Oh, to think a gland case like him was smarter'n me."

"You saw to it Calavo did not dare say where he was durin' the rubout," Willie went on. "How did you fix that, Nick? Oh, I knowed what was what when Satchelfoot said you was picked up for forgery once. You writ the note found in Rickett's watchpocket."

SALERNO gave again, plenty.

"Yeah. I fixed a date with Ricardo with a doll name Tallulah Del Garbo who is of Latin blood an' one hun'red an' ten pounds of nitro an' Tallulah was Luigi Stiletto's pet canary an' Luigi has been known in the business to have erased two other characters who were caught sampling the sugar on his cupcakes. Ricky Calavo knew he had twice as much chance beatin' the hot squat than dodgin' Luigi's torpedos."

"I am a monkey's uncle," Satchelfoot Kelly groaned, and sat down.

"Confessions are good for even the likes of you, Kelly," Willie grinned. "While I was sittin' with Nick in the Quien Sabe I expected the M.D.s to call, as that was how we arranged it, Nick. You didn't even git wise when they asked you to come right away for a second autopsy, did you? Crooks ain't smart. There is nothin' wrong with my ticker, Satchelfoot, just the nitro in the licorish was all, so you can incite me all you want. When we spring Ricky we must give him a police escort all the ways to Brazil."

"Klump, you are a wonder," the D.A. said. "Besides bringing a murderer to justice you have probably stopped a thousand draft deferments."

"I still got to see the Mayos," Willie sighed: "That disease I got. . . . Oh, you was dumb, Nick, you an' the other draft dodgers. That cordite is a dime a dozen if you got a pal workin' in a war plant, but a smooth citizen like Rickett made you believe it was his own concoction which cost plenty. He pressed it into licorice strings with a flat-iron an'. . . . Why, it is Gertie! How in the world did you git in?"

"I pushed a cop in the face," Gertie Mudgett screeched. "So, you low-down philander, you! You wanted to bust off with me an' git your money, huh? What was it you said was killin' you, Willie, you jerk? I looked it up and it is only what all dumb flatfoots have. The talipes valgus only means flat feet an' psychro-whatever you said ailed you is only what you always had. Oh, you breacher of promises, I'll fix your wagon. You connivin'—"

"Don't you dast throw that!" Willie yelled. "I didn't know what them big words was. I thought. . . . D.A., I got a right to pertection! I—"

Gertie Mudgett found herself surrounded by two husky gendarmes and she shook them loose as if they simply had been a pair of Liliputs suffering from lack of nourishment. She flung her over-loaded handbag at William J. Klump and it hit Willie on the scalp just as he reached an open window and laid him across the sill just like a wet blanket. Willie faintly heard Gertie's ultimatum as the cops subdued her and took her toward the cell block.

"You will git a letter from a dozen lawyers, Willie Klump!"

After a while, Willie shook his head, felt of the igloo over his sore right ear and looked at the D.A.

"Huh, the draft isn't so hard—but try dodgin' Gertie Mudgett. It looks like I never can. Who has some digitaltis—er— aspirin?"