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Dibble Dabbles In Death

By David Wright O'Brien

Dibble swore he wouldn't be found dead in such drawers. But the choice was no longer his.

STANDING there in the mid-July heat of his hotel room, clutching the telephone savagely and shouting into it, Delbert Dibble looked little short of ridiculous.

A middle-aged executive, with a middle-aged paunch, balding head, and round cherubic face, Delbert Dibble could, on occasion, present a rather forceful dynamic-businessman sort of appearance. Unfortunately, however, this was not such an occasion for it.

Indignant though his mien, thunderous though his voice, expensively tasteful though his attire, Mr. Dibble's inability to create awe-at-a-glance was due to one incongruity in the picture.

He was completely without trousers—and quite denuded of drawers.

The trousers, pin-striped and in perfect taste with the rest of his attire, lay on his bed. But of drawers waiting to be donned, there was no visible evidence.

"Damned nonsense!" Dibble roared into the telephone. He owned a deep rasping voice that threw salesmen and secretaries into a panic. "Damned inefficiency! That laundry was promised for this morning. It is already late afternoon. It has not arrived."

Mr. Dibble was silent long enough to catch his breath. And in that moment the voice on the other end of the line was evidently guilty of making a reassuring remark.

The full force of Dibble's ire exploded.

"It had damned well better be right up!" he shouted. Then he slammed the telephone hard into the cradle.

Mr. Dibble turned from the telephone and went over to the bourbon and water he'd left by the dresser. The sight of his trousers on the bed deepened the purple of his complexion.

A gentleman, he told himself savagely, never donned trousers without first donning drawers. He was damned if, after working forty years to get to be a gentleman, he was going to break any of the rules now.

But he didn't have any drawers.

Not any, that is, that he could put his hands on at the moment. He had drawers back at his home in Scranton. Scads of them. Probably as many or more drawers than other men as financially well situated as he.

However, when he had embarked on this trip to Chicago, he had taken half a dozen pairs of drawers with him—enough to carry him comfortably over the laundry situation for his brief stay.

But he hadn't figured on having them stolen by an eager but witless bellhop who was a solicitor for a Chinese laundry on the side.

Dibble had been sound asleep when it happened.

The bellhop had entered his room while Dibble slumbered. He had spied Dibble's neatly folded linen lying on a chair, presumed it had been left there to be taken to the laundry, and had made off with it.

That had been twenty-four hours previously.

ON RISING to discover the absence of his undershirts, handkerchiefs and—most important—drawers, Dibble had put in a thundering call to the management, reporting the theft.

But the management had assured him that there had been no theft. A regrettable mistake had been made, that was all. Mr. Dibble could rest assured that his linen had merely been mistakenly carried off to the laundry. The bellboy had gotten his room numbers mixed. Mr. Dibble could count on the return of his laundry within twenty-four hours. In spite of the wartime laundry shortage, the management of the hotel added proudly, they could still secure swift service for a customer of Dibble's status.

Dibble had been somewhat mollified on finding one last pair of drawers in his luggage. They would see him through until the morrow, and the laundry would be on hand then.

Yet this was the morrow, and the laundry had not arrived. Worse, there had been another mistake made by the eager bellboy. Once again, as Dibble slept, the youth had mixed his room numbers, entered Dibble's sanctum, and carried off his sole remaining pair of drawers.

It was this second stupid pilfering which had resulted in Delbert Dibble's blowing his top to the hotel management. Not only was he left bereft of any clean drawers, he was left without any drawers whatsoever.

Fortunately Dibble hadn't risen until noon. This saved him several hours, less mental agony, not to mention necessary nudity. And on discovering that his last pair of drawers had vanished, and that his laundry was already overdue in arriving, Dibble had inaugurated the first and most violent of his every-ten-minute telephone calls to the management.

Now he glared at his pin-striped trousers atop the bedspread and made for his bourbon and water. This was the dozenth call he had made, and on the next one, by Judas, he was going to call his lawyers and institute suit.

Dibble plunked himself in the rather scratchy confines of an armchair and picked up his drink.

"I'll have this case dragged to the highest court in the land," he muttered, taking a savage swallow from the glass. "If that laundry isn't here this time, I'll sue that sticky-fingered management for every last—"

At that moment, there was a discreet knock on Mr. Dibble's door.

Dibble was about to shout for the knocker to enter, then he remembered his embarrassing lack of attire and demanded to know the identity of the person seeking entrance.

"Bellhop with your laundry, sir."

Dibble almost fell over himself in his haste to unbolt the door and admit the pimply, uniformed young bellhop.

By way of a tip, Dibble shot the youth a glare that sent him scooting off in terror. And when he was safely out of th...

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