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Dumb Is The Word For Willie

By Joe Archibald
Author of "A Killer's Heel," "Poison and Ivy," etc.

The President of the Hawkeye Detective Agency Swings
Into Action Against the Killer Diller Gang
!

ON ONE very fine morning that Willie Klump, President of the Hawkeye Detective Agency, drove his jalopy down Third Avenue, the world seemed to be his private oyster with a pearl in it. A client had paid Willie seven hundred and fifty dollars. He had parted with all but six hundred of the lettuce in acquiring this new means of locomotion, in which he felt sure he could chase criminal characters with greater celerity and despatch than heretofore.

He was on his way now to dicker with a merchant regarding the purchase of a short-wave radio set. Once he had that installed in his gas buggy, he knew he would feel sorry for dishonest characters.

Willie did not look any more like a slewfoot than the jalopy looked like a Rolls-Royce. If Willie sat in front of a bank that was about to be taken, the crooks would probably ask him to watch their car until they came out. Albeit Willie was no mental giant, he was nevertheless aware that his dumb exterior was his greatest asset.

Well, here was Willie, riding in his own car and with a cushion of legal tender in his pocket-a most unusual condition. He sat back luxuriously, sucked in great gulps of air and drove across Eighty-Sixth Street with a flourish. It was great to be alive, mused Willie. Two minutes later he was not quite sure whether it was or he was.

Willie had ignored the last red light. A bluecoat chased him, blowing his whistle. Willie arose in his seat and looked behind him.

"I wonder what he wants?" he frowned. "Surely, a Third Avenue traffic cop wouldn't recognize—"

Cra-a-a-a-sh!

They had to peel the jalopy off Willie. An indignant taxpayer had crawled out of a shiny new sedan nearby. One of the car's fenders was dangling like a hangnail, and a wheel had been pushed into the crankcase.

"I—I thought it was the Sixth Avenue El they were blowin' up, not this one," Willie stammered in bewilderment, his fingers wandering gingerly over a lump that was rising on his head. "What happened?"

"Look," a very angry traffic cop growled, pointing to the light that was still red. "That is supposed to stop your car here, Stupid, not an El pillar. I bet you set fire to 'No Smoking' signs, too, don't you, wise guy? Awright, gimme your driver's license! Are ya insured?"

WILLIE shook bees out of his noggin and looked up at the officer, his eyes still crossed.

"How could I have a driver's license when I am just on my way to get it?" he queried with dignity. "I have life insurance, of course."

The citizen whom Willie had scrambled was close to tears.

"I demand that mug's arrest," he exploded. "Just lookit my new boiler and I only got it this morning. I was just drivin' along mindin' my own business, and he ups and hits me on purpose. I want a lawyer!"

"It was an accident," Willie argued. "How could they have insurance companies if they didn't have accidents like this? I am William Klump, President of the Hawkeye Detective Agency. I never saw so much fuss over nothin'!"

"Nothin'!" screeched the outraged citizen.

"It is a trifle, isn't it?" the policeman said sarcastically. "Passin' a red light, no driver's license, no insurance. Sa-a-ay, those are Nineteen Thirty-seven plates on that boiler, too! Smashin' up a new Gnash sedan, too. I don't know if I got enough tickets to give you, you tow-headed jeep! But here's a summons."

Willie stood in traffic court early the next morning. He pleaded not guilty on every count. When the testimony was well soaked into the judge's head, he fined Willie one hundred dollars and ordered him to pay two hundred dollars' damages to the citizen he had smacked. In conclusion the judge ordered Willie to go to the nearest oculist and get his glimmers examined.

"There is no justice," Willie said with great indignation.

"I fine you twenty-five dollars more for contempt of court!"

"Huh?"

Willie decided he would get out of there before he should be drained of his last peso. He went uptown right away and had his eyes examined. It had occurred to him back there in court that he had been having touches of vertigo of late. A detective, he told himself, must not let his peepers get rusty. Better be on the safe side, he decided as he walked into the optician's office.

Willie was seated in a darkened chamber facing a lighted scree...

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