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Dying to See Willie

By Joe Archibald

The crook climbed right into bed with Detective Klump before kicking the bucket, but he left a valuable clue behind him!

GERTRUDE MUDGETT walked into the office of the Hawkeye Detective Agency, Inc., just as the president, William J. Klump, was having his lunch.

"Have a jelly doughnut, Gert," Willie greeted her cordially. "The coffee will be cooked any minute now."

"Huh, I must say!" Gertie sniffed. "This is certainly a delusionment, Willie. The private eyes on the radio, like Fats McGlone, have beautifully furnished pesthouses and a varlet. You are about as glamorous as a tomcat casin' an alley for a fishhead."

"Them fakers!" Willie bridled. "Every place they go even if it is on the steps of a parsonage, they stumble over a corpse. They open their door of a night and there is a stiff wearin' their favorite dressin' gown. Only morons believe that dribble."

"Whicht means I am one, hah?" Gertie yelped. "It is just perfessional jealousy with you an' you know it, Willie Klump! Look at Aloysius Kelly for instance who is workin' on a big murder and robbery what took place last night! He's what I call a detective, Willie!"

"Huh? Tell me more, Gert!"

"I met him in the subway this mornin'," Gertie said. "He was on his way uptown to investigate a suspect might've known about the crime. Somebody killed the watchman at the Pusey Plastic Novelties Company just acrosst the Harlem River an' they also took forty grand from the safe whicht looked like a punch job to Hardhat Hafey of the Safe an' Loft Squad but maybe wasn't. Kelly says it looked like some gee knew the combo of the crib only it turns out nobody knew it but the vice-president an' the cashier an' who would suspect them? The watchman was slugged by a piece of pipe or somethin' an'—"

Willie held up a hand. "Take time out, Gert," he suggested. "That is the way you git blood pressure. Then go on an' tell me the rest."

"I certainly will not as he give it to me in strict confidence," Gertie said. "If everybody blabs what they hear, how could the crooks git caught?"

"A good question," Willie sniffed. "Satchelfoot Kelly is handicapped enough as it is, not havin' a brain. That shnook couldn't find a moose in the museum of natural history."

"I don't intend to sit here an' have you insult my friends, William Klump!" Gertie snapped. "Go chaste a skip tracer, as that is your speed!"

WILLIE shook the punch off and put half a jelly doughnut back in the bag for future reference. "Say, ain't Hardhat married?"

"He is," Gertie said loftily. "Some men do git married, Willie!"

"An' others join the Marines," Willie said. "I must talk to Hafey. I guess that plastered novelty company would like to git forty grand back."

"Don't make me laugh!" Gertie Mudgett snorted disdainfully and picked up her warbag. "An' wipe the powdered sugar off your face, Willie!"

A few minutes after Gertie had taken her leave the president of the Hawkeye called up a certain number downtown and finally got Hardhat Hafey.

"Hello there," Willie said. "I just called to tell you what a swell wife you got, Hardhat. I saw her for the first time las' Saturday night as you two walked into the Blue Pelican on Fifty-Ninth. Platinum hair, huh? An' what bookie or dope peddler you coverin' for to buy her a fur coat like that?"

"Er look here, Willie!" Hardhat gulped at the other end of the wire. "You know I showed you a pitcher of the babe I married. That was a cousin from out in Kokomo an' I was showin' her the sights."

"Ha-ha!" Willie replied.

"Awright, you blackmailer!" Hardhat yelped. "What's the bite?"

"It is just I might want to know all the angles about the Pusey job," Willie said. "Of courst you marryin' a' girl she should be broad minded, Hardhat, an' wouldn't mind you buzzin' with a cousin."

"Willie, I will meet you in Hogan's at five," Hardhat said.

William Klump hung up. Sometimes he wondered if he was as dumb as most people claimed he was.

He was in Hogan's tavern at five sharp and Hardhat Hafey, a six-inch shiv in each eye, was waiting. "Hello, worm," he said.

"Flattery won't get you nowheres," Willie said, and sat down. "All is fair in love until you marry 'em, Hardhat. What's with Satchelfoot Kelly?"

"Well, we cased that joint after the holdup, Willie," Hafey divulged, "an' it did look funny. The dial was knocked off like with a mallet or somethin' an' the spindle pushed back only the sockets wa'n't broken like they should of been. We figure the cashier might of worked with crooks an' he told 'em to be sure it would look like a punch job when they was finished. Kelly is still investigatin' the character's background an' livin' habits an' such. I give you my word it is all I know, Willie!"

"Have another beer," Willie said. "Was it an old safe, Hardhat?"

"It sure wasn't, Willie. It was one of them Burpson's. The D.A. says they are tough babies to bust open. Now I hope I can trust you, Willie, not to tell about—"

"Hardhat!" Willie exclaimed, "What kind of a detective you think I am?"

"Do you mind if I don't answer that one?" Hardhat sniffed.

"Not at all," Willie grinned. "Well, I must be goin'."

William J. Klump was ducking into a subway just three minutes later when ...

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