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Enemies of Uncle

By G. T. Fleming-Roberts
(Author of "Death After Murder," "Mine Host, the Hangman," etc.}

G-Man Tony Banta Stalks Crime with a Vacuum Cleaner That Turns Out to Be an Instrument of Law!

The woman in the doorway sold blood. She was large and rawboned. Her hair was dyed to match jet eyes. She looked like she drove hard bargains. She looked like blood-selling was her business.

The unwelcome young man on the threshold sold vacuum cleaners, apparently. He had a new cleaner in his hand and also a suitcase filled with gadgets. He had satiny, brown skin and expressive warm dark eyes. He looked like the sort who could inveigle a housewife into signing on the dotted line. He looked a good bit like a vacuum cleaner salesman. But he wasn't.

Somewhere in Tony Banta's wallet was a little gold badge. He had recently come from the fifth floor of the Fletcher Trust Building where he had been talking to Arthur Garret, special agent in charge of the Indiana Division of the F.B.I. Garret had showed Tony Banta the half-molten badge that G-man George McDill had so worthily worn.

Garret's eyes had been grave because only a short while before, he had seen McDill's coffin to the railroad station. It was a coffin that would never be opened. Only the half-molten badge found in the ashes of clothing about the body had saved George McDill's body from the potter's field.

There had been a dust explosion in a grain elevator, apparently one of those things that just happen, until George McDill's body had marked it as the largest and blackest footprint in a trail of crime that was blazed across the central states. There had been a veritable epidemic of bank holdups throughout Indiana, Illinois and Ohio.

If one gang was back of it all, the net amount of money to the criminals' discredit amounted to about three hundred thousand dollars. Looting National Banks had made those gunmen enemies of Uncle Sam. Killing George McDill hadn't made any special bid for Uncle's benevolence, either.

It was a hunch that Tony Banta was playing. He had known George McDill better than any man in the service. He knew, for instance, that George McDill went man-hunting with a gun in his shoulder holster and another in the crown of his hat.

McDill had often said: "Tony, no hood ever takes me for a one-way ride without sampling some of my slugs." That was why McDill had carried a gun in his hat. He would have gone down fighting, and when big, square-jawed McDill fought, somebody got hurt.

"Watch the medical offices," Tony Banta told his chief. "When they got McDill, someone else got hurt."

Early that morning, a frightened doctor had communicated with the local office of the Feds. A couple of tough-looking men had tried to persuade that doctor to perform a blood transfusion on an unknown patient. It had all looked a bit scaly to the doctor, and he had refused. A second later, when one of the toughs pulled a gun by way of persuasion, the doctor had rationally cleared out of his office and run to the shelter of the law.

So Banta's hunch was right. Someone who had no love for publicity, needed a blood transfusion badly. That was why Banta's vacuum cleaner campaign had carried him to the door of Mrs. Carrie Boyde, the woman who sold blood.

It wasn't her own blood that Mrs. Boyde marketed. One look at her steel-trap mouth told you she had tasted little of the milk of human kindness. She simply maintained an agency for those donors who had blood to sell for transfusions. Hers was the only such agency in Indianapolis. Hospitals applied directly to her whenever blood was needed. On her lists were many robust donors, so that blood of the various basic types could always be obtained.

Mrs. Boyde definitely did not want a vacuum cleaner. She did not even want to be shown a vacuum cleaner by as personable a young man as Tony Banta. Yes, she admitted, with a glance at her hall rug, she did need a vacuum cleaner. But she would a lot rather just send her rugs to the cleaners when they needed cleaning.

"That runs into quite a bit of money, ma'am," Banta told her.

"Quite a bit," Mrs. Boyde admitted. "It seems prices on everything are awful high now. All a widow can do to pr...

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