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Weird Tales

MAY, 1936

Attorney for the Damned

By RENIER WYERS

The story of a lawyer who murdered Public Enemy Number One—and the strange doom that sought him out 

CAMBERTON knew, by the muffled ring, which of his two telephones to pick up. Yet, he hesitated. Who could be calling him at this late hour, on this secret, unlisted wire?

Only six of his underworld clients knew the number. Two of these gentlemen of doubtful integrity had just gone out the door; two were in Europe, and one in prison. The sixth was Burke Hawtin. But—Burke Hawtin was dead!

The muffled bell rang again. Camberton's pudgy hand dosed on the cradled instrument and lifted it to his ear. He said nothing. He never spoke first on tills line. Whoever knew the number Of it was expected to know also the code word which had to be uttered before Gunberton would respond.

Presently the word came: "Reference-room." It was spoken in low, unfamiliar tones.

"Who are you?" rasped Camberton. His round, pasty face was an expressionless made, save for the glint of suspicion ill his beady, fat-encircled eyes.

"A friend of Hawtin's," the unknown whispered. "He gave me this number. Said for me to call it when—when I'm in a Jam."

'What's your name?"

"Smith. John Smi——"

"Very unusual," sneered Camberton. "I've never heard it before. I don't know you."

'Wait You'll know me when you see me."

'Why should I see you?"

"Because I've got plenty of money for legal advice. Are you alone?"

"Yes, I am," drawled Camberton in a bored tone which was belied by the greed in his piggish eyes. "Do you know how to get here?"

"I know everything about you that Hawtia knew. I'll come up the back way—like—like he always did. Til be there in ten minutes."

Horace L. Camberton, criminal lawyer, any way you say it, put down the telephone, leaned back in his chair and looked again at the newspaper item which he had been reading before the interruption. Early that morning, according to the item, Burke Hawtia and two confederates were shot to death while looting the First Industrial Bank of Willow Ridge, a southwestern suburb of Chicago. Hawtin's corpse was identified by the police. The other two had apparently been crime reemits. Their names were as yet unknown.

Camberton's only pang of regret, on reading the item, was in his purse. Hawtin had been a well-paying client; and, although he had not required legal counsel during the past y...

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