Tight Spot can be found in

Complete Stories, September 15, 1931


By C. S. Montanye

They thought the Canary Kid was ready to be ribbed and rolled for the bundle.

JOE TRAILL was seated tensely on the edge of a chair in the living room reading a late afternoon newspaper when the "Canary Kid" quietly opened and closed the door of the apartment in the Barclay Towers. Traill, small, furtive-eyed and dark-faced, was so engrossed in his reading he did not hear the Kid's step on the soft, shimmering Oriental rug underfoot. Traill was feverishly turning the page when the Kid chuckled. "What's it all about, Joe? From your expression it must be good."

Traill jerked his head up. "What do you know, Kid? Louis Berg got bumped off in the Seventy Club! They found him in there a couple of hours ago, as full of holes as a sponge. The medico said he'd been dead about six or seven hours. Tie that one!"

The Canary Kid leisurely removed his chamois gloves. He dropped them into his smart Panama, shrugged his well-tailored shoulders, and helped himself to a cigarette from a lacquered humidor. "Louis Berg? Just another gangster gone west. What about it, Joe? Louis didn't owe you any money, did he?"

Traill drew a breath. "No, not exactly. I was just wondering what Killer Berg, Louis's brother, will do about the bump off. I seen the Killer on Forty-second Street early last night. He must have headed straight in from Chicago. He had Fancy Mayo and Loop Muller with him."

The Canary Kid struck a match for his cigarette. Standing in the light of the lamp by which Traill was reading, the Kid was slim, blond and attractive. Clothes to him were a fetish. The dark-blue flannels he wore with nonchalant distinction fitted with all the perfection a master Fifth Avenue tailor could put into them. Standing there, the Kid resembled a young metropolitan clubman, a devotee of Wall Street released from a day of ticker-watching. He flicked the ash from his cigarette and moved his shoulders again.

"Why worry about the underworld, Joe? Follow my policy, keep clear of it and you can throw your steel vest away."

"Sure." Traill grinned ironically. "But sometimes the underworld won't let you keep clear. What then?"

"In that case book passage for France and get going while the goin's good." The Kid switched on the wall lights. As he did so he caught a glimpse of an envelope propped up against a candlestick on the mantel over the ornate, wood-burning fireplace.

"Hello. What's this?"

"I forgot to tell you." Joe Traill discarded the newspaper. "It was when I first come in here. Some messenger brought the letter around and left it for you. He said you were to be sure and get it to-night."

The Canary Kid walked slowly across to the fireplace. He threw his cigarette into it and picked up the letter. The envelope was without superscription of any kind. The Kid frowned as he opened it. He read the inclosure, written in ink on a single sheet of note paper. Then, for a minute, he turned his narrowed eyes to the window draperies and looked out at the lights of Manhattan, spread below him.

"I thought there was a reason for me being tailed all afternoon," he said musingly, more to himself than for the benefit of the cheap little crook who had pushed himself deeper into the English club chair. "There was some chap, a tall, flashily dressed man, playing shadow. He would not have deceived a child. I let him stick to see how far he'd follow. He was on my heels until I took a taxi in front of Vernay's on Park Avenue. I left him on the corner staring after me."

Joe Traill studied the Kid with a perplexed scowl. "Yeah? What's that got to do with the letter?"

"Considerable, I'm afraid," the Kid sighed. "Better let me read it to you. It's not without interest." He turned to the sheet of note paper he held and read aloud:

"Logan Taurus wants to see you at ten o'clock to-night. He will send a car for you at that time. Don't make the mistake of trying to side-step this date. You know what happens to blond boys who get funny."

TRAILL'S exclamation was sharp and sibilant. He straightened up, his furtive eyes widening incredulously. For a minute he stared at the Canary Kid, his mind a confused blur of thought. Logan Taurus! The kingpin of gamblers, racketeers, and criminals! Logan Taurus, the super-gangster who boasted his political affiliations and the huge amounts of "glad money" he dispersed with a lavish hand would never allow a district attorney to confront him as he sat in a witness chair. Traill relaxed limply.

"Taurus! Kid, you'd better take a run-out powder and make that Paris trip we was talking about a few minutes ago. This is bad!"

"I'm trying to think," the Kid murmured quietly, "where I crossed the Taurus trail. Somehow I fail to recollect ever knowingly encountering the man."

Traill drew a deep breath. "Never mind 'at. He's got a glim on you and that's plenty, take it from me. I know for a fact that any time an outsider gets a note off Taurus it's for one of two reasons. Either it's a warning or a croak. Take your choice; but, if...

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