Once Upon a Crime can be found in






Crack Detective Stories, September 1946

Once Upon a Crime

By TOM THURSDAY

"I've just done a terrible thing," she said.

Blanche Harwood was just another teenager, bored with school and studying. Just another adolescent runaway. But unlike some of the others, she suddenly found herself a murderess.

THE headquarters clock registered 11:45 P.M. Captain Hardy Bryan looked up from reading an editorial in the Herald. If this were a movie about cops, he'd look up from studying the funny page or scanning photos of bathing beauties.

The soft, half-frightened voice of a girl came directly from above his desk. "I've just done a terrible thing!"

The tone was low, half-scared, half-defiant, and wholly dramatic. She began to cry. They were hardly tears of terror but, rather, small drops of remorse and injured ego. Captain Bryan, veteran of twenty-five years—up from rooky—dropped the editorial with some regret. It was a scathing denunciation of postwar juvenile delinquency, blaming the cops for most of it.

The good, gray captain wondered why they blamed the police. He had a long-held theory as to what one of the main troubles was. He knew from experience that you rarely found juvenile jerks without parental jerks. If the captain had his way he'd toss some of the night-cruising parents into the clink until they learned to pay more attention to their only begotten sons and daughters.

"Well?" said the captain, peering into a seventeen-year-old face. "Just what is this terrible thing you've done?"

The slim blonde dabbed her over-painted face with a handkerchief and replied, "It was an accident!"

"Will you please state the nature of the accident?"

"I've killed my sweetheart," said the girl.

"Now that," said the captain, "is quite illegal. Come around here and sit down. But remember whatever you say may be held against you."

The youngster sat beside the captain's desk. "I didn't mean to do it," she went on. "I know I shouldn't have done it. I'm sure he loved me!"

"You really think he did?" asked the captain, with a slightly arched left eyebrow. "Continue, please. Love fascinates me; I often wonder what it is."

"We were standing in the middle of the Fifth street bridge over the Ami river," she said, "leaning on the rail. It was a wooden rail. He got a little— well, fresh. I got mad and gave him a hard push. The wooden rail broke and he fell into the river."

"Couldn't he swim?"

"I don't know. I waited around for about ten minutes but I couldn't see him. It is very dark out there. So I decided to come to the police and make a confession."

"What was the young man's name?" asked Captain Bryan.

"Harry Jollay. He was about a year older than me.

"Where does or did Harry live?"

"I—uh—really don't know. I never did know. You see, I just met him at a dance a week ago. Three days later he said he would marry me."

"Nice long courtship," mused the captain. "Happen...

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