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Detective Yarns, September, 1938

The Devil's Race Track



It was Satan's own race course on which young, lovely, stark nude maidens ran, racing to their doom in a scarlet murder pit of hell itself, and the dark-eyed girl that Breezy Quinn adored was one of the racers, while Breezy himself was captive to the list-filled demon whose unholy crimes had already sent ten desirable young girls to a terrible death.

SOMETHING always happens when you're in a hurry to get away. First Olga Stephani phoned. I told her I was as busy as a dozen moths in a new fur neckpiece, and that there wasn't any use coming up anyway because both my arms were crippled with arthritis.

Conners, Homicide Skipper, turned around and laughed.

"Is your face red, Breezy?"

"Vascular system's out of order," I snapped. I'm taking pills for it." I reached for my hat and started for the door.

"Hey, you blushing violet!" Conners yelled, "I want you to check those fingerprint reports from Washington."

That guy picks work out of his teeth. "Conners," I snarled, "there's been ten girls kidnapped and electrocuted—murdered—in the past several months. The newspapers are screaming for convictions and for all you know about it, you might as well be in China. Am I right or am I right?"

"You're right," he admitted. "So what?"

"Well, I got a hot lead, and it's a swell night to follow it. Guzzle this, Sherlock: Has it ever trickled through your fat head that it takes juice to run a private hot-squat? If a check with the electric company on the juice consumption of private users showed—"

"Say!" Conners gasped.

As a matter of fact, the juice gag hadn't occurred to me before, and it sounded silly now, but I got away with it, and it was a swell night— for a murder. Chilly enough to get into your bones.

I reached the street and shivered. It had been raining, but the rain had stopped and fog, like long curling dragons, waved over the glistening pavement. It struck me then that something was wrong. Nothing tangible, nothing that could be put into words —but a curiously anxious feeling impossible to shrug off. But Sue Severance, my big moment, was probably gnashing her pretty teeth at our usual meeting place down the street, and I swung up the walk. A black sedan, gears meshing, its fog lights two yellow eyes in the heavy mist, rolled swiftly by in the early darkness.

Let's get the records straight. I'm Larry Quinn, Detective Second Grade. I'm twenty-eight, raw-boned, husky, blond. I've been on the force five years and I should have been a captain half that time ago. Breezy—? Well, they call me that because I guess I talk that way.

The Stephani dame I mentioned is anybody's guess. I met her a couple of months before, and she's been trying to make me ever since. She's blonde, throaty-voiced and neat, but I'd already lost my head and heart to one Sue Severance.

One hundred pounds of dynamite, Sue. Five feet two, curly black hair, eyes like little pools at midnight. She's private secretary for a ginzo named Braxton, a lawyer to be exact. She claims a second grade dick's salary couldn't keep her in chiffon hose, so the answer is "No!" every time I pop the question. Anyway, Sue had phoned me at headquarters at around five-thirty. Said she was going to get a snack en route and meet me at the corner by six-thirty. Said it was God-awful important. And her voice sounded jerky, frightened.

Maybe that's what worried me now. Not the meeting place, but the way she'd talked.

I looked at my wrist watch. The luminous dial said six-thirty-four. I quickened my steps, came abreast of the vacant lot. Sue should have been parked there, by the curb. She wasn't. The side street was silent, empty. I stopped, frowned—and heard a groan from deep within the lot. It came again, low, sobbing, and I dived for the sound.

The fog parted, revealed a car, Sue's car, lights out, doors hanging open, parked in the middle of the lot. My feet hit something soft, and I stumbled, fell whirling, grabbing for my gun. A second later I knew the gun wasn't necessary, but a flashlight was. I found my pencil flash and pressed the butto...

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