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Blind Spot

By Norman A. Daniels

There, in that loot-filled cave, Shannon gets the evidence he needs—but will he live long enough to make use of it?


JIM SHANNON let himself into the little cottage which had been left to him when his parents died. He was feeling low, as he always did after an evening with Doris Randall.

Not that Doris wasn't good company and a swell number, and Shannon knew very well he was in love with her—but it always seemed that Phil should have been there, in his rightful place as head of the house.

Doris and Phil had been married before he'd been sent abroad on a trek that started in Sicily and ended in Berlin. But Phil was dead now—and the manner of his death still branded a scar on Doris' heart.

Shannon was just short of thirty, slim, not too tall. He wasn't handsome by a long shot, but Doris always said she liked the way his eyes crinkled and the way he laughed and that was good enough for Shannon.

He sat down and began thinking. Even though he tried not to, he never could help it. Phil Randall had died a thief, pursued by police, but there wasn't a living soul who could have made Jim Shannon believe Phil was a crook. No matter how strong the evidence was, he knew better. Shannon maintained that when you share fox holes with a guy, you get to know what he's really like and Phil was no crook.

The jangling of the doorbell made Shannon jump, as if he resented this intrusion into his thoughts. He looked at the mantel clock and saw that it was after midnight. He wondered who could be calling at this hour and he hurried to the door to find out.

Mac stood there, his big face grinning as usual. Mac Corby who, with Phil Randall and Shannon had formed an indomitable triumvirate which—they swore—had won the war.

Mac said, "Figured you might be in bed, Jim. Can I come in?"

Shannon opened the door wider. "When I say 'No' to anything you want, Mac, I'll I be out of my mind. Even my life belongs to you."

"Aw, nuts," Mac said with that enormous show of pleasure that only his ugly face could produce. "I keep telling you, Jim, lugging you away from the front was nothing. Any guy would have done it."

"Yeah, but that 'any guy' happened to be you and I'd have died if you hadn't carried me to a field hospital. With enough slugs and shells whizzing around to discourage anybody."

MAC sat down and twirled his battered hat. "How're things, Jim?" he asked. Shannon shrugged. "Not bad, not good.

Good enough—I make a living, but I'd like it better if there weren't so many gas stations. How's it with you? Or don't people buy gravestones any more?"

"Some do—some don't," Mac said morosely. "I need dough, Jim."

Shannon wagged his head. "I've got a couple of hundred bucks you can have."

"I don't mean that kind of dough. I mean big stuff Jim; I can lay my hands on better than a hundred grand in gems which can be peddled easy."

Shannon stared at him. "What?" he asked. "Did I hear you right?"

Mac leaned forward. "Look, neither of us are getting any place. You with your two-by- four gas station. Me with a stone cutting place that doesn't make enough to buy me cakes."

"I thought you were so busy you had to work half the night," Shannon said.

"That was phony, Jim. Right up to now, that is. But tonight it'll payoff."

"Let's have it from the beginning," Shannon suggested. "You sound as if you're planning some kind of a crime and that I won't believe."

"Jim," Mac leaned forward, "I learned to hate cops after what happened to Phil. We know he didn't rob the safe of that check cashing place next door to mine. Sure, we know it, but the cops won't believe us. Did they give Phil a break? They said he sneaked into the place after hours, unlocked the safe and took thirty grand out of it. Then he got into his car when the cops came to question him, and tried to get away. That's what they said."

"It's ancient history," Shannon told him.

"Not for me it isn't. So the cops spotted him, chased him and started shooting. Phil's car went through the railing of that bridge. They hauled him out, hours later, and he was dead. But they didn't find the dough, Jim, and yet they plastered his memory with the name of a thief."

Shannon sighed. "Okay, we never believed Phil did that, but everybody else did except Doris."

"Sure, and it nearly killed her, Jim. That's what I'm getting at. I hate cops and I haven't got much respect for any mollycoddle laws. I say take what you see in front of your face."

Shannon suddenly realized that Mac Corby was grimly serious. "Spill it, Mac," he urged. "What are you up to?"

"Listen," Mac dropped his voice to a whisper, "you know that jewelry store next door to my shop?"

"Sure—Inness and Anderson's place. Why?"

"It's a successful business, Jim. They keep better than a hundred grand in jewels in their safe."

"So what?" Shannon wanted to know.

"So during those nights I pretended to be busy, I dug a tunnel under the wall and I busted through the jewelry shop floor. Oh, I fixed it so nobody could notice. I used to be a tile setter and the jewelry store floor is made of tile."

"Holy smokes," Shannon cried. "You intend to rob the safe."

"It'll be a cinch. The only burglar alarms are on the doors and windows. The one on the safe I can disconnect any time at all. But I need your help, Jim."

"Oh, no," Shannon shouted. "Not me. I'm not getting into anything like that.

"Hundred grand." Mac licked his lips. "Or maybe better and I know how to get rid of them."

"No," Shannon said grimly. "I don't want any part of it."

Mac shrugged. "Okay, Jim. I just thought I'd ask. Me—I'm sick of being small time."

Shannon was thinking fast. He knew better than try to persuade Mac he was wrong. Shannon had had several experiences with that and Mac could become surly, angry and even dangerous.

Shannon asked, "Mac, if you dug a tunnel under the jewelry store, what did you do with all the dirt? You couldn't· just heave it in the cellar."

Mac grinned again, amiably, because he liked to boast. "Remember that old jaloppy of a truck I bought? Well, it was a cinch. I took some of those big packing cases that my stones come in. I filled 'em up and carted 'em off. Right out the front door like they were stones for a cemetery. I dumped the dirt, brought the empty boxes back and after a few weeks, there was the tunnel."

"Smart," Shannon admitted, still thinking hard. There had to be a way out of this. "When do you plan to tackle the job?"

"Tonight," Mac said eagerly, "Look, I already been in the place. It was easy to bust through the floor, I know tile, see? I removed some of it and when I left, I just cemented it back. I know how to make cement that freezes quick and looks old."

Shannon scowled. There didn't seem to be any way out except one. "But the jewels must be kept in a safe, Mac."

"They are. That's why I need you. You were one of the best sappers in the army. You know explosives. Now I got me some T.N.T. cached in my place. Everything is ready. We can blow the door, grab the stuff. Then maybe smash a window or the front door to make it look like somebody just busted in. But we go down the tunnel and seal up the floor. Then we fill in the tunnel later, while the cops go nuts trying to find the guy who pulled the job."

"You have everything thought out," Shannon said slowly.

"Sure I have. Took weeks but it'll be...

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