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Dead Letter Officer

"Alvin Hinkey" Yarn

By Joe Archibald

When Alvin Hinkey, the harness bull Hawkshaw, connected
two loose-end skull crackings to get a spine-tingling crime
circuit, he forgot to cut himself out of the hot-spot hook-up

Mr. Louis Garfunkle, Sgt.
APO 870, San Francisco

DEAR LOUIE: Have been looking for a letter from you, but as Hambone Noonan says, how could you have time to write when you are up to your neck in black markets? Hambone says if you go shoppin' in Tokio to pick up a pair of real silk loungin' pajamas, Louie—purple if possible—as he got himself a new doll. He met her at a murder, and if you could see this blond blister, you would believe it. Which reminds me of quite a job me and Hambone turned in for the D.A.

One morning, early, I am taking a day off from pounding a beat up around Gunhill Road, and go on a busman's holiday which is like a subway guard going to the Mammoth Cave to spend a week. I visit with the boys downtown who belong to the homicide squad. We are batting our gums there when a report comes in about a corpse who has died under suspicious circumstances. The remains, it seems, looked to be nothing but a tramp, but after all, Louie, murder is murder whether the victim turns out to be a Wall Street broker or a Pell Street panhandler.

Hambone, a contemptuary named Cateye Coogan, and yours truly go up to a tenement on East Twelfth Street to look at the cadaver.

He was named Otto Foody and had the smallest and cheapest room on the top floor back. Somebody has liquidated him with a firearm that is no doubt illegal.

The landlady says she cannot understand who would want to risk the hot squat to rub out such a no-good. "Why, he never had no friends or no enemies," Mrs. Mutoffnik says. "He never had more than his weekly rent money in his life, an' most always he had that a week or two late. I was goin' to evict him anyways, so this is a kind of break for me."

"It is goin' to be tough to find a motive here, Alvin," Hambone says. "But you keep your hands off things as you are no longer in plainclothes, don't forget."

"If this suit I got on ain't plain, then Karloff doubles for Charles Boyer in the casbars," I snap at him. "What was Foody doin' under the washbasin in the corner there? Did he have to fix his own plumbin'?"

Mrs. Mutoffnik says what do you know and waddles over to where I am pointing. The old carpet has been lifted up there and a couple of boards are loose.

"You think Foody might of been a crook an' hid jewels under there?" Hambone remarks to Cateye.

"He lived here five months," Mrs. Mutoffnik sniffs. "I don't remember Foody goin' out at night even oncet. He was scared in the dark. He wouldn't know a ruby from a pearl unless they was both dames. I guess nobody heard the shot as the elevated trains make a lot of racket goin' by here. Anyway the killer most likely used a maximum silencer."

It looks like one of those murders, Louie, that won't get solved. I am glad I am not stuck with the case. Hambone gets down on his knees and lifts up the boards under the washstand. Believe it or not he finds something and not a cockroach. It is a gummed wrapper that you see around bunches of moolah in the banks. On it is printed, Chelsea Title & Trust.

"So he wasn't a crook, ha?" Hambone yelps. "Then little elfs or lepercorns stashed some lettuce here. There is a date on this label, Alvin. February, 1939. He stole a hunk of currency that time an' has been livin' off it ever since. Who said crime don't pay?"

"So he was a dumb bum, huh?" Cateye says. "He never put on no dog, so the cops never suspected him. Well, we'll check on his prints, Noonan, an' see if he's got a record."

"You tryin' to tell me how to run my business?" Hambone snaps. "I'm in charge here."

THE appraiser of the defunct persons arrives and apologizes for being tardy. "I ha...

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