All Things Mysterious Volume Forty-Three
La Veuve Noire Se Heurte a une Zone de Turbulences
(The Black Widow in a Spot of Bother)
‘But what I don’t understand is how the cat survived the chicken-laced ketamine but the man didn’t?’
‘What I don’t understand is how this woman could grease seven guys and not even be questioned!’
Avery and Costello were bellied up to the bar, both elbow-deep in hero sandwiches and the empty beer cans, well, they could have aluminum plated a battleship.
‘We’re just going to have to pick her up for questioning.’
‘The papers will love that. She’s the ‘Queen of Crime Fighting’ since she took down Mayhew.’
‘With planted evidence.’
‘Shhh. Never know who might be listening.’
‘Listen to this! Another round!’
They drank some more beer and inhaled a few more heroes, both making mental notes to hit the gym at the station, which neither would actually do. The moment they left the cafe, the bartender was on the phone.
‘From the autopsy, it looks like Bill Smith only ate a bite of the chicken. He got just enough ketamine to pass out, then he suffocated when the cat fell asleep on his face. The cat survived because he inhaled the entire plate of chicken, then barfed it up a minute later.’
‘My cat does that too, the little hairball.’
‘You have a cat? You?
Costello snorted. ‘So what’s wrong with that? Ever since Diane left me, I need some company.’
Avery bellowed laughter. ‘You know, somehow I just can’t picture you with a little kitty purring on your lap!’
‘I’ll thank you not to laugh at Cinnamon,’ Costello sniffed. ‘And anyway, don’t we have work to do?’
‘We do. I want to talk to that Amora dame. Let’s go over to the agency her old man ran before he got whacked.’
Breck had been alerted by his operative that Ellen Amora would finally make an appearance in the office that had been her husband’s. He nearly smiled when he thought of how Amigo Amora had squealed like a little sissy girl when Len Blake filled him full of lead. But the guy’s wife was right there and she screamed almost as loud, and now the widow was going to make trouble, and Breck didn’t like trouble. Stupid Blake! Why hadn’t he chosen a more out-of-the-way place to make the hit? Oh well. It didn’t matter much--the Amora tomato had seen to that. Booby trapping a telephone! She must read a lot of mysteries. Breck himself favored a more direct approach, like strangulation or gunplay. He let himself in the back way of the Lee’s Laundry Municipal Building of River City, an awkward name if ever there was one, and used the same skeleton key to get into the Amora Agency, specializing in Cracking Your Toughest Cases. And then he sat down to wait.
Ellen Amora was new to the private eye racket; she made it a point not to delve too deeply into her husband’s business affairs but lately she’d taken a crash course in investigation. She had a sneaking suspicion that some of the men she’d thought were involved in Amigo’s murder weren’t involved at all, but c’est la vie,non? Besides, always look forward,never look back!
She strode jauntily into the office, and here is where she made her first mistake--she didn’t notice that the outer door was unlocked. If it crossed her mind at all, she assumed the police hadn’t bothered to lock up after themselves. But she did notice the lights were on and got quite a start when she saw the figure sitting at the desk.
With a bravado she didn’t feel and a quaver in her voice she didn’t want, she said, ‘Who are you and what are you doing here?’
‘Clam up, sister. I’ll do the talking. You and me are going for a little ride.’
Ellen barely stifled a giggle. She was in an Edward G. Robinson movie!
‘It ain’t funny. You sent my boss up the river and now you’re going to pay.’
Just then Avery and Costello burst in. ‘You’re the one who’s going to pay, Breck!’ shouted Avery. Costello said, ‘I’ll be darned! I didn’t know you could play the saxophone--oh.’
Breck’s nose had been broken at least three times. He didn’t like it when people called attention to its misshapen presence. Infuriated, he whipped out his gat and held it to Ellen’s head. ‘Back off, coppers, or the frail gets it!’
Costello shook his head. ‘Sorry, chum, she’s coming with us. A little matter of some of your torpedo buddies coming to a sorry end!’
Breck shook his head. ‘Sorry yourself. She took out some of my acquaintances and she’s got to pay for that.’
‘Can I say something?’ Ellen squeaked.
‘NO!’ shouted Avery, Breck, and Costello.
‘Now look, Breck, for once in your life be reasonable. You know we can’t just walk away from this. Let the lady go and maybe you can get off with just a kidnapping charge.’
‘Don’t tell me what I know! I’ll tell you what I know--this here skirt has got to pay for what she did!’
‘We’re on the same side here, only she’s going to pay according to the law!’
‘You got that right. My law, and Mayhew’s law.’
‘Mayhew don’t make laws. He’s in stir. And you’re going to join him. Now put up the piece and come along quietly.’
‘I’m in the driver’s seat, pally. One false move and blammo!’
Can Ellen escape the gangster? Not only that, can she escape the cops?
Tune in next time for the exciting conclusion in this, the very first adventure of the Black Widow!
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