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Silent Are the Dead
A Flash Casey Mystery
By George Harmon Coxe
A MysteriousPress.comCopyright © 1941 George Harmon Coxe
All rights reserved.
THE CAMERA EYE
For over an hour the five news-photographers had been waiting in the stuffy, smoke-filled corridor, and their boredom had reached the stage of grumbling and profanity when Kline, of the News, peered through the glass insert in the courtroom door and gave the announcement they had been waiting for.
"Hey. This looks like it."
"And about time," somebody said sourly.
Casey, number-one camera for the Express, sighed with relief and stepped on his cigarette. He gave his camera a final glance and moved back just as the leather-covered doors slapped open and three leg men from the afternoon sheets barged out and headed for the telephones in the hope of making the final.
"What about it?" Kline yelled.
"He's bein' held in twenty thousand."
"Twenty thousand?" Weidler of the Globe made noises with his tongue. "Think of that. I guess they ain't kiddin'."
"I never thought they'd get that baby," Kline said. "He was the smartest prosecutor this town ever had."
Casey was thinking the same thing. Until he had retired to private practice five years ago, Stanford Endicott had made a record as an Assistant Attorney that had been the talk of the East. Now—
The doors opened again and there he was, flanked by reporters, smiling, a big impressive-looking man, plain-faced, imperturbable.
"Over here, please, Mr. Endicott," they said.
Stanford Endicott kept on smiling. "Wait a minute, boys," he said, and put on his hat to cover up the wide streak of baldness down the center of his skull. "Shoot," he said.
Casey pressed the shutter release and was conscious of the bursts of light from the five flash guns; then he was backing down the hall, exchanging a fresh bulb for the used one, hearing the barrage of questions that fell from the reporters' mouths.
"Will you handle your own defense—? Can't you give us a statement? Something we can quote you on?"
"Sorry, boys." Endicott kept coming, and Casey continued his retreat until he shot the second picture. "Nothing now. You can say that I have every confidence of clearing myself of this charge, but I can make no further statement until I've seen the District Attorney."
He went by Casey, still trailing reporters from his coattails, and the big photographer went back along the corridor and picked up his plate case. By the time he had reached the sidewalk, Endicott had gone and the newspapermen had dispersed; all but Tom Wade, who stood at the curb slipping his own camera back in his plate case.
"Get anything?" Casey asked.
"Caught him coming down the steps."
Casey handed him the exposed film holder. "Take it back to the office."
"What about you?"
"I got to see a guy."?
Wade, a round-faced, blue-eyed youth with an infectious grin and an incurable curiosity, looked dubious. "In a bar, I'll bet."
"Go on," said Casey. "Quit arguin'." For although his date was in a bar, it was not, as Wade would have suspected, entirely for drinking.
Kelly's Bar & Grill was about half a block from the Express Building and Casey paused outside to fold a twenty-dollar bill down to the approximate size of an air-mail stamp. It was just five o'clock then, but there were not more than a half-dozen men at the age-darkened bar, and the one he sought stood by himself halfway down its length, a small man in a wrinkled suit and shoes run-down at the heels. Mike, the head bartender, stopped daydreaming long enough to indicate the man and say softly, "He says he's waiting for you."
"He is—Hello, Ned," Casey said, and put out his hand.
The man turned. His eyes were tired, so was his smile; then, as his hand touched Casey's and felt the folded bill, the smile was suddenly grateful and an awkwardness came upon him as he tried to speak.
"Rye," Casey said to Mike, who had followed behind the bar. "Ned?"
The man looked at his empty glass and shook his head. "No, thanks, Flash," he said. "I got to be running. You'll get it back, all of it," he said when Mike was out of hearing. "I think it'll be a week from Monday."
"Stick with it, kid," Casey said, and watched the man move toward the door. He was still following him with his somber gaze when Mike shoved the bottle at him and slid a chaser along the mahogany.
"You'll never get it back," he said.
Casey looked at him. He poured a drink and pushed back his hat. He looked at Mike again disgustedly. "You know everything, Mike. All bartenders know everything."
"He's been living off'n you for a month."
"And now he's got a job on the News. He's going to work a week from Monday." He tipped his head and let the rye slide down his throat. He reached for the water glass and turned it in his big hand. "It must be nice to know everything."
Mike got red in the face and his eyes were ashamed. He filled Casey's glass again, a signal that this one was on the house, and went away. Someone came in but Casey was not aware of this until a man stopped beside him and ordered bourbon. It was Vaughn, who covered the State House for the Express.
"You down on that Endicott thing?" he said. "What happened?"
Casey told him.
Vaughn drank. "Twenty thousand bail, huh? Funny. I'll bet he put more guys away than any Assistant D.A. we had and now he's getting it himself—for receiving stolen property."
"You think he's got a chance?"
"No. His best bet would be to make a deal and take a plea," Vaughn said. "And he probably knows it. This thing has been going on for quite a while. A gang knocks off a bank or mortgage company and gets away with some bonds —this time it was some outfit in New Haven. Remember? About a month ago? Two hundred thousand in bonds? Well, the insurance company gets word the bonds can be had —for maybe fifteen or twenty percent. Instead of taking a chance of having to pay out two hundred grand, they lay out maybe thirty thousand and get back the bonds and no questions asked. Which is okay with the mob because they don't have to worry about peddling them hot or forging the serial numbers. It's good, clean dough to them."
"And Endicott was the contact man," Casey said.
"Sure. And now the insurance company is going to be in a spot too. The Feds have been working on this thing. They're going to ask a lot of questions. When they walked in on him, there he was with the bonds on the desk and the insurance representative ready to pay out. Remember Noel Scaffa, the private dick in New York who used to do the same thing on jewel robberies? Well, he wound up in the can. So will Endicott."
The phone rang while Vaughn was talking, and Mike yelled to Casey.
"Who is it?" Casey asked. "What's he want?"
Mike grinned. "He says to tell that no-good so-and-so to get on here and be quick about it."
"Sounds like Blaine," Vaughn said, referring to the city editor.
"Yeah," said Casey. "He's my pal."
It was Blaine, all right, and his voice was curt and sarcastic. "Where are those shots of Stanford Endicott?"
"Wade's got 'em."
"And where's Wade?"
"Well, he's—" Casey broke off. "Ain't he there?"
"No. And for your information there's a riot up on the Common. You know the Common? I hate to annoy you with such trifles, but I thought it might be nice if the Express could have a picture of it, don't you? No hurry, of course. It'll probably wait for you."
Casey tossed coins on the bar and swept up his plate case. "Some day, so help me," he said, "I'm going to hit him right in the nose."
He could see the crowd up the street as he went out on the sidewalk. That made him forget Blaine and he started to run. He was only a block from Tremont and when he reached it he saw the patrol wagon and squad cars at the opposite curb.
Over by the bandstand the police were dispersing what remained of the rioters. A few of them were fleeing down the slope toward Charles, but it was apparentent that most of the action was over. Casey got out his camera and screwed in a flash bulb as a burly, uniformed cop came through the fringe of the crowd with an arm lock on a skinny, disheveled-looking fellow without a hat. The cop had a cut on his lip and looked grim; the prisoner had a handkerchief clamped across a bloody nose.
Casey got a picture and reversed his film holder. As he put in a new flash bulb two more cops came along with a battered-looking individual between them. Casey put up the camera and then, with his finger on the shutter release, he stopped, lowered the camera, and gaped, jaw sagging.
The round-faced, forlorn-looking specimen getting the police escort had his hat jammed on his head. His face was dirty, there was a lump on his cheekbone. One coat pocket had been ripped, and a torn necktie fluttered under one ear. He wasn't resisting, but he was arguing loudly and holding on to something he carried protectively under his coat. This something was a camera and the voice was Tom Wade's.
"Where you goin' with him?" Casey demanded.
"Where do you think, bud?" the cop said. "Take a walk," said the other, not looking around. "On your way before we give you a ride."
"For free, Mulloy?"
The cop stopped and gave him the eye. Then his red face relaxed in a grin. "Oh, Flash Gun. Kinda late, ain't yuh?"
"What'd he do?" Casey indicated Wade.
"We don't know. He was just in the middle. He gave us an argument."
Hope came at last to Tom Wade and his voice was relieved. "Tell these apes to lay off, Flash."
"Who's an ape?" Mulloy demanded.
"Don't mind him," Casey said. "He's punch-drunk. Here, I'll take him," he said, and stepped between Wade and Mulloy.
"You mean he works with you?" Mulloy said.
"Certainly. And there'll be plenty of grief for him when he gets back without you guys making it tougher."
"Well—" Mulloy was doubtful.
"You don't want the Express down on you, do you?" Casey said, and went off with Wade, leaving the two policemen standing there.
Wade pulled his camera out from under his coat. It looked all right to Casey, but he noticed there was no film holder in it; then, before he could speak, Wade cursed, wheeled abruptly, and sprinted back through the thinning crowd. Near the bandstand he checked his pace, glanced about, and with Casey trailing as best he could, ran to a bench a short distance away.
Here, Wade's plate case between them, sat two smutty-faced urchins. One was pulling slides out of film holders and making a neat pile of them, the other was juggling flash bulbs. Wade yelled and bore down on them and they jumped up. One of them threw a flash bulb at him and legged it across the grass; his companion followed, the plate case in one hand. When he saw Wade was gaining, he dropped the case.
Casey sat down on the bench and blew out his breath. He looked down at the pile of film holders and slides, knowing now that every last film had been exposed to light and ruined. Wade trudged up with the plate case, moaned when he saw the condition of the film holders, and sank disconsolately down beside Casey, who let a full minute drag by before he spoke.
"You didn't go to the office, huh?"
"I was just goin' in when I heard the commotion. I beat it up here. It was just gettin' good. Guys slugging each other all over the place."
"I don't know. It was just a free-for-all when I got there. I got one good shot and was taking another when some guy saw me and yelled."
"They all stopped slugging and jumped on me."
"Those shots of Endicott are here, huh?" Casey picked up the film holders, sighed, and tossed them in the case. "Blaine will love this," he said wearily, "and don't think he won't say so."CHAPTER 2
HEADING FOR TROUBLE
Blaine, the city editor, leaned back in his chair and listened to the story Casey told. He was a slender, prematurely gray man with a sharp, angular face and cold gray eyes. Admittedly the best desk man in the city, he was a curt, unsociable fellow, who dressed immaculately and seldom raised his voice, depending instead on barbed words which he thrust home sarcastically and twisted expertly.
"Very interesting," he said. "Two of you out all afternoon and I get this." He touched the print Casey had offered —the one of the cop and the rioter —with a pencil in a gesture of distaste.
Casey set his jaw and said nothing. Long experience had shown him that there was no percentage in trying to battle Blaine with words, so he just waited there in front of the desk, a rugged, thick-chested man who stood better than six foot one and weighed 215 pounds, none of it fat. His brown hair was peppered with gray at the sides and shaggy at the nape. His face was broad and homely, though distinctive because of the strength and vitality it reflected, and he kept his stare deliberate and morose as he waited for Blaine to continue.
"Nothing on Stanford Endicott, of course. That would be too much to expect." Blaine sat up. "Unfortunately, I'm afraid our competitors will all carry pictures of Mr. Endicott in the morning. Don't you think we should have one too? If it's not too much trouble? Now? Today?"
Blaine hesitated, though he knew there would be no answer. He cocked an eye at Wade, who had cleaned up and now looked fairly presentable. "I won't bother you about it," he continued. "I've got another assignment for you." He glanced at a slip of paper on his desk. "The West Roxbury Little Theater Group is putting on a play tonight. That should be right up your alley."
Wade opened his mouth, closed it with an effort. Blaine turned to Casey. "I still want a picture of Endicott," he said. "Sometime before morning, if you don't mind—If you don't think you can handle it, I'll send Austin and O'Hearn with you."
At the elevators they split, Wade deciding to go out for his dinner and Casey continuing down the stairs to the studio. He was still muttering when he entered, and he was so intent on his corrosive thoughts of Blaine that he reached the center of the room before he saw the girl.
She was sitting on a battered straight-backed chair along one wall, her feet flat on the floor, her hands in her lap, and a look of determination on her young face. She wore a loose-fitting suit of brown tweed and a felt hat cocked pertly on one side, and Casey got a quick impression of feminine attractiveness before he had a chance to notice all the details which contributed to the picture.
"Oh, hello," he said for the want of something better, good-looking young women being as scarce in the studio as pearls in restaurant oysters. "Looking for someone?"
"How do you do," she said. "Does a Mr. Austin work here?"
"Perry Austin? Yes."
"Un-uh," Casey said. "He isn't in."
"Oh." He took her moment of indecision to note the fine-boned face, the hazel eyes, the chestnut hair with auburn lights in it; he saw too that her mouth was still somewhat tight and determined, and he decided she would be a lot prettier if only she would smile. "You don't know when he'll be back?" she added finally.
Casey said he didn't. It might be any time, and was there anything he could do?
"I'm afraid not." She rose, smoothing out her suit, and her mouth relaxed a little. "Thank you just the same."
He watched her move to the door, suggesting tentatively, "You wouldn't want to leave your name?"
"I don't believe so," she said. "Perhaps I can see him later."
It was after 8:00 when Casey got back to the studio. His earlier attempts to get in touch with Endicott had failed, so he had declared a truce while he went down the street and put away three old-fashioneds and a steak. Now, coming through the doorway to resume his pursuit of the lawyer, he saw Perry Austin sitting at his desk manicuring his fingernails. Casey sat down and reached for the telephone.
"There was a dame looking for you," he said.
Austin glanced up. "What kind of a dame?"
"How do I know? I don't run around with dames—much."
"Well, what did she look like?"
"Offhand," Casey said, grinning, "I'd say she looked a little too good for you." And he went on to describe the girl as best he could.
Austin could not seem to identify her. "Damned if I know who she is," he said, frowning. "Funny she didn't want to leave her name—She didn't say what she wanted?"
Casey answered absently as he got busy on the telephone again, and after a few minutes he located Stanford Endicott, the houseboy at his apartment informing him that the lawyer had gone to his office.
"I thought you covered him this afternoon," Austin said as the big photographer hung up.
"I did," Casey said, and, in no mood to explain, added, "I have to get some more."
Excerpted from Silent Are the Dead by George Harmon Coxe. Copyright © 1941 George Harmon Coxe. Excerpted by permission of A MysteriousPress.com.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsChapter One: THE CAMERA EYE,
Chapter Two: HEADING FOR TROUBLE,
Chapter Three: CLOSE-UP OF A CORPSE,
Chapter Four: CASEY GETS COOLED OFF,
Chapter Five: PURE DYNAMITE!,
Chapter Six: TIED UP WITH MURDER,
Chapter Seven: A COUPLE OF HOODS,
Chapter Eight: AN OLD-FASHIONED RIDE,
Chapter Nine: GOOD-BY, MR. GARRISON,
Chapter Ten: COMPANY FOR THE CORPSE,
Chapter Eleven: A MAN WITH A PAST,
Chapter Twelve: PICTURES, GOOD AND BAD,
Chapter Thirteen: SMOOTH SUSPECT,
Chapter Fourteen: AN ORDEAL FOR CASEY,
Chapter Fifteen: THAT SICKLY FEELING,
Chapter Sixteen: SILENCED FOR GOOD,
Chapter Seventeen: THE CANCELED CHECKS,
Chapter Eighteen: MOMENT WITH THE LADIES,
Chapter Nineteen: A FINE MORNING'S WORK,
Chapter Twenty: FRONT-PAGE TRAP,
Chapter Twenty-One: WITH FROZEN NERVES,
Chapter Twenty-Two: NEAT AND QUICK,
Chapter Twenty-Three: AMONG FRIENDS,
Chapter Twenty-Four: ONLY THE DEAD ARE SILENT,