"Trouble — Come and Get It!"
by Mickey Spillane
Preview selected by Bold Venture Press publisher Rich Harvey, from Primal Spillane: Early Stories 1941-1942 by Mickey Spillane, edited by Max Allan Collins & Lynn F. Myers, Jr.
DICK BAKER was new to the detective game, but he had strong ideas on the subject that were not to be denied. The chief had called him in for something important, he knew; and as he waited in the outer office he kept hoping that it would be exciting. Not every fellow just out of college had the opportunity to dash headlong into adventure!
Hawley, the head man of Eastern Detective Inc., came out and viewed the husky young man before him. “Dick, you’re going out as special messenger for the Conway Bank.”
Dick grinned eagerly. “You mean that I’m gonna carry the bonds?”
The chief shook his head.
“No. You are going to carry an empty briefcase. We expect this shipment will be held up like the rest, and we’re sending out two messengers, one with the stuff, the other a decoy — and you’re it!”
“Maybe I’ll be able to capture them, huh?”
“Wrong again. You’ll leave the shooting up to the police. An empty case isn’t that important. Likely as not the crooks will snatch the bag from your hand and make a getaway. Then the other messenger will get through without trouble.” Dick looked dismayed. Ever since he had been with the company he had wanted to get his teeth in something big to prove that he was a detective, and all he got was a little job.
“Aw, chief,” he said, “can’t I even take a poke at ’em?”
Hawley smiled at his young assistant.
“No. Not even a poke. Just stand there and look scared.”
“How can I look scared if I’m not scared? For four months I’ve been practicing just how I’d handle a situation of this sort, and what happens — I can’t even take a poke at them! Oh well, maybe they’ll poke me first and I won’t be able to control myself!”
“You’ll control yourself, or else!”
That night Dick sat alone in his room and thought the thing out. Everyone expected the bag to be snatched, but maybe they would take him with it. There was a way to make that happen. Every messenger had his case handcuffed to his wrist. Now, if he could do that to the dummy case, they would have no choice but to drag him along with it. It was worth trying, but he would have to be prepared. This would be where his favorite theory would come in! Smiling grimly, he set about his task.
The wind screaming around corners whipped his coat about him. Dick pulled his collar up and cast a look down the street. It was empty. Stepping out of the doorway, he started for the subway, the newspaper-filled briefcase shackled to his wrist. It had been a tricky thing to get the cuffs, but he’d managed. He thought of the other messenger back in the office, giving him an hour’s start before he left. That poor guy wouldn’t have any fun!
No one was in the station at that hour except a couple of laborers. Dick stepped into the car and sat down. So far nothing was out of order — in fact, it was too quiet. He got off at his stop and took the stairs two at a time … On the street he whistled for a cab, and then it happened! Something hard pressed into his back and a hand grabbed for the briefcase.
“It’s chained to him,” a voice sneered.
Dick chanced a look over his shoulder. They were the two laborers!
“Okeh,” the other one said, “we’ll take him along with it and cut it off his hand. We can dump him in the river later.”
Dick felt cold chills run along his spine at this. Maybe his idea wasn’t so good after all. But it was too late now! The cab pulled up and they all got in. The mug with the gun looked at Dick.
“One word outa you and you’ll get bumped right here.”
Dick had no intention of saying anything after that. They rode in silence to a deserted uptown section, then changed cabs to an even more foreboding looking district. They were an unusual looking trio, but no one seemed to notice. At that hour of the morning the streets were still deserted. They got out in front of an old warehouse, and Dick was prodded inside. Down a flight of stairs they went into the basement. So this was where the gang hung out! From the looks of the place it was a small fortress. The gun nudged, and Dick stepped into the room.
NEVER had he seen such an evil-looking person. The crook sat behind a desk, a devilish glitter in his eyes. “Frisk him!” Expert hands went over his body. The guy pulled his gun out of a side pocket.
“He’s clean now. How’re ya gonna get the case off his hand?”
“Get a knife, I’ll show you.”
For one wild instant Dick thought his hand would come off, but the gangster cut around the handle and it dropped free.
“Now tie this guy up. Later we can give him the works. Right now we have to duck the bonds.”
A rope went around him, tying his hands behind him and his feet together. Then he was kicked into a corner.
Dick tried hard to conceal a smile, but the corners of his mouth twitched anyway. He had expected just this standard method of rope tying. A little rat-faced guy caught the smirk.
“Think it’s funny, eh? You won’t when we get done with ya! An’ don’t bother hollering for help, either. This place is soundproof!”
The crook went back to the rest and began filling a leather bag with bank notes. Finally, each one of the gang grabbed a grip and filed out.
When the last man left, Dick got busy. Behind him, sewed into his pants under his belt, was a razor blade. He had planted it there so that if his hands were tied behind him he could get it out and cut his bonds. He worked it free and sawed at the ropes. In no time he had them off and stretched himself. Then he pulled up the leg of his pants. Strapped to his leg was a small .25 automatic. Without wasting time he crept to the door and looked about. Good. The crooks, believing him helpless, left no guard.
There was a light coming from under the door at the top of the stairs, and a mumble of voices inside pointed out where the mob was gathered. Everything was coming along fine. In his pocket was an assortment of gadgets. Dick took out a long piece of cord. He tied this to a round ball on the end of a piece of wire, and thumb-tacked the other end to the door. When he pulled the string this little gadget would rap on the panel. He smiled to himself. This was a hangover from his old Halloween tricks.
Silently he made his way to the window, unraveling the string behind him. There was a ledge outside, and he stood on that. The slightest noise now and he would be caught! He inched forward, until minutes later he was in front of the office window. By crouching down he could see under the shade, and he almost shouted with glee. Seated inside was the whole crew, pawing over a bundle of bills and bonds gathered in other robberies!
NOW was the time. Dick pulled on the string. Every head turned, startled. Guns came out fast. The crooks must have had a prearranged signal, and this wasn’t it. They exchanged anxious glances and slid towards the door, ready to shoot. The leader raised his gun.
“Who is it?”
Dick yanked on the string again. They were really jittery inside. A volley of shots blasted through the door, ripping a hole in the panel big enough to stick an apple through. He gave the string a couple more tugs, then, with a solid yank, pulled the rapper off the door.
They were all facing the door expecting a charge from outside. Dick worked his fingers under the window, and it moved up noiselessly. He stepped in, gun leveled at the backs of the gang. “O.K., boys, drop the cannons.”
There was an amazed gasp, and guns dropped to the floor. The leader turned.
“You! How did you get here?”
“Flew. Now get your hands up—high!”
Someone made a quick move and Dick half turned. That was the last he saw, for a vase caught him in the head and he dropped.
When he came to he was tied even tighter than before. In front of him with a gun out was a guard, otherwise the room was empty. A short guy went past the door with a sack. They were getting ready to leave town: it was now or never, and he was prepared!
SLOWLY he raised his leg until it pointed at the guard. His foot pointed out and a finger of flame spat from his pants leg. The guard doubled and fell over. His hand went to the razor blade, snatched it out and cut the ropes. Feet were dashing up the stairs. Dick scooped up the guard’s gun and ran to the corridor.
Near by a closet door stood open, and he jumped in. As the first guy went past a clubbed gun-butt clipped him behind the ear, and he went into the closet. The same thing happened to the next three. He had them all in there but one — the leader! They lay colder than mackerel, piled up like potato sacks. They’d be out a few hours, at least. Dick stuck his head out. Deserted.
A faint creak of the stairs came to him. He waited until the person reached the top, then in a mad dive raced down the hall and hit the figure in a vicious flying tackle. The leader’s head cracked the floor and was still. Dick lost no time disarming him and tossing him with the rest in the closet. Two desks and an iron trunk made the door secure. He went into the office and dialed the phone.
HAWLEY held out his hand. “You did fine, Dick, a first class piece of detective work. We ought to make the pistols-in-the-pant’s-leg gag part of our equipment.”
Dick grinned. “It’s too bad it was all over a dummy case though, I would have felt better if I really carried the stuff.”
“You would have, eh?” Hawley said. “Well, the joke is — You did! The cases got switched in the office somehow and the bonds were with you all the time! A swell detective agency we would have turned out to be if it hadn’t been for you!”
Copyright ©1942 Mickey Spillane. Copyright renewed ©1970 and assigned to Mickey Spillane Publications, LLC. All rights reserved.