Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"Registered for Ransom" by Anonymous/Unknown

Registered for Ransom
Anonymous/Unknown

Detective Ed Grant looked at the victim of the brutal murder. The dead man was big, well dressed, but his clothes were torn. His head had been bashed by a rock from the stone wall. The death weapon lay in mute bloody evidence on the ground.

Papers on the dead man's body bore the name, Jan Cordell, the address Hotel Fremont.

"We'll go to the hotel," Grant said to Sergeant Lacy.

The hotel clerk could tell nothing, but said that there was a note waiting for him from Mr. Cordell. Grant frowned, took the envelope and tore it open. There was nothing inside the envelope but a zipper sewed to a piece of cloth. The envelope contained no return address.

It was not a new zipper and when Ed Grant held it to his nose he detected the faint odor of tobacco on it.

"Lot to go on," he said to Lacy. "Don't even know if it has anything to do with Cordell's death." He put the item in his pocket and said to the clerk, "Let's have the key to Cordell's room."

The hotel bed had not been slept in. But Cordell's leather traveling bag was on the floor. Grant found it unlocked. The bag contained a few items of clothing, a comb and brush, a nail file and at the bottom of the case the tobacco pouch whence had come the zipper. Grant fitted the cloth and found that it matched.

He sat down in the chair, lit a cigarette and stared blankly at Lacy.

Lacy asked, "What do you make of it?"

Grant shook his head. "Same as you do," he replied. "Nothing."

Then suddenly Ed Grant jammed his half-smoked cigarette hard against the bottom of the glass ash tray. "Come on!" he shouted. "Good Lord!"

Lacy followed dumbly, like a faithful dog. But he had to run to keep up to his superior. Grant hardly waited until Lacy was in the squad car before he let the clutch out hard and raced up to forty in second.

"I don't get it, Ed," Lacy said puffing.

"You will," Grant replied. "Keep your eyes peeled for a..."

Grant cut the sentence short and took the corner on two wheels at the next block, opened the motor and raced down the short street and turned right again.

"Hey, what the—" began Lacy and before he could say, "You're heading right around the block to the rest of the hotel!" the car stopped short and threw Lacy forward.

"Grab your gun, grab your gun!" Grant yelled. His own service weapon was already in his hands.

Grant shouted at the two men who were running for the black sedan across the parking lot. They kept running. Grant fired.

There was a grinding of the sedan's starter. As the black sedan opened up in low, Grant who had climbed back into the police car, steered straight for it. He met a volley from the escaping car and he let his own vehicle run head on into the side of the other car.

A volley blasted from the sedan and Lacy went down, rolled under a parked auto. The crowd that had started to collect ran for cover. Grant, lying on the floor of the police car, kicked the door open. Through the space that opened with the working of the offset hinge he saw the hat crown above the glass. He took aim and fired. The hat crown disappeared.

He got out cautiously and decided to make a run. Both cars were close together, so by ducking he kept out of vision. He yanked at the handle to the sedan door and pulled it open. The dead guy with the slouch hat fell out and Grant pulled him up as a shield.

He didn't stop firing as he hauled the dead man before him and a blast from inside the car sent a bullet into the corpse. It was a large bullet and it shook the body.

Grant sprang forward, dove inside and grabbed a wrist. The one inside the car grunted and tried to bite. Then he stopped and came out, his hands raised.

"If you killed Lacy," Grant said, "I'm going to give it to you right now, Scarface Joe Wiggam!"

"He didn't," Lacy called, limping up. "Just wounded me in the leg. But what's it all about, Ed?"

"When these birds kidnapped Jan Cordell, he put up a fight and they killed him. Then, knowing he had just registered here and wasn't known, they notified his family to call for evidence of Cordell's being in their hands. Then of all things Wiggam registered here as Cordell and watched who came for the note. They didn't recognize us until we went to the room. Then they scrammed as soon as they found out whether or not we'd found the pouch in the bag. Naturally I left that there in the bag and they ran right into our trap, trying to escape."

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