Alibi in Red — Eight short stories of murder, robbery, fraud, kidnapping and attempted frames by David X. Manners.
Alibi in Red (1943) – Fingerprints don’t lie—but sometimes they bear testimony that is subject to change without notice.
An ex-con and a sheriff meet while— The Corpse Talks (1936)
Ill Wind Blowing (1946) – Mac Green runs into an astonishing racket that calls for the swift application of some meteorological knowledge!
No Delay, No Rest (1947) – Buddy wanted to follow in his policeman dad’s footsteps— but he didn’t realize how quickly they’d lead to a killer!
Killer Under Glass (1952) – The Thug Meant Business—and His Business Was Murder!
Troubled Waters (1949) – Dan Harwood, the new Florida deputy, had to prove he knew his angles as well as his bullets before he could measure up!
Fifty-Grand Funeral (1942) – Larry Quentin had had plenty of strange experiences in the detective business. But this was the first time he got mixed up with a clairvoyant who pulled messages out of the air—and pushed Larry toward a fatal future.
Terror Panics the Crime Quiz (1945) – Satan took over radio’s Murder Quiz with a high explosive bang. And Perry Sherwood, surviving crime expert, had to answer the devilish $64,000 killeroo or take the next bomb for a booby prize. A four chapter novelette.
David X Manners (1912-2007) was a highly prolific writer of detective, adventure and western short stories for various pulp fiction magazines. He was one of the most popular American writers in the second tier magazines.
ED TOBIN’S mouth hooked up into a crooked grin as he eavesdropped on the conversation going on in the office adjoining his. It was after hours, and voices echoed clearly through the barnlike offices of the Kwickclean Soap factory.
“You pay up,” one voice said, harsh and sharp. “You pay up or we’ll let it out. How long do you think they’d keep you on here in the paymaster’s office if they found out your father was in the pen?”
“For Heaven’s sake,” pleaded a second voice that Ed Tobin recognized as Ralph Childs’. “Not so loud! Somebody might still be around. All right, I’ll pay. I’ll pay what you ask, tomorrow. I’ll get it somehow— borrow it, or—” Very shortly after, Tobin heard the outside door slam and through a window he saw two men walking away. They were the blackmailers. Tobin could hardly keep from chortling. So this was the real lowdown on Ralph Childs, the favorite of the bosses, the fair-haired boy who was always getting pushed into promotions ahead of Ed Tobin!
Ed Tobin turned away and walked back toward the washroom. He was glad now that he had to work late. He wasn’t grumbling about it any more. The Kwickclean offices and the company plant were located together down in the grimy, dilapidated warehouse and wholesale district that trailed along the river front. At night, when the rumbling trucks and wagons were gone, and the people were gone, and the day’s business was at an end, it became a deserted and terrifyingly lonely place.
That, however, wasn’t what usually bothered Ed Tobin. He was used to working by himself at night. At one time —until a bullet caught up with him— it was the only sort of work he did. But he did object to working late when he knew he wasn’t getting paid for it. Tonight, he had been amply paid. He had learned enough to blast the fair-haired Mr. Ralph Childs right out of his pretty new office into the gutter.
Tobin allowed himself one last laugh as he closed the door on himself in the washroom. For a long time he’d been wanting to crack that safe in the paymaster’s office, but he’d been leery of it. Now Childs fit perfectly into the scheme.
Tobin hurried to dig up a fistful of Kwickclean’s special powdered toilet soap from a box beside the sink, and proceeded to wash. He splashed soap and water all about himself on the clean tile floor, and then tracked his feet through it. He didn’t care how dirty he made the place. The porters could clean up.
He dried his face on a towel, and then took a new clean one and shined his shoes with it. He dropped it on the floor. What if there was a sign saying: Please put discarded towels in the soiled linen hamper? That sign was for dopes like Ralph Childs. Ed Tobin? He was an out-and-out individualist. He did as he pleased.
Reaching for another towel to take an extra wipe at his shoes, Tobin accidentally knocked a razor blade off the window sill. It looked as if it had fallen in the soap.
Tobin peered in the box of softly sifting soap. He wasn’t sure the blade went in the box. He didn’t bother to look too carefully when he didn’t see it. It was second nature for him not to bother about things like that.
Tobin met Ralph Childs just as he was about to leave the building. Childs’ youngish face looked pale and drawn.
“Good night, Assistant Treasurer,” Tobin said, in his most menacing tone. He calculated that it might make Childs wonder if this Ed Tobin had overheard any of his conversation with the blackmailers.
Then Tobin flashed Childs a knowing grin, and was on his way. As he walked, he figured the details of what he was going to do.
IN HIS apartment, Tobin took a pair of red rubber gloves out of a locked drawer. His eyes fell on the fingertips of the gloves, and he ran his own fingers over them.
Tobin, during his checkered career, had once studied dentistry. He had learned how to take impressions in soft rubber velum. Of course, dentists always took impressions of teeth, and it had required a lot of ingenuity to take fingerprint impressions. But here they were: a perfect, five-fingered, two handed set of Ralph Childs’ fingerprints transposed to rubber gloves.
Tobin rubbed the fingertips across his hands until they had acquired a greasy film from the contact. Tonight, “Ralph Childs” would rob the Kwickclean Soap Company and accidentally leave his prints on a give-away spot. Tomorrow Ralph Childs would no longer be assistant company treasurer. Tomorrow Ralph Childs would be in jail.
Excerpt From: David X. Manners. “Alibi in Red: Eight Short Mysteries.”
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