Black Murder – Three hard-boiled stories of greed, robbery, black market bootleggers and murder by Roger Torrey.
Life—or Death? (1940) – A bullet stood between the happiness of his two friends and his own death. John Morgan, being the sort of a man he was, made the only choice possible
Three Dead Men (1940) – Joe Walters finds his man and the missing money— but he can’t find anyone to pin the rap on!
Chapter I – Judas Pinch
Chapter II – Self-defense
Chapter III – Circumstantial Evidence
Chapter IV – Everything in Line
Chapter V – “Gold Is Where You Find It”
Black Murder (1944) – Danny had been in hot business before. But he wouldn’t go back now—even to escape ruin—because he had two brothers in the service. But sometimes when you want to leave the black market alone, it won’t let you alone
Chapter II – The Set-up
Chapter III – The Madhouse
Chapter IV – Hell to Pay
Chapter V – Inside Job
Chapter VI – Smart Money
Chapter VII – Guarding Sonny
Chapter VIII – Three-Time Killer
Over a thirteen year period, Roger Torrey (1901-1946) turned out about two hundred and eighty stories and novellas, and one novel. Over one hundred of them were cover stories in magazines like Black Mask, Dime Detective and Detective Fiction Weekly.
IT WAS tough to have to close, but I just couldn’t keep in stock. I’d built up the business on good whiskey and the rest of the hard liquor, and the stuff wasn’t for sale any more. I could get plenty of beer, all right, but there’s no profit in that—and the allotment the whiskey dealers allowed me just would not carry my trade.
My lease was up and I wasn’t renewing, and I was feeling pretty bad about the whole thing.
It was like that when Amos Larkin came in. Just like he did on the average of twice day and like he had for years.
He said: “Just time for a quick one, Danny. I’m on my way to a committee meeting on the Red Cross drive.”
The guy spent more time on various relief committees than he did on his own business. He was some sort of broker, wheat I think. Anyway he had a seat on the exchange and I’d heard him and a couple of his pals talk about May wheat, whatever that means.
It was one of the reasons I’d always liked him—that giving his time to charity, when his time must have been so valuable to himself.
I gave him his usual Scotch and plain water chaser and rang his half dollar up in the register. I thought it would probably be the last half buck of his I’d ever see, and that made me feel even worse.
Not because I needed his money—I’d put a little away—but just because I’d always liked the guy so much.
He must have read my mind. He said:
“What’s this about closing the place, Danny? I heard it but didn’t believe it.”
“I’ve kept open as long as I can, Mr. Larkin. I just can’t get the stock. The dealers give me what they can, but they’ve rationed us, you know. They’re playing fair, all right, but I just can’t get along on what they allow me. Of course there’s the Black Market—I’ve had a few bids on that—but I don’t want any part of it.”
“Rather close up, eh?”
“I would. I damn’ well would.”
He made another motion and got another drink. I got another half buck.
He said: “Let me see, Danny. I’ve heard —I think you told me yourself—that you used to run a little rum.”
“That’s close. Whiskey from Canada, mostly. I made a few trips out to the boats, but not many. It was safe enough, as long as you took care of the pay-off.”
“And you kept a book, I heard.”
“Just when I opened up. Before business was good. It helped, but now and then I’d get overloaded on some nag and lose all I’d made the month before. That’s no part-time business—you can’t follow it close enough if you’re doing something else.”
I laughed and said: “I even handled some hot fur. Three or four times, I guess, in all. But I quit that because if I’d ever been caught, I’d have lost my license. I’ve thought a lot of this little bar, Mr. Larkin.”
“I know you have, Danny. That’s why I don’t understand why you feel that way about the Black Market. If they’ve got liquor to sell, somebody’s going to buy it. Why shouldn’t it be you?”
He’d been coming in there three years and more and I suppose I’d talked to him as much or more than any other customer. And I liked him besides. But I told him something then he’d never heard.
I said: “Did you know I had two brothers?”
“I didn’t, Danny. I don’t believe I ever saw them, even.”
“If you did, Mr. Larkin, it wasn’t in here. They’ve never been in the place. It’s like this. Ma was strict—she never liked the saloon business. In fact, she hated it. She brought the kids up the same way. I don’t say they don’t take a drink or anything like that, but they don’t think it’s a respectable business or that I should be in it. Ma didn’t, and because she felt like that, I backed her up with the kids. They’re younger, you see. One was working in a bank, up-state, and the other was in his last year in college.”
“Working his way through, Danny?”
“I was maybe helping a bit. Well, anyway, John, that’s the one that was in the bank, is a second-looey in the Infantry, and the kid, his name’s Michael, is a Navy flier. And the kid’s already a full lieutenant. He’s in the South Pacific and he’s got twelve planes to his credit already.”
“Why, that’s great, Danny. Why didn’t you tell me this before?”
“I guess because I didn’t want anybody to know they were connected with anybody in this business. Anyway, that’s why I don’t do business with the Black Market, damn ’em all. You can see that now, can’t you, Mr. Larkin?”
IF HE saw my side of it he didn’t show it. And I don’t blame him. All he knew about me was a bad record. Bootlegging, rum running, book making, and now I’d even told him how I’d handled stolen furs. I didn’t blame him for not believing me.
He took a third drink, something he very seldom did.
And then he asked: “You’d know something about a gun, wouldn’t you, Danny?”
I didn’t know what he was getting at and said so. I said: “I’ve got one and I’ve shot it quite a lot, but I was never a hand at using it. That is, in business, if you know what I mean. I was never one of the boys who figured to shoot their way out of a jam. I always figured that if I got caught up with, why I’d taken the risk and I’d taken the profits and it just was my turn to pay up.”
“I didn’t mean quite that. You’d be handy with it, that’s what I meant.”
“Oh, sure. I still practice some.”
“You’re closing tomorrow?”
“This is the last day.”
“Then how would you like to go to Florida with us?”
I didn’t think I was hearing right and he grinned at me and repeated it. He said: “That’s right. How would you like to go along with us? You’d be a good man to take care of Sonny, I think. For one thing, he’s too wild a kid to trot around the hot spots down there alone. He gets in too much trouble. There’s too much liquor, too many women, and too much gambling down there for Sonny to take by himself. You could teach him boxing—the boy could be in far better condition than he is.”
I said automatically: “I didn’t box. It was wrestling.”
“All the better. A better body-builder, I believe. And frankly, Danny, I’m worried about the boy. I’m afraid he’s in trouble right now—trouble that might follow him down there.”
“What’s that, Mr. Larkin?”
“Do you know a boy about Sonny’s age named Frank Alderdyce?”
“Barely,” I said. “He’s been in the bar a couple of times. I think with Sonny, if it comes to that.”
“Well, Frank’s down in the morgue. I have to make arrangements about that, after this meeting. I promised his father—you know Alderdyce and I are old friends—that I’d look after it for him. He’s in Chicago, and the boy can’t be left in a public morgue. I’ll arrange to have him taken to a decent funeral parlor and held there until his father can get back here.”
“What happened to him?”
Larkin shrugged then. He said: “He was found down by the river in an alley. Shot five times in the belly. Gangster stuff, the police think.”
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