Dig It Deep – Four Crime Stories by David X. Manners (1912-2007) features danger and death at every turn.
Dig It Deep (1948) – Detective Carter lets a hunch lead him to a killer!
A Slug For Grandma’s Girl (1943) – Joe Gath, private investigator, hired a Hollywood blonde as stand-in for a corpse. But Joe found out too late that Hell’s director had already cast her for the star role of a tragedy filmed in blood.
My Friend The Fiend (1950) – When Greg Kelly does his civic duty he meets the sharp edge of danger!
The Blackout Murders (1943) – What was the sinister secret behind the darkness that suddenly descended in the midst of daylight, to form a cover for the crimes and deadly plots of enemy agents?
Chapter I – Skyway to Death
Chapter II – Beware the Blackout!
Chapter III – Ship to Nowhere
Chapter IV – Death’s Dark Door!
IF IT’S good news, it’ll keep. If it’s bad news, you don’t want to hear it anyway. Here I was in Hollywood, wondering how soon I would die. I’d come to California after being wounded, tangling with a Messerschmitt 109 over the English Channel. In front of me, now, was the entrance to the Doctors’ Building. I paced back and forth. In there, I knew, was a specialist who could render a final verdict.
“Take it easy, Joe,” I told myself.
There was a bullet in my heart muscle. I had been told the least excitement might cause it to move, and out I’d go. I’d just had plenty of excitement back in New York, for I was known there as a detective, and when a case came up I couldn’t turn it down. But I couldn’t afford to crowd my luck.
And now it happened.
Tap, tap, tap, tap.
I turned. The tapping sound was made by the click of a girl’s high heels, hurrying along the walk. Even in the evening dark I could see she was a Hollywood lovely, a raven-haired, sapphire-eyed lush-lush. Then I blinked. On her face was terror and fright as I’d never seen it!
Her hand clutched at her throat, as if to still the pulse there. She looked back over her shoulder in ghastly panic, half running. I looked around myself, to see at what she could be staring. I saw nothing. I didn’t see anyone coming after her. And then I noticed the handkerchief lying on the walk in her wake. Automatically, I bent to pick it up, call after her. But I lost my voice at that moment.
“Take it easy,” I whispered to myself. I clutched at my thudding heart.
The handkerchief was wet with fresh blood! And she’d obviously just discarded it.
I stared after her. At the corner, she was ducking into a cab. Luckily, another cab just skirted by, and the driver saw my hail.
“Get that cab,” I said. “Catch up with it.”
All this didn’t happen in Hollywood, strictly speaking. The nebulous eastern limit of Hollywood, I guess, is technically at Vermont Avenue. This happened near Sixth and Westlake. The driver cut to Wilshire, and up through Westlake Park. But he didn’t catch up with the cab. He had all he could do to keep from losing it! That cab with the dark-haired beauty in it kept turning and doubling back.
I ran up quite a bill, all the way out to the Sunset-Fairfax section, before we caught up. Then the girl got out, paid her driver. I’d slipped my own driver a bill in payment earlier, and so I made up time there, and I was close enough to get another glimpse of her face before she turned into the dark shadow of a building.
Her pretty eyes were wide, staring. The ends of her full-lipped mouth were drawn down tight in frozen terror. And two long, clawlike scratches showed plainly on her throat. Then she disappeared into the building. It was a building similar to the bungalow-in-a-court idea. It was an unfinished quadrangle of apartments, all joined together, but each having a private entrance.
I HESITATED a moment before going in, considered the situation. What in hell business of mine was it, butting in? I couldn’t go up and say, “Here’s a handkerchief you dropped, which I’d like to return.” Not that bloody mess!
And what in hell did I come to California for anyway? To go playing drop-the-handkerchief? To go chasing after dizzy dames who’d gotten into trouble?
But the temptation was too great. I’d been a dick too long. I drew in a long breath and went up to the door of the apartment. It was quiet and dark within. I knocked. Waited for an answer. I raised my knuckles to knock again, and then little butterflies were suddenly fluttering up my spine. Someone was groaning beyond that door!
I shoved on the door. It came open. I almost stumbled over the thing on the floor. It was she! The raven-haired pretty!
I pulled on a light, glancing at a raised window in the rear of the small studio room. Then I was down beside her, grasping her cold fingers. A raw little hole showed just below her neckline. This had nothing to do with the already clotted red gouges on her throat. There was new blood on her blouse. She’d just been shot!
I heard blood rattle in her throat, and I knew a lung had been hit. Then her eyes fluttered open, blankly. I pressed her hand.
“I’m a friend,” I tried to soothe. “I’ll help. If you’ll only. . .”
Her red-lipped mouth opened, and the words came without the movement of her lips. “Don’t tell her,” she said. “Don’t let her know anything’s happened to me. Let her be—happy. Don’t let—her know anything. Don’t let—her ever—find—out . . .”
“No. No,” I promised, waiting for more. But there was no more.
She was dead.
Excerpt From: David X. Manners. “Dig It Deep – Four Crime Stories.”
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