The Avenger 15 - House of Death

BOOK: The Avenger 15 - House of Death
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By Kenneth Robeson

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WARNER PAPERBACK LIBRARY

WARNER PAPERBACK LIBRARY EDITION
F
IRST
P
RINTING
: A
UGUST
, 1973

C
OPYRIGHT
© 1941
BY
S
TREET
& S
MITH
P
UBLICATIONS
, I
NC
.
C
OPYRIGHT
R
ENEWED
1969
BY
T
HE
C
ONDÉ
N
EST
P
UBLICATIONS
, I
NC
.
A
LL
R
IGHTS
R
ESERVED

T
HIS
W
ARNER
P
APERBACK
L
IBRARY
E
DITION
IS
P
UBLISHED
BY
A
RRANGEMENT
W
ITH
T
HE
C
ONDÉ
N
EST
P
UBLICATIONS
. I
NC
.

C
OVER
I
LLUSTRATION
BY
G
EORGE
G
ROSS

W
ARNER
P
APERBACK
L
IBRARY
IS A
D
IVISION
OF
W
ARNER
B
OOKS,
75 R
OCKERFELLER
P
LAZA
, N.Y. 10019.

A Warner Communications Company
ISBN: 0-446-74-261-9

Printed in the United States of America

CONTENTS

HOUSE OF DEATH

CHAPTER I: The Gold Coin

CHAPTER II: Nemesis

CHAPTER III: Death in Her Hair!

CHAPTER IV: The Shining Clan

CHAPTER V: The Former Great

CHAPTER VI: Haygar from Turkey

CHAPTER VII: Jailed for Murder

CHAPTER VIII: Double Kidnap

CHAPTER IX: The House in the Sea

CHAPTER X: Answer in Arabic

CHAPTER XI: Wholesale Disaster

CHAPTER XII: Dead Men’s Bones

CHAPTER XIII: Nellie Horns

CHAPTER XIV: Reunion

CHAPTER XV: The Night Cries Out!

CHAPTER XVI: From the Tomb!

CHAPTER XVII: Hell’s Host

CHAPTER XVIII: Bent Walls

HOUSE
OF DEATH

CHAPTER I
The Gold Coin

It was not a very attractive neighborhood.

Off to the east were warehouses, loft buildings, poor-looking brick structures in which families lived two to a room, and, finally, second-class apartment houses. To the west, only a block or two, the dark dock areas began, and from the Hudson River came hoots of foghorns as the mist of midnight deepened over river traffic.

The street was more like an alley than a street. The man walking down it seemed to have a tendency to walk on the street rather than on the sidewalk. The sidewalk, his movements made it appear, was much too close to dark doorways from which trouble could come.

Altogether, the man acted as though bearing something very valuable. And yet his looks did not confirm such a supposition.

He looked almost like a bum.

He wore a serge suit that had once been fairly good but now had spots where the process of fraying had gone beyond the shiny stage and into the condition where loose threads showed. His shoes were scuffed and thin of sole. His felt hat was as shapeless, and his shirt was not too clean and had frayed spots at the collar.

The man himself looked more presentable than his clothes. He was young—about twenty-six. He had a determined jaw, eyes that were level and decisive, though inclined to remain half-closed in a secretive way, and a square-shouldered build that spoke of strength.

But no matter what way you looked at him, he didn’t seem the sort who would be carrying anything so valuable as to make him beware of dark doorways. You would think that only a yegg very down on his luck indeed would bother with such prey.

Milky Morley just happened to fit into such a category.

Milky, so-called because he had skin as white, and hair as light almost as an albino’s, was indeed down on his luck. He was a second-story worker, as a rule. He had the neatest kit of burglar tools in New York, plied his trade with skill and discretion, and bothered nobody as long as he himself was let alone.

But now he was in a position that was going to make him the joke of Manhattan if he couldn’t remedy it swiftly.

Milky had lost his kit.

That swell little jimmy, made to his own specifications by the underworld’s best mechanic; the spring-steel blade, hardly thicker than a hair, with which he forced reluctant window catches; the tiny battery-coil indicator which graciously indicated the presence of unfriendly burglar alarms—all his precious tools were gone.

They had been, moreover, taken from him on a subway train by some damned crook, blast his soul. So there was Milky, an established second-story man, robbed of his kit by a crook. It was intolerable. If the boys ever heard of that—

He had to get a new kit fast. To do that, he had to have money. To get money, it seemed to him, there was only one course: sink a few grades in his own professional self-esteem, and pull a stick-up job.

Pull it on that shabby-looking guy, for example, coming down the dark, narrow street.

Milky pulled his hat farther down over his betraying, light blond hair and turned up his collar to hide some of his pasty face. His albino characteristics made him all too easy to describe to the cops.

He walked innocently toward the man, neither fast nor slow, both hands hanging openly by his sides—but with a sap stuck up his right sleeve. He got to the man, passed him, turned on his heel.

The man had one instant in which he suspected something wrong and tried to duck. But it didn’t do. The sap caught him on the back of the head!

Milky went through pockets and felt for a money belt.

In the pockets he found two one-dollar bills and some change. About two seventy-five altogether. Under the shirt, at the waist, he found a flat packet that bulged satisfactorily with bills.

He grunted.

“Hm-m-m! Had a hunch the guy wasn’t as broke as he let on. The idea—these punks puttin’ up a show of bein’ broke and then havin’ a flock of dough under their belts—”

A firm step came to his ears from the east.

When you fight the law for as long as Milky Morley had, you develop a psychic sense about cops. Just the sound of a step tells you whether the person is a cop or an honest man.

This was a cop. Milky straightened in midrun and faded down the block. He emerged at the corner and almost fell into a squad car, parked near the corner while the two occupants listened to the radio.

Milky felt persecuted. What business did cops have, parking and listening to radios, anyhow? They ought to be on the move, not lurking at dark spots for guys to stumble over.

It was too late to pretend he wasn’t in any hurry, so he veered left and kept on running.

A gun banged behind him. There was a thin whine as a slug went past his cheek. The bullet went into a cigar-store window and raised a small fountain of cigars from a ruined box on display.

Milky doubled his speed. Steps pounded behind him just as fast, however. There was an areaway. Milky ducked into it and paused.

The totalitarian so-and-so who had nipped his kit on the subway hadn’t gotten his gun. Milky snapped it level and fired.

After that, Milky ran faster than ever, for on the dark sidewalk behind him a cop lay clutching his stomach! Now he’d had to shoot a bull! And it wasn’t his fault at all! Why did hard luck do these things to a harmless fellow who didn’t want anything out of life but to be let alone in his pursuit of liberty and happiness?

Milky was beyond cursing, however, a little while after that. He was speechless with indignation. For, in a quiet spot with the law left far behind, he was examining the packet taken from the slugged guy’s waist.

It was a wallet—a big wallet—juicily filled with money. But it was funny money.

Milky stared at the stuff with red in his eyes. Hundreds and hundreds of zlotys or dinars or some other kind of foreign money were represented in those beautifully engraved notes. But he had a dreadful hunch they meant not one thing in good old U.S. dough.

For a pile of funny money he had slugged a guy, shot a cop, and run till his breath scorched his throat . . .

A faint rift of light appeared as he looked a second time at the handful of loose change he had taken, with the two one-dollar bills, from the man’s pockets.

Among the coins, which were American, was one that was neither copper, nickel, nor silver.

BOOK: The Avenger 15 - House of Death
2.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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