First Come, First Killed by D. A. Kyle
Amateur Sleuth

First Come, First Killed

by D. A. Kyle

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Paul Corey, real estate agent and eager detective, is hot on the case when a skeleton in the basement of the old house attracts more corpses and seekers of the hidden bank loot.


Table of Contents
  1. A Wreck With An Acre Of Jungle
  2. Ah, Fame!
  3. Another Murder
  4. A Bank Robbery and A Gun Battle
  5. The Fellow Who Was Killed Five Years Ago
  6. The Prospective Buyer
  7. Expecting Another Corpse
  8. The Man
  9. Mr. Thompson's Wife
  10. One of the Gang
  11. The Driver
  12. A Body Full of Slugs

Chapter 1

A Wreck with an Acre of Jungle

The ramshackle house, battered by years of inattention, was hidden in high brush and tangled young trees. The porch had sagged and the window glass had disappeared and the roof, luxuriant with moss, was rotted in spots.

“This?” Micheline Moore said incredulously, sweeping her arm in the direction of the house, “this is what you expect to sell?”

Paul Corey pinched his lower lip with thumb and forefinger and studied the building. His grey eyes held a trace of disappointment.

“It’s certainly a wreck, Mich,” he admitted; “it’s an acre of jungle with a ruin in the middle.” His fingers moved upward and pinched the bridge of his long nose. “But not hopeless; it’s a good piece of land. The house can be fixed and the lake is convenient. It’ll cost money for improvements, but that’s why the price is so cheap.”

They pushed their way through the bushes and climbed on the porch.

“The lumber’s good, Mich,” Corey said and kicked the planking heavily.

Micheline stepped through the doorway and Corey followed her, his hair, not quite six feet from the soles of his feet, brushing the top of the frame. Inside the bare rooms were scattered with refuse from past picnickers and tramps.

“It’s not too bad,” Micheline said, encouraged by their examination; “a woman’s imagination could accomplish wonders.”

Corey twisted his lean frame through a maze of broken furniture. “Let’s look at the foundation.” He tried to open the cellar door but it was wedged fast by a sprung board. He pulled and pounded and labored until he had managed to open it several inches. Using a stout piece of lumber he inserted it in the crack and pried the door free.

They went down the rickety stairs.

The cellar was completely dark; no windows nor holes let in the daylight. He turned on the flashlight he had taken from his pocket and shone it over the dusty concrete floor and walls.

Micheline said uneasily, “It’s creepy here.”

The remnants of a packing case leaned against the corner of the cellar. Corey pulled the warped wood away from the wall. The sides, cracked and curling into thin strips, collapsed at his feet. A cloud of dust billowed around them, then slowly cleared.

Micheline screamed, weakly but earnestly.

The dust-dimmed rays of the flashlight were reflected by a white skull.

The unexpected discovery combined with Micheline’s cry made Corey juggle the light nervously in his hand. It took him several minutes of shaky conversation with her before he recovered his poise enough to step closer, spraying the beam around the floor. Micheline glued herself up against him, twining her fingers in his suit.

“Don’t be frightened, Mich,” Corey said dully, preoccupied with his examination. The skull had its customary grin weirdly altered by the lack of its two front teeth. Ribs of the skeleton stuck up sharply in the air, but the rest of the bones were hidden by the dirt and debris.

“I—I’m—n—not,” Micheline stammered. “Paul! Let’s—get out of here!”

“Hmm,” he replied, paying no attention to her. A glint of metal appeared under his delicate probing and he extracted a tarnished cigarette case. Just underneath an elaborate “Kid” engraved on the lid was a hole, the thickness of a finger, punched through the metal. He shifted the flashlight from the case back to the skeleton. One of the lower ribs had been splintered halfway down its curved length.

Micheline had silently watched his flashlight focus on the cigarette case and the bones. “Bullet hole?” she quavered.

“I think so,” Corey answered. He turned around with difficulty, hampered by her tight embrace. “We’ll go back to town now. The police have to be notified; we can come back with them again after we have lunch.”

“Lunch, ugh!” Micheline said and shivered.

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