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Mr. Bingler's Murder Maze

by Wilbur S. Peacock

part 3 Summary:

some long summary

part 4:

part 4 teaser

Chapter 4

Wax Museum

Mr. Bingler tried to run from the six-headed monster that was snuffling ferociously at his heels, but strain as he might, he could not lift his rooted feet out of their tracks. He tried to yell, and his voice came out in a tenuous whisper that hung in the air before his face. He groaned in terror, and the sound brought him back to consciousness.

He was lying on the divan, a wet towel tucked carefully around his aching head. He groaned again, lifted himself to a sitting position, wincing at the stab of pain that skidded around the inside of his skull.

“Oh, dear!” he said miserably.

He staggered to his feet, made an inspection of the apartment, expecting momentarily to be attacked again. But the apartment was empty; his assailant having gone while he was unconscious. Turning on the cold tap in the bathroom, he tenderly bathed the goose egg on his head, his thoughts gradually marshaling themselves into a faint semblance of order.

He couldn’t fully understand why his assailant had paused long enough to lay a wet towel over his aching head, and then apparently gone without touching anything. A sudden premonition touched his aching brain.

He wrapped a dry towel about his head, went into the bedroom. He frowned a bit, when he found that he was right. The wax mask was gone, and in its place was the new derby resting in another hatbox.

Mr. Bingler swore rather violently, a small hot lump of fury blazing into life in his scrawny breast. This was the last straw.

He lifted the hatbox to one side, caught sight of the bit of blue sticker on the bottom. “ — ax Museum,” he read, and his mental teeth took a healthy bite of the lonesome clue.

He dressed rapidly in the suit he had worn all day, hanging the Sunday suit back in the closet. He clipped the tear-gas gun into his vest pocket, thrust the handcuffs into a hip pocket. He switched off the lights, went into the hall, squirmed into the neat rubbers and raincoat. He removed an umbrella from the rack, an umbrella that could become a gleaming sword by a mere twist of his wrist.

He was conscious of a weight on his right hand, and he peered proudly at the first ring he had worn in years. It was a large, golden-brown cameo with two heads, and it seemed strangely out of place on his tiny veined hand, Mr. Bingler’s face was hard with purpose, and his eyes dark with anger, as he locked the apartment and raced down the two flights of stairs.

He felt that he had been on the receiving end of a dirty deal. He didn’t know what a mask had to do with a murder, but he did know that he was going to put a stop to the machinations of the master-villain one way or another.

This entire affair had become rather personal to Mr. Bingler.

“Taxi, Mister?” a prowling cabby called to the small man in the raincoat.

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Mr. Bingler nodded absently, climbed into the rear of the taxi. He seated himself exactly in the center of the cushions, braced his feet on the foot rail.

“Where to, Buddy?”

Mr. Bingler considered. “How many Wax Museums in town?” he asked.

“Just one, that I know of … up on Tenth Avenue. Wanta go there?”

“Yes,” Mr. Bingler said shortly, “And … er, take the lead out of your trousers!”

“Take the …!” The cabby took in the derby, the raincoat and the umbrella in one inclusive glance. “Okay, Granpop, hang onto your upper plate!” he finished dryly.

Mr. Bingler regretted his use of the unfamiliar words he had used. For without even a preliminary shifting of gears, the taxi took off down the street. For the first time in quite a while, Mr. Bingler left grateful to Isaac Newton and his Law of Gravity, for with but a bit of coaxing the taxi would have taken off like a mail plane.

Mr. Bingler swallowed his heart, clung to his derby with both hands, his stomach banking in sympathy as the taxi swished and swayed through the light traffic.

“This fast enough, Mister?” the cabby asked casually.

Mr. Bingler nodded wordlessly, too paralyzed to speak. He watched the world whiz giddily past, and his small mouth made the same gasping movements made by a fish drowning on dry land.

“This is it, Buddy,” the cabby said eventually, whirled the taxi into the curb with a banshee wail of screaming rubber.

“Thanks,” Mr. Bingler said weakly, poured himself onto the sidewalk. He was just regaining his land-legs, when it dawned on him that he had received no change from the dollar bill he had tendered in payment for the fare.

Mr. Bingler grimaced, peered regretfully after the taxi. This mystery was proving expensive, both in mental shock and cash.

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He looked up at the tarnished sign “Wax Museum,” then trudged casually down the street toward the darkness of an alleyway. Certain that he was unseen, he ducked into its depths, edged along the building wall, until he came to the sliver of light that edged from beneath a pulled shade. Pulling a box from a rubbish pile, he climbed atop its frail structure, applied one eye to the silt of light.

“Ha!” said Mr. Bingler silently, triumphantly.

Lying on the single table in the small room was the death mask, and over it a man was paying money to a second man. Mr. Bingler felt an instinctive distrust of the man doing the paying, for with his heavy jowls and hard eyes he fitted perfectly into the Number Three classification of Criminals, as given in Lesson Seven of the Home Detective Course.

Mr. Bingler’s grey little ego swelled with budding life, when he realized that the mask was part of some mystery, and that his deductions were working with astounding clarity.

There was a tiny “creek,” and the box collapsed beneath Mr. Bingler. He squawked in sudden fright, clutched at the wall, went tumbling to the pavement. With his heart in his throat, he scurried breathlessly out of the alley mouth, hopped into a parked taxi. He hunched down into the seat, knowing that he had been seen by the doorman of the Wax Museum, expecting to hear the scream of flying lead at any moment.

“Centre Street Police Station,” he snapped at the driver, breathed in sudden relief, as the taxi, spurted into the traffic.

Mr. Bingler smiled then, his eyes lighting up like those of a mischievous brownie’s. Mr. Bingler was in his element, and very, very happy.

* * * * *

Chapter 5

Pink Hitler

There was an unhurried bustle about the Police Station that was like balm to Mr. Bingler’s quivering nerves. He scuttled through the doorway, passed unnoticed into the waiting room, knocked timidly on the door marked Captain Donovan.

The knock went unnoticed, and he mopped his forehead with a large handkerchief, tried desperately to control his shaking knees. But there was a light in Mr. Bingler’s eyes, for he believed that he was on the track of some master criminal; and such was his makeup that he was like an eager pup chasing a bus, anxious to catch it but not knowing what he would do with it if he should.

·      END OF PART 4      ·

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