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Easy Money men by Eric Howard
Noir

Easy Money men

by Eric Howard

Crack Detective | May 1949 | Vol. 10, No. 2 THE RED FILE | Jul. 2, 2017 | Vol. 4 No. 14 Casefile No: 55ccf75fb3901011515aeff1

A panoramic view of New York's underworld, of studio life in Hollywood, of con men and dicks, of counterfeiters and government agents, of thieves and dips and jail birds, and a former chief of police who promotes a private detective bureau for the purpose of snaring all law-breakers, large and small.

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Table of Contents
  1. New York
  2. Hollywood
  3. Neighbors and Friends
  4. Friends and Family Returns
  5. An Agreement


It is told in Howard's best manner, with keen characterization, well-knit plot, excellent drama. … And our hero discovers, as many have discovered before, that no man can cast off his past life as he discards an old garment. At an inopportune moment it will rise to confound him.—E. B.




Chapter 1

New York

This story must be, in the very nature of things, something of a confession. It begins with the success of my play, "Ladies of the Night"— which was the producers' title, not my own. Heaven forbid! The changed title, and what else the producers did to my play, made it successful. I was lucky enough to ride with them in that success.

But the story, after all, doesn't begin there. It begins long before that. And that's where the confession comes in. I dislike confessions, but in this case I see no other way of justifying myself. The circumstances, as you will see, were a bit unusual.

When I was very much younger than I am now, a series of events occurred that caused me to look at life through dark-colored glasses. Pessimism, I suppose, is a more or less natural counterpart of youth's ebullience. Rut in my case there was very little gaiety of spirits and a great deal of sadness. The result, at eighteen, was disastrous.

In the first place, I left the home of my uncle, who was also my guardian, in a fit of what I still consider righteous anger. I am old enough now to shrug and smile at it. But then I was furious. My uncle was an avaricious, miserly man, a religious hypocrite, and not at all the sort of person who should have been made the guardian of my father's son. For my father was totally unlike my uncle, and I greatly resembled him.

I was alone in the world, except for my uncle and my aunt. The latter was always very kind to me, except in her husband's presence. She was too timid to fight against his callous, dominating strength. On the death of my father, when I was fourteen, my mother having been dead for some years, Uncle John became my guardian. He was also given control of my father's estate, the value of which was about twenty thousand dollars. He exercised that control so carefully that I received nothing during the four years I lived in his house, beyond the barest necessities of life. I was poorly clad, poorly fed, except for the food Aunt Mary smuggled to me, and, I still think, badly treated.

I was graduated from the local high school just before my eighteenth birthday. I had hoped to go to college. But during my school-days my uncle's stinginess had made life almost intolerable. My friends were always entertaining me, asking me to share their little pleasures, and so forth. Having no pocket money, having to fight hard even for money with which to buy text-books, I could never return these favors. At that age a boy is apt to be high-spirited and proud. I deeply resented the fact that I was not given an allowance, however small. But my uncle would neither give me pocket money, from my father's estate, nor would he permit me to work. He was a rather important man in the town, and to have his nephew working would be a blow to his dignity.

Knowing that the same condition would continue if I went to college, I resolved not to go. My uncle was equally resolved that I should go. But I had made up my mind. On my eighteenth birthday, therefore, when my aunt gave me twenty dollars from her own secret savings, I bought a ticket to New York. The cost of the ticket was less than ten dollars. With the remainder of my money, I hoped to live until I could secure a job. When I had established myself, I decided that I would go to a well-known lawyer and consult him about my father's estate. At twenty-one it would be rightfully mine, but until I reached that age I could expect nothing from my uncle.

My clothing, as I have said, was of poor quality. No doubt I looked very much like a young hick, frightfully green. But I wasn't, exactly. I had read a great deal, and I was very observant. Also, I had been told often that I looked several years older than I was. No doubt life in my uncle's house had given me a certain air of maturity. On the train, thinking things over, I decided that I would give my age as twenty-one. This would help me in getting a job, I thought, at better wages than I could otherwise get.

The train butcher, from whom I bought a bar of chocolate for lunch, picked me as a green one right away. He tried to short-change me, but I caught him at it and caused him considerable embarrassment, to the amusement of my fellow-passengers.

***

~ End of Sample ~


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