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The Case of the Timid Commando by Arthur Leo Zagat
Amateur Sleuth

The Case of the Timid Commando

by Arthur Leo Zagat

Crack Detective | Mar. 1943 | Vol. 4, No. 2 THE RED FILE | Feb. 26, 2017 | Vol. 2 No. 6 Casefile No: 55ccf75fb3901011515aefaa

B. & B. Detectives, and their cat, Sinbad, solve the mystery behind a fighting man's sudden loss of nerve.

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Table of Contents
  1. If You Wore Spurs
  2. Yellow
  3. The Damage
  4. Lanning’s Second Letter
  5. A.W.O.L.
  6. A Trail Plain As Broadway
  7. Still In The Box
  8. Something Violent
  9. Mary Was Runnin’ Away
  10. Black Shades
  11. Mary
  12. Mary’s Story
  13. The Old Trick

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Chapter 1

If You Wore Spurs

It was a veritable behemoth of a truck, blunt-nosed, a dull olive-green, it stood in the camp road as ugly as the Puritan’s concept of sin. Passing soldiers looked at it—looked again and whistled softly.

“What a dream!” one exclaimed; another, “Mama! Ain’t she somethin’ to write home about.”

The feminine pronoun did not refer to the truck, even though it bore the insignia of the American Women’s Voluntary Services. Pronoun, and admiring remarks, appertained to the occupant of its driver’s seat.

Trim in gray-blue uniform, canoe-shaped cap perched jauntily on hair the mouth-watering shade of sage honey, tip-tilted little nose impudent over a damask-rose dab of mouth, Betty Marvin was for once oblivious of male adoration. Her eyes, cornflower blue, were riveted anxiously on the door of the long, low building before which the truck had been waiting an hour.

Beside her, a furry bundle the exact color of her hair heaved, uncurled and became a huge cat stretching lithe muscles. “Mrreow,” it commented in a deep-chested baritone, looking up at its mistress with eyes blue as her own.

The girl stroked the cat, but her gaze remained on the door with the stenciled words, MEDICAL DETACHMENT.

“All right, Sinbad.” Her voice was silver. “They’ll be through with him soon.” A silver wire stretched almost to breaking. “We’ll soon know—” It caught in her throat.

The door was opening.

Ben Marvin came out of it and across the board sidewalk slowly, as if he were very tired. Sunlight glinted from his lieutenant’s silver bars, struck into sharp relief the weary lines cutting into his dark, sharp countenance. His uniform was impeccable, his black mustache needle-pointed and intransigent as always, but his left leg dragged a little, its knee stiff.

A silvery little laugh greeted him as he reached the truck. “Pay me,” Betty chuckled, her tenseness gone, “One hard, round quarter.”

“Yeah,” Ben grunted. “You win,” He put the coin into her soft palm. “They marked me unfit for duty for another month. A month,” he repeated bitterly. “Ten cents gets you another quarter the division’s overseas by then.”

“It’s a bet.” The girl reached for a gear lever. “Come on, Ben. Hurry. I’ve got to get Helen ’Lisbeth back in her stall before the Gorgon discovers I drove her down here.” A series of backfires announced the motor had come alive. “She’d love the chance to chuck me out on my—”

“Betty!”

“Ear,” she finished sweetly, “Well?”

Ben climbed a little awkwardly to the high seat.

“Not that I’m afraid of Mrs. J. Hall-Morris,” Betty giggled, “since I found out her bee- orgeous silver hair’s a wig.” Cogs clashed. “It’s lucky, Ben,”

“That Mrs. Hall-Morris wears a wig?”

“No, silly.” The truck lurched into gargantuan motion. “That you don’t have to go back to the army right away. ’Cause I just bought the most beautiful leather blotter pad you ever saw.”

“A leather—What the devil for?”

“Your desk. To keep your spurs from scratching it. If you wore spurs.”

~ End of Sample ~


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