North Carolina Newspapers

In Elmer Henderson's bungalow
on top of the thirty-story Highart
Film Company's building on East
Fifty-sixth Street near Fifth Ave
nue, four men were playing poker
on a cold January night.
"This is a slow game," growled
big Dan Flaherty. The Chief In
spector in charge of the homicide
squad of the New York police force
was taking one of his rare nights
off, and he wanted his fun to
come fast and furious. "Four
handed poker's no good. Isn't any
one else coming?"
"Fitz ought to be here any min
ute now," said Martin Frazier of
the District Attorney's staff. "He's
usually the first to arrive."
"Some skirt called him up, I
suppose, and it's all off," grunted
Dan Flaherty. "Funny, the way
dames fall for him."
"He's a choosy picker at that,
responded Frazier. "Only falls for
the live ones. Lydia Lane's his
Even poorer poker players than
Dan Flaherty and Martin Frazier
would have noted the instant
change of expression which came
over the faces of the other two
at the mention of Lydia Lane's
name. Henderson, their host, was
the first to speak.
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"Studio gossip, nothing more,"
he said. The words were simple
enough, but there was an under
tone in his voice which made Dan
Flaherty lift his left eyebrow
questioningly as he glanced quick
ly from the speaker to Frazier.
"Miss Lane has been rather an
noyed by his attentions. Of course,
I can't speak for her, but that is
the imoression she gave me quite
distinctly, this afternoon. She was
up here, having a voice test, and
I took her home."
Archie Doane, the fourth man
at the table, had colored deeply
at Frazier's careless mention of
the popular picture actress. Dan
Flaherty's quick glance revealed
to the Inspector that he was bit
ing his lips and holding his head
rigidly as if trying to control his
"I'd be obliged, gentlemen, if
you would leave Miss Lane's name
out of it," he said, as Henderson
finished. "You will understand
why when I tell you that she has
promised to marry me."
"I'm sorry!" exclaimed Frazier.
"I had no idea. I hope youH over
look my loose tongue, old man.
You've won a prize, from all I
hear, though I haven't the pleas
ure of the lady's acquaintance."
"Congratulations, Doane!" cried
Henderson. "You'll make the
handsomest couple in pictures.
Miss Lane is quite the most
charming lady I have ever known.
And one of the very few whose
voice registers as well as her love
ly face does."
"So, that's how it is, eh? said
Dan Flaherty. "Well, boy, I wish
you luck, I've never tried it my
self, but I hear matrimony highly
spoken of by those that have
sometimes. But I wish the rest
would come, whoever's coming."
"Max Michaelis said he'd be
over about nine," said Frazier.
"Somebody call up Fitz," sug
gested Henderson. "Anybody
know his number?"
"I'll call him," said Doane. "All
right Frazier; no harm done," he
went on, offering the Assistant
District Attorney his hand.
"Where's your telephone, Elmer?"
Henderson motioned toward the
foyer which separated the room
they were in from the rest of his
quarters, and accompanied his
guest to the cabinet' in which the
telephone directories were cased.
"Here it is; Stephen Fitzgerald,
Plaza 00004," said Henderson.
"You understand how to use a
dial phone?"
"Excuse me a minute," he said
to the others, as Archie Doane be
gan to whirl the telephone dial.
"I'll be with you again right
He crossed the foyer and went
into another room.
"Nice little guy, Henderson,"
said Dan Flaherty. "Good nerve,
too; the way he backed his bust
ed flush just now and got away
with it was as good poker as I've
ever seen. I'd have sworn he was
holding a kicker with threes, or
had two big pair at least."
"What does he do? Teach sing
ing? There must be money in it,
the way he's fixed up here." He
glanced appraisingly around the
luxuriously furnished room.
"No; he's an inventor," replied
Frazier. "I thought I told you
about him."
"Only that you'd played poker
with him once or twice and that
he played" a good game," said the
inspector. "What does he invent?''
"His latest is a new way of
making talking pictures," said
Frazier. "Brings out the natural
voice much better than anything
yet, I understand. I don't pretend
to know anything those things,
but they say the Highart Film
people paid him close to a million
cash on account of royalties, and
a salary of a hundred thousand
or so to supervise the working of
of his device. He'B got a labora
tory back in the other room."
"That's what he meant by giv
ing the Lane dame a voice test,
then," grunted Dan Flaherty. "I
thought he didn't look like a
singer. Ouess that skirt's all right,
eh?" He glanced over his shoul
der at Doane still at the tele
phone. "Archie isn't falling for
any rotten ones. For an actor, he's
as square as they come. Pretty
hard hit, I should say."
"Head over heels in love, the
way he flared up," grinned Fra
zier. "I made a bad break there,
but he took it like a sport. Guess
i Henderson's right; it was just
studio gossip about her and Fitz.
Natural enough, with Fitzgeralds*
known susceptibility and her good
looks. Fife directed her last two
pictures, and you know how gos
sip travels."
Doane came back from the tele
phone. "You were right," he said
to Frazier. "Some girl got hold of
him and he'd forgotten all about
his engagement here. At least, his
man says that a lady called him
on the 'phone about quarter past
six and he hurried out and hasn't
been home since."
Henderson came is as Doane
was speaking, followed by a man
servant with a tray on which re
posed a siphon, several glasses
with their quota of ice cubes, and
a couple of bottles.
"Too bad. Couldn't come, eh?"
he said. "Well, here's something
to take the curse off. Wonder if
we can't hurry Mr. Michaelis up."
. "He's probably just finishing
dinner at the club," said Dan
Flaherty. "I'll call him."
"Ask him to bring along anyone
else he thinks would like to sit in,"
said Henderson. "Six are better
than five." He glanced at the
glasses in front of the others. "All
filled, gentlemen? Then here's to
the prospective bridegroom and
his lovely lady."
Doane colored again as the
others drank the friendly toast.
Flaherty went to the telephone
and returned in a few minutes
with the information that Max
Michaelis and a friend were just
getting into a taxi to come over.
"Mind if I use your phone
again?" asked Doane. "I'll just
call up Miss Lane. She wasn't
sure whether she would be going
out tonight on not; half expected
a summons from a dowager aunt
or something like that."
"Surely. Help yourself," replied
Henderson. "Give her my compli
ments, won't you?"
"Tell me about Michaelis," he
went on, addressing Frazier. "I've
heard something about him, of
course. You see," he added, turn
ing to Inspector Flaherty, "this
is really Frazier's party. I don't
know many people in New York—
too busy in my laboratory until
lately to make many friends.
Doane and Fritz, of course—got
to know them in my picture work.
If it hadn't been for meeting Fra
zier here, through Fritz, I would
n't have had the pleasure of
knowing you, for example."
"There isn't much to tell about
Max Michaelis," said Frazier, "ex
cept that he's the shrewdest law
yer in New York."
"That's saying a good deal, I
should think," said Henderson.
"He's rather on the inside of
things, isn't he?"
"If by that you mean that he
has the confidence of the District
Attorney's office and the Police
Department, I should say that he's
very much on the inside. He's
that rare bird, a criminal lawyer
who is absolutely on the level."
"I'll say he is," Dan Flaherty
growled. "Gets my goat some
times, butting in on police mat
ters. But, damn him, he's always
right. Got the best set of brains
of any man I know. Probably
that's Max now."
The doorbell rang as he spoke.
Doane rejoined the others. "No
answer," he said. "Guess she's
gone to see her aunt."
To Dan Flaherty's shrewd eyes,
however, the actor seemed a trifle
disturbed under his outward calm.
"Doesn't like it because Fritz
was going to meet some dame and
the Lane frail's gone out too," he
whispered to Frazier, as they all
arose to greet the newcomers.
Max Michaelis and his friend, a
stockbroker named Williams.
"Afraid I've got your rugs
soaked," apologized the lawyer as
an avalanche of snow cascaded
from the shoulders of his fur coat.
"Quite all right, Mr. Michaelis,"
said Henderson, as Frazier intro
duced him. "Nothing but water,
after all, is it? I'm not quite sure,
you see, because I've never had
any experience with snow."-
"Where did you come from
queried Michaelis, slipping out of
his great coat. "Never have seen
snow before?"
"No. It may sound odd, but I
was born and raised In southern
California, and my only visits to
the North and East have been in
the Summer. I've only seen snow
at a distance, on the mountain
peaks," retted Henderson.
"Southern California eh?" said
Michaelis, moving over to the
Dpen fire. "Los Angeles? Oh, Pas
adena. Don't happen to know a
fellow named Everett, Joseph
Everett, a lawyer, do you? Great
trlend of mine."
"Why, I've met Mr. Everett,
though I can't say I know him
well," Henderson 'answered.
'Here," he continued, as his man
came in with fresh glasses for the
newcomers, "I don't suppose you
gentlemen will object to a drink?"
"Not I," said Williams, the
stockbroker, "Br-r-r! Winter's
here, all right. This would be a
great night for-a murder."
"Hear that Dan?" said Michaelis
to the Inspector. "What are you
doing, taking a holiday on a night
like this? Williams says it would
be a good night for a murder."
"Well, here's success to crime,
then," rejoined Flaherty raising
his refilled glass. "I've never no
ticed the weather made much
"Success to crime," echoed Max
Michaelis, glancing around the
room as he drank. "Cozy place
you've got here, Mr. Henderson.
Nobody'd dream that it was
storming outside."
"We had no idea there was a
storm on until you came in look
ing like Santa Claus," said Archie
"It has to be sound-proof—as
sound-proof as possible," Hender
son explained. "My work is in the
talking pictures, you know, I have
to have absolute silence in my
"Good place for a murder, too,
as well as a good night for it,"
i said Michaelis, setting down his
I empty glass. "Just think what the
newspaper men would do with a
sound-proof room as the scene of
a crime. 'Screams of the victim
smothered by padded walls' and
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that sort of thing, you know. Won
der some fiction writer hasn't
pulled off a murder in a 'talkie'
studio. Ideal setting,, eh, Dan?"
"And for that reason the last
place to expect it," growled In
spector Flaherty. "Most murders
are unpremeditated. They happen
as the result of a sudden impulse
combined with opportunity. That's
what makes it hard to convict a
murderer, if he has set his stage
for the job he's bound to leave
clues we can pick up, and once
we prove who set the stage we've
pretty nearly got a conviction. It's
the hit-and-run killers that do
most of the murders and leave
fewest clues behind."
"My, what a gruesome turn our
party is taking!" interposed Ar
chie Doane. "Murder! Ugh! It
even makes me shudder to see it
in the pictures. I'm supposed to
shoot a tough hombre in the film
I'm working in now, and it gives
me the creeps even to pick up the
property pistol."
Continued Next Issue
Thursday, July 15. 1937
"What Is that deaf-and-dumb
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"He just hit his thumb with a
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pad and pencil."
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