Popular Detective , September, 1947 When racketeer Jimmie Renzelli was found bumped off in an alley, the murder wasn't as simple to solve as it looked!
TWO little kids found the body. They found it in an alley. At first they thought the man was sleeping. Then they saw the blood. They started to yell and they ran down the alley.
Elrick, the big cop, was on the corner. He was talking to Herbie, the newsboy. Herbie was a year over thirty. At one time he had wanted to be an artist. But he found out that in order to keep alive it was necessary to eat. So Herbie, a thin little guy with black hair, began selling papers on the corner.
His only friend was Elrick, who had been on the force for twelve years and would probably remain there for twenty or thirty more. Elrick was a good natured guy who always took his time. In the summer he was almost immovable. He would stand there on the corner and blot a handkerchief against his gleaming red face.
“Whew, but it's hot!” he'd say.
“Sure is,” Herbie would answer.
Elrick would then begin to blast the weather, the neighborhood, the city's water system, and the universe in general. Which would bring a string of philosophical observations from Herbie. Invariably it would end in a violent disagreement. Elrick would walk away, boiling. The next day he would be on the corner again, talking to Herbie.
They were in the midst of such a debate when they were interrupted by the two little kids.
Elrick wobbled up the alley. Herbie followed. The two little kids trailed along, yelping.
Then Elrick was looking down at the body.
“I can't believe it,” he said.
Herbie leaned down. His eyes widened.
“So the Big Shot came home,” Elrick said. “He came home and they were waiting for him. Ten years ago he was a wild kid of seventeen. I grabbed him once and I told him to wise up, but he ran down the street. And I had a feeling that some day I would find him like this. In an alley. Wait here, Herbie. Don't let anyone near the body. I'm putting in a call.”
Elrick wobbled down the alley. Excitement was climbing within him. For a long time the neighborhood had been quiet. There wasn't much to do, outside of keeping the kids off the street and breaking up minor disturbances. But now Jimmie Renzelli was lying in an alley with four bullet holes in his chest. And Elrick knew all about Renzelli.
He knew all about the guy's connections, his friends and the enemies. The business and the manipulations. He knew about a girl named Gladys and a guy named Vince Mazzione and a guy named Lou. And a New Year's Eve party of two years ago. And how Renzelli had found it best to leave town the next morning.
AFTER putting in his call, Elrick wobbled down the alley again. Herbie and the two kids were gazing at the body and at Renzelli's glimmering black hair, which he'd always shined up with a lot of sweet-smelling grease. They were gazing at the costly gabardine suit, at the custom- made lavender shirt, and the expensive tie. And at the moonstone ring on the little finger of a cold white hand.
They were gazing at all that, and at the blood from the four punctures in Renzelli's chest.
“He was always tough,” Herbie said. “Always a bully.”
The two little kids began to ask a lot of questions. Elrick pushed them away.
“Go on! Get out of here.”
They ran up the alley.
Elrick looked at the dead man and shook his head.
“I wonder why he came back,” he said. “He got away at the right time. He should have known better than to have come back.”