A Race Williams Story
Among the Race Williams' pursuers is a man of gigantic purportions, a beast, some say, with the ability to deflect even bullets. Join Race in this battle to kill the beast, save the girl, and solve the case.
"Easy does it." I tried to peer over the shabby man's shoulder and get a look at the face beneath the brown cap. It was an ugly, evil map- what I could see of it. Gleaming, shining animal-like eyes; thick lips above heavy jowls, that were lost in the collar of the great coat which was buttoned tightly about his neck. But his arm was the thing. He had a reach on him like a gorilla. The lead pipe was high enough in the air, but that arm was slightly bent. It was the other that I noted- imagination, I thought at first. Just a trick of the darkness, as I made out the whiteness of thick twitching fingers reaching to the man's knees.
But it wasn't imagination; for as I watched, those fingers closed into a fist- a fist that slowly began to rise and stretch out beside the man whose back I tickled with my gun. Uncanny, it was there in the darkness. You couldn't really distinguish the arm that led from the hand to the shoulder; that was lost in the background of the dark coat. Just a knotted fist seemed to be floating through the air; slowly, but surely and steadily, toward me. The raised hand too was sweeping down by inches.
Uncanny certainly- odd that a human being should have such a reach. But there was nothing to fear really. An embarrassing time perhaps, if I had to explain the shooting to the police. I've explained so often that it's getting monotonous to me, to the law too, for that matter. Judges were looking at me with suspicion. Never anything to hang on me, you understand. But one learned jurist had told me grimly that if I made it a steady practice to appear before him to explain any more little shootings in the night he'd give me a stretch on the principle of the thing. That he would was certain enough. That he could was another matter. But besides the annoyance, there was the expense of a high class lawyer. Good mouthpieces may be worth the money all right- and earn it too- but they put an awful dig in the bank account just the same. And at present my balance at the bank was about as low as the mercury in the thermometer. But back to that hand!
"Young man," I shoved my gun deeper into the generous back before me, "advise your friend that if he isn't more careful of those itching fingers of his I'll lay a row of lead buttons up and down your spine. Come speak up!" Those hands were still doing their stuff- one of them out by the derelict's shoulder as the head of the awkward, waving creature shoved slightly forward and his feet shuffled on the sidewalk.
"Lay off that stuff." The shabby man shot the words toward his companion. Was it a command or a request? I couldn't tell at first. The hand stopped for a moment; hung so by the other's shoulder. Then the fingers opened slightly and it came on again; the huge carcass moving slightly so that it was partly protected from me by the lad between us.
"Back, you!" The panhandler jerked out the words. And there was no doubt of their meaning. Neither a request nor a command, but a plea in his voice- and then again. "You fool- stop it- drop those hands. Drop them- I say." And this time the whine in his voice was real. But there was more than just reality- fear, horror were all in his screech; his words echoing down the street. He had lost his head altogether. Now he appealed to me.
"Don't shoot me," he cried, his words trembling and rattling in his throat. "I can't stop him- I can't stop him. Look at his eyes."
And I did. They were shining like an animal's; like a cat's- clearly the green stood out in them. For the first time in my life I got a shudder. It was almost as if I could see things behind those eyes, as if I looked down into a reeking mass of rottenness. No way to describe it. I shuddered, yes- with revulsion, not fear. I'm not made to fear a man. It just don't come natural to me, I guess. But more than the eyes I watched the hand, the heavy shoulders, the protruding head- the sudden outward thrust of a great chin.
I swung my gun up and over the shoulder of the whiner.
"Listen, big boy," and there was no question nor pleading in my voice, "if you don't control that laudable desire to fasten your hands on my neck and won't listen to the kindly, fatherly advice of your dirty friend- and don't think anything of your life why-" and I cut my speech, for the man was swinging slowly from side to side- crouching slightly and getting ready to hurl that huge body forward.
"One more move and I'll plug the two of you," I said sharply- and I meant it.
"He don't understand- don't care," the other man bellowed. "Lead won't stop him- when he's like that, nothing can stop him. Run for it, Race Williams- RUN." And this time his shout was fit to wake the dead.
There may be men with charmed lives; men that lead won't stop, but I have yet to meet them. The dirty lad may have been right, but if I were a betting man I'd lay pretty good odds that at the first bark of my gun a useless mass of flesh would lie on the sidewalk. It was his party, not mine. As for running- well, the bullet-proof man who can pump lead into my dust isn't born yet.
Format: Electronic PDF File
First Published: 1927
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