PURDY YOUNG spread his legs far apart, gripped his dark cane at either end with his light yellow gloves and looked straight at me along his sharp hooked nose. Things had certainly changed in the underworld over the last few years. Purdy Young was the new representative of crime-no sweater and cap, but a hundred and fifty dollar gray business suit on his body and maybe a six thousand dollar car standing at the curb before my office building. Purdy Young was of the new school. The Racketeer.
"Let's have it all, Purdy," I told him. "You're a straight talker. I like straight talk."
Purdy Young grinned evilly-certainly he was a handsome devil in a sinister sort of way.
"Damn it, Race Williams." He twisted up his mouth. "You played along the Avenue so long that a bull or a gentleman don't know where you stand. But I sort of figure it out that you stand for one person only-and that person is Race Williams. Now-the thing's easy. I ain't making any threats, not even a promise of future reward. That's for you to decide. Look't here, I'm offering you ten thousand dollars to ride into town with a fleet of hooch.""
"You said five before," I cut in.
"Well-I'll say fifteen now. Your passage is paid all along the line. If the head of the department of justice was to pop down on you, you wouldn't have to give up even a bottle, let alone a nickel. You read your books and know that when Purdy Young brings in stuff, that stuff comes in."
"Afraid of high-jackers and want a little expert gun-play!" I studied him from the corners of my eyes.
He paled slightly.
"No, you know I ain't yellow, I'll sport a rod with-" he looked straight at me now, "with anyone," he finished.
I nodded. Purdy Young had guts. I said:
"Better give me it all. I don't think I'll tumble. But I won't talk."
"No," he said, "you won't talk." And it was more a general statement of a simple truth than a threat. Purdy Young was interesting. He had the stuff in him that I had in me when I was his age- a reckless courage. But his reckless courage had taken him along the wrong path. After all, though, we weren't much different. Purdy Young was known as a killer. So was I. He killed outside the law. His killings were evil crimes, pure and simple. I killed within that law, and only in defense of life and in the cause of justice, law, and order.
"You've had hard luck with a couple of shipments-I mean last month," I explained. ""There was talk of Joe Cruize and his boys.""
"Joe Cruize is dead." Purdy set his lips tightly.
"He had a brother Frank." I watched him closely.
"There ain't no more Cruize boys. It ain't healthy to fool with Purdy Young. The feeling is getting around that I know my stuff."
"Frank Cruize is reputed bad."
Purdy Young laughed and said:
"Sure-no one can find him now. I walked right into his dump two days after his brother Joe was planted. Frank had been hinting things about me and making threats, but no one could find him. I guess he went out and hung himself. I ain't a lad to fool with, Race." There was a final ring of pride in Purdy Young's voice. I didn't mention the fact that Joe Cruize had been found with five bullets in his back.
"Yes, you're a great boy," I said softly.
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First Published: 1931
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