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Brain Twister


And, besides, there was probably nothing happening anyway. Things
had, he recalled with faint pleasure, been pretty quiet lately. Ever since
the counterfeiting gang he'd caught had been put away, crime seemed to
have dropped to the nice, simple levels of the 1950's and '60's. Maybe, he
hoped suddenly, he'd be able to spend some time catching up on his sci-
entific techniques, or his math, or pistol practiceÉ .
The thought of pistol practice made his head begin to throb with the
authority of a true hangover. There were fifty or sixty small gnomes in-
side his skull, he realized, all of them with tiny little hammers. They
were mining for lead.
"The lead," Malone said aloud, "is farther down. Not in the skull."
The gnomes paid him no attention. He shut his eyes and tried to relax.
The gnomes went right ahead with their work, and microscopic regi-
ments of Eagle Scouts began marching steadily along his nerves.
There were people, Malone had always understood, who bounced out
of their beds and greeted each new day with a smile. It didn't sound pos-
sible, but then again there were some pretty strange people. The head of
that counterfeiting ring, for instance: where had he got the idea of pick-
ing an alias like AndrŽ Gide?
Clutching at his whirling thoughts, Malone opened his eyes, winced,
and began to get dressed. At least, he thought, it was going to be a peace-
ful day.
It was at this second that his private intercom buzzed.
Malone winced again. "To hell with you," he called at the thing, but the
buzz went on, ignoring the code shut-off. That meant, he knew, an emer-
gency call, maybe from his Chief of Section. Maybe even from higher up.
"I'm not even late for work yet," he complained. "I will be, but I'm not
yet. What are they screaming about?"
There was, of course, only one way to find out. He shuffled painfully
across the room, flipped the switch and said:
"Malone here." Vaguely, he wondered if it were true. He certainly
didn't feel as if he were here. Or there. Or anywhere at all, in fact.
A familiar voice came tinnily out of the receiver. "Malone, get down
here right away!"
The voice belonged to Andrew J. Burris. Malone sighed deeply and felt
grateful, for the fiftieth time, that he had never had a TV pickup installed
in the intercom. He didn't want the FBI chief to see him looking as hor-
rible as he did now, all rippled and everything. It wasn'tÑwell, it wasn't
professional, that was all.
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