The White Moll HTML version

Crooks Vs. Crooks
It was not far. Shluker, hastening along, still muttering to himself, turned into a cross
street some two blocks away, and from there again into a lane; and, a moment later, led
the way through a small door in the fence that hung, battered and half open, on sagging
and broken hinges. Rhoda Gray's eyes traveled sharply around her in all directions. It was
still light enough to see fairly well, and she might at some future time find the bearings
she took now to be of inestimable worth. Not that there was much to remark! They
crossed a diminutive and disgustingly dirty backyard, whose sole reason for existence
seemed to be that of a receptacle for old tin cans, and were confronted by the rear of what
appeared to be a four-story tenement. There was a back door here, and, on the right of the
door, fronting the yard, a single window that was some four or five feet from the level of
the ground.
Shluker, without hesitation, opened the back door, shut it behind them, led the way along
a black, unlighted hall, and halting before a door well toward the front of the building,
knocked softly upon it - giving two raps, a single rap, and then two more in quick
succession. There was no answer. He knocked again in precisely the same manner, and
then a footstep sounded from within, and the door was flung open. "Fools!" growled
Shluker in greeting, as they stepped inside and the door was closed again. "A pair of
brainless fools!"
There were two men there. They paid Shluker scant attention. They both grinned at
Rhoda Gray through the murky light supplied by a wheezy and wholly inadequate gas-jet.
"Hello, Nan!" gibed the smaller of the two. "Who let you out?"
"Aw, forget it!" croaked Rhoda Gray.
Shluker took up the cudgels.
"You close your face, Pinkie!" he snapped. "Get down to cases! Do you think I got
nothing else to do but chase you two around like a couple of puppy dogs that haven't got
sense enough to take care of themselves? Wasn't what I told you over the phone enough
without me havin' to come here?"
"Nix on that stuff!" returned the one designated as Pinkie imperturbably. "Say, you'll be
glad you come when we lets you in on a little piece of easy money. We ain't askin' your
advice; all we're askin' you to do is frame up the alibi, same as usual, for me an' the Pug
here in case we wants it."
Shluker shook his fist.
"Frame nothing!" he spluttered angrily. "Ain't I tellin' you that the orders are not to make
a move, that everything is off for a few days? That's the word I got a little while ago, and
the Seven-Three-Nine is goin' out now. Nan'll tell you the same thing."