Monday, December 18, 2023

"The Entire District Seemed To Have a Fit of the Jitters"

WE have yet one more Christmas story for you by Johnston McCulley. This time crime rears its ugly head in the . . .

"Santa Claus Precinct."
By Johnston McCulley (1883-1958; ISFDb HERE; IMDb HERE).
First appearance: Mystery Book Magazine, Winter 1950.
No known reprints.
Short story (12 pages).
Online at The Luminist Archives (HERE; go to text page 132).

   ". . . the 23rd, nicknamed Santa Claus Precinct because coppers got so many presents at Christmas . . ."

Just an ordinary beat cop on ordinary patrol—ordinary until the people in his neighborhood start acting out of the ordinary. He has no way of knowing when he starts his patrol that this Christmas one of his presents will be a bullet . . .

Main characters:
~ Patrolman Matte O'Doole:
  ". . . had been the regular patrolman on his present beat for the last six years, first on a night shift and finally on the daytime detail. He had become a fixture. He was the sort of cop who seldom attracts attention."
~ Captain Jim Shane:
  "And here's a special for some of you—Muggsy Darle is reported as having been seen in this part of the city again. You know him. He killed a cop and he's still at large!"
~ Lefty Newton:
  "Watch out, Muggsy!"
~ Muggsy Darle:
  "Crouched near the window, Muggsy Darle had a weapon out. He fired quickly . . ."
~ . . . and the other residents of the precinct, all of them acting very uncharacteristically:
  Mrs. Mulvaney, Sol Burns, Eddie Link, Hans Brenner, Joe Alden, and Tony Doniletti and his wife and their daughter, Lina.
Typo: "the flesh would on his arm".

References and resources:
- "the Little League of Nations":
  "The concept of a peaceful community of nations had been proposed as early as 1795, when Immanuel Kant's Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch outlined the idea of a league of nations to control conflict and promote peace between states. Kant argued for the establishment of a peaceful world community, not in a sense of a global government, but in the hope that each state would declare itself a free state that respects its citizens and welcomes foreign visitors as fellow rational beings, thus promoting peaceful society worldwide." (Wikipedia HERE.)
- "the old gang shakedown, the old 'protection' racket":
  "A protection racket is a type of racket and a scheme of organized crime perpetrated by a potentially hazardous organized crime group that generally guarantees protection outside the sanction of the law to another entity or individual from violence, robbery, ransacking, arson, vandalism, and other such threats, in exchange for payments at regular intervals. Each payment is called 'protection money' or a 'protection fee'. An organized crime group determines an affordable or reasonable fee by negotiating with each of its payers, to ensure that each payer can pay the fee on a regular basis and on time. Protections rackets can vary in terms of their levels of sophistication or organization; it is not uncommon for their operations to emulate the structures or methods used by tax authorities within legitimate governments to collect taxes from taxpayers." (Wikipedia HERE.)
- "a touch loan":
  We're not sure, but we think a "touch loan" is an unsecured, short-term loan.

Bottom line:

Unless otherwise noted, all bibliographical data are derived from The FictionMags Index created by William G. Contento & edited by Phil Stephensen-Payne.

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