Tuesday, January 23, 2024

"Look Out for One of Them"

"Backward Passage."
By Lee Francis (either Howard Browne or Leroy Yerxa; FictionMags HERE).
Illustrated by Bill Terry (1921-92; ISFDb HERE).
First appearance: Fantastic Adventures, September 1949.
Reprinted in Fantastic Adventures Quarterly (Reissue), Winter 1949 (FictionMags HERE).
Reprints page (ISFDb HERE).
Novelette (39 pages).
Online at Roy Glashan's Library (HERE HTML).
(Parental note: Strong language.)

   "If I let you wander about as you wish, returning to your old haunts, you'll cause a sensation that will rock the whole nation."

Police work is hard enough when it comes to living criminals, but what's a detective to do with a dead one who won't stay dead? Not to mention that deceased doctor, or the pretty girl who threw herself into a river and never came out—until now . . .

Typo: "drowned herself in the Hudson River" ("Hudson" or "Chicago"? Probably the latter.)

Principal characters:
~ Tony Sputozza:
  ". . . a gangster who was buried five years before in Greenlawn Cemetery . . ."
~ Doc Hickory:
  "Listen here, son. Sometimes you madden me to the point of violence. You know everything."
~ Detective Grant Warner:
  ". . . wasn't easily excited. He had graduated from the first precinct and was making a nice place for himself in the plainclothes division. Warner didn't have to worry about being classed as a story-book detective. His red hair, snub hose and sad face took care of that. He did his work quietly and received a weekly stipend for his troubles. Beyond that, he was only Grant Warner, and the chief quite often coupled his name with the name of the Lord, whom he liked to speak of in vain."
~ Randy White:
  "'I can't be sure,' Warner continued, 'but if my memory is any good, this girl drowned herself in the Chicago river four years ago'."
~ Doctor Howard Phelps:
  ". . . was the third and last person to come out of the alley."
~ James:
  "He turned, caught Warner's eyes and smiled wryly."
References and resources:
- "walked all the way to the Loop":
  The 1950 Census said there were just over 7,000 people living in Chicago's 1.6 square mile Loop; see Wikipedia (HERE).
- "in the Chicago river":
  "The Chicago River is a system of rivers and canals with a combined length of 156 miles (251 km) that runs through the city of Chicago, including its center (the Chicago Loop)." (Wikipedia HERE.)
- "a hail of tommy-gun fire":
  That would be the legendary Thompson submachine gun, which is discussed in detail in Wikipedia (HERE).
- "placed her on the davenport":
  "It is used as a synonym for 'sofa' or 'couch' in some Great Lakes regions of the United States, especially the Upper Midwest and Buffalo, NY–Erie, PA areas." (Wikipedia HERE.)
- "when you're under ether, Bud":
  "It is a colourless, highly volatile, sweet-smelling ('ethereal odour'), extremely flammable liquid. It is commonly used as a solvent in laboratories and as a starting fluid for some engines. It was formerly used as a general anesthetic, until non-flammable drugs were developed . . ." (Wikipedia HERE.)

Bottom line:
  ". . . it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment . . ."

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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