Feb 05, 2024

Use this link for Private Eyes – Part 1

And this one for Part 2

Private Eyes Part 3

New York City, 1935

It was later that afternoon and I was sitting in my chair trying to see a way through this case.

Trouble was, I couldn’t see any way of gettin’ rid of this Clinton, shorta wastin’ him too, and I didn’t want to start throwin’ stiffs around; the cops would be onto me quicker than booze into a wino’s throat.

No. I needed to fool him. What I needed was some sucker, a patsy I could frame for the shooting. But who? And what would happen if he got shot? Aw, shucks, worry about that when the time comes. Jesus, though, those two brothers were so trigger happy, they made the Earps look tame.

All I needed was some jerk who’d satisfy Clinton. But where would I find such a guy?

Just then the door opened and Aileen came in, followed by a small man with a cheesy smile and too much hair oil, twisting his hat in his hands.

“Mr Temp?” He had a sing-song kinda voice, like he was trying to break into a song while talking.

“Roscoe Kemp – yes?”

“My name is Reverend Josiah Flagg.” He paused, as if waiting for me to recognise the name. I stared at him, expressionless.

“Hmm. I represent the Church of the Bountiful Cornucopia.” Again he paused, but I was giving nothing away. Which wasn’t too difficult as I had never heard of it.

“I was just passin’ by, and I wondered if you, good sir, would care to make a small donation to our dear little church? It doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t have to be small. But any donation will do.”

An idea was forming in my mind.

“Hmm,” I said. “Tell me a bit more about your church.”

He wasn’t expecting that. “Hey?” he said.

“Tell me more – you know – your church.”

He beamed at me with a grin that was cheesier than one of Luigi’s four-cheese pizzas with extra topping.

“We-ell,” he began, putting his hands together like he was already at prayer. “I must say – I am deeply gratified to hear such enthusiasm for our little cause. Yessir,  deeply gratified.” If anything, his grin got even bigger. “You sir, will be well rewarded for your generosity.”

“But I ain’t given yet,” I pointed out.

“No sir, that you haven’t. But I feel most sure that when I have informed you of what worthy happenings take place at our little establishment, you will be most keen, yessir, most keen, to give us all your surplus money.”

He paused, as if waiting for a reaction.

“Do carry on,” said Aileen.

“We-ell Ma’am…” he beamed. “Every week we hold a deeply moving service, during which I point out to our dear devoted congregation the error of their ways. I tell them how materialism is the root of all evil, a machination of the very Devil himself; and those that lust, yessir lust, after the pleasures of materialism – they, these poor backsliders, will suffer the torment of everlasting fire and brimstone in the very depths of hell, where there is, so I’m told, much wailing and gnashing of teeth.” He was looking more serious now. “And they cry unto me ‘save us, save us!’ and indeed, I feel I must do my utmost to save them, so I tell them to render unto me all of their surplus money, which I take from them and destroy…” he paused and cleared his throat, “…before it can do any further evil upon those worthy American souls.”

“How much d’ya want?” I asked.

“Whatever you can spare, good sir, whatever you can spare. A few bucks…” he thought a moment, “or maybe many bucks – if it can help save you from the evils of materialism!”

“Look, I ain’t got no money on me at the moment…”

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed Aileen quickly slide Hershenheimsbecker’s $100 bill off the desk and into her pocket.

“Could ya let me know where I can find ya,” I asked, “and I’ll send round a good twenty, maybe thirty bucks?”

“Twenty, maybe thirty bucks?”

“Sure pal.”

“You’ll send it round?


Flagg beamed. “Oh, sir, your generosity will grant you eternal freedom and endless playing of harps. I feel Heaven must have sent me to you.”

“You may have a point there,” I muttered.

“I shall await your visit!” said Flagg, handing me his card. “Thank-you, kind sir.” He nodded at Aileen. “Ma’am.” He put on his hat and left.

Aileen waited until the sound of his feet on the stairs had faded completely, then she said “Gee, boss. Are we gonna set him up as the patsy for the cowboy?”

“Sure, Aileen – sometime ya just gotta do what ya gotta do.”

“Guess so, boss.” She put her hand on my arm. “You’re the boss, boss.” Suddenly there was a loud gurgling noise from her middle, like water rushing down the drain. “Gee, boss, I’m hungry,” she said. She grabbed her coat and opened the door. “I’ll get us a bagel each.”

I sat down in my chair, put my feet on the desk and pushed my hat forward, thinking the case through.

Well, it looked as like I got the problem of old Clinton solved, with Flagg as the patsy.

There was just one problem more I’da given my back teeth to fathom out; where that dame Monique, or Lorna, or Kate, or whoever she was, fitted in – and who was that guy I met at the hotel? I suspected he was the yellow-faced guy old man Hershenheimsbecker disliked so much, but I couldn’t prove it. I wondered how I was gonna find him again.

A few minutes later, Aileen came back with the bagels. While we were getting outside these, she handed me a card.

“This musta fallen outa your pocket, Mr Kemp,” she said, between mouthfuls. “I found it on the floor.”

I looked at the card, and read Henry J. Ziegler, Private Detective. “Oh, Aileen, you’re a wonder!” I shouted, spraying her with bits of bagel. “I could kiss ya!”

She put her hands together and said “Oh Mr Kemp! Roscoe…”

I was busy dialling the number on the card. There was a click as I got connected.

“Hello?” said a voice.

“Hello,” I said. “Can I have Henry J. Ziegler please?


“Henry J. Ziegler?

“No. This the Hai Fu Yong Chinese Laundry. Corner of Broome Street and Bowery. You want cleaning?”

“No I don’t!” I yelled and slammed down the phone.

“Hmmm, Aileen,” I said, once I had got my breath back. “I think I’d better go check this place out. You never know, this laundry may be a lead.”

“Oh, Roscoe! Do be careful! I worry about ya, Roscoe.”

“I’ll be fine, kid. Take any calls.”




I made my way real cautious to the laundry – ya never can tell what’s gonna happen at these places. I found it at the back of some old brownstones. It was a shabby lookin’ joint and smelt of bleach – I gotta hunch it wasn’t only the sheets that got scrubbed. The neighbourhood looked worse, the kinda place where even the rats travel in pairs.

I eased the door open and sneaked inside, my gun held out ready. It was pitch black and very quiet; quieter than a church on Monday – or have I said that before?

Anyway, I crept on in, real slow – till a voice made me jump.

“OK Kemp. This time you’ve had it!” I recognised Ziegler’s voice. “Drop ya gun. Hands high!” I raised my hands, and let the gun fall.

The lights flicked on, and I could see Ziegler’s evil yellow face behind a gun, pointed directly at my chest.

“Boy,” he said, with a triumphant sneer in his voice, “you took your time to show up – had me waiting for a real long while. D’ya know, I even thought at one point ya wouldn’t be so dumb as to fall for it, but ya have, haven’t ya? We had you dancing like a puppet, didn’t we?”

“I’ve done nothing for you, Mac,” I said, trying to keep my voice flat; unthreatening.

“Don’t you believe it, detective,” he sniggered. “We had you jumpin’ to our tune all the way. We wanted you to kill ol’ man Hershenheimsbecker, an’ you did! Good goin’, pal, real hot!”

“Why me?” I asked. Mainly to keep him talking while I figured a way outta this.

“Cos you’re the most trigger happy bum around, and the biggest jerk! What kinda fool would want to talk to old Hersh when all the world knows how he loves to shoot people. We were countin’ on you to turn the tables. Well done, soldier. You done us proud there.”

Now it all made sense. “So, there’s no jewels, no Monique, no Lorna – just you and Kate, using me to kill the old man to get his money. You set this whole thing up between ya. Swell.”

“Boy, you’re real bright. Say, you oughta be a detective. Only you ain’t gonna be anything soon, you are gonna be on trial for the ol’ man’s murder, then ya goin’ to be fryin’ like a prime piece of bacon in the chair in Boston.”

“Oh yeah? How’s that gonna happen?”

“You dumb ass – you think we ain’t planned it out?” He sniggered again, so pleased with himself. “That gun ya carryin’ – the one that’s on the floor here.” He waved the barrel of his own gun in its direction. “That’s the piece ya shot Hershenheimsbecker with?”

Despite myself, I nodded very slightly. “Thought so!” he crowed. “That’s good!”


“Cos, it’ll be in your pocket with your prints on it when ya found, and they’ll test it and confirm it was the murder weapon.”

“No kiddin’?” I gave a hollow laugh. “When I’m found?”

“Yeah. Didn’t I mention that bit? When ya’s found in Boston.”

“But I’m not in Boston.”

“No, but ya soon will be…”

I felt a sudden explosion of pain in the back of my head and the floor started coming up fast to meet me, then the whole world went black and I knew nothing more.




The lights came back on, slowly and painfully.

I found I was sitting up against the wall with my hands behind my back. I tried to move them and winced as something dug hard into my wrists. I tried again, more slowly, but my hands couldn’t move. I decided they musta been tied up behind my back.

The effort made the room spin like a ferris wheel, so I dropped my head and shut my eyes.

There was a shuffling sound and I opened them again.

A pair of men’s legs had appeared in front of me, soon joined by a woman’s legs in high heels. I looked slowly up from the legs to the faces.

Ziegler and Kate Hershenheimsbecker.

“Get up,” Kate ordered.

“I can’t,” I said. “My hands are tied.”

She took out a gun and held it to my head. “Get up, punk,” she snarled.

“Gee, ma’am,” I muttered. “Don’t hurt to say ‘please’.” With some difficulty, I brought my heels up under my butt, rocked forward and slowly pushed myself up till I was standing. All the while her gun kept a steady bead on my head.

“Good,” she said. “Now you’re gonna walk to the car for the trip up to Boston.” She waved her gun towards the door.

“Say I don’t wanna go along with your little plan?” I asked, staying put.

“You don’t get a say in this,” she snarled. “Now walk.”

I shrugged – not easy with your hands tied behind your back, and said, “What if I just don’t?”

“Then you’re dead whatever happens,” said Ziegler, waving his gun at me. “It’s here and now, or it’s the chair in Boston. Your call.”

“Well now,” I said, “since you put it so nicely…”

“Sure,” said Kate. “We put it nicely. Now walk.”

I was about to move, when suddenly there was the sound of a gunshot from the other side of the room.

Ziegler and I turned to take a look, but as we did, Kate gave a small mewing sound, and I snapped back to look at her.

Her eyes were wide in surprise, as a red stain spread slowly out across the middle of her white blouse. She stared into my eyes as her hand with the gun dropped away, and she sank slowly down to the floor, to lie still at my feet.

Ziegler looked at Kate spread out on the floor, then back at me. He sure knew it couldn’t have been me that had shot Kate, but that didn’t seem to matter. With eyes blazing, he brought his gun up to my head, and I knew he was about to fire. I was about to say something – anything – to stop him killin’ me on the spot…

There was another shot, and Ziegler’s gun disappeared from outta his hand. I heard it clatter away into the far corner of the room.

With a yell, he turned towards the direction of the shot. I looked round as well, to see a small girl with a brown pony-tail and bushy eyebrows come in, her gun held out in front of her, a small wisp of smoke rising lazily from the muzzle.

“Gee, Aileen,” I said. “That sure was some shootin’!”

“Thanks, boss,” she said with a small smile. “Hope I did the right thing.”

“Sure did.”

Ziegler had been following this conversation, looking from me to Aileen, but now he leapt away from us, heading across the room to get his gun.

“Freeze!” yelled Aileen.

Ziegler musta known how she was a great shot, and he froze on the spot.

“Hands high!” she snapped. He raised his hands. She walked over to him, then held the gun under his chin while she undid his necktie.

Then she waved at the large iron radiator by the wall, “Sit down!” He sat. “Hands behind ya back!” He put his hands behind, and she used the necktie to secure them to the radiator. When he was firmly tied, she came over and untied me. We then used my rope as well, to make sure Ziegler was extra tightly tied up.

“Thanks, Aileen,” I said when we were done, “but how the heck did ya find me?”

“I tailed ya, boss.” She put the gun back in her bag, as I collected Ziegler’s. “I was concerned. It sounded like a set-up.”

“It was,” muttered Ziegler.

“You can cool it, Mac.” I snapped.

“Hey, boss,” said Aileen, “what are we gonna do with him?”

I had an idea about that.

“Leave this with me, Aileen.” I went over to Ziegler, and reached into his coat pocket for his wallet. He had a couple of $50s and a $20. I took them and put them in my own pocket.

“Hey!” he protested.

“No sweat, Mac,” I answered. “Come on, Aileen. We gotta coupla calls to make…”




We got back to the office in short time by cab.

I found Clinton J. Hershenheimsbecker’s card, and dialled the number.

“Mr. Hershenheimsbecker?” I said when he answered.


“This is Roscoe Kemp. The private detective.”

“Sure, boy!” he answered, nearly blowing my eardrum, “you gotta a name for me?”

“I do, Mr. Hershenheimsbecker. I do.”

“The low-down varmint!” he yelled. “Where is this coyote? What’s his name?”

“His name is Ziegler, and you can find him at the Hai Fu Yong Chinese Laundry at Broome Street and Bowery. But Mr. Hershenheimsbecker,” I added quickly, “you need to be prepared for a real shock.”

“What’s that, boy?”

“See, little Kate Hershenheimsbecker was there when Ziegler arrived, and he shot her, too.”

There was a silence, then a very quiet voice came back, “he shot lil’ Kate?”

“Yes,” I answered. “I’m sorry.”

“And he shot my brother Frank?”


There was another silence. I thought it was like the quiet moment before a storm hits.

I wasn’t wrong. The explosion, when it came, was thunderous. “THE LOW-DOWN VARMINT!! I AM GONNA SHOOT HIM LIKE A DOG!! LIKE A SNEAKING COYOTE!!” Then the phone was slammed down. I turned to Aileen.

“Looks like we didn’t need that patsy preacher after all, boss,” she observed.

“No – turned out we didn’t.” I smiled at her. “Aileen,” I said, “I feel bad that we were going to set that guy up. But I think we can sort that.”

I found Flagg’s card and dialled the number.

“Reverend Flagg?” I asked when I got the connection.


“This is Roscoe Kemp.”


“The private detective.”

“I do recall. What can I do for you, Mr. Kemp?”

“Well, see, the thing is, Flagg,” I said, “I liked your style. So you know what? I’ve got one hundred and twenty bucks of surplus money right now, and I would like to donate it to your church. I’m gonna put it in an envelope and send it to you today.”

“Oh, Mr. Kemp! Thank you!” I could virtually hear him beaming. “Your reward will be in Heaven,” he said, “where you will have eternal freedom, and endless playing of harps!”

I put the phone down. “There, Aileen,” I said. “I think the case is all tied up.”

“Oh, Roscoe!” she said, as she threw herself into my arms and hugged my chest. “You solved the case!”

She looked up at me, her eyes shining.

“You’re just so clever, boss!”