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From Argosy, May 1948

We did our part all right, but—

by J. T. STORY  

“The reason crime don’t pay,” said the professor, as he finished his tea from his saucer, “is because there’s too much planning. Now me, I always employs opportunity in loco situ. You boys follow me on this job an’ I’ll show you what I mean: Q.E.D.”

     Soon we were outside the premises of Messrs. Witson, Sons and Company Ltd., Jewellers. Against the kerb there stood a powerful tourer, and crowded up close behind was a broken-down old family saloon.

“What we do is this,” lectured the professor. “You, Jim, get in that big car and get the engine running, while me an’ Angel-face make the snatch.”

“Look,” I said—I’m Angel-face—“there’s a geyser sitting in that old saloon at the back.”

“So what?” said Jim, running an expert eye over the tourer. “That old tub wouldn’t catch us in a million years!”

I must say, considering we hadn’t done no planning, the first part of the operation went off very well. The professor and I scrambled into the big tourer as Jim let in the clutch.

“Proceed!” said the professor, “and don’t spare the fiippin’ horsepower!”

“Look behind!” I cried. “That old buggy’s following us!”

     Jim glanced in the mirror, changed gear, revved, changed into top, then we were well away and doing forty in no time. “That’s left him, hasn’t it ?” he said.

“He’s still right on our tail,” I told him.

Jim smiled, and there was nothing funny in it. He likes a little competition—it was Jim who got Jehu past his driving test. We went down that road at fifty, crossed two red lights, swung on to the by-pass with our tyres playing the bagpipes—and the old saloon clung to our tail all the way. Jim lost his grin.

“Shake him off,” said the professor. “We can’t head for home till we’ve lost him.”

“Leave it to me,” Jim said.

     Then we began to move. I looked back and saw an old boy with a beard crouched over the wheel of the car behind. I think we were the first four-wheeled vehicle to take a right-angle bend at fifty miles an hour—and the old saloon that followed was the second.

“Try something else!” said the professor.

Well, it was an old trick, and had been done many times before. What you do is swerve into the kerb and stop suddenly, and the other fellow is supposed to overshoot by a mile, leaving you to dodge down a side-turning and get away.

We did our part all right, but the bloke behind came smack-bang into us. The police found us lying across the bonnet of the family saloon—including the old fellow with the beard.

      Now the professor, who is in the next cell, keeps coming to the bars and apologizing, but it really wasn’t his fault. When two cars are standing close together like that you can’t expect to notice the tow-rope.

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Copyright ©  the estate of Jack Trevor Story 2002 Not for reproduction. Copyright in all work by Jack Trevor Story is the property of the author's heirs. Permission for use of this material can be obtained through Jackie Edwards (Story), Peter Story, Lee Story or Michael Moorcock. Reproduction of copyright material whether in text, visual or audio form by unauthorised sources strictly forbidden.