Trooper Jerry Corcoran likes action.
And that was exactly what he hadn't been getting for the past few weeks.
All the action he'd seen recently was his regular patrol. Corcoran was
bored. In fact, he was more than bored. He was irritated.
He sat his parked motorcycle just off the
highway at an intersection, watching he late afternoon traffic outbound from
the city. An old sedan, trailing dense smoke from its exhaust, rolled
down the side road. It was almost to the highway when Corcoran kicked
the starter and roared in pursuit. He sped through the acrid smoke and
drew abreast of the sedan. The driver, a thin-faced young man, stared
straight ahead. When Corcoran sounded the siren, the startled driver
jerked his head around and slowed his car. The trooper waved him to
the shoulder of the highway, Jerry parked his motorcycle in front of the
sedan and walked back. The driver had his head out the window.
"What's the matter?" he asked excitedly.
"I wasn't going too fast."
"Let's see your registration and driver's
license," Corcoran ordered. The young man fished them out of his
wallet with shaking fingers and handed them over. "Henry Sutter," the
"What's the matter?" Sutter repeated,
apprehension in his voice. "I haven't done anything wrong. I'm in a
hurry. I've got to get to the city right away."
"Your registration and license seem to be
in order," Corcoran said, "but running that stop sign back there was
certainly out of order."
"What stop sign?" I didn't see any
"Where you turned into the highway."
"I just didn't see any sign," Sutter
"All I remember seeing at that
intersection was a lot of bushes and weeds."
"And besides," the trooper went on,
"there's a law in this state against driving a car that's in such bad
mechanical condition that it's a menace to other traffic."
"What do you mean - a menace to other
traffic?" Sutter demanded indignantly.
"There's nothing wrong with this car.
It's nine years old but it runs okay."
He Didn't Know It, He Says
"I said," the trooper repeated
heavily, "that your car is a menace to other traffic. It's throwing
enough smoke out of the exhaust to pass for a regulation Army smoke pot."
"This car never smokes," Sutter said
"Get out and look for yourself," Corcoran
Sutter climbed out of the driver's seat,
walked around back, and returned with a puzzled expression on his face.
"It's never done that before. Something
most have gone wrong since I left home."
"I've heard that one before," Jerry
"Honestly, I didn't know it was smoking,"
Sutter said. "It wasn't when I backed out of the garage. I got
out to see if the trunk was locked, and there wasn't any smoke."
Jerry gave the young man a long, hard
look. The trooper knew very well that the stop sign was partly
obscured by brush. He didn't want to press that point too much, but he
didn't want Sutter to think he'd forgotten it.
"Maybe I'm a sucker," he told Sutter,
"but I'm taking your word about the smoke."
"Then I can go now?" Sutter's face
"No," Corcoran said. "There's still
that stop sign and, anyway, you can't drive this smoking car. You'll
have to get a garage car to tow you in."
"A garage car!" Sutter almost
screamed. "I can't take the time now. It's getting late.
Everything depends on me getting to the
Corcoran froze up again. "That
car's a menace," he snapped. "If you try to drive it, I'll arrest you.
Make no mistake about that."
Sutter pleaded and argued so earnestly
that Corcoran finally weakened. He said it would be all right if
Sutter followed him to the nearest garage and had the smoking fixed right
A couple of miles down the highway they
reached the Model Garage. Stan Hicks stepped to the shop door as they
pulled into the drive.
"Hi, Jerry," he called. "Know
there's a smoke screen following you?"
"I want this car fixed right away,"
Sutter cut in. "I've got to get to the city."
"Right away?" Stan laughed. "How
long do you think it takes to rebore cylinders and install new rings?"
"New rings!" Sutter gasped.
"I never saw a car smoke like that if the
rings weren't shot," Stan said.
"What's up?" Gus Wilson asked, stepping
up beside Stan.
Sutter cut the ignition, got out, and
told Gus the story of the smoke.
"The car was all right when you left
home," Gus summed up, "but started smoking after you'd driven awhile?"
"Could be rings," Gus said, "but I doubt
it. They usually show up gradually."
Just then a convertible whizzed into the
drive and jolted to a stop at a gas pump.
Stan stepped over with his best smile
when he saw the driver was a pretty girl.
"Fill it up with high test and make it
fast. I'm in a hurry," she snapped.
Sutter hurried after Stan. Jerry
strolled after Sutter. When the girl saw Sutter, her mouth tightened.
"There's something wrong with my car,"
Sutter told her abruptly. "It may take some time to fix it. You
know we're after you. Will you take me to the city?"
"Here's your money," the girl said to
She turned to Sutter: "I have to pick up
Mr. Johnson, and anyway, if you're late, it'll be just too bad." Then
the convertible was gone.
Who Murdered Staunton?
"Check the plugs, Stan," Gus told him
when the old sedan was in the shop.
"Number one's oily," Stan reported in a
couple of minutes, "number two is oily, too, but not as bad. The rest
Gus walked to his workbench. He
rummaged through a drawer picked up two small pipe plugs, and returned to
Sutter was pacing up and down nervously.
Stan heard him talking to himself and
edged over to Corcoran.
"You'd better watch that guy, Jerry," he
advised. "He's talking to himself about some body being dead and some
money being gone. And he told that girl in the convertible, we're
"I thought there was something queer
about that guy," Corcoran muttered.
Sutter had stepped to an open window and
was starting out. Jerry drifted to the water cooler near the window.
He heard Sutter say:
"He's dead. Staunten's dead.
In my apartment. And the money's gone. That girl's got it."
Just then Gus called to Sutter.
"Watch this," Gus said, pointing to the
fuel pump. Gus disconnected both ends of a copper tube that ran from
the pump on the intake manifold. Then he screwed the pipe plugs into
the openings in the manifold and pump. "Start her up, "Gus told Stan.
The engine ran smoothly and no smoke came
from the exhaust
"So it wasn't the rings," Stan said, much
puzzles. "But what was it?"
"If you were familiar with this model,"
Gus explained, "the cause of the smoke wouldn't be tough to guess. The
fuel pump is a dual unit. It's both a fuel pump and a vacuum-booster
pump. The line from the windshield wiper runs to the vacuum side of
the unit. Another line from that unit goes to the opening in the
manifold. It keeps the vacuum up on the wiper when manifold vacuum is
weakened by tromping on the throttle or, when you're pulling hard in a
"But what's that got to do with the
smoke?" Sutter asked.
"The vacuum pump diaphragm developed a
leak," Gus went on. This allowed oil to be pulled from the crankcase
and fed into the intake manifold. From there the oil went into the
first two cylinders, where it burned, causing smoke."
"I see," Stan put in, "Disconnecting the
line stops the oil and the smoke."
"Can I drive it now?" Sutter cut in
"Sure," Gus said, "but the windshield
wiper won't work until a new diaphragm has been put in the vacuum pump and
that line has been reconnected."
"You can fix it tomorrow; "Sutter said.
"I haven't got time now." He started to get in the car, but Corcoran
caught his arm.
"You're under arrest."
"Under arrest?" Sutter yelped. "What
"For driving an unsafe vehicle," Corcoran
told him. "That'll hold you for now. What about Stauntom?
He's dead in your apartment.
And the money's gone. What about
The trooper expected Sutter to cringe in
dismay. Sutter didn't. Instead he started to laugh. He
laughed until tears were running from his eyes.
"I'm sorry," he said at last, "but it is
Staunton's dead and the money's gone."
"All right, all right," Corcoran said
peevishly. "Let's go to the station house and see how funny that is."
"Keep your shirt on," Sutter said between
chuckles. He reached in a pocket and pulled out a printed folder and
several typewritten sheets. "That business about Staunton being dead
and the money being gone are just lines from a play we're putting on
The trooper took the folder and read
aloud; "Twenty-fifth Annual One-Act Play Tournament. Final
round. Avon Little Theater presents
Another Way Out.... Richard Davis, a
lawyer.... Played by Henry Sutter."
Sutter pointed to one of the typewritten
sheets. "Here are my lines....Staunton's dead, and so on; Satisfied?"
"No," Corcoran said, "I'm not. What
about that girl? You said you were after her."
Sutter laughed again. "I meant that
our play went on after hers. She directs the company that's in the
finals with us. She wouldn't take me to the city, figuring that if I
didn't get there her company would win by default when our play didn't go
"Well, you better get going," Jerry
grinned wryly. "How wrong can I get?"
"Afraid it's too late now;" Sutter
glanced at the clock.
"Suppose the girl were late, too?"
"They're on first. If they start
late, then I can make it."
"Who'd she say she had to pick up?"
"A Mr. Johnson," Sutter said. "In
"Then she's got to pass that same stop
sign," Jerry grinned.
"That's right," Sutter agreed.
"On your way," Corcoran said. "I
better go talk with a girl about a stop sign she isn't going to see."