By George Wilson Stepping out of the elevator, Dick Tracer headed down the hall to his office. Raindrops slid down his grey raincoat and left a trail on the plastic floor.

His keen nose detected a trace of gas and perfume. The gas was to create sleep, the perfume belonged to his sexy secretary, Peggy.

With caution, he hurried to his office door.

"Dick Trace4r, PI" was displayed on the door's frosted glass. Dick put a hand on the door knob, Stepping aside, he pulled the door open. More gas, more perfume.

To look inside, he stuck his head out and quickly brought it back.


Peggy's desk was empty. A green light on it showed the transparent bulletproof shield was in place.

"I'll have a scientist friend make Peggy some nose filters," he thought, then added, "Maybe a set for me as well."

Locking his office door, Dick Tracer quickly returned to the elevator. When the door slid shut behind him, he decided he needed some sort of disguise. He should have picked up something at the office, but Peggy's safety was urgent and called for fast action. After a second's deliberation, he reluctantly removed his hat, flattened it and put it in a big pocket in his raincoat.

In response there was an explosion of red hair, the reason for his hat. Regardless of what Dick Tracer tried, his hair remained disorderly. True, the red hair would attract attention, but it was so unlike him, he felt certain no one would identify him.

Reaching the outside street, he used his wrist comm to call for an autocab. His classic Jetstar roadster was too recognizable for him to use.

It was a busy area, so one soon pulled up before him.

He had already deduced there were two major possible suspects, Long Lobed Lonny or Brother Big. Since one of Long Lobed Lonny had one hideout nearby, a parking garage, he decided to start there and punched in an address near there for the autocab.

When the autocab stopped, Dick Tracer got out and entered an alley leading into the block. His hand held his favorite automatic inside a pocket of his raincoat.

He turned left at an intersecting alley and headed for the parking garage. When he reached the hideout, he saw a door and a window leading to the office.

Deciding on the direct approach, he crossed to the door, hit it several times with the butt of his gun and said, "Long Lobed Lonny!"

He moved aside a split second before interior gunfire sent bullets tearing through the door.

Kicking out the window, he saw a cluster of three armed men down the hall. As they turned their guns toward him, Dick Tracer fired two shots. One went through the head of a gangster and into the skull of the one behind him.

There was an open door beside the men. Not catching scent of perfume or gas, Dick Tracer went back to the street and signaled for the autocab. He punched in another address and refilled his automatic.

The next address belonged to Brother Big. This time the door was open. Cautiously, he looked down the hall and was surprised. Four tough thugs were coming toward them -- and Peggy was behind them, smiling.

"Hi, Boxx," she said. "Call the wagon for these jerks. I'm charging them with kidnapping." Then she added, "They didn't find my hidden gun."

Dick Tracer knew there was no way Peggy could have hidden a gun in her tight-fitting clothes, but made no comment.

Putting on his hat, Dick Tracer made the call.

After the wagon left, they returned to Dick Tracer's office.

"Boss," Peggy said. "Something amazing happened. While I was gassed, my mind went wild. Now all I know has been gathered together and sharpened. Everything is clearer than ever. In fact, when I first looked around and glanced out the dirty window and my ears picked up some sounds, I immediately knew where I was. Incredible! And a bit eerie." She paused, then added, "I even know details about all the jerks we've fought."

"Should be a big help," Dick Tracer said.

His wrist comm signaled. When he accepted the call, he saw the craggy face of Police Captain MacArthur. He was smiling. "I'm lookin g forward to Brother Big sending his high-priced lawyer to bail them out."

"A J Lafayette?" Peggy asked.

Surprised, the captain nodded and said, "As it happens, he's the one." Then his smile returned. "Anyway, I'll have the pleasure of springing something new on him by saying their held on Kidnap 1 which doesn't give the right to bail."

"What'd Kidnap 1?" Dick Tracer asked.

"Kidnap of a prominent person," the captain replied, his gaze shifted to Peggy and back, "Everyone agreed Peggy qualified."

Peggy leaned back, emphasizing her . . . prominence. "As they say, Cap, you ain't seen nuttin' yet."

"Besides," Dick Tracer put in, "as my secretary, Peggy is prominent."

"Indeed," Captain MacArthur said. "In any case, there will be no bail."

After tbe conversation was over, Dick Tracer asked Peggy to lock the door and join him in his office. When she came in, he was seated behind his desk. He looked at Peggy and said, "Because of the way your brain is acting, sum up Brother Big's operation for me."

Peggy sat and crossed her shapely legs. "Six years ago Brother Big founded Peace Church. It became popular and successful with members from average to wealthy citizens as well as well-known politicians and members from other gangs. Police know he's behind many big crimes, but there's not enough proof."

Peggy paused, licked her lips and continued. "Some members of other gangs were arrested, made bail, and then some of the charges were dropped. There's suspicion threats and bribery were behind the dropped charges."

Peggy took a breath and said, "Boss, I can't believe how I know all this."

"Don't question a gift horse," Dick Tracer told her. "Go on."

"Well, that's about it, except he keeps growing."

Dick Tracer leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. “With his ego, I'll bet he has complete records of everything, probably hidden in his church. It's a shame we don't have someone we can trust to slip into his gang and get information."

"You do," Peggy said "Me."

Her boss shot bolt upright. Eyes wide, he said, "Never!"

"Come on, Boss," Peggy said, leaning forward. "It's perfect! I can tell them I'm tired of working for peanuts. You and the captain can even set up a bust and I tell Brother Big about it." She shushed him as he started to object. "Just listen! I can even suggest they wait until you leave, then they pull off the heist! That will get me in solid. Then I suggest I search the church for bugs, while I'm really looking for the records. I can take a bug along to supposedly find, just to make it look good. After that, when I actually find the records, I call Brother Big and tell him he needs to move them. Of course, I'll slip in some kind of foolproof bug your science guy can make. When he hides it somewhere he thinks only he knows about, you can come in and take the records."

"No!" Dick Tracer insisted. "For one thing, we can't pick up his records without a search warrant. We can't take the chance the judge providing the records isn't secretly on Brother Big's payroll. It would never work. That's it. Period."

"But Boss! You and the cops can be there in advance. As soon as the warrant is activated, you move in immediately! Brother Boxx and all his followers will go down forever. I tell you, it's perfect!"

"No. Too dangerous. I won't have you put at risk that way."

"What risk?" Peggy asked. "I can pull it off without a hitch. Brother Big will love the idea he's taken me in. I'll even keep working for you, telling him I'll be on the inside. That's how I can warn him about the trap. It's the perfect opportunity."

After an hour of fruitless arguing, Peggy got to her feet. "All right, Mister Big Shot Detective," she exclaimed. "I quit! I really will go to work for Brother Big and get rich!"

Dick Tracer got to his feet, jumped over his desk and stopped her. "All right, Peggy; all right! We'll do it!" He looked at Peggy and cocked his head. "You weren't really going to quit, were you?" he asked softly. "This was just to convince me."

Peggy smiled. "Hey, a girl can't give away all her secrets."

It worked. The only hitch was the supposed trap that was to be set up. It was solved when Dick Tracer recalled a wealthy man he had once befriended. The billionaire was secretly contacted by them and agreed to a story about one of his African mines finding the world's largest diamond.

The story released to the news media was the diamond would be on display for only one day. At the end of the day, the diamond was to be taken by an indestructible armored car and returned to a hidden safe. Even if someone hijacked the armored car, it could only be opened by a secret code.

Brother Big, having been given the code by Peggy, intercepted the vehicle and stole the diamond, which had been made by Dick Tracer's science guy and could not be told from the real thing.

Afterwards, when Peggy found the records she searched for, Brother Big and his records were grabbed by Dick Tracer and Captain MacArthur, the case was closed.

In their office, Dick Tracer again asked Peggy to close the door and come into his room.

"Now what?" Peggy asked when she returned to his office. She smiled, leaned against the door and said softly, "The answer is 'Yes."

Dick Tracer's square jaw dropped. ". . .What?" he finally managed to say.

Smile still in place, Peggy responded, "You were going to stumble around and say something about not having gotten married because you didn't want someone to be in danger because of their connection with you."

She crossed the floor and put her hands on top of his desk. "Boss, I fell in love with you years ago. I could tell the feeling was mutual. Since I survived this thing with Brother Big, you've decided the risk could be handled."

Peggy sat in her chair. "Am I right?"

Dick Tracer had regained control. "'Woman, thy name is guile,'" he quoted, then leaned back, eyes on Peggy. "You know me too well."

Peggy smiled. "The answer is still 'Yes'" she said. "I thought you'd never ask."



I'm 38 years old and didn't realize I was a Space Opera fan until I found Planetary Stories a couple of years ago. I was pleasantly surprised to find out, after corresponding with ShelVy, that he too lived on Panama City Beach. He can't drive, so I began visiting him on a regular basis.

I've been writing since I was sixteen, but never felt anything I wrote was publishable so I wrote for my own pleasure and was pleased to find that ShelVy enjoyed my output.

I know where Art and Iota are going next, and ShelVy gave me an excellent Idea for the next Dick Tracer story. It's been fun!



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