Sallys in the Alley

Norbert Davis
Sally's In the Alley
Norbert Davis
Chapter 1
you know your Hollywood, but the lobby of the Orna Apartment Hotel,
off Rossmore south of Melrose, is done in very nice taste. It is neat and
narrow and dignified, with a conservative blue carpet on the floor and a
small black reception desk on a line straight back from the unadorned
plate glass door.
At this particular moment its only occupant was the desk clerk. He was
small and very young-looking, and he had dark curly hair and a snub
nose with freckles across the bridge. His blue eyes were staring with a
look of fierce, crosshatched concentration at the pictured diagram of a
radio hookup he had spread out on the desk.
The plate glass door opened, and a man came into the lobby with a
quietly purposeful air. He was blond and a little better than medium
height, and he was wearing an inconspicuous blue business suit. He
looked so much like an attorney or an accountant or the better class of
insurance broker that it was perfectly obvious what he really was.
He walked up to the desk and said, "Have you a party by the name of
Pocus staying here?"
The desk clerk was following the whirligig line that indicated a coil on
his diagram with the point of a well-chewed pencil. The pencil point
hesitated for a split second and then moved on again.
"No," he said. He didn't have to bother about being courteous because

he intended to quit the apartment hotel any minute now and get a job at
a fabulous salary in a war plant installing radios in fighter planes.
The blond man took a leather folder from his pocket, opened it, and
spread it out on the radio diagram. "Take a look at this."
The clerk studied the big gold badge for a second and then looked up
slowly. "You're a G-man."
The blond man winced slightly. "I'm a special agent of the Department
of Justice. Let's start over again. What's your name?"
"All right, Edmund. Have you got a party by the name of Pocus staying
here? H. Pocus or Hocus Pocus?"
"No," said Edmund. He cleared his throat. "Will you excuse me for a
second? I've got to call and wake up one of our tenants. He works on
the swing shift, and he has to get waked up and eat before--"
The blond man punched him suddenly and expertly in the chest with a
stiffened forefinger. "Get away from the switchboard. You're not
tipping anybody off." He whistled shrilly through his teeth.
Another man came in the front door. He was short and stocky, and he
had sleepy brown eyes and a scar on his nose. A third man came in
from the hall that led to the back door. He was very tall and thin,
stooped a little. He wore a light topcoat, and he kept his hands in its
"They're here," said the blond man. "Come on, Edmund. Give. Which
apartment are they in?"
Edmund stood mute.
The blond man watched him curiously. "Are you scared of them?"
"Yes," said Edmund.

"Listen, son," said the blond man. "This is the government you're
talking to now. If either one of them even made a pass at you, we'd put
them away in Alcatraz."
"How do I know they'd stay there?" Edmund asked.
"All right," said the blond man. "Come on out from behind that desk.
Sit down in that chair and rest your feet. Look up the tenant index,
The stocky man went behind the desk, found the file of register cards,
and ran through them expertly.
"In two-two-nine," he said. He looked under the desk. "Here's the pass
key." He flipped it to the blond man.
"Okay," said the blond man. "Stay here and watch the board, Curtis. If
anybody comes down the elevator, they wait in the lobby. If anyone
comes in the front, they wait, too."
"Sure," said Curtis.
"You come with me, Barstow," the blond man said. "We'll take the
stairs. Go easy."
They went up to the second floor and along a hall that was carpeted in
the same dark blue as the lobby, and stopped in front of the door
numbered 229. The blond man fitted the passkey in the lock and turned
it without making the slightest sound. He opened the door just as
It was a single apartment, and the big combination living
room-bedroom was bright and cheery with the sun coming in a warm,
slatted flood through the Venetian blinds. There was no one in sight,
but a door to the left was slightly open and through it came the
pleasantly languid gurgle and splash of bathwater.
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