The wrong house (james n. young)
The night was dark. And the house was dark. Dark-and silent. The two men ran toward it quietly. They slipped quickly through the dark bushes, which surrounded the house. They reached the porch, ran quickly up the steps, kneeled-down, breathing heavily, in the dark shadows. They waited-listening whisper: ”we can’t stay here….Take this suitcase….Let me try those keys. We’ve got to get in!”
Ten-twenty –thirty seconds. With one of the keys the one man opened the door. Silently, the two men entered the house, closed the door behind them, locked it.
Whispering, they discussed the situation. They wondered if they had awakened anyone in he house.
“Let’s have a look at this place.” “Careful ,Hasty!” “Oh, there is not anybody awake!” And the soft rays of a flashlight swept the room.
It was a large room. A living room. Rugs, carefully rolled, lay piled on one side. The furniture –chairs, tables, couches-was covered by sheets. Dust lay like a light snow over everything.
The man who held the flashlight spoke first. ”Well, Blackie,” he said, “We’re in luck. Looks as if the family’s away.”
“Yeah, Gone for the summer, I guess. We better make sure, though. Huh.”
Together they searched the house. They went on tiptoe through every room. There could be no doubt about it. The family was away. Had been away for weeks.
Yes, Hasty Hogan and Blackie Burns were in luck. Only once in the past ten days had their luck failed them. It had been with them when they made their big robbery-their truly magnificent robbery-on the Coast.
It had been with them during their thousand-mile trip eastward, by automobile. It had been with them every moment-but one.
That moment had come just one hour before. It came when Blackie, driving the car, ran over a policeman. And Blackie, thinking of the suitcase at Hasty’s feet, had driven away. Swiftly.
There had been a chase, of course. A wild crazy chase. And when a bullet had punctured the gasoline tank, they had had to abandon the car. But luck or no luck, here they were. Alone, and without a car, in a completely strange town. In the suitcase, neat little package on neat little package, lay nearly three hundred thousand dollars!
“Listen,” said Mr. Hogan. “We have to get a car. Quick, too. And we can not steal one- and use it. It’s too dangerous. We have to buy one. That means that we have to wait until the stores open. That will be about eight o’clock in this town.”
“But what are we going to do with that?” And Mr. Burns pointed to the suitcase.
“Hide it right here. Sure! Why not? It’s much safer here than with us- until we get a car.”
And so they hid the suitcase. They carried it down to the cellar. Buried it deep in some coal, which lay in a corner of the cellar. After this, just before dawn, they slipped out.
“Say, Blackie,” Mr. Hogan remarked as they walked down the street, “The name of the gentleman we are visiting is Mr. Samuel W. Rogers.”
“How do you know?”
“Saw with on some of them books. He’s surely got a wonderful library, hasn’t he?”
The automobile salesrooms opened at 8 o’clock, as Mr. Hogan had supposed.
Shortly before nine , Mr. Hogan and Mr. Burns had a car. A very nice little car. Very quiet. Very inconspicuous. And very speedy. The dealer lent them his license plates and away they rode.
Three blocks from the house, they stopped. Mr. Hogan got out. Walked toward the house. He had just to go around to the rear, he thought, and slip in..
Fifty yards from the house he stopped. Stared, swore softly.