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Lease to Doomsday   By:

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The twins were a rare team indeed. They wanted to build a printing plant on a garbage dump. When Muldoon asked them why, their answer was entirely logical:

"Because we live here."

It was the lack of sense in the ad that made him go back to it again. He was having his breakfast coffee in the cafeteria next to the midtown hotel where he lived. The classified section of the New York Times was spread before him.

WANTED: Live wire Real Estate broker No selling 30 40. Room 657 Silvers Building 9 12 Monday morning.

The ad made no sense for several reasons. One: you just don't go around advertising for brokers with four pages of them in the classified phone book. Two: how can one be a live wire broker, without having to sell? Kevin Muldoon shook his head. Just no damn sense. The Silvers Building H'm! Not too far off. He looked at his strap watch. Fifteen minutes of nine. He could walk it in that time.

"Don't be a fool," he said to himself. "It's obviously a come on of some kind."

He got up, paid the check and went out. It wasn't till he was on Third Ave. that he was conscious he had started to go crosstown when his office was in the opposite direction. He smiled wryly. Might as well investigate, he thought. Can't do any harm, and it won't take long.

There were four others waiting in the small anteroom. The outer door bore no legend other than the room number, and the inner door was blank altogether. Muldoon made a quick appraisal of those waiting. Three were obviously past middle age, the fourth about Muldoon's age. The inner door opened and Muldoon looked up. A tall man came out first, a man in his early sixties, perhaps. Immediately behind him came a slightly shorter man, but very heavy and with a head that was bald as a billiard ball. The older man marched straight to the door, opened it and went out without a second look back. The fat man looked around, his face beaming in a wide smile, eyes almost closed behind fleshy lids.

[Illustration: The weird machine clicked and clattered while the twins dreamed of tomorrow.]

"And now, who's next?" he asked.

The one who was about Muldoon's age stepped forward. The fat man motioned for the other to precede him. The door closed. Not more than a minute went by, and the door opened again and the same act as before with the older man was gone through.

"And now, who's next?" the fat man asked.

Muldoon noted even the inflection was the same.

So it went with the three who were left, until it was Muldoon's turn. And now there were six others beside himself also waiting to be interviewed.

It was a squarish room, simply furnished, with a couple of desks set side by side with a narrow space between them. A chair was set up facing the desks, obviously meant for the one to be interviewed. Seated behind one of the desks was the twin of the man now coming to seat himself at the other desk. Their smiles were identical as they waited for Muldoon to make himself comfortable.

For a moment there was a blank silence. Muldoon studied them, and they, smiling still, studied him. Muldoon broke the silence.

"You know," Muldoon said, "your ad didn't make sense to me."

The twins hunched forward slightly at their desks. Their eyes brightened in anticipation. "No o?..." said the one who had been waiting for Muldoon. "Why?"

"With some four pages of brokers in the classified directory, you don't have to advertise for one. And a live wire broker gets that reputation as a salesman. Without selling, the wire is dead."

The twins beamed at each other.

"Evin," said the one to the left, "I think we've found our man. Will you go out and tell those waiting?"

They waited for the twin to return.

"I am Robert Reeger, my brother Evin," said the first twin.

Muldoon introduced himself. There was no handshaking.

"You are right about the ad," Robert Reeger said. "We worded it that way for a reason. We wanted a man of quick intelligence... Continue reading book >>

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