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The Trap   By:

The Trap by Betsy Curtis

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Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Galaxy Science Fiction August 1953. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

the TRAP


She had her mind made up the one way they'd make her young again was over her dead body!

Old Miss Barbara Noble twitched aside the edge of the white scrim curtain to get a better look at the young man coming down the street. He might be the one.

The young man bent a little under the weight of the battered black suitcase as he crossed Maple and started up Prospect on Miss Noble's side. She could see him set the case down on the wide porch of the Raney house and wipe his forehead with a handkerchief. Then she lost sight of him as he advanced to the door. He could be a visitor to the Raney's, but they were out of town on vacation. He could be a salesman.

Miss Barbara shifted her rocker to the other side of the window where she could watch without having to disturb the curtain. This second floor sitting room made an excellent lookout. She quickly scanned the street in the other direction, but there was no sign of movement in the hot sunlight. She settled down to watch the black suitcase sitting uncommunicatively at the edge of the porch.

It must have been all of two minutes before the young man appeared from under the over hanging roof and picked up the case. A persistent fellow. He went down to the sidewalk and approached her own house, came up on her own front doorstep, tried to set the case down on the narrow stoop, couldn't, straightened up and rang the bell. A raucous buzz filled the sitting room.

Barbara Noble leaned toward the window, pulled back the curtain a scant inch, and studied his back as he looked at the windows on the other side of the front door. Limp yellow hair and a big perspiration stain in the middle of a dark sport shirt were her chief impressions. He could be a bona fide salesman working hard at it. She wouldn't let him in, of course; but she felt a little sorry for him lugging that big case around in this weather. Then he turned and looked straight at the window behind which she was hiding, and she let the curtain go suddenly. Had he seen it move? The buzzer sounded again, imperiously.

Miss Barbara got up stiffly, moved to the big vizer screen in the nearest corner, and switched it on. The man might have something interesting and she couldn't get out to shop the way she used to. She smoothed her lilac housedress and left the room to descend the stairs to the front door.

In the tiny front hall she hesitated, then opened the door inward about eight inches. Deftly the man stuck the broad brown toe of his shoe into the opening and looked down at her. She grinned as she saw his expression of shock.

She was old, really old. Her sparse white hair was pulled so tightly into a knob on top of her head that the plentiful wrinkles on her forehead and around her eyes seemed to run vertically, giving her an oriental look. The hand she rested on the door jamb was a waxy white claw, a blue vein standing up prominently under the skin tight drawn over gnarly finger joints. He had probably never seen a woman much past middle age.

"Well?" Her croak was high and rough.

The young man recovered himself and began his spiel. "Madame, I represent one of the best known and most reputable firms in the country. Our products have received three international medals for purity and effective performance. They...."

"What are you selling, young man?"

"I have the privilege of being a field representative for Taffeta Beauty Aids. Please accept this generous ten ounce bottle of our Diamond Dew Refreshest Lotion... Continue reading book >>

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