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The Big Fix   By: (1911-1981)

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Illustrated by Bernklau



Anyone who holds that telepathy and psi powers would mean an end to crime quite obviously underestimates the ingenuity of the human race. Now consider a horserace that had to be fixed ...

It was April, a couple of weeks before the Derby. We were playing poker, which is a game of skill that has nothing to do with the velocity of horse meat.

Phil Howland kept slipping open but he managed to close up before I could tell whether the combination of Three Five Two Four meant a full house of fives over fours or whether he was betting on an open ended straight that he hadn't bothered to arrange in order as he held them. The Greek was impenetrable; he also blocked me from reading the deck so that I could estimate his hand from the cards that weren't dealt out. Chicago Charlie's mind was easy to read but no one could trust him. He was just as apt to think high to score someone out as he was to think low to suck the boys in. As for me, there I was, good old Wally Wilson, holding a pat straight flush from the eight to the queen of diamonds. I was thinking "full house" but I was betting like a weak three of a kind.

It was a terrific game. Between trying to read into these other guy's brains and keeping them from opening mine, and blocking the Greek's sly stunt of tipping over the poker chips as a distraction, I was also concerned about the eight thousand bucks that was in the pot. The trouble was that all four of us fully intended to rake it in. My straight flush would be good for the works in any normal game with wild cards, but the way this bunch was betting I couldn't be sure. Phil Howland didn't have much of a shield but he could really read, and if he read me either my mind or my hand he'd automatically radiate and that would be that.

I was about at the point of calling for the draw when the door opened without any knock. It was Tomboy Taylor. We'd been so engrossed with one another that none of us had caught her approach.

The Greek looked up at her and swore something that he hadn't read in Plato. "Showdown," he said, tossing in his hand.

I grunted and spread my five beauties.

Phil growled and shoved the pot in my direction, keeping both eyes on Tomboy Taylor.

She was something to keep eyes on, both figuratively and literally. The only thing that kept her from being a thionite dream was the Pittsburgh stogie that she insisted upon smoking, and the only thing that kept her from being some man's companion in spite of the stogie was the fact that he'd have to keep his mouth shut or she'd steal his back teeth if not for fillings, then for practice.

"You, Wally Wilson," she said around the cigar, "get these grifters out of here. I got words."

The Greek growled. "Who says?"

"Barcelona says."

I do not have to explain who Barcelona is. All I have to say is that Phil Howland, The Greek, and Chicago Charlie arose without a word and filed out with their minds all held tight behind solid shields.

I said, "What does Barcelona want with me?"

Tomboy Taylor removed the stogie and said evenly, "Barcelona wants to see it Flying Heels, Moonbeam, and Lady Grace next month."

When I got done gulping I said, "You mean Barcelona wants me to fix the Kentucky Derby?"

"Oh no," she replied in a very throaty contralto that went with her figure and her thousand dollars worth of simple skirt and blouse. "You needn't 'Fix' anything. Just be sure that it's Flying Heels, Moonbeam, and Lady Grace in that order. One, two, three. Do I make Barcelona quite clear?"

I said, "Look, Tomboy, neither of them platers can even run that far, let alone running ahead."

"Barcelona says they can. And will." She leaned forward and stubbed out the Pittsburgh stogie and in the gesture she became wholly beautiful as well as beautifully wholesome... Continue reading book >>

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