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´╗┐Title: The Longsnozzle Event
Author: Annas, Hal
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.


*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Longsnozzle Event" ***


                         THE LONGSNOZZLE EVENT

                             By Hal Annas

             As the greatest detective in the galaxy, Len
              Zitts could easily arrest the murderer. His
            main interest was in analyzing the weapon used!

           [Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
              Imagination Stories of Science and Fantasy
                              April 1951
         Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
         the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]


Len Zitts wiggled his big toe and gently pressed it against the
velvet-covered button, and the couch on which he was lying began
easing from beneath the desk to shape itself into a lounging chair.
In the process, a pair of mechanical arms slipped a pair of flexible
plastic moccasins on his feet and another pair of arms buttoned his
shirt collar and straightened his maroon cravat. At the same time a
mechanical comb and brush straightened the part in his thick chestnut
hair and smoothed it neatly.

Rising from behind the desk to a sitting position, without any effort
on his part, Len Zitts blinked brown eyes and looked again at the
vision of blonde loveliness which stood with full mouth agape just
inside the doorway.

"Oh!" The slender woman drew a deep breath, causing her bosom to swell
alluringly. "You scared me. Popping up like a jack-in-the-box!"

Moving his little finger an eighth of an inch, Zitts touched a button
on the arm of the chair and a mechanical hand put a cigaret in his
mouth and another tubelike arm moved beneath the cigaret and squirted
flame against its tip. "Sit down," Zitts invited. "Have a cigaret." He
pressed another button and an arm on the far side of the desk extended
a tray of assorted cigarets toward the woman.

A little breathless, she sat down and smoothed her diaphanous cerise
skirt along her thighs. "I--I'm still a little scared," she said
tremulously.

Zitts arched a chestnut brown eyebrow, significantly glanced at the
desk and the mechanical equipment, and said, "Don't be alarmed. Just a
few little inventions of my own. Desks were originally intended as a
resting place for the feet. I've merely modernized the idea. Slip under
the desk to relax. People can't spill drinks and ashes down your collar
while you sleep."

The woman nodded, smiled, revealing even teeth and a wide mouth with
upturned corners. "I suppose you want me to tell you why I came?"

Zitts shook his head almost imperceptibly. "I know why you came," he
said. "You want to offer me a ton of gold to investigate your husband's
death. Sorry! Afraid we can't do business."

"B-but--but--how did you know?" The woman leaned forward and lifted a
slender hand and looked at it as though to test her eyes.

       *       *       *       *       *

Zitts eyed the round arm with interest. "Elementary," he said. "People
are always wanting me to investigate something, and they always try to
palm off that trash called gold. They never offer anything worthwhile,
such as a dozen genuine bacteria for my collection, or a scuttle of
coal--that almost priceless black stuff from which so many things are
made. Ever seen any coal?"

The woman shook her head, swinging the shoulder-length blonde hair from
side to side, and her deep blue eyes opened wide in wonder. "Heard of
it. Glossy ebon substance of which ornaments are made. A princess on
Mars is said to own a chunk of it as big as my thumb, set in a pendant.
It was captured in the Martian war with Saturn."

"It's probably a phony," Zitts pointed out. "The Martians are too smart
to let a woman wear that precious stuff. A piece that big could be
made into the nucleus of a webbing which would trap enough sunlight
and moisture from the orbit of Mars to turn every sandy plain on that
planet into fertile land."

The subject seemed beyond the grasp of the woman. "But you haven't told
me," she said softly, "how you knew it was my husband's death, not
something else."

Zitts turned slightly in his chair. The turning itself seemed to serve
as a signal. The door on his right opened noiselessly and a dusky
Venusian female glided into the room, came and sat down on a seat which
was remarkably like a man's knee.

"My confidential secretary," Zitts said by way of introduction. "Miss
Xuren Claustinkelwickwellopiandusselkuck. I streamline that a bit and
call her Zoo. Zoo, this is Mrs. Elmer-Brown Jake-Smith."

"What?" The blonde woman's eyes snapped from Zoo to Zitts. "How did you
know my name? And how did you know I had two husbands?"

"One husband," Zitts corrected. "Mr. Jake-Smith was done to death in
some mysterious manner yesterday morning at daylight just as he was
going to bed for the day. But you're still entitled to both names,
having been legally wed to both men. The beyondlaws, I believe, are
bidding Elmer-Brown."

"Beyondlaws? Isn't that an outmoded term? Its meaning has slipped me."

"Outmoded, yes, but still appropriate. Coined to replace the term
congressmen. They once made the laws, I believe, but they were beyond
the laws themselves. Then the people got stirred up and demoted them
to ratcatchers and put responsible men in their places. They worked up
from ratcatchers to jobs then known as policemen. The term ratcatchers
stuck, but it seems more dignified to call them beyondlaws. These
people are holding your other husband, leaving you husbandless. But
that shouldn't be so bad. With your shape you ought to be able to snare
a hundred husbands."

       *       *       *       *       *

The woman dropped her eyes and blushed. "You shouldn't flatter a poor
widow at a time like this," she said coyly. "But how do you know all
these things about me?"

Zitts turned to the Venusian. "Show her, Zoo," he said.

Zoo uncrossed her graceful legs and leaned forward on the mechanical
knee.

"Why," the blonde woman broke in, "does she sit on a thing like that?
It--it's so suggestive of sitting on a man's lap."

Zitts smiled indulgently. "Miss Claustinkelwickwellopiandusselkuck,"
he said, "attended an oldfashioned secretarial school. The reason for
their training to sit on a man's lap is lost in antiquity. But I have
a feeling there was a good reason for it. In the twentieth century
when bandits stalked the cities, when detectives were popping in
and out of every second doorway in pursuit of murderers, and wiping
off fingerprints in their wake, it is to be presumed that a man and
his secretary undertook many things of a confidential nature. As a
preliminary to such confidential things, a session of lap-sitting
might've been just the thing. Of course we'll never know for certain.
But it is an honored custom in the old schools, and, of course, we
cannot go against the dignity of the past.

"Now, with your permission, I'll have Zoo go ahead."

The woman nodded assent and the Venusian girl touched a lever on the
side of the desk which Zitts could not reach without stretching.
Instantly a round white globe, lighted by a faint yellow glow at its
center, rose out of an opening in the desk. The blonde woman, sitting
close, drew back with a gasp.

"That's me," she said. "Inside the globe."

"Of course." Zitts cocked an eyebrow at Zoo who pointed at the vision.
"Notice closely," Zitts went on. "Right there at the tip of Zoo's
claws. You are standing on the moving carpet in a lower corridor of
this building. As I lay beneath this desk I was looking into that globe
which was then visible below. It is now reproducing exactly what I saw."

       *       *       *       *       *

The woman had somewhat recovered her poise and now leaned close and
watched herself glide along the corridor on the moving carpet. "But I
still don't see--" she began.

"You will when I explain," Zitts informed her. "Look closely at your
features. They are beautiful!"

"Yes. But--"

"It has been known for centuries," Zitts declared, "that every thought
has a physical reaction. Sometimes it is only glandular. But it is a
short step from observing the reactions to reading the thoughts. The
reactions, of course, differ in different people. It would be necessary
to catalogue your reactions before I could specifically read your
every thought. But certain key reactions are fairly common, such as
grief, fear, love, hate. In a glance you can tell whether a person is
grieving, fearing, loving, hating. A study of reactions advances this
talent remarkably. A little intelligent deduction, judgment, putting
of two-and-two together, and it is possible to come fairly close to
what anyone is thinking without knowing the catalogued reactions. Am I
making myself clear?"

"Go on," the woman urged with interest. "But don't read my exact
thoughts. I wouldn't want anyone to do that."

"I probably haven't the language to read your exact thoughts," Zitts
assured her. "Shall I tell you how I knew your purpose in coming here?"

"By all means."

"Look closely at the vision. It is smiling serenely to itself. That's
you a few minutes before you entered this office. That pleased
expression means you have just conceived a bright idea, probably
thinking you could palm off a ton of gold on me."

"But I never--"

"Observe there where Zoo's claws are pointing. A man approaches. Now
look at your own face. You have suddenly remembered that one of your
husbands is dead and the other is in the hands of the ratcatchers, and
you are supposed to register sorrow. You do but it's feigned. Your
thoughts are more on the way the man is staring at your figure. Watch!
Now you're swaying your hips gracefully. Very nice! Now look! The
man has passed you, glanced back once to see if you are still waving
your hips, and gone on. You are no longer waving your shape. You're
thoughtful again. Oh, oh! You've turned on the waves again. Another
man must be approaching. There he is, sure enough. That's why you're
blinking your eyes now, to call attention to your long lashes. That
will stop as soon as he passes, but your hips will wave a trifle more
until you're certain he's out of range."

"Stop! Stop this minute," the blonde cried. "You're just making up all
that."

       *       *       *       *       *

Zitts shrugged. "My dear Mrs. Brown and Smith, if you do not care to
know how I learned of the purpose of your visit here, it is quite all
right with me. No charge whatever for this interview. Zoo will show you
to the corridor."

"B-but--but I do. But you don't have to go into all of a woman's
secrets."

"Secrets?" Zitts lifted his hand a trifle, then let it fall, which
inadvertently plunged the room into darkness and caused a grim voice to
growl, "Don't move! I'll burn you in your tracks!" He corrected this
at once, reassured the woman and briefly explained: "I often interview
desperate characters in this room, Martians, Saturnians and even
politicians. Have to protect myself."

"What were you saying about secrets?" the woman prodded with curiosity
which had not evolved very much in ten thousand years.

"Secrets?" Zitts repeated. "I wonder! Most actions and reactions are as
obvious as the thoughts behind them. Secrets? I sometimes doubt there
is such a thing. Shall I tell you what you are thinking now?"

The woman blushed, shook her head. "Please don't. I'll try not to wish
I could claw your eyes out anymore. Just go ahead and investigate my
husband's death."

Zitts rolled his eyes and looked at Zoo without moving. Zoo put her
arms around the back of her seat, which slightly resembled a man,
kissed it lightly and leaped nimbly to her feet. She glided smoothly
to a corner, her figure undulating gracefully, and set in motion a
four-wheeled machine which rolled to the center of the room and paused.
Panels began to slide back from the machine, revealing its insides.
Meanwhile Zitts explained:

"The news of your second best husband's death was on teleview," he
said. "I was interested in the case purely from an academic standpoint.
With the machine you see on your left I watched the ratcatchers tearing
up your apartment. The machine is called a key-skeleton. There isn't
another like it in our solar system. With this key-skeleton I can enter
any apartment or domicile no matter how well it is locked. Not in the
flesh, no. That would be far too much trouble. I simply bring your
apartment into this room. Not materially, but three-dimensionally to
all effect. I have already gone over your apartment thoroughly and can
describe the man who killed your husband."

       *       *       *       *       *

The woman's curving mouth popped open. "Why don't you tell the
ratcatchers?" she wanted to know.

Zitts shrugged. "I haven't the evidence to prove my theory. Besides,
there is another phase of the case in which I am interested. The weapon
which killed your husband was a strange, unearthly thing. Nothing like
it is known to modern science. It is a hand weapon with a tube about
six inches in length. Behind this tube is a six-chambered cylinder
which appears to revolve when certain mechanisms are set in motion.
Inscribed on it in ancient lettering is this legend: _Colt_. It is
not known how this weapon works nor which end of it destroys. But
the ratcatchers are going to experiment with it, and when they asked
my advice I suggested that they hold the tube end of it toward their
bodies. That seems the most harmless part of it. I also suggested that
they line up behind one another when they do this, and stay away from
the butt end of it. I expect to learn the results soon. Zoo! Turn on
the machine."

Just as the machine was turned on a loud bang sounded in the room,
and the woman gasped as the view lit up and showed four uniformed
ratcatchers sprawled on the floor of what was obviously the
ratcatchers' lair. Zitts snorted in disgust.

"Zoo!" he called. "Get in touch with the chief rat of the ratcatchers
and tell him I said those men have clearly ignored my advice. Tell
him I said to caution the next men who experiment with that weapon.
Tell him to see that they hold the tube next to their bodies, and
tell him for the sake of safety to have six men line up behind one
another. Better yet, he had better undertake the experiment himself.
His men are careless. Like idiots they have been pointing the tube
away from themselves and holding the butt near their bodies. Turn off
the machine. The sight of those dead men and the smell of blood is
offensive."

Zitts sat in gloomy silence until the woman spoke again. "Then you'll
bring the murderer to justice?" she ventured quietly.

Zitts shook his head. "I'm interested in the weapon, not the murderer.
Such a weapon is far beyond our science. We have only rays which kill
without noise. That weapon makes a terrific bang. Seems far more
fitting than silence, especially in murders resulting from hate. We
might in another hundred years be able to duplicate it and put them
on the market and sell them literally to millions who have a right to
expect some entertainment as well as wind from their politicians. When
a fellow felt in an ill humor he could destroy a politician with that
weapon. The bang of it would immediately cheer him up."

       *       *       *       *       *

The woman leaned across the desk and tears came into her eyes. "If you
don't catch the man who killed my almost best husband," she sobbed
brokenly, "I won't be able to get married more than a couple more
times. Suspicion would fall on me and I don't know but two men who
would marry a murderess."

Zitts softened somewhat. "And if I do catch the murderer?" he said.

The woman brightened, blew her nose and brushed away the tears. "I'll
be the happiest person in our galaxy," she said, smiling. "I can marry
six men tomorrow and probably twelve or fourteen the next day. You
don't know how wonderful it will be to have so many husbands that the
loss of a few now and then won't matter."

Zitts nodded sympathetically. "I can well understand," he said. "But
you shouldn't expect me to use my training and intelligence for
nothing. After all, I have ninety-six wives to support--partially--that
is. Their other husbands contribute a bit now and then."

"I could give you a uranium mine," the woman offered.

"Uranium? Nonsense. It's used only to flush sewers when they get
gummed up. Haven't you anything valuable?"

"Platinum."

Zitts shook his head. "Used for ballast in deep-sea diving and then
dumped in the ocean. Have you any humorous writings, such as an ancient
Congressional Record?"

"Never heard of anything like that," the woman replied. "Heard once
there was some sort of record of congress which was destroyed because
so many people died laughing over it."

"Exactly! Very dangerous," Zitts went on. "But I could trade it to the
Martians to use in their war against Jupiter. Even a Jovian, who can
endure so many more gravities than we, couldn't endure the weight of a
Congressional Record. And if he could, he would either die laughing or
become an epileptic. Have you got one?"

"No!" The woman shook her head sadly. "I have a private
atmosphere-runabout, a house with seventeen rooms in Florida, a ranch
in California with ten thousand domesticated descendants of movie stars
grazing on it, a plantation on Venus where I keep a herd of poets, a
million acres of arable land on Uranus, a crater on the moon, and a
chunk of what's left of the ice at the North Pole. But I have nothing
whatever valuable."

"No property on Mars?"

"A single canal, but it's worthless. It's filled with billions and
billions of barrels of oil. Have tried to give it away, but no one is
fool enough to take it."

       *       *       *       *       *

"H--m." Zitts studied the woman with pity and understanding. "There
should be some sort of charity to aid people in your poverty-ridden
condition. I suppose I'll have to handle the case for nothing. I
wouldn't do it for anybody else for less than a star of the sixth
magnitude, but I do not believe in imposing on the poor."

"I have a nickel in ancient money," the woman said softly.

"What? A nickel? Good God, woman! For half of that I would solve every
murder since the beginning of time and commit some of my own. Give me
that nickel. Where did you get it? Don't you know there are people who
would cut ten thousand throats for a sum like that?"

"I--I didn't know it was valuable."

"It's priceless! People will sell their souls, commit perjury, betray
their friends, cheat their neighbors, buy and sell votes, and even do
some good things for money."

"But such a little piece--"

"Woman, you have no idea of values. Since money has become replaced
by credit and barter, such pieces as this have become invaluable
collectors' items. Even before that it was valuable. You could buy a
lead dime with it. And if you were clever enough you could use the lead
dime to buy a tin half-dollar. Then you could change the half-dollar
into wooden quarters and begin all over again. A shrewd man could
amass a fortune in counterfeit dollars by such trading. Of course, he
couldn't buy anything with the counterfeit dollars, but reflection on
the trading would strengthen his mind while he rested behind bars.
At least that's the way history relates it. Zoo! Take this precious
nickel, handle it carefully and with due reverence, seal it in a tube,
send it through the pneumatic to the armored transport, have them place
a hundred men armed to the teeth about it, and escort it solemnly and
without undue ostentation to the Universal Bank, that institution
which covers eight square miles and towers ten thousand feet into the
air, and deposit it with proper ceremony to my account. I shall be the
wealthiest man on this planet and the envy of every creature in the
galaxy. But don't worry, Mrs. Brown and Smith! I shall not overcharge
you. You have two cents change coming, a tidy sum--nay a fortune--and
your case is as good as solved. Zoo! Sound the alarm. We go into action
at once."

       *       *       *       *       *

Bells clanged, a siren screamed, a series of red lights flashed on
and off and on and off, and a distant rumble shook the building. The
blonde woman caught her breath, gripped the arms of her chair to steady
herself, waited until the noise and the shaking had subsided, then
asked, "Do you always go into action like that?"

"Invariably," Zitts affirmed serenely. "Seismographs all over the world
register when Len Zitts launches himself in pursuit of a criminal, and
the underworld trembles in despair. But," he added a trifle wistfully,
"it doesn't register on Mars and Venus and they never send reporters
and photographers. I'm thinking of installing a heavier vibrator. Zoo!
You may inform the inquirers who will be hounding you in a moment that
the nemesis of crime has plunged forth to strike death and terror
to the heart of criminals. You may elaborate that a bit. Mention
my towering figure, nearly five feet tall, and the bulging muscles
which back up my eighty-six pounds of weight. You may also speak of
my handsome features, but not in a manner to attract more than a few
thousand women. I have enough wives already. Now! Clear the deck! Here
we go."

The blonde woman gathered her small feet under her, preparing to
leap out of the way, and she took a deep breath for fear all of the
air would be sucked out of the room in the wake of his rush; but to
her astonishment he merely slumped down in the chair and, to all
appearance, went to sleep.

"He's in action now," Zoo explained softly and musically.
"Concentrating. He'll come up with a plan in ten seconds."

       *       *       *       *       *

The prophecy proved true. Zitts opened his eyes with a start, rose
an inch in the chair and winked three times at the Venusian girl.
Instantly the girl sprang to the door on the right and swung it open,
and a four-legged creature, with its tongue lolling out, waddled into
the room and squatted on its haunches.

"See!" Zoo cried in delight. "His plans always begin with Pupsie. The
ancients called him a bloodhound. His species is almost extinct, but
he's smart and he claims his ancestors pursued criminals thousands of
years ago."

"Claims?" the blonde woman exclaimed, aghast. "You mean, that
four-legged creature can talk?"

"Whaddya think?" said Pupsie. "Living generation after generation
around windbags who did nothing but talk, wasn't it to be expected that
dogs would eventually evolve to that stage themselves? Not that it
is an improvement, mind you. Dogs had to learn in self-defense. Even
back in the twentieth century hundreds of people everyday were asking
questions of animals. 'Ain't oo the pretty little thing?' 'Does oo
want a tiss, oo lovey dovey?' The first words my ancestors learned to
speak in answer to such questions were 'Go to hell!' The meaning of the
phrase is lost in our modern language, possibly because my ancestors
overworked it, using it every time a human opened his mouth to ask a
question of an animal, until at length it had no meaning whatever."

"And you catch criminals?"

"Catch anything," said Pupsie, "that I can smell, if it deserves
catching."

"Quiet!" Zitts roared, displaying his customary impatience when another
usurped the floor. "Zoo! Fetch forth the Longsnozzle. And while you're
at it you can bracket this case as 'The Longsnozzle Event.' Mark that
word 'Event!' I have a suspicion this is an insignificant case with not
more than eight or ten murders involved."

"Eight or ten murders!" The blonde woman became deathly pale. "You
mean, there is more than one murder?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Zitts looked at the woman with pity in his brown eyes. "Woman, you
evidently do not understand the psychology of murder. One always leads
to another. It's always been that way. Look at the murder stories
of even the blind age of the twentieth century! Thirteen murders,
ordinarily, on the first page. Seven on the second, and the balance
strung out through the book. It is the aspiration of every collector to
find a book with only one murder in it. Personally, for such a work I
would offer seventy-five interstellar giant transports each loaded to
bursting with ton upon ton of diamonds, emeralds, pearls, sapphires,
oyster shells, and even those rare gems called kidney stones that come
from the galaxies of innerspace--and, yes, even those magnificent
broke-stones found only in a single planetary system in a galaxy on the
very rim of outer space. These latter are practically untouchable, and
the more you try to touch them the more broke-stone they become."

Zitts drew a deep breath and went on: "If a solitary genius of the
latter half of the twentieth century had had the godlike stature to
create a work with only one murder in it, instead of dozens, he would
be immortal and today worshipped by the protagonists of moderation and
hated by the antagonists who maintain, and not without reason, that all
of the characters in such stories, and especially the detective, should
come to a violent and horrible end on page three."

The blonde woman wiped her eyes, glanced into a small mirror and tried
to compose herself. "Very well," she murmured half to herself. "I shall
prepare myself to endure whatever I must and view as many murders as
necessary."

"It won't be bad at all," Zitts assured her with feeling. "May even be
boring, with so few murders. Personally, I rarely take a case which
doesn't offer the prospect of at least a hundred. They generally murder
my suspects one after another, and for that reason I try to suspect as
many as possible to keep the case interesting.

"Now, if you are prepared--"

The woman, fearful but dry-eyed, nodded in response.

"Pupsie! On your mark! Zoo! Switch on the machine."

In fear and wonderment the woman watched Pupsie don the longsnozzle
which appeared to be a mechanical nose two-feet in length with its
other measurements in proportion. This extra nose did not appear
heavy or to handicap Pupsie in any way. Its nostrils flared and the
Venusian girl produced some six square yards of white linen, held it
significantly at the proper place, and the beast blew its extra nose,
making a honking sound which made the windows rattle.

"That clears the way for smelling action," Zoo said in explanation.

       *       *       *       *       *

Just then the view lit up and the bristles along Pupsie's back suddenly
stood on end. The scene in the viewplate was familiar. Six ratcatchers
were lined up, one behind another, with the foremost pointing the Colt
at his own midriff. Through the adjoining wall, which was transparent
on the viewplate, a man in the uniform of the chief rat of the
ratcatchers, was visible holding his fingers in his ears and with a
terrified and painful expression on his face.

The blonde woman jumped when the bang sounded and the six ratcatchers
reeled and then collapsed. The chief beyond the wall looked a trifle
relieved to find himself still alive, but Zitts snorted with audible
disgust.

"Bunglers!" Zitts growled, then looked at Pupsie. "That weapon,
Pupsie," he said. "Get a good whiff of it."

The huge nostrils flared and sniffed in a way that stirred a strong
breeze in the room and sent prickles along the blonde woman's spine.
Then Pupsie looked up and winked.

"Now trace it to the murderer," Zitts ordered.

Pupsie gathered himself for a leap at the chief rat, but Zoo sprang
between him and the viewplate and shut off the machine.

"No, no," Zitts cautioned. "His smell is on the weapon, of course.
But he merely examined it. Use your head now and tune in the machine
yourself and find the murderer."

Nodding, Pupsie moved close to the machine, switched it on and began
tuning radarlike by sniffing and twisting the dials. Almost at once
his eyes lighted and his tongue lolled out and his muscles stiffened
for action. The blonde woman held her breath, expecting to view the
murderer.

The view lit up faintly, became brighter, became a dark alley with a
cat inspecting a garbage pail.

"No, no!" Zitts cautioned. "This is no time for sport. Get down to
business."

Pupsie continued tuning and suddenly began panting and gasping and
twitching in every muscle.

Recognizing the emergency, Zitts thundered "The treadmill, Zoo!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Zoo stamped on the floor and started an endless carpet moving under
Pupsie's feet. It was just in time, for Pupsie was running like the
very devil in order to remain in the same place. He was in pursuit of a
female dog which appeared on the viewplate.

Features darkening and eyes blazing, Zitts waited for Zoo to turn off
the machine. Then in a thunderously quiet voice he called Pupsie to
book.

"I warned you this is no time for sport!" Zitts glanced at Zoo who
produced a dogcatcher's net and held it threateningly above Pupsie. The
poor dog shuddered. "For the last time," Zitts said ominously, "I'm
warning you."

The blonde woman felt so sorry for the creature she turned tearful eyes
to Zitts in mute appeal. Zitts appeared to relent.

"When you find that murderer," he said, temporizing, "I shall order you
a special nine-foot bone from one of those Martian tyrannasauraplexus
creatures. Now, keep your mind on your work!"

At the mention of a tyrannasauraplexus bone Pupsie's jaws slavered and
a look of rapture came over his ungainly features. Clearly he had been
reformed.

Setting to work immediately, Pupsie sniffed and tuned by twisting the
dials, and suddenly the blonde woman gasped and almost fainted.

"That's my lover's apartment," she said in horror. "I recognize the
bed. Surely he can't be the murderer."

"Your ex-lover," Zitts pointed out. "That's a corpse in the bed."

The blonde woman fainted, for it was true. The man was dead, or should
have been, for he neither breathed nor gave any sign of heartbeat.

"Examine that room," Zitts ordered Pupsie, "until you get a whiff of
the second murderer."

Soon Pupsie was off again, sniffing and tuning, and just as another
scene came in the blonde woman opened her eyes, gasped, "Another of my
lovers," and fainted again.

"Ex-lover," Zitts corrected and directed Pupsie to pursue this murderer
also.

They ran through three more murders before the woman recovered, and
Zitts deducted, which subsequently proved correct, that these were also
ex-lovers. Then, as the woman recovered and was composing herself and
straightening her mouth and re-making her face, they came upon a scene
with a live person in it.

"No, no! No!" the blonde cried. "He's my next to the best lover. He
wouldn't murder anybody."

       *       *       *       *       *

The man, about ninety years old, gray and stooped, sat placidly on what
appeared to be the railing of a balcony and contemplated the rolling
countryside a hundred stories below. At a signal from Zitts, Zoo
switched the machine to two-directional view.

"All right, murderer," Zitts snarled. "Confess!"

The man looked up, started, then almost fell over the rail as he caught
sight of Mrs. Brown and Smith.

"No, no! I don't want him brought to justice," the blonde woman cried.
"If he loved me enough to commit all those murders I want to marry him."

Zitts pondered this briefly, then said, "That ought to be punishment
enough. What have you got to say, murderer?"

The man cowered back, trembled. "I'll confess," he said quaveringly.
"But I ask for a reasonably humane punishment like being boiled in oil.
Marrying that woman would be more than I can bear."

Zitts nodded understandingly. After all, he was humane even with
criminals. And although he was not a man to compromise with crime he
could not bear the light of horror in the man's eyes. "I'll take the
matter under consideration," he said. "But I promise nothing. If you
confess promptly and clear up the mystery, your chance of being boiled
in oil will be somewhat improved. I'm waiting."

"It's like this," the man began, wiping perspiration from his brow.
"On my ninetieth birth anniversary I decided to have one more fling
and retire until I had reached my second youth-hood at the age of a
hundred. I visited seventeen of my best sweethearts that day and night,
and twelve of my wives. It was rather exhausting."

"I can imagine," Zitts said encouragingly. "Go on."

"Mrs. Brown and Smith was among those I visited," the man went on
tiredly. "She was the most exhausting of all, actually insisting that I
kiss her hand before I left. It took a lot out of me."

"Go on," Zitts urged impatiently.

"I swore off then and there," said the nonagenarian with a sigh, "and
that left Mrs. Brown and Smith with only five lovers and two husbands.
That increased the load on these remaining seven and they began to urge
me to come back and do my duty. I refused.

"That," the man went on, "brought things to a crisis. In desperation
Smith made another appeal to me. Again I refused, but I gave him some
sound advice, to wit: that he should make the other lovers carry a
little more of the burden. This he tried without success, and again I
advised him, this time arming him with an ancient weapon. In turn he
went to each of the other lovers and offered them their choice, and
each chose suicide in preference to fulfilling more than their normal
obligations. When he realized what he had done, and what a tremendous
burden would now fall on him, he turned the weapon on himself."

       *       *       *       *       *

The man paused, wiped away the tears and added, "I am guilty of six
murders," he said dolefully. "And Brown, who is being held by the
ratcatchers, will naturally make a false confession and ask to be put
to death at once--when he realizes that his wife has neither lovers
nor another husband. It is sad, and if you'll just boil me in oil as
quickly as possible--"

"No, no!" the blonde woman screamed. "I want to marry you."

Startled, the man whipped out a strange, unearthly weapon, on which was
inscribed, it was learned on later investigation, this legend: _S&W_.
He placed the weapon against his temple and a bang resulted. Then he
toppled over the rail and disappeared.

"Which end of that weapon did he place nearest him?" Zitts demanded as
Zoo switched off the machine and the view faded.

"The tube end," Zoo replied.

"I knew I was right," Zitts exulted. "Get in touch with the chief rat
and tell him the case is solved, wrapped up. He can release Brown and
forget it. Also tell him I have learned the secret of that weapon.
I was right all along. Tell him personally to place the muzzle of it
against his temple and finger that little lever underneath. I am sure
that is the way it is done. Tell him to try it at once and let me know
the results."

Zitts sighed in satisfaction, glanced once more at the lovely curves
of the blonde woman, and pressed the button which set in motion the
machinery to ease the lounging chair beneath the desk and shape it into
a couch.

"Ssh--h!" The Venusian girl signaled silence. "After he's been in
action for a few seconds," she whispered, "he always rests for a week
or so."

The blonde woman rose quietly and marched wavily to the door, opened
it. Then, with tears of thankfulness in her limpid blue eyes, and a
last worshipping glance at the place where Zitts had disappeared, she
stepped into the corridor and went in search of replacements for her
used up husbands and lovers.

Pupsie waddled over to a corner and curled up to dream of a
tyrannasauraplexus bone.



*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Longsnozzle Event" ***

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