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The dog was snarling and struggling in Slugger's arms, and snapping savagely at Rimmer, who kept well out of reach of those needle-sharp teeth.

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Klee took hold of Maxie's checkered jacket with two ham-like fists and gave the hoodlum a shake. "Cut out the lying, Maxie. We've got the goods on you. You borrowed dough and then welshed on the payoff. When Slye got tough you killed him and ran off with your promissory note you'd signed. But you were panicky and you didn't notice part of the note with your name on it still stuck in Slye's hand. That scrap of paper is going to fry you, you dirty killer."

"It's a frameup," Maxie Rimmer howled frantically. "I tell you, I didn't do it. I didn't, I didn't …"

"Shut up, you rat," Klee roared. He whirled on Slugger. "And shut that cur up, will you? I can't hear myself think with the racket he's making. He must have seen Maxie slug his master and he's trying to pay him off. I wish I could put that dog on the witness stand …"

"Maybe you can, Inspector," Dan Layton said suddenly. He turned red as the big Inspector whirled and everyone gaped at him.

"I told you not to butt in," Klee roared. "Now keep back …"

Dan swallowed a lump in his throat. "But Inspector, I'm very much afraid you're pinning the murder on the wrong man. Maxie Rimmer didn't kill Slimey Slye, I'm positive."

"What?" Inspector Klee bawled, his own cheeks turning purple with rage. "I knew I'd draw some smart alee with a mouth too big for his place. I've been a detective twenty years and you, a big dumb rookie, try to tell me …"

"Look," Dan said desperately. "Wait, Inspector. Don't you see? If Maxie had killed Slye, that dog would have gone wild and either torn Maxie to bits or aroused the whole building the way he's doing now. And how could Maxie have found his note if the files aren't marked?"

"Slye had it in his hand," Klee shouted.

"Then why was a file dumped on the floor?" Dan persisted. "I'll bet it was a dumb man's idea of throwing us off the scent. It's the kind of stupid scheme a man like Slugger Hensel would think of."

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"Me?" Slugger shot out of his chair, roaring. "Why, you two-bit squirt. I'll tear you apart. I'll …"

"Sit down and shut up," Klee barked suddenly. "Say that all over again, Layton. Say it slow."

Dan gulped. "Y-yes, sir. I say Slugger Hensel could have been in dutch with his boss over not turning in collections, maybe. He hears about this date with Maxie and see a chance to frame him. So he sneaks in the back way, waits until Maxie goes and then kills Slye. He grabs Maxie's note, that would be out of the file anyhow if they were discussing it, and rips it off and then dumps a drawer at random. And all this time, the dog would be so used to Slugger's being there that he'd never make a sound."

Maybe, Dan thought, it was wild guessing and wouldn't hold up in court. But luckily, his guessing didn't have to because Slugger Hensel tried to haul out a gun and Klee shot him neatly. When it was all over and the two men were climbing back in the squad car, Klee glared at the rookie. "Mister Big Mouth," he growled. And then he grinned faintly. "Keep it wagging, son. Sometimes good sense comes out of that mouth of yours."

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Neural Network Novellas series cover
Murder Most Foul #3 episode cover
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Neural Network Novellas

AI generated art using text prompts are a new, controversial means of creating visual art. The cowboy and the shepherd have working dogs to assist them. The spaceman relies on his blaster and android assistant to complete his mission. The writer can now use an AI artist to create art for his written creations. Join us as we explore this new creative process by taking classic prose stories, feeding them to our supportive silicon sketcher, and share the results with you.
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