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Mrs. Johnny Martin bit her lip nervously as she watched her five-year-old son, Steve, excitedly exhibiting his birthday gifts to Grandma Martin.

It wouldn't do for either Steve or Grandma to know she was worrying at that very moment whether her husband, Detective Johnny Martin, was dead or alive.

She had been married to a policeman long enough to expect these sudden emergencies by now. Even so, it had been no easy task telling Steve that Daddy wouldn't be able to help celebrate the birthday tonight, and it took some fast explaining to Grandma–Johnny's mother–that he'd been called away on an emergency. But nothing serious of course …

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The truth of the matter was that Detective Martin was out that night to help crack the Smith Pier mob, toughest killers in that part of the country.

"It'll mean the end of a million-dollar hi-jacking ring," he consoled her as he slipped out the back door. Then, noting her worried look, he added cheerfully:

"Tell Steve we'll have a special celebration of our own as soon as the job is cleaned up."

Mrs. Johnny Martin had heard plenty about the Smith Pier mob. They were a trigger-happy collection of murderers who thought no more of taking a human life than stepping on an ant.

And her Johnny Martin was perhaps at that very moment gambling his life against a chance to throw a net over these mad-dog killers!

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It was no simple matter to excuse herself from the party momentarily, but she finally managed to duck into the bedroom and close the door. In the same instant she switched on the small bedside radio and turned the knob to the short-wave police calls. There was a moment of crackling on the air. Then came the dispatcher's voice: "Cars Seventeen … Twenty-Three … Thirty … proceed to Point X-Ray immediately!"

She breathed a sigh of relief. Point X-Ray, she knew, was in the Hilltop Area. Those cars would have no part in the Smith Pier roundup. She was interested only in Car Twenty … the car belonging to Johnny Martin of the Homicide Squad!

The dispatcher was rasping again: "Cars Five … Eight …Eleven … to Zebra Head at once …"

Her heartbeat quickened. Zebra Head, she recalled, was in the Smith Pier area. They were calling up reinforcements. Something was going on down there …

The bedroom door opened and Grandma Martin entered, her kindly blue eyes wide with surprise at seeing her daughter-in-law hunched by the radio.

"It's all right," she smiled, patting the older woman on the shoulder. "Just checking the weather forecast to see whether Steve should sleep with his window open tonight."

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Neural Network Novellas series cover
The Smith Pier Gang #1 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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