The Green Mask
Times Past, 1940
The Harried Hoodlums
by Edward Young, story from The Green Mask #1 (Summer, 1940)
The crime-lord called the Wizard publicly challenges the modern Robin Hood known as the Green Mask. But when the members of his gang begin to disappear, one by one, will he live to regret it?
The swift-moving tempo of Swing Barrett’s North Side Band stopped abruptly. After a suspense of thirty seconds, the radio blared, “Attention: it is the Wizard speaking. Before I shall rule over my empire of crime, the Green Mask must and will die. I have spoken.”
Blake “News” Doakes shut off his radio with a white face. The Green Mask was his best friend. Who would want to see his pal end on a morgue slab?
The telephone buzzer jarred. He picked it up.
“Hello, News Doakes speaking.”
“Good,” the voice of his editor rasped harshly. “Did you hear that radio message of a nut called the Wizard?”
“He may be a crank, or he may be a genius. All radio programs were disrupted by this bird. You’re a friend of the Green Mask, ain’t you? Well, in this case, you’re getting a free hand on the Wizard versus the Green Mask stuff until either side wins.”
“OK, chief,” News Doakes said without his characteristic enthusiasm.
As he hung up, he became aware of the shadow of a man standing behind him. Cautiously he pulled his drawer, revealing a wicked-looking Smith & Wesson revolver.
“You don’t need your hardware, News,” the mysterious stranger laughed.
“The Green Mask!” News ejaculated.
He seized the Green Mask and warmly embraced him.
“Have you heard a wise guy who calls himself the Wizard threaten you over the radio?”
“Yeah, and so what? Listen, I’ve got a good lead on the Wizard. Do you remember Doc Carson, the man whose extortionist gang I broke up, and whom I sent up the river?”
“Are you insinuating that the Wizard and Doc Carson are one and the same man?”
“Exactly. Doc Carson was a medical student who went wrong and was kicked out of the Memorial Hospital. He’s really a genius. It’s too bad he devotes his brains to crime.”
“But how are you gonna stop him?”
“Listen, I’ve raided a small gang. I netted Babe Brody. You know he’s Doc’s best friend. I’m practically kidnapping him. Print that in your sheet. It will set the wheels in motion.”
“Hot dawg, that’s a scoop!”
The Green Mask was right. The wheels did start rumbling, for Doc Carson had a bad case of indigestion as he read the newspaper over his breakfast table.
“What are you gorillas gaping like that for?” he roared at his bodyguard. “Can’t you see the Green Mask snatched Babe Brody? Get him! Five grand for the man that drills him fuller lead than Swiss cheese.”
The gangsters left the room with alacrity.
Doc Carson paced the floor of his room, puffing cigarettes in chain.
Doc flicked the last cigarette away and opened the door. Some other gangsters loitered and played cards.
“Will one of you get me a pack of fags?” he said with irritation.
A lanky gangster put on his coat and hat. Before leaving the room, he examined the magazine of his automatic.
Ordinarily it would have taken him five minutes to buy and deliver the cigarettes, but, for some inexplicable reason, half an hour passed, and yet the gangster did not return.
Another half hour passed. Doc Carson opened the door again and bawled, “Do you guys know what’s keeping that guy Pete?”
“Then will one of you get the fags for me?”
The gangsters hesitated.
“I will, boss, but that bird, the Green Mask, is sure poison. You shouldn’t have challenged him.”
“Who asked you to open your mouth, Potty?” Doc roared with anger.
Potty stared at him. He shrugged his shoulders. Deliberately he filled a glass with whiskey and swallowed it with one gulp. Then he put on his hat and left.
Like the murder squad and Pete, Potty disappeared completely.
Fear, unnamed fear of the unknown, gripped the gang like a blanket of ice. Babe Brody gone! So were Pete, Potty, and a strong-arm squad. Who would be next?
Doc Carson abandoned his role of the tyrant and joined his gang in a game of poker. No one spoke more than was necessary for the game.
The telephone barked like the staccato of a machine gun.
Doc Carson lifted it.
Doc waited. Nothing came out of it. He hung up the ‘phone with an irritated snarl.
“Nobody. Perhaps a practical joker.”
However, the gangsters looked at each other with expressions that spoke louder than words.
Again the telephone buzzed. This time no one bothered to unhook it.
Then a sharp rasp on their door broke the silence like an explosion of thunder. The gangsters instinctively pulled out their gats.
“He’s here at last! Get him!” Doc Carson barked.
Cautiously the gangsters spread out. One of them opened the door.
“No one’s here, boys,” he said with a tone of relief.
The gangsters relaxed. They walked to the door, laughing nervously.
Suddenly a heavy wire net fell on them.
Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Their guns barked as they shot out of the room in a vain attempt to hit the unseen Green Mask.
“Fools! You will bring the coppers on us!” Doc shouted with an agonized voice.
The trapped gangsters struggled to remove the net. For some strange reason, their collective strength did not even lift a strand.
Doc and the remnants of his gang rushed past them. They tripped over a string, stretched tautly across the door, and fell sprawling over the floor.
Before they knew it, the Green Mask was on them!
Raging with the wild berserk of Viking blood in his veins, the Green Mask shot his iron fists at every gangster that presented a target. No longer did he distinguish individuals. Every man in the melee was the same, a wolf to be punished.
The effect of the Green Mask’s titanic struggle told on the gangsters. Most of them lay, badly mauled, on the floor. The rest, Doc Carson included, retreated into the room and slammed the door shut.
A tattoo on the door rasped their nerves. Instinctively they reached for their shoulder holsters. Much to their horror, they had lost their guns in the scuffle.
The tattoo kept on. A gangster opened the door. He rushed out. His companions looked at each other. Did he escape?
Two minutes had hardly passed when the battered body of the rash gangster came sailing into the room, knocking down those who stood in the way.
The door slammed shut. The nerve-wracking tattoo resumed.
Suddenly the tattoo stopped. Three minutes of quiet elapsed. It was the kind of silence that drives men insane.
Then a loud knock on the door broke the silence.
An authoritative voice bellowed, “Open the door in the name of the law!”
A sigh of relief passed over the remnant of the gang.
To the policemen, there never was a gang of cutthroats so glad to be arrested. They were mystified. So were all newspapers, except one. News Doakes wrote how the Green Mask unnerved the gangsters and made them whimpering babies; how he, singlehanded, reduced the gang piecemeal, tying the victims as he progressed until he conquered the latest threat of the Underworld and made them so impotent that all the police had to do was to pick them up.