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THIS IS

DOGERON KELLY TALKING:

“Why the hell couldn’t they lay off me? I wasn’t an unknown quantity they had to speculate about. They knew damn well what was going to happen if they pushed too far. When you make it through the hard way you aren’t about to take any shit from anybody, anytime. A lot of tombstones spelled that out loud and clear.”

And now Dogeron Kelly was out to cut a bunch of big bad boys down to size—the size of a six-foot hole in the ground. And on the way, he had his own ideas of what to do with the beautiful babes they threw out as bait—the kind of bait Kelly loved to gobble up.

Here is why Mickey Spillane is the greatest storyteller of our time—a novel so filled with blasting shock and nonstop action you won’t be able to put it down. “There’s a kind of power about Spillane that no other writer can imitate.... He’s a master!”

—The New York Times

Copyright © 1972 by Mickey Spillane

FOR SHERRI ... whose part in this book

can hardly be denied. Elaborated on, certainly,

but a pleasure to research, peruse

and enjoy. Doll, you are magnificent!

I

By the time I had finished my two drinks at the bar, the tourist crowd that had packed the Lufthansa Flight 16 into Kennedy International had left the baggage area. The porters had parked my battered leather bag in the unclaimed area at the far end and I snaked it out from under a set of matched luggage and a pair of skis. The slalom slats looked a little out of place in June, but dedicated skiers could find snow anytime.

The lone cabbie at the curb glanced up from his paper, grinned and swung open the rear door. I flipped in my bag, handed him a ten-dollar bill through the Plexiglas partition separating us and sat down. He looked at the bill first, then me. “What’s this for?”

“A slow ride in. I want to see what New York looks like now.”

“How long you been away?”

“Pretty long.”

“So they tore it all down and built it back up again. Nothing’s new. It’s still crowded.”

I gave him the address I wanted. “Go the long way,” I said.

And he was right. Nothing had changed. Like a farm, the ground was always there. The crops changed, the colors would be different, the stalks longer or the heads heavier, but when it was all cut down the ground line was still the same.

On the Triborough Bridge the driver waved a hand toward the skyline in an idle gesture. “Reminds me of Iwo Jima. All that fighting over a hill. Now all the guys are dead and the hill’s still there. Who the hell ever wanted it anyway?”

“Maybe the people who lived there.” He was thinking the same thing I was.

Outside Lee’s apartment he took the meter fare and the other ten with a big smile, his eyes on mine in the rearview mirror. “Slow enough for you?”

I smiled back. “You were right. Nothing’s changed.”

“Y’know, you could take one of them bus tours and ...”

“Hell, I was born here. Between then and now I’ve seen it all.”

The driver nodded sagely and pocketed the dough. Then, slowly, and with that odd, direct curiosity only native New Yorkers seem to have, said, “Who’s gonna catch all the heat, feller?”

I felt the grin twist the comer of my mouth. I had almost forgotten about the taxi psychologists. Next to bartenders they were the best. “Do I look like trouble?” I asked him.

“Shit, man,” he said, “you’re loaded for bear.”

The doorman said Lee Shay had apartment 6D, didn’t bother to announce a visitor and let me edge into the elevator with a mod couple whose offbeat clothes clashed with heavyweight jewelry in antique gold and diamonds. Lee had picked his quarters well. He still had a near-Greenwich Village outlook with an almost businesslike mind. One thing was certain. He was still having fun, so at least he had never changed.

I pushed his door buzzer, heard it hum against the stereo and high, tinkly laughter inside, then the door swung open and Lee stood there, tall and gangly, a highball in his hand, with a sudden grin that split his face from ear to ear. All he had on was a pair of red-striped jockey shorts with a LOVE button pinned to the side, but for him that was the uniform of the day until they posted further notice.

He said, “Dog, you dirty old son of a bitch, why the hell didn’t you let me know what time you were landing?”

He yanked the bag out of my hand, gave me a hug and hauled me into the room.

“It was easier this way. Hell, we had to hold for an hour in the traffic pattern anyway.”

“Damn, it’s good to see you!” He half turned and shouted over his shoulder, “Hey, honey, come here, will you?”

Then the girl with the tinkly laughter came out, a big beautiful brunette who slithered over the carpet like opening the centerfold of Risque magazine, and handed me a drink. She didn’t have anything on except a black-satin sash tied around her waist and for some screwy reason it was the only thing noticeable.

“Dog, this is Rose,” he said.

So you’re the Dog?”

The Dog?”

“From the stories I heard, I was beginning to think you were one of Lee’s war stories. A myth.”

“Rose is a whore,” Lee laughed. “First-class and high-priced. We’re friends.”

I sipped at the drink. It was my usual. A good inexpensive whiskey blend and plenty of ginger ale. I looked at Rose and nodded. “Then we’re friends too, kid. Am I interrupting anything?”

“Come off it, buddy. We’ve been waiting for you.” He stepped back and took a good look at me. “Same damn disreputable Dog,” he said. He glanced at Rose and shook his head. “Never did own a pressed uniform. The only reason the old man in the squadron didn’t chew his ass was because he had more kills than anybody else. Besides,

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