When I pulled my thoughts together the answer was obvious. Too obvious. I made as long a job as I could of reloading my gun.

“Refill your handcuff box, Ned. We are going out.”

Like a good cop he asked no questions. I locked the outside door when we left and gave him the key.

“Here. There’s a good chance you will be the only one left to use this before the day is over.”

I stretched the drive over to China Joe’s place just as much as I could. Trying to figure if there was another way of doing it. There wasn’t. Murder had been done and Joe was the boy I was going to pin it on. So I had to get him.

The best I could do was stop around the corner and give Ned a briefing.

“This combination bar and dice-room is the sole property of he whom we will still call China Joe until there is time for you to give me a rundown on him. Right now I got enough distractions. What we have to do is go in there, find Joe and bring him to justice. Simple?”

“Simple,” Ned answered in his sharp Joe-college voice. “But wouldn’t it be simpler to make the arrest now, when he is leaving in that car, instead of waiting until he returns?”

The car in mention was doing sixty as it came out of the alley ahead of us. I only had a glimpse of Joe in the back seat as it tore by us.

“Stop them!” I shouted, mostly for my own benefit since I was driving. I tried to shift gears and start the engine at the same time, and succeeded in doing exactly nothing.

So Ned stopped them. It had been phrased as an order. He leaned his head out of the window and I saw at once why most of his equipment was located in his torso. Probably his brain as well. There sure wasn’t much room left in his head when that cannon was tucked away in there.

A .75 recoilless. A plate swiveled back right where his nose should have been if he had one, and the big muzzle pointed out. It’s a neat idea when you think about it. Right between the eyes for good aiming, up high, always ready.

The BOOM BOOM almost took my head off. Of course Ned was a perfect shot—so would I be with a computer for a brain. He had holed one rear tire with each slug and the car flap-flapped to a stop a little ways down the road. I climbed out slowly while Ned sprinted there in seconds flat. They didn’t even try to run this time. What little nerve they had left must have been shattered by the smoking muzzle of that .75 poking out from between Ned’s eyes. Robots are neat about things like that so he must have left it sticking out deliberate. Probably had a course in psychology back in robot school.

Three of them in the car, all waving their hands in the air like the last reel of a western. And the rear floor covered with interesting little suitcases.

Everyone came along quietly.

China Joe only snarled while Ned told me that his name really was Stantin and the Elmira hot seat was kept warm all the time in hopes he would be back. I promised Joe-Stantin I would be happy to arrange it that same day. Thereby not worrying about any slip-ups with the local authorities. The rest of the mob would stand trial in Canal City.

It was a very busy day. … chevronRight icon