Tong Torture – Emile C. Tepperman


First line:  “The body of the dead Chinaman was the first thing Nick Ronson saw”.  Not sure why that’s racist, but I’m sure it is.

The man from the Coroner’s office is just starting to work on the “little yellow man”.

Detective McGuire is questioning Gregory Deming, the homeowner.  He says he shot the Chinaman while he was trying to steal — what else, jade — from the wall-safe.  The story checks out because “the chink’s prints are on the safe”.

Deming is worried about reprisals for the death. Ronson agrees that Deming is in danger, but says it is too dangerous to take the gig as his body-guard.  He finally agrees, but wisely insists to be paid in advance.

Ronson goes to see Charley Mee, head of the Tong Local 102, who greets him as Mr. Lonson.  It would be interesting to hear how he pronounces his own name of Charley. Ronson had long ago “learned the futility of trying to read any sort of meaning into the expression of a Chinaman’s face”.  I guess they have a pokel face.

Ronson tries to broker a deal where Deming will pay an indemnity for the dead man, in exchange for having the bounty taken off his head.  Mee doesn’t like those terms, so a gunfight breaks out.  Fortunately, “the Chinese are notoriously poor shots” and Ronson is able to escape.

Ronson goes back to Deming’s home, but finds that Deming has been taken by “three wild chinks with a sawed off shotgun.”  Ronson is able to track them back to their hideout — where else — in a laundry.

Under torture, Deming spills the truth that he is actually the thief, stealing a piece of jade from the dead man who had come to discuss a sale.  With Ronson on the case, Deming never had a Chinaman’s Chance.

Pretty straightforward.


  • First published in Secret Agent X, August 1934.
  • Also that month:  The 2nd: Hitler becomes Commander-in-Chief of German Armed Forces.  The 3rd: Hitler merges the offices of Chancellor and President, proclaiming himself Führer.
  • Sadly, could not work in “Ancient Chinese Secret” reference.
  • The Chinaman had a ring with the interesting inscription: Respect the gods, but have as little as possible to do with them.

The Brain of Many Bodies – E.A. Grosser


Wrane Randall is slumped in a chair at the manly-named saloon, Limpy’s.  The barkeep says, “Ill bet that’s why they call him Rainy — there’s always a storm when he’s around.”  Although being named Wrane might have had something to do with it also.

The Air Cops come in to haul Randall away.  It is stated that the Air Cops were the “private army of the Air Chief, outranking all local, state and national officers”.  So basically slightly less powerful than Barack Obama.

Randall is locked in a steel cage at the back of the prison-rocket.  Truly possessing the Right Stuff, Randall is more impressed with the power and technology of the craft than in his own predicament.  They land in the forbidden city of Yss.

Looking him over, doctors decide they can change his eyes from brown to blue, raise his hairline, reshape his face, and tweak his nose.  He learns that his body is being remade in the image of the Air Chief whose mind will be transferred into it.  Oh yeah, Randall’s brain and consciousness will be destroyed in the process.

He wakes up after the cosmetic surgery to find the strategy has changed slightly. Whereas Randall was going to be brain-murdered so the Air Chief’s brain could be inserted into his body . . . new plan: Air Chief will be killed and Rainy will become the most powerful man on earth.  Better.

After disarming Nurse Patty, Randell escapes.  When the first guard he encounters mistakes him for the Air Chief, he seems home free.  When the next person he meets recognizes him as the Air Chief, it is a problem as that person is the Air Chief.  Soon, Plan A is back in effect.

Luckily after a bit of commotion, the Air Chief drops dead with a heart attack.  Randall seizes control of the situation.  He makes it clear that he will assume the Air Chief’s position — there is a new sheriff in town; but with the same face as the old sheriff.

He’s a little bit Libertarian, a little bit Operation Wall Street.  It is encouraging, however, that he takes George Washington approach that he will someday hand over power to another. “Maybe we can make it elective,” he says.  Maybe.

Yeah, that’s why we put that stuff in writing, sport.

Not that it seems to matter any more.


  • First published in Science Fiction Magazine, October 1940.
  • Also that month:  Abbott & Costello’s first movie released.

The Yellow Curse – Lars Anderson

pulpyellowcurse01Given some of the recent stories, I really expected this title to be along the lines of the Yellow Peril.  It wasn’t nearly that politically incorrect, however. “Yellow” refers to many elements in the story, all of them about as Asian as Auric Goldfinger.  But less Asian than Odd Job.

First off, we have Arn Flannery driving through a “clammy fog [that] swirled and twisted like a monstrous yellow shroud” . . . . . . . I tried my best but could come up with nothing better than Yellow Fog by I.P. Gaseously (having to invent a new word to even get that).  Clearly, I failed.

Flannery hears a scream, stops the car and goes to investigate.  “The hellish saffron billows clung to him like a material pall”  Never heard of yellow fog, and never heard of fog that clings to you.  He finds a girl “scantily clad in filmy underthings” laying on the ground.  Her hair is “butter-hued” and her skin is the same color as her golden undergarments.  She manages to say cryptically, “The yellow curse — go for help — get key” before she croaks.

Seeing a house in the distance, Flannery comes up with the brilliant plan of running his car into a deep ditch where it rolls over on its side, so he has an excuse to go to the house to ask for help.  This illustrates the extent to which a man will go to avoid saying he is lost, even if it is a lie.

He steps onto the yellow — naturally — porch and bangs the big knockers (heh, heh).  A gaunt man, also yellow-hued, answers. He has no servants to help with the car and no telephone, but does offer Flannery a place to stay for the night.

Finally we learn that Flannery is a reporter investigating the disappearance of Elena Vaughn.  She had been working on the story of mysterious disappearances and became a statistic herself.  Flannery had the hots for her, so tracked to this house.

Hearing a scream, Flannery goes to the basement.  There is a lit room at the end of the hall, so he peeks through the keyhole.  There is yet another yellow room, and he sees yellow flowers in a bronze bowl — couldn’t afford gold, sport?  He also sees 2 nude  yellow babes strapped to tables.  There is a 3rd girl — Elena!  Good news: She has not undergone to procedure so is still her normal color.  Bad news:  Not naked.

It is not clear how he knew the room was lit if the door was closed . . . I guess there was a golden ray of light shooting through the keyhole.  While he is checking out the girls, Flannery is jumped from behind.  The fiend cruelly straps him to a table next to the clothed one who can talk.

He tells Flannery he will be able to witness Evelyn’s transformation from “the ugly whiteness she is now cursed with.”  In three days, she will be a “gleaming, glorious, golden-skinned queen.”  Unless she croaks like the other three.

They figure out “the key” that the first dead girl spoke of was actually Hugo Keithly, the archaeologist.  He was bitten by a Tsetse Fly in Egypt and contracted — wait for it — yellow fever.  Somehow this induced a mad lust for gold in him.  He brings out the pills — surprisingly not yellow — which will cure Evelyn of her “ghastly whiteness.”  Ironically, of the three warm bodies in the room, the fiend is more likely to someday be recruited by MSNBC than the two news-people.

Luckily, Flannery is able to break his leather restraints and subdue Keithly.  He tells Evelyn, “we must get into our clothes, and hunt up Keithly’s car — mine’s in the ditch.” Nice work, Ace — you’re leaving the best part out of that car story.


  • First published in Thrilling Mystery, April 1936.
  • Also that month:  Meh.  Slow news month.

When Super Apes Plot – Anthony Wilder

pulpfiction01We open in a seaplane that has set down in a lake in Borneo.  Similar to Servant of the Beast, there is an elderly professor, his hot niece, and a black guide, Batu.  In this story, the 4th wheel is the girl’s husband — so I’m confident there will be no love triangle, this being 1919.

They have brought presents to pacify the Bamangani natives which should “keep them jabbering with delight for years.”  Er, at this point, it seems that the titular Ape-Men are the natives.  Awkward.

Dr. Dumont has come to Borneo to study the natives — he wants to see if any of them have . . . uh, tails.  He does at least concede that they “used to be” headhunters and cannibals — so that’s progress.  The young couple, Tom & Irene, are given no motivation other than “Borneo brought back memories of the days when they first met.”

After breakfast, Tom & Batu arm up and take a boat to the shore.  As they explore the jungle, Batu spots the footprints of many feet and determines that they are moving toward the plane.  They hear two shots ring out — the universal distress call of hot babes being attacked by natives.  Although two shots in the noggins of their attackers might have been more effective.  Making their way back to the plane, they see Dumont and Irene being perp-walked through the jungle.

Tom & Batu confront the group.  Batu, speaking their language demands that his friends be released.   The natives are taking them back for trial in the death of a man shot while boarding the plane.  Surely this would be a kangaroo court — literally — so Tom & Batu let their “talking-sticks” speak for them and the four explorers make their escape.

After Dumont is hit by a spear, they hole up in a cave for a while.  Under cover of darkness, they make their way back to the plane.  Having learned nothing, Mike & Batu swim out to the plane, leaving Irene and her injured uncle behind.  Naturally, they are again abducted.  Tom dives into the water and storms the beach but is taken down by 10 of the tribe.

The three of them are taken to a hut near the volcano which has been rumbling.  So I’m thinking sacrifice.

Fortunately, Batu saves the day.

Meh, pretty standard stuff.


  • First published in Top-Notch Magazine, December 1919.
  • Also that month:  Not much of interest . . . dullest month ever.
  • WTH?  This story features the Bamangani; Tarzan fought the fictional Bolmangani, also a race of “gorilla men.”.

The Dead Book – Howard Hersey

pulpdeadbook01The good news is, it is short — only 134 of whatever arcane units the Kindle uses.

A group of men are stationed in Mindanao in the Philippines.  It is said that if you are stationed there, you should “forget that women ever lived, leave drink alone, and never worry.”

When one of the men, Carson,  commits suicide, Kennedy opines that “a white man was never intended for such a beastly life.”

Carson had become interested in a monastery on the island.  He learned that there was an old hand-painted bible there which had been brought over by Magellan.  The bible was kept behind a closed door, and chained to a desk.  It was said that anyone who spent a night studying it, would never come out alive.

Carson would be the first person to 50 years to examine the book.   When he entered with one of the monks, the monk fell, pulling a table a table over on top of him and crushing his skull.  This sent Carson screaming down the hall.  Carson is nursed back to health from what seems to be no more than a case of the willies.

This is where it gets confusing.  Carson believed a tarantula was behind the deaths.  In his quarters, he believed he saw the tarantula and shot himself.  Let’s examine that.

Kennedy’s theory is that Carson saw a red tie in the mirror and believed it to be the tarantula.  Ted Kennedy’s theory on Chappaquiddick is more believable.  Kennedy refers to “a string” in the book which I am interpreting as one of those ribbons that were used in bibles as a book mark.  That doesn’t look much like a tarantula to me.

Then he believes that Carson pulled out his pistol and pointed it over his shoulder to kill the tarantula, and accidentally shot himself.  Wouldn’t a shoe or the Sunday New York Times have been a more effective weapon (and equally reliable as a source of news)?

This could have been a good story in the vein of The Adventure of the Speckled Band or The Problem of Cell 13.  Instead, it is just a waste of time.


  • First published in The Thrill Book, July 1919.
  • Also that year:  1st Class Postage drops from 3 cents to 2 cents.  Wait, what?