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.

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