The Marked Field

Carl L. Biemiller's The Marked Field appeared in
Blue Book Magazine
October 1949, Vol. 89, No. 6

Please respect the copyright.

Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five
Chapter Six Chapter Seven Chapter Eight Chapter Ten Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve Chapter Thirteen Chapter Fourteen Chapter Fifteen Chapter Sixteen
Chapter Seventeen Chapter Eighteen Chapter Nineteen Chapter Twenty Chapter Twenty One
Chapter Twenty Two Harvest of Memories Biemiller Home


Time to break it up,” said Shaw. “It’s nine-thirty.” He riffled the cards easily and tossed them across the table. “Dipper has to go to bed, and you’ve still got a drive to Iron City ahead of you, Sally.” He grinned at his wife. “Early to bed wins ball games sometimes, and you wouldn’t want me to be a losing coach. They don’t have any friends. Reminds me of a story a friend of mine tells around the fried-chicken circuit in the winter. He’d dropped an important game once to Pitt. After he had his squad salted away, he went downtown to make a phone call. When he got into the booth, he reached his hand into a pocket for some coins and found it empty. He reached around for his wallet, and it wasn’t there. Anyhow, he was stuck so he walked out of the booth up to the counter in this drugstore and tapped a customer on the shoulder. ‘Say,’ he said, ‘I’m Jay Lawson, State’s coach, and I lost my wallet, I guess. Could I borrow a nickel from you to call a friend? Well, the guy looked at him a very stony look. He put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a dime. ‘Here, Lawson,’ he said, ‘call all your friends.’”

“I’ll drive you downtown, Eddie,” said Sally.

“Swell,” said Dane, avoiding Shaw’s quizzical glance. “I can’t say thanks enough, Mrs. Shaw. It’s been fun.”

“For us too, Dipper,” smiled Molly warmly. “Let’s keep it that way. Your coat’s in the hall closet, Sally.”

Molly and Shaw watched from the doorway as Sally and Dane drove off. The big man stood with his arm around his wife until the taillight of Sally’s car winked away down the quiet street. “There goes an incipient romance,” murmured Molly, lifting her head to watch the man’s face, “and it’s all so new for Sally.”

“I hope not,” said the big man softly.

“You’ve never told me too much about young Dane, John. Just the casual things, but I’ve known since the first night he was here that he’s something more than another football player. He has a barely noticeable authority, as sort of young-official look. How did he get his head hurt, John?”

Shaw closed the door gently. He gazed steadily at his wife. “He was blackjacked, Molly; and you’re right. Dane came to Central to do a job. He’s working at it. That’s all I can tell you. But he’s also a fine addition to my squad. He’s going to be a very good one for us if everything works out all right. Let’s go to bed, or is it too early for you?”

She slipped her hand under his arm. “No,” she said, “it isn’t.” She smiled. “Don’t worry, John.” She knew him so well, she thought, his patience and consideration, the depth of his feeling for her, the children. “I doubt if I could steer Sally off, right now, though.”

Dane was silent during the ride across town. His headache was still with him, and he felt sleepy. Consequently he sat bolt upright and gazed intently through the windshield to give an impression of alertness. Sally too was silent, and an air of constraint filled the car, one that contrasted sharply with the easy familiarity of the first ride they had taken together. The street was deserted as they pulled up in front of Dane’s rooming house.

He sat a moment. “Well,” he said. “Thanks for the ride, Sally. It was nice being with you again.” He felt the stiffness of the words, felt a foolish inadequacy. He didn’t want to be awkward with this girl. He wanted to tell her so, knew intuitively that he could never phrase the words.

“How did you hurt your head, Eddie?” she asked softly, her face a pale oval in the small light from the dashboard, an oval framed in the silken darkness of her hair. There was a drawn line at the corner of her lips which gave them a curiously determined set.

“Molly told you,” he answered. “I missed the steps the other night. I was in a hurry. It was dark, and I guess I hadn’t remembered them as well as I thought I had. So I cracked up.”

“You’d have had to fall over backward to bang the back of your head If you tripped, you’d have gone forward.” There was a sense of worried concern in her voice. He responded to it, leaning toward her as if to justify himself with a sudden spate of argument.

“I fell. Let’s let it go at that, will you. Sally? I’ll be okay by the end of the week, probably play a bit in the Clinton thing if we rack a few up first.”

She was quiet again, resignedly so, and her hands rested palm up, limply with an oddly childlike position.

“I’d feel bad, knowing for sure that you lied to me, Eddie,” she said. “I don’t really know why it seems so important to me. I just know that it does, that you are the one person I couldn’t stand telling me a deliberate lie.” There was the suggestion of a tremor in her voice. She had committed herself with the words. She knew it with a definite pang of worry, and a growing sense of something akin to fear. She knew certainly and surely that what this man did mattered to her now and perhaps forever. This, she thought, was what girls are warned about, but what they never truly understand until it happens. She looked at him.

Dane stretched an arm across the seat and pulled her close in a movement that was as natural and right as the meeting of their lips. Her lips were cool and sweet and soft; then suddenly they were warm and tremblingly eager. There was a deep sense of peace within the car.

The automobile stood at the curb a long time, and the faint, uneven snapping sounds of a warm radiator cooling finally died away. When the motor finally violated the silence, and Eddie Dane watched the car move away, he still had not told Sally how he had obtained a bump on the head, nor what he was doing at Central. that she would finally have to know he had no doubt, but there was time ahead—a long time, he hoped, for both of them….

Dane went up the steps to his room lightly, put a tentative hand on the knob and twisted it until the catch released. With a quick, forceful shove he slammed the door back as far as it would go, and it crashed into the wall with a thud that would have jarred the breath out of any person behind it. As he shoved the door, he moved into the room, slid sidewise along the wall and snapped on the light. Then he poised on the balls of his feet and surveyed the room. It was empty, and he felt foolish. The door to his bathroom was ajar, however, and he moved across the room, still cautiously hugging the wall. He drove it open with his foot, stopped dead and dropped to the floor with a twisting motion. There was a figure sitting on the edge of the tub, a relaxed shape wearing a smile which the light from the room outlined. It was the ubiquitous Connor. “That’s the way you should have come in the other night.”

“Now what,” grunted Dane, picking himself up and walking over to the bed, where he flopped back the counterpane?

“We got a nice lead from Washington this afternoon,” said Connor crisply, “and since I don’t want to associate with you during the day any more than I have to, I thought we could discuss it tonight. Who was in the car? The Whittaker girl? Don’t answer. I saw the silhouettes.”

“Yes,” answered the Dipper. He moved to the windows and pulled down the shades. “Come on, what cooks?”

“I don’t know how silly you can get in this business, but an official House Committee turned up another reformed Commie. This one happened to be a talker with some honest-to-God names for a change, and more important, what appears to be concrete evidence.”

Dane listened intently, well aware of the serious undercurrent in Connor’s tired flippancy.

“The Department threw a subpoena against the Committee to stop that lens-happy chairman from releasing his data to the press, and got a transfer of the transcript.” He paused to light a cigarette, walked across the room and sat down in a straight-back chair. “It seems that the convert had documentary data recorded on microfilm which he had neglected to pass along to his erstwhile bosses. And this is something strictly from Disney or Beverly of Graustark: he had this dope hidden in an old zither on his farm.” He watched Dane’s eyebrows rise. “I know,” he said, “if you read it in a book, you’d laugh yourself silly. But there it is. Two of the boys went out to the cache and picked up the zither. The contents were impounded.”

“Don’t tell me you got a local address,” said Dane, disbelief patent on his face.

“We’ve got a dossier,” snapped Connor, “and according to the cellular structure of their organization, the guy on this end can’t possibly know what we’ve got until we release it or make the official pick-up. But there’s a hitch.”

“A big one?”

“It’s a pressure job if we want enough to make any charge really hold up. But if this guy is the head man, and our gimmick comes off, we can drive the organization in this whole area so far underground that it will take an atom-powered mole to find it again.”

“You’ve thought about it?”

“See what you think. You may get the rough end, because you’re already out in the open. We’ll also need some important cooperation from Shaw. What we’re going to try for is either a confession or an overt act that could damn’ well be construed as one. Washington says work it out our way, and they’ll play ball on timing from that end. Before we talk to John Shaw, though, let’s see if we can find holes in the setup. It goes like this….”

They talked quietly for an hour. Long after Connor had left, Dane tossed restlessly in the bed, too tired to sleep; and when slumber finally came, it had a death-like, immobile quality that lasted until the morning sun rode high in the peaceful blue sky over Bakerston.

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Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five
Chapter Six Chapter Seven Chapter Eight Chapter Ten Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve Chapter Thirteen Chapter Fourteen Chapter Fifteen Chapter Sixteen
Chapter Seventeen Chapter Eighteen Chapter Nineteen Chapter Twenty Chapter Twenty One
Chapter Twenty Two Harvest of Memories Biemiller Home