|Mass Market Paperback||2018-10-02||$5.99||288|
|Mass Market Paperback (Bantam Mass Market Ed)||2001-07-06||$5.99||278|
|Hardcover (First Edition, First Printing)||2000-06-01||$16.95||277|
|Hardcover (Large type / large print edition)||2000-05-02||$16.95||442|
|Audio Cassette (Unabridged)||2000-05-01||$25.95|
|Hardcover (1st THUS)||2000|
|Hardcover (First Edition Thus)||2000||370|
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As part of the Louis L’Amour’s Lost Treasures series, this edition contains exclusive bonus materials!
From the jungles of Borneo to the hidden canyons of the American West, from small-town fight clubs to a Parisian café at the end of World War II, here are tales of betrayal and revenge, courage and cowardice, glory and greed, as only Louis L’Amour can tell them. Here is L’Amour at his very best: A charismatic boxer itches to fight all comers—but his only shot at the championship is in beating the man who ruined his father. . . . A beautiful movie star finds a dead man in her apartment and begs her ex-lover, a tough private eye, to clear her name. . . . A reluctant hero guides a diamond-hunting couple up a river ruled by headhunters and pirates in pursuit of a legendary stone and the mysterious warlord who guards it. . . . A young renegade sails the South China Sea with a trio of dangerous men in search of treasure, but when it’s time to divide the prize, can he trust any of them? Combining electrifying action scenes, vivid historical detail, and characters who seem to leap off the page, these spectacular stories honor the legend of Louis L’Amour.
Louis L’Amour’s Lost Treasures is a project created to release some of the author’s more unconventional manuscripts from the family archives.
In Louis L’Amour’s Lost Treasures: Volumes 1, Beau L’Amour takes the reader on a guided tour through many of the finished and unfinished short stories, novels, and treatments that his father was never able to publish during his lifetime. L’Amour’s never-before-seen first novel, No Traveller Returns, will also be released as a Lost Treasures publication, followed by Louis L’Amour’s Lost Treasures: Volume 2.
Additionally, many beloved classics will be rereleased with an exclusive Lost Treasures postscript featuring previously unpublished material, including outlines, plot notes, and alternate drafts. These postscripts tell the story behind the stories that millions of readers have come to know and cherish.
3D preview available at the top of this page...
Praise for the work of LOUIS? L'AMOUR monument rock '[A] compelling blend of explosive action, period detail, humor, and insights about human nature.' 'USA? Today end of the drive ''Awesome immediacy, biting as creosote slapped on a fence post.' 'Kirkus Reviews beyond the great snow mountains 'L'Amour's brassy women and dusty men keep the action of these cinematic stories hot.' .' .' . These adventure tales offer their share of the high drama L'Amour is famous for.' 'Publishers Weekly off the mangrove coast 'L'Amour was a man who lived life to the fullest. Fortunately for the rest of us, he remembered the details and possessed the talent to bring those experiences to life on paper.' 'Booklist
Bantam Books by Louis L'Amour NOVELS Bendigo Shafter Borden Chantry Brionne The Broken Gun The Burning Hills The Californios Callaghen Catlow Chancy The Cherokee Trail Comstock Lode Conagher Crossfire Trail Dark Canyon Down the Long Hills The Empty Land Fair Blows the Wind Fallon The Ferguson Rifle The First Fast Draw Flint Guns of the Timberlands Hanging Woman Creek The Haunted Mesa Heller with a Gun The High Graders High Lonesome Hondo How the West Was Won The Iron Marshal The Key-'Lock Man Kid Rodelo Kilkenny Killoe Kilrone Kiowa Trail Last of the Breed Last Stand at Papago Wells The Lonesome Gods The Man Called Noon The Man from Skibbereen The Man from the Broken Hills Matagorda Milo Talon The Mountain Valley War North to the Rails Over on the Dry Side Passin? Through The Proving Trail The Quick and the Dead Radigan Reilly's Luck The Rider of Lost Creek Rivers West The Shadow Riders Shalako Showdown at Yellow Butte Silver Canyon Sitka Son of a Wanted Man Taggart The Tall Stranger To Tame a Land Tucker Under the Sweetwater Rim Utah Blaine The Walking Drum Westward the Tide Where the Long Grass Blows SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS Beyond the Great Snow Mountains Bowdrie Bowdrie's Law Buckskin Run The Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour (vols. 1''7) Dutchman's Flat End of the Drive From the Listening Hills The Hills of Homicide Law of the Desert Born Long Ride Home Lonigan May There Be a Road Monument Rock Night Over the Solomons Off the Mangrove Coast The Outlaws of Mesquite The Rider of the Ruby Hills Riding for the Brand The Strong Shall Live The Trail to Crazy Man Valley of the Sun War Party West from Singapore West of Dodge With These Hands Yondering SACKETT TITLES Sackett's Land To the Far Blue Mountains The Warrior's Path Jubal Sackett Ride the River The Daybreakers Sackett Lando Mojave Crossing Mustang Man The Lonely Men Galloway Treasure Mountain Lonely on the Mountain Ride the Dark Trail The Sackett Brand The Sky-'Liners THE HOPALONG CASSIDY NOVELS The Riders of High Rock The Rustlers of West Fork The Trail to Seven Pines Trouble Shooter NONFICTION Education of a Wandering Man Frontier The Sackett Companion: A Personal Guide to the Sackett Novels A Trail of Memories: The Quotations of Louis L'Amour, compiled by Angelique L'Amour POETRY Smoke from This Altar LOST TREASURES Louis L'Amour's Lost Treasures: Volume 1 No Traveller Returns
Off the Mangrove Coast S T O R I E S Louis L'Amour Postscript by Beau L'Amour B anta m B ooks N e w Y ork
Sale of this book without a front cover may be unauthorized. If this book is coverless, it may have been reported to the publisher as 'unsold or destroyed? and neither the author nor the publisher may have received payment for it. Off the Mangrove Coast is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. 2018 Bantam Books Mass Market Edition Copyright ? 2000 by Louis & Katherine L'Amour Trust Postscript by Beau L'Amour copyright ? 2018 by Beau L'Amour All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Bantam Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York. Bantam and the House colophon are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC. Originally published in hardcover in the United States by Bantam Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, in 2000. The July'6, 1939, Tulsa Tribune column 'The Rambler? by Roger Devlin, is reprinted by permission of BH Media Group Inc. ISBN 978-? 0- ? 525-'48630-'5 Ebook ISBN 978-'0-'525-'48638-? 1 Cover art: Gregory Manchess Printed in the United States of America randomhousebooks.com 2? 4? 6? 8? 9? 7? 5? 3? 1 Bantam Books mass market edition: October 2018
Fighters Should Be Hungry? /? 1 It's Your Move? /? 46 Off the Mangrove Coast? /? 54 The Cross and the Candle? /? 73 The Diamond of Jeru? /? 87 Secret of Silver Springs? /? 147 The Unexpected Corpse? /? 170 The Rounds Don't Matter? /? 193 Time of Terror? /? 214 What Is Louis L'Amour's Lost Treasures'? /? 227 Postscript by Beau L'Amour? /? 229 CONTENTS
OFF? the? MANGROVE? COAST
FIGHTERS SHOULD BE HUNGRY I A brutal blow in the ribs jerked Tandy Moore from a sound sleep. Gasping, he rolled into a fetal position and looked up to see a brakeman standing over him with his foot drawn back for another kick. With a lunge Tandy was on his feet, his dark eyes blazing. Fists cocked, he started for the brakeman, who backed suddenly away. 'Unload!' he said harshly. 'Get off! An? be quick about it!' Tandy was a big young man with wide shoulders and a sun-darkened face, darkened still further by a stubble of black beard. He chucked with cold humor. 'Nope,' Tandy said grimly, and with relish. 'If you want me off, you put me off! Come on, I'm going to like this!' Instead of a meek and frightened tramp, the brakeman had uncovered a wolf with bared teeth. The brakeman backed away still farther. 'You get off!' he insisted. 'If that bull down to the
/ Louis L'Amour yards finds you here, he'll report it an? I'll get chewed out!' Tandy Moore relaxed a bit. 'You watch yourself, mister! You can lose teeth walkin? up an? kickin? a guy that way!' He grabbed the edge of the gondola and lifted himself to the top, then swung his feet over to the ladder. 'Say, Jack? What town is this anyway? Not that it makes much difference.' 'Astoria, Oregon. End of the line.' 'Thanks.' Tandy climbed down the ladder, gauged the speed of the train, and dropped off, hitting the cinders on the run. As though it had been planned for him, a path slanted down off the grade and into a dense jungle of brush that lined the sides and bottom of a shallow ditch. He slowed and started down the path. Astoria was almost home, but he wasn't going home. There was nothing there for him anymore. He trotted along near the foot of a steeply slanting hill. He could smell the sea and the gray sky was spitting a thin mist of rain. At the bottom of the muddy path lay a mossy gray plank bridging a trickle of water, and beyond it the trail slanted up and finally entered a patch of woods surrounded by a wasteland of logged-off stumps. Almost as soon as Moore entered the thicket, he smelled the smoke of a campfire. He stopped for a moment, brushing at his baggy, gray tweed trousers with his hand. He wore a wool shirt open at the neck, and a worn leather jacket. His razor, comb, and toothbrush lay in one pocket of the jacket. He had no other possessions. He wore no hat, and his black hair was a coarse mass
FIGHTERS SHOULD BE HUNGRY / 3 of unruly curls. As presentable as a hobo could be, he started forward. Of the four men who sat around the fire, only two commanded his attention. A short, square-shouldered, square-faced man with intelligent eyes reclined on the ground, leaning on an elbow. Nearby a big man with black hair freely sprinkled with gray stood over the fire. There was something familiar about the big man's face, but Tandy was sure he had never seen him before. His once-powerful build was apparently now overlaid with a layer of softness, and his eyes were blue and pleasant, almost mild. The other two were typical of the road, a gray-faced man, old and leathery, and a younger man with dirty skin, white under the grime, and a weak chin and mouth. 'How's for some coffee'? Tandy asked, his eyes shifting from one to the other. 'Ain't ready yet, chum. Don't know that we have enough, anyway.' The white-faced young man looked up at him. 'They booted you off that drag, huh'? Tensing, Tandy turned his head and looked down at the fellow, his eyes turning cold. It was an old song and this was how it always started. 'I got off on my own,' he said harshly. 'Nobody makes me do nothin'!' 'Tough guy'? The fellow looked away. 'Well, some? body'll take all that out of you.' Tandy reached down and collared him, jerking him to his tiptoes. They were of the same age, but there the resemblance ceased, for where there was bleak power in Tandy's hard young face, there was only weakness in the tramp's. 'It ain't gonna be you, is it, sucker? You crack wise
/ Louis L'Amour again and I'll slap some sense into you!' Tandy said coolly. 'Put him down,' the big man said quietly. 'You've scared the wits out of him now. No use to hit him.' Tandy had no intention of hitting him unless he had to, but the remark irritated him more. He dropped the other man and turned. 'Maybe you want to start something'? he demanded aggressively. The big man only smiled and shook his head. 'No, kid, I don't give a damn what you do. Just don't make a fool of yourself.' 'Fool, huh'? Tandy could feel them backing him up, cornering him. 'You listen to me, you yellow'.' .' . ? He reached for the big man. A fist smashed into his mouth, and then another crossed to his jaw and he hit the dirt flat on his back. Tandy Moore lay on the ground for an instant, more amazed at the power of that blow than hurt. The big man stood by the fire, calm and unruffled. Rage overcame Tandy, he came off the ground with a lunge and threw everything he had into a wicked right hand. It caught only empty air, but a big, hard-'knuckled fist slammed into his chest and stopped his rush, then a right crossed on his jaw and lights exploded in his brain. He went down again but threw himself over and up in one continuous movement. His head buzzing, he spat blood from broken lips and began to circle warily. This big fellow could punch. Tandy lunged suddenly and swung, but the big man sidestepped smoothly and Tandy fell past him. He cringed, half expecting a blow before he could turn, but none came.
FIGHTERS SHOULD BE HUNGRY / 5 He whirled, his fists ready, and the big man stood there calmly, his hands on his hips. 'Cut it out, kid,' he said quietly. 'I don't want to beat your skull in. You can't fight a lick on earth!' 'Who says I can't!' Tandy lunged and swung, only this time he was thinking and as he swung with his right, he shifted suddenly and brought up a short, wicked left into the big man's liver. The fellow's face went gray, and the square-faced man on the ground sat up suddenly. 'Watch it, Gus!' he warned. Gus backed away hastily, and seeing his advantage, Tandy moved in, more cautious but poised and ready. But he ran into something different, for the big man was moving now, strangely graceful. A left stiffened his mouth, a right smashed him on the chin, and another left dropped him to his knees. Tandy got to his feet and licked his cut lips. The old guy was fast. 'You can punch, darn you!' he growled. 'But this scrap ain't over. I'll fight until you drop!' 'Kid,' the man warned, 'we're fightin? for no good reason. You're carrying a chip but it's not for us. If I put you down again, I'll not let you get up. You know I'm not yellow, and I know you've got nerve enough to tackle all of us. What do you say we cut this out'? Tandy hesitated, backing up. The man on the ground spoke, 'Come on, son, have some coffee.' Tandy dropped his hands with a shrug. 'Mister,' he said with a shamefaced grin, 'I shouldn't have gone off like I did. I asked for it.' He eyed Gus with respect. 'You can sure use your dukes, though!'
/ Louis L'Amour 'Don't take it hard, kid.' The square-faced man smiled at him. 'He used to be a prizefighter.' Across the fire the white-faced kid kept his mouth shut, not looking at either of them. Tandy Moore shrugged. 'Well he got me, but that fancy stuff ain't no good in a real scrap! Why, there's plenty of men in the lumber camps and mines could beat Joe Louis's head in if they had the chance.' 'Don't kid yourself,' Gus said quietly. 'Fightin? is like anything else. A professional fighter does his job better than a greenhorn because he knows how. 'That fancy stuff, as you call it, is nothin? but a lot of things a lot of fighters learned over a thousand years or more. That's how scientific boxing was born. You were using it when you feinted and hit me with the left.' Tandy stared at him, then shrugged. 'Ahhh, I figure you can either fight or you can't!' Gus smiled at Tandy. 'How many times have you been licked, kid'? 'Me'? Tandy bristled. 'Nobody never licked me!' 'That's what I figured,' Gus said. 'You are big enough, tough enough, and aggressive enough so you could fight every night around hobo jungles like this one and never lose. In the ring, almost any half-baked preliminary boy would cut you to ribbons. 'I was through as a fighter ten years ago. I haven't trained since but right now I could chop you into pieces and never catch a punch. I was careless, or you wouldn't have clipped me as you did.' Tandy scoffed. 'Maybe, but if I had a chance at one of those prelim boys you talk about, I'd show you!' 'Gus''the square-faced man had seated himself on a log''maybe this is the guy? What do you think''
FIGHTERS SHOULD BE HUNGRY / 7 Gus stared at Tandy with a new expression in his eyes. He looked him over thoughtfully, nodded slowly. 'Maybe'.' .' . Kid, did you mean what you said? Would you want to try it'? Tandy grinned. 'I sure would! If there was a shot at some dough!' The gymnasium in Astoria was no polished and airy retreat for overstuffed businessmen. It was a dim and musty basement with a heavy canvas bag, darkened around the middle by countless punches thrown by sweat-soaked gloves, a ring slightly smaller than regulation, its ropes wound with gauze, three creaking speed bags, and a broken horse. In one corner there were barbells made from different sizes of car and truck brake drums. A wan light filtered through dirty windows set high in the walls. It was there, in a borrowed pair of blue trunks that clung precariously to his lean hips, and under them a suit of winter underwear rescued from a basement table by Gus Coe, that Tandy Moore began the process of learning to be a fighter. Their sole capital was a ten-? dollar ? advance from a bored promoter, and five dollars Gus ? wheedled from a poolroom proprietor. Briggs, Gus's friend of the square face, leaned back against the wall with a watch in his hand, and Gus stood by while Tandy, bored and uncomfortable, looked at the heavy bag doubtfully. 'Now look,' Gus said patiently, 'you got a left hand but you don't use it right. Lift that left fist up to shoulder height an? hold it well out. When you hit, punch straight from the shoulder and step in with that left foot. Not
/ Louis L'Amour much, just a couple of inches, maybe. But step in. Now try it.' Tandy tried it. His gloved fist smacked the bag solidly but without much force. Tandy looked unhappily at Gus. 'You mean like that? I couldn't break an egg!' 'You keep trying it. Shoot it straight out, make it snap. An? bring your fist back on the same line your punch traveled.' He stepped up to the bag. 'Like this'? The left shot out and the bag jumped with the explosive force of the blow. Tandy Moore looked thoughtful. It worked when Gus threw it, no question about that. Well, the least he could do was humor the guy. He was beginning to like Gus Coe. The big, easy-'going ex-fighter was shrewd and thoughtful. And Briggs'.' .' . Briggs puzzled Tandy. He was quiet, so quiet you almost forgot he was around, but somehow he always gave Tandy the feeling of being dangerous. He was a man you would never start anything with. Tandy also knew that Briggs carried a gun. He had seen him with it, a small Browning automatic in a shoulder holster. This training was nonsense. The exercise was okay, it got your muscles in shape, but as for the rest of it, Tandy shrugged mentally. You could either fight or you couldn't. Just let him get in the ring with one of those fancy Dans. He'd show them a thing or two! II Ttwo hat night Tandy stayed up late talking to his new companions. He watched them closely, trying to figure out just what it was they were up to. 'What's the angle'? Tandy finally demanded. 'I mean,
FIGHTERS SHOULD BE HUNGRY / 9 down there in the jungle, Briggs said something about maybe I was the guy'? Gus dropped on the rooming-house bed opposite him. 'It's like this, kid. A guy gave me an awful jobbing a while back. The guy is a big-shot manager and he's got money. The Portland and Seattle gamblers are with him, and that means a lot of muscle men, too. He got to one of my fighters, and one way and another, he broke me an? got me run out of town. Briggs knows all about it.' 'But where do I come in'? Tandy asked. 'Both of us figured we might get a fighter and go back an? try him again. The best way to get to him is to whip his scrapper'.' .' . take his money on the bets.' 'Who's his fighter'? Tandy asked. Gus grinned at him. 'A Portland boy, Stan Reiser,' he said. 'Reiser!' Tandy Moore came off the chair with a jump. 'Sure.' Gus nodded. 'He's probably one of the three top men on the coast right now, but you don't take him on your first fight.' He looked at Tandy. 'I thought you wanted to fight those guys? That you figured you could run any of them out of the ring'? 'It ain't that,' Moore said, quieter now. 'It's just that it isn't what I expected.' His face turned grim and hard. 'Yeah,' he agreed, 'I'll go along. I'd like to fight that guy. I'd like to lick him. I'd like to beat him until he ? couldn't move!' Turning abruptly, Tandy walked out of the room and they heard his feet going down the stairs. Briggs stared at the door. 'What do you make of that'? Gus asked. Briggs shrugged. 'That kid's beyond me,' he said. 'Sometimes he gives me cold chills.'
10 / Louis L'Amour 'You, too'? Gus looked understandingly at Briggs. 'Funny, a kid like that making us feel this way.' Briggs rubbed out his cigarette. 'Something's eatin? him, Gus. Something deep inside. We saw it this morning an? we may have just hit on it again, though what it has to do with Reiser or your situation I ain't gonna guess.' They walked into a hotel restaurant the night of the fight. It was early, late afternoon really. The wind whipping in off the Pacific in blasts that slammed the door closed as they came through. In these new surroundings, they looked shabby and out of place. This was blocks from the cheap rooming house where they lived, blocks from the beanery in which they had been eating. They sat on stools at the restaurant counter, and a girl brought the menus. Tandy Moore looked up, looked into the eyes of the girl beyond the counter. She smiled nervously and asked, 'What can I get for you'? Tandy jerked a thumb at Gus. 'Ask him,' he said, and stared down at his knuckles. He was confused for there had been something in the girl's eyes that touched him. It made him feel scared and he hated it. She looked from Gus to Briggs. 'Who is this guy'? she asked. 'Can't he order for himself? What do you do, poke it to him with a stick'? Tandy looked up, his eyes full of sullen anger. That closed-in feeling was back. Gus dropped a hand on his arm. 'She's ribbin? you, kid. Forget it.' He glanced down
FIGHTERS SHOULD BE HUNGRY / 11 at the menu and then looked up. 'A steak for him, an? make it rare. And just coffee for us.' When she turned away, Tandy looked around and said, low-voiced, 'Gus, that'll take all the dough we've got! You guys eat, too. I don't need that steak.' 'You fight tonight, not us,' Gus replied, grinning. 'All we ask is that you get in there and throw them.' The waitress came back with their coffee. She had caught the word 'fight.' 'You're fighting tonight'? she asked Tandy. He did not look up. 'Yeah,' he said. 'You'd not be bad-looking,' she said, 'if you'd shave.' She waited for a response, then glanced over at Gus, smiling. 'Is he always like this'? 'He's a good kid,' Gus said. She went off to take another order but was back in a moment and, glancing around cautiously, slid a baked potato onto his plate. 'Here's one on the house. Don't say I never gave you anything.' He didn't know how to reply so he mumbled thanks and started to eat. She stood there watching him, the tag on her uniform said 'Dorinda.' 'Come back and tell me about it.' She looked at Tandy. 'If you're able,' she added. 'I'll be able!' he retorted. Their eyes met, and he felt something stir down deep within him. She was young, not over nineteen, and had brown hair and blue eyes. He looked at her again. 'I'll come,' he said, and flushed. When they finished dinner, they walked around the block a couple of times to start warming up, then headed for the dressing room. An hour and a half later Gus Coe taped up Tandy's hands. He looked at the young man carefully.
12 / Louis L'Amour 'Listen, kid, you watch yourself in there. This guy Al Joiner can box and he can punch. I would've got you something easier for your first fight, but they wanted somebody for this Joiner. He's a big favorite in town, very popular with the Norskies.' He cleared his throat and continued. 'We're broke, see? We get fifteen bucks more out of this fight; that's all. It was just twenty-five for our end, and we got ten of it in advance. If we win, we'll get another fight. That means we'll be a few bucks ahead of the game. 'I ain't goin? to kid you; you ain't ready. But you can punch, and you might win. 'You're hungry, kid. You're hungry for things that money can buy, an? you're mad.' His eyes bored into Tandy's. 'Maybe you've been mad all your life. Well, tonight you can fight back. Dempsey, Ketchell, lots of hungry boys did it in there. You can, too!' Tandy looked down at Gus's big, gnarled hands. He knew the kindly face of the man who spoke to him, knew the worn shirt collar and the frayed cuffs. Gus had laundered their clothes these last days, using a borrowed iron for pressing. Suddenly he felt very sorry for this big man who stood over him, and he felt something stirring within him that he had never known before. It struck him suddenly that he had a friend. Two of them. 'Sure,' he said. 'Okay, Gus.' In the center of the ring, he did not look at Joiner. He saw only a pair of slim white legs and blue boxing trunks. He trotted back to his corner, and looked down at his feet in their borrowed canvas shoes.
FIGHTERS SHOULD BE HUNGRY / 13 Then the bell rang and he turned, glaring across the ring from under his heavy brows and moving out, swift and ready. Al Joiner was taller than he was with wide, powerful shoulders. His eyes were sharp and ready, his lips clenched over the mouthpiece. They moved toward each other, Joiner on his toes, Tandy shuffling, almost flatfooted. Al's left was a darting snake. It landed, sharp and hard, on his brow. Tandy moved in and Al moved around him, the left darting. A dozen times the left landed, but Tandy lunged close, swinging a looping, roundhouse right. The punch was too wide and too high, but Joiner was careless. It caught him on the side of the head like a falling sledge and his feet flew up and he hit the canvas, an expression of dazed astonishment on his face. At seven he was on his feet and moving more carefully. He faded away from Tandy's wild, reckless punches. Faded away, jabbing. The bell sounded with Tandy still coming in, a welt over his left eye and a blue mouse under the right. 'Watch your chance an? use that left you used on me,' Gus suggested. 'That'll slow this guy down. He's even faster than I thought.' The bell sounded and Tandy walked out to meet a Joiner who was now boxing beautifully, and no matter where Tandy turned, Joiner's left met him. His lips were cut and bleeding, punches thudded on his jaw. He lost the second round by an enormous margin. The third opened the same way, but now Joiner began to force the fighting. He mixed the lefts with hard right crosses, and Tandy, his eyes blurred with blood, moved
14 / Louis L'Amour in, his hands cocked and ready. Al boxed carefully, aware of those dynamite-laden fists. The fourth started fast. Tandy went out, saw the left move and threw his right, and the next thing he knew he was flat on his back with a roaring in his head and the referee was saying 'Six!' Tandy came off the canvas with a lunge of startled fury. A growl exploded from him as he swept into the other fighter, smashing past that left hand and driving him to the ropes. His right swung for Joiner's head and Al ducked, and Tandy lifted a short, wicked left to the liver and stood Joiner on his tiptoes. Tandy stabbed a left at Joiner's face, then swung a powerful right. Joiner tried to duck and took the punch full on the ear. His knees sagged and he pitched forward on his face. The referee made the count, then turned and lifted Tandy's hand. The fighter on the floor hadn't moved. In the dressing room, Tandy stared bleakly at his battered face. 'For this I get twenty-five bucks!' he said, grinning with swollen lips. 'Don't worry, kid!' Gus grinned back at him. 'When you hit me with your left that day in the woods, I knew you had it. It showed you could think on your feet. You'll do!' When they came out of the dressing room suddenly Gus stopped and his hand on Tandy's arm tightened. Two men were standing there, a small man with a tight white face and a big cigar, and a big younger man. 'Hello, Gus,' the man with the cigar said, contempt in his voice. 'I see you've got yourself another punk!' Tandy's left snaked out and smashed the cigar into
FIGHTERS SHOULD BE HUNGRY / 15 the small man's teeth, knocking him sprawling into the wall, and then he whirled on the big man, a brawny blond whose eyes were blazing with astonishment. 'Now, you!' he snarled. His right whipped over like an arrow, but the big man stepped back swiftly and the right missed. Then, he started to step in, but Briggs stopped him. 'Back up, Stan!' he said coldly. 'Back up unless you want lead for your supper! Lift that scum off the floor. It's lucky the kid didn't kill him!' Stan Reiser stooped and lifted his manager from the floor. The black cigar was mashed into the blood of his split lips and his face was white and shocked, but his eyes blazed with murderous fury. 'I'll get you for this, Coe!' His voice was low and vicious. 'You an? that S.O.'? His voice broke off sharply as Tandy Moore stepped toward him. Moore glanced at Reiser. 'Shut him up, Stan. I don't like guys who call me names!' Reiser looked curiously at Tandy. 'I know you from somewhere,' he said thoughtfully, 'I'll remember'.' .' .' Tandy's face was stiff and cold. 'Go ahead!' he said quietly. 'It will be a bad day for both of us when you do!' Outside on the street, Gus shook his head. 'What the hell is up with you'? he asked. 'You shouldn't have done it, but nothin? ever did me so much good as your hittin? that snake. I don't believe anybody ever had nerve enough to sock him before, he's been king of the roost so long.' Both Gus and Briggs looked at him quizzically. 'It's my business,' Tandy growled and would say no more. He said nothing but he was thinking. Now they had
16 / Louis L'Amour met again, and he did not know if he was afraid or not. Yet he knew that deep within him, there was still that memory and the hatred he had stifled so long, it was a feeling that demanded he face Reiser, to smash him, to break him. 'How would I do with Reiser'? he asked suddenly. Gus looked astonished. 'Kid, you sure don't know the fight game or you'd never ask a question like that. Stan is a contender for the heavyweight title.' Tandy nodded slowly. 'I guess I've got plenty to learn,' he said. Gus nodded. 'When you know that, kid, you've already learned the toughest part.' III Ting hree weeks later, after conniving and borrowand scraping by on little food, Tandy Moore was ready for his second fight. This one was with a rough slugger known as Benny Baker. The day of the fight, Tandy walked toward the hotel. There would be no steak today, for they simply hadn't money enough. Yet he had been thinking of Dorinda, and wondering where she was and what she was doing. She was coming out of the restaurant door as he walked by. Her eyes brightened quickly. 'Why, hello!' she greeted him. 'I wondered what had happened to you. Why don't you ever come in and see me'? He shoved his hands in the pockets of the shabby trousers. 'Looking like this? Anyway, I can't afford to eat
FIGHTERS SHOULD BE HUNGRY / 17 in there. I don't make enough money. In fact''he grinned, his face flushing''I haven't any money at all!' She put a hand on his arm. 'Don't let it bother you, Tandy. You'll do all right.' She looked away, then back at him. 'You're fighting again, aren't you'? 'Tonight. It's a preliminary.' His eyes took in the softness of her cheek, the lights in her dark brown hair. 'Come and see it. Would you'? 'I'm going to be there. I'll be sure to be there early to see your fight.' He looked at her suddenly. 'Where are you going now? Let's take a walk.' Dorinda hesitated only an instant. 'All right.' They walked along, neither of them saying much, un? til they stopped at a rail and looked down the sloping streets to the confusion of canneries and lumber wharves along the riverfront. Off to the northwest the sun slanted through the clouds and threw a silver light on the river, silhouetting a steam schooner inbound from the rough water out where the Columbia met the Pacific. 'You worked here long'? he asked suddenly. 'No, only about two months. I was headed to Portland but I couldn't find a job. I came from Arizona. My father has a ranch out there, but I thought I'd like to try singing. So I was going to go to school at night, and study voice in my spare time.' 'That's funny, you being from Arizona,' he said. 'I just came from there!' 'You did'? She laughed. 'One place is all sun, the other all rain.' 'Well, I grew up here. In St.'John's, over near Portland. My dad worked at a box-shuck factory there. You know, fruit boxes, plywood an? all.'
18 / Louis L'Amour 'Is he still there''she looked into his eyes''in ? Portland'? 'No.' Tandy had to look away. 'Not anymore.' Dorinda suddenly glanced at her watch and gave a startled cry. 'Oh, we've got to go! I'm supposed to be back at work!' They made their way along the street and down the hill. He left her at the door of the restaurant. 'I probably won't get a chance to see you after the fight,' she said. 'I've been invited to a party at the hotel.' Quick jealousy touched him. 'Who's giving'? he demanded. 'The fellow who is taking me, Stan Reiser.' He stared at her, shocked and still. 'Oh'.' .' .' He blinked, then turned swiftly and walked away, trembling inside. Everywhere he turned it was Stan Reiser. He heard her call after him, heard her take a few running steps toward him, but he did not stop or turn his head. He was burning with that old deep fury in the ring that night. Gus looked at him curiously as he stood in the corner rubbing his feet in the resin. In a ringside seat were Dorinda and Reiser, but Gus had not seen them yet. Briggs had. Briggs never missed anything. 'All right, kid,' Gus said quietly, 'you know more this time, and this guy ain't smart. But he can punch, so don't take any you can miss.' The bell sounded and Tandy Moore whirled like a cat. Benny Baker was fifteen pounds heavier and a blocky man, noted as a slugger. Tandy walked out fast and Benny sprang at him, throwing both hands.
FIGHTERS SHOULD BE HUNGRY / 19 Almost of its own volition, Tandy's left sprang from his shoulder. It was a jab, and a short one, but it smashed Benny Baker on the nose and stopped him in his tracks. Tandy jabbed again, then feinted, and when Baker lunged he drilled a short right to the slugger's chin. Benny Baker hit the canvas on the seat of his pants, his eyes dazed. He floundered around and got up at six, turning to meet Tandy. Baker looked white around the mouth, and he tried to clinch, but Tandy stepped back and whipped up a powerful right uppercut and then swung a looping left to the jaw. Baker hit the canvas on his shoulder blades. At the count of ten, he had not even wiggled a toe. Tandy Moore turned then and avoiding Dorinda's eyes looked squarely at Reiser. It was only a look that held an instant, but Stan's face went dark and he started half to his feet, then slumped down. 'Go back to Albina Street, you weasel,' Tandy said. 'I'll be coming for you!' Then he slipped through the ropes and walked away. Gus Coe watched the interchange. The big ex-fighter took his cigar from his mouth and looked at Stan thoughtfully. There was something between those two. But what? With their winnings as a stake they took to the road. The following week, at the armory in Klamath Falls, Tandy Moore stopped Joe Burns in one round, and thereafter in successive weeks at Burns and Eugene he stopped Glen Hayes in two, Rolph Williams in one, Pedro Sarmineto in five, and Chuck Goslin in three. Soon the fans were beginning to talk him up and the sportswriters were hearing stories of Tandy Moore.
20 / Louis L'Amour 'How soon do I get a chance at Reiser'? Tandy demanded, one night in their room. Gus looked at him thoughtfully. 'You shouldn't fight Reiser for a year,' he said, and then added, 'You've got something against him? What is it'? 'I just want to get in there with him. I owe him something, and I want to make sure he gets it!' 'Well,' Gus said, looking at his cigar, 'we'll see.' A little later, Gus asked, 'Have you seen that girl lately, the one who used to work in the restaurant'? Tandy, trying not to show interest, shrugged and shook his head. 'No. Why should I see her'? 'She was a pretty girl,' Gus said. 'Seemed to sort of like you, too.' 'She went to the fights with Reiser.' 'So what? That doesn't make her his girl, does it'? Gus demanded. 'Did you ask her to go? I could have snagged a couple of ducats to bring her and a friend.' Tandy didn't answer. Gus took the cigar from his teeth, changed the subject abruptly. 'The trouble is,' he said, 'you got Reiser on your mind, and I don't know just how good you are. Sometimes when a man wants something awful bad, he improves pretty fast. In the short time we've been together, you've learned more than any scrapper I ever knew. But it's mighty important right now that I know how good you are.' Tandy looked up from the magazine he was thumbing. 'Why now'? 'We've got an offer. Flat price of five grand, win, lose, or draw, for ten rounds with Buster Crane.'
FIGHTERS SHOULD BE HUNGRY / 21 'Crane'? Tandy dropped the magazine he was holding to the tabletop. 'That guy held Reiser to a draw. He had him on the floor!' 'That's the one. He's good, too. He can box and he can hit, and he's fast. The only thing is, I'm kind of ? suspicious.' Briggs, who had been listening, looked up thoughtfully. 'You mean you think it's a frame'? 'I think Bernie Satneck, Reiser's manager, would frame his own mother,' Gus answered. 'I think he's gettin? scared of the kid here. Tandy wants Reiser, an? Satneck knows it. He's no fool, an? the kid has been bowling them over ever since he started, so what's more simple than to get him a scrap with Crane when the kid is green? If Crane beats him bad, he is finished off and no trouble for ? Satneck.' Conscious of Tandy Moore's intent gaze, he turned toward him. 'What is it, kid'? 'Satneck, I want to take him down too! Him and his brother.' 'I didn't know he had a brother,' Briggs said. 'He may have a dozen for all I know,' Gus said. 'Go ahead,' Tandy said, 'take that fight. I'll be ready.' He grinned suddenly. 'Five thousand? That's more than we've made in all of them, so far.' He walked out and closed the door. Briggs sat still for a while, then he got up and started out himself. 'Where you goin''? Gus asked suspiciously. 'Why,' Briggs said gently, 'I'm getting very curious. I thought I'd go find out if Satneck has a brother and what they have to do with our boy here.' 'Yeah,' Gus said softly, 'I see what you mean.'
22 / Louis L'Amour The month that followed found Tandy Moore in Wiley Spivey's gym six days a week. They were in Portland now, across the river from downtown and back in Tandy's home territory, although he mentioned this to no one. He worked with fighters of every size and style, with sluggers and boxers, with skilled counterpunchers. He listened to Gus pick flaws in their styles, and he studied slow-motion pictures of Crane's fights with Reiser. He knew Buster Crane was good. He was at least a hundred percent better than any fighter Tandy had yet tackled. Above all, he could hit. Briggs wasn't around. Tandy commented on that and Gus said, 'Briggs? He's away on business, but will be back before the fight.' 'He's quiet, isn't he? Known him long'? 'Twelve years, about. He's a dangerous man, kid. He was bodyguard for a politician with enemies, then he was a private dick. He was with the O.S.S. during the war, and he was a partner of mine when we had that trouble with Satneck and Reiser.' IV Tdown andy Moore stopped on the corner and looked the street toward the river, but he was thinking of Buster Crane. That was the only thing that was important now. He must, at all costs, beat Crane. Walking along, he glimpsed his reflection in a window and stopped abruptly. He saw a tall, clean-shaven, well-built young man with broad shoulders and a wellgroomed look. He looked far better, he decided, than the rough young man who had eaten the steak that day in
FIGHTERS SHOULD BE HUNGRY / 23 the restaurant and looked up into the eyes of Dorinda Lane. Even as his thoughts repeated the name, he shied violently from it, yet he had never forgotten her. She was always there, haunting his thoughts. Remembering her comments, he never shaved but that he thought of her. He had not seen her since that night when she came to the fight with Stan Reiser. And she hadn't worked at the restaurant in Astoria anymore after he returned from Klamath Falls. Restlessly, Tandy Moore paced the streets, thinking first of Dorinda and then of Stan Reiser and all that lay ? behind it. It was his driving urge to meet Reiser in the ring that made him so eager to learn from Gus. But it was more than that, too, for he had in him a deep love of combat, of striving, of fighting for something. But what? Gus Coe was sitting in the hotel lobby when Tandy walked in. Gus seemed bigger than ever, well, he was fatter, and looked prosperous now. He grinned at Tandy and said something out of the corner of his mouth to Briggs, who was sitting, and the Irishman got up, his square face warm with a smile. 'How are you, Tandy'? he said quietly. 'Hey, Briggsie, welcome back.' He glanced at Gus. 'Say, let's go to a nightclub tonight. I want to get out and look around.' 'The kid's got an idea,' Briggs said. 'We'll go to Nevada Johnson's place. He's putting on the fight and it'll be good for the kid to be seen there. We can break it up early enough so he can get his rest. It would do us all good to relax a little.'
24 / Louis L'Amour Gus shrugged. 'Okay.' The place was fairly crowded, but they got a table down front, and they were hardly seated before the orchestra started to play, and then the spotlight swung onto a girl who was singing. Gus looked up sharply, and Tandy's face was shocked and still, for the girl outlined by the spotlight was Dorinda Lane. Tandy stared, and then he swallowed a sudden lump in his throat. Her voice was low and very beautiful, and he had never dreamed she could look so lovely. He sat entranced until her song ended, and then he looked over at Gus. 'Let's get out of here,' he said. 'Wait'? Gus caught his wrist, for the spotlight had swung to their table and the master of ceremonies gestured toward him. 'We have a guest with us tonight, ladies and gentlemen! A guest we are very proud to welcome! Tandy Moore, that rising young heavyweight who meets Buster Crane tomorrow night!' Tandy looked trapped but took an uneasy bow. The spotlight swung away from him, and Gus leaned over. 'Nice going, kid,' he said. 'You looked good. Do you still want to go'? They started for the door, and then Tandy looked over and saw Bernie Satneck sitting at a table on the edge of the floor. Reiser was with him, and another man who was a younger tougher version of the manager! Tandy locked his eyes forward and walked toward the lobby. At the door he was waiting for Gus and Briggs to get their hats, when he heard a rustle of silk and looked around into Dorinda's face.
FIGHTERS SHOULD BE HUNGRY / 25 'Were you going to leave without seeing me'? she asked, holding out her hand. He hesitated, his face flushing. Why did she have to be so beautiful and so desirable? He jerked his head toward the dining room. 'Stan Reiser's in there,' he said. 'Isn't he your boyfriend'? Her eyes flashed her resentment. 'No, he's not! And he never was! If you weren't so infernally stubborn, Tandy Moore, I'd have'.' .' .' 'So, how did you get this job'? Her face went white, and the next thing, her palm cracked across his mouth. The cigarette girl turned, her eyes wide, and the headwaiter started to hurry over, but Gus Coe arrived just in time. Catching Tandy's arm, he rushed him out the door. Tandy was seething with anger, but anger more at himself than her. After all, it was a rotten thing for him to say. Maybe that hadn't been the way of it. And if it had, well, he'd been hungry himself. He was still hungry, no longer for food now, but for other things. And then the thought came to him that he was still hungry for her, Dorinda Lane. The crowd was jammed to the edge of the ring when he climbed through the ropes the next night. His face was a somber mask. He heard the dull roar of thousands of ? people, and ducked his head to them and hurried to his corner. In the center of the ring during the referee's briefing, he got his first look at Buster Crane, a heavyweight with twenty more pounds than his own one-ninety, but almost an inch shorter, and with arms even longer.
26 / Louis L'Amour When the bell rang, he shut his jaws on his mouthpiece and turned swiftly. Crane was moving toward him, his eyes watchful slits under knitted brows. Crane had a shock of white blond hair and a wide face, but the skin was tight over the bones. Crane moved in fast, feinted, then hooked high and hard. The punch was incredibly fast and Tandy caught it on the temple, but he was going away from it. Even so, it shook him to his heels, and with a queer kind of thrill, he realized that no man he had ever met had punched like Buster Crane. He was in for a battle. Tandy jabbed, then jabbed again. He missed a right cross and Crane was inside slamming both hands into his body. He backed up, giving ground. He landed a left to the head, drilled a right down the center that missed, then shook Buster up with a short left hook to the head. From there on, the battle was a surging struggle of two hard-hitting young men filled with a zest for combat. The second round opened with a slashing attack from Crane that drove Tandy into the ropes, but his long weeks of schooling had done their job and he covered up, clinched, and saved himself. He played it easy on the defensive for the remainder of the round. The third, fourth, and fifth rounds were alike, with vicious toe-to-toe scrapping every bit of the way. Coming out for the sixth, Tandy Moore could feel the lump over his eye, and he was aware that Crane's left hook was landing too often. Thus far, Crane was leading by a margin, and it was that hook that was doing it. A moment later the same left hook dropped out of nowhere and Tandy's heels flew up and he sat down hard. Outside the ring, the crowd was a dull roar and he
FIGHTERS SHOULD BE HUNGRY / 27 rolled over on his hands and knees, unable to hear the count. He glanced toward his corner and saw Gus holding up four, then five fingers. He waited until the ninth finger came up, and then he got to his feet and backed away. Crane moved in fast and sure. He had his man hurt and he knew it. He didn't look so good or feel so good himself, and was conscious that he wanted only one thing, to get this guy out of action before he had his head ripped off. Crane feinted a left, then measured Moore with it, but Tandy rolled inside the punch and threw a left to the head, which missed. Crane stepped around carefully and then tried again. This time he threw his left hook, but Tandy Moore was ready. He remembered what he had been taught, and when he saw that hook start, he threw his own right inside of it. With the right forearm partially blocking, his fist crashed down on Crane's chin with a shock that jarred Tandy to the shoulder! Buster Crane hit the canvas on his face, rolled over, and then climbed slowly to his knees. At nine he made it, but just barely. Tandy walked toward him looking him over carefully. Crane was a puncher and he was hurt, which made him doubly dangerous. Tandy tried a tentative left, and Crane brushed it aside and threw his own left hook from the inside. Tandy had seen him use the punch in the newsreel pictures he had studied, and the instant it started, he pulled the trigger on his own right, a short, wicked hook at close range. Crane hit the canvas and this time he didn't get up. When he was dressed, Tandy walked with Gus Coe to
28 / Louis L'Amour the promoter's office to get the money. Briggs strolled along, his hands in his pockets, just behind them. When they opened the door, Tandy's skin tightened, for Stan Reiser and Bernie Satneck were sitting at a table with a tall, gray-haired man whom Tandy instantly recognized as 'Nevada? Johnson, the biggest fight promoter in the Northwest. The rest of the room was crowded with sportswriters. 'Nice fight, tonight, Moore,' Johnson said. 'We've been waiting for you. How would you like to fight for the ? title'? 'The championship'? Tandy was incredulous. 'Sure, I'd like to fight for it! But don't I get to fight him first'? He gestured at Reiser and saw the big heavyweight's eyes turn ugly. 'See'? Nevada Johnson said to Satneck. 'He's not only ready, but anxious to fight your boy. You say that Reiser deserves a title bout. Six months ago, I would have said the same thing, but now the situation has changed. Moore has made a sensational rise from nothing, although knowing Coe was his manager, I'm not surprised.' 'This kid isn't good enough,' Satneck protested. 'The fans won't go for it. They'll think he's just a flash in the pan and it won't draw!' Johnson looked around at the sportswriters and asked, 'What about that'? 'If Bernie will forgive me,' Hansen of the Telegraph said quietly, 'I think he's crazy! A Tandy Moore and Stan Reiser fight will outdraw either of them with the champ, as long as we mention that the winner goes for the title. It's a natural if there ever was one.' 'Frankly,' Coe said quietly, 'I can understand how Satneck must feel. After all, he's brought Reiser a long
FIGHTERS SHOULD BE HUNGRY / 29 way, and it seems a shame to get his fighter whipped when the title is almost in his hands.' 'Whipped'? Satneck whirled on Coe. 'Why, that stinking little? .' .' .' He looked at Tandy and his voice faded out and he flushed. 'I'd like to fight him,' Tandy said, pleasantly enough. 'I'd like nothing better than to get Reiser where he could take a poke at me when my back's not turned!' Johnson and several of the sportswriters sat forward. Reiser's face went dead-white but his eyes were thoughtful. He turned to his manager. 'Sign it!' he snapped. 'Let's get out of here!' Satneck glanced from Stan's face to Tandy's, and then at Gus, who was grinning mysteriously. 'What was that about'? the reporters asked, but Tandy just shook his head. Without another word, he grabbed the fountain pen that Johnson offered and signed. At the hotel that night, when Tandy was in bed, Briggs and Gus sat in Gus's room. Neither of them spoke for a moment. 'I dug it up,' Briggs said quietly. 'An? don't worry, Tandy's okay. His old man was a rummy, he worked down here at the factory by the bridge. He was a better than fair street-scrapper when sober. Satneck's brother got lippy with him once, an? Tandy's old man mopped up the floor with him. Then, one night when he was tight, an? all but helpless, two of them held him while Reiser beat him up. It was an ugly mess. The kid came up on them and they slugged him.' 'What about the kid'? Gus said, impatient. 'I was coming to that,' Briggs said. 'They knocked him out. Reiser did it, I think, with a sap. But when the
30 / Louis L'Amour kid came out of it, his old man was all bloody and badly beaten. Tandy got him home and tried to fix him up. When his old man didn't come to, Tandy called a doctor. The kid's father had a bad concussion and never was quite right after that. The slugging they gave him affected his mind and one side of his body. He could never work again.' 'Did it go to court'? 'Uh-huh, but Tandy was one against a dozen witnesses, and they made the kid out a liar and he lost the case. The father died a couple of years ago. The kid's not quite ten years younger than Reiser, and couldn't have been more than a youngster when it all happened. I guess he's been on the bum ever since.' 'The kid's hungry to get Stan Reiser into a ring with him,' Gus said slowly. 'It's easy to see why Reiser didn't recognize him,' Briggs said. 'Tandy must have changed a lot since then. As far as that goes, look how much he's changed since we met him. You'd never know he was the same person. He's filled out, hardened up, and he looks good now.' 'Well, I'm glad that's all there was,' Gus said thoughtfully. 'I was worried.' Briggs hesitated. 'It isn't quite all, Gus,' he said. 'There is more.' 'More'? 'That wasn't the first time the kid and Reiser met. They had a scrap once. Reiser was always mean, and he teased Tandy once when the kid was selling papers on a corner out here on Albina Street. The kid had spunk and swung on him, and I guess the punch hurt, because Stan darn near killed him with his fists. I think that's what started the row with his father.'
FIGHTERS SHOULD BE HUNGRY / 31 Gus Coe scowled. 'That's not good. Sometimes a beating like that sticks in the mind, and this one might. Well, all we can do is to go along and see. Right now, the kid's shaping up for this fight better than ever. 'You know, one of us has got to stay with him, Briggsie. Every minute!' 'That's right.' Briggs sat down. 'Bernie won't stand for this. We just blocked him from the championship and no matter what Reiser thinks, Bernie is scared. He's scared Tandy can win, and as he used every dirty trick in the game to bring Stan along, he certainly won't change now.' Gus nodded. 'You're right. He'll stop at nothing. The kid got under Reiser's skin tonight, too, and once in that ring, it will be little short of murder'.' .' . for one or the other of them.' Briggs nodded. 'You know, Gus, maybe we should duck Reiser.' Gus was thoughtful for a moment, and then he said, 'I know. The kid may not be afraid of Reiser. But frankly, I am. I wanted to get even with Satneck and Reiser for the one they pulled on us, but that's not important anymore. Tandy is. I like him and he's goin? places.' 'Yeah,' Briggs agreed. 'I like the kid too.' Tandy Moore, his cuts healed, went back to the gym under Spivy's Albina Street Pool Room with a will. In meeting Reiser, he would be facing a man who wanted to maim and kill. Reiser had everything to lose by this fight and Tandy had all to gain. Reiser was the leading contender for the title, and was acknowledged a better
32 / Louis L'Amour man than the current champion. If he lost now, he was through. Going and coming from the gym, and in his few nights around town, Tandy watched for Dorinda. He wanted to call and apologize for the nightclub scene, but was too proud, and despite his wish, he could see no reason for thinking he might not be right. It was possible he could be mistaken, yet it looked too obvious, and so much of that sort of thing was going on. Yet he didn't want to believe it, and deep within himself, he did not believe it. As the days drew on and the fight came nearer, Tandy was conscious of a new tension. He could see that Gus Coe and Briggs were staying close to him; that Coe's face had sharpened and grown more tense, that Briggs was ever more watchful, and that they always avoided dark streets and kept him to well-lighted public thoroughfares. To one who had been so long accustomed to the harsh and hard ways of life, it irritated Tandy even while he understood their feelings and knew they were thinking of him. He was realist enough to know that Bernie Satneck was not going to chance losing a fighter worth a million dollars without putting up a battle. Bernie Satneck would stop at nothing. Nor would Stan Reiser, when it came to that. Come what may between now and the day of the fight, Tandy Moore knew that all would be settled in the ring. He also knew that although Reiser was a hard puncher and a shrewd, dangerous fighter who took every advantage, he was not afraid of him. This was his chance to get some revenge both for himself and his father'.' .' . and it was legal.
FIGHTERS SHOULD BE HUNGRY / 33 V Othe ne day, Hansen, the reporter, dropped around to second-floor hotel where they were staying. Tandy was lying on the bed in a robe, relaxing after a tough workout. The smell of Chinese food from the caf? downstairs drifted in through the window. The sportswriter dropped into a chair and dug out his pipe; he lit it up. 'I want to know about you and Stan Reiser,' he suggested suddenly. 'You knew him when you were a kid, didn't you? Out in St.'John's? Wasn't there bad blood between you'? 'Maybe.' Tandy turned his head. 'Look, Hansen, I like you. I don't want to give you a bum steer or cross you up in any way. Whatever you learn about Stan or myself is your business, only I'm not telling you anything. Whatever differences we have, we'll settle in the ring.' 'I agree.' Hansen nodded, sucking on his pipe. 'I've looked your record over, Tandy. Actually, I needn't have. I know Gus, and there isn't a straighter guy in this racket than Gus Coe. And Briggs? Well, Briggs is not a good man to get in the way of, not even for Bernie Satneck.' His eyes lifted, testing him with the name, and Tandy kept his face immobile. 'You've got a record since taking up with Coe that's as straight as a die,' the reporter said. 'If there ever was anything in your past, you have lived it down. I wouldn't say as much for Stan Reiser.' 'What do you mean'? Tandy demanded. 'Just this. Bernie Satneck is running a string of illegal enterprises that touches some phase of every kind of
34 / Louis L'Amour crookedness there is. I've known about that for a long time, but it wasn't until just lately that I found out who was behind him'that he's not the top man himself.' 'Who is'? Tandy didn't figure it really mattered, he wasn't after anything but a settling of old accounts. 'Stan Reiser.' Hansen nodded as he said it. 'Sure, we know; Bernie Satneck is his manager, and the manager is supposed to be the brains. Well, in this case that isn't so. Bernie is just a tool, a front man.' Hansen drew thoughtfully on his pipe. 'I've been around the fight game a long time, had thirty years? experience around fighters. Once in a while, you strike a wrong gee among them. I think less so than in most professions or trades, because fighting demands a certain temperament or discipline. Despite their associations, most fighters are pretty square guys.' 'You say Reiser isn't'? 'I know he isn't. I want to get him completely out of the fight game, and so do some others we know. If you put him down, get him out of the running for the championship, we'll keep him down. Don't underestimate the power of the press. Are you sure you don't want to tell me your story'? 'I'll fight him in the ring, that's all,' Tandy said quietly. 'Whatever there is between Reiser and me can be settled inside the ropes.' 'Sure. That's the way I figured it.' Hansen stopped as he was leaving. 'I know about your father, but I won't write that story unless you give me the go-ahead.' Gus left Tandy in the room on the day of the fight and went off on an errand across town. Briggs was around somewhere, but where Tandy did not know.
FIGHTERS SHOULD BE HUNGRY / 35 He removed his shirt and shoes and lay down on the bed. He felt anything but sleepy, so he opened a magazine and began to read. There was a knock on the door and when it opened it was Dorinda Lane. She was the last person he expected to see and he hastily swung his feet to the floor and reached for a shirt. 'Is it all right for me to come in'? 'Sure,' he said. 'You? .' .' . well, I wasn't expecting ? anybody.' She dropped into a chair. 'Tandy, you've got to listen to me! I've found out something, something I've no business to know. I overheard a conversation last night. Bernie Satneck and Stan Reiser were talking.' 'Look.' He got up and walked across the room. 'If you shouldn't, don't tell me. After all, if Reiser is a friend of yours.' 'Oh, don't be silly!' Dorinda declared impatiently. 'You're so wrong about that! I never had but one date with him. He had nothing at all to do with my coming to the city. Long before I met you, I had found an agent and was trying to get a singing job through him. Reiser didn't even recommend me to Nevada Johnson, I've just run into him there. But that's not important, Tandy.' She stepped closer to him. 'It's what Reiser and Satneck have planned!' 'You mean you know? You overheard'? Dorinda frowned. 'Not exactly, I did hear them talking in the club. Stan Reiser believes he can beat you. He was furious when he found that Bernie Satneck wasn't sure, but he did listen, and Satneck has suggested that they should take no chances. What they have planned, I don't know, as I missed part of it then, but it has some-
36 / Louis L'Amour thing to do with the gloves, something to get in your eyes.' Tandy shrugged. 'Maybe it could be resin. But they always wipe off the gloves after a man goes down, so it couldn't be that. Did you hear anything more'? 'Yes, I did. They had quite an argument, but finally I heard Reiser agree that if he hadn't stopped you by the ninth round, he would do what Bernie wanted.' Tandy Moore's eyes grew sharp. He looked down at his hands. 'Thanks, Dory,' he said at last. 'That'll help.' She hesitated, looking at him, tenderness and worry mingled in her eyes. Yet he was warned and he would be ready. It was nice to know. As he crawled into the ring, Tandy Moore stared around him in amazement at the crowd. It rolled away from the ring in great banks of humanity, filling the ball park to overflowing. The blowing clouds parted momentarily and the sun blasted down on the spotless white square of canvas as he moved across to his corner. Gus, in a white sweater, was beside him and Briggs stood at the edge of the ring, then dropped back into his seat. An intelligent-looking man with white brows was in the corner with Gus. He was a world-famed handler of fighters, even more skillful than Gus himself. The robe was slid from his shoulders, and as Tandy peered from under his brows at Gus, he grinned a little and smiled. 'Well, pal, here we are,' he said softly. 'Yeah.' Gus stared solemnly across the ring. 'I wish I knew what they had up their sleeves. They've got some-
FIGHTERS SHOULD BE HUNGRY / 37 thing, you can bet on it. Neither Bernie Satneck nor Stan Reiser ever took an unnecessary chance.' Tandy stared down at his gloved hands. He had an idea of what they had up their sleeves, but he said nothing. That was his problem alone. He hadn't mentioned it to Gus and he was no nearer a solution now than ever. They might not try anything on him, but if they did he would cope with it when the time came. The referee gave them their instructions and he and Reiser returned to their corners, and almost instantly the bell sounded. Tandy whirled and began his swift, shuffling movement to the center of the ring. His mouth felt dry and his stomach had a queer, empty feeling he had never known before. Under him the canvas was taut and strong, and he tried his feet on it as he moved and they were sure. Stan Reiser opened up with a sharp left to the head. It landed solidly and Tandy moved away, watching the center of Reiser's body where he could see hands and feet both at the same time. Reiser jabbed and Tandy slipped the punch, the glove sliding by his cheekbone, and then he went in fast, carrying the fight to the bigger man. He slammed a right to the ribs, then a left and right to the body. Stan backed up and he followed him. Reiser caught him with a left to the head, and Tandy landed a right. He felt the glove smack home solidly in Stan's body, and it felt good. They clinched, and he could feel the other man's weight and strength, sensing his power. He broke and Stan came after him, his left stabbing like a living thing. A sharp left to the mouth, then another.
38 / Louis L'Amour Both men were in excellent shape and the murderous punches slid off their toughened bodies like water off a duck's back. Just before the bell, Reiser rushed him into the ropes and clipped him with a wicked right to the chin. Tandy was sweating now and he was surprised to see blood on his glove when he wiped his face. When the bell rang for the second, he went out, feinted, and then lunged. Reiser smashed a right to the head that knocked him off balance, and before he could get his feet under him, the bigger man was on him with a battering fury of blows. Tandy staggered and retreated hastily, but to no avail. Stan was after him instantly, jabbing a left, then crossing a right. Tandy landed a right uppercut in close and Stan clipped him with two high hooks. Sweaty and bloody now, Tandy bored in; lost to the crowd, lost to Gus, to Dorinda, and to Briggs, living now only for battle and the hot lust of combat. It lifted within him like a fierce, unholy tide. He drove Stan back and was in turn driven back, and they fought, round after round, with the tide of battle seesawing first one way and then another, bloody and desperate and bitter. In the seventh round, they both came out fast. The crowd was in a continuous uproar now. Slugging like mad, they drove together. Stan whipped over a steaming right uppercut that caught Tandy coming in and his knees turned to rubber. He started to sink and Stan closed in, smashing a sharp left to the face and then crossing a right to the jaw that drove Tandy to his knees. His head roaring, Tandy came up with a lunge and dove for a clinch, but Stan was too fast. He stepped back and stopped the attempt with a stiff left to the face that
FIGHTERS SHOULD BE HUNGRY / 39 cut Tandy's lips, and then he rushed Tandy, smashing and battering him back with a furious flood of blows, driving him finally into the ropes with a sweeping left that made Tandy turn a complete somersault over the top rope! His head came through them again and he crawled inside, with Reiser moving in for the kill. Retreating, Tandy fought to push his thoughts through the fog from the heavy punches. He moved back warily, circling to avoid Reiser. The big man kept moving in, taking his time, more sure of himself now, and set for a kill. Tandy Moore saw the cruel lips and the high cheekbones, one of them wearing a mouse, he saw a thin edge of a cut under Stan's right eye, and his lips looked puffed. His side was reddened from the pounding Tandy had given it, and Tandy's eyes narrowed as he backed into the ropes. That eye and the ribs! Reiser closed in carefully and stabbed a left. More confident now, Tandy let the punch start, then turned his shoulders behind a left jab that speared Stan on the mouth. It halted him and the big fighter blinked. Instantly, Tandy's right crossed over the left jab to the mouse on the cheekbone. It landed with a dull thud and Stan's eyes glazed. His nostrils alive with the scent of sweaty muscles and blood, Tandy jabbed, then crossed, and suddenly they were slugging. Legs spread apart, jaws set, they stood at point-blank range and fired with both hands! The crowd came up roaring. The pace was too furious to last and it finally became a matter of who would give ground first. Suddenly Tandy Moore thrust his foot
40 / Louis L'Amour forward in a tight, canvas-gripping movement. Tandy saw his chance and threw a terrific left hook to the chin but it missed and a right exploded on his own jaw and he went to the canvas with a crash and a vast, roaring sound in his skull. He came up swinging and went down again from a wicked left hook to the stomach and a crashing right to the corner of his jaw. Rolling over, he got to his knees, his head filled with that roaring sound, and vaguely he saw Stan going away from him and realized with a shock that he was on his feet and that the bell ending the round was clanging in his ears! One more round! It must be now or never! Whatever Reiser and Bernie had planned, whatever stratagem they had conceived, would be put into execution in the ninth round, and in the next, the eighth, he must win. He heard nothing that Gus Coe said. He felt only the ministering hands, heard the low, careful tone of his voice, felt water on his face and the back of his neck, and then a warning buzzer sounded and he was on his feet ready for the bell. VI Tdriving he bell rang and Tandy went out, a fierce, lust for victory welled up within him until he could see nothing but Stan Reiser. This was the man who had beaten his father, the man who had whipped him, the man who was fighting now to win all he wanted, all he desired. If Tandy could win, justice was at hand. He hurled himself at Reiser like a madman. Toughened by years of hard work, struggle, and sharpened by
FIGHTERS SHOULD BE HUNGRY / 41 training, he was ready. Fists smashing and battering he charged into Reiser, and the big heavyweight met him without flinching. For Stan Reiser had to win in this round, too. He must win in this round or confess by losing that he was the lesser man. Hating Tandy with all the ugly hatred of a man who has wronged another, he still fought the thought of admitting that he must stoop to using other methods to beat this upstart who would keep him from the title. Weaving under a left, Tandy smashed a right to the ribs, then a left, a right, a left. His body swayed as he weaved in a deadly rhythm of mighty punching, each blow timed to the movements of Stan Reiser's body. The big man yielded ground. He fell back and tried to sidestep, but Tandy was on him, giving no chance for a respite. Suddenly the haze in Tandy's head seemed to clear momentarily and he stared upon features that were battered and swollen. One of Stan's eyes was closed and a raw wound lay under the other. His lips were puffed and his cheekbone was an open cut, yet there was in the man's eyes a fierce, almost animal hatred and something else. It was something Tandy had never until that moment seen in a boxer's eyes. It was fear! Not fear of physical injury, but the deeper, more awful fear of being truly beaten. And Stan Reiser had never been bested in that way. And now it was here, before him. It was an end. Reiser saw it and knew it. Nothing he could do could stop that driving attack. He had thrown his best punches, used every legitimate trick, but there was one last hope!
42 / Louis L'Amour Tandy feinted suddenly and Reiser struck out wildly, and Tandy smashed a right hand flush to the point of his chin! Stan hit the ropes rolling, lost balance, and crashed to the floor. Yet at seven he was up, lifting his hands, half blind, but then the bell rang! The ninth round. Here it was. Almost before he realized it, the gong sounded and Tandy was going out again. But now he was wary, squinting at Stan's gloves. Were they loaded? But the gloves had not been slipped off. There was no time, and no chance for that under the eyes of the crowd and the sportswriters. It would be something on the gloves. He jabbed and moved away. Stan was working to get in close and there was a caution in his eyes. His whole manner was changed. Suddenly Reiser jabbed sharply for Tandy's head, but a flick of his glove pushed the blow away and Tandy was watchful again. The crowd seemed to sense something. In a flickering glimpse at his corner, Tandy saw Gus Coe's face was scowling. He had seen that something in Reiser's style had changed; something was wrong. But what? Stan slipped a left and came in close. He hooked for Tandy's head and smeared a glove across his eye. The glove seemed to slide on the sweat, and Tandy lowered his head to Stan's shoulder and belted him steadily in the stomach. He chopped a left to the head and the referee broke them. His right eye was smarting wickedly. Something on the gloves! And in that instant, he recalled a story Gus had told him; it was mustard oil! So far he'd gotten little of it, but if it got directly in his eyes'
FIGHTERS SHOULD BE HUNGRY / 43 He staggered under a left hook, blocked a right, but caught a wicked left to the ribs. Sliding under another left, he smashed a right to the ribs with such force that it jerked Reiser's mouth open. In a panic the bigger man dove into a clinch, and jerking a glove free ground the end of it into Tandy's eye! He gritted his teeth and clinched harder. 'You remember me; the newsboy'? Tandy hissed as they swung around in a straining dance. The referee was yelling, 'Break!' Stan hooked again but Tandy got his shoulder up to take the blow. 'I'm going to take you down and if I don't I'll tell my story to anyone who'll listen!' Panic and fear haunted Stan Reiser's eyes and then something in him snapped; there was no longer any thought of the future just a driving, damning desire to punish this kid who would dare to threaten him. Tandy jerked away and Stan hooked viciously to the jaw. Staggering, he caught the left and went to the canvas. He rolled over and got up, but Stan hooked another wicked left to his groin, throwing it low and hard with everything he had on it! Tandy's mouth jerked open in a half-stifled cry of agony and he pitched over on his face, grabbing his crotch and rolling over and over on the canvas! Men and women shouted and screamed. A dozen men clambered to the apron of the ring; flashbulbs popped as the police surged forward to drag everyone back. Around the ring all was bedlam and the huge arena was one vast roar of sound. Tandy rolled over and felt the sun on his face, and he knew he had to get up. Beyond the pain, beyond the sound, beyond every-
44 / Louis L'Amour thing was the need to be on his feet. He crawled to his knees and while the referee stared, too hypnotized by Tandy's struggle to get up to stop the fight, Tandy grabbed the ropes and pulled himself erect. Blinded with pain from his stinging eyes, his teeth sunk into his mouthpiece with the agony that gnawed at his vitals, Tandy brushed the referee aside and held himself with his mind, every sense, every nerve, every ounce of strength, concentrated on Stan Reiser. And Reiser rushed to meet him. Smashing Reiser's lips with a straight left, Tandy threw a high hard one and it caught Reiser on the chin as he came in. Falling back to the ropes, fear in every line of his face, Stan struggled to defend against the tide of punches that Tandy summoned from some hidden reserve of strength. With a lunge, Reiser tried to escape. As he turned Tandy pulled the trigger on a wicked right that clipped Stan flush on the chin and sent him off the platform and crashing into the cowering form of Bernie Satneck! Stan Reiser lay over a chair, out cold and dead to the world. Bernie Satneck struggled to get out from beneath him. Then, Gus and Briggs were in the ring and he tried to see them through eyes that streamed with tears from the angry smart of the mustard oil. 'You made it, son. It's over.' Gus carefully wiped off his face. 'You'll fight the champ, and I think you'll beat him, too!' Dory was in the ring, her eyes bright, her arm around his shoulders. 'It's just a game now, Gus.' He sank to the mat, gasping. 'I'll do whatever you say.'