THE BURGLAR’S MICROPHONE
That night I was sitting, brooding over the case, while Craig was studying a photograph which he made of the smudge on the glass door down at Schloss’. He paused in his scrutiny of the print to answer the telephone.
“Something has happened to Schloss,” he exclaimed seizing his hat and coat. “Winters has been watching him. He didn’t go to the Recherche. Winters wants me to meet him at a place several blocks below it Come on. He wouldn’t say over the wire what it was. Hurry.”
We met Winters in less than ten minutes at the address he had given, a bachelor apartment in the neighborhood of the Recherche.
“Schloss kept rooms here,” explained Winters, hurrying us quickly upstairs. “I wanted you to see before anyone else.”
As we entered the large and luxuriously furnished living room of the jeweler’s suite, a gruesome sight greeted us.
There lay Schloss on the floor, face down, in a horribly contorted position. In one hand, clenched under him partly, the torn sleeve of a woman’s dress was grasped convulsively. The room bore unmistakable traces of a violent struggle, but except for the hideous object on the floor was vacant.
Kennedy bent down over him. Schloss was dead. In a corner, by the door, stood a pile of grips, stacked up, packed, and undisturbed.
Winters who had been studying the room while we got our bearings picked up a queer-looking revolver from the floor. As he held it up I could see that along the top of the barrel was a long cylinder with a ratchet or catch at the butt end. He turned it over and over carefully.
“By George,” he muttered, “it has been fired off.”
Kennedy glanced more minutely at the body. There was not a mark on it. I stared about vacantly at the place where Winters had picked the thing up.
“Look,” I cried, my eye catching a little hole in the baseboard of the woodwork near it.
“It must have fallen and exploded on the floor,” remarked Kennedy. “Let me see it, Winters.”
Craig held it at arm’s length and pulled the catch. Instead of an explosion, there came a cone of light from the top of the gun. As Kennedy moved it over the wall, I saw in the center of the circle of light a dark spot.
“A new invention,” Craig explained. “All you need to do is to move it so that little dark spot falls directly on an object. Pull the trigger— the bullet strikes the dark spot. Even a nervous and unskilled marksman becomes a good shot in the dark. He can even shoot from behind the protection of something—and hit accurately.”
It was too much for me. I could only stand and watch Kennedy as he deftly bent over Schloss again and placed a piece of chemically prepared paper flat on the forehead of the dead man.
When he withdrew it, I could see that it bore marks of the lines on his head. Without a word, Kennedy drew from his pocket a print of the photograph of the smudge on Schloss’ door.