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Release date: October 5, 2023

Original publication: New York, NY: Royal Publications, Inc, 1957

The Railhead at Kysyl Khoto

Illustrated by SCHOENHERR

I've been told that during the season of the simoom winds in Morocco, Arab judges let confessed murderers off with a fine. The weather justifies homicide. Washington judges should be as lenient in the summer, I thought, scooting on the contours of my chair to keep the seat of my pants from sweating into the varnish. Ten bucks and costs seemed a fair price to pay society if I killed this Doctor Francis von Munger.

My cigarettes had become limp and brown with the sweat through my shirt. I eased one of these unappetizing noodles out of the pack and lit it. It tasted like burning, damp wool stockings. I picked up an ancient magazine to keep from staring at the blonde receptionist, the only object in the waiting room upon which the eye could rest with comfort.

I'd viewed all the cartoons without smiling and was working my way through the ads when the blonde peeked over my magazine. "Dr. von Munger will see you now, Dr. Huguenard," she said.

"Damn right he will!" I growled, slapping the magazine down and trailing the blonde into the holy of holies. Inside, an efficient young woman sat behind an efficient steel desk. She looked insultingly cool. "How much of von Munger's typewriter pool do I have to work through before I get to see the great man in the flesh?" I demanded of the cool-looking redhead.

"Have a cigar, Dr. Huguenard," the girl said, tipping a cylindrical humidor my way. "And sit down," indicating the chair that squatted beside her desk. "I've got news for you, Huguenard. I'm von Munger. The first name is Frances, with an 'e.' Makes all the difference."

I accepted the cigar, crushed my wool-sock cigarette in the ash-tray, and leaned back silent to indicate my availability for further astonishments.

"I suppose you wonder why you were sent here," she began.

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