Page:Weird Tales volume 31 number 02.djvu/77

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203
THE STRANGLING HANDS

The State had a hundred or so witnesses to that quarrel two years before in the lobby of the Metropolitan; it had more than that to testify how I had resented Tony's theft of my book. Even my own lawyers do not believe the truth I tell them about the night that Tony died.

Johnson supported my story at first, but later, when he saw, as the pilot of "Cheeky's" plane had seen, that the truth would brand him liar or accomplice, he, too, changed his "I know" to "I think," and later lied that he had been drinking. Johnson knows that I know he is lying, but I don't blame him. What else could he do?

My lawyers are going to try a plea of self-defense, and, if the worst comes to the worst, of insanity. Strange thing, this having to lie that I killed a man I never touched.

If my release comes before July, I shall study out some way of outwitting the hands. They may not even try to get me. There are two reasons for believing this. First, the stone of Nyi was never found after the night of Tony's death; it is possible that the priests of Bhan-Guru already have it back and will leave me alone. The second reason and the strongest is that there is no way for me to die. The Law said that Captain Clark committed suicide; the Law said that Bobby Milroy died from natural causes; the Law said that "Cheeky" was murdered by person or persons unknown to it; the Law said that Tony Henderson was killed by person and causes known to it. What way is there left for me to go? Fate, perhaps, has outwitted the strangling priests of Nyi, god of death, and will let me live.

*****

July 7, 1930 (by special correspondent): After losing a bitterly fought battle to have the time of his execution changed, L. C MacKenzie, convicted last May of the murder of his one-time fellow explorer, Anthony Henderson, suffered death by hanging in the prison yard here at seven minutes after midnight this morning….

Haunting Columns

By ROBERT E. HOWARD

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