“That’s great news, Dottie!” Buzz says into the phone. “Where’s Moseley holed up?” “At the El Dorado Motor Court on Highway 7. Cottage 3.”
“Thanks, Dottie. You’re a peach.” “That’s two you owe me, Ace. One for nosing around and one for monkeysitting your furry little friend.”
“And if he’s made a mess of the apartment when we get home tonight, it’ll be three.” “Don’t worry, Dottie. Fido is housebroken. I promise.”
The pilot hangs up and turns to the scrapyard owner. “Thanks for your help, Buddy. Now I need to go have a talk with the rat who framed me.”
The old man lifts a footlocker onto his desk and opens it. It’s filled with pistols, machine guns, and hand grenades. “For your rat problem.”
Buzz parks the borrowed truck in front of one of the six cabins that comprise the El Dorado roadside motor lodge and walks to the front door.
He glances about before drawing a .45 pistol from his back pocket and trying the doorknob. Finding it unlocked, he eases the door open.
Moseley sits at a desk on the far side of the room, his back to the door. Smoke trails up from a cigarette resting in an ashtray on the desk.
Buzz steps inside, the .45 held at hip level. “Hello, Moseley.” The other man stays silent and still. Edging closer, Buzz grips his shoulder.
“It’s time for us to pay a visit to your pal Dr. Zeus.” Moseley topples from the chair to the floor, a gold-hilted knife buried in his chest.
“I’m afraid the only place he’ll be going is the morgue.” Buzz hears Dr. Zeus’ voice behind him, followed by the sound of a door locking.
“But there’s no need to go looking for me. I’m already here. No, don’t turn around. Just toss your gun on the bed and raise your hands.”
Buzz grinds his teeth in frustration but follows the Lightning Legion commander’s orders. “Taking care of a few loose ends?” “Precisely.”
“Your colleague Mr. Moseley tried to use his knowledge of our operations as leverage for demanding a higher ranking, and paying, position.”
“I paid him a traitor’s wages.” “And I’m next on your ‘to kill’ list?” “Not yet.” The world goes black as Dr. Zeus clubs Buzz over the head.
TO BE CONTINUED!
“Hold it right there, shegetz,” the man with the shotgun rasps. “Take another step and you’ll have more holes in you than a sponge.”
Buzz freezes and holds up his hands. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Buddy, it’s me… Buzz Brown. You sold me an Army surplus motorcycle, remember?”
The scruffy man lowers his shotgun. “Of course I remember. I’m old, not stupid. Why are you dressed like a farmer? I didn’t recognize you.”
“And why are you driving that truck? Did the Harley break down?” “No, Buddy. The Harley is fine. I… Well, truth be told I’m on the run.”
The old man scratches his bristly white beard and laughs. “Then that makes two of us. Come inside and tell me all about it, Pancho Villa.”
Buzz follows the old man into the shack. The scrapyard owner takes a seat and gestures toward a chair on the other side of the desk from him.
“So who is it you’re running from?” Buddy asks. “The law and a bunch of flying gangsters called the Lightning Legion,” the pilot responds.
The ill-kempt old man nods. “I can sympathize. In 1925, Meyer Lansky tells me ‘Epstein, New York has gotten too hot for you. Time to scram.’”
“The coppers and that yentzer Dutch Schultz were both after me, so I took to the road and didn’t stop till I reached this ferblunjit spot.”
“I must be the only person who ever went to the desert to cool off!” Buddy laughs. “Now, what can I do for you, boychik?” “I need your help.”
“These Lightning Legion goons have their own squadron of German Messerschmitt 109 fighter planes,” Buzz explains to the scrapyard owner.
“I was hoping you could maybe ask around on the salvage market and find out if someone has been buying up a lot of surplus Me-109s lately.”
Buddy nods. “Yeah, I can do that for you. Anything else?” “Could I use your phone? Some friends of mine are chasing down another lead.”
The old man gestures toward the phone on his rickety desk. “Help yourself.” “Thanks.” Buzz dials the number for the Hungry Hangar diner.
“Dottie? It’s Buzz.” “Hello, handsome. You’re doubly lucky today. You get to talk to me and we found out where Moseley rests his head.”
TO BE CONTINUED!
“I have a better idea,” the sultry brunette tells Buzz. “Missy and I find out Moseley’s address and pass it on. Then you take it from there.”
“How will you two get past the Arrowspace gate guards, sneak into Bridget’s office, and break into her files?” “We won’t,” Dottie replies.
“Dozens of pilots come into the Hungry Hangar every day. One of them has to know where Moseley lives.” “She’s right, Buzz!” Missy adds.
The fugitive flier frowns. “I don’t know. You really think you’ll be able to get his address out of them that easily?” Dottie laughs huskily.
“Oh, honey — We’re women. Getting men to tell us things is as easy as breathing. Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it.”
Thirty miles outside Saguaro, Buzz steers the rust-splotched green Dodge truck he’d borrowed from Missy off the highway and into a scrapyard.
The fugitive pilot is dressed in the jeans, t-shirt, straw cowboy hat, and sunglasses Missy and Dottie had scrounged up as a disguise.
After driving the two waitresses to work early that morning, he’d headed south and dumped his flight suit in a service station trash bin.
Hopefully that planted evidence would throw the manhunt off his trail while he doubled-back to the northwest to chase down a potential lead.
With the Army, FBI, and police looking to arrest him and the Lightning Legion trying to kill him, Buzz was battling both time and the odds.
Buzz weaves around the derelict cars and scrap iron heaps that fill the junkyard before parking the old truck behind a ramshackle building.
While Dottie and Missy were tracking down the address of test pilot turned Lightning Legion agent Clark Moseley, Buzz was on another trail.
A few days earlier, flying circus owner Sam Kronus had noted there were so many surplus warbirds for sale a man could buy his own air force.
By investigating recent purchases of Me-109 fighters – the Lightning Legion’s plane of choice – Buzz hoped to trace a line back to Dr. Zeus.
As the pilot steps out of the truck, the door of the scrapyard shack bangs open to reveal a growling dog and a man aiming a shotgun at him.
TO BE CONTINUED!
Dr. Zeus, leader of a deadly band of aerial raiders known as the Lightning Legion, has hijacked America’s airwaves to broadcast his threats.
“Too long have you thought yourselves safe behind the wide moats of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. You now see our reach is boundless.”
“No corner of your country is safe from our strikes. We will destroy military, commercial, and governmental targets across America.”
“Our campaign of terror is only beginning. Our forces are unstoppable, our will implacable. America will fall. So swears Dr. Zeus!”
The Lightning Legion’s takeover of the airwaves ends with a martial fanfare and crackle of static and band music again flows from the radio.
Buzz, Dottie, and Missy sit stunned as the override of the radio broadcast ends. “Can they really do what they say?” the young blonde asks.
The fugitive pilot exhales. “Judging by what I saw of their flying base, they might. And Dr. Zeus said there were more airships coming.”
“He also bragged about seizing some sort of superweapon that would make the Lightning Legion unbeatable. Something better than A-bombs.”
Fido mimics Buzz as he smacks his fist into his palm. “They have to be stopped.” “But how?” Dottie asks quietly. “Moseley. He’s the key.”
“If I can find Moseley, I can trail him back to Dr. Zeus and the Lightning Legion,” the flier says. “Unless the police catch me first.”
“But, Buzz, the police have to believe your story now,” Missy interjects. “The whole country heard that broadcast!” “It’s not that easy.”
“The Feds will probably think I was behind that little radio stunt. And while they waste time looking for me, Dr. Zeus is free to strike.”
“How’ll you find Moseley?” Dottie asks. “Wish I knew. He doesn’t live at Rancho Libre like most of the pilots. I don’t know where he bunks.”
“Maybe I can sneak back into the Arrowspace facility and dig up an address for him in the company personnel records,” Buzz wonders aloud.
“Break into a guarded compound where everyone knows you on sight?” Dottie says. “Sounds pretty risky to me, sport.” “What choice do I have?”
TO BE CONTINUED!
Seated on the rim of the tub with one long, shapely leg stretched out as she shaves it, Dottie looks up at the policeman in the doorway.
Her short silk kimono has been pulled partly open at the top, framing the curves of her décolletage. “Can I help you officer?” “Uh… uh…”
Blushing and stammering, the officer holsters his gun and backs away from the bathroom. “S-sorry, ma’am. We’ll be going now.”
Dottie and Missy watch as the two policemen make a hasty retreat from their apartment. The pair burst out laughing as the hall door shuts.
“Ok Dottie, I give up. Where’d you hide Buzz?” The brunette reaches into the bubbly bathwater and pulls the submerged pilot up. “Right here.”
Clad in a frilly pink robe while he waits for his clothes to dry, Buzz sits on the couch explaining his predicament to the two waitresses.
“So that’s why the Army and FBI think I stole an experimental bomber from Arrowspace and sold it to the Russians. And why I’m on the run.”
“Can’t say as I blame them, ace. That story of yours is a lot to swallow.” “Dottie Wade! You can’t possibly mean that. Buzz is no traitor!”
“Don’t get yourself in a tizzy, Missy. Of course he isn’t. But I can see why Mr. Hoover’s boys might think so.” Buzz nods grimly. “Me, too.”
The music streaming from the girls’ radio is interrupted by a sudden squawk of static and a blaring fanfare. “America, this is Dr. Zeus!”
Buzz, Dottie, and Missy are startled by the voice coming through the radio in the small apartment. “Do not attempt to change the station.”
“The Lightning Legion now controls your nation’s airwaves. Shortly, we shall control much more than that. You cannot escape our power!”
Dr. Zeus’ menacing tones emanate from the radio speaker. “Today our forces attacked and destroyed one of your Army airfields with impunity.”
“This was but the first of many lessons you will learn in the days to come, lessons that will teach you the folly of opposing our might.”
“We will destroy your air defenses and take mastery of your skies. America the Proud will soon lie humbled before the Lightning Legion!”
TO BE CONTINUED!
The fugitive pilot’s shoulders slump in resignation. “Sorry to drag you ladies into this. I’ll surrender and tell them you weren’t involved.”
“Not so fast, hotshot,” Dottie quips as she grabs his arm. “Missy, you stall the cops and hide Fido. I’ll take care of Buzz.” “Right!”
The young blonde gathers up the monkey and looks for a hiding place as Dottie drags Buzz into the bathroom with her. The police knock again.
“Just a minute, please!” Missy shouts. Opening a closet, she takes out a hatbox, puts Fido inside, shushes him, and returns it to the shelf.
Missy counts to five and opens the hall door. “Hello, officers. I already bought a Police Ball ticket.” “We’re not here for that, ma’am.”
The two policemen fill the doorway. “We’re looking for an escaped spy who was seen nearby. I’m afraid we’ll need to search your apartment.”
Meanwhile, inside the adjoining bathroom less than ten feet away, Dottie makes a bewildered Buzz sit on the rim of a bubble-filled tub.
"Lucky for you I was drawing a bath," she tells him as she plucks a straw from a bottle of orange Nehi and pops it into his mouth. "But…"
“Down you go, Davy Jones.” Quietly as she can, Dottie helps Buzz ease back into the tub and under the cover of a thick layer of soap bubbles.
She shepherds the suds around to fully conceal the fugitive pilot and his drinking straw snorkel. “And now for a little distraction…”
Missy leans back against the bathroom door and watches the police officers. “See, I told you there are no spies here; just tired waitresses.”
The two policemen continue to search the apartment for Buzz, framed by the Lightning Legion for the theft of an experimental jet bomber.
Having checked the bedroom and living area, one of the officers points to the door behind Missy. “What’s in there, ma’am?” “Uh, nothing.”
“We’ll need to see that for ourselves.” Missy braces herself against the doorjamb as a human barrier. “But, but… you can’t go in there!”
One officer picks the small blonde woman up by her waist and moves her aside as his partner draws his gun and opens the bathroom door.
TO BE CONTINUED!
Buzz reaches out as he plunges from the building’s side. One hand frantically grips the sill of the 3rd floor window from which he’d slipped.
Hanging from the window ledge by his left hand, he eyes each end of the alley below to see if the MPs guarding its entrances heard him fall.
Satisfied he hadn’t tipped his presence to the dragnet seeking him, Buzz reaches his right hand up to get a more secure grip on the sill.
Above him, Fido the monkey leaps over to the lighted, partly open window to the right and ducks inside in search of help for his friend.
After a few seconds, the lighted window opens further and a young blonde woman sticks her head out. “Buzz?” “Oh. Hey, Missy. How’s tricks?”
Missy, a waitress at Buzz’s favorite hash house, looks quizzically at the pilot hanging by his fingertips from the windowsill next to hers.
“What’re you doing on Mrs. Barnes’ window ledge?” “Could I come inside to explain that? My arms are getting a bit tired.” “Oh! Of course.”
“Where are my manners? Please come in. Fido’s already here, but you probably know that.” Missy draws her head back inside the window.
Buzz shuffles his hands until he’s at the far edge of the sill, stretches across to reach Missy’s window ledge, and swings himself over.
The weary pilot pulls himself up and climbs through the window into Missy’s apartment. “Did you know the police are looking for you, Buzz?”
“All the pilots who came into the Hungry Hangar for lunch today were talking about how you’d stolen a plane and the G-men were after you.”
“I promise you that’s not true, Missy. Well, the part about the FBI hunting for me is true, but I didn’t steal that plane. I’m no traitor.”
The young blonde woman frowns. “Of course not, Buzz. No one who knows you believes that.” “Thanks, Missy.” The bathroom door swings open.
A voluptuous, dark-haired woman wearing only a flowery, thigh-length kimono sashays into the living room of the small flat and eyes Buzz.
“You’ve been keeping secrets, Missy. I approve.” “Dottie, I…” he starts before someone knocks heavily on the door. “Police. Open the door.”
TO BE CONTINUED!
Retreating to the middle of the narrow, shadow-filled alley, Buzz looks at the buildings to either side. Three doors open into the passage.
Quietly, he checks the doors. All are closed and locked, as are the darkened windows on the ground floor of each building.
Buzz glances at the silhouettes of the teams of MPs stationed at the far ends of the alley. “If we can’t get out, then we’ll have to go up.”
He assesses his predicament. There are no fire escapes and the alley is too wide for him to climb by bracing himself against each wall.
The fugitive pilot lifts the small brown monkey from his shoulder and sets it on the ground. “OK, Fido, time for you to find us a way up.”
Fido the monkey salutes Buzz and then runs back and forth along the side of the buildings fronting the alley, seeking a climbing foothold.
Finding a pipe clamped to the brick surface of one of the buildings with a series of U-bolts, he scurries up it, pauses, and waves at Buzz.
The fugitive pilot grasps the two-inch pipe and eyes it critically. “You realize I weigh a bit more than you, right?” he asks the monkey.
Fido puts his thumb to his nose and wiggles his fingers before continuing to clamber up the pipe. With a sigh of resignation, Buzz follows.
Gripping the pipe with his hands and knees, the pilot inches up the building’s side before noticing the pipe stops well short of the roof.
From his perch higher up on the pipe to which Buzz clings, Fido the monkey vaults and lands nimbly on a window ledge a few feet away.
Following his furry pal’s lead, Buzz climbs a bit higher and stretches out his leg until he gets a precarious toehold on the third floor sill.
The fugitive pilot lets loose of the pipe and then shifts over to stand precariously on the ledge. “Great, yet another locked window.”
Two sills over, Buzz notices light and low music coming through a partly open window. Fido leaps to next ledge and waits for his friend.
As the pilot stretches out his leg and again tries to shift over to the new ledge, he loses his footing and falls toward the alley below.
TO BE CONTINUED!
“Nothing like getting shot at by both the good guys and the bad guys,” Buzz mutters as he runs from the attacking Lightning Legion plane.
He zigzags across the empty desert terrain at the edge of the Army airfield, bullets from the Me-109 thudding into the sand behind him.
“Uh oh.” Fifty yards ahead, a tall chain link fence marks the base perimeter. The fugitive pilot drops to the ground as the Me-109 nears.
Strafing fire from the black fighter plane makes a cactus to Buzz’s right explode in a spray of needle-studded chunks as the aircraft passes.
Getting back to his feet as the Me-109 peels off, Buzz squeezes through a bullet-torn rent in the fence and runs into the open desert beyond.
“All units be advised: Recent eyewitness reports place aviator Buzz Brown, suspected spy and saboteur, in the vicinity of downtown Saguaro.”
“Federal, state, and county forces are joining with Saguaro PD officers to cordon off a nine-block area and conduct a door-to-door search.”
Buzz overhears the radio announcements from a slowly creeping police patrol car as it passes the dark, narrow alley in which he’s hiding.
After escaping the custody of the MPs during the Lightning Legion attack on Drummond Airfield, he’d hopped a freight train back to town.
Buzz had taken refuge in a backyard toolshed until being discovered by a startled homeowner just after nightfall. Now he was back on the run.
With the joint police task force sealing up downtown Saguaro, the fugitive pilot found himself caught in a trap that would soon snap shut!
If Buzz couldn’t evade the police dragnet closing around him, he’d never track down Moseley or be able to use him to get on Dr. Zeus’ trail.
As the prowling patrol car at last moves on, the hounded aviator slips out from behind the dumpster and creeps toward the mouth of the alley.
He freezes and presses himself against the wall as two silhouettes block the opening ahead. “You two men take position here.” “Yes, sir.”
Buzz recognizes Army investigator Capt. Albright’s voice. “If you see anything, call out. The search teams will be here soon. Stay alert.”
Slowly backing away, the fugitive pilot pads stealthily toward other end of the alley only to spot two more MPs barring his path. Trapped!
TO BE CONTINUED!
“C’mon, c’mon,” Buzz mutters to himself as he uses the nail file to try and pick the lock on the handcuffs shackling him to the burning car.
The front half of the automobile is quickly engulfed in roaring flames as he continues to struggle with the cuffs, the heat battering him.
Startled by the car’s bursting tires, Buzz drops the nail file Bridget had secretly slipped him to aid his escape from government custody.
Searing smoke from the rapidly blazing car fills his lungs. “Go, Fido! Run!” He shouts between coughs as he fumbles for the fallen file.
The crippled car erupts in a fierce, fiery explosion amid the chaos of the Lightning Legion’s devastating sneak attack on the airfield.
The blackened wreck of the Army staff car sits beside the road, the flames that had enveloped it extinguished by the force of the explosion.
A battered, soot-darkened figure rises from the drainage ditch bordering the road and rubs his wrist. “That was closer than I’d have liked.”
Fido pokes his head out of his hiding place inside Buzz’s torn and stained flight suit and chitters angrily at the ruined hulk of the car.
The pilot gives the monkey’s head a playful rub. “You said it, pal.” In the distance the black Me-109s continue their attack on the airfield.
“I can’t put the skids to Dr. Zeus and his Lightning Legion goons from a jail cell. We have to go on the lam, Fido. We’re outlaws now.”
With Fido the monkey cradled in the crook of his arm like a football, former All-American fullback Buzz Brown bolts across the air base.
Distant rifles crack as soldiers defending Drummond Air Field take hurried shots at the suspicious figure running toward the base perimeter.
The trailing gunfire fades as the fugitive pilot reaches the open ground beyond the central core of the airfield, but he keeps running.
Just as Buzz begins to think he’s safe, the increasingly loud thrum of a fighter plane engine makes him glance back over his shoulder.
Behind him, one of the Lightning Legion’s ebon Me-109s is racing low over the desert floor, flashes of light sparking from its nose guns.
TO BE CONTINUED!