The Spirit: "The Last Trolley"

The Spirit
By Will Eisner
"The Last Trolley"
March 24, 1946

The old trolleys are mostly gone now, and only a few still run... like
the Raven's Point Line. They run all day, creaking their way all through
Central City, carrying morning people who return at night.

The trolley run from the heart of the city to Raven's Point is a twisted
thirty miles, and can hardly be qualified as a grand adventure. CLACKITY
CLACKITYCLACK...CLACKITYCLACK... The trolleys make their way until 3
A.M., emptying their passengers as the evening grows darker, and the 29
Car is the last trolley to clatter through the slumbering city. It
rattles along Central River Bridge, and with its human load, clackity
clacks towards the Raven's Point barns. From this point until the end of
the line, there are no stops, and is the dullest part of the entire trip.

A passenger looks up from his newspaper to see a fellow passenger at
sleep, and a familiar blue suited figure laying next to him. Having just
read of the Spirit's murder and the missing body, naturally he'd like to
know where the passenger's burden was found. Having had enough, the
newspaper reader tries to get off, but there's no more stops until
Raven's Point. All he can do is sit and think. When he tries to
exchange top coats with another passenger, he discovers to his horror
that the man is none other than "Bottles" McTopp.

He tries to wake up the sleeping passenger, who may be a policeman,
coroner, or some other type of lawman. He points over to "Bottles"
McTopp, the man he tipped the Spirit off to. McTopp robbed and shot his
way out of Central Trust Bank. While the passenger enjoys his slumber,
the man tries to make a deal with "Bottles". He'll split the money with
him, and tells him that he wasn't the one who ratted out on him. There's
a hundred thousand dollars buried out in Raven's Point, where they're
headed right now. He was supposed to meet the Spirit there, and show him
the location, but he was dead now. He and McTopp can remove "Killer"
Conch from the equation. Turning around, the deal maker sees "Killer"
Conch peering up at him, and smiling an uneven smile. They have him, but
before they shoot, he has to tell them everything. He killed the Spirit.
The idea came to him Monday night when "Bottles" and "Killer" gave him
the automatic, and showed him how to use it.

The night before they were to rob the bank, he stole $100,000, and
brought it to Raven's Point. He used the old rolled-up newspaper to hide
the deed. Besides, he was the head teller. He then called the Spirit at
police headquarters and gave him the tip. At the bank, he was regarded
as a hero, and saw the ambush that his two partners ran into. It's a
wonder that they made it with their lives intact. Tonight, when he
entered his room, the Spirit was waiting for him. How did Crauley get
the information? He knew that the jails were filled with bank clerks who
pulled off what Crauley did. Where was the hundred thousand now?
Crauley asked for just twenty-four hours for him to bring it back from
Raven's Point. They shook hands, with the Spirit promising to give him a
light sentence for his aid. BANG! BANG! The sucker gets two bullets in
the back for his trouble. With no witnesses against him, Crauley came
out to retrieve the money.

The story has been told, but the two listeners remain silent. Figuring
that they are getting ready to kill him, Crauley pulls out the gun they
gave him, and fires two shots at pointblank range. The trolley comes to
a stop, with the representative from the Acme Dummy and Costume Company,
Inc. carrying his blue-suited burden through the open doors.

Crauley has been tricked, tricked by a dummy. The Spirit is done with
conducting the train, and informs Crauley that the gun his friends gave
him was filled with blanks. Crauley can't stand it any longer, but he
won't have to. They've reached the end of the line at Raven's Point.
Commissioner Dolan is waiting for them with an ambulance for "Killer" and
"Bottles". The two men had gotten away from the police in the downtown
traffic, but not before succumbing to their bullet wounds. They were
dead after Dolan was called. In fact, they were dead the entire time
that Crauley was talking to them. The newspaper was a plant, but the
dummy was just a coincidence. The trolleys enter the barns at Raven's
Point, where they rest until dawn. As switchman Sam Smipple tells it,
"they'll be a-running again, tomorrer, and the day after that, ho-hum,

This story was reprinted in The Best Of The Spirit tpb (2005).

The Spirit logo appears as blown bits of paper floating along the windy

A local masked hero appears to be dead, but reports of his demise prove
to be exaggerated.

"Bottles" McTopp resembles Andy Capp in appearance.

Crauley's train of thought is interrupted by "Bottles" and "Killer".

The head teller has got quite a story to tell.

A shake of the hand is worth two shots in the back.

The Spirit should receive a good conduct medal for taking Crauley to his
final stop.

Steve Chung
"The Last Review"