The Mysterious Bookshop

                          Brand in: UP!...UP...and Before!



Brand rushed down the sidewalk, elbowing stragglers out of the way.  Well, why not? He was in a hurry!  Where was...there!  He saw it!  He was in sore need of a telephone booth so he could make his call, and there on the corner was one at last.

He folded the door to the booth open and squeezed inside.  Why did the phone company make these things so small?  He painfully shifted himself to face the phone bank only to find himself eyeball to eyeball with another man!

‘Pardon me, sir, this booth is occupied.’

‘Terribly sorry.’  As Brand started to begin to attempt to try to turn around, he noticed something strange.  Well, stranger than two men in one phone booth, anyway!  The man was half-dressed!  Was he some sort of weirdo?  Maybe not--he seemed to have some kind of costume on underneath his poorly cut suit.  

A brightly colored leotard with a giant ‘S’ emblazoned on the chest.  What the devil?  Brand squeezed himself back out the door, urgent phone call temporarily forgotten, as the man came leaping out of the booth.  Good gravy, he was wearing a cape!  Was this some kind of strange fashion statement?  Eyes agog, Brand watched in disbelief as the man jumped up and flew away!  Just like a bird!  

Brand went back into the booth but his mind wasn’t on his call. How could a person fly like that?  He finished phoning the library about his overdue book and stepped back outside, still not believing what he’d seen.  Wait!  Up in the sky!  Was that a bird?  No, it was an airplane!  No, it was...it was the man in the costume again, only this time he was randomly weaving around in the air, bumping into buildings and causing chunks of them to rain down onto the street below.  Pedestrians and spectators like Brand ducked and ran for cover.  Eventually the costumed flier got tangled up in an awning and tumbled to the ground just a few feet from Brand.  He struggled to his feet, brushing himself off, muttering to himself, ‘I’m supra-guy, I’m supra-guy…’  

Brand certainly couldn’t ignore this; if nothing else, he wanted to find out how man could fly, so he followed supra-guy, which wasn’t difficult, as the costumed crusader was stumbling along slowly. Then he fell down.  Brand rushed up to him and helped him up.  ‘Are you okay, guy?’ he asked.  ‘You took quite a tumble.’

‘You don’t know the half of it!  I wasn’t watching where I was going and went face first into the side of a mountain!’

‘A mountain?  What mountain?’ said Brand, incredulous.  

‘Why, Mount Mountain, of course.  Careless of me!’

‘How could you not see a mountain?  Say, how is it that you can fly?  Don’t you know that if man could fly, he’d have wings?’

‘That mountain wasn’t there yesterday. And do you see that lady over there?’ said supra-man.  ‘The one with the orange hat?’

‘Yeah, what about her?’

‘She’s wearing a fur coat.  Are you saying that if she was meant to have a fur coat, she’d have been born with one?’

Brand had no answer for that and so said nothing.  Presently supra-guy said, ‘I could use a drink. Come on, I’ll buy you one!’

Brand was saddened to find that the costumed hero couldn’t hold his liquor, or maybe it was the shot to the head from flying into the mountain, for the men were only halfway through their first drink when supra-guy was prostrate under the table. Now Brand was on the horns of a dilemma.  What to do?  Finish both drinks and leave?  Drag supra-guy out of the way so no one tripped over him?  Fish through the pockets of his suit to find money to pay for the drinks? Quietly leave?  As it turned out, he did none of  these things, for just then a man in an ill-fitting brown suit and fedora came barging through door, exclaiming ‘There you are!  Here, you, help me get him up!’  Brand and the brown-suited man hoisted supra-guy up to a kind of standing posture, but it was clear that he was in no shape to--do whatever it was that he was doing. The moment they let go, supra-guy slumped right back to the floor.

‘Is he drunk or what?’

‘I don’t think so--we didn’t even finish our first drink.  He said he flew face-first into a mountain, maybe that’s it.’

‘Darn him anyway!  He wasn’t supposed to go flying around half-cocked, and especially not into mountains!’

‘Say, just what is going on here, anyway?’

‘We’re testing new equipment for the air force--a flying suit!’

‘Oh, I get it, it’s the suit that flies!’

‘Exactly. We figure that if this works then we can save a lot of time and money by not building planes, and having our personnel simply fly wherever they need to go by using these suits.’

‘Ingenious!’ said Brand.

‘This guy’s in no shape to go anywhere,’ replied the brown-suited man, who introduced himself as White. ‘Can you take over?’

‘Not me, brother!’ said Brand.  ‘I’m afraid of heights--and mountains!’

‘There’s a thousand in it for you if you just put on the suit and fly it back to the base near Mount Mountain,’

Brand hesitated. A thousand was an awful lot of money, but those heights….

White added, ‘You can fly low if you want to, and I’ll make it twelve-fifty.’

 

Brand stood, arms together in front of him, poised on the edge of the building that housed the local newspaper, The Daily Prevaricator.  White was on the ground below, ready to hop into the jalopy that was parked there in order to guide Brand back to the base, hopefully avoiding mountains and buildings along the way.

It was pretty hard to just jump off a building, though, and White was getting impatient.

‘Come on already!’

Brand shut his eyes, steeled himself, and jumped.



Will Brand plummet to the earth?  Probably not, since we have to finish the story. What’s in store for supra-guy in our next installment?  Tune in next week, same supra-page, same supra-website.

 

Meantime, check out these mysteries involving costumery:

The late Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse is on the case when a reveler is killed while still in costume from the New Year's bash from the night before. 




https://www.mysteriousbookshop.com/products/dexter-colin-the-secret-of-annex-3

 

For the younger set, what says 'costumes' more than Halloween?  Nothing, that's what!

https://www.mysteriousbookshop.com/products/lagonegro-melissa-sweet-and-spooky-halloween

 

Cribb and Thackeray of the Yard are on the trail of person or persons unknown who are playing mean practical jokes on London's performers. 

https://www.mysteriousbookshop.com/products/lovesey-peter-abracadaver

 

Questions/Comments/Fly Like An Eagle?  mike@mysteriousbookshop.com

Written by Ian Kern — March 30, 2017