All Things Mysterious Volume One Hundred Sixteen
Brand’s Heartwarming Thanksgiving Part One
Brand stumbled out of his cold-water flat, bleary-eyed from lack of sleep, to pick up the morning paper, which was in the bushes as usual, and the milk delivery. Before he got two steps, he tripped and went sprawling onto the front lawn. Well, ‘lawn’ was something of a misnomer, it was really more of a patch of dirt, but a fellow can dream, can’t he? At least he hadn’t had the milk bottle in hand, only to see it shatter on the ground. But what had he tripped over?
Well, of all the---someone left a Russian Cossack hat on his stoop! Now what the heck?
Brand bent to examine the hat and now wait a minute! It wasn’t a hat at all-it was a cat! A scrawny, soaking wet, mangy critter who looked up at Brand’s face and mewed.
Now, Brand wasn’t made of stone, so he left the milk and the paper where they were and gently scooped up the kitty and brought it inside. Being the softhearted sap that he was, he got an old towel out of the rag bag and dried kitty off. Then he rummaged around the fridge and found an old piece of semi-rotten fish that he couldn’t quite recall from whence it came and set it down on the floor where it disappeared in about two seconds. Watching this, Brand realized he was hungry too and fixed himself a Dagwood sandwich. As he was inhaling it, a slice of tomato fell to the floor and was also inhaled by the feline, who Brand was already calling Leo. He knelt to pick up the towel and noticed that Leo was wearing a collar and there was something stuck in it.
Interesting. There weren’t any tags on the collar, so Brand felt ok with calling his new pal Leo. Luckily at Brand’s place, the absentee landlord was satisfied if the tenants weren’t out-and-out criminals, so one little kitty shouldn’t pose a problem. Still, it was a little strange--how did Leo end up on the doorstep in the first place? He must have had a home at some point if he had a collar--and what was this? Stuck in the collar was a bit of paper! It was a note that said, ‘Fische müssen schwimmen, Vögel müssen fliegen, nach und nach bist du tot.’ Now what the heck did that mean? It looked to Brand like some foreign language in very stern, flowery lettering. Now where had he seen that kind of writing before?
Meanwhile Leo, full of suspect fish and nice and dry, had curled up behind the stove and appeared sound asleep. Just make yourself at home, why don’t you?, thought Brand. Then he remembered where he’d seen the funny foreign lettering before. When he moved into this apartment, the previous tenant had left a pile of stuff behind, including some books. Some of them had the same kind of writing. What kind was it? Just then there was a knock on the door. It was a sweet-faced middle-aged lady who was collecting for Thanksgiving kitchens for the needy. The holiday was right around the corner and Brand had been trying to decide whether he himself was needy enough to go to one. As he politely declined the invitation to contribute, he noticed the woman’s eyes darting this way and that, peering into the house. She hurried away before Brand was even finished making excuses of relative poverty and left him standing in the doorway, more puzzled than ever. With a shrug, he shut the door and went back into the kitchen. Leo was still snoozing away tucked behind the stove, so Brand sat at the kitchen table, after carefully propping up the short leg with a folded bit of cardboard, and tucked anew into his Dagwood. Another knock on the door! Never get this sandwich et, he grumped to himself as he went to yank open the door.
Standing in the doorway were three men, looking for all the world like refugees from a WWII movie--Sluggo haircuts, wearing what appeared to be military surplus, one even had a billy club! They stood, towering over Brand and eyeing him as if he were the sunrise and they were roosters, but saying nothing.
Uh-Oh! Now what’s in store for our man Brand? Looks like he’s in another situation not of his own making! And what of Leo the cat? Tune in next time for the next exciting installment of Brand’s Heartwarming Thanksgiving.