All Things Mysterious Volume One Hundred Two
Brand in: The Case Of Mistaken Identity
‘But I tell you, I saw him!’
‘Lady, lady, it wasn’t me!’
‘All right, hold it. Now. Mrs. Wallace, you say that you saw this man in the pet store, and then--
‘That’s what I said! I thought, such a nice man, getting a kitty for a companion! Then he...he…’
Mrs. Wallace was a little old lady and couldn’t quite face what she had seen at the pet store earlier or what she was seeing in her mind’s eye now.
‘There, there, Mrs. Wallace, that’s all right. I just wanted to--’
‘Wanted to what, young man?’
Just then the phone rang. Avery picked up the receiver and listened, then said, ‘Yeah,’ and hung up.
‘Well, Brand, you’re in luck. Both Costello and the cat will be all right. No thanks to you.’
‘But I tell you I didn’t do anything!’ Brand screeched. ‘I was in the pet store, sure, but I didn’t do any of that other stuff this...lady...says.’
‘What were you doing in the pet store?’ asked Avery.
‘Buying food for Essex, my goldfish. Nothing wrong with that, is there?’
‘No. But it’s only dumb luck that Costello isn’t dead. Me and him were partners for a lotta years, you know that?’
‘Course I know it. You told me often enough.’
‘And then there’s the cat. How anyone could do that to Costello’s kitty is beyond me. It’s worse than anything I saw during the bad times.’
‘You gotta believe me, Avery. I wouldn’t hurt an animal, or a people either!’
‘It’s Detective Avery, bud. Remember that.’
Mike Breck and Dave Prell were mad. No, they were more than mad. They were angry. So far their plan to pin the blame on Brand as punishment for his damning testimony in their trial was sputtering. If that wasn’t enough, it looked like both Costello and that darn cat would recover.
Convicted and out on bail, they were holed up in the Canyon hideout plotting their next move. Trouble was, they didn’t know what that would be! They were fortunate that little old Mrs. Wallace fingered Brand as the culprit after having seen him in the pet store, but that frame job was flimsy at best.
‘What! Another witness?’ yelled Avery.
‘You heard me right. There’s another witness.’
‘It’s not another dotty old lady, is it?’
‘I think it is,’ said the Captain.
So Avery was bound to take a plainclothes car way uptown to see this new witness who might be able to shed some light on the matter of the dumpster and the noodles. It was a real cloak-and-dagger affair; they were to meet in the park, sitting back to back on adjacent benches and mutter to each other sotto voce in order not to be overheard. Someone watched too much teevee!
Avery was a little early and settled on his appointed bench with his lunch in a brown bag. He decided to be soft-hearted and feed the pigeons the crusts of his sandwich, which his mother had thoughtfully cut off for him that morning. Presently he heard a voice behind him encouraging the birds:
‘Here, pidjee pidjee pidjee...that’s a good boy...oops, now give your little friend some, be sure and share, that’s the way!’
A little sickened, Avery began to turn to speak to the new witness, but was stopped in his tracks by a loud ‘SHHH! Don’t turn around! They’ll see us!’
Avery said, ‘Who will? There’s no one around. Let’s hear what you have to say, ok?’
‘First we must make sure we aren’t observed. There are spies everywhere.’
Incredulous, Avery looked around him. Other than the two of them, there wasn’t a soul around other than a woman with a tot in the playground and two old men at the chess table. Neither could be within a hundred feet of where the detective and the witness were.
‘I’m sure we’re alone here, now what was it you wanted to say?’ This was the same lady from the pet store! What was going on?
The little old lady looked around, then came around to the other bench and sat next to Avery and said, ‘That Mr. Brand was looking at the kitties, I don’t care what he said!’
‘He claimed that he was buying fish food.’
‘No. Well, he might have bought some fish food as a cover. Does he have a fish, do you know?’
‘I don’t know. He says he does.’
‘Whether he does or not, I saw him looking at the cats, and I noticed that the ones he was looking at were all light brown tabbies, the same as that Cinnamon that’s been in the news lately.’
‘That’s certainly no crime. But what happened to Costello and his cat was.’
‘Do you remember a man named Vollmer?’
‘Well, sure! Do you know him?’
Clapton Vollmer was a legendary figure in the River City police annals. He’d started out shining shoes in front of the police station; now the new Police Administration Building was named after him upon the occasion of his retirement six years previously after an illustrious career culminating in twelve years as Chief.
‘I should say so! I was married to the man for thirty-eight years!’
‘I’s that right?’
‘Yes, and he still has many enemies in this city. That’s why we can’t be too careful! And I learned a thing or two about investigation along the way.’
‘Did he ever run across Breck or Prell, I wonder?’
‘No, I don’t think so. But he knew Mayhew, all right!’
What! The chief of police knew the biggest crime boss in town?
And where does Brand fit in? And what of the dotty old lady?
Tune in next time for another exciting Brand adventure!
Meanwhile, enjoy some summer reads about mistaken identity:
Alan Carlisle has an exact double, leading to a case of mistaken identity--with deadly results!
A vintage tale of crime, intrigue, and, yes, mistaken identity from one of the first female crime fiction writers:
And, for younger readers of all ages:
Questions/Comments/It wasn't me, it was someone who looked like me?