All Things Mysterious Volume Sixty
The Brown Recluse in: The Secret Identity
The Headlines in the Daily Blather told the story:
THE BROWN RECLUSE STRIKES AGAIN!
THE BROWN RECLUSE STRIKES FEAR INTO THE HEART OF CRIMINALS!
THE BROWN RECLUSE STRIKES OUT ON A 3-2 PITCH!
WHO IS THE BROWN RECLUSE!
WHERE IS THE BROWN RECLUSE?
WOULDN’T THE BROWN RECLUSE LOOK BETTER IN NAVY BLUE?
‘I’m telling ya for the last time--there ain’t no such person as the Brown Recluse! The papers made it all up to keep people in line.’
‘Whyncha tell it to Muggsy--the Recluse broke up his bookie joint and now he’s in stir.’
‘He got greedy and careless. I’ll believe in this Brown Recluse dame when I see her.’
Just then a figure in a brown fedora and trench coat stepped out from behind the door.
‘Okay, boys, start believing! I’m taking both of you mugs in!’
‘Get out of here!’
‘You can’t arrest us! You’re just some bozo in a hat!’
The be-hatted spectacle flashed behind the first man and in an eyeblink had his arms pinioned behind him. ‘THIS bozo is taking you to headquarters!’ Even as the Brown Recluse, for it was indeed the hero, maintained a firm grip on the miscreant, a brown gun was levelled straight at the other’s midsection. ‘Now, don’t give me any lip and head for the door. Don’t make me ventilate you! Now move!’
‘Okay, okay, don’t get excited!’
From the Daily Blather:
RECLUSE STRIKES AGAIN; EXECUTIVES ACCUSED OF RACKETEERING, CORRUPTION.
Ellen Amora sat back in the lawn chair and sipped at her umbrella-bearing drink. Her mind wandered back, back to the distant past of three weeks ago. Since her husband’s murder at the hands of mobsters, she had vowed revenge on all criminals, crime, and injustice. She had to admit to herself that she’d had a great deal of fun putting on the trench coat, fedora, and fake mustache that marked the Brown Recluse. Darn it, she’d wanted to call herself the Black Widow but apparently there were some copyright issues. She considered La Veuve Noire as her nom de superhero, but figured, probably correctly, that no one would know what it meant, or even pronounce it correctly. So, what was another spider that was deadly and shy? Hence, the Brown Recluse. She got the idea when she disguised herself at the county fair to bring some justice to the place after learning firsthand of the impossibility of actually winning. True, THAT didn’t turn out so well, she’d apparently interrupted a training exercise,* but once she explained herself the bemused cops let her go.
Still, this secret identity deal had its drawbacks. No comic-book writer ever seemed to consider the practical difficulties in having to do a quick change into a costume in some kind of a timely fashion. From a distance, Ellen could pass for a man in her fake mustache, and the hat covering her lustrous hair. But how to camouflage her figure? She’d tried on a corset at home, but that would make her transformation to the Brown Recluse even longer, and anyway the darned thing was super uncomfortable. So for now she’d just layer up, it was usually cold out there in Crime Land anyway.
Ellen just hoped that the four hundred and thirty-eight dollars that she’d spent on a police band radio turned out to be a good investment. That was a lot of dough and---wait! It was crackling to life!
‘One-Baker-Twelve, One-Baker-Twelve, possible 123, Lincoln and West Fifth Streets, handle code 3.’
Action! Ellen wasn’t sure what code 123 meant, but it was probably something tailor-made for a super-hero! She struggled into the trench coat-was it too small?-and quickly pasted on the false mustache. Checking her pocket for her derringer, she slapped on her fedora and was ready to go! Wait! The radio crackled to life again!
‘This is One-Baker-Twelve. Show us Code Four at 333 West Fifth.’
Shucks! Ellen knew that Code Four was cop shorthand for ‘we’re done here.’
She’d missed all the excitement! Now, the next order of business was to find a way to streamline her change into her crimefighting costume. Maybe she ought to get a souped up car like the Batmobile. But Brown Recluses didn’t make webs, they hung out in hidden lairs, waiting to strike! That was pretty cool. Must strike fear into the hearts of criminals and all that. On the other hand, she couldn’t very well be hiding in every lair at once. Maybe there was a course in super-heroing that she could take...Wait! Once again the radio burst into life!
‘All units, officer needs assistance, Six-eighteen North West Way. Shots fired.’
Wow! That was right around the corner and she was already dressed! Like a shot, Ellen was out the door and racing to North West Way. Was this the best way to get to a crime scene? To run there? No matter, first to get there and find out what the situation was, plenty of time to ponder the logistics later. As she approached Six-eighteen, she heard more shots and quickened her pace. Surely this was a situation that called for….The Brown Recluse!
* see All Things Mysterious Volume Fifty-Nine
Tune in next time for the next exciting installment of the Adventures of The Brown Recluse!
Tune in THIS time for these mysteries that mention secrets and identities, however tangentially:
Julia discovers that her sister had a secret identity which may have contributed to her murder. Meanwhile Julia herself is falling for an alluring stranger which threatens herself, her marriage, everything she thought she knew.
Amy Denovo is determined to learn the identity of her father, a secret closely guarded by her mother-until the hit-and-run accident that sealed that secret in the grave.
How many of us harbored secret desires to be an undercover agent, fighting crime while maintaining an identity as a mild-mannered school kid? Let's see a show of hands: Oh! Everybody? Just what I thought. For younger readers of all ages.
Questions/Comments/Fortress of Solitude? firstname.lastname@example.org