All Things Mysterious Volume Sixty-Three
The Brown Recluse in: Identity
(following Mayhem at Six-Eighteen and The Secret Identity)
Once she got over the shock, and once she had helpfully informed the man that he was actually supposed to be dead, Ellen gaped at him who she had never seen before. ‘I...I don’t know you,’ she could only stammer.
‘But, darling, how can you say that? Let me get a look at you.’ The man slowly peeled her fake mustache off her face. ‘There! That’s the pretty face I remember so well!’
‘But you’re dead!’ shuddered Ellen again.
The man laughed. ‘I assure you, my dear, that I am alive and well. Indeed, the evidence is right before your eyes! Did you not miss me?’
Ellen’s mind was a whirl of confusion. What did he mean, ‘did you not miss me?’ Of course she missed her late husband; he’d been murdered before her eyes in a gangland ‘hit.’ But this man was not he!
‘Listen, buster, I know my husband--I knew him--and you’re not him!’
‘Oh, but I am! How else could I know about the birthmark on your--’
‘Wait!’ Ellen interrupted. ‘Let’s forget that for a minute. Better still, let’s forget it period! What’s going on here?’
‘Oh, these small town cops are just darned sensitive! A few stray shots and they circle the wagons!’
‘First of all, this isn’t a ‘small town,’ and second, what do you expect to happen when you shoot at the police?’
‘I’m sure I don’t know. Why, are you a police?’
‘No, I am not!’ cried Ellen. ‘I’m trying to keep you from getting shot, you toad!’
The imposter, if imposter he was, sniffed, ‘Dearest, I am not a toad. A fine way to speak of your own husband!’
‘YOU ARE NOT MY HUSBAND!’ shrieked Ellen. ‘HE WAS GUNNED DOWN BY THE MOB!’
‘There, there, my dear. Once these peace officers come to their senses and leave, we will get you some help.’
Calmer now, Ellen said, ‘They are not going to leave without rounding up your paltry gang.’
‘Great idea! That’s our name now, men--The Paltry Gang! I like it!’
‘Bully for you. Now why don’t you do the sensible thing and surrender? You’ll only end up dead.’
The other men in the room--and they were all men--had remained silent, up until now. At this point a man with a bushy mustache and suspenders spoke.
‘Lady, why don’t you go back where you come from and tell them coppers to leave us alone!’
‘Ha! Fat chance department!’
The man in charge looked thoughtful. ‘You know, that’s not a bad idea. Out of the mouths of babes…’
‘You calling me a babe?’ This from mustache/suspenders.
‘I’ll call you whatever I please. Any objections?’
Ellen butted in. ‘Once you boys finish your little love spat, you can start planning your funeral! Those cops are not going to just leave!’
‘Oh, but they will, my dear. If they do not leave in five minutes, we shall kill one hostage for each and every minute that they remain. You may go and tell them so.’
‘Listen, Breck, why--’
‘Shut up, you fool! How many times must I tell you--no names!’
‘Aw, gee, boss--’
‘Shut up, I said. As for you, my dear spouse, I don’t like giving orders twice. Go out to those hapless minions of the law and deliver my message, and do it now.’
‘I don’t take orders from any man, especially you! If I were married to you I’d cut my throat!’
‘I might give you the knife. Now get going.’
Ellen Amora was nobody’s fool. She knew an opportunity when she saw one, and rather than argue, she took advantage of the situation to escape the house. But Breck! This was the same man that had pulled the trigger on her late husband! But how had he escaped the law? And why was he claiming to be her husband? She shuddered with revulsion as she ran up to the line of patrol cars.
‘Listen, you guys, I’ve got a message for you.’
‘Run along, honey, and let men do men’s work.’ This from a white-haired officer who had a whole big quilt on his chest and a lot of stripes on his sleeve.
‘WHO ARE YOU CALLING HONEY, YOU BIG BOOB?’ Ellen shouted.
‘Now wait a minute, sir, she might have something. She got into the house somehow. Now what’s the layout?’
Ellen carefully sketched the dining room with the occupants’ approximate positions, leaving out the part where she was dragged into the house by the ransomers instead of using her wits to infiltrate them. She told them of the threat, and while you’d think the police would thus be galvanized into hasty action, this information launched a serious, drawn-out discussion among the various officers, including Avery and Costello, as to what to do. Ellen slipped away in the darkness, over to the big willow tree next door where she had left her costume which she quickly donned.
Standing revealed as the Brown Recluse, champion of justice, she put her plan into motion. Setting off a skyrocket at one end of the back of the hostage house, she dashed around to the other end as those inside all flocked to the noise and light. They’d foolishly left the back door unlocked in their haste, and The Brown Recluse slipped into the house and quickly gathered up all the guns from the table. She dumped them into the bathtub and locked the door. Checking on the hostages, she noted that they were safe for the moment, trussed up in the living room. Satisfied, she dashed into the kitchen and looked into the cupboard. She saw two bottles of canola oil for cooking. Perfect! She emptied them both on the floor between the door and the dining room just as, with perfect timing, the skyrocket burned itself out and the shiny glowing thing stopped. With their walnut-sized attention spans having moved on, the miscreants started to filter back into the house. The Brown Recluse then dropped a frying pan onto the floor, creating a great clatter, which caused the men to run inside to see what the noise was. Skidding all over the place on the canola oil slick, they collided with each other and ended up in a heap on the floor. In a flash, the Brown Recluse was upon them. Thanking her lucky stars that she’d thought to grab an automatic weapon from the pile, she covered the crooks and barked, ‘All of you outside--now!’ Sullenly they clambered to their feet and filed out the door, all fight gone. One of them snickered at The Brown Recluse’s costume of fedora, trench coat, and clear glasses, which earned him a bop on the head with the butt of the gun. Staring in disbelief at the apparent simple end of the situation were the police. As they herded the suspects into the backs of the squad cars, Costello remarked, ‘Looks like the Brown Recluse is here to stay!’
‘Looks like,’ Avery replied.
‘Looks like what?’ said Ellen Amora.
‘Did you see her? She’s fantastic! Imagine catching all those crooks so easily!’ gushed Costello. ‘I wonder who she really is?’
Smiling inwardly, Ellen Amora headed back to her own secret lair, which was actually the home she’d shared with the late ‘Amigo’ Amora. Suddenly it occurred to her--where was Breck? He hadn’t been cuffed and tossed into a patrol car. He must have escaped! Just as well--a worthy enemy for the Brown Recluse! By golly, she’d get to the bottom of this! How had he gotten away? What was the plan behind the hostage taking? Why was he pretending to be Ellen’s long-lost husband? All these questions and more would have to be answered in the further adventures of the Brown Recluse, so don’t miss them---even if you can!
Stay glued to this space for more adventures of the one and only Brown Recluse!
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After thirty years with the LAPD, Harry Bosch has his bona fides in order. In his latest adventure he attempts to locate a billionaire's long-lost heir. But as usual with Bosch, that's just the beginning!
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