The Copycat Case
By Jeff Baker
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I’m probably stretching it getting this story out of the picture, but trust me, I know what I’m doing.
Chapter One: Happiness Is A Worn Gun
“A copycat? What kind of copycat?”
“Just watch the video, you’ll see.”
The security video from the bank was grainy and black and white. Customers lined up in the early afternoon. Then a figure in a suit with a flower in his lapel, wearing dark glasses strode in the doorway.
“Attention, everybody!” he said. “Police. We have reason to believe this bank is in danger of being robbed. The Department has the building surrounded.” He flashed a badge and pulled a large Magnum from a shoulder holster. “Don’t panic. Just follow my instructions and we can apprehend these miscreants.”
“Miscreants?” I said staring at the screen.
“Security, guard the back door,” the man in the suit said “They may come in through there. If they do, you and the men from the Department will have them covered. I’ll just need you to temporarily hide any deposits, withdrawals, what have you to avoid any danger when those people come in here.” He quickly loaded a bag full of cash, checks and deposit bags into another bag, all the while waving his Magnum. “When they find out it looks like you’ve already been robbed, that will confuse them.” He looked up at the security camera and saluted. “Don’t worry. I’ve done this before.”
The man stepped into the doorway, tripped, flipped over, his gun firing and shooting out a lightbulb. He then dashed outside.
The Chief Inspector shut off the video and sighed. “The security guard said he was afraid to follow the thief for fear the guy would trip again and accidentally shoot him.”
“This sounds familiar,” I said.
“It should. Do you remember a TV series called Wood Mallett?”
“Vaguely,” I said. “Wasn’t that the comedy about the out of control, crazy cop who still solved cases?”
“Only lasted six episodes. They ended it with Woodrow Mallett going undercover in a mental hospital in part one. There was no part two. Now, some nut is copying the character’s methods and getting away with it!”
Chapter Two: Arsenal And Old Lace
The night was dark and the downtown was quiet. The blue-white glow on top of the ATM lit a small area of the dark, asphalt parking lot. The beaten up 1970s hardtop pulled up alongside it. The man in the suit and dark glasses stepped out and quickly hooked one end of a chain to the ATM, then hooked the other end to the bumper of his car. He then popped the trunk and pulled out a bazooka.
The man shouldered the bazooka and grinned into the ATM’s security camera.
“Not gonna swallow this credit card are you?”
He fired. The base of the machine exploded and the man quickly drove off, dragging the rest of the ATM with him. His laughing was recorded by the camera at the nearby gas station.
We arrived on the scene about twenty minutes later. I stared. Without even examining it I was able to tell the other officers what make the bazooka was.
“It was used in an episode of Wood Mallett, the one where he pretends to go crazy.”
“He’s doing a pretty good job of it, if you ask me,” Officer Garcia said shaking his head.
“Yeah,” I said. “He is doing a pretty good job of it…I have an idea.”
Chapter Three: Minimum PI
Four patrol cars pulled into the parking lot of the amusement park. We surrounded a large, plastic clown face with an open mouth, labeled TRASH.
“You’re surrounded!” I said. “Leave the clown with your hands up!”
“How did you know I was in there?” he asked after we had him frisked and handcuffed. We’d caught him asleep; he was wearing an honest-to-God nightshirt with one of those funny caps.
“It’s where Wood Mallett hid in the episode you were using. You copied his methods too well; we got the DVD and found out your next move.”
“Hey, wait!” he yelled. “You can’t haul me to jail just like that!”
“Don’t worry,” I said, smiling. “We’ve done this before.”