The Case of the Good Luck Charm
Perry Mason faces a crisis of grand proportions. What can he do?
Judge Redmond looked down on Hamilton Burger and inquired, "With the noon recess behind us are we ready to proceed, Mr. Prosecutor?"
Burger, feeling confident he finally had Mason on the wire, was quick to stand and reply, "Yes, Your Honor!"
Turning his attention to the defense table the jurist inquired, "And the defense, Mr. Mason?"
Perry Mason leaned forward and out of habit ran his hand along the inside pocket of his suit coat as he prepared to stand. Feeling a difference in its thickness he checked again.
The pocket was empty!
"Mr. Mason?" Judge Redmond asked again, noting the defense attorney's hesitation.
Mason's eyes shifted to the bench and replied, "Yes, Your Honor, the defense is ready."
Noting his nemesis' uncertainty the prosecutor stifled a satisfied chuckle and asked to have Jim Braxton return to the stand.
Again, Mason's hand returned to check his breast pocket for the missing contents.
Soft, pink, lacy, with the monogrammed 'D S' and a hint of Chanel No.5.
Devastated at the loss of his good luck charm, the defense attorney began to check those around him and pondered the circumstances surrounding its theft. With the drone of Burger's cross examination in the background Mason scoured the courtroom for suspects.
On the end of the second row sat Mrs. Rosalind Farrell draped in furs and oozing sex appeal. Making a speedy visit to her apartment, he had found the provocative Mrs. Farrell clad in revealing Chinese silk pajamas embroidered with a fierce dragon on each of her ample breasts. Gesturing with a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other, the woman's breasts and the dragons appeared to do battle. Mason found it very distracting, the clawing and fighting dragons, and yet he managed to elicit some useful information from Mrs. Farrell who, in turn, was plying him with scotch and bourbon.
Mason's eyes narrowed and recalled her invitation to stay longer so they could get better acquainted- explaining she might need his services, all of his services. Mrs. Farrell and her dragons did manage to brush against him on her way to refill his glass. But what possible motive or gain could the woman have for the theft? Mason's considered all possibilities and found no logical explanation. His eyes shifted again.
Turning his attention to his client, Marilyn Keith, he remembered their visit over the noon recess. While Della picked up lunch, the distraught Ms. Keith sobbed in his arms, looked up and battered her lashes seductively. Mason ran his fingertips across his jaw as he contemplated his dilemma. Surely, he couldn't have offered his good luck charm to comfort his distraught client? As the young woman dried her eyes and blew her nose he would surely have noticed his error.
Running his hand again over his empty pocket he turned and searched vainly for the man who could find anything, especially lonely divorcees-Paul Drake. Near the door leading into the public gallery the tall, blonde detective surreptitiously whispered to the female bailiff managing the entrance. Lips pursed in annoyance, Mason gestured for Drake to join him. Paul gave the lawyer a sly wink and a hardy thumbs up as a gesture of male comradery and turned his attention again to the young woman in uniform.
'What the hell!' Mason thought. From his peripheral vision the lawyer noticed Burger proudly walking around the witness stand, glibly asking questions and glancing in his direction expecting a heated objection from the defense. Frantically rubbing his empty pocket, he was at a loss. He hadn't heard one word of Burger's examination of the witness. His powers were gone. What could he do?
Della! His good luck charm! There was the hope she could replace the missing lacy nylon charm. Or maybe all was not lost-maybe she had transcribed Burger's examination. Leaning forward, he looked beyond the defendant and to his horror found his secretary surrounded by a sea of party favors and paraphernalia. Instead of dictation she was writing invitations. Della looked up, smiled sweetly, then picked up a noise maker, blew into the coiled paper tube inflating the cylinder in his direction.
'What the hell!' Mason thought again, shook his head and caught a glimpse of movement across the aisle. Tragg. The lieutenant smiled urbanely and ran his fingers along the lapel of his jacket as though straightening it and as a final gesture made an elaborate motion of removing the handkerchief from his pocket and waved it. Tragg flipped and turned the red handkerchief like a matador taunting a raging bull.
Mason's eyes narrowed in concentration and recalled the previous night. He had stopped for a drink on his way to his apartment-Tragg was there. How convenient. The seasoned detective offered to buy him a drink, and then another.
"How do you do it, Mason?" Tragg cooed, coaxing, plying the attorney with more alcohol. "Do you know how much easier my life could be if Burger could win just one case against you? Tell me, is it Drake? It seems he always manages to pull your chestnuts out of the fire?"
Even under the influence, Mason felt his secret was safe. But the older man was slick; he homed in for the kill.
"I know," he whispered into the lawyer's ear. "It's Della isn't it?" The lawyer fought to hold back a smile, but Tragg's keen observational skills noticed the corners of his mouth twitching.
"I knew it." The detective grinned triumphantly. "It's Della's feminine charms. That's the source of your super powers. Like Superman and the sun!" Tragg downed his drink and giggled with glee. "Like Superman and the sun!"
Mason laughed and gulped his own drink. "Yeah, like Superman and the sun!"
Tragg bent laughing, reached and patted the lawyer's arm. "Come on, Mason, I'll walk you to your car."
While walking down the street, the lieutenant accidently slipped on the curb and fell against him. That was it! Now he knew!
The lieutenant finished his matador routine by placing his neatly folded red handkerchief back in his breast pocket. Looking up and catching the lawyer's eyes Tragg drew them down to the sheet of paper he had pulled from his pants pocket.
Mason read Tragg's note. 'So now who's the world's greatest detective?'
The lawyer shot the lieutenant a barbed look.
"Mr. Mason, if you have no objection I'm finished with this witness." Burger loudly announced.
Judge Redmond looked down at the red-faced defense attorney. "Do you care to cross exam, Mr. Mason?"
Flustered, Mason replied, "No, Your Honor."
With an elegant turn, Burger addressed the court. "Your Honor, the state rests."
Watching the stunned look on Mason's face Burger strutted by the defense table, turned as though on a fashion run way, unbuttoned his suit coat, and out of the view of the court, pulled out the pink, lacy panties.
Like a bullet, Mason leaped from his chair and shouted, "Your Honor, I object!"
The courtroom rumbled with voices and the stunned jurist looks down in amazement at the animated defense attorney. "What is your objection, Mr. Mason?"
In one sweeping lunge Mason grabbed the panties, the embroidered initials "D S" visible for all to see. "Your Honor, those panties are mine!"
A giant gasp, then loud voices filled the courtroom. Judge Redmond pounded his gavel for order.
Immediately Mason realized his faux pas. While holding the panties aloft with one hand, his other elegantly swept across the court to Della Street.
"I mean those panties are hers… and also mine!" Mason corrected.
Alarmed, Della stood and offered, "Oh, Your Honor, if it would help I can try them on."
Mason turned to the judge and pleaded, "Those panties are purloined, Your Honor. Purloined I tell you, purloined panties. If those panties fit you must acquit."
"Purloined?" Burger shouted. "Your Honor this is ridiculous! Can't you see, this is just another one of Mr. Mason's theatrical sideshow demonstrations clearly aimed to cloud the issues!"
"If it pleases the court, Your Honor, if those panties fit, you must acquit!" Mason again urged.
"If the panties fit, you must acquit," Mason murmured over and over.
Della gently shook his shoulder and asked, "Perry, are you alright?"
Mason slowly lifted his head from the stack of open law books on his desk. Perplexed, he instinctively reached into his breast pocket. Leaning on Mason's desk, Della turned to face him and inspected the red spots on his cheek from his restless sleep.
"Lose something?" she asked playfully as his fingers continued to dig in his breast pocket.
Emerging from the fog of confusion, Mason shyly smiled, and cocked a mischievous eyebrow. "You could say that."
Lithely, Della Street glided across the office and gestured to the darkness beyond the bank of windows.
"I know it's late, but if you stop by my apartment I might be able to help you find that 'something' you're looking for."
Slowly Mason rose from his desk and eased his way across the office with a boyish grin. Quickly pulling on his coat, the lawyer helped Della Street slip into hers and allowed her to turn in his arms. The secretary's fingers gently smoothed down his lapel before sliding beneath to the warm dress shirt below.
"You know, Della, you are my good luck charm."
Eyes lowered, she gently stroked the warm fabric and skin beneath.
"I am?" she asked and seductively swept her eyes up to meet his.
Pulling her closer, he reaffirmed, "You know you are!"
Rolling her eyes upward she coyly announced, "Oh, I thought it was your lucky panties. You know the case." She pretended to think for a moment. "You know the Case of the Purloined Panties."
Mason chuckled and replied, "You are so bad!"
Della released a throaty laugh. "Bad, bad, bad. This will be our little secret-the other good luck charm. The Case of the Purloined Panties. I love the sound of it already."
Releasing her from his embrace he slipped his around her shoulders and guided her to their private exit. Leaning down he whispered in her ear, "Now, Miss Street, you promised if I stopped by your apartment you would help me find that 'something' I was looking for."
Her arm circled his neck and pulled his lips down to meet hers for a brief sample of things to come. Still held in her embrace, she whispered to him, "Oh, I know exactly what you're looking for." Gently her fingers toyed with the hair on the back of his head and added, "I bet you didn't know I have a good luck charm."
Stunned, Mason was visibly caught off guard and asked incredulously, "What is it?"
The secretary's eyebrow arched seductively as her fingers slid from around his neck, enjoying their little game as she turned, and opened the door.
She loved the look on his face-a mix of desire and mystery and felt an even greater love and satisfaction in knowing she put it there.
In a dusky voice she toyed, "You'll never know." And with that statement she disappeared out the door.
Dying with curiosity, Mason quickly flipped off the lights and followed in hot pursuit.