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  • Writer's pictureSusan Russo Anderson

Genes From Himself

Missing Brandy is the second standalone in the Fina Fitzgibbons Brooklyn mystery series.

Throughout the book, the kidnapped Brandy speaks. This scene occurs shortly after she is grabbed, drugged, thrown into the back of a car where she is driven to a house someplace in New Jersey and locked in a room. Her eyes and mouth are taped, but her personality shines through.

In this scene she talks about her father and paternal grandmother.

I remember the day he died. Mrs. Coltran’s homeroom was interrupted when Serious Witch, that’s the principal, knocked on the door. I kind of knew something was up because Polly, who’d been trying to get my attention about something, all at once blew air out of her mouth and sat straight and slammed her shoes together. Dad once told me she folds her hands on the desk because she’s Catholic, and he said they have a bridge in Cincinnati, where Polly came from, that’s almost like the Brooklyn Bridge, his all-time favorite structure. If you’ve got to have an all-time favorite, he used to say, it should be a bridge and not a house because a bridge connects. Enough bridges and everyone will be connected. But getting back to the day Dad died, just telling you about it makes that knobbly thing start up between my stomach and my throat. I know that day changed me forever. That’s what Mrs. Coltran says.

There’s something about Dad you ought to know. I didn’t know it until after he was dead, but his real name was Colm. Only he always wrote it C. Mitchell Liam, as if the angels taught him, Granny said.

“Himself gave Mitch that wayward spark.” That’s the way Granny talks. She calls my grandfather Himself. “You’d think they were born to charm and break all the rules. And they did, believe me. We had two charmers, Himself and me.” And she makes the sign of the cross. “If you hold your thumb and two fingers together while you’re signing yourself, the devils slink away,” according to Granny Liam, and Dad’s eyes would grin when she’d talk like that.

Sometimes Dad would smile without his mouth getting involved at all. “Genes from Himself,” Granny would say. “That’s how he got to be such a good lawyer. Only he didn’t make the big money,” Granny said. “Too busy defending all the poor unwashed. That’s how he met your mother. In court, downtown Brooklyn. Your mother was prosecuting the poor unwashed, upholding all the Sly Brooklyn Buggers. Yes, your mother was born a prosecutor, my sweet Brandywine.” Her name for me. “She’d prosecute the Blessed Virgin, send her down in a blink, but don’t tell her I told you so.” Then she’d cross herself and say, “Excuse me, Lord, for saying such bad things about the boring.” And I knew who Granny meant. I felt bad for Mom then, and my heart started thumping. My cheeks burned, and my skin puckered at the back of my neck, but I never said a word, just sat on the edge of Granny’s bed and stared out like the gutless wonder I am.

Photo: Cover, Missing Brandy. Cover design, Avalon Graphics

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