Agent Brown’s Shining Moment

By Hy Conrad

A black Cadillac tore around the busy street corner, barely slowing as it approached the steps of the courthouse. The tinted, passenger-side window rolled down and a semi-automatic handgun poked its barrel out.

Agent BropwnPauly Gillespie, mob informant and federally protected witness, stood frozen in his tracks, his worst fears looking like a definite possibility. Pauly’s FBI bodyguards threw themselves on top of him, but not before two shots erupted and Pauly had taken a bullet in the shoulder.

The Cadillac screeched across two lanes of traffic. But it made the mistake of turning left down an alley and getting stuck behind a double-parked delivery van. The two hit men scrambled out and raced away—right into the arms of four off-duty officers. Having heard the shots and the sirens, the officers grabbed the running men and held on until the FBI caught up.

Special Agent Brown was new to this unit and was always given the boring, inconsequential jobs. In this case, he was told to clear the Cadillac out of the alley so that normal traffic could resume. Brown adjusted the rearview mirror, backed the car out, and drove it around to where his colleagues were Mirandizing their suspects.

Brown stood and watched. One of the handcuffed men was tall, lean, and sullen. The other was a good five inches shorter, Agent Brown’s height. Large but short. He spoke animatedly, gesturing freely with his hands.

Agent Fordney, director of the unit, seemed exasperated. “They ditched the gun back in the alley,” Fordney growled. “They ditched their gloves back there, too. All right, boys, I’m going to ask you again. Which one of you was the shooter?”

“Not me,” said the large, short man.

“Not me,” said the lean, sullen one.

Agent Brown smiled. Here was his chance to impress his boss. “I know who the shooter was,” he said softly.


When Agent Brown got into the Cadillac, he had to adjust the rearview mirror. This meant that the previous driver had been significantly different in height. Since the shorter mobster was close to Brown’s own height, he knew the taller man had to be the driver. Therefore, the shorter man was the shooter.