Monday, January 23, 2012

The Case of the Irate Witness - Erle Stanley Gardner

Story: The Case of the Irate Witness

Author: Erle Stanley Gardner
Source: The Case of the Irate Witness and Other Stories
Story Number: 23
One of the most productive authors, his creation Perry Mason outshines all the other three dozen characters that Erle Stanley Gardner created. He has contributed nearly 200 short stories to various pulp magazines but interestingly, wrote only 3 short stories (Crimson Kiss & Crying Swallow being novellas) featuring Perry Mason.
This story has all the typical characteristics of a Perry Mason novel minus the murder – Mason defending a client whom everybody thinks is guilty, district attorney who thinks he is gone lick the defense attorney for a change, antagonizing antics and a court room climax.
Somebody has broken into the Jebson Commercial Company vault to steal the 100,000 twice-a-month payroll, which had been brought up from a bank the previous day. The company has the habit of recording the numbers of all the 20 dollar bills from each payroll as soon they get the money from the bank and one such was made and is safely locked up in a safe for this payroll as well. Frank Bernal, the manager of the company reveals to the police that a man who had a criminal record was fired from his job the previous day. He is found and arrested when two twenty dollar bills from the robbed payroll are found in his possession. He claims that those 2 bills were given to him by the company accountant Ralph in front of the manager.
The irate witness turns out to be George Addey, owner of the garbage collecting business, who stores his money in garbage bins. Mason subpoenas Addey to appear in court with all the 20 dollar bills which he has received in the last one month. He shows that Addey could equally have been guilty as the numbers on some of his 20 dollar bills(30 days old) matches the list of numbers from the bills(tabulated a day before) of the robbed payroll. Mason quickly explains how this was possible by revealing the trick used and in the process identifies the culprit and points out that the clues were all there to figure out the guilty party if one just believed that the defendant was speaking the truth!

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