The Erotic Mind-Control Story Archive

In this sequel to “The Mysteries of Armand Dupuis #39: The Case of the Barefooted Murderess”, a down and out private eye investigates the case of a missing heiress in 1959 Southern California.



Chapter One

Let’s start out with me telling you the truth. I’m not a bad guy....but I’m no angel. You have to get that, because this story starts out with me being released from the County Lockup.

That’s me, the handsome fellow with the bum leg. The mug that looks like he’s not seen much sunlight for six months. The guy who looks like a lame rabbit that somehow got out of the hutch.

A broiled rabbit, that is. The balmy Pacific breezes that usually make a stroll on the Seaside boardwalk so nice are gone today. It don’t help I’m wearing a wrinkled black suit that’s been sitting in a cardboard box at the jail.

120 days for Assault and Battery. Of course it could of been worse. Murder In the First, worse. So I’m not complaining....much.

Normally, I’m just a private dick just trying to earn a living in sun kissed Southern California. Usually, it’s not like know, solving murders, fighting gangsters, looking for bird statues. No...mostly I just trail wayward spouses and, when I can, take a photograph or twenty. Most of the pics go to lawyers, sometimes I sell them to tabloids. Bogie or Bob Mitchum on their worst day wouldn’t touch one of my cases. You know, seedy....but safe enough. More hearts get broken than bones.

I’d been a cop before the World War, a proud member of L.A.’s Finest. When I came out of the Marines in ’45, I didn’t want anything to do with uniforms or superior officers anymore, so I started Dupuis Private Investigations.

I figured it wouldn’t hurt to use the name. Few folks read the novels anymore, but people still watch the movies on TV.

One of my buddies in the Corps had gone back to his law practice, and he sent a lot of work my way. Then, insurance companies were knocking on the door. Money started coming in, and soon I had a nice office Downtown. Hell, I had two other detectives on my payroll. I was living the American Dream.

Then, a new disaster. The Korean “police action” happened, and Uncle Sam gave me an invitation I couldn’t refuse. All of the sudden, I was a Marine again.....until a chi-com grenade went off a tad too close in a chilly place called Choisin Reservoir. That’s how I got the limp.

It was almost 1954 before I got out of the VA Hospital. By then, my two loyal employees had started their own agency, taking all my steady clients. I had few options, the Department wouldn’t take me back now I was a gimp. So I moved out to this sleepy beachside town and started fresh. I worked hard..I took each and every grungy case. I slowly rose like the Phoenix from the ashes. I had an office again....even a secretary, Irma.

Then, I had to go and do something stupid. I took the Gunderson Case. You remember, it was in all the papers. The money was so big.....but my instincts told me to walk away. You know, like when you’re a kid walking on a train rail and feel that vibration. You know doom is bearing down on you. But, like a cocky brat, I kept walking on that rail.

You probably know the rest, I ended up shooting a man dead. Everyone knew it was self defense. But the DA had a score or two to settle with me, and my former Marine buddy was more suited to handle divorces then a murder rap. But he was all I could afford so I copped the plea.

In the meantime, I find myself ruined a second time. I’m just coming from my office, where I’ve found three pieces of mail in front of my now padlocked door: an eviction notice, Irma’s resignation, and formal notice from the State that my PI licensed was under review.

I’m like some Jonah who keeps getting on ships that sink.

As you see me hobble, I’m headed to the last place I might see a friendly face, Nickey’s Seaside Diner. Angie sees me right away, and meets me at the door. She’s slight and slender, with luscious black hair tied into a pony tail for work. At 34, she’s still a looker with her Mediterranean complexion and big brown eyes. Before I can say a word, she’s hugging me. I feel dampness from her tears.

We’d been a number once, but somehow we stayed friends.

“Good to see you too, Angie.” I keep my tone light. She lets go, and does her best to sound the same.

“Irma came by.....asked me to hold on to your stuff...I’ll get it.” She heads for the kitchen. I take a stool at the counter, just as the cook sticks his head through the opening to the kitchen.

“Look who’s here....Johnny Jailbird.” Aristotle Nicodemus is Angie’s older brother. The two of them run the diner ever since Old Man Nicodemus had his last stroke. Arty never thought much of me, and made it known when Angie and I dated. Recent events hadn’t done anything to improve his opinion of me.

I can’t say I disagree. I don’t think I deserve Angie either. So, I don’t take his bait.

“Hello, Arty.”

“The Hell you doing here? I ain’t running no soup kitchen for ex-cons here.”

“I don’t want no trouble, Arty. I’m just here to get my stuff.”

“Then wait outside, with the other bums.”

So much for my peace effort. I’m contemplating an eviction notice on Arty’s front teeth when Angie saves the day.

“Don’t you got some carrots to chop, Aristotle?” He hates when people use his actual name. The two siblings glare at each other, then the huge man lumbers off to the kitchen, muttering in Greek. Angie breaks into a pretty laugh and puts the canvas bag at my feet. I begin my sad inventory of all my worldly possessions. As I do, Angie sets a big bowl of her Dad’s famous chili in front of me. It’s just how I like onions and lots of crackers.

“Thanks....but I’m a little light.....”

“Shut’s on me. Call it a welcome home present. Don’t worry, I got it myself.....there’s no Arty spit in it. Eat.”

I know her tone, and I know arguing would be as fruitless as filling the Grand Canyon with a garden spade. Besides, I’m starving. I dig in, and soon the bowl is empty. Angie smiles.

“I’ll get some cherry pie and coffee for you.”

I went back to the bag and it’s meager contents.

My gun, a box of 32 caliber, my framed PI license, three days worth of clothes. A white envelope marked “Petty Cash”. There’s seventeen dollars and forty eight cents in it, Irma took the rest as back pay, which was only right.

Just as I notice a white business card in the envelope, the bell above the diner’s door tinkles. I figure it’s the start of the lunch crowd, so I keep looking at the card. A local phone number....and a message written in a feminine scrawl:

“I have work for you, Mr. Dupuis. Call me.” I’m pondering the missive when Arty sticks his thick head through the kitchen window.

“How many times do I got to tell you broads. You want to come in this gotta put shoes on!”

I turn and look. Two beautiful girls, a blonde and a redhead. I look down, and see the offending bare feet

It’s not that shocking....Seaside’s a beach town after all. But these two don’t look like the usual Beach Bunnies. Dressed all in black from their stylish sunglasses, their form fitting sweaters, down to their tights that end at the ankle. Both wear their hair short in pageboy cuts.

Once more, Angie intervenes.

“Stop the yelling, know they just want take out.” She turns to the gals. “A dozen danish....right?” Angie’s so confident, she’s already filling the paper sack.

If Arty’s bellowing has any effect on the two girls, they don’t show it. They just stand there with blank faces. The blonde answers:

“Yes, please. He loves your danish so very much.” She puts a five dollar bill on the counter. ”He says you should keep the change.”

There’s something odd about how she says “He”. It’s like she’s talking about royalty.

Now Miss Redhead chimes in:

“He also said you should come by the coffeehouse tonight as his guest....the drinks and the show on Him.”

Angie hands the bag of danish to Miss Blonde.

“Yeah.....tell ’Him’ thanks....I just might take ‘Him’ up on that.” If the two beatnik girls catch Angie’s sarcasm in the way she says “Him”, they don’t show it. Without a word they pad out of the diner with the pastry.

Arty shakes his head. “Kripes......Jailbirds and Space Girls for customers......Papa must be rolling in his grave.” He retreats back into the kitchen, and soon we hear chopping.

Angie takes the five and puts it into the register. She then brings me the promised slice and java.

As she does, I ask:

“So what’s the story with....the ‘Space Girls’?”

“This beatnik kook named Dorvak......Kenneth Dorvak....buys the old VFW building. He’s the ‘He’. Puts in a lot of money, remodels it into a coffeehouse and a nightclub. Calls it ‘Cafe Somnambula’. The girls are two of his waitresses. Dori and Nancy. I think they live on the premises. Arty calls them ‘Space Girls’ cause they always seem a bit out of it. He thinks they’re all dope fiends....maybe they each their own poison, I say.” She then goes back to getting the place ready for lunch. I remember the card in the envelope.

“OK I use the phone?”. I’m eager to see if the job is still open. Arty bellows some more Grecian curses, but Angie points to the wall mounted phone.

As I head that way, Angie calls back, her voice a bit hesitant.

“You know, ought to show the world you’re back. Maybe we could hit the town know....for your business.”

Ever since I arrived, I’d been thinking how good it was to see Angie, and it had nothing to do with “business”. But, once again, my pride spoke for me.

“I can’t even afford a bowl of beans and a slice of pie, Angie. How am I gonna take you out? And don’t say you got it covered......that’s not going to happen.” I see a flash of hurt pass over her big eyes. I go over and plant a light kiss on her forehead. “Besides......I just might have a job....if there’s a payday, then I promise you the night of your life.”

She pushes me away and goes back to filling Catsup bottles, and I make the call.

* * *

An hour later, and I’m in the back of a Cadillac limo. I’d called the number and identified myself, and a man asked my location. I told him, and he told me to sit tight...that a ride was on it’s way. I ask to speak to the lady who left the card, he tells me she never talks on the phone. He hangs up before I could ask anything else.

We roll onto the Coast Highway. I try and make conversation, but the chauffeur ain’t talking. Finally, we arrive. I look at the Post Modern monstrosity, a bunch of concrete and glass boxes set into a coastal cliff. While I didn’t go for the architecture, I had to admit the ocean view was real good. I notice another Cadillac, this one a sedan, sits in the driveway.

I get out and stretch my bad leg, using this excuse to get a better gander at the property. At the edge of the driveway, I look down and see a pool deck. More to the point.....I see her. Did I say the view was good? It just became spectacular.

She lays face up on a pool lounger, a drink on the small table next to her. She basks in a gold two piece that showed much and promised more. She’s curvy and lean at the same time, with an hourglass that rivals Bardot’s. A golden tan spreads all the way down to the light pink tips of her toes. She has no hat or shades, so I could see her angelic features. She’s Veronica Lake with Lana Turner’s body.

Suddenly, she looks in my direction, catching my stare. She gets up without a word and heads toward the house. I watch every step she takes.

“Hey...bud....lets go.” It’s the driver, holding the front door open. They’d no warmth in the invite, but I go on into the house. Just as I enter, I realize I’d knew the sedan.

The train rail is vibrating fierce. But, you know me...I keep walking on it.

My worst fear comes true in the sitting room. Tony Passanno, in his usual plaid sports coat, and the Swedish Mountain, in his usual Hawaiian shirt.

Tony was given this coastal region as a favor for his cousin, an important Kansas City Boss. People say he’s more ambitious than smart. Otto Svengard, AKA the Swedish Mountain, was his constant fat, bald shadow. Otto had been been a professional wrestler until he found out there was more money in really hurting people.

Tony P is dangerous in his own way. You know, snake in the grass dangerous.

“Hello, Johnny, good to see you out of the can.” Tony’s voice drips like rancid honey.

“No disrespect, Mr. P, but I ain’t looking for a loan, and I don’t want to collect for you.” I turn to leave.

Tony laughs “Disrespect noted........but I ain’t the client, Dummy.”

A deep voice comes behind me with a heavy German accent.

“Yes, Mr.’ll be working for Mrs. Norma Breckinridge.”

I turn and see an elderly man in a tweed suit.

“I am Doctor Helmuth Volkner.” You can almost hear him clicking his heels.

“Doctor? Does Widdle Otto have a tummy ache? I heard he ate a horse last night.”

I loathe the big Swede. A pal of mine who owed Tony P lost an eye when Svengard hit him too hard. I immediately regret the jape as Bodyguard growls and and slowly stands. But Tony P tugs on his sleeve and the big lug sits back down.

“I’m not that kind of doctor, Mr. Dupuis. I’m a psychiatrist. I’m here because my patient is the subject of your.....investigation.”

“So what are you treating the lovely Mrs. Breckinridge for, Doctor?”

“Strike Two, Mr. Dupuis.” I turn, and see Norma Breckinridge saunter into the room. She’s now wearing a white sundress and a a pair of high heel slides. Now I think she reminds me of Grace Kelly. She strolls over and sits on a divan, appraising me the whole time.

Doctor Volkner breaks the silence.

“My patient, and your quarry, is Patricia Breckinridge.” He picks up a folder from the coffee table and hands it to me.

“Patricia is my stepdaughter, Mr. Dupuis. My late husband charged me to watch over her.....and I have failed him, and I need your help to make it right.”

Instead of answering, I open the dossier. A photo of a pretty brown haired girl in a UCLA cheerleading uniform. Another happy shot of her and Norma on the beach. A California driver’s license that tells me she’s twenty four. Her birth certificate and other documents.

“Kidnap or runaway?” I ask the room.

The old German answers. “It’s more complicated than that, Mr. Dupuis.” He’s looking at my rumpled suit and need for a shave.

Tony P picks up on the doc’s disdain.

“Yeah...he’s a bit rumpled, Doctor....but don’t let that fool you. He’s one of the best gumshoes on the Coast. He’s just had a run of bad luck. Trust me, he’ll do. He’s got the blood of the famous Armand Dupuis running through his veins.”

I don’t want to talk about Uncle Armand, so I ask the doctor: “What’d you mean......complicated, complicated how?”

“Patricia is a bright, receptive girl......perhaps too receptive. A few weeks ago, she started frequenting a Cafe Somnambula, in Seaside.”

“I’ve heard of it.....A coffeehouse.”

Tony P breaks in.

“It’s a lot more than that, Pal.”

The psychiatrist continues: “The owner, a Kenneth Dorvak claims to be a mystic. He often performs a stage hypnotism act. Patricia participated in this act and subsequently began acting in an odd manner. Now, she is gone.”

“It is imperative that my ward is returned no later then Midnight, this Saturday, Mr. Dupuis.” Norma’s voice is tense.

“You’re telling me you think this beatnik has.....hypnotized her away from you? Is Vincent Price involved?”

Tony P at least laughs. “I told ya, the guy’s a real card. I love this guy.”

The Doctor is not amused. “I assure you Dupuis, this is no joke. The psychological well-being of an innocent young woman is very much at stake.”

“So you’ve called the authorities, I assume?”

“And tell them what, Dupuis? You think their reaction would be any more enlightened than yours?”

“So, why doesn’t your good friend Mr. Passano go in and get her for you. Widdle Otto needs the exercise.”

Tony puts his hand on the Swede’s arm and answers. “Norma here came to me for help, but this Dorvak has a lot of friends.....including some I gotta pay up to, Capeche? I can’t get my hands dirty in this....but I told her I knew somebody who could.”

I pause like I’m thinking. Tony P couldn’t be doing me any favors. For once, I’m going to be smart and step off the rail before the train clobbers me.

“So....let me get this straight. You want me to break into this place.......kidnap an adult girl who’s likely to resist. And when I’m caught, I have to tell the cops I saving her from a hypnotist. I think I’m going to have to pass.”

There’s a stunned silence that’s only broken when Norma stands and says:

“Gentleman, please be kind and give Mr. Dupuis and I a moment.”

The “Gentleman” get up and leave. Otto glares murderously at me, Tony P whispers something like “You’re on thin ice, Pal.”

Norma is pouring drinks, and hands me a tumbler. It’s bourbon, the good stuff. I thank her. She sits, and points to the other end of the divan. Who am I to refuse?

She kicks off her shoes and curls her long gams under her. She gazes at my face, and gives a surprisingly girlish giggle. Both the movement and the laugh makes her more human, making her even more attractive to me. Her voice is less tense.

“You don’t look anything like him.”

I smile, despite myself. The “him” she’s talking about is Grant Whittington, the actor who played my uncle in eight of the eleven “Armand Dupuis Mysteries” made between 1928 and 1942.

“Truth is, he didn’t look too much like my uncle either.”

“Did you ever meet him....your uncle...I mean?”

“Nope. I used to get birthday cards from his lady friend, Briar Gasdsen, usually with a gift. But never anything from him. She and I wrote back and forth for a while. She was a great lady. But, I kept it secret from the folks. Her......relationship..... with my uncle was a real family embarrassment.

The most contact with him I ever had was when I graduated the Police Academy. She wrote that Uncle Armand was proud of me. I tried reading a couple of the books, saw the movies, but they seemed too far fetched to me.”

I surprise myself, I’ve only known this woman for about twenty minutes, and I’m blabbing my life story to her. I know I got to get the conversation back on course. I’m about to apologize and explain why I can’t help her, but she beats me to the punch.

“You think I’m some gold digger who struck pay dirt with a multi millionaire. And you know’re right. Frank swept me out of the secretarial pool, and I was happy to take that ride. But, I was good to him, and he was good to me. When he died, he split the estate between us. i’m a very wealthy woman, Dupuis. All Frank asked is that I take care of her.

Truth is...I’d of done it for free. I mean, age wise, we were closer to being sisters than mother daughter. She was the younger sister I’d always wanted. We were friends, best of friends. But, then I led her into Dorvak’s web.”

Despite myself, I want to hear her out. She continued.

“We’d heard about this new place. It sounded great......a little bit of Greenwich Village here in Southern California. We dressed all bohemian to fit in the crowd.

We had a table in front of the stage. The drinks, the jazz music, all of it was top drawer. Then, the real entertainment started. They called it a ‘mentalist demonstration’. This scrawny young man with messy hair and a goatee takes the stage. He’s the owner. He asks for three ladies to come on stage. He’s looking at us, a lot. Suddenly, Patty jumps up and volunteers. He tries to get me to join her, but I refuse. Soon, three gorgeous girls are on the stage.

I’ve seen stage hypnotists before.....but Dorvak was on another level. In no time, Patty and the other two were under....them and half the girls in the audience. Hell, even I had to dig my nails into my thigh to stay awake.

He does the standard know...turning them into chickens and dogs....that kind of thing. He had the crowd howling. Then, all of the sudden, he says that it was time for short prepare for the finale. He leaves the stage then the room, and Patty and the other two follow him out. The band starts playing. Ten....twenty...thirty minutes pass.

I’m about to go get Patty, but suddenly Dorvak is back on stage. He announces that three celebrities were at the club, and that they were there to vie for his hand in marriage. He said he needed our help in choosing the next Mrs. Dorvak. One by one he announces them, and out they came. First, Jane, you know, Tarzan’s girlfriend. She’s wearing a skimpy jungle girl outfit. She comes out and gives a pretty good Tarzan yell. Then Dorvak announces Bridgett Bardot....out comes this girl dressed like Bardot in “And God Created Woman.” She does a passable version of the risqué dance from the movie’s end. Then he announces the final celebrity, ‘Daisy Maye Yokum’ from ‘Li’l Abner’.

Now here’s the thing, Patty has talents, but acting’s not one of them. But there she was, on stage, doing a hillbilly accent, trying to seduce the hypnotist.

in the end, she was the crowd favorite. The show ends, and Dorvak and his three ‘celebrities’ leave the room. The band starts playing, and after twenty minutes or so, the three subjects come back out in their street clothes. Dressed....but carrying their shoes.

I tried to talk to Patty, but she still seemed a little out of it. She said she didn’t remember anything after jumping on stage.

In the days that followed, Patty broke up with her boyfriend of two years, and stop taking any calls from any of her friends. Then, last week, Pedro....the one that drove you out here...after midnight.....he sees her out in the driveway, fully dressed, except she’s barefoot. He thinks she’s just sleepwalking, but before he can get downstairs, she’s in her car and heading out on the Coastal Highway.

I was beside myself. I thought she was having some sort of nervous breakdown. I tried the police....but they weren’t interested. She was over 21, after all, and there was no real evidence of foul play.

That’s when I called Tony. You late husband....Frank.... He and I had an understanding...he didn’t mind me having a time to time. I knew Tony was some kind of mobster....but I guess that excited me at first. I’d broken it off months ago. But now...I didn’t have anywhere else to turn I asked his help.” She stopped for breath and a sip off her whiskey.

“Why didn’t you get Doctor Volkner to examine her....maybe snap her out of it?”

Because I only met him after I called Tony. He’s never met Patty. The plan is if you can find her, he’ll get Dorvak out of her head. Coincidentally, he was in town because of Dorvak and had reached out to Tony for help just like me. Turns out, Dorvak did his voodoo on a patient of his, a young heiress in Chicago. Tony brought us together.....Helmuth explained all about hypnotism to me, and everything started to make sense.”

It might make sense to her, but it makes no sense to me. Maybe the Doc was on a mission, but Tony P didn’t do anything unless he had an angle. I shake my head, and start to stand.

Norma senses she’s losing me, and grabs my arm. Tears pour down her cheeks as she pulls me into an embrace. She begins to beg. “Please...Please, me save her...please.”

Then, she pulls back and looks up at me. Her body presses against mine. Her full lips are slightly parted, and I find myself falling into her beautiful, hazel eyes. Our faces are a couple inches a part. Look I’m only human. She’s movie star beautiful.....and I’ve been in jail for months.

I’m just about to take the plunge when I feel the dampness on my shoulder....just like this morning.

I thought about Angelina. Then, a second thought hit me. I’m about to kiss Tony Passanno’s girl.

I pull back. She looks more surprised than hurt.

“Look, Norma.......I’m sorry for your troubles....I really am. But I’m just out of clink. The DA downtown hates my guts....and the Board is about to yank my license. I just can’t afford.......”

She stands up, and interrupts me. Her voice is noticeably less friendly.

“Afford? Let me tell you what you can afford. I’m going to pay you a thousand dollars right now. You get Patty back to me intact by Saturday......”

It’s my turn to interrupt.

“What’s so important about Saturday....other than it’s her birthday?” I’d seen her date of birth on the license in her dossier. Norma smiled.

“Tony said you were quick. Let’s just say I want her home for the celebration. You do that, and I’ll pay you another twenty grand as well another thing of value.”

My jaw drops. Twenty-one Large, all for one case. It’d put me back in a nice office. Not Seaside nice....Downtown nice. I was so shocked....I didn’t even haggle for more. Trying to hide my excitement, I asked:

“And the other thing of value?”

She smiled.

“I tell Tony to not give you to the big Swede. He truly seems to not like you. “ Her smile fades. “John.....I’m sorry to resort to threats.....but that’s how bad I need your help. Please....”

Looks like we’re staying on that vibrating rail.