[My wife’s an English teacher and she needed a short story for her second-grade students’ reading practice. There was a size constraint of 700 words or less, and the story needed to have a crime, a suspect(s), an investigation, and of course, a resolution. I wrote this story during the course of an evening; I hope you enjoy reading it.]

“The reports stated that you suspect one of your staff to be involved in this heist. Can you tell me more?” the Detective asked the jewelry store’s owner. “Yes, of course,” replied Sid Cooper. “I have three employees on my rolls, Marty, Ed, and Dan. I think it may have been Marty.” “And why do you suspect him?” Cooper inserted a DVD into the player and pointed to the monitor. “I burned the camera footage on this DVD,” said Cooper, hitting the play button.

The footage focused on the store’s entrance. A masked man entered through the main door apparently using a duplicate key. He then proceeded to the safe concealed behind the counter, opening it effortlessly and stuffing the jewelry inside into his bag. Cooper paused the video and said, “Detective, a few things to note here. The culprit had a duplicate key which he used to enter the store. And he knew exactly where the safe was, and its combination as well. More significantly, however, he used his left hand to stash the jewelry into his bag, which means he is left-handed. And the only member of my staff who is left-handed is Marty.”

There seems to be something amiss in the video, the detective thought. He walked to the shopfront from the cabin where they were watching the video and espied the camera. It pointed to the rear of the store, but because it had a full-length mirror, it captured the reflection of the entrance. This effectively meant that the footage was left-to-right reversed. He turned to Cooper and said, “The only person who could not have done it is Marty because the thief was right-handed for sure. And since, as you say, the thief had a key, and he also knew the safe’s location and combination, don’t you think that you too fall under suspicion?” “But why would I steal from my own store?” Cooper protested. “Mr. Cooper, I am not saying that you did it. But I am also not saying that you couldn’t have done it.” Being blunt was part of the package that came with being a policeman.

The detective went back to the cabin and played the video again. This time he noticed something that he had missed the last time. And suddenly everything fell into place. He turned to Cooper who had followed him back into the cabin and said, “I think I know who the culprit is, Mr. Cooper, and the motive behind the crime is clear as well.” Cooper looked incredulous. “Detective, what is it in the video footage that I missed that you didn’t, and by which you arrived at a conclusion with such rapidity?”

“It is you who committed this crime, Mr. Cooper,” the detective replied. “You see, the culprit in the footage is the same height and build as yours. However, what gave you away is the fact that while exiting the store after committing the crime you switched off the lights and also checked if the safe was locked as a matter of habit. And I also know from the reports that the store was locked after the theft. Thieves don’t do that; they make a quick getaway without bothering about niceties like switching off the lights or checking to see if the safe and the store are locked after they have done their deed.

“Secondly, Mr. Cooper, I know that your store is insured; you robbed your own store so that you could not only have the jewelry, but also the insurance money. You intentionally recorded the footage so that once the police had arrested poor Marty and given you a clean chit, you could claim the insurance money.” Cooper looked at the detective, wide-eyed, and then at the floor, resigned to his fate. “The fact is,” the detective continued, “you wanted to have your cake and eat it too. Even if it meant sending an innocent man to jail.”

And as they spoke, police sirens could be heard in the distance.

[© 2020 Najeeb Shaikh. All Rights Reserved.]
Please spread the word among your friends & associates