Friday, July 26, 2013

Appearing in issue #31, August 5, 2013

Title: Coin return
By Author:  Adrian Ludens

Tag line:  The thief was going to end up paying a high price for stealing the valuable coin!

Police characters:  A non-identified security officer.  

The gist: Karen, the manager of the convention center, was on hand while the coin show was being set up.  There were to coin dealers at the moment in the center setting up their booths.  A heavy-set dealer accused the taller vendor of stealing a valuable coin while he was busy bringing in cases of coins.  The coin, a quarter, was in a plastic holder, a two by two, and had a price mark on it of $1600.00.  It went missing while the heavy-set dealer was away from his table.  The only other persons in the room were a janitor who was putting trash bags in the cans, and a soda vendor who was filling up the soda machines.  Karen called for security and security got the story and asked both men to turn out their pockets.  In the meantime, Karen went around and looked in each trash can.  In the can nearest the soda machine she found the empty coin packaging and an unopened soda can.  

Crime scene:  Convention center. 

Clues:   The empty packaging and the unopened soda can. 

Suspects:  The four men involved; two coin dealers, the janitor and the soda man. 

Red herrings:  None.

Solution:  The soda delivery driver took advantage of the vendor’s inattention while setting up.  He spied the valuable coin and stole it.  After restocking the soda machine he threw the empty coin packaging in the trash, put the stolen coin in the vending machine with other quarters, bought a soda so that the coin would drop in the collection bin and not be available if someone pressed coin return, then threw the unopened soda in the trash.  He planned to return after the event and collect the valuable coin from the machine. 

My two cents:  I was pretty happy with the way this story was going until the soda guy threw the unopened can in the trash.  Huh?  He was stocking the soda machines for the event, right?  Why wouldn’t he have just put the can he just bought back in the case with the rest of the soda?  Why throw it away?

 If you stole something valuable, wouldn’t you discard the evidence a little further away than the trash bin right next to where you’ve been seen standing?  I would have had him flush it down the toilet in the men’s room.  

Another thought, if this guy had the key to the vending machines why didn’t he just open the machine, pretend to add soda or count stock or something, and place the coin amongst the other quarters inside the coin collection tin and lock up?  

I wasn’t crazy about the tag line.  It was a bit lame.  All thieves end up paying a high price for their crime.  Something along the lines of ‘coin collecting’ would have been sharper.  
Once again the title to the story gave too much away.  It could have been titled Coin Collector without giving up the clue.    

No sense even mentioning there are three exclamations points in the first three sentences.  ((sigh))

I did like the fact that this author didn’t use any names except for Karen.  It’s much easier to keep track of the players when they are just described.  The heavy-set man, the taller man, and the security guard; as opposed to John Jones, Bill Smith and Adam Carlton.  Using this method the reader is not pulled out of the story to try and figure out  -- Who is Bill Smith again?


Mary Jo said...

Jody, if soda guy had put the can back in the machine and flushed the wrapper down the toilet, one vendor would still be accusing the other of stealing the quarter.

I think trying to jam pack these little mysteries into 700 words and still make sense is very difficult. Does anyone consider it easy? I say, cheers for anyone who dares to do it and gets the paycheck.

Keep up the blog, though, Jody. It is an education in itself.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Mary Jo,

Yes, I see your point about the two coin dealers. I was concentrating on having the perfect crime. I just hate when the bad guy acts dumb just so it fits the story. Might as well have him stick it up his --- um -- body part. (I had an actual case like that. My day is never dull.) Wouldn't WW have a stroke. :) The rejection letter on that would have burnt edges it would come back so fast.

Anyway, once the police don't find the coin on the other coin dealer, there's no probable cause to arrest him. No one saw him take it. It was just the heavy-set guy's guess because there were only two dealers setting up when it went missing but there were other people around. They'd have to keep investigating the theft, which would be grand larceny (anything over $250 in value).

I guess we're going to have to have the plastic wrapper that the guy flushed, not go down and be floating in the bowl...I know, yuck. Once the police find that, then someone will have to come forward and tell the police they saw the soda guy in there. Then the police will search his person, his delivery truck, and make him open his machine. All in 700 glorious words...

Mary Jo said...

Jody, Jody, Jody, I see you are going to write the 700 word mystery where the thief swallows the million-dollar diamond ring and collects it later at his leisure. WW will surely faint.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Johnene's head would spin. Might be worth it...haha

Chris said...

Loving the banter again, ladies. For me this was a good ending to the story, putting the coin into the machine for 'safekeeping'. I thought that was neat. Wasn't worried whether it was put in the slot or placed in the coin box, it was a good hidey place until it could be taken out at a later date. I didn't think through why he would have dumped the full can in the trash, just accepted it as a clever little mystery.

I'd love you to write that story too, Jody, but I suspect you value your chances of more sales to WW too highly to risk it. Can't say I blame you but still...