Friday, February 7, 2014

Appearing in issue #6, February 10, 2014

Title: The tip-off

By Author: Monica A. Andermann


Tag line:   A hundred-dollar bill was missing from TJ’s wallet – and he knew exactly who to blame for the theft!

Police characters:  None.

The gist:   TJ gets a burger at a diner.  It was greasy and overcooked.  When he complained, the waiter just turned and walked away without an apology.  So TJ didn’t tip him. He paid for his food and went to go buy antacid tablets at the pharmacy.  When he was at the cashier’s station, he realized he didn’t have his wallet.  It must still be on the table at the diner.  All he had left in there was one $100 bill.  TJ storms out of the pharmacy, heads back to the diner, bursts through the door and marches up to the hostess asking about his wallet.  Ms. Hostess is friendly and told him the waiter found his wallet and put it in the Lost and Found box which is located in the manager’s office.  Sure enough his wallet was in the box, but when he opened it, his $100 was missing.  “Where’s my money?” he demanded.  Ms. Hostess claims to not know anything about any money.  TJ’s gaze swept the room and he spotted his waiter.  He yelled, “You!  Get over here!”  About that time the manager comes out to see what all the commotion is about.  TJ accuses the waiter of taking his money.  The waiter quickly defended himself and said when he found the wallet he took in straight to the Lost and Found, and even though he didn’t get a tip he would never steal TJ’s money.  The manager claims the wallet was in his office from the time the waiter placed it there until it was claimed.  All eyes turned to the hostess, the only other person who had access to the manager’s office.  “Don’t look at me,” she said.  “I didn’t take your hundred dollars.”  TJ apologized to the waiter.

Crime scene:   A diner.

Clues:   The dollar amount of the bill.

Suspects:  The waiter, the hostess, and the manager of the diner.

Red herrings:  None.

Solution:  The hostess was the only one who knew it was $100.

My two cents:    The lesson learned here for WW writers is that WW loves three suspects.  We see it time and again.  The solving clue is also an old favorite:  “only the perp would know some tidbit of info”.  Overused?  Sure.  But a steady seller. 

    I don’t know why this TJ guy had to be so rude.  It didn’t add to the story for me.  In fact, I sorta’ hoped he never found his money and the heartburn ate a hole in his esophagus.   (Is that mean?  Can’t help it.  I don’t like him.)

     Other than that there’s really not much to say.  I can’t imagine why they chose such a humdrum story with an overused formula and an unlikable main character.  And to put the ‘solving clue’ at the very end of the story?  They didn’t even try to hide it or slip it in.  It doesn’t seem like much effort went into this week’s offering.  That the editors highlighted the word ‘exactly’ in the tag line was the only mildly clever thing about the whole page.


Chris said...

Have to agree with that summing up, the clue should have been mentioned earlier, not left to the end where it screamed out, 'I'm a clue'. I didn't mind him being a grumpy-guts, though, at least it stopped it being bland.

Tamara said...

I love that esophogus line, Jody; I'm still laughing. Obvious clue, like some of mine that DIDN'T MAKE IT (not that I'm bitter).

Mary Jo said...

I think this flash fiction type of mystery is almost impossible to write; however, certain people can do it and sell it to WW over and over again. How do they do that? Well, the magic moolies have stolen the two or three story templates from the secret box in the editor's desk and given it to the chosen ones, so now they have the perfect fit for writing the WW mystery. No one said it had to be good.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Chris

"grumpy-guts" I just love your way with words. :) Here we'd call him grumpy-pants or grumpy-head or grumpy-Gus.

Ladies, can you think of any others?

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Tamara.

Bitter? No, we're not bitter. Resentful, sulky, feeling cheated, cynical, indignant and hostile maybe. But never bitter.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Mary Jo.

Are you sure it doesn't have to be good? I thought it had to be good. Define good. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. What? Huh? Are you positive? Because if that's all it is I can turn out crap like nobody's business.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Mary Jo. You scared me talking about magic moolies. ((shudder)) Now I have to go have a vodka/tonic. All because of you.

Tamara said...

Crosspatch? Killjoy? Party-pooper? I think those are some common terms.

Jody, all of the above desribes me lately, as I run to the mailbox and find nothing from Seattle. Anyone else experiencing delays?

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Tamara. The last WW story that sold was subbed in September. My November mystery got rejected. I think they get more romance stories than they do mystery. So the odds are better. Well, that's what they say anyway.
I have two out, subbed in December, one romance and one mystery. Also one romance in January. Gotta wait.

But I did get rejections this month from the Saturday Evening Post, Dance with Bears, and The People's Friend. So I'm still not feeling the love.

Tamara said...

Oh, drats. That's a lot of rejection, Jody. The one I'm awaiting word on is a romance sent six months ago. I've noticed that I often hear from Seattle on Saturday; maybe today.

Mary Jo said...

Jody, I seriously doubt you can write crap. You probably do not have it in you. As Steven King has said, he writes the best he can. It is just in the nature of the true writer.

And reading the WW mystery has convinced you that it must be good??? Basically, good means it fulfills its purpose at a high standard, holding the reader's interest and making him wish for more.

Okay, put your feet up and enjoy your drink. I won't let the magic moolies get you.