Friday, April 4, 2014

Appearing in issue #14, April 7, 2014

Title: Hildy’s fortune

By Author: John M. Floyd

 Tag line:   Hildy Price’s boss was right when she figured the missing bank teller was tied up with personal business…

Police characters:  None.

The gist:   Angela Potts got a call from her friend Ruby asking if Angela had seen their friend Hildy. Hildy hadn’t shown up for work today and hadn’t called in. Angela promised to check on her. A newspaper article last week revealed that Hildy’s estranged father, a multi-millionaire, had passed and since Hildy was an only child there was speculation that he may have left his fortune to her.  Since that article Hildy had been flooded with calls from people asking for money and salesmen trying to sell her things, so Angela figured Hildy might be laying low, but thought it strange she didn’t call in to work.  Angela went over to Hildy’s house.  When she knocked on the door, a strange man answered claiming Hildy wasn’t feeling well, that he was Hildy’s nephew visiting from Mobile, and asked that Angela came back later.  Angela suspected this man and quickly made up a story about Hildy borrowing her work light and how she needed it back.  She pointed to the storm cellar in the back yard, and told the man it was in there and she’d just go get it.  The man asked if he could help and Angela told him there were some tall steps to maneuver and she’d be glad to have his help.  They walked out the back of the yard, pulled the heavy door open, and he descended down the stairs to the back shelves where Angela told him the light was.   As soon as he was down a few steps, Angela slammed the door and clicked the padlock over the latch.  She then went into the house and found Hildy gagged and tied to a chair.  She rescued Hildy and called the police.  Hildy told Angela that the man had been turning the house upside down trying to find hidden money and he kept asking her where the money was hidden.  Angela asked Hildy if she had any hidden money, and Hildy said no, that all of her dad’s fortune had been left to his second wife.

Crime scene:   Hildy’s house.

Clues:   Hildy is an only child.

Suspects:   None in the traditional sense.

Red herrings:  None.

Solution:  Angela Potts was suspicious of this man because he had told her he was Hildy’s nephew but Hildy is an only child.

My two cents:    This is a decent tale, but it’s not really a solve-it-yourself story.  I guess the question would be: How did Angela know this man was lying? This is a new format for WW and it opens up new story possibilities on the mystery page.  I gave it four stars because it flowed nicely and the clue was well placed.

There’s a missing piece to this story though, an odd sock so to speak.  Why did this guy think there was money hidden in Hildy’s house? People who inherit lots and lots of money don’t have it hidden in their house.  Hildy worked in a bank, so common sense would tell anyone that if Hildy did have money it would be either in an account or a safe deposit box.  Perhaps the reason someone thought there was hidden money in her house got cut and is sitting on Johnene’s office floor.

The tag line was pretty clever.  


Tamara said...

I liked that tag line, too. I figured out why Angela was suspicious of the guy, but I had to think a minute, and I thought it was a good WW mystery. How did you think it wasn't a true self-solver, Jody?

Chris said...

This was a fairly simple one in terms of the mystery element - Hildy was a single lady with no siblings, so the man's claim to be her nephew was obviously false - but I still liked the easy way it flowed. Nothing felt shoehorned in. I can see why Jody would feel it wasn't in the traditional run of WW m-ms, but maybe that means a change of thinking there? Would be nice to see a few more straightforward stories like this, where what goes on could actually happen. Given that Hildy didn't know where the key to the cellar was, I wonder if he's still down there?

One thing, why's it called a 'storm' cellar?

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Tamara.
what I mean is this story didn't have the usual 3 suspects, red herrings to throw us off, and police activity. There was no who-dun-it element we usually see.
It was more like a fiction story with a twist.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Chris. Storm cellars used to be dug away from the home on the property. They consist generally of a room with maybe cots and shelves with food and water. It's in the ground with a big heavy metal or wooden door. When a storm comes, hurricane, tornado (if you have time) everyone runs to the storm cellar to wait for it to pass. It's safer in there. Remember in the Wizard of Oz when everyone ran to the storm cellar and Dorothy was outside kicking the door in the wind? Then she ran in the house and the tornado blew it away...

Chris said...

Now I get it. Haven't seen the Wizard of Oz in a long while, but I get the picture. I forget that you can get some pretty extreme weather conditions over there.

joyce said...

I haven't read the story yet, but I picked up right away from the summary that a bank employee would not have money hidden in the house. Without referring back to the summary, I'm wondering why a work light would be in a storm cellar. This is a shot in the dark here, (pun intended), but seems like a work light would be electric, and you'd have to use candles, flashlights, or battery operated lights in a storm cellar. I dunno. I'll have to look back at the summary after I post this.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Joyce. The sentence in the story read: "I came to ask her about a work light she borrowed from me to use in her storm cellar." I assumed she was painting a picture of Hildy working down there, repairing or cleaning off shelves, and thus needed the light. Can't you just see the long orange workman's extension cord running to the house? :) And when she was through, she stored it out there. Of course, there really was no such light, it was just quick thinking on good ole Angela's part to get the bad guy out there.

Mary Jo said...

I had to Google "worklight" because I had no idea what it was. What I got was IBM Worklight which evidently is some kind of computer program. I finally found the real work light and it has rechargeable batteries and can be a powerful light. Learn something new everyday.

I think the "mystery" in this story was simply how Angela knew the "nephew" was a crook. The fun part was how she locked him up. Go Angela!

majbooks said...

I agree with Mary Jo. This story is a bit of a mystery and a little bit of suspense. Mrs. Potts isn't afraid to take action once she figures out that the man who claims to be the nephew is really the criminal. She's thinking fast and making a move. I liked it. As for the man looking for money in the house, who knows? In 700 words it's hard to put in too much backstory. I'd just guess that he figured she was a little eccentric and maybe had hidden cash?
--Mary Ann Joyce