Saturday, June 14, 2014

Appearing in issue #24, June 16, 2014

Title:  Playing hardball

By Author:  Gary Delafield


Tag line:     It looked like someone in Cody’s life was a stone-cold killer…but who?

Police characters:   Sheriff Joe Watkins

The gist:    Cody lay dead, a bloody stone doorstop the apparent weapon. His wife, home from shopping with two unpacked store bags nearby, found her husband.  Cody had been planning a get-together with his buds to watch the ball game, so she went to the mall. The wife claimed she was only gone for about an hour to an hour and a half and when she got home the house was quiet.  She appeared to be upset, but made a comment about now really being a baseball widow.  She gave the sheriff the name of the two pals, although she never actually saw them arrive; Jim co-owner with Cody of an auto repair shop, and Nathan, owner of Espresso Garden coffee shop.

When the sheriff arrived at the coffee shop to speak with Nathan, the man thought he was a customer and offered coffee.  Nathan said he arrived at Cody’s for the game a little before one, didn’t see anyone including the wife, and he left early because he said Cody was drinking and trying to get him to wager on the game.  Jim had not arrived by the time Nathan left.

When the sheriff questioned Jim, he was home watching the second game of a double header.  He said he went to Cody’s house, rang the bell, but no one answered. The sheriff asked if the wife was there and Jim said, no, she had gone out shopping. He said he looked in the window and saw the TV was not on and surmised that Cody had changed his mind about getting together.

The sheriff knew who had killed Cody.

Crime scene:    Cody’s house.

Clues:    The fact that the wife was shopping.

Suspects:   Nathan, the wife, or Jim.

Red herrings:    The ‘widow’ remark made her look cold, perhaps guilty.   

Solution:  How could Jim know that the wife was out shopping if he never went into the house?  Jim and Cody argued about business, it became physical, and Jim grabbed a stone doorstop and hit, and killed, Cody.

My two cents:    This story flowed along well. The police work was good.  Although not in the ‘gist’ above the story mentions that the sheriff wouldn’t have the official coroner’s report until tomorrow, but that a blow to the head appeared to be the cause. The title and the tag line both work. We have three suspects.  Although not a great red herring the cold remark from the wife did put a little suspicion on her. The clue is a well used one; only the killer knows the details, but frankly that’s how it is in the real world, and that’s how detectives get their man.  Or woman.

I can’t find a reason not to give this story 5 stars.


Chris said...

It was a good story, well paced and with enough extra details to throw us off the scent, but I got confused by the mention of the 'unpacked' shopping bags on the table. To me, if they are unpacked, then the shopping has been taken out, so I thought, 'oh, it's another of those where the wife has come home, killed the husband, and then calmly got on with putting away her shopping while waiting for the cops'. Now I'm thinking that unpacked was meant to mean that they were still full of stuff. Any thoughts anyone?

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Chris. I see your confusion. I took it to mean the bags were still full of the things she bought...that she had not yet unpacked her purchases, which tells us she found her husband dead as soon as she came home. But you're right, an unpacked bag could be empty. A better choice of word is needed in that spot.

Mary Jo said...

I think the American reader takes "unpacked bags" to mean that nothing has been removed from them yet. I see what Chris means, though. It is just our funny language. Probably better to mention that the bags were still "full".

Chris said...

Jody, just harping back to those all-encompassing rights that WW now want for a moment, I noticed in the reproduced version you pasted into the 'Just to be sure' section that one of the specifications is 'non-exclusive', which begs the question, are they saying that they want the right to sell, reproduce, etc., the story but that you CAN still also include it in your own self-published anthologies, or whatever. NON-exclusive seems to me NOT to mean ALL RIGHTS. Has anyone actually queried this with them? I wonder if we aren't all jumping to the wrong conclusion.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Chris. We are giving Bauer the non-exclusive rights to do whatever they want with our story, including selling it to another publication. It's non-exclusive to them...not us.

A non-exclusive license agreement is to license content to someone, but the company granting the license can also license the content to other people.

Clear as mud?

Chris said...

R-i-g-h-t. Clear as the proverbial.

Mary Jo said...

Well, now, isn't that interesting. I just read the paragraph down at the bottom of your blog, Jody. So basically, anyone who sells to WW now is writing for hire. Do you suppose the publisher will actually exercise that option? Who wants to publish WW stories second hand? Tell me, and I may go there in the first place. Does anyone know the motive behind this move by Bauer?

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Mary Jo

The big guys at Bauer don't reveal their policy change reasons to the general public as a rule. It's an internal executive decision that was made in some boardroom meeting. It wasn't something that was released in a PR that I'm aware of.

I'm thinking that maybe a 'collection' book or single edition of the magazine with only fiction may be in the future. If that's the case, they can include our stories and not pay us again.