Title: The missing Caddy
By Author: John M. Floyd
Tag line: Ms. Potts wondered: Who’d be dang fool enough to steal Miss Burnette’s car?
Police characters: Sheriff Chunky Jones
The gist: The sheriff and Ms. Potts were playing checkers on his office windowsill when 85-year-old Miss Burnette showed up. Sheriff Jones grumped a little as is his nature. Miss Burnette, a 90-pound, five-foot-tall lady, was there to report that someone had just stolen her car. She reported that she parked her car at the curb at the drug store and left her car door open when she went in to buy a newspaper. Apparently she also left her keys in the ignition because someone jumped in and drove off. She noted there were three males standing nearby when she parked. When one of them stole the car, the other two took off running. Miss Burnette could not identify the thief as her eyesight is poor. Ms. Potts scribbled a note to the sheriff to call the drug store owner, while Miss Burnette rambled on about how she never really like her fancy Caddy because it had power everything; door locks, car seat, windows. The sheriff asked her if she hated it so much maybe she didn’t want him to find it, and she told him she remembered him in Sunday school and said he asked stupid questions back then too. The sheriff called the drug store owner and put him on speaker phone. He said he saw the three boys, even knew their names, but didn’t see the incident. Ms. Potts told the owner that ‘we’ would need their names and descriptions. The owner described the three men (with their names); one was tall and broad shouldered, one was lanky and long legged, and one was short.
Ms. Potts knew who stole the car.
Crime scene: Car theft in front of a drug store.
Clues: The features on the car and the descriptions of the suspects.
Suspects: Three teens: tall and broad shouldered, lanky and long legged, and short
Red herrings: None.
Solution: Only a short person could jump into a car set for such a short woman as Miss Burnette and speed away without adjusting the power seat.
My two cents: Well, good thing for the town that the sheriff has Ms. Potts. Otherwise he would never have known to call the owner of the store where the crime occurred, nor would he have thought to ask for names and descriptions of the teens that the owner saw. What kind of police academy turns out such morons?
They were playing checkers on his window sill. I don’t know what I’m more amazed at the fact that they were teetering a game board on a windowsill or that they were playing checkers. Checkers for Pete’s sake.
Now we have two old women telling Chunky he’s stupid and slow. Perhaps they’re right. He put the drug store owner on speaker phone in front of civilians. Cops don't do that.
Now here’s a good comment: This was the best non-clue clue that I’ve seen in a long time. Floyd buried it up in the beginning and then slipped it in again at the end seamlessly.
I’m not a fan of the Chunky/Potts string of stories because I think the characters are trite and corny and it makes for weary reading. I think you either love the Gomer Pyle gooberness thing or you don't. But you’ve got to hand it to John, he pumps them out in a consistent manner. His writing is smooth, his pace is good, and his characters are steady. He peppers in small town colloquialisms to cement the scene. Those factors, along with his great clue, earn him 4 stars for this week’s story.