It was a dreary morning for the small town given it had rained last night, but the mood was even more somber since the word had spread that the resident convenience store had just been robbed. Every bit of money the store had was spirited away in the middle of the night, and the only clue that the incident happened was a track of muddy boots leading from the entrance of the shop up to the safe and back again. It seemed like a close and shut case, just find who had the boots given their size and tread and it should be easy to track the owner since the town only had sparse population. Instead, they called my partner and me, apparently they are way in over their heads, which I don’t see how given the facts so far seem straightforward.
“I take it you think this case is a trifle, eh Holden?” My partner said with a wry laugh.
“Yes, I do Jackson, given all the information we’ve been given,” I said with exasperation.
All my friend did was look at me with an amused smile as if waiting for me to say something.
“Wait, hold on how did you know I thought this case was to simple for the likes of us?!”
“That was so easy to figure out Holden that anyone would have thought it when looking at you at first glance.” He said with a boisterous laugh “You have been wearing that frustrated look on your face ever since the police left our hotel room.” He continued.
“At least I'm the only one that cares about this vacation, unlike someone I know,” I say sardonically while I coldly stare at him.
“Now, now, there's no need to get testy with me just because we have work to do.” He chided. “Besides if you are right then we can simply show these small towners how it's done and be on our way.”
“Yeah, I hear you, but why does every place we go to seem to have a crime that the police need us to solve?” I say with some bitterness
“It's probably because our reputation precedes us.” He muses “Ah! Here we are, let's see what fate has in store for us!” He shouts.
It was an average establishment, not as big as some chain grocery stores but big enough to serve the small community it was located in. The police had taped off all the entrances and seemed to be keeping guard making sure none of the locals or news reporters interfered with the crime scene. We noticed a man approaching us, he was wearing a standard police uniform. Around his neck was a badge of office which said Bradford Police: Detective Steven Ried
“Ah you two must be the men the chief was talking about, it’s about time you two showed up.” He said with a cheerful smile
“Yes, allow me to introduce ourselves I am detective Jackson Marks and this is my partner Holden Burke, a pleasure to meet you.” He said while offering a hand
“The pleasure is all mine, we’ve heard so much about you, both of you.” He says while eyeing me critically.
“If you know who I am, then you should know that I am not an amateur, and given what we’ve been told about this case, this was the work of one. Besides, I haven’t used those in a long time.” I say with some distaste given the comment made about me.
“Hehe relax, I'm just giving you a bit of grief. Now gentlemen come with me, I'll lead the way.”
“By all means please.” Answered my partner
As we made our way past the police tape we saw the entrance of the building, we saw the trail of muddy boot prints leading from the side of the building to the inside of the building. Almost immediately Jackson got to work, lying on the ground examining every inch of the track. He took out his magnifying glass, then quickly put it away only to replace it with a tape measure. Everyone in the building just stood and watched him with amazement, I couldn’t help but chuckle which roused Detective Reid out of his stupor.
“Is he always like this?” He asked apprehensively
“Oh yes, whenever he's on a case he becomes more machine than man.”
“What happens when someone tries to stop him?”
“Oh, you can’t.” I replied, much to the surprise of the detective.”He has a one-track mind when it comes to his work, you couldn’t get him to stop even if you punched him in the face, I’ve tried.”
As soon as we finished our conversation Jackson shot back up with some vigor in his step.
“I’m done here, now let’s go to the actual scene of the crime.”
“Right this way,” Reid said in a perplexed tone
We made our way to the back of the store where we found ourselves in a sort of office space at the back, we then saw the true crime scene. It was an open cabinet-sized steel safe in the back of the room with the muddy trail leading up to it. The safe itself was empty save for a few pieces of documentation and a few moments of cherished memories.
“Well you're our resident master thief, so what can you tell us about the safe,” interjected Detective Ried breaking the silence of the room.
I began to examine the safe immediately with the same tenacity Jackson exhibits when he examining clues.
“It is an older model safe, given the keyhole and lack of electronic number pad,” I say while rubbing my calloused forefinger and thumb together. ”But the lock is still complex enough to where not just any thief can break into it, an expert or someone who has enough time to practice on this safe broke in. that is unless someone had the key on them.”
“They didn't have the key on them, the owner said they have the key on them at all times and that no one else is allowed to open the safe except for them.”
“Ah, well that would explain the scratch marks on the edges of the keyhole,” I say pointing them out to Jackson and Reid.
“Damn, I never noticed those!” Reid exclaimed with a hint of disappointment.
“I wouldn’t go chastising yourself just yet, it takes a skilled eye to notice such things.”
“So what we have here is either an expert or an employee broke in and stole from the safe,” Jackson explained. “How much was in the safe if I may ask?”
“About 5,000 dollars sir,” Reid answered
“Well, I know one thing,” I exclaimed
“What would that be Holden?” Jackson asked quizzically
“This was not the work of an expert. No expert would be caught dead making such rookie mistakes.”
“What mistakes would those be?” Asked Reid
“No expert would track muddy boots through the entire store and leave the safe open. Any expert thief would cover their tracks as best they can so that once the crime had been found out they would have been long gone. Which means this has to be the work of an employee.”
“Then we have our suspects, we’ll bring them down to the station for questioning, I hope to see you two there as well.”
“Oh, we wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Jackson said jovial
“Yes it would seem this case isn’t as shut and close as I thought,” I said wryly
“Ah, that’s the spirit Holden, now come along let's get some lunch.” He said with a mirthful grin “ Oh, and Detective we shall be meeting you down at the station, but while you are rounding up suspects be on the lookout for a woman about 5’4 wearing size 12 black rubber male shoes 3 sizes too big for her with worn heels. Good day.”
With that, we were off leaving a somewhat bewildered Detective behind us. As we ate lunch we decided to compare notes on the crime to see if we were missing anything.
“I assume you are wondering how I figured out who the suspect was.”
“Yes, every time you do that I am astounded as all ways.”
“As I keep telling you all you have to do is look, but you have managed to develop some of your observation and deduction skills. For example, you managed to observe that the safe was complex enough to where a simple novice would of never of cracked it, but you deduced that it couldn’t of been a simple expert looking for a quick score given all the mistakes made.”
“Yes I suppose so, I know how you figured the height of the suspect, all you had to do was look at the stride at which the boot prints were going. I still can’t see how you managed to find out the suspect was a woman, or how you knew that the shoes were black and 3 sizes too big and that they were made for males.”
“You are coming along very well!” He exclaimed proudly "Now for the sex of the suspect, it was easy, men and women are different when it comes to walking given their hips are made differently. The gait of the suspect showed that they walked with a certain grace in their step, hence a woman. If it was a man steps would have been squarer and more forceful. Now as for shoe size being too big that was simple as well when the suspect lifted their feet the shoe would slide forward causing it to indent a little in the mud tracks, how far it went into the mud let me measure just how big their feet are. As for male shoes, it was the squareness of the actual boot that told me that. Now as for color and material it was easy in the mud some of the heel was ground off giving me black rubber. Hence we have the suspect a 5’4 female with size 10.5 feet wearing size 12 black rubber boots.”
“That is amazing!” I cried “If only every detective was as good as you.”
“If they were I’d be out of a job and you’d be in jail right now.” He said sardonically
“Well, when you put it like that.” I said sheepishly scratching my head
“Anyway, now that we are on the same page I suggest we start for the police precinct at once.”
As we made our way down until we were greeted by Detective Reid
“I’m glad to see you two, this case has taken a very interesting turn.”
“Why, what happened?” My partner asked
“Well, we took what you suggested to heart and looked for the person you described.”
“Yes, and what did you find?”
“Well we found the person you described, but they didn’t have any boots on them.”
“ Then they got rid of them,” Jackson said nonchalantly
“If only it were that easy, we did find the boots, muddy and all.”
“ Except not on our suspect.”
“Correct we found them in the possession of another store employee who happens to be male, 5’4 and has size 10 feet.”
“Hmm, this does complicate things.” My partner said while rubbing his chin “Either way, I think we should interview both suspects.”
“Very well but if you can’t find anything we will have to arrest the man due to having evidence that links him to the crime.”
“Then we have no time to waste, come, Holden, we’ll start with our unexpected suspect first.”
We made our way to the first interrogation room where we were greeted by a young man who looked like he had never set foot outdoors, fair complexion, his hands looked as if they were brand new, no scars, no calluses, just smooth skin. He also carried a very timid look about him as if the slightest excitement would cause him to faint. As we sat down, Jackson got started with the interrogation
“Please tell us your name.”
“Eric, Eric Kendall, sir.” The boy said meekly
“Now Eric can you tell us where you were last night?”
“I was at home all night sir.”
“Doing what exactly?”
“Playing Video games online sir.”
“Can anyone back up that Alibi son?”
“No.” He said with a hint of sadness
“Now let me ask, why were tracks from your boots found at the scene of the crime?”
“I don’t know, I don’t even wear them.”
“Well, they’re too big for me because they belonged to my brother and I don’t have any use for them given I don’t go outside often except to go to and from my job.”
“Do you like your job?”
“Oh yeah I love it the owner and I are practically family.”
“I assume that the owner would treat most of his employees like family.”
“I mean yeah kinda, but me and him have a special bond or else he wouldn’t have asked me to be the general manager when he retires here in a few months.”
At this point me and Jackson looked at each other, we knew the boy was telling the truth, given his physical characteristics and his forthcoming nature of what seemed to be a very sheltered lifestyle and his love for his job and the owner. Except it didn’t explain why his boots prints were at the scene. It seemed we were on the same line of reasoning because as soon as I had that thought Jackson's eyes widened and looked like fireworks had just gone off in his brain. He then suddenly got up from his chair and grabbed my arm and dragged me out of the room.
“Jackson what on earth are you doing!” I cried as we exited the room
“I finally have the missing piece to this case!” He exclaimed
“What are you talking about?” Reid interjected
“I know how the crime was done and by who but I just never knew why.”
“What do you mean why, the motive seems clear to me, the suspect was after the money,” Reid said
“Oh don’t be so simple-minded, think if someone around here suddenly got a lot of cash and spent it don’t you think that would catch the attention of a few people? Word seems to travel fast around here.”
“Yes, I suppose you are right,” Reid said contemplatively
“We also now know Eric in there is going to be the general manager when the owner retires, so if word travels fast I’d wager that there are some that wouldn’t like it if a high paying job like that was taken from them.
“So what you’re saying is that someone is trying to make it look as if he robbed the store that he is working for?”
“Exactly, now you are catching on man.”
“Well that is a fine and dandy but how does that prove that he still didn’t do it. Right now all this is some theory you’ve concocted.”
“Ah that is where our prime suspect comes in all we have to do is see how she reacts and see the state of her fingers.”
At this Jackson begins to walk off towards the other interrogation room.
“Alright then…, Wait fingers?” Reid says with a puzzled expression
Jackson and I enter the second room where we find the suspect that Jackson had described. She was 5’4, fairly young, but she had a fair complexion about her, except her hands seemed to be a bit more worn and calloused especially around the forefinger and thumb, and her clothes seemed a bit damp and her pants had flecks of mud at the hem.
“Are you a writer?” My partner suddenly interjected
“What? No. Why?” She said with a confused look
“Oh, nothing just checking something.”
“How long have you been working at the store?”
“Oh for about 4-5 years.”
“Finally tell me, what do you think about a Mr.Eric Kendall.”
The look she gave was subtle and it appeared and disappeared as quick as lightning, but it was there nonetheless and it was one of pure malice.
“Nothing much why? Was he involved in the robbery?” She said calmly, hoping neither of us noticed the sudden look of rage that passed her face.
“No, he wasn’t. But thank you for your cooperation now we have all that we need.”
With that, he immediately walked out of the room. I followed after him. He walked over to Reid and said
“You can arrest her now I’ve gotten everything I needed.”
“Ok but on what charges and what proof?”
“On the charges of Grand Larceny, Frame-up, and Breaking and Entering. As for evidence, I wager if you can get a warrant then you’ll find the money and the lock picking tool-kit at her house, also if you hadn’t noticed she is still wearing the clothing she wore to rob the place. As for motive, she was working there for years, she thought she deserved the job more than Eric so she decided to frame him for robbing the store, I mean it wouldn’t be hard for someone who can pick a safe lock to break into a house with a standard lock and steal a pair of boots that no one even wears.”
“R-Right I’ll get right on it,” Reid said in bewilderment as he started off to start the booking process.
“Hmm I think you were right Holden,” Jackson said with a downcast expression.
“What do you mean?” I asked
“This case was Shut and Close after all.”
“Hahaha see I told you so.”
“Yes, I suppose so. Now come let's be off, I hope we are still in time for the movie I’ve been wanting to watch ever since we started this vacation.”
With that we started for the theater, finally being able to start our vacation and finally relax without further interruption from our job of universal detective and master thief extraordinaire.