Amy had spent a lazy morning at home and would be opening up late. It didn’t matter, she told herself, since her first customers never trickled in until after 11. But as rounded the corner of Hudson Street and saw the insurance investigator’s car parked in front of “Abel Adventures”, her heart sank. She knew this car well and it was never good news.
As she walked closer, she could see that the trouble wasn’t at her travel agency, but at the shop next door. Traymore Jewelers was a Village institution, a dusty emporium that somehow survived on even less business than Amy’s. Toby Traymore, the owner, stood just inside the door, answering one last question from Gregory Till, the investigator from United Insurance.
“It kept pretty good time,” replied Toby. He gazed mournfully at the mantle clock that had been knocked from its perch behind the counter. It now lay broken on the hardwood floor, its hands permanently frozen at 7:47. “I wound it yesterday morning and re-set the hands. It’s been in this shop for decades, since I was a kid.”
You had to look closely to realize there’d been a burglary. The average passerby might never have noticed the broken lock on the metal grate or the pried-open doorjamb. But inside the shop, rows of old fashioned jewelry were no longer on display, their red velvet cases ripped and empty. Traymore’s had been cleaned out.
Amy shared a few words of comfort with Toby, the same way he had comforted her when her place had been broken into a few months before. Then, after Toby wandered back inside to wallow in his misery, Amy turned and said hello to Gregory.
“This block is bad luck,” he said, returning to his notes. “At least your place didn’t have real valuables. No offense.”
“None taken.” Amy’s eyes drifted to the alarm box on the side wall. “Did the alarm go off?”
“No,” said Gregory, shaking his head. “It’s an old model, fairly easy to jimmy and shut down. Unfortunately, there’s no log-clock telling us when it was turned off. And no security camera. A burglary waiting to happen.”
“And when did it happen?”
“Last night. Toby and his assistant locked up around 5. They both recall setting the alarm. The clock was broken at 7:47, so the police are setting that as the approximate time. A patrol car drove by a little after eight and noticed the broken lock on the grate. By then the place had been emptied out.” There was something about Gregory’s tone.
“You think it was an inside job,” guessed Amy.
“That’s what my instincts say.” Gregory shrugged. “Three people used the system and knew how bad it was. But they all have alibis. Toby, for example… He says he was home alone. A pathetic story. But Toby’s upstairs neighbor locked himself out of his apartment. He knocked on Toby’s door and came in for a drink, waiting until his wife got home with the keys. So Toby has a solid alibi between 7:30 and 8 p.m.”
“How about the assistant? Miranda?”
“Yeah, Miranda.” Gregory checked his notes. “Miranda was also home, over in Queens. But the UPS man dropped off a package around 7:30 and she signed for it. Her place is at over a half-hour from here, so her flimsy alibi is ironclad.”
“You said three people,” Amy prodded.
“The third was Igor Medjavich, a cleaning service employee. He cleans the store every other Monday. That means he has keys and knows the alarm. His alibi is that he was at night school. The CUNY campus on 24th Street. Every Tuesday from 7 p.m. until 9.”
“Another solid alibi. Did the police dust?”
“They did. The alarm was clean. So were the door and the register and the broken clock and the display cabinets. They did find prints in the shop. But Toby and Miranda and Igor would naturally leave prints Who knows? Maybe I’m wrong.”
Amy liked Gregory. A few months ago it was a different story. A few months ago, Gregory had held up her insurance claim, saying the same thing, that the burglary at “Abel Adventures” had been an inside job. It had taken a murder to convince him – and the police – that he was wrong.
“You’re not wrong,” Amy told him. “Not this time. It was an inside job.”
“How do you know?”
“Well, first of all, there were no prints on the clock.”
Gregory had to stop for a minute and think. It didn’t help. “Okay, you lost me. What does the lack of prints tell you?”
“It was an inside job,” Amy repeated. “And who the burglar was. Probably. I can’t be 100 percent sure.”
WHAT DID THE LACK OF PRINTS SIGNIFY?
WHO IS THE MOST LIKELY SUSPECT?
Remember…it doesn’t hurt to send me a guess, so go ahead and let me know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org. And while you’re at it, why not go to your favorite book retailer and pick up a copy of Rally ‘Round the Corpse today! I’ll post the Amazon link here:
And tune in Saturday afternoon for the answer. I’ll also reveal the date of the drawing Saturday as well.