For the third time, that being the requisite ordinal for charm, I am presenting the only story I have ever written specifically for internet publication. It was composed for Paul Guyot’s late and lamented blog Inkslinger for a contest. If I remember correctly, the rules were that the story had to involve an armored truck and a children’s clothing store, and had to be between 500 and 5000 words. It very undeservedly won second place. I say undeservedly because I had deliberately attempted to write the worst story ever written, and the first place winner, by Clair Lamb, was very good.
Gentle Readers, your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to tell the world everything that is wrong with this story. Be specific. Be harsh. I can take it. Especially after having inflicted the last line of this opus on an unsuspecting public.
by Anne J. Cromwell-Rains
A silent nocturnal plague quietly stalked the sleeping tykes of the nighttime without a sound.
Bedwetting. Suddenly, it was everywhere, especially on Star Wars and Harry Potter twin bed sheet sets. Not even Bratz were immune.
It was my job to find out why.
I’m a cop.
# # #
People who think the juvie beat is a joke have never seen the glazed cold stare of a ten-year-old hopped up on uncut sucrose. They’ve never stood between a desperate fat kid and a bag of steaming fries. They can’t begin to understand how much devastation can be wreaked a by a whiny snot-nosed urchin in the back seat of a mall-bound Volvo.
“They’re just kids,” they say, smiling blandly.
Just kids, my ass.
We had a lead on the armored car robbery at the Kids Only Clothing Emporium at the Alandale Outdoor Mall. Something odd had been going on at that store to require armored pickup so frequently. They were turning over way too much cash way too fast to be accounted for by Disney Princess pajamas and Spider-Man briefs. We weren’t the only ones who noticed, either.
The theory was that Kids Only had tried breaking into the lucrative children’s gambling racket. Unaccompanied ten- and eleven-year-olds wearing sunglasses to protect their anonymity had been seen arriving and leaving the store unaccompanied by adults.
Then somehow, the Cosa Nostra — loosely translated, it means “Our Gang” — must have found out. You don’t mess with the mob. Juvenile gambling was their exclusive preserve. They didn’t like the idea that Kids Only was trying to squeeze in. So they took out the armored car.
That was the theory, anyway.
But the theory was wrong.
# # #
I sat at my desk humming the theme from “The Patty Duke Show” under my breath when Lebowski parked his left haunch next to my Selectric.
“We got the perps, Harry,” he said. “We were wrong about the mafia angle. It turns out they were dissatisfied customers. Customers with a secret.”
“They had the money?”
“More than the money.” He put a laundry bag on my desk. Wafting up from it was the unmistakeable smell of urine.
“Turns out Kids Only found a way to increase their business. They treated sleeping wear and bedclothes with a chemical that stimulates kids to wet their beds. Rather than admit they were bedwetting, the kids would bring the wet stuff back and buy new ones. Twice the sales. No wonder they were making money hand over fist. But the kids got wise and ripped off the truck.”
I shook my head. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised there’s so much evil in the world.
“They should have known better,” I said.
“Yeah,” Lebowski agreed.
“You know, sometimes it’s better just to let sleeping togs dry.”
Post script: The perceptive Gentle Reader may observe that the byline is a devilishly witty anagram of “James Lincoln Warren”.
Post post script: I recently applied an update to the WordPress software engine that runs Criminal Brief. For whatever reason, the update thought it would be a good idea to put “ â€™” in place of apostrophes, “ â€œ” for opening quotation marks, and “ â€” in lieu of closing quotation marks. For the convenience of the Gentle Reader, I have gone through the last seven posts and manually changed them all back, but for my own convenience, haven’t bothered to edit them out of comments, also because they seem unaffected. Please apply your individual brains to that task if required.
I hate software that thinks it’s smarter than I am.
Post post post script: Fact 10 Conference “Race to the Nose Bowl” Update. WCLA was utterly humiliated on Saturday by the spunky University of Outlaw after surviving a well-mounted threat last week by Bringem Dung, whereas the University of Nabisco crumbled before WSC’s ferocious onslaught after their leisurely by-week. More news anon. –JLW