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The Bedding Caper

by James R. Riffel

About the Author: James R. Riffel is the author of two novels, A COACH AT HEART and UNDER FALSE PRETENSES. The retired journalist spent his working life covering court cases, politics, government and sports, and in his off-hours would come up with sometimes weird ideas for fiction.


The early morning chill froze my cheeks when I stepped out of the car. My first clue! A rookie detective wouldn’t even have noticed. I nodded in satisfaction as I strode along a stone walkway to the front door of the house at the corner of Sealy Avenue and Murphy.

I was working Domestics when the call came in a few minutes earlier, a brazen overnight blanket theft—a 32.0 in the Penal Code, or what the guys in the squad room call a “Butt Cold.” My partner, one of those clowns, overslept so I went alone to investigate this potentially heinous crime.

A haggard man holding a cup of steaming coffee opened the door to a small Spanish-style house with adobe walls and tile floors.

“Detective Percale, thank God you’re here,” the man said. His dark hair was tousled, his beard with a couple days of whiskers and tissue remnants clung to his mustache. He wore a parka over his flannel pajamas. “I just about froze to death last night.”

I raised a hand. “Calm down, you’ll be warm in no time, Mr.—”

“King,” he said.

“Okay, Mr. King. Why don’t you tell me what happened?”

He shook his head. “I can’t say for sure. I slept through much of it. But, it … it, happened so quickly.”

“The theft?” I asked.

His lower lip puffed as he nodded.


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