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Inspector Willoughby And The Sneak Thief

by Jeff Reynolds

About the Author: Jeff Raynolds's work has appeared in Clarkesworld, Escape Pod, Apparition Literary Magazine, and GigaNotoSaurus.


Inspector Willoughby pulled a tattered notepad from his coat and patted the pockets of his herringbone coat absently for a few moments until Mrs. Castingale handed him a fountain pen from the ceramic goose jar on her writing desk where she kept them.

“Self-refilling,” she said. “Nora buys them at the fairy market. That’s my sister, Nora. The latest thing she says. She’s always finding such clever things.”

He nodded his grateful thanks to her and smiled. “Now then,” he began. “Could you tell me what happened?”

Mr. Castingale paced back and forth across the kitchen, stroking his thick beard. Willoughby noted the agitation, bordering on anger, but waited for the large man to speak. Mrs. Castingale squeezed her hands together and looked at her husband with concerned eyes.

“He’s a thief. A sneak. A no good, lowlife, dirty, rotten—”

“—Yes, yes, I understand all that, Mr. Castingale,” Willoughby interrupted. Not without a soothing tone of course. He knew how to handle big men with violent tempers. “I’m certain I would feel the same way if I were in your shoes.” Not that Willoughby would ever be in his shoes, as cautious as he was. “But if we’re going to be of help, I’ll need the full story, from ‘Once upon a time’ to ‘the end.’ ”

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