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Madazine : Kleptomania

Madazine : Kleptomania

By Scriptorius


“Excuse me, sir. I wonder if you’d care to accompany me to my office at the rear of the store?


“Please, sir. We don’t want to make a fuss outside the premises, do we?

“I didn’t realise we were outside them.”

“We are. Furthermore, if you turn round, you will note that the store manager and his assistant are blocking your geta . . . er . . . proposed departure. If you’ll follow me, I’m sure this matter can be settled without undue unpleasantness. Please?”

“ Proposed departure, eh? Nice one. All right. Obviously I can’t get out. Lead on.”

“Here we are. Do take a seat, sir. Good. Now, perhaps you would hand me the book in the left-hand pocket of your anorak . . .. Thank you.”

“What’s all this about?”

“I don’t think it’s new to either of us, sir. I have reason to believe that you attempted to take this item without paying for it.”

“Nonsense. It belongs to me. Has done for years.”

“Then perhaps you could explain why it bears the stamp of this shop.”

“Of course I can. I bought it here, ages ago. I’ve read it umpteen times.”

“So, you’re familiar with its contents?”

“Certainly. By the way, I got it from your second-hand shelf. That’s why you can see the pencilled note on the title page – ninety pence.”

“Yes, sir. Of course, that could have been written by anybody at any time. However, supposing I accept your explanation, I assume you won’t mind a little test?”

“I don’t seem to be in a position to mind. What kind of test?”

“Well, let me ask you first whose face appears on the front cover?”

“That’s Albert Einstein.”

“Very well. Now I’ll dip in and we’ll see what happens. Here we are on page forty-three. There’s a sub-heading in italics. Can you tell me what it says.”

“Er, forty-three. Yes. Its ‘The Great Dilemma’.”

“Hmn. A little hesitant, but correct. Do you have a photographic memory, sir?”

“No, I just know the book. Can’t you grasp that simple fact?”

“No need to get excited, sir. Now, page one hundred and twenty-one. What can you tell me about this?”

“One twenty-one eh? It’s all diagrams. No text as such. Does that get me through my A-levels?”

“Facetiousness won’t help you, sir. Now, how about page one hundred and fifty-seven?”

“There isn’t one. The book has a hundred and forty-two pages.”

“Good. Now, page eighty-seven. There’s a formula. Can you recite it?”

“No. That’s the very thing I’m wrestling with.”

“Ah, having a little trouble with our numeracy, are we? Or is the total recall slipping? Now look, son, this isn’t my first case and probably not yours. You stole this book, right?”

“Oh, first it’s the steely glare and ‘sir’, then it’s the wheedling tone and ‘son’. Good cop, bad cop, eh? Must be awkward, as there’s only one of you. Do you practise in a mirror?

“Very flippant. However, this will go better if I ask the questions.”

“Sorry, Sergeant – I’m assuming you did get beyond point duty.”

“My past is of no concern to you, but I’ll admit to having felt a few collars in my time. However, if you intend to pursue this line, I would appreciate your avoiding references to ‘plod’ or ‘flatfoot’.”

“I’ll try, but your provenance sticks out a mile.”

“Now see here, son . . . er . . . sir, your attitude is doing you no good. As security manager of this store, I have wide discretionary powers to – “

“Hang on a minute. Manager, you say. How many staff do you have?

“None. I’m the department.”

“Well, well, a manager with no subordinates. Seems just a bit highfaluting, if you ask me.”

“I didn’t ask you and audacity won’t improve your position. Anyway, you’re not threatening enough to be cheeky. Five-seven and ten stone, I’d say.”

“About that, but I’m agile. And you seem to be going astray. I mean, your words appear to imply possible violence. Not very PC for an ex-PC. I thought you left duffing up suspects to the Special Branch or some other murky crowd.”

“Never mind that. Let’s consider the way you acquire your reading material. Does that extend to your groceries? Nick a few goodies here and there, do we?”

“For goodness sake, I didn’t steal the wretched book. What’s amiss with you? No, don’t tell me. You’re on piecework, right? Need to get a minimum number in a given period, irrespective of guilt or innocence? Yes, that must be it.”

“Calm down. Look, we’re not in the Dark Ages. We know that kleptomania is a disease. You’re not facing a stretch in the pokey. Well, maybe not. Just confess and we can move on.”

“Not a chance, Sarge. Even if you start on my fingernai . . . hey, what’s that din?”

“It’s a fire alarm. Well, this seems to be your lucky day. I’m not allowed to detain you in these circumstances. Get going, quick . . . that’s right. Oh, before you close the door, just satisfy my curiosity – no strings attached. You did it, didn’t you?”

“Yes. Pinched it last year. Forgot it was still in my pocket. ‘Bye.”

* * *

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9 Sep, 2018
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