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Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2025841
A policeman investigates complaints that gang members are stealing a stores cigarettes.
"I'm Patrolman Jones," I said to the bald guy behind the counter, a counter filthy like the floor. "You've called in complaints about cigarettes being stolen?"

"Yeah," the guy answered. "They're robbing me blind."

"Do you have any proof?" I asked.

"You want proof," the guy answered, "there they are across the street smoking like chimneys. Smoking my cigarettes that they stole."

The windows facing the street were so grimy that nothing could be clearly seen, but some home boys were hanging on a stoop, with that tough guy slouch, butts at the corners of their mouths.

I crossed the street, and approached the group.

"Patrolman Jones," I said. "Investigating a theft of cigarettes from across the street. You guys have receipts for those smokes?"

"Ah man," one of them laughed, "did you ever get a receipt for a pack of butts?"

"Since I'm not stupid enough to smoke, I can't say that I have."

"If that guy gave us a receipt, it'd be so scummy you couldn't read it anyway," another one of the kids said.

Truth be told, you rarely got a receipt for small purchases in the City. At best, you might be asked if you wanted one. Time to do some checking.

"Good job Jones," the Captain said as the trial completed, "and congrats on making Detective. It's good to put that guy away. Closing that storefront will improve the neighborhood."

"Thanks sir," I said. "The guy had been making robbery complaints regularly for months. Sure enough, insurance claims filed, supported by complaint numbers. A lot of cigarettes for that area."

"But weren't a lot of the kids smokers?"

"Yeah, but the guy's supplier only logged the delivery of about 10% of what was reported stolen."
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