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Rated: E · Fiction · Crime/Gangster · #2220531
Just the Facts! April 2020 = 2nd Place Winner
Featured in "Mystery Newsletter (February 9, 2022)

Harry and Winnie

Harry spied the ring instantly. It sparkled in the window like a million sunbeams. He had to have it for Winnie. He marched into the shop.

“I need to see that ring you have in the window.”

The shop clerk instantly decided a sale was imminent and fetched the ring Harry’s eyes pointed him to.

“By all means, sir.” Joseph James took the ring from the window and placed it on a black velvet tray along with several other rings he thought the customer might also find alluring. Other rings of greater value with bigger and brighter stones.

“Is this the ring you were wanting to see?” Joseph waved a hand over the tray and stopped at the ring he was sure the customer had seen.

Harry was mesmerized. “Yes, yes, the very one.” He pushed his long black hair out of his eyes.

“I also chose some different rings for you. They are similar to the one you chose. The stones are a bit brighter and the cuts a bit different.” The tray held ten rings. Joseph always kept ten rings on a tray. It was company policy to keep ten rings on a tray.

“No need to look further. This is the ring for Winnie. I knew it when I saw it.” Harry stood at the counter and picked up the ring. He held it up to his eye and looked into the white diamond. He swore he could see the future in that stone. Winnie and happiness and forever. He put the ring back on the tray.

“But perhaps another would be just as good?” Joseph James held another ring up to Harry.

Harry took the ring and held it, replaced it to the tray. Then he took another and looked at it and replaced it. This happened several times, but Harry kept coming back to the original ring he saw in the window.

“Would you like me to put that in the box and wrap it for you, sir?” Joseph James saw a possible sale.

The clerk’s voice brought Harry back to reality. “What? Um, no. Well, you see. I’ll have to come back. I need to check something first. I am just kind of, um, you know, window shopping.”

Joseph James’ heart sank at the thought of losing this sale. He ducked under the counter for a moment to grab the box for the ring. When he came back up, the customer was gone. Joseph shrugged his shoulders and started to put away all the rings. He counted. He counted again. Nine.
One missing - the one the customer made such a fuss over. He dialed 911.


Harry pushed open the door, the bell rang. Immediately he was grabbed by two cops.

“Hey, what’s goin’ on?” He looked at Joseph James behind the counter. ”Let me go!”

“He’s the guy. He’s the one that took the ring. Arrest him.” Joseph was pointing at Harry.

“What? I didn’t steal the ring. Let me explain.” Harry shrugged off the hands of the cops. He ran to the counter. “I have the ring right here. I just borrowed it, right Winnie?”

A small woman stepped out from the open door. Thin, pale, and wearing a brown dress she walked slowly to Harry’s side. Her brown hair hung limply to her shoulders.

“This is Winnie, my fiancee.” Harry turned back to face Winnie.

Winnie gave the men a large smile. She held up her left hand with a large ring on her finger.

“That’s it! She has it on her finger.” Joseph James pointed to the ring. “See! See it there? He took that ring out of the store without paying for it. That is the same as stealing, isn’t it?”

The police stood behind the three players, watched the drama and stifled their smiles.

“I came back here to show the clerk the ring on Winnie’s finger. It fits perfectly. I came back to pay for the ring. I have the money. See?” Harry ran to the police and took out a roll of bills. “I’m not a thief, honest. I’m just a man who wanted a ring for the woman he loves.” He ran back to the counter and Joseph James. “I guess I kind of forgot for a moment that I had to pay for the ring. I was so excited that I found the perfect one! Just like I found the perfect woman!” Harry put an arm around Winnie.

“You forgot? He forgot!” Joseph James laughed. He looked at the police who politely chuckled. Then he snapped his head back toward Harry and shouted “You’re touching my last heartstring, mister! Give me the money or give me the ring or these guys are taking you to jail. Your choice.” Joseph James was frowning and leaning over the counter. He had a finger in Harry’s face.

Harry and Winnie recoiled and stepped back.

“So, what will it be? Ring or money or jail?”

“Money. Definitely money.” Harry stepped up to the counter. “How much do you need?” Harry put his roll of money on the counter.

Joseph James thought for a moment. “I think I can take $2,000 for that ring. I think that will take care of the ring and all the grief you gave me and the store management. The loss of revenue when it was out of the store inventory and all, you know”

Harry counted out some hundreds. “That sounds fair. Here you go.” Winnie watched at his side.

Joseph James counted the bills. He then wrote out a receipt. “So, what is your name?’

“That would be Harry Winston.”

“Like the jeweler?”

“We’re often confused, but yes. Not related.


“555 1st Street, Jefferson, NC, 29311.”

“Okay. That’ll do it. Do you have a phone we can add?” Joseph James held his pen mid-air.

“Well, we’re midway between cells, so I’ll have to get back to you on that.”

“No problem. I’ll leave that blank. Now this receipt covers you in case of repair or need of replacement. Also will cover you for your insurance needs.”

“Thank you, sir. I appreciate you forgiving my oversight. Winnie and I appreciate it.” Harry and Winnie looked at Joseph James with eyes full of tears.

“Yeah, yeah. Get out of here before I change my mind.”

Harry and Winnie ducked their heads and left the jewelry store.


A few weeks later, the same two policemen came into the jewelry store looking for Joseph James. It seems that several counterfeit hundred-dollar bills were passed through the store recently. In their interview, the only customer Joseph James could remember paying with cash was someone by the name of ‘Harry Winston’.

“Like the jeweler?” questioned one of policemen.

“Exactly. I thought that curious as well.”

“Did you get an address and phone number? Did you get some ID”

“Well, an address, but no phone number. And no, no ID.”

“Do you have a computer?”

Joseph James stared at the policemen. “Of course. Doesn’t everyone?”

“Do an address search. Save us a trip to the station. Let’s find the deadbeat.”

The three men huddled over a small computer and did a mapquest, no luck on the address. Then they did an ID search, just the jeweler came up.

“Well, Mr. James. Looks like you and your shop are out of luck. You not only lost your ring, you lost your money, and now you lost your freedom.”

The police cuffed Joseph James and read him his rights. They walked him to the police car. Then the car slowly pulled away from the shop and headed toward the police station.

Across the street, Harry and Winnie were watching. Harry now had cropped blonde hair and Winnie had a stylish auburn hairdo. They gave each other a high five.

“Well done, Linda.”

“And you as well, George.”

“I’ll be in touch. Watch your email.” George/Harry kissed Linda/Winnie and grabbed her hand.


George handed over some money to Linda, then they separated. George walked North to the subway and Linda walked South to the bus station.

Word Count 1,357
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