The Master Criminal

“Good morning, sir.” The young man held out a wallet, his ID plainly visible. “Detective Constable Wilson. May I come in and have a word?”

“Oh, sure.” Albert raised his eyebrows in surprise and backed up. “Please, come in. Excuse the mess. I wasn’t expecting company.”

“Not a problem,” said Wilson, running an eye over the cramped flat out of habit. “I’ve seen much worse, believe me.”

“Would you like a cup of tea? Coffee?”

“No, I’m good, thank you.”

Albert indicated a seat and sat on the facing couch. “What seems to be the problem, officer?”

“Do you own a moped?” He opened his notebook. “A Mitoma fifty cc, registration number FG50 UYP?”

“Yes. Why? I haven’t run any red lights, have I?”

Wilson smiled. “I’m a detective, sir. We don’t chase up traffic tickets. Besides, I shouldn’t think you’ve been speeding, not on that. No, don’t worry, we’re not after you for anything. Not unless you’ve got a body hidden under the sofa.”

“What? No. Do you want to check?” Albert exhibited all the signs of terror the innocent confronted by a police officer always have.

“Relax, sir. It was my little joke. And you’re the registered owner of this bike? Albert Thurgood?”

“Yes.”

“Do you know Jonathan Todd?”

“Jon? Yes. I work with him.”

“Have you checked you bike recently?”

“I rode it back home Friday. Why? It’s still in the yard, isn’t it?”

“Yes, sir. I checked it over before I rang your bell. The thing is, we’ve arrested Mr Todd for theft.”

“Jon? Theft? Really?”

“Really. You were out of town yesterday?”

“Yes. I went to see my sister. On the train, you understand. It’s a bit far on a moped.”

“Well, while you were away, Mr Todd dismantled your bike, removed the engine, and replaced it with his own. He has a Mitoma too?”

“Yes. He lives just around the block. We go into work together.”

“Do you race?”

Albert shrugged. “Not as such. They’re so underpowered, you see. Oh, very cheap and so reliable, and really easy to maintain, because they’re so simple. But fast? So, we don’t race, not as such, but I always beat him into work. It’s our little joke. Slow Joe, I call him. It winds him up, because they’re the same model. He reckons I’ve tuned my engine up, as though I could get any more speed out of that thing.”

“Of course sir. Because you know, don’t you, that road racing is illegal?”

“Oh, I said, we don’t race. It’s just I can go a little faster than him, but we still stick to the speed limit. Well, we have to, really.”

“Well, it appears Mr Todd was a little more wound up than you realised. Yesterday, while you were away with your sister, he stole your engine. We discovered it last night during a routine traffic stop. His engine number didn’t match the one on his documents, and he confessed straight away. Not a master criminal, our Mr Todd.”

“I see. Well, thank you for telling me. Jon. Who would have thought?”

“So what we need from you, sir, is a witness statement. As the victim, you understand, so we can prosecute him.”

“Prosecute? Oh dear, no, I couldn’t do that. Not to Jon.”

“You don’t want to press charges?”

“No. Jon and I are mates, sort of.”

“But he’s stolen your engine. You’re going to end up with a slower bike now.”

Albert laughed. “Not really. As you said, Jon isn’t a master criminal. It’s not just on a bike he’s a little slow. No, he looks after his bike, services it himself. Not the sharpest tool in the shed, Jon, but mechanically he’s the bee’s knees. I expect the engine I’ve got now will be at least as fast, maybe even faster.”

“I’m sorry. I don’t understand. If his engine was so good, how come you were faster?”

“Oh dear. You don’t see? Did you meet Jon? The Mitoma, it’s so very underpowered by modern bike standards. That’s why it’s so cheap. Not powerful at all.

“And Jon, he’s a good thirty pounds heavier than me.”

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About snodlander
Snodlander is the nom de plume of Bob Simms. He is an IT trainer, but it's not as glamourous as it sounds. When he's not enthralling classes with adventures through SQL Server, he writes, draws and drinks his own home-brew. Buy his novel on Amazon Kindle at The Young Demon Keeper, It's 74p, for crying out loud!

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