We Are Not Crooks
tale came to me in a dream. I decided it could be expanded into
a short story.
Big Chuck was working alone in his private office when the grandfather clock proclaimed the one o'clock hour. Dang ding deng dong, dong deng ding dang. Ding deng dang dong, dong deng ding dang. Bong!
Big Chuck muttered something to himself. He hated those stupid chimes.
He reached into the top drawer of his desk and pulled out a shiny new remote control. He had never been very good with gadgets. He puzzled over the remote for a bit, scratched his head, tentatively pushed a button. Something must have happened, because he nodded in satisfaction and put the remote back in the drawer.
Big Chuck resumed looking through his files. He wasn't finding anything, but that didn't seem to worry him. He did, however, check his watch a couple of times.
At five minutes past one, there was a knock at the door. Little Chuck stuck his head inside and asked, "Are you busy, Mr. Daulton?"
"Charles!" exclaimed Big Chuck. "I always have time for you! What's on your mind?"
Little Chuck came in and sat in the chair in front of Big Chuck's desk. "Well, to tell the truth, Mr. Daulton, I'm worried about those federal investigators."
"What's to worry about? We haven't done anything wrong."
"I know that, and you know that, but do they know that?"
"They will," said Big Chuck reassuringly. "Trust me, Charles, they're going to see there's no way we could have been involved in that explosion at the old warehouse. What a tragedy. But we were both out of town. You and I were attending that convention in Des Moines, remember?"
"I'm just disappointed to think that the government doesn't believe us. We've run a clean business. You always told me that you'd rather suffer an honest loss than make a crooked profit."
"That's right. What does the Good Book say? 'For what doth it profit a man to lay up treasures on earth if he loseth his immortal soul?' Or something like that."
"I agree, Mr. Daulton. You and I have always been strictly honest. We've followed all the rules."
"So don't worry about any investigators," Big Chuck counseled. "We know we're the good guys, and the authorities will agree."
"Thanks, Mr. D," Little Chuck answered as he stood up. "That's a big comfort. I know things are going to turn out for the best."
He left the room, and Big Chuck went back to shuffling files.
Presently the grandfather clock chimed the quarter hour. Dang ding deng dong. Then, from somewhere, an electronic voice said, "Recording complete."
Big Chuck got out the remote control, looked at it in satisfaction, confidently punched a button, and put it back in the drawer. He got up and opened the door, calling out, "Hey, Little Chuck! You can come back in now."
Little Chuck returned to the office. "You got the recording, big guy?" he asked, plopping himself down in front of the desk
"Sure did," said Big Chuck. "Now, bring on the feds!"
"Bring 'em on!"
"Nosing around here with their silly search warrant."
"They'll find the tape. They'll listen to it. And they're stupid enough to believe it!"
"It'll convince 'em you and I are on the up and up."
"Which may or may not be true."
"Hey, we didn't hire no arsonists, did we? And we sure didn't blow up the warehouse ourselves. We were in Des Moines, right?"
"Right. That's our story," agreed Little Chuck.
"That explosion, that's all the agents think they have on us. They'll fish around, but they ain't gonna find nothing else. No way. I shredded all our account records on the embezzlement scam, and nobody remembers Artie Simpkins no more. We're home free."
"Except for that extra 'merchandise' stashed in my mother-in-law's garage."
"They're never gonna look there. So let's you and me go get some lunch, huh? When the Keystone Kops come, they're welcome to whatever they find."
Big Chuck and Little Chuck sauntered out of the office.
The only sound was the ticking of the grandfather clock. Eventually it chimed the half hour. Dang ding deng dong, dong deng ding dang.
The electronic voice said, "Recording complete."