Will Angela Potts be able to uncover who stole hundreds from the local Chicken Glory?
Retired schoolteacher Angela Potts was sitting on her porch when Sheriff Chunky Jones came by. “You look worried,” he said.
“I am. My nephew wants to work for an idiot.”
He pushed his hat back. “Well, I hope he can find one that’ll hire him.”
”NO—I mean there’s a restaurant here he wants to work for, and the owner’s an idiot.”
“Wouldn’t be Chicken Glory, would it?” “No,” she said. “Why?” “I’m headed there to check on a robbery that happened Friday. Want to come along?”
“You’re investigating it now? Today’s Labor Day.”
“I’ve been laboring on it all weekend. The men in blue never rest, Ms. Potts.”
“Good thing you wear khakis.” He sighed. “They open at ten. You coming, or not?”
As it turned out, a payroll envelope containing several hundred dollars had been stolen from the manager’s office at the local Chicken Glory franchise three days ago. The only witness, assistant manager Jenny West, said she saw a strange man in the hallway just outside her office on Friday at noon, five minutes before her manager discovered the theft.
Angela and Sheriff Jones met with West in her office.
“Can you describe the man again?” the sheriff asked.
“He was tall, redheaded, short hair, yellow shirt, jeans, white sneakers, oldstyle eyeglasses. I was sitting here when he walked past my window over there.” West pointed to a small window above a credenza. “Like I told you earlier, our manager, Pamela Ryan, says the description exactly fits her husband, Gerald.”
“Have you ever met Ms. Ryan’s husband?” “No.” “Did you see the man only that one time?” “Yes.” “Well, I questioned Gerald Ryan Saturday morning, Ms. West. He said he’s never been here, and Friday was his day off. Said he was going fishing, but since it rained, he stayed home instead.”
West shrugged. “Sounds like he has no alibi.”
“He also told me there’s a hearing soon to decide whether he or Ms. Ryan will have custody of their young son. Is that correct?”
“Why does that matter?”
“It probably doesn’t,” he said. “Are you certain about the date and time that you saw this person?”
“Yes. Matter of fact, I heard the weather siren at that very moment, signaling that it was noon on September first.” All of them knew what she meant: The local siren always sounded at noon on the first day of every month. It was a way to test the system.
Excuse me, Ms. West,” Angela said. “Where were you on Saturday, September second?” “I don’t know. Why?” “If you recall, there were thundershowers through most of Friday. Thankfully no tornadoes, but anytime there’s even a chance of severe weather, they postpone sounding the first-ofthe-month siren until noon the following day to avoid confusion or alarm. My point is, the siren didn’t blow as scheduled at noon this past Friday.”
West blinked. “You’re saying I lied?”
“I’m saying I think your boss furnished that description of the suspect and suggested what time you supposedly saw him. And I’m reminding you that false testimony’s a criminal offense.” West paled. “What?” Angela leaned forward. “Are you willing to go to jail for following orders?”
“No,” West gulped. “You’re right. Ms. Ryan took the money to frame her exhusband. She said it was justified because it was a labor of love, to show the custody judge which of them is an unfit parent.”
“Oh, I think that’ll be pretty clear,” Angela said.
Later, after arresting Pamela Ryan, the sheriff said, “You were wrong, Ms. Potts. False testimony’s not a crime unless it’s done in court or in a written statement.”
“I know,” she replied, smiling. “But confessions are allowed anytime.”
He chuckled. “Well said. But—was the siren mistake really enough to convince you she was lying?” “No.” “What did, then?”