by Ash Czarnota

Shaun left Colin’s shop and made a b-line for the St. George pub. As much as he hated to admit it, the logic of the matter did indeed add up. The St. George had fallen on a rough patch as of late and Mandy was not a cheap date by any stretch of the imagination. Even during the pub’s hayday, both Derek and Mandy would spend well beyond their means, at least, according to the gossip Fiona divulged with Shaun over dinner. 

At the same time, Shaun knew Derek and Mandy came from good stock and put their family’s needs first before making lavish purchases. He also knew with their 20th anniversary approaching, Derek would go to great lengths to mark the occasion despite financial woes. 

Shaun’s pace slowed as he approached the pub. The morning light cast an invigorating glow over Evening Shire Village. A nest was perched precariously above the pub’s sign, three baby bird heads peeked out, heads tilted toward the marvelous sun and chirped blissfully. Shuan never grew tired of the smell of fresh dew and long grass. It was a beautiful day, indeed.

An older boy stepped out of the pub and propped the door open, giving the windows a haphazard wipedown before looking over and giving a nod of acknowledgement to Shaun. “Alright, Shaun?” The boy asked. He bore a striking resemblance to his father, Derek. “Alright, Tommy,” Shaun nodded back. 

 “We just opened,” Tommy tilted his head towards the entrance, “You come for a pint? Must be exhausted from your round-the-clock investigation to nab this cat burglar.”

There it was again. That blasted itch. Shaun rubbed his nose vigorously. This was going to be an awkward conversation. 

“Bit early for me, Tommy. Is your Da in?” Shaun asked 

Tommy smiled, “Old man’s always in. Never leaves his post behind the counter as of late.”

“Ah,” Shaun smile stiffly, “Well…”

“So? Would you like to come in?” Tommy asked again.

Shaun laughed nervously, “Yes, yes, sorry. Cheers, Tommy.” He quickly shuffled past Tommy who didn’t seem to notice or care for Shaun’s nervous ticks. Derek was working a scuff out of the bartop and didn’t look up as Shaun took a seat in one of the rickety stools.  

“What’ll it be, Shauny?” Derek inquired. 

Shaun pulled his notepad and pen from his breast pocket and flipped to a blank page.

“Derek, you mind me asking a few questions about your whereabouts two nights back?” Shaun wanted to get this over with. He squirmed uncomfortably in the stiff seat. 

Derek did not look up from the scuff he was so terribly fixated on. “Shaun, I think you’re aware of the current state of affairs with the St. George over the past three months. I’ve been working 18 hour shifts to get this pub to break even. You think I’d have time or energy to take a midnight stroll and rob a necklace for my Mandy?”

“I just needed-” Shaun sputtered. 

“I was here,” Derek ceased his scrubbing and looked up at Shaun with a stern expression, “And Tommy can back my alibi. He was working that night alongside me.” 

Shaun sat there quietly, unsure of how to respond. He believed him, though.  

“Any other questions?” Derek asked impatiently. “If you’re not drinking, you have no further business here.”

“Derek, I apologize if I offended you. I didn’t know how hard things have gotten for you, Mandy and the children. I hope you’ll forgive me for the intrusion.” Shaun said sheepishly, putting his pad and pen away.  

Derek’s hard gaze softened and he gave a curt nod, “Alright, Shaun. Before you go I will say I walked past the shop the day before the theft and saw that Evans boy getting very handsy with the necklace. That’s all I know.” 

“That’s enough for me to go on, Derek, thank you.” Shaun tipped his hat courteously and left the St. George. 

About the Author

Ash Czarnota

Ash Czarnota

Brand (noun): A product or service that provides a solution to a problem.

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