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The Case of the Missing Pound Note: A Daniella Coulstoun Short Story (part 4)

  22 Apr '22   |  Posted by: Birlinn

In just a couple of weeks we are publishing Six Wounds by Morgan Cry, a high-octane crime thriller set in the sun-drenched Costa Blanca and the second novel featuring Daniella Coulstoun. To give readers a flavour of what to expect, Morgan has written a fantastic short story following another of Daniella’s exploits, The Case of the Missing Pound Note. Expect shady expats, some fruity language, and of course, a mysterious missing pound note. This is Part 4 of the story – click here to read the first part. We will be releasing this short story in sections each week until the publication of Six Wounds so check back next Friday for the last part!

The Case of the Missing Pound Note

A Daniella Coulstoun Short Story

by Morgan Cry

Whodunnit Time

Can you work out who stole the note?

Read on to find out.

Thoughts coalesce as the mists in my head clear. I let the alcohol chill my bones for a couple of minutes before I stand up. I walk back to the centre of the pub and survey my audience.

It’s showtime.

‘I’ll give the guilty party one chance to own up,’ I say.

I may as well have asked for someone to pull out their fingernails with a pair of pliers.

‘Okay,’ I say. ‘Have it your way.’ By this time, I feel like I’m in the final bloody scene from some Death in Paradise episode.

‘You know who did it?’ Clyde asks.

‘I do, and given what all of you have just told me, so should everyone else in here.’

Eyes search out eyes, and I search out one pair.

‘Right, my bath is waiting. Let’s rewind. And, in I’m a Celeb-style, I’ll rule you each out.’

This is actually a little more fun now the wine has kicked in.

I start. ‘Jordan and Sheryl, it might be you.’

‘What?’ exclaims Jordan. ‘How could it be me? I wasn’t even in the pub. I came in after Mark and Zia.’ He shuffles a paper coffee cup from hand to hand.

 ‘I know, but let’s look at what you did. You texted Sheryl twice. The first time to say that you’d got your phone back. The second time to tell her about the value of the note. I’m guessing when you went to pick up your phone at the Safety Deposit +in the port,you saw the article about the pound note somewhere along the way.’

He shuffles the cup again.

‘But you saw the newspaper article after you got your phone back. Otherwise your first text would have been about the note. So where did you find out? At the wee café down behind the Safety Deposit +, maybe?’

‘How do you know that?’

‘You’re holding one of their coffee cups, and I know they leave English papers out for customers to read. Did you see the article there?’

More shuffling.

‘And when you found out the value you texted Sheryl, telling her to grab the note. Then you ran here – that’s why you were out of breath when you arrived. Let’s be honest, Jordan, if someone else hadn’t got to that note first, Sheryl and you would be on eBay right now flogging it.’

‘We would not,’ says Sheryl.

‘Not,’ repeats Jordan.

‘Don’t lie.’ I pause, playing on the moment. ‘But even if the note had been on the ceiling, Sheryl couldn’t have taken it.’

‘Because I’m a good person and would never do something like that,’ she says with a small smile.

‘No.’

Her smile vanishes.

‘Do me a favour, Sheryl. Stand up and put your hands in the air.’

‘Why?’

‘Just reach up.’

Sheryl stretches her hands high.

‘See?’

‘See what?’ says George.

‘Sheryl’s too short.’ Her hands are at least a foot short of the ceiling.

‘Sheryl, you told me that you need the stepladder to dust the ceiling, didn’t you?’

‘Yes.’

‘Well, it would have been tough to roll out the stepladder or stand on a chair without someone asking what you were doing. So it wasn’t you, Sheryl. But it still could have been you, Jordan.’

‘But I wasn’t here.’

De lo contrario, Señor Norman. You came through the door right after Mark, did you not?’

‘Yes.’

‘And all eyes were on Mark.’

‘More or less.’

‘You could have reached up and taken the note when everyone was looking at Mark. Unlike Sheryl, you are tall enough.’

‘I didn’t take it.’

I hold my palm up. ‘I know.’

‘You do?’

‘Yip. I checked Sheryl’s messages and that confirmed something for me.’

‘What?’

‘You certainly knew the value of the note but you didn’t know it had been moved from behind the till by Skid. How could you? Sheryl never texted to tell you.’

‘And,’ I say to the room, ‘that not only eliminates Jordan but Zia as well. Neither of them knew the note was on the ceiling.’

I cross to the bar, one eye on the pub entrance. I’m no longer expecting the police to walk in – but I am expecting Mark back any moment.

‘Clyde, another small one, please . . . Oh, and by the way, it wasn’t you.’

George leans over. ‘How do you know that?’

‘Because Skid mucked up the bottles in the fridge and Clyde had to sort it. He never got out from behind the bar. So how could he steal the note? Did you see him leave the bar area?’

George shakes his head.

‘And, George, it’s not you.’

‘Thank you,’ he says.

‘Why not?’ says Skid.

‘He never read the newspaper. You tipped a drink all over it, Skid. So how could he know about the note’s value?’

Skid says nothing.

‘Which leaves,’ I say, walking to the centre of the room again, ‘Saucy and Skid.’ I take a breath. ‘And, Saucy, it might be you.’

He downs half his vodka. ‘I didn’t take the thing. Search me if you want.’

‘Maybe I will. After all, you were at your table most of the time. Right under the note. When Skid put it up you could have grabbed it.’

He opens his mouth and I throw up both hands, ‘But it’s not you, Saucy.’

‘Why?’ asks George.

‘Because Saucy didn’t know what it was worth.’

‘He had the paper.’

‘But he reads his horoscope.’

That sends a small ripple of confusion around the room.

‘What does that mean?’ asks Sheryl.

‘Saucy reads his horoscope every day and that’s all he reads. Didn’t you say that earlier, Saucy?’

‘Damn right,’ he says. ‘The rest is a waste of time. Who needs news?’

‘And that clears him how?’ asks Jordan.

‘Because the horoscope is in the supplement on a Sunday, not the main paper. I like to read it as well. The story on the pound note was on page three of the paper, and since Saucy never reads anything but the horoscope how could he have known how much the note was worth?’

‘He could have seen it by accident,’ Jordan chips in.

‘Maybe, but, even if he had, Saucy is too small to reach the ceiling and, no offence, I’m guessing you’ve had a few breakfast vodkas this morning, Saucy?’

He huffs.

‘And if you tried to stand on a chair to get the pound note you’d probably fall off – never mind doing it without anyone seeing you.’

I sip the wine, conscious that if I keep drinking at this rate I’ll be half-cut by lunchtime.

‘And so, ladies and gentlemen, that brings us to our guilty party.’ I turn and point. ‘One Mr Peter “Skid” Solo.’

All eyes fall on him.

‘I did not!’ he shouts. ‘Everyone saw me put it up. Saucy saw it there.’

‘That’s true,’ Saucy says.

‘Skid,’ I say, ‘you might be as daft as a box of frogs at times but even you knew that if you just pocketed the note instead of putting it up on the ceiling, as per Clyde’s request, you’d be the prime suspect when the theft was discovered. So you put it up but,’ another pause for effect, ‘later you took it down again.’

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