by Hy Conrad
What’s this world coming to?” Harry said, shaking his head.
It was Christmas eve. He and Amy had been home enjoying a quiet dinner when the call came in. Santa Claus had robbed a party at a downtown community center.
They arrived at the center’s gymnasium to find crying kids, irate parents and a very embarrassed executive director.
“We hired a Santa, as usual.” The center’s director pointed to a heavyset man, holding an ice bag to his head. “Tommy O’Dwyer. He had just gone down to the basement to get ready for his entrance when someone hit him. The Santa Claus that came up from the basement did a few ho-ho’s, then drew a gun from under his beard and told us to raise our hands. He filled his bag with wallets and purses, then ran out the gymnasium’s double doors. Didn’t take more than a few minutes. He slipped an iron bar through the handles, so we couldn’t chase him.”
“Any suspects?” Harry asked.
The director pulled Harry aside and lowered his voice. “We figure it had to be someone who knew the Christmas party routine. Two of the center’s employees weren’t around for the robbery, so we’re thinking it might be one of them.”
“Who’s the boy?” asked Amy. She was looking at an eight-year-old, sitting alone in a corner.
“That’s Clark Shepherd,” the director said. “He was in the basement bathroom all during the robbery. We figure he must have seen something. If he was in one of the bathroom stalls, he could have peeked between the panels and seen the robber changing into the Santa costume.”
“I didn’t see nothing,” Clark said in a loud, defiant voice. He was glancing in the direction of the suspects and looked nervous.
“Let’s get everyone down to the basement,” Amy told her father. “We can look around and question them at the same time.”