What's the Case?

by
A Kniggendorf


Note:
this was inspired by a Darwin Awards Nomination of 1990: "Wrong Place, Wrong Time".

2089-06-11

     Sitting at his desk in front of a just-finished report, Goose peered into his wallet, turned it upside down as if to shake the moths out of it and snorted. "Zach, can you lend me a quarter for a minute?"
     "A quarter?"
     "Yeah." The ST shrugged. "Any other coin would work, too."
     Zachary fumbled at his pocket, then tossed a coin over to Gooseman. "Here. What do you need it for?"
     "I've got to file this report," he nodded at the closed folder on his desk. "Have to decide what kind of case it is." The ST flipped the coin high into the air.
     Zach caught the coin before it hit the desktop again. "Gooseman, you can't file your cases by chance! If you have a problem with the classification, ask!"
     "Captain," the ST's mouth twitched sardonically. "Will you help me classify this strange case of mine?"

Earlier that day:

     "Hi, Mike. How about a deal? Coffee for donuts?" Entering the shop where various clients were already looking about, Gooseman raised the paper box stuffed under his arm briefly at the attendant.
     "Sure." Mike Heraldy stopped polishing a Smith & Wesson antiquity and put it back into its showcase on the counter. "Why are you here? Don't try to tell me you've managed to drain the military of available ammunition."
     "Nothing like that." The Ranger smirked deprecatingly. "I'm on patrol duty."
     "Pissed off your boss once again?" Mike found two mugs with the H&H Firearms logo beneath the counter and poured them steaming hot coffee.
     "What else?" Goose opened the donut box and shoved it across the counter. "I'd like to know what weapons are selling best at the moment."
     "Are you planning to open a rival shop?" Heraldy blew at his hot coffee before taking a sip.
     "Nope. Like to know what the scumbags around here will shoot at me with."
     "You know, I'm not really supposed to give you that information without an official request." Two clients entered the shop, griping about the nearly-blocked entrance door. Heraldy looked at the uniformed Ranger lounging against the counter. "Where did you park your robosteed this time?"
     "No steed. Standard police glider."
     "You?" Mike asked disbelievingly. "In one of the things with emblems, identifying paint job, and flashing lights?!"
     "Yup." Goose had a sip of his coffee. "Boss's really pissed."
     "And it's right in front of my door, eh?"
     "Sure." Gooseman grinned. "I was burdened with donuts."
     "A heavy weight indeed." Mike laughed out loud, then sobered. "I've got a problem with an AK-1101-LR. Somehow the thing's developed a recoil and I'll be damned if I know how that's possible with a laser rifle."
     "Hm." Goose frowned. "It could be the mechanical controls. Do you have it here? I have to be back on tour in half an hour, but I'll see what I can find."
     "Sure. And thanks. It's pretty crowded today."
     "Yeah. More clients than bullets in here."
     "And that despite a police glider blocking my entrance and a uniformed Ranger at my desk," Mike smirked, putting the LR between them on the counter.
     The ST grinned. "That's the reason. Those who are already here can't get out."
     Heraldy shrugged. "As long as they buy..."

     A few minutes later, Goose showed the disassembled LR to Mike. "Here. The laser's regulation mechanics aren't damped enough. The positioning reset is too abrupt; that shock is causing the recoil." Goose pointed out the components in question. The bell at the shop's door indicated the arrival of yet another customer. Man, the shop was getting full today.
     Goose shifted a bit to better include both the door and the open window front in his view field, and idly studied the new arrival making his way towards them. The rhythm of the man's movements indicated a shoulder holster. Not that that was uncommon; hidden firearms in public weren't forbidden. And someone carrying a gun into a weapons shop wasn't uncommon either.
     Goose took a sip of his cooled-down coffee.
     No one with any active brain functions would try to rob a gun shop that was full of likely-armed clients, with a police car blatantly in front of the door and a uniformed ranger at the counter, right next to the attendant who was checking out a charged LR...
     "Hands up! This is–"
     Gooseman and Mike stared at each other in complete disbelief. In the meantime, three laserbolts hit the ceiling, a fourth the wall behind the counter. About twenty weapons were drawn in the shop. Heraldy's returning fire was only a little slower than Goose's...

Back at the office:

     Goose grinned at the memory. "I laughed so hard, I almost forgot to shoot the crook."
     "Is he dead?" the captain demanded.
     "Stunned. And under arrest."
     "Stunned?! I thought that setting on your blasters was rusted over by now."
     "Captain!" Goose looked shocked. "I'd never allow rust to appear on my weapons!"
     Zachary smirked and shook his head, deciding he'd better return to the other aspects of the topic. "The guy obviously never considered the reasons most men rob stores for booze and tobacco, not firearms."
     Goose joined his grin. "So, Captain, what is it? Attempted robbery, attempted suicide, or just plain idiocy?"
     Zach, suddenly sobered, looked blankly at him for a moment, then flipped the quarter he was still holding himself. "Heads: it's a robbery, tails: a suicide." The coin hit the surface, rolled away, and finally came to a halt – in the slit between their two desks. "Edge?!"
     Goose grinned and stuffed the file into one of his desk drawers. "Plain idiocy it is, then."

END


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