Attorney Katelyn Moore directed her voice to the young man seated on the other side of the conference table.
“Mister James, you understand this is a deposition concerning the theft two weeks ago at your private art gallery?”
James smirked slightly as he used the palm of his hand to smooth his blue silk tie. The art gallery’s logo was emblazoned in gold on the left breast pocket of his blazer.
“Well, I presumed the theft is why I’m here.”
“You further understand you are under oath, and that everything we say will be taken down by the court recorder sitting at the head of the table?”
James glanced at the well-dressed lady moving her fingertips over the keys of a small black machine as it fed a long narrow strip of paper in a folding motion onto an attached metal tray.
He shrugged. “I’m ready.”
Katelyn continued. “Our law firm has been retained by the insurance company which has a policy on your art gallery. Before the insurer pays on the theft claim, we need to establish certain facts.”
“Good.” Katelyn briefly referred to a manila file on the table. “According to the police report, you were the only one in the gallery during the theft.”
“No other employees working that day?”
“My sales person was making a delivery and the receptionist took an early lunch.”
“Where were you when this incident began?”
“I was in the back sampling some expensive wine we reserve for our better customers. It helps relax them into a buying mood. As a class establishment, we offer only the best for our more perceptive clients.”
“Of course, then what happened?”
“I had just placed my prescription glasses in the breast pocket of my blazer when I heard the sound of breakage in the main gallery.”
“What did you find when you entered that room?”
James visibly inhaled. “A man in a black ski mask had just smashed the glass case where we display our Faberge Egg from the Russian Tsar’s collection. Broken glass covered the tile floor and the thief was placing our jeweled Egg into a small padded pouch.”
Katelyn nodded her head in apparent empathy. “What did you do?”
“I shouted at him to stop, but he turned and ran. I couldn’t let the thief steal our prized possession, so I tackled him.”
“And he got away?”
“Yes, but not without a fight. We rolled across the floor in a violent struggle, even knocked over a couple of vase stands. Finally, he kicked his way loose.” James pointed at his left cheek. “His shoe caught me here.”
“I’ve seen the police photograph of the abrasion on your cheek,” replied Katelyn. “Very brave of you.”
“Thank you.” James removed his designer glasses and cleaned them with a special cloth. “Are we finished here?”
“Almost.” Katelyn smiled. “I must admit I’ve been admiring your glasses. May I see them?”
James responded with his own version of a smile before handing the glasses across the table. “They’re expensive, but I like them.”
Katelyn carefully accepted the slender wire frame. “They’re lighter than I expected. As fragile as they appear, you must have them frequently adjusted in order to fit correctly.”
“No, no, I’m very careful with them. In the six months I’ve owned them, the frames have never needed to be realigned.”
Katelyn returned the glasses.
“Since you weren’t wearing your glasses during the robbery, I suppose you won’t be able to identify the thief?”
James chuckled. “My distant vision isn’t really that bad. Mostly, I wear the glasses for reading, but like I said earlier, the thief was wearing a ski mask. I couldn’t see his face.”
Katelyn dropped her smile. She glanced at her wristwatch.
“Mister James, I’ll give you exactly thirty seconds to either change your story or retract your theft claim. If you don’t, I’ll recommend to my client that they withhold payment until you take a polygraph exam about the theft. You now have twenty-five seconds.”
James paled. “What?”
“You previously stated,” said Katelyn, “that these glasses were in your jacket breast pocket while you and the alleged thief violently rolled around on the floor during your attempt to stop him. As fragile as those designer frames are, they should have at least been bent, yet you testified they have never been realigned. I think you faked the robbery.”
Katelyn glanced at her watch again. “You now have fifteen seconds.”
R.T. Lawton is a retired federal agent, served three years on the Board of Directors of the Mystery Writers of America and has almost 100 short stories in various publications, with over a third of those appearing in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.
Copyright © 2015 R.T. Lawton. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited.