So Many Thieves: Traditional Mystery Flash Fiction By Paul Kindlon
A Professor of Humanities, Paul Kindlon has previously published 10 short stories, 9 poems, 30 polemics, a brief Memoir and a collection of Aphorisms. Mystery Tribune has previously published Etiology of a Tragedy and Matryoshka from Mr. Kindlon. He lives somewhere in New York State.
Spencer-Kingsley: My dear Shaw. This experiment of mine will show that given the proper use of reward and punishment I can and will be able to transform my servant Molly from a virtuous Christian girl into a thief through what is called behavior modification. In short, I will have her steal an ancient Greek statue of a goddess that my neighbor Stanley has in his home.
George: If you succeed – and I doubt you will – how long will it take to transform your young servant?
Spencer-Kingsley: I can accomplish my goal I would say in less than three months.
George: If you are so confident my dear fellow, why not engage in a gentleman’s wager?
Spencer-Kingsley: Indeed, why not?
After three months both gentlemen met again to discuss the outcome of the experiment.
The professor told of his initial frustration with the slow process of modifying the young servant’s behavior, but discovered through patience and persistence, that he was finally able to get the young lady to steal the statue.
The professor used a series of rewards – mostly gifts and money to her and her family. He offered special medical treatment for her ailing father and the use of a carriage to and from work. To get Molly to break into a private home and abscond with a precious work of art, Spencer-Kingsley had to promise a new farmhouse for her and her family.
“And guess where she wants me to build it? On your bloody green island! But it’s worth it. I’m contributing to the advancement of science. I’ve proven my point and won our bet. Oh here…”
The professor walked George over to a desk and opened a drawer. Inside was a beautiful statue of a Greek goddess.
George: Eee gads!
Spencer-Kingsley: Don’t panic old boy. I intend on returning it tomorrow before Stanley and I play cricket.
George: Tell me…now that you know for sure that you have a thief in your midst will you let her go?
Spencer-Kingsley: Utterly impossible.
George: And why is that?
Spencer-Kingsley: Well you see…the thing is…I’ve fallen in love with her.
George: My word! That’s certainly an unintended consequence of a scientific experiment.
Spencer-Kingsley: Yes, and it seems as though the experiment has transformed me as well.
George: Does that mean you no longer smoke cigars?
Spencer-Kingsley: It surely does not…shall we?
Both gentlemen retrieve a cigar from a specially designed box and light up.
Spencer-Kingsley: I say George…the success of this experiment has me wondering. Do you think I could take an uneducated ruffian off the streets of London and transform him into a proper English gentleman?