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by Ruth Hymel and Ash Czarnota

Shaun felt very awkward. Sometimes when he felt uncomfortable his nose itched. It was itching him badly now. A fierce monologue was playing out in his head: 

It’s only fair to ask Colin about the necklace. Of course he didn’t steal it, but things do look fishy. That’s it! Maybe he was fishing… at midnight… Oh, blast. 

Other such things went on rumbling around confusedly in his mind as Shaun approached Listen 4 the Wind. He felt gruff and annoyed and altogether sick of being an amateur detective, so he will be forgiven if his pull on the door was perhaps a bit too rough. The bell clanged loudly in protest. He stood for a moment in the doorway, his eyes adjusting after the bright sunshine. The shop was full of wind chimes; sun catchers rebounding the sudden effusion of light; and quaint memorabilia, each beckoning invitingly from shop counters. Shaun, of course, saw none of this. 

As the dots faded from his sight, a startled Colin came into view. He was standing behind the counter, jeweler’s glass in hand, interrupted from peering intently at a finely etched sun catcher. 

Shaun coughed loudly and itched his nose. 

“I’m sorry to disturb you, Colin. And I apologize for my loud entry… Ahem… Done any fishing lately?” 

Colin looked at him rather dazed, “I don’t fish… Are you alright?” 

“Well, ah, yes. Quite alright. I just, uh, well I… to get to the point, Colin, I’ve got something dashed awkward to ask you. You see, it’s about your whereabouts the other night. Normally, I’d never inquire – a man has a right to go about his own town if he pleases – but under the circumstances, I’ve got to ask.” 

Understandably, Colin responded somewhat defensively, “What is it you have to ask?” 

“The thing is, we have a necklace gone missing, and I have a testimony stating you were seen late on the night of the disappearance coming from the direction of Jewellers towards your house. Your behavior struck the informant as odd, like you didn’t want to be seen, and at a noise, you hurried off. Now, I know a reasonable explanation exists, and as the designated investigator, I am obliged to ask you for it.” 

Shaun rubbed his nose violently in the silence that followed. He knew Colin to be a shy man, so he waited. 

“I would rather not say,” Colin said quietly. 

Shaun pleaded with him. No matter his arguments, Colin did not budge. In a last effort, Shaun mentioned Gillian, “Think about how your wife would take it were you implicated.” 

Colin’s face fell, his resolution shattered, as he revealed the mystery of his strange behavior. A growing smile threatened to betray Shaun as he listened to the tale. Considerate of Colin’s feelings, he said soberly at last, “I am glad to hear your reason. I do not think you guilty, but will, of course, need to verify your story with Gillian. Sleep walking is no thing to be ashamed of.” 

He shook Colin’s hand, turning to wink at him from the door, “Tonight, just make sure to double check the locks.” 

“Shaun!” Colin called after him.

Shaun’s hand hovered over the doorknob and he craned his neck to look back. “Aye, Colin?”

The shop keeper moved slowly out from around the counter and makeshift workspace and towards Shaun, eyes darting side to side, calloused hands wringing nervously. 

“Cone of silence, Shaun?” Colin asked in earnest.

“Aye, Colin.” Shaun nodded. If Colin could confide one of his deepest and most personal secrets to the man, he might as well lay his cards on the table. 

“Around the time that necklace went missing, Gillian and I got into a spat. The details of it don’t matter. However, I did bugger off to the pub to blow off steam. I was minding my own business and overheard Derek speaking very fondly of the necklace. I’m not saying I suspect him, Shaun, but I do know him and Mandy’s anniversary is right around the corner and the pub is going through a bit of a rough patch with business as of late. You get what I’m saying here?”

Shaun nodded slowly, not breaking eye contact until Colin’s gaze lowered in apparent shame. “You’re not throwing your lad under the bus here, Colin,” Shaun assured, “I’ll talk with Derek and I’ll be sure to keep your name out of it.” 

He turned the doorknob to leave but not before saying, “Sleep well tonight, Colin.”

About the Author

Ash Czarnota

Ash Czarnota

Brand (noun): A product or service that provides a solution to a problem.

Compelling and effective marketing campaigns will deliver your brand’s value proposition with the right messaging to the right people through the right channels. It’s crucial for brands to keep a finger on the pulse of the ever-changing digital marketing landscape. The consequence of not being in the know of the latest trends and best practices can be detrimental to your brand’s growth. I can help with that.

I’m a marketing consultant with a heavy lean into organic social media growth, copywriting, and content strategy. I have background experience in influencer marketing and management, B2C and B2B email marketing, public relations, and event coordinating.

On a personal level, I’m the founder and manager of a female-forward outdoor community, so I understand the unique needs and marketing hurdles grass-roots organizations and small businesses need to contend within the digital space.

Let’s connect and find a way to creatively navigate the digital maze to help communicate your brand’s message and plant the seeds for limitless growth.