“Everyone knows you did it, Clarence. You can’t deny it!” Luke Appleby was hopping mad.
“I can, and I do!” Clarence Hopkins folded his arms and nodded once, hard, for emphasis.
“But you was the only one there!”
Clarence fiddled with his grimy fingernails, careful not to look Luke in the eye.
“Nosir … You was there, too, Luke.”
“Sheriff, you gotta arrest this man right now! He’s a thief!”
Sheriff Willy Robinson sighed and leaned back in his wooden chair. He’d been down this road many times during his six years in Buzzard Bluff.
The two old men were business partners — Luke was a blacksmith who specialized in horseshoes, and Clarence was a veterinarian of sorts, though one who could only shoe horses.
It was a match made in Hell as far as Willy could tell.
“Alright, Clarence. Tell me again what –”
“Well, Sheriff, my daughter — you know Laura, right? — well she dropped it off right after lunch. Then I, um, went into the back room to … um … tidy up –”
“To take yer afternoon nap, ya mean!” Clarence cut in.
Luke shot daggers at his buddy. “Anyway, when I came out, it was GONE!” He raised his eyebrows at Robinson. “And Clarence was the only one up front.”
“Ya got any proof?” Clarence pushed.
“Well?” Robinson asked.
Luke hung his head.
“You two goofs get on outta my jail and stop wastin’ my time!” Robinson barked.
Clarence grinned from ear to ear, flashing blue teeth that fairly glowed in the light of the sheriff’s gas lamps. He elbowed Luke in the ribs. “Looks like yer still stuck with me!”
Robinson’s eyes grew saucer-sized as he pulled out his cuffs.
“You sure you didn’t help yourself to Luke’s blueberry pie, Clarence?”