Don Yarber Don Yarber
Recommendations: 42

I think that the term "hand-cracked" means that he opened the safe by hand rather than using chisels, explosives, or drills. I may be wrong, but I think the term is used intentionally.

Leslie Blackwell Leslie Blackwell
Recommendations: 21

he noticed a young brunette with a lap top enter his shop Other wise it implies she used her laptop to enter the shop with.

Don Yarber Don Yarber
Recommendations: 42

I agree on this one. "he noticed a young brunette enter the shop carrying a laptop." might be better.

Don Yarber Don Yarber
Recommendations: 42

This is purely subjective, but I don't understand the phrase "he went over" Over where? I think that phrase is used too much. I believe that "He decided to introduce himself because he wanted to meet her." is sufficient, unless you preclude it with something like "He got to his feet and ambled to the door because he wanted to meet her."

Don Yarber Don Yarber
Recommendations: 42

back in the States. I think States needs to be capitalized.

Leslie Blackwell Leslie Blackwell
Recommendations: 21

shopkeeper, as well as a loving husband. Having used the word both you indicate that there are only two choices but added the loving husband as an after thought is a nice way out.

Don Yarber Don Yarber
Recommendations: 42

career capper caper would be a funny way to express this.

Don Yarber Don Yarber
Recommendations: 42

Rappel vs. repel To repel is (1) to ward off or drive back, (2) to cause aversion or distaste, or (3) to present an opposing force. To rappel is to descend a vertical surface, especially a cliff face, by sliding down a rope with a device that provides friction. The words are easily mixed up, and the misuse of repel in place of rappel is especially common.

Michael Cooper Michael Cooper
Recommendations: 2

You're right - missed that one...

Leslie Blackwell Leslie Blackwell
Recommendations: 21

had never before stuck Paris

Don Yarber Don Yarber
Recommendations: 42

I agree on this one. I he had never struck Paris then it wasn't him who struck this time. It has to be "never BEFORE struck Paris.

Cindy Beitinger Cindy Beitinger
Recommendations: 37

should be "sorry for your loss"?

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Michael Cooper Michael Cooper
Recommendations: 2

Taking Esmerelda

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She had a friend.

Given in a speech contest.

Derrick had a problem.  Derrick had a very big problem.

Staring down at the casket that held the women that once was his love, he could only mutter to himself, “How did it come to this?  What did I miss?”


A few months earlier Derrick had been a thief. Derrick was no ordinary thief.  He was an exceptional thief.  His specialty was highly visible, and thereby seemingly unattainable, jewels.  

By the time he was in his late 20’s he already had a number of high profile thefts under his belt.  But, what literally put him on the front page was the theft of a set of jewels known as the Diamond Triad from a former German arms dealer, turned philanthropist, in Prague.

Skirting 22 armed guards, disabling laser detectors and disarming motion detectors as he went, he arrived at the safe so quickly and so far ahead of his schedule, that, to add insult to injury – he hand-cracked the safe. 2 comments


Interpol was baffled.  No evidence, no DNA, no mistakes – only the theft itself left any evidence Derrick had been at the scene. The lead detective, who’d seen Derrick’s handiwork on other crime scenes, just happened to mutter, “Like trying to catch a shadow.”  

Unfortunately for that lead detective and Interpol, a reporter was standing nearby and overheard the comment.  The following morning newspapers across the Eurozone ran headlines featuring the latest exploits of the newly dubbed “Shadow Thief.”

Derrick sat at his favorite coffee shop musing over the headlines.  He thought his media moniker was a little unimaginative, but he had to admit he was pretty pleased with himself.  Yes, life was good for Derrick.

As he sat there he started thinking about how he’d gotten to this point.  He thought about how it started and the training he’d received from Frank, his now deceased mentor.  Frank didn’t have many rules, but the rules he did have you followed or you didn’t work with him.  

Rule 1.  Always have more than one way in and out of a target.  “The best laid plans…,” he’d say.

Rule 2.  Never steal in your own backyard.  You always commit your theft in another town, as far away as possible from where you live.  If you’re not there to be questioned by police, they can’t question you.  

Rule 3.  Always hide where no one will look – in the open, in plain sight.  Derrick owned a jewelry shop in Paris.

A few days later, while sitting in the coffee shop reading his paper he noticed a young brunette enter the shop with her laptop.  Getting her coffee and sitting down she opened the laptop and began typing. 2 comments

He wasn’t sure why he noticed, but he suddenly realized he was staring.

He decided he wanted to meet her and he went over to introduce himself.  She spurned his initial efforts, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer.  It became evident she, too, was interested, but she continued to feign disinterest.  As the cat and mouse game played out he finally managed to get her phone number. 1 comment

Her name was Connie and she was a reporter.  She was in Paris on loan from one of the large eastern newspapers back in the states.  She had agreed to come to Paris in return for a fast-tracked promotion to editor upon her return from the continent. 1 comment

They began seeing each other but they didn’t get to spend as much time together as they would have liked.  She travelled extensively across Europe with her job and, of course, Derrick travelled a great deal for his “job.”

Over time it became evident that Derrick was falling for Connie and he was contemplating asking her to marry him. He was sure she would say yes, but he realized he would have to make a choice.  It would be impossible for him to be both the Shadow Thief and an honest, upstanding shopkeeper and loving husband. 1 comment

He chose the latter thinking to himself that if she said yes he would leave the criminal world behind.  

On a Tuesday evening, he took her to dinner, got down on one knee, proposed, she accepted and the Shadow Thief died.

And he would have stayed dead if old man O’Malley hadn’t come to town…

Paul O’Malley made his fortune in timber from the Pacific Northwest.  He was being sent to Paris to assist in the negotiation of a new trade agreement between the States and France.  With him he was bringing his wife of thirty years and Esmerelda.

Esmerelda was not his daughter.  She was an emerald.  An emerald of such cut, clarity and size that gemologists the world over feigned swooning when they saw it.  Traditionally, she was kept under such tight and redundant security that even someone with the Shadow Thief’s skills passed on any attempt to steal it.

But for the first time she was coming to Paris – she was moving.  An opportunity like this would not come again.  Derrick knew it broke the rules, knew he would have to break the promise he made to himself about leaving the life, but this was a career capper.   He decided just one more time. 1 comment

He did his recon and his research.  The job was hurried but he knew what he was doing.  On a Thursday evening, he scaled the outside of the hotel to stay off inside cameras, repelled down the opposite side of the building to the target balcony, disabled the lock and the alarms, cracked the safe and went out with his prize.  His final thought as he made his way out was “Just like Prague.” 2 comments

The following morning Paris was abuzz with activity.   There were police everywhere.  There were reporters everywhere.  Everyone was talking about the heist.  It was big news because the Shadow Thief had never struck Paris. 2 comments

Connie was pressed into service doing stories on security systems.  She begged Derrick to be one of the interviewees since he owned a jewelry shop.  He tried everything to avoid it, but he finally relented.  He didn’t like it but it went off without a hitch.  

Over the next few days the Shadow Thief made his way off the front page.  More current and important news replaced him as the story faded.

It didn’t matter to Connie and Derrick, they were planning a wedding.  There were arrangements to be made and invitations to get out.  Yes, again life was good for Derrick.

Then Connie discovered a lump, then two - four altogether.  Five doctor visits and seven tests later it was confirmed.  Connie was dying.  They went from planning a wedding to planning a funeral.

Derrick was despondent.  It quickly became obvious that he was taking it harder than Connie.  All he would do is hold on to her.  He couldn’t discuss final arrangements.  He wouldn’t talk of her dying.  It was too hard.

As time began to wind down for Connie she begged him to understand that final arrangements had to be made.  “Honey,” she said, “this isn’t only about you.  I have family.  I understand if you can’t do it, but please let me make the arrangements.  I’ve already made the call and someone will be coming by this afternoon.  He’ll be here at 2:00.  Give me an hour then it will be done.”

He nodded his understanding feeling ashamed that he couldn’t bring himself to do it.  The man came, spent the hour with Connie, then Derrick took up his position at her side.

Four days later she was gone.

Stumbling from the hospital he sat down lifelessly in the cab, mumbled the address and upon arriving at home fell into his chair and stared at the wall.  He didn’t move and he neither ate nor drank for 2 days.

At 8:30am on day three he received a call.  It was the funeral director.

“My name is Antoine Dubois, the owner of the funeral home.  I am truly sorry for our loss.  Ms. Connie seemed to be a fine woman.  She is ready and my instructions are that you are to be the first to see her.  Can you be here this evening at 7:00?” 1 comment

“Yes.…yes.  Of course,” Derrick softly stammered.  

At 7:00, freshly showered and shaved, Derrick reported to the funeral home.  Mr. Dubois met him in the alcove.  “Ms. Connie is in the small chapel at the end of the corridor here,” he said pointing.  “If you will excuse me, I have another matter to attend to.  I will be down in a few minutes.”

As Derrick made his way down to the chapel he noticed the subdued color tone of the hallway.  The pictures hanging there were not important to him, but he noticed there were no windows or doors.  “Hmm,” he mused to himself, “just like life, only one way in and one way out.”

When he reached the chapel he saw the casket.  Approaching it he saw Connie laid out, hair done perfectly in a pretty blue dress.  Held in her arms was a large yellow envelope addressed simply, “To Derrick.”

He picked up the envelope.  It was heavy.  As he pulled back the flap and emptied the contents into his open hand a large green object fell into it.  


Grief turned to terror as he ripped open the envelope to see what else might be in there.  A small, handwritten note fell to the ground.  He reached down to pick it up and he realized it was Connie’s handwriting.  It read:

“My dearest Derrick:  You have no idea how sorry I am that we won’t be spending our lives together.  We would have been very happy.

I’ve not been entirely honest with you, just as you’ve not been entirely honest with me.  
I know who you are.  I know because I’ve been the lead detective on your cases for some time.

After meeting and falling in love with you I was prepared to forgive and forget your past.  It just didn’t seem that important.

But you stole Esmerelda after you proposed.  I realized then that you would always be after the next biggest thing.  And for that there is a consequence.

Please remember I love you and that I died loving you.  No matter what happens in the future please remember that.  But right now, you’re under arrest.”

His arm dropped to his side.  Staring at the casket he could hear the sirens closing in on the funeral home behind him.

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