By Stanton A. Coblentz (1896-1982).
First appearance: Weird Tales, July 1949.
Reprinted in Tales of the Macabre (1969) and Horror Gems, Volume Five (2013).
Short short story (9 pages).
Parental caution: Strong language.
"A blameless man, the Professor . . . everybody thought!"When he is asked about the most baffling case he ever encountered while he was on the force, Chief Finch recounts the time he busted up a robbery ring led by a man who, according to physical law, couldn't possibly have been anywhere near the crime scenes, yet was seen by dozens of witnesses:
. . . "Remembering how he'd been motioning to them just before I fired the shot, I knew he'd been their guide, their secret captain. Maybe some of them didn't see him or know anything about him, but I'm mortally sure some of them did follow him . . . He'd showed them where to find the loot; showed them how to get around our nets. And that's why, when I think things over, I'm glad I fired that shot." . . .
- Two articles about Coblentz (a very uneven writer) are HERE and HERE; other info can be found HERE (Wikipedia), HERE (FictionMags), HERE (the SFE), and HERE (the ISFDb), with a couple of his other stories HERE (Project Gutenberg).
The bottom line: The absent are never without fault, nor the present without excuse.
— Benjamin Franklin