"There was a wonderful moment while the world was filled with beautiful stars and streaks of lightning through which he heard distant police sirens. But the wonderful moment didn't last long and darkness closed in on him."
"Pick a Crime."
By Richard R. Smith (born 1930).
Illustration by Dick Francis.
First appearance: Galaxy, May 1958.
Reprints page (HERE).
Short story (15 pages).
Online at Archive.org (HERE; text faded) and Project Gutenberg (HERE).
(Parental caution: Some strong language.)
"Going straight meant crooked planning. He'd never make it unless he somehow managed to PICK A CRIME."
Seriously, what's a guy got to do to get arrested?
~ Joe Harper:
"He wanted to spit his contempt, but the increasingly familiar pain and voice prevented him."
~ The girl:
"You stupid jerk. What do you think this is—the Middle Ages?"
"I'm doing you a favor, Joe. I'm trying to explain something you're too dumb to realize by yourself."
Comment: "Pick a Crime" is a fine example of what SFF does best, take a "what if?" situation and run with it.
- Richard Rein Smith has been involved with SFF for quite a while; see the SFE (HERE) and the ISFDb (HERE) for more.
HERE), Lewis Padgett's "Private Eye" (HERE), Lloyd Biggle's "Cronus of the D.F.C." (HERE), Ian Whates's "Browsing" (HERE), Philip Ball's "When the Music Ends" (HERE), David Berreby's "The Punishment Fits the Crime" (HERE), and (on a lighter note) Greg Bear's "RAM Shift Phase 2" (HERE).
The bottom line:
"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."