"The Man Who Shot at Cats."
By J. Jefferson Farjeon (1883-1955).
First appearance: MacKill's Mystery Magazine, September 1952.
Short short story (5 pages).
"He was dead as a doornail. Shot through the heart."
So, is the prime suspect simply non compos in his mentis, or was there a lot more to it?
~ The superintendent:
"How many more times am I to tell you? If this is going to be a murder charge, I want the motive."
"And I don't care what the motive is, if I see the evidence, I'm content. This is what we've got on him, and it's enough for me."
~ The sergeant:
"Wonderful how a search warrant helps, sir."
". . . saw someone sitting at the open window just below—namely, Wilfred Ablett . . ."
"Just the momentary gleam of something in Ablett's hand. We know now that it was a revolver."
"All I can tell you is that he had a small bag, a cough, and an American accent, that he gave his name as George Baines, and that he paid a month's rent in advance."
Typos: "the poor devils last entry"; multiple punctuation infractions.
References and resources:
- "from Burma": During World War II the British were determined to hold on to all of their colonies regardless of who threatened to take them away, in this instance the Japanese Empire:
"The Burma campaign was a series of battles fought in the British colony of Burma. It was part of the South-East Asian theatre of World War II and primarily involved forces of the Allies; the British Empire and the Republic of China, with support from the United States. They faced against the invading forces of Imperial Japan, who were supported by the Thai Phayap Army, as well as two collaborationist independence movements and armies, the first being the Burma Independence Army, which spearheaded the initial attacks against the country" (Wikipedia HERE).
"his chronic neuroticism": The Burma campaign had strong psychological effects on the Europeans who were fighting it, since they weren't used to those kinds of conditions:
"The campaign had a number of notable features. The geographical characteristics of the region meant that weather, disease and terrain had a major effect on operations" (Wikipedia, op.cit.); also see Wikipedia (HERE and HERE).
- "cracked a crib in Canada": "obsolete: To burglarize, especially a home; break into a house. British informal" (The Free Dictionary HERE).
- Joseph Jefferson Farjeon was fairly prolific; see Wikipedia (HERE), the GAD Wiki (HERE), the Faded Page collection (HERE), and the IMDb (HERE; 16 credits).