Sunday, November 19, 2023

"Your Rabbit's a Genius!"

The perfect crime doesn't have to be murder, as we'll see when a smart armchair detective matches wits with . . .

"The Cunning Cashier."
By Arthur Porges (1915-2006; ISFDb HERE; Wikipedia HERE).
First appearance: The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine, April 1967.
Short story (9 pages).
Online at The Luminist Archives (HERE; go to text page 125).
(Note: Text very faded but legible.)

   "He didn't miss a thing . . ."

The recruiting poster urges us to "Aim High." Our thief groks that, but will today's sleuth also get the message?

Principal characters:
~ Lionel Wickwire:
  ". . . was so much traditional cashier—meek, competent, faithful, and underpaid—that the most gullible bank manager should have been able to predict criminal activity as inevitable. Yet, when the theft came, 'Old L.W.' broke from the norm to display a kind of brassiness not 
in character at all."
~ Captain Gregg:
  ". . . explained all this, quite ruefully, to Julian Morse Trowbridge, who slumped behind a huge, littered desk, almost lost in a sagging armchair that seemed upholstered with dirty leather over quicksand."
~ Julian Morse Trowbridge:
  "Once a child prodigy in mathematical physics—among other things—at Harvard, Trowbridge had developed too much intellectual horsepower for his youthful chassis. 
After a complete breakdown, he had vanished . . ."

Typos: "Julian Morse Townbridge"; "gatepots".

References and resources:
- "Like that man-sized rabbit in the play a few years back. Except that he's not invisible":
  You might have seen the movie:
  "Harvey is a 1944 play by the American playwright Mary Chase. She received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the work in 1945. It has been adapted for film and television several times, most notably in a 1950 film starring James Stewart and Josephine Hull." (Wikipedia HERE.)
  "Harvey is a 1950 American comedy-drama film based on Mary Chase's 1944 play of the same name, directed by Henry Koster, and starring James Stewart and Josephine Hull. The story centers on a man whose best friend is a puca (pooka) named Harvey, a 6 ft 3 1⁄2 in (1.92 m) tall white invisible rabbit, and the ensuing debacle when the man's sister tries to have him committed to a sanatorium." (Wikipedia HERE.)
- "I've built a kind of blinker device, well-known in astronomy":
  That's how Clyde Tombaugh discovered the planet Pluto (yes, it's still a planet) 93 years ago:
  "A blink comparator is a viewing apparatus formerly used by astronomers to find differences between two photographs of the night sky. It permits rapid switching from viewing one photograph to viewing the other, 'blinking' back and forth between the two images taken of the same area of the sky at different times. This allows the user to more easily spot objects in the night sky that have changed position or brightness. It was also sometimes known as a blink microscope. It was invented in 1904 by physicist Carl Pulfrich at Carl Zeiss AG, then constituted as Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung." (Wikipedia HERE.)
  "Clyde William Tombaugh (1906–97) was an American astronomer. He discovered Pluto in 1930, the first object to be discovered in what would later be identified as the Kuiper belt. At the time of discovery, Pluto was considered a planet, but was reclassified as a dwarf planet in 2006." (Wikipedia HERE.)
  "Tombaugh's task was to systematically image the night sky in pairs of photographs, then examine each pair and determine whether any objects had shifted position. Using a blink comparator, he rapidly shifted back and forth between views of each of the plates to create the illusion of movement of any objects that had changed position or appearance between photographs. On February 18, 1930, after nearly a year of searching, Tombaugh discovered a possible moving object on photographic plates taken on January 23 and 29. A lesser-quality photograph taken on January 21 helped confirm the movement." (Wikipedia HERE.)
It's a planet. Get over it.
- "Thoreau was right in stressing the problems of ownership":
  "And when the farmer has got his house, he may not be the richer but the poorer for it, and it be the house that has got him. As I understand it, that was a valid objection urged by Momus against the house which Minerva made, that she 'had not made it movable, by which means a bad neighborhood might be avoided;' and it may still be urged, for our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed in them; and the bad neighborhood to be avoided is our own scurvy selves. I know one or two families, at least, in this town, who, for nearly a generation, have been wishing to sell their houses in the outskirts and move into the village, but have not been able to accomplish it, and only death will set them free." (Walden, 1854: "Economy" HERE.)
- We last communed with Arthur Porges in re his story featuring the first appearance of his series sleuth Cyriack Skinner Grey, "The Scientist and the Bagful of Water" (HERE). Follow the links from there to other Porges writings.

Unless otherwise noted, all bibliographical data are derived from The FictionMags Index created by William G. Contento & edited by Phil Stephensen-Payne.

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