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Jim Camp's Trick Box...
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 by Frank Shortt
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        Jim Camp was holed up in a little cabin in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. He was a design engineer, down on his luck, who had decided to take the easy way out and rob a check cashing firm on Bascom Avenue in west San Jose.
        Jim had bought the small Czech 97, semi-automatic, during a Wacker gun show at the Santa Clara County fairgrounds, from a questionable individual who sold it ‘under the table’ no questions asked. This was the type used as ‘boot guns’ by Nazi officers while occupying small towns in Europe during the Second World War. Jim felt that he had acquired a small pistol that both he and his female companion could use for a little target practice. He had no idea that soon it would be used to commit a robbery, and surely not by himself.
        Jim had planned this robbery very carefully. He had approached his friend, Bob, about using Bob’s small cabin in the Santa Cruz Mountains. “Bob, I need a place to hole up awhile, isolated from the hustle and bustle of Silicone Valley, to get my head together!” The cabin was on a dirt road about 3 miles off the main Highway 9.
        “I don’t plan on using it myself any time soon, Bob innocently replied. There’s not much there in the way of food, so you would probably need to stock up a little for your stay.”
        “That should be no problem! Jim said with a devious smile, I can take care of that!” Bob knew that Jim had a lady companion!
        And Jim solved the food problem, stocking the trunk of his old Mercedes Benz with enough food to last about two weeks. In his troubled mind he felt that the heat would be off him by then, as he planned to do the robbery as soon as possible.
        As Jim Camp approached the Certified Check Cashing establishment, he knew that this was payday for a lot of undocumented workers who would need the services of this business. He also planned the robbery before the onrush of business due to people getting off work in the afternoon. He stepped gingerly up to the office window producing the little Czech 97 pistol, after making sure that the owner had left for some appointment beforehand. He had scoped out this particular busy place for a couple of weeks and figured they kept plenty of cash on hand.
        “I would appreciate it if you would remain quiet, take this sack and put all the loose bills you have in the drawer into it! Don’t even think of pushing any alarms! You’d be shot before any security could reach this place!” The teller sat motionless!
        Soon afterward, an older model Mercedes Benz could be seen heading for Saratoga and Highway 9 at a good, but careful, speed. Jim Camp knew the risk he was taking! He had never found reason to do anything unlawful before as he had always made a good salary at several Silicone Valley start-ups. His only weakness! Marijuana! He and Bob had shared many a joint at the very cabin that was his destination. Having indulged for several years had begun to show on Jim! His thinking was less clear, his lungs were less functional, thinking that pot smoke was not as toxic as cigarette smoke. Overall, he was just not the man he used to be before taking up some bad habits. His foggy brain told him that what he was doing was OK and that society owed him that much. In truth, he had only gotten about three-hundred dollars in his first venture at robbery. Not much to show for all the planning, execution, and now escape!
        Soon after the robbery, Sgt. Cobarruvias, of the San Jose Robbery and Burglary unit was on the case. He had obtained a description of the robber from the over wrought teller. The teller had also seen the old Mercedes Benz careening out of the parking lot immediately following the robbery. Part of the license plate was visible ‘ZEZ’! Jim had neglected to wear a mask as his foggy brain told him that none was needed. Cobarruvias was a seasoned detective and soon put the Mercedes Benz and the license plate together as belonging to one Jim Camp. He began piecing the movements of Jim during the past year or so. This soon led him to Jim’s friend Bob who had worked with him on his last job at Sanye Industries of Santa Clara. Further investigation told him of Bob’s real estate holdings and he became especially interested in the small cabin in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Bob was no help in giving him a lead as to Jim’s whereabouts!
        Soon after Jim Camp arrived at his destination, he began to make plans as to what he would do should he be trailed to the cabin. He had found a sturdy jewelry box that he felt would meet his needs to hide the Czech 97 should he need it in a hurry. He, being a designer, found some small springs to allow him to design a quick-opening contraption just in case! He soon had a box that would open at a touch, allowing him access to the contents inside, which in reality, would be the small boot gun! He tried it several times during the following days to assure himself that it was fail-proof! Jim felt real good about himself as he had recently toked a joint and was at ease with the world.
        Sgt. Cobarruvias was not long in finding the whereabouts of the cabin. He and his faithful companion, Bill Jones, worked their way up to the Santa Cruz Mountains on the Saturday following the robbery which occurred on a Friday, payday! The sergeant’s plan was to try the soft approach and try to enter the cabin alone before springing the fact that he had help in the matter. The two men discussed their plans as they rode carefully up to the cabin. Hiding their un-marked police cruiser not far from the cabin, they continued the rest of the way on foot. Smoke could be seen curling upward from the wood-burning stove as if there was not a care in the world of any possible occupants.
        “Who’s there! Jim Camp exclaimed as the sergeant rapped on the door with his baton.
“Police! Open up and answer a few questions!” Sgt. Cobarruvias stepped to the side of the door as Jim Camp opened it carefully.
“Wattayuwant” Jim inquired as he edged his way toward the pink jewelry box!
        “Just wanted to discuss a robbery which took place on Bascom Avenue recently! Thought you might know the whereabouts of the perpetrator of this particular event.” Cobarruvias watched Jim carefully for any sudden movements. The two law enforcement officers had arranged for the Sergeant to rap loudly on the side of the door if he needed help.
        I ‘ont know anythin’ about ‘ny robbery, how’d I know about a robbery?” He suddenly tapped the top of the trick box! …………that didn’t work!
        The seasoned sergeant walked over and handcuffed Jim Camp, reading him his rights, as Bill Jones walked smilingly through the door! Cobarruvias wondered what was in the jewelry box? After several attempts, the Sergeant coaxed the box open, revealing the deadly little Czech 97 inside!