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Melodie Campbell

July 2011

The Perfect Mark

The hands that held the teapot were dotted with brown age spots and the veins stood up in protruding ridges. Artwork by Claude Monet, 1872. This work is in the public domain.
The hands that held the teapot were dotted with brown age spots and the veins stood up in protruding ridges.

Artwork by Claude Monet, 1872. This work is in the public domain.

The old lady was almost the perfect mark.

Sasha held back an urge to smirk, and instead leaned forward to listen with polite interest.

“Do you like cats, Miss... how do you pronounce that?”

Sasha nearly grimaced, but caught herself. “Oh yes,” she said quickly, glancing around the condominium. Nothing in sight but good solid furniture. “Do you have one?”

“Not yet,” twittered the old lady. “That’s why I need a personal support worker. To help me look after it.”

Sasha smiled back. She was confident about getting this job — she’d never missed before. Plain hair, no makeup and conservative clothes... it was easy to fool them. And she charged way less than agencies, as long as they paid upfront in cash. It was good to deal in cash.

As the old lady chattered on about cats, Sasha’s eyes strayed around the room. Expensive furniture, lots of figurines, silver candelabra on the sideboard, probably sterling silver within it. No doubt good jewelry in the master bedroom, and lots of cash. Old birds like her tended to distrust bank cards. Sasha relished the anticipation. It wouldn’t take her long to find out where the valuables were kept.

“More tea, dear?”

Sasha accepted more tea with a smile. The hands that held the teapot were dotted with brown age spots and the veins stood up in protruding ridges. Sasha had to move the cup deftly as tea came pouring out at an alarming angle.

“Oh dear!” Chirped the old lady.

“Is something wrong, Mrs. Mortify?”

“Oh no,” She looked embarrassed. “I just need — if you’ll excuse me...” She teetered off the couch and shuffled off to the master bedroom.

Bathroom, Sasha mused dreamily. She sipped her tea, enjoying it, and smiled with pleasure at her good fortune. Chances are the old bird wouldn’t bother to check references — they never did. Old people were so naïve.

Sasha leaned back on the loveseat and closed her eyes. It was going to be almost too easy.

Twenty minutes later, Elvira Mortify came out of the bedroom wearing her coat, and shuffled over to the prostrate body of Sasha Sachanska. A twisted smile creased her face.

With surprising deftness, she whisked the gold necklaces off the girl — three of them — as well as the thick gold hoop earrings, gold bracelets and engagement ring. They fit snugly into the inside zippered pocket of her tweed coat.

Scrawny fingers reached for the purse, heading straight for the wallet.

Eight hundred dollars! That should keep us going for quite a while, she mused. Vet bills were so expensive these days.

The old lady retrieved a satchel from behind the couch, opened it, and took out a tall blue thermos. With great care, she emptied the contents of both teacups, teapot, and creamer into the cavity. Each piece of the tea service fit neatly into prepared pockets. She zipped up the satchel and stood up.

The old lady took a last look around the room. Condominiums were really so convenient. Owners were always going away for weekends.

The girl was still out cold. Chances are, she wouldn’t call the police — they never did. Too much pride... so foolish.

And even if she did: one old woman looks pretty much like another. Young people can’t see past the white hair and wrinkles.

Elvira looked down at her victim and shook her head. Young people were so naïve.

As she turned for the door, Sasha lunged for her ankles.

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About the Author

Melodie Campbell

The eyes of Melodie Campbell

Melodie Campbell has been a banker, a marketing director, a comedy writer, a college instructor, and possibly the worst runway model ever. She has over 200 publications, including 30 short stories, and has won five awards — including third prize in the Bony Pete short story contest at the Bloody Words (Crime Writers of Canada) conference in Victoria, for this story, in a blind competition. Her comic alternate world fantasy, Rowena Through the Wall, is available on Amazon. Read more at

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