“Some ruffian robbed that bank in the village,” said The King of the Broke Kingdom. “They took plenty of gold, though really, what’s that worth around here? We work on the barter and trust system. Still, policy is policy, and we’ve got to compensate the bank and its patrons.”

Walton Boshire, the only knight of the Broke Kingdom, was kneeled before The King in the throne room. He looked up at the man who ruled the realm and asked, “Do we have a suspect?”

“I am feeling pretty suspect about this… Oh! You mean, do we know who might have robbed the bank.” The King slapped his knee. “Hah! Of course we don’t. Why would we? It only happened just last night. Frankly, I decided to leave it up to you.” The King chucked a bag of gold coins at Walton. “That ought to cover the bank’s losses and keep them running. While you’re there, search for those things that lead us to a suspect.”

“You mean clues?” Walton asked, as he picked up the bag of currency discs, and then secured it to his waist. “I’ll visit the bank right away, Your Majesty.”

The Bank of Trust or Bust was located in the center of the village, south of a cafe, west of a blacksmith, and east of a large storage building. When Walton arrived, in his full suit of armor and sword strapped to his back, there was a crowd of onlookers. He pushed his way through and entered the bank.

There had been quite the scuffle. Several tables were tossed over. Signs knocked down. There was glass all over the floor. The bank manager’s desk had been knocked over and its legs broken off. The bank manager himself was sifting through papers on the floor behind his desk.

Walton cleared his throat and caught the bank manager’s attention. “Well it’s about time someone from that lazy castle showed up. I called for you hours ago!”

“I am Sir Walton Boshire, son of Brandish von Boshire, Knight of Castle Graystone, and Captain of the Guard. I come with compe—”

“Yeah, yeah. I know who you are. I’m Morty, the bank manager. Just toss the gold over there, and watch what you touch! My ledgers and notes are all over the place.”

Walton gently placed the bag on a nearby desk that wasn’t flipped over. He proceeded with the investigation when he asked, “When did the robbery happen?”

Morty slapped a stack of papers onto a pile. “Do I sound like a clock to you? I don’t know when the fools broke in and destroyed the place. All I know is that it was a wreck when I arrived this morning, and gold was missing from the vault.”

Walton studied the room for clues, but couldn’t find anything that didn’t already belong in a bank. One of the front windows was shattered. The vault door, an insecure, wooden door, had been broken off and laid on the floor. The papers everywhere wouldn’t be much of a clue, for it was all just notes on what people owed, what people earned, and what people had in their savings. “Did you notice anything suspicious? Anything out of place, out of the ordinary? Perhaps something that didn’t belong in the bank?”

Morty stared at the three-foot-six knight. “I do right now! A little knight who ought to be either helping to clean up, or getting out of my way. Yes, yes, as I was leaving last night, three rabid banshees were holding a delightful tea party in the center of the village square.”

Walton turned to look at the scene a bit more.

“Of course I noticed something suspicious! The whole darn place is a wreck! How more suspicious do you get than that!?”

Ignoring Morty’s rant, Walton approached the shattered window, for it must have been the point of entry. There he found a square of red and black checkered cloth stuck to a piece of glass. “This seems familiar, but where have I seen it before?” He looked at the bank manager, but his clothes didn’t match this pattern. He pocketed the cloth and then waltzed about the room to check for more clues. There was nothing in the vault, and nothing behind the counters. He left the bank without a word to the bank manager, deciding it would do no good to discuss things further with that enraged man anyway.

Walton presented the only clue he found to The King. “Well,” said The King, “That’s some poor taste in clothing if I ever saw it.” He sighed. “Oh, all these Kingly duties of listening to the bad news, has worn me down today. Hey—” he turned to one of his servants “—fetch that jester. I could use a good laugh right about now.”

The jester arrived in typical fashion, rolling on the ground and tumbling like a dufus. He wore his full body suit, and that dopey, floppy hat, with the little jingling bells. “It is an honor, as usual. How might I delight His Majesty today, with a limerick, a riddle, or a joke?”

“Eh, someone went and robbed the bank. Tell me something funny to lighten up my mood.”

Before the jokester could perform, Walton interrupted. “Wait just one moment,” the valiant knight said. He snagged the piece of cloth and placed it against the jester’s suit. “Ah-ha! The pattern matches perfectly! You robbed the bank!”

The jester jumped back. “What!? No! No way! It’s just a coincidence! This must be some kind of a joke! A joke, on me!? Come on, let me go free! It wasn’t me!” The jester stepped back from the knight and ran to the door. Two guards blocked his exit. “I didn’t do it, I tell you!”

“You can tell us you didn’t do it all you want,” Walton said, pointing at the jester. “But look here!” He held the piece of cloth up to a ripped seam in the jester’s suit. “See! Your suit is torn here, and this cloth is the exact length and size that has been torn away. You most certainly did rob the bank!”

The King leaned over to his servant and said, “This is turning into quite the show. I love it!”

“It wasn’t me, I assure you!” the jester cried.

Walton and his guards were having none of the jester’s claim. They snagged the lanky man by his wrists and dragged him to the dungeon.

The knight investigated the jester’s chambers, and discovered a bag of gold hiding in a chest. “That confirms it,” he said. “All evidence must be secured.” Walton ordered that the jester’s suit be confiscated, leaving the joke of a man to sit in the dungeon wearing rags.

Several weeks passed, and The King summoned his knight to the throne room. “Walton, you won’t guess what has happened.” Walton waited for The King to explain. “No, I mean, try and guess. I want you to guess what happened.”

Walton was dumbfounded. “We, uh… fought off a horde of monsters?”

“No, no. Don’t be foolish. C’mon. Guess again.”

“Peace has returned to the land?”

“Walton, be real. No, no. Another bank robbery! At the same bank! Well, really, the only bank we have.” The King handed Walton a bag of gold, and ordered him to investigate the crime. “I guess this means we have some copycats, right? That’s the right term?” The King asked, leaning over to his servant. The servant shrugged. “Yeah,” The King said. “That’s the right term.”

When Walton returned to the bank, Morty, the bank manager, was pacing about the wreckage of another robbery. He was busy chomping down on a jelly donut, and wiping the crumbs off a fancy vest. Frankly, the man looked worse of a slob than a mud covered swine.

“Finally!” Morty cried, with bits and pieces of jelly donut still in his mouth. “Look at this mess! I swear, you’re the worst! The same guy must’ve broken in. I thought you caught him!”

Walton hung his head in shame and confusion. “We have caught the criminal. He is imprisoned as we speak. This must be the work of copycats.” He handed the bag of gold to the bank manager, and then studied the scene for clues. “How did this happen?” Walton asked, for he found another piece of checkered cloth stuck to the same window that was shattered the last time. “I shall look into this matter further,” he said to the bank manager.

“I would certainly hope you do! Now if you don’t mind, I have to clean up… again!”

Walton returned to the dungeon. “You!” he shouted at the jester. The culprit curled into a ball against the wall. Three weeks in confinement made him into a weaker weakling “How did you get out of jail and rob the bank again?”

“I never robbed the bank in the first place!”

“I have clear evidence that you did! See this!?” he said, holding up two bags of gold coins and two pieces of cloth. “I found the gold in your chambers. And that suit of yours has been ripped again. How do you explain that!?”

“Might I ask you a question, sir knight?” the jester asked. Walton sighed and shrugged his shoulders. The jester approached the iron bars of the jail cell and whispered, “Sir Knight, why would I break out of jail, and then put myself back in? If I did rob the bank twice, and had all that gold, don’t you think I would make a run for it?”

Walton grumbled, for he had no answer to that. When he told his story to The King, His Majesty ordered him to watch over the jester’s chambers, for certainly if this has happened twice, and the culprit is still at large, there is a chance it will happen a third time. If the jester was telling the truth, then the suit and his chambers would not be disturbed.

Three weeks passed, and each night Walton slept on the floor, hidden behind crates placed inside the jester’s chambers. One night, the door opened, and in the darkness, there were footsteps. Walton awoke to the slight sounds, and remained calm and hidden in the shadows. There was the faint sound of struggle, of someone having a difficult time moving about. “Darn thing doesn’t fit anymore,” said the intruder.

Walton snagged his sword, for he recognized the voice. He crawled to the door and then lit a torch on the wall. “Morty!”

The bank manager had the jester’s suit on halfway up to his waist. When Walton shouted his name, Morty fell over and struggled to get the suit off. “No! No! This won’t happen!”

“So you’re the real trickster,” Walton said, as he pointed his sword at the real bank robber.

“You won’t catch me,” Morty said. He removed the jester’s suit and snagged the bags of gold coins. “Darn thing won’t fit anymore, but that won’t stop me from getting out of here with all this gold!”

The bank manager dashed toward the door. Walton kicked his boot against the door, slamming it shut. Morty, who was midair jumping over the knight, crashed into the vertical plank of wood. He fell to the ground. Walton lunged on top of the bank manager and held his sword to his throat. “For the glory and honor of His Majesty, I hereby place you under arrest for theft!”

Walton tied up the bank manager’s hands and dragged him by the legs to the dungeon. “Lock this man up,” he commanded to the guard. “He’s the real bank robber.”

The guard opened the gate and shoved the bank manager inside. “Come on, you’re free,” he said to the jester.

“His Majesty will be most pleased to hear that you are innocent,” Walton said to the jester. “Uh, and we’ll need to get you a new suit. Fatso over there stretched yours out one too many times.”

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