Mortared Sins….

This was sent to us from Phil Shaw. It is based on the character created by Reginald Bretnor.

Brace J. Silty, an itinerant planetary prospector, had stumbled across the ruins of an ancient and advanced civilization on one of his forays. Unfortunately for him, he was unable to access any worthwhile technology or artifacts due to the incredible durability of the dead world’s major building material. However, he was able to procure a small sample of same from an edifice that had long ago been blasted by some terrible, indeterminable force.

Further analysis of the material was promising, but Mr. Silty was unable to either get it replicated or secure the backing to retrieve a practical amount to sell. In desperation, he constructed a scam with the sample as his bait. Brace actually had several successes conning people out of advances for a supply of his unique material, but then he encountered the redoubtable Ferdinand Feghoot.

Feghoot was administering the establishment of another colony planet when Silty approached him. Brace did a masterful job of tackling his spiel, encompassing the excellent properties of his block. But Feghoot is of course apprentice to none in spotting a deal that isn’t square, and quickly plumbed the fault in Silty’s fraud.

Feghoot contracted for delivery of several kilotons of the material, then discreetly alerted the authorities at the first opportunity. When they arrived to take their quarry into custody, the officer in charge congratulated Feghoot, but wondered how he had managed to nail the crook who had mined so many others’ pockets.

“When I determined that the foundation of his claims was based only on a single piece of concrete evidence, it became obvious that he was merely a one-brick phony,” replied Ferdinand with characteristic polish. The arresting officer resisted the urge to slap Feghoot with a disorderly conduct offense, and hauled Silty off to the sector’s “big house” to await his tribunal.

At last report, Brace Silty was also being sued by the stonemasons’ union for losses its members had suffered to their reputations and finances due to his chicanery. Apparently they too wanted to put the accused brick liar on trowel for chiseling….

Phil concludes, “I know, I leveraged that for all the building puns that I could manage to wedge into it. But the one I am most proud of isn’t too obvious, I think. The very name of the con-man in this is a pun on the name of one of my favorite TV SF characters, who is fully a crumb of a person as well.”

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