First we discovered the Willy Maloon category. Then we discovered Willy himself. Then we data-researched, and postulated a theory. Everything was easy, until it came to the question of proof.
in," Goil started, "you may have one of the top asteroid mining stations, but in spite of your fine production record, there seem to be some discrepancies we don't understand.
"For example, certain supply items are being used in greater quantities than the size of your operations require. This seems to have been going on for some time according to your records--and what your records do not show. Your expendable supplies items accounting seems to be lax, if not outright careless. Furthermore, there seems to be some non-expendable items that can't be accounted for, a couple of major items among them. This doesn't make much sense out here in the middle of nowhere, unless careless loss is the answer. Such losses could hardly be attributed to theft. Needless to say, theft out here would serve a thief absolutely no purpose."
"What major items are not accounted for?" asked Orrin, with a puzzled look on his face, as if he didn't believe Goil.
"The only thing I can recall offhand," said Goil, "is
Quite an entertaining tale. Good characterization and an intriguing plot. The ending was a little simplistic, but other than that well worth the time.
A sci-fi short story that keeps morphing into something else. It starts out as an asteroid-mining story and a husband-late -with-his wife's-present story, turns into a mystery, then into a study of luck, all without leaving the asteroid belt.
The science holds up, except for the things that haven't been invented yet (you take those on faith.) The characters are rather broadly drawn, it's hard to see much there, but you can keep the characters straight.
An average pulp story.