From the mind of a mild mannered maniac

Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

OVERSIGHT (word prompt)

bbike

What was I thinking, trusting Smedley like that?
Take my Tux to the cleaners, pick up my uniform, post my letter, and meet me at the cricket green, by 1:00pm, I’d instructed him.
A simple enough set of instructions, wouldn’t you say? A ten-year-old of average intellect would be more than capable of performing such tasks. Bernard Smedley on the other hand, who can say?
Well… By 2pm our team was down to the final third of our batting order, and I Was fidgeting, listless and bored, in the dingy old clubhouse. I glanced at my reflection in the plate glass window. A man of slight build, thinning salt and pepper hair and slightly sallow complexion, stared back at me. My basic blue business suit with a, rather dapper looking,  grey and white speckled, silk tie, looked as out of place as a spacesuit in a sauna.
Where on earth was my man Smedley?

I punched in his number for the eighteenth time in as many minutes. “The client you seek is not currently available”, said a mechanical sounding voice, again.
Then as if by magic, in he shuffled, with all the urgency of a doddery old tortoise. No, wait, what am I saying.? Some tortoises actually win the occasional race, don’t they?
“Smedley”, I growled, “where the devil have you been all this time?”
“Sir”, he gasped, His cheeks were a most, alarming shade of chartreuse, and he was teetering unsteadily as he struggled to catch his breath.
“You look like you’ve just completed a triple Marathon, with a cart horse on your back, my dear chap!.” I exclaimed.
Bernard Smedley sighed almost imperceptibly. “Closer to the truth than you might suspect, Sir.” The quizzical expression on my face obviously urged him onward in earnest. “Today’s assignments were, dare I say, a tad challenging.”
I shot him one of my patented scowls through the handles of the, plastic, shopping bag I’d been scrutinizing. “Challenging” I asked? it was hard to disguise my incredulity.
My Butler, to his credit, had somehow managed to compose himself, and despite his, obvious discomfort, was now, standing there, ram-rod, straight.
“Well Sir”, he began, “Your Cricket uniform was not in evidence at the London residence, so I thusly concluded that it must be ensconced at the country estate. Since Davis had the Bentley in pieces, presumably performing routine maintenance, I gather, and since Madam is using the Rolls Royce on her, erm procurement venture to Harrods. I availed myself of a schedule and endeavoured to intercept the number 43 bus. The public conveyance was three minutes and forty-six seconds late, by the way. Not to worry though, Sir it only took me three hours to get there. Your Uniform was not there, by the way. So I borrowed a motorbike from one of your Gardeners. In hindsight, it might have been fortuitous had the, charming fellow, thought to have informed me that it was almost out of petrol. Still, those five kilometres required of me to push it to the nearest petrol station were quite invigorating. When I arrived at your dry cleaners, the obstinate service clerk patently refused to oblige me with your Tuxedo, even when I promised him an extremely unpleasant visit from your solicitors, if he should fail to do so.

It was at that point that I discovered my, most egregious, oversight. I had inadvertently abandoned your letter, back at the estate. The journey back there was quite uneventful, by the way. I’m beginning to quite enjoy motor biking”
How I’d listened to the, whole, ridiculous tale without laughing myself silly is, quite honestly, beyond my comprehension.
“So”, I said, finally, “what’s this?” I pulled a wooly white jumper, and a pair of white painters trousers out of the bag.
“Those,” he said, pointing sheepishly at the offending articles, “are the nearest I could find to a Cricketers ensemble, at such short notice, Sir.”
I simply smiled, poured him a cup of tea, and we sat and watched the remainder of the match together in companionable silence.cric

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A Trucker’s Tale

https://pixabay.com/en/truck-lorry-red-road-24360/

Early morning, and the sun was yet to put in an appearance.
I pressed the accelerator down a fraction harder, and motored along that lonely stretch of highway.
Not a soul about anywhere for miles upon empty miles.
My Semi tractor trailer, hummed along to the tune in my head, interrupted only by an occasional rattle as she navigated an uneven chunk of tarmac. Note to self, change the fuse on the radio circuit.

Around about sunrise, I reached my first destination. A misty, backwater town off of Route 5. At the appointed delivery bay, I unhitched my trailer, and went in search of coffee.
The office was unlocked so I walked in and stood in front of a big messy desk. There was no one on duty, I called out a friendly
“Hallo”
No answer, and after a few minutes of Staring forlornly at a cold empty coffee pot, I helped myself to the paperwork, I needed. I went back out to track down the trailer, I would be hauling to the next drop off.
I found the one I was looking for, retrieved the papers from its dossier compartment, then hitched it up to my rig.

When I got back to the loading bay, there was still no signs of life. Not an entirely unexpected thing. The dude was probably sleeping off a wild night, or had forgotten to set his alarm, or something.

I went back out to my truck and waited. I couldn’t leave, until someone checked the order and signed off on it.

I waited for hours, checking every ten minutes or so, but still there was no signs of life. Then I called dispatch and told them my predicament.

There were some unhappy, and not overly polite words exchanged, but they called me back after another agonising thirty minutes, and gave me the all clear to move on to my next port of call, I’d hate to be the one to deal with that bureaucratic nightmare, but time is money, so what could I do? These goods don’t deliver themselves you know.

I drove approximately two hundred miles to my next stop, where I was greeted by the same eerie silence. Dispatch couldn’t believe it when I called it in.
Two in a row? That was completely unheard of.

I hung up the phone, and was idly thumbing through my email, when I heard a loud bang. It was coming from inside the closed loading bay.
” So you are in there.” I mumbled.

Another loud bang, and then I could swear I heard a low, throaty, growling. A guard dog, perhaps? I tried the side door, it was open. I gazed into the darkened interior.
“Hallo” I called, “you okay in there?”
There was no reply.

I listened for a moment in the doorway. There was a rustling noise, then some grunting, like that of a bear or giant ape. Something moved in the shadows.
“Hallo?” I tried again, then something rushed at me. I only caught a brief glimpse, It was the size of a man, but seemed to have hideous fangs, and clawlike hands.

I ran for my open truck, and dove in head first. The angry beast was close on my heals. I wrestled the door closed, just in time, and got a close up view as it its razor sharp claws, etched five concentric lines across my window.

I fumbled with the key, and finally managed to start my truck. The beast was clawing maniacally at my door, it lost its grip, and was glaring at my reflection in the mirror, as I sped away.

A few miles down the road, I pulled over to gather my wits. I was trembling like a leaf.
I heard a scratching at my door, and looked on in horror, as what seemed like a hundred of the beasts descended on my truck. They snarled and growled, as they closed ranks. Then violently tore open my locked doors, with apparent ease.

I reached behind the seat for my baseball bat, but not in time. I thrashed and struggled as the hideous, creatures started ripping and clawing at my clothes, their gnashing fangs inching closer and closer to my exposed throat.

I let fly one final, blood curdling scream, then closed my eyes to shut out the horror. I knew it was too late.

“Get up, get up!!”
I opened my eyes in surprise, my beautiful wife was standing over me. A quizzical expression on that beautiful face. Where was I? Had I died and gone to heaven?!

“Wake up, Sleepy head!” She was saying. “Breakfast is ready, and you’re gonna be late for work.” My confused expression prompted her to add,
“That truck won’t drive itself you know.”

That’s when I made a big decision.

No more Zombie movies at bedtime.

THE PERFECT TREE

On the night before Christmas Eve, Jonas and Amanda picked out the perfect Tree and ran off to track down there Mother. When the excited twins returned, with their beleaguered Mother in toe, it was gone. They searched and searched, but the beautiful Douglas fir was gone.
“But it was right there, cried Amanda. She pointed in despair at the, now, empty space. ”It was perfect”
“Its not the only tree, guys.” Her Mother let out an exasperated sigh. “there are plenty more to choose from here.”
“No, Mom!” Jonas blurted, he was trying hard to bite back the tears. “Dad always said when you find the perfect tree, you’ll know it.”
“Well maybe it wasn’t really the right one, maybe it was the perfect tree for another family “ Mom scanned the rapidly waning selection. “what about this one?” Nope all three shook their heads.
They hunted high and low, but none could match the tree that had been.
Too tall, too scrawny, too this and too that, none could quite measure up, to the vision of perfection that had been just within their grasp.
It was getting late, and the tree guy was glancing anxiously at his watch
Mrs. Graham just smiled and said, “Don’t worry guys, tomorrow is another day,
They left with sinking hearts and tear filled eyes.

As he sat back in his seat, and watched the snow laden streets and festive lights, pass by his window , Jonas’s mind drifted back to happier times. Times long ago before his Daddy had gotten sick, and then gone to be with Great Grandma in heaven.
Dad had loved Christmas so much. Jonas smiled to himself, as he remembered them Sledding together down Gabardine hill, building the perfect snowman, Amanda had borrowed Mom’s old green scarf, and lovingly wrapped it around. His dad hoisted him up on those big strong shoulders, so he could give the snowman a face, and prop Grandpa Joes old fishing hat on top. He remembered his Fathers easy smile, and deep hearty chuckle as they lay in the freshly fallen snow giggling and making, the most ridiculous looking, snow angels.
Then they invariably had a snowball fight. Dad hunkered down behind one crudely made snow fort, while he and his Sister teamed up behind another. Looking back now, he suddenly realized that his father had always let them win. He missed his Dad more than anything in the world.
The thing he and Amanda both held nearest and dearest to their hearts though, at this time of year though, was going with Dad, to choose the Christmas tree.
They would hunt high and low, until they found one that they all agreed upon. It was a tradition, that the Graham family, had stuck to, in Mr Grahams memory; Only now, Jonas realized sadly, their perfect tree was gone.
They pulled in to the driveway, and Mom glanced over her shoulder at the twins. She studied their solemn expressions for a moment, then she said,
“That cant have been the right one, you know, but we’ll find it tomorrow, I promise.” Her smile was warm and reassuring, but Jonas gazed into his Twin Sister’s hazel eyes and realized that she felt as doubtful as he did.
Amanda went to unlock the door for them, while Jonas stayed behind to help Mom carry the shopping in. Jonas was just at the bottom step when he heard his Sister’s Joyous exclamation.
He hurried in to the house.
Amanda had a look of puzzled astonishment on her face, and her wide, hazel eyes were focused on something in the corner of the family room.
Jonas followed her gaze and gasped in amazement. For there it stood in all it’s lustrous, wintry glory,
The perfect Tree.

Ice Cream Dreams

I have no idea why, but as I sat down to write on this cold wet blustery Autumn evening, visions of Summer and Ice cream invaded my mind. So, here’s the result, a short little tale called…

Ice Cream Dreams

Photo courtesy of EdenProject.com

Frenchie Smith paused in front of Shamisen’s ice cream emporium, jingling coins and grinning from ear to ear. He could almost taste that Rocky Road waffle cone, already.
As witnessed by high-pitched laughter, and an overloaded bike rack, School was out, and Summer was in full swing.
He propped his bicycle against the light pole and sauntered into the crowded store.
Spike and Andy, his two best buddies, were already ensconced in there favourite booth, closest to the doorway. Both were chowing down on humongous double dips and hadn’t yet noticed his arrival.

He stood in line, almost drooling at the appetizing aromas. All but oblivious of the jostling and shoving of impatient patrons. By the time he had procured his favourite treat, Spike and Andy had laid waste to theirs, and were chatting in conspirational tones. It was no secret that all three boys had a keen interest in a certain young lady, who was, at that very moment, serving behind the counter.

“Jeese why don’t you guys just go talk to her?” Frenchie licked at a wayward drip of chocolatey goodness, “She’s just a girl, she wont bite you” he chided. Strong words for a guy who was far too shy to approach her himself.

“Just a girl,” Andy growled, “have you looked at her lately?”

Frenchie glanced over at Cindy Sykes, who was smiling angelically as she handed a customer their change. Hmm all that time sitting across from her in English, and he’d never noticed just how pretty that smile really was before or just how lovely her wavy blonde curls as they brushed gently against a rosy cheek.

Just then Cindy looked in his direction and waved. Was it just him, or had her megawatt smile seemed intensified momentarily there?
Spike, laughed sarcastically and jabbed him in the hip.

“Just a girl eh?”

Frenchie grinned sheepishly.

Andy sighed, “I asked her to the School dance, last month, she turned me down flat, Man“

“Yep me too”, added Spike. “She wouldn’t be interested in dudes like us, she’s super popular”

Frenchie glanced back over at the counter. Cindy was talking animatedly with a little girl as she scooped mint chocolate chip ice cream. He knew the guys were right, but that smile had seemed quite genuine. He shrugged and finished his cone.

After his two schoolmates left, he sat there quietly and drank in the sights and sounds. He was deep in thought, when someone gently nudged his shoulder. He looked up into a pair of deep Hazel eyes.

“Hi,” Cindy Sykes’ amused expression was like a dream. “I’m just on break, mind if I join you?”

He tried to turn his shocked expression quickly into a disarming smile.
“Err yeah sure, why not.”

She took the seat across from him.

“I’m Cindy Sykes, we were in English Lit together, Mr Hogans class?”

Frenchie nodded, “I’m Frenchie erm Frank Smith, Frenchie’s what my friends call me.

“Mind if I call you Frenchie then?”

He gave her his own multi-megawatt smile. “No problem”

“Great, Thanks Frenchie, she took a sip of her soda, “I’ve been trying to get up the nerve to talk to you, for ages, but your friends are always with you.”

“Wow really?” He couldn’t believe his ears, she, the most popular girl in school was too nervous to talk to him? Then he heard himself say, “Wanna know a secret? I wanted to talk to you too, but they told me you were too popular to be interested in me.”

When she laughed, those big beautiful eyes twinkled like the starry night sky.
He marvelled at how easy she was to talk to, and how much they had in common.

This was going to be the best Summer ever!

Accomplished Cart

 I asked a frlend to give me a random adjective and a noun, from which I could, then, attempt to generate a blog entry. I have a, sneaking, suspicion she may have been updating her resume at the same time 😉

Btw, this could possibly be the weirdest, zaniest, most convuluted story I’ve ever concocted.

…well anyway, here goes nothing..


Accomplished Cart

The shopping cart was rickety, ramshackle and exceedingly rusty. It was, by all appearances a decidedly derelict device, indeed.

 It hadn’t always been thus. Not so many, years before, A richly chromed frame, and sturdy steel chasse, had gleemed and glistened like a prescious gem, in the summer sun, its pristine wheels, their lushly appointed treads gliding smoothly, effortlessly even, as it coasted up and down the aisles, in Thompson’s Dry Goods. Those had, truly, been halcian days. Thompsons carts, had always been very well cared for.   they were were housed, while not in use, in  deluxe enclosures, located at strategic points around the parking lot.Thorough maintenance, and expert repairs were the watchword of the day. Customers praised such stalward dependability and seemed to appreciate the impressive storage capacity and lavish amenities. The fold down infant’s compartment with built-in safety belt, the under carriage space for plus-Sized items, and the,oh so, convieniently situated cupholder.

 Then Thompson’s were taken over by Lo-Cost Foods. Things changed drastically and, certainly, not for the better. Gone were the buggy wranglers who had so dilligently, And lovingly coralled the carts. Gone too were the maintenance checks, and then, and perhaps worst of all, the deluxe enclosures were torn down to make room for extra parking!

 Customers voiced their abject displeasure, in not so subtle ways. The local paper even posted several scathing columns on the subject, but all to no avail. The store’s new assistant manager, who’s cost saving idea it had been, was hellbent on impressing his corporate masters. He failed to see, the flaw in his, seemingly, fool-proof ,solution. All complaints fell, firmly, on his stubborn, unrelentingly, deaf ears.

At first the, bold, little buggy, managed to retain it’s gleaming exterior, and cheery disposition. The rain could not penetrate his tough shell, and so, it slicked harmlessly off of his lustrous chrome.

 He was often abandoned, for days on end, confined to the harsh, unforgiving, back lot. He was rammed, knocked over, bludgeoned and pulverized by mindless, menacing motorists. Worst of all though, was the bullying and ruthless beatings, at the hands of, bored adolescents. They who punished him, with reckiess abandon, on cut-throat joyrides down, deadly, Dremel hill. 

Dents and scratches quickly made way for cancerous oxidation, and spidery cracks that fouled up, his wheel treads. Perhaps the worst, though, was an incessant, nauseating squeak that began its ceaseless eminations from, badly, corroded bearings. Then came the fatal day, when he could no longer serve a useful purpose. There he lay, by the side of the road, a pile of useless corroded junk,tossed away like yesterdays news.

some few months later, Old Jim happened along. He’d lived on the streets for as long as anyone could remember, a man of few words, but an inner calmness and a quiet wisdom, said it all. Jim’s existence, though meagre,  seemed to suit him. On the rare occasion that he actually chose to speak to people,  he referred to himself as an Urban Outdoorsman.  He might be of “No fixed address” but he was a permanent and accepted part of the neighbourhood or authorities, The most important thing to understand though, dear reader, is that, Old Jim  always had his ear to the ground.

Whilst out for his daily constitutional,  a perpetual quest for, discarded “treasure”,  He spied the cart, upturned in a road-side ditch. It looked sturdy and usable, but it had, clearly, seen better days. With a carefull glance to left and right,  seemingly not keen on alerting the powers that be, he sprang spryly into action.A cursory tug was ineffective. The cart was rooted to the spot by encompassing brambles and sundry other varieties of stubborn overgrowth that wouldn’t release their prize, without a Proper fight.

Jim grinned and shrugged, as if to say, “This was all part of the fun” and when he moved, then, it was with the vim and vigor of a man, at least, half his age. The fallen trolley was, soon, liberated from its fetted encampment.  He. dragged it out of the smelly trench, and turned it upright. 

Despite, repeated, attempts to free them, the gummed-up wheels, patently, refused to turn

He must have been sorely tempted to “throw in the towel” and move on. After all, it was only a cart. The trek home was of necessity, a slow and exceedingly laborous, one, but with much pushing, pulling, dragging coercing, he finally arrived at his tarpauline draped,  hideout,.beneath  The East King Street Bridge.

 Perhaps he’d been a craftman, long ago, or maybe he’d come by his abilities out or sheer necessity, but either way, he was great at fixing things, and got tremendous pleasure out of repurposing other people’s junk.

 Little more than a week, or so, after fishing it from the mud,  there emerged, from under the faded blue tarp, a, thoroughly, respectable looking shopping buggy. He’d, lovingly, cleaned it bit by, painstaking, bit, then he’d greased the squeaky wheels, banged out the biggest dents, and buffed up the metal to a fair sheen.

Now,  I don’t want to dupe you into believing.that the poor old cart was restored to, even a fraction of, its former glory, that is the stuff of fairy tales, but it looked much better than it had done, in a very long time.

For several weeks, thereafter, man and cart traveled together, happy companions on sojourns far and wide. They were running errands, and gathering, what to untrained eyes, would have looked, remarkably, like junk, but that would soon, by Jim’s gifted hands, become useful treasures.

 Jim,  debated whether to return the shopping cart to it’s owners at  Low-cost Foods. Was it really up to him to tell them how they should treat their own property? No, but…

Then he had an idea.

A few weeks later at, nearly, Six O’clock in the morning, Ted Willis,  Assistant manager of Low-Cost foods, stood in The parking lot scratching his head. Today marked the beginning of his biggest case lot sale of the year.  He scanned the horizon. No, his eyes weren’t decieving him. There wasn’t a single, solitary, shopping cart to be seen. How was that even possible?

He stared, for the umpteenth time, at the odd looking ransom note, then. Back at the, frighteningly, thick wad of petion sheets. The messenger, an elderly man, sporting hobo rags and outrageously untamed whiskers, had introduced himself only as “Jim. The guy had impressed upon him, vehemently, that  this petition and, an accompanying, boycott threat were, indeed,  very real. 

Despite his, very odd appearance, the old man had seemed, if not imposing, at the very least, strangely, authoritarian.Was this for real though? Should Ted be looking for hidden cameras?

Did anyone, really, care, this, much, about grocery carts? Seriously?

 That Jim guy, had threatened to go over his head if the demands weren’t met though. He seemed to have meant it, too. That was, decidedly,  not cool! 

Lot boys? Covered enclosures? Regular repair & maintenance for carts? What strange demands were these? Was this a prank? A competitor’s evil ploy?  Were the carts. Staging a revolt????

He knew only one thing, if head office caught wind of this, He could wave goodbye, to his job, his promotion, and any dreams of a company pension.

He’d had no choice but to comply, right???

Well, comply he had, he’d written a public notice stating that he was agreeing to every one of the cart-nappers demands. It was written in block letters and covered nearly two thirds of the stores available window space.

  Twenty minutes until opening time, yet still not a single, solitary, cart in sight! He could still report it to the police, but what chance, was there, that he’d, actually,  be taken seriously? Heck, he didn’t quite believe it himself! Worst still, if his customers boycotted, who was gonna buy all this merchandise?

He was planning in his head, what he would say to head office. How did you, explain something like that, without looking like an idiot? Then he started making mental revisions to the resume he would, assuredly, be needing, very, soon.

Could he shave his head, move to Tebet and become a monk?

Do they have Grocery Carts in Tebet, he wondered?

At that precise instant, his thoughts were interrupted by, what sounded like, a thousand, angry, troops advancing on Dremel Hill! 

 Willis Shivered as ripples  of ice cold sweat trickled down his spine.Was any job, truly, worth this kind of stress, he wondered?

Customer complaints he could ignore, but angry mobs? No way!

Yet here he was, and the greatest threat, of all time, was beating a frenzied path, up the hill, toward him.

Should he run?  Should he hide?  Hmmm… he looked, anxiously around. Where could he hide though?

The angry mob was closing in!

He sighed resignedly. Then a nervous giggle erupted from somewhere deep inside.The fear in his eyes was eclipsed by puzzlement, then bewiderment and then finally the dawning of vague comprehension.

With every heartbeat, the marchers drew nearer.

As they crested the hill, the first wave, had finally come clearly into view.

Angry mob? Not quite.

Suddenly, there he was, at the head of the pack. Strutting like a peacock and grinning from ear to ear,  behind that unkempt mass of silvery whiskers…

It was that, blasted,  Jim guy!

The Township.had won the day.

People were waving, cheering and celebrating, with gleeful abandon. Still, though, thoughout it all, that incessant rattle that omnipresent rumble droned on.

 Ted Willis gazed, again at the happy throng, and noticed something else,  something that brought a dazzling smile to his whole face.

. Each and every one of them, were, clinging to the handle of  a  Low-Cost Foods’ grocery cart, and the store was about to open for business.

RED LIGHT

REDLIGHTbcl

The red seemed permanent, I rapped anxiously on my steering wheel, and glared at the traffic light  in as intimidating a manner as was humanly possible. Staring hadn’t worked either, I’d blinked over a dozen times and yet still the angry crimson orb peered, back at me, as constant as the throbbing in my brain.

Several car horns , repeatedly voiced their opinion of our current predicament, but mine did not join the chorus. It was with me at the front of the line,

I was so tempted to abandon my little Corolla, and walk home; I probably would have, too, if I hadn’t just made the final payment on her, two weeks earlier, and if home wasn’t, at least, twenty-three kilometers away, of course.

With so few vehicles approaching from any of the three, alternative directions the other temptation was to jump the light and get on with my day. Why didn’t I ? That is a great question, I am glad you asked it in so timely a fashion.

Not twenty feet from where I waited, with rapidly dwindling patience, sat a Vancouver City police car. It was unoccupied, but I somehow sensed that it’s driver was, even as we speak, scrutinizing this scene from his window seat in Madison’s Cafe.

I wondered how long he could possibly leave it before he intervened, and ushered us dutifully through the intersection. A new city ordinance against the use of a cell phone whilst behind the wheel of a running motor vehicle was, for the moment, preventing me from summoning  himself, or one of his colleagues.

A few cars were, now, performing illegal u-turns; Others were zipping past me, in the inside lane, and turning right. I counted to twenty a half a dozen times, but still I waited, and still I stared at that, confounded, red light! It would have been so simple to break that law, many others would have, of that I am sure. Curse my parents for raising a lily-livered, law-abiding citizen!

I turned on the radio, half expecting to be mentioned, on the traffic report.  Speaking of traffic, it was backed up, behind me, by now, for several city blocks at least. People were hollering, horns were blaring and my head was pounding like a thousand Ringo Starrs. I rested my right hand on the hand-brake lever, and sat poised with one foot hovering over the clutch, and the other by the throttle. My patience was at an end.  I was all set to break the law!

The guy behind me finally lost it, he yelled at my rear-view mirror while waving his up-raised fist in some sort of unfriendly salute. His big-block Chevy engine roared angrily, clearly in tune with its agitated owner, and his vehicle pulled out and around mine in an, impressively, aggressive leap.  As his head drew even with my passenger-side window, he glowered at me and I clearly remember the throbbing vein, dancing away on his glistening forehead; well that, and then as the Chevy accelerated into the intersection, the squeal of protesting tires and brakes, and the gut-wrenching  explosion as two perfectly good vehicles became one mass of smoking rubble.

copyrightCopyright 2014 – Clifton J. Lewis

THE BREAK-IN

Ted Gerome’s lanky, frame lay sprawled across a bed in his, dingy, basement bedroom.

Even as the early afternoon sun scorched the tarmack outside,this room was cooler and darker than night fall. A black-out curtain across its only window casing made sure of it.

image

Faint traffic and the perpetual road work noises filtered in from fifth avenue. More effective than the white noise machine he’d been gifted at Christmas, it’s comforting drone, and the accumulated night shifts, lulled him into a blissful sleep.

image

Traffic was slowing to a crawl as the afternoon rush hour approached.
Two shadowy figures slunk across the lawn and crept silently up the front porch stairs. The lock was not a difficult one to negotiate. The first man was a deft hand with a lock pick, and the two men were inside in under a minute.

Soundlessly they began rounding up their target items, their flashlight beams pausing only for an instant as they gauged each article’s relative value.
image

Jewelery from the master bedroom. Laptop, Ipad, and a valuable coin collection from the den.
Antique silverware and Paintings from the dining room, which looked like they could be authentic originals. Why this place wasn’t wired with state of the art alarms, was anyone’s guess.

Down below in the basement, Ted Gerome stirred. He lay in abject silence for a full minute before he heard the telltale signs of a creaky floorboard and subsequent footfalls in the hallway above. Someone was definitely creeping around up there.
He reached for his cell phone intending to call 911. When he heard  footsteps on the basement stairs getting closer and closer still.

His heart leapt into his throat and adrenaline coursed stiffly through his throbbing veins.

He rose from the bed stuck the phone in his pocket and crossed the room in two strides. His trusty Pete Rose Baseball bat felt cool and solid in his hand as he retrieved it from it’s brackets on the wall.
image

The footsteps were receding, as whoever was out there, was making their way towards the workshop at the back of the house.

Ted dialed 911 and gave his details to the operator in a hushed tone.

Then, as he stood with his ear pressed to the door. He could hear a second set of creaky footsteps moving around on the floor above, and knew. There were at least too intruders in the house.

He opened the bedroom door slowly and quietly, then made his way gingerly down the hallway past the stairwell and toward the workshop. In the darkness, he could see a flicker of light coming from under the big heavy double doors.

His knuckles tightened around the old wooden bat, as he waited in the shadows. His mind sped through a million and one possible scenarios. What could be taking so long in there? There’s nothing worth stealing in the shop, is there? What about dad’s old blue prints, was there value in those?
Nah, boring old buildings and none of them banks!

The other intruder was still moving around upstairs, but would he or she, soon be joining his cohort in the basement?

Just then the Work shop’s double, doors swung open, and a shadowy figure emerged.

Ted Gerome’s heavy bat crashed down on the stranger’s head. The flashlight slipped from his hand and clattered to the concrete floor. The man followed suit, but unlike his light which somehow remained aglow, he was out cold.
image

Gerome froze with terror, he could see well enough to know what the, dark, puddle spreading beneath the man’s head represented.

“Omigod, I’ve killed him!” These words reverberated through his mind as acid churned in his stomach and bile licked away at the back of his throat.

There was no time to be sick though, the upstairs man was on the move.
Ted grunted and wheezed as he dragged and prodded the limp body, an inch at a time back into the workshop.

Hinges squealed.
The door at the top of the stairs was opened and a beam of light danced, nimbly, down the railings, and came to a rest on the hallway floor.

“Quin,” hissed a voice, “what’s keeping you, Bro? You find a stash down there, or somethin?”
image
The voice was getting closer, as it’s owner carefully navigated the stairs.
“come on, we gotta get outta here!”

Gerome took one last glance at the corpse. No one could blame him for this, it was self defense, wasn’t it? He quietly closed the double doors, picked up the bat and turned off the flashlight.

Ted could hear his heavy breathing as the other man came towards him down the darkened corridor.

image
“Quin, where you at, bro? Unghh!”
The baseball bat found its mark, and the big man crumpled to the ground.

The tall, slender policeman, Officer, Joe Kennedy regarded Ted Gerome with a sweeping, sidelong glance as they stood at the front gate.

“Sir, I assure you, there is nothing down there!” His voice was even, but the undertone of impatience was evident from his anguished,  expression. “Officer Harris And I have been over this house with a fine toothed comb.” He studied his note pad for a moment, then continued, “There were no corpses, no traces of blood. The workshop floor is dusty and hasn’t been disturbed for some time. Your baseball bat has quite clearly, not been handled in months.” Kennedy enhaled deeply, in an effort to stay calm.

Judith Harris had been partnered with Joe, long enough to know his breaking point. They had been over this stuff a dozen times already. She calmly stepped in.

“Mr. Gerome, you stated that nothing of value has been removed from the premises, did you not?”

“Yes, but I know what I saw and did! I’m not an idiot!!”

Harris nodded calmly
“Look, no one’s saying that you are, Mr. Gerome. I’ve seen what too much consecutive night shift work can do to a person though. Get yourself a good day’s sleep and you’ll be right as rain.”

image

Ted watched the squad car as it  pulled into the downtown traffic.
They seemed to be in quite a hurry to get away.
“Useless public servants,” he muttered! “They couldn’t find a needle in a frickin’ pin cushion!”

Then he smiled to himself, If he hadn’t killed those guys, at least he’d given them one heck of a headache.

Copyright2013

 

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