From the mind of a mild mannered maniac

Posts tagged ‘Recreation’

First Harvest





Short Fiction By Cliff Lewis

I loved it! The sun gleamed from pristine candy-red paint work.And the patent leather caressed me tenderly as I sank into heaven behind the wheel.

The slick-as-silicon sales-snake beamed his pearly-white dental work my way.

“Yes-sir, she’s a beauty ain’t she?”

“So so”, I lied.

I needn’t have bothered, he could smell my excitement from a mile away.

“Take her for a spin”, he oozed, “She runs like a top!” He waved the key in my face ; like I needed a formal invitation.  I snatched it up, and slid it into the ignition in one fluid motion.

The hairs on the nape of my neck stood at attention, as my dream car roared to life. I swung out of the lot, and headed east on Main. I adjusted my shades, and shifted gears. Nice! The Car and I were gelling nicely we both, clearly, longed to hit the open road and just keep going!.

As I pulled up at the light on Broadway, two masked, gunmen came barreling out of the First National bank, and jumped into a grey getaway van. The Van lurched away before its rear doors were fully closed.They jumped the curb on 41st, and sped away. I performed a death defying u-turn, and followed at a discrete distance. Not discrete enough though apparently. The Van’s door swung wide and I watched in horror as a hail of bullets tap-danced off the Mustang’s hood. I serpentined and dropped back . The Grey van zigged, I zagged,  our tires squealed like some maniacal symphony. The get away vehicle lurched and swerved, leaving startled pedestrians and thick. black. tread marks in it’s wake. I’d lost a little ground, in my concern for the pristine paint job and nosy onlookers, but I spotted the van again as it turned tail and ducked down a  back alley.

I reached for the radio mic intending to call it in. Then swore to myself as the realization washed over me. This was not my car! No radio meant no backup, I was in this alone. I gunned the mighty engine, and  threw caution to the wind,

The narrow lane was lined with trash cans, one of which came hurtling at me and left a lovely crack in my windshield. We covered several blocks bobbing and weaving around trash bins, dumpsters old furniture and even mattresses. The spidering cracks in my windshield were blocking about eighty-five percent of my view, but I kept going.  I could see enough to know I was closing in on my prey.

The door swung open again, and masked bandit glared at me down the barrel of a semi automatic weapon. If I’d had time for conscious thought It would have been something along the lines of, “I’m a  dead man!” , but its erratic spray seemed to miss its mark.

A thud, a hiss and a sudden mist obscured what was left of my vision though, and I could tell that the Mustang’s radiator was mortally wounded. That boiled my blood!  I stomped on the gas fully aware that my trusty stead was in it’s death throes. Then, I heard sirens, and spotted the fractured lights from two police cruisers up ahead. I half, smiled with relief. Thank god someone had summoned the troops!

I halted the crippled muscle car, and I started off on foot. Just ahead, the van was slowing to a crawl,  I drew my gun, released the safety, and crouching low, so as not to create an easy target,  I  cautiously approached the rear door.   I might have been off duty, but my instincts and training had automatically kicked in and hopefully, had prepared me for such as this.

. By now,  two squad cars were blocking the lane, and at least four uniformed officers were stationed behind dumpsters and bins and, in effect, surrounding the beat-up old econoline. I caught the glimmer of a gun barrel, and launched myself at the van’s door, if I had hesitated even an eighth of a second longer he would have gotten his shot off at me. Luckily he lost his grip on the weapon it clattered to the ground and he retreated back into the van. Kicked the rifle out of harms way,. ducked, rolled and regained my footing.

“This is the police”, I hollered!  “We’ve got you surrounded. Do us all a favor, toss out the rest your weapons and exit the vehicle with your hands raised, now!” In the sudden silence, I could hear the tolling of a distant church bell, the whine of faraway motorists and the insistent thudding of my own heartbeat.

The standoff lasted all of two, earth shaking, minutes, and then the Van’s side door slid slowly open.

The two masked men and their chauffeur gave up without a fight.  Three craggy faced Uniforms ushered them away,  I wiped my face on my sleeve, and took a deep breath.  Only then did I turn my gaze, sorrowfully back on my “dream car” Oh Jeez! It was not a pretty sight.

“They should give you a hero’s burial, old friend,” I muttered under my breath,  I could see  a bright side or two, though.. Three armed robbers were about to be put away for a long time, and by some miracle, I’d lived to tell the tale.

The slick Dealer looked up as the tow truck pulled in. He stood stock still for a number of seconds, then his face sagged and his jaw dropped. The candy-red ’66 Mustang convertible was torn to shreds and bleeding (coolant) like a wounded beast. He stared, first  at the car,in abject horror, and then at me  in utter disbelief.

“I think I’ll pass on this one.” I deadpanned.  “I don’t really care for the color.”

When I showed up at HQ, the news had clearly preceded me, The high fives and back slaps came from all quarters, except one.

Chief Brady didn’t know whether to hug me or wring my neck, he couldn’t see why the department should foot the bill for my fools errand and he was clearly inclined to deduct  it from my pay, for the next thirty or forty years, Then again, I had also scored a major coo for his department. I had captured the notorious Frobisher Gang, and that meant major brownie points all round.

Later, when the air had cleared, and the red in his eyes faded to a pale purple hue, He made me promise to focus my test-driving escapades on cheap economy cars,

So that’s about it,  your average cop’s day off, I guess.

Oh, wait a second! Your not still wondering about that Mustang are you? Oh okay. Well fortunately, the powers that be didn’t make me foot the extensive repair bill, but sadly,  I  didn’t get a car out of the deal either. The Chief thought it was a grand enough gesture, on his part, not to fine me or issue me a suspension. Lucky old me.

It still gives me a  thrill or two to test drive a classic from time to time! You gotta dream big!

Hey, you never know, someone’s gotta win those lotteries… right?



The Swing


That rusty, old swing set has seen far better days. Three wooden planks that comprise the seat, are stripped bare of paint; a result of years of constant erosion. I gingerly test it’s stability with the palm of an outstretched hand, then add the other for good measure. Embarrassed, I peer all around me on the lookout for potential witnesses, and find none.

I park my behind on worn planks feeling very foolish indeed. I rock gently at first, my feet still planted firmly on the ground. The chains squeak, and the metal framework protests slightly, but the structure miraculously holds firm despite my 190-plus pounds of mid life spread.

I lift my heels and set the swing in motion. It is a liberating experience, and losing myself in the moment, I kick out attaining steadily higher altitude with each pass. I am suddenly transported to heady play-acting days of youth. A time and place where I could be anything I wanted to be.

One minute I’d be hang gliding off the northern face of Mount Everest, the next I was Superman, Courageous defender of truth and justice, soaring high over the city in search of wrong doers.

I let out a whoop of exhilaration and release the chains first with one, and finally with both hands. In my mind, I’m staring down from my perch high above the big top.

The crowd hushes as I the world famous trapeze artist prepares to dazzle them with my death defying finale. A drum roll, a rush of air as I tumble through time and space, and then resounding applause. I have flawlessly performed the terrifying triple somersault without the safety net; delicious delirium in full flight!

Real time passes unchecked as I relive a wondrous piece of my childhood, but I slowly came down to earth, as my feet instinctively anchor themselves back on terra firma. My Adult foibles and responsibilities once more draped uneasily across weary shoulders, I stand and stroll slowly across to the parking lot.

An elderly woman who had been partially concealed behind a tall stand of conifers, sits tempting the pigeons with a slab of stale bread. She looks up and smiles at me knowingly as I pass on by. I smile meekly and walk on, busily contemplating my life and devising the next conquest.


Greasy Spoon Cafe

I sat, alone, inside the dimly lit, Greasy Spoon Cafe. It was late, and most of the lunch crowd had long ago faded into oblivion.

I was idly thumbing through the pages of some local rag. The paper was yellowed with age,  dotted and smeared with a real  consortium of beverage and foodstuffs of undetermined vintage. The remnants of some sloppy diners’ meals, no doubt.

An elderly waitress, looking very out of place in a clean cotton summer frock and starched white apron, smiled and handed me a menu. I was tempted to order the pale green stuff that was smeared over the bi-line on page three, but instead opted for a toasted club sandwich and coffee.
She shuffled away and I went back to my paper.

I looked up as the door chimes rang and a young couple walked in. She of medium height, fair hair, and shapely physique, He, a tall and very lean, stoop-shouldered lad, with mop of frizzy, black, hair and what appeared to be a permanent grin.

After much deliberation, they settled on a table in the far corner, and sat down on opposite sides to wait.

She reached over and held his hand, and they gazed into each other’s love-struck eyes. It didn’t last though, for their smiles seemed to turn rather quickly to frowns. I couldn’t make out actual words, but their raised voices carried clear across the room.

Just then, the waitress arrived with my food and coffee, and turned my attention from Romeo and Juliette to the most delectable, clubhouse sandwich this side of Main Street.

Later, when my lunch was reduced to a few crumbs, and my coffee a distant memory, I. glanced back over at the restaurants only other occupied table.

The young man’s chair was abandoned and the young lady sat sobbing uncontrollably into her paper napkin.

I hesitated for a few minutes, weighing up the pros and cons of interfering, then heart beat brains.

I got up from my seat and walked toward her.

She was running short of dry spots on her napkin, and her eyes were beet red. I approached her and said that I knew it wasn’t any of my business, but was everything alright.

She stared up at me, in silence for a very long minute, then, having, somehow, determined I wasn’t the neighborhood rapist, she spoke.

“He broke up with me,” She said and glanced vacantly at the napkin.
The words gushed out of her, and a fresh flood of tears poured down her cheeks.
I handed her my freshly laundered handkerchief. She took it and dabbed at her swollen eyes.

“I’m so sorry,” I said, “You seemed so into each other.” I paused and pointed to my table, “That’s how it looked, from my vantage point, anyway”

She smiled sardonicly. “Ya, mine too! Rex and I were talking about getting married next fall.”

I’ve often been called an old softy, and I guess I sorta am, but, hey, she seemed like a sweet kid and she was clearly broken up about it. The least I could do is lend an ear.

“So, what happened?” I asked.
She blew her nose and sighed.

“I wish I knew!” we’re sitting here making all these wonderful plans, one minute; then the next he says he’s done. never wants to see me again!”

I mulled it over briefly unsure of what to say.

“Listen,” I said, marriage is a huge step, maybe he just needs time to let it sink in.”

She seemed to consider this, because a faint smile, momentarily replaced her frown.

I sat down in the empty spot, and for the next twenty minutes, or so. I, quietly listened, while Stella talked.

She told me about future plans and dreams, Like; taking a train out east to meet his parents, visiting Whistler Mountain Resort to plan their reception party and honeymooning on the beach in Waikiki.
Then she stared, intently, at the tablecloth.

‘But none of that matters anymore!”

“People fight all the time,” I said finally, “are you sure it’s truly over?”

She nodded glumly.

“Yes, says he can’t stand the sight of me.”

Her whole body quivered and convulsed and I sat there feeling utterly useless as the tears started, all over again.

Next thing i knew, old Rex
was there, looming over me, and before I could utter that old chestnut ‘This isn’t what it looks like!” I noticed his big, toothy grin.
He looked at Stella, she looked at him, and they burst out laughing.

Now, everyone deals with things differently, and grief can manifest itself in many different ways, but even a fool like me could see there was something odd here.

Confused? So was I, but the answer was about to reveal itself…
Turns out these two love birds were in a College Theater Arts Program together and the whole thing was an act. There’s was no breakup, this was all part of an elaborate ruse. A Prank played on, unsuspecting suckers like me for practise and giggles.

After their somewhat lenghly explanation, Rex handed me a pair of tickets.and backstage passes to a new production the two of them were performing in.

“No hard feelings?” he asked.

I tried to affect a scowl, but my smile broke through in stark defiance.

“Nope, I’m just glad you two are okay, I said. Then I thought for half a second. “How did you know I would fall for it?” I asked finally. “I could’ve just walked away.

Stella glanced at Rex, then back at me and she smiled warmly.

“‘Cause I’m a good judge of character.”


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