Tag Archives: short story

The Overlords

“Jerry you cannot do this!  You shouldn’t even think it!”

One man gripped tightly on to another’s arm trying to keep him away from the building ahead.  He was whispering through clenched teeth. At the same time his head swivelled back and forth desperately hoping no one was aware of them.

But they were observed.

The building in question was not imposing.  It was a century old structure with faded bricks and a sagging porch.  But if you looked very closely you would see incongruities. The lights above the front door were shiny and bright.  They also seemed a bit large for the task.  Were they more than just lights? There was no handle on the beautiful wooden door that guarded the entrance to the building.  And if you managed to get close to the windows you would realize they weren’t real.

What was real was the panic on Edward’s face.

“Please stop Jerry, we can’t do this without you!”

Something got through to Jerry.  He stopped.  For a moment he paused.  He appeared confused, unsure.  Then he quickly turned to his friend and dragged him away from the frightening building.  After some distance and out of sight of everyone, he spoke.

“Edward I am so sorry. I don’t know what came over me.  I don’t know what would have happened if I had made it to the door. Thanks to all that is good, you stopped me.”  Jerry was quiet but his face spoke volumes, he was afraid.

He stood beside his friend but Eddie was also afraid.  They had been seen.

With one understanding look between the two friends, they stood and without a glance towards the source of their fear, they moved further away.

In time they rested but still they didn’t speak.  Occasionally they grew wary as official looking vehicles passed by.  But the streets were quiet, too quiet.  People were staying indoors, away from Their notice.

In time the two men approached a small wooden building.  This one had a handle on the front door and its windows were real.  Several people could be seen through the glass, a few were crying.

With the front door safely closed and the blinds drawn, there was a collective sigh.  They were safe. Were they?

Jerry sat down and placed his head in his hands.  His shoulders shook as he silently wept.  The others stood by, uncomfortable.  People shifted their feet, clenched and unclenched their fists.  No one would look at another.  They waited.  Edward too sat down and he too waited.

“We did this.”  The voice that spoke was muffled, strained.  It was Jerry.  With a sigh he sat back in his chair, his hands dropped to his side.  He was defeated. He repeated his statement:

“We did this.”

He didn’t shout or throw his arms in the air.  It was a simple statement, delivered succinctly.

“We did this.  We wanted self-driving cars and smart homes.  We wanted computers to anticipate all our needs and fulfill them. Cash-less grocery stores and automated gas pumps.  We didn’t want to speak to each other.  We wanted to have control of everything through our phones.  But we didn’t want to actually do anything.  We didn’t need to think anymore, there’s an APP for that!

Jerry’s voice started to reflect his concerns.  As his voice grew louder, people moved further back from him.  Except for Eddie. He never moved.

“We put ‘chips’ in all out appliances.  Microchips are in our coffee makers, our watches, our door bells.  All those cameras we have to catch the bad guys are watching all of us and not by human beings!

Spittle formed at the corner of his mouth.  His eyes were manic.

“Planes and trains, banks, the stock-market.  The AI has control of it all and we created it.  The Artificial Intelligence is watching and listening. We are not alone.  We did this!  AI is in everything!”

There was a sudden silence.  No one spoke, no one moved.

Edward moved.  He stood; his shoulders still bowed.  As he raised his head a smile formed on his lips.

“Even me.”

 

 

The end

 

 

 

 

Lovers’ Lane

Adeline sat quietly, enjoying the warm sun on her face. It was one of those rare moments when she could sit on her porch with no interruptions and reminisce quietly.

“Grandma, grandma!”

“Gran!”

“Oh wait me!  Not fair!  Grandma I coming!”

The silence of a few moments ago was shattered by the arrival of three tow haired children of varying ages and variable vocal capabilities.  They had several things in common: hair colour, freckles, parents and an innate ability to force the world to focus on them.

Adeline may have been jolted out of her reverie but she looked with fondness on the three grandchildren approaching her at a run.  They arrived windblown and excited.  Once all three had wrapped themselves around their grandmother and kissed her at least a dozen times each, they settle down and with one voice asked one question: “Story Gran?”

The three children were not the only ones out of breath. Adeline smoothed her tousled hair and sat back with a grin.  She knew exactly where this was headed.

“Well now I don’t know if I should tell you a story.  I’m quite sure it would be beneficial to have an in-depth political discussion on what is happening in the world today.”  She looked at the puzzled faces in front of her.

“No Gran we want you to tell us the story of how you met grandpa.”

Adeline looked at the eldest of the three children.  She wondered how she had thought to ask that question.  Elizabeth was intelligent and very sure of herself.  It was an odd trait to have in a child that was only twelve years old.  Her sister Anne and brother Stuart were ten and five respectively.  And both of them were looking on eagerly waiting for their grandmother’s reply.

“Well now I don’t know . . .” started Adeline.

“Daddy said it was one for the books.  Did he mean you should write about it and let everybody know?”

Adeline eyes opened wide, “I’m sure that’s not what he meant!”  She whispered to herself.  To the children she spoke clearly, deftly ignoring the question.

“Well, I’ll tell you a story about your grandfather and me.  It’s about how we met, umm, but you know I can’t tell you everything.  Your grandfather and I have to keep some secrets from you three.  At least until you’re older.”  Adeline was smiling; she hoped the children didn’t notice that she was also blushing.

” Well, it all started when your grandfather arrested me.”  Before she could utter another word, the children erupted.

“Oh, Gran you were a criminal!”

“I’ll bet you robbed a bank!  Mama says they’re the criminals!”

“Grandma were you a prostate…, a prosta, a Protestant!”

Adeline smiled and calmed the children. She thought it best that she not tell Stuart the word he was looking for was a prostitute.

“Absolutely not!  It wasn’t that kind of arrest. Now if you want me to continue you must be very quiet.”

Three fair heads nodded vigorously.

“Your grandfather was a Ranger. It’s like a policeman.  He worked the local parks and made sure there were no criminals or any criminal activity.  He also made sure that those who came to enjoy the parks were not harassed.  Unfortunately, I was in the park to harass someone.”

It was at this point that Adeline stopped to think.  Should she tell the three rapt faces the complete truth or should she perhaps edit the circumstances to fit her audience’s age group?  Edit, it was the adult thing to do.

“I had recently broken up with my boyfriend.  Actually, I was about to break up with my boyfriend.  You see he was at the park with another girl.  She was supposed to be my best friend but she had stolen my boyfriend.  It was my intent to catch them together and embarrass them.  You see the particular spot they had gone to was known as Lover’s Lane.  It’s where everybody went when they were dating.  It was secluded and quiet.  Aaahhhh, it was a great spot to watch the stars.”

Adeline paused for a moment to remember the circumstances.  She had left out the bit about the can of black paint she had planned to pour on her boyfriend’s car.  That would definitely have been illegal so she really didn’t think it was a good idea to tell the children that part.

“Grandpa Oliver stopped me from making a very terrible mistake.  It was wrong of me to try and get revenge for my hurt feelings.”

“So, is that when he arrested you?”  Elizabeth always got to the point quickly.

“He really didn’t arrest me.  He just threatened to.  He let me tell my story and he let me cry and rant.  He bought me a soda and we had a wonderful evening just talking. We’ve been together ever since.”

Adeline sat back and wondered if she could get away with that being the end of the story.  The children’s reactions were typical for their age and sex: Elizabeth pretended to swoon, Anne made a declaration, “Boys are not to be trusted!” And Stuart was all curled up in a ball with his thumb firmly embedded between his lips.  He made the cutest little sucking noises that for a moment everyone concentrated on.

The moment was shattered when the front door was opened by the one person they had all been thinking about.  His booming voice roused even sleeping Stuart.

“And what are you all doing out here?”  His smile belied his apparently harsh words.

Stuart merely sat up and rubbed his eyes but the two girls attached themselves to their Grandfather’s open arms.

“Oh, Grandpa, you arrested Grandma!  Did you frisk her?”

“Did you throw her in the clink Grandpa?  Does she have an arrest record?”

Oliver looked at Adeline over the top of children’s heads.  He raised an eyebrow.  She quickly shook her head, blushed and looked down.  Oliver nodded his head and heaved a sigh of relief.

“I think it’s time all three of you were in washing your hands for dinner.  Otherwise I’m going to have to arrest you and put you in the shed without your supper!” Oliver smiled as he said the words.  No one believed his threats but all three immediately jumped up and ran into the house.

“You didn’t tell the whole truth did you my love?”

“Oliver there are some things that are no one else’s business.  Besides I think I would like to be arrested tonight. Are you up for it? I could meet you later in the shed?”

The two old friends sat side-by-side holding hands.  Forty-three years of marriage had not dulled their sense of fun and mischief.

 

The end

 

 

 

 

The Back Alley Strangler

 

Oh God I’ve got to stop working a double shift! ‘ Janey, can you do this, Janey can you do that?’ I am too easy going and too broke to say no. I hate my life!  I am too tired to think and I stink of cheap beer. EWWWWW! I can still smell vomit! Eddy you have got to get a better class of drunk in this run-down bar.  Damn! Did I collect my tips? How could I forget my tips?  I’m swear I am going to sleep for . . .  “What the . . . oh geez, sorry you scared me!  I don’t mean to be rude but it’s late, I’m tired and I’ll not really in the mood for any . . . look I’ll see you around . . . . .what the . . . . hey stop that, OWWW!  AHHHH! You’re hurting me!  Oh my God, my God it’s you!!!!!!  AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH . . .

……………………………………………….

“Mr. Leibowitz you are going to give your self another heart attack and your wife is going to kill you!”

One man was shifting heavy boxes of fruit from a truck parked outside his grocery store. As the second man approached, the first stopped, wiped his brow and smiled. The second man took over and finished the job in only minutes. The two men stood back to admire their handiwork and shared a good nature chuckle.  One was a small man with a back bowed by old age and arthritis, the other was a large man with a straight back.

“Officer Patrick are you arresting my husband?”  This new voice belonged to the small man’s wife.  She was as formidable and she was angry.  “You should arrest this lump of coal!  He no good.  He disobeys his son the doctor and he is determined to make me a widow.  Me, a young woman in my prime, I say!”

Both men had refrained from moving and each knew better than to attempt any kind of conversation while Mrs. Leibowitz was in full rant.  She would either run out of steam or out of room for her formidable figure.  With luck she would just go back inside to continuing ranting without an audience.  And the luck had it. With barely a pause in her rant, she returned to more comfortable surroundings.

Retired Officer Patrick O’Halleran was a twenty-nine-year veteran of the local police department.  Before he had retired, Patrick walked this beat for almost 10 years.  People knew him and had a difficult time accepting the fact that he no longer wore the uniform.  In fact, they still treated him as if he did.  The days when police officers walked the beat no longer existed and they all missed that.  So, Patrick strolled the streets every day as he had done for all those years.  It gave him a chance to think and it was great exercise.

So here he stood talking to a man who, just three weeks ago, had suffered a mild heart attack. Tobias Leibowitz knew he shouldn’t be moving these grocery boxes, but he also knew that Patrick was due to come by any moment.  Patrick had a reputation for helping.  Everybody knew that.  And everybody expected it.

When Patrick finally left the Leibowitz grocery store he was tired.  He was tired of walking this endless beat but he didn’t know how to stop.  He was tired of everybody expecting him to do the right thing.  Everybody wanted something from him. People expected him to fix their problems, even his family.  No one asked Patrick what Patrick wanted.

“Officer Patrick, Officer Patrick, please I think she’s dead! She no breathing! She no breathing! Come!

His years of training allowed him to react immediately. As he was running after the stranger, he was already preparing for whatever lay around the corner.

Patrick followed closely behind the agitated man; he was not one of the regulars.  As he came around the corner of the alley, he saw in front of him a large crowd made up of mostly children.  They were hovering over something that seemed to be quite small, another child perhaps? Patrick quickly pushed his way to the centre of the crowd; his expertise was needed.  When he reached the centre, he realized he probably shouldn’t have hurried.

“You didn’t tell me it was a cat.”

“No, my cat, my boy’s cat, make better yes?  She no breath!”

Patrick knew he was never going to live this down but he couldn’t make things any worse.  So, he reached down to this ratty feline and put his mouth over it’s and breathed, once, twice, three times . . .   The stinky old fur ball had the unmitigated gall to spit up in his mouth and then run away.  DAMN cat!

“Thank you, thank you Officer Patrick, you good man.”

Patrick did chuckle.  Yes, he could see the funny side of things.  His life saving efforts had been wasted on a mangy and ungrateful cat.  Well the kids were entertained.

He stood up and looked around the back alley.  When the cat had run off, so had all the children.  It seems there was no more excitement here.  He could see clear to the end of the alley.  There’s Mr. Grant, he used to be an executive in some bank but lost it all because of a sordid liaison with a secretary and now he is the local drunk.  He could see two of the resident hookers coming home from what must have been a successful night as they were laughing.  A lot went on in this alley.  It was great place to catch a glimpse of the dredges of life. It was also a great place to hide from the rest of the world. Patrick looked up at the windows that overlooked the alley.  Blinds were drawn and windows were closed tight.  No one wanted to see or be seen.

With a last look around the alley Patrick returned to the main street. He could see Anna Winslow through the glass of her flower shop.  She was a timid woman who had been beaten by a drunken husband until he had managed to cut his own throat with his pocket knife while drinking in the alley a few months ago.  No one had seen a thing.  Ms. Winslow was doing much better on her own.  She even smiled occasionally.

Patrick continued his endless patrol.  When he had retired, he was left with too much time on his hands.  So, he continued to do in his spare time what he did on the job: he patrolled the neighbourhood.    He remembered that he had promised Mr. Olson that he would look in on his son.  Mr. and Mrs. Olson were traveling in Mexico; their twenty something-year-old son was taking care of their bookshop.  The kid had a head for selling books.  He knew his stock better than his father.  Of course, his father was too proud to admit that.  Still, he’d stop in on the kid and maybe get a cup of coffee.

As Patrick continued down the street occasionally crossing to the other side, his eyes were always on the move.  He was watching for kids up to no good, he was watching for telltale signs of shoplifting, and people who just looked guilty.  Patrick had been good at his job.  He was so good at his job that any time he had asked for a transfer to a different branch of policing it was denied.  He was always told that his job as a front-line officer was more important than any other position in the police force.  He was the face of policing to the common folk.  That and the fact that he was very good-looking, and well loved by the people on his beat, made changing assignments very difficult.

“Hey Officer Patrick when are you going to catch that guy?  Us girls shouldna have to worry when we walk the streets.  We’s got rights you know.”

The young woman chiding Patrick was another of the streetwalkers coming home from a late/early meeting.  They always kidded him.  He was single, attractive and polite.  Fodder for their warped sense of humour.

“Don’t you worry Betty they will catch him.  It just takes time, and good police work.”

“Hey Officer, I read in the paper that this strangler has killed four women in the last six months.  This is happening very close to our street.  Are we in danger?”

This time Patrick did grin, although he did it surreptitiously.

“Well Miss Montague I think you will be just fine.  So far, the only women that have been strangled have been young women.  While you are indeed a fine figure of a woman, I think you have a few decades on the victims.  But I must say Miss Montague if I was only a few years older…”

Abigail Montague was indeed a fine figure of a woman.  Forty years earlier she had been a dance hall girl.  She sang and she danced with all the greats of the time.  She enjoyed a good joke: preferably dirty, rich men, and Scotch, not necessarily in that order.  She also loved to flirt with Patrick because he gave as good as he got.  As Patrick moved past her perch, she admired his backside and shook her head.  If she was only a few decades younger. . .

As Patrick continued along his self-imposed beat, more and more people came out to ask him about the Back-Alley Strangler. That is what the newspapers had started calling the man who was randomly strangling young women in back alleys.  Patrick didn’t have much to add to what information people already had but he did his best to calm their fears.  This strangler was preying on young women, many of them prostitutes, all of them poor if not destitute.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t a segment of society that registered high in the Homicide Bureau.  Of course, he wasn’t about to admit that to people who were already concerned.  It never does well to admit to one’s faults especially if everyone is looking to you to fix the problem.

Eventually the day came to an end.  His day had been jammed packed with requests.  He had been asked to change a light bulb for Edna Smith, Mr. Fitzwilliam had wanted him to chastise his grandson for spitting, then there were the two dogs that were fighting: they had to be separated, and warnings to a couple of young boys who were fighting over a girl, and people wanted information on the Back-Alley Strangler. They all wanted a piece of him.

By the end of the day Patrick always felt as if he’d been pulled in a hundred different directions.  He was tired and his feet hurt.  He knew he was well-liked by these people but they only liked him because he offered them a symbol.  They still saw him as The Police, he made them feel safe, and they felt that he belonged to them.  Patrick wanted to help.  He wanted to help them all.  They needed him.  He was the only one who knew the right way.  Eventually he would help them all.

……………………………………………

 

And now another is saved!  I feel such relief, such pleasure, such strength. This is what I was meant to do, to release other’s demons, to help them find their path to salvation. I do not understand why they fight me, why they resist me. They are miserable and I am giving them passage to paradise. Only I know how many I have helped and I will be damned for my good work but I am not important, only them, only their souls. Janey is in a better place now.

As he stood up and straightened his coat, he knew that what he was doing was for the greater good.  He looked around the back alley. People needed him to help them relieve themselves of their burdens.  Patrick heaved a sigh; there were so many souls to save.

***************************

Psychologists and psychiatrists speak long and hard about psychopaths.  But even they don’t know why one is created or if are they born.  What they do know is that they can function in society their entire lives with no one knowing about their dark side.  Patrick was good at his job.

 

The end

Lord, Have Mercy

Given what is going on in the world right now, I thought this might be appropriate . . .

“100-year storm!”

The elevator doors whooshed shut behind Marcus and he then proceeded to shake his head like a terrier, water droplets pelting everyone within 5 feet. Two people chuckled and moved away but one stayed and offered Marcus a towel.

“With this rain it could be a busy night but I’m hoping it’s the opposite”.

Lila was a petite brunette who usually smiled at everyone and everything. But when she was sad, her emotions spilled over everywhere. Marcus felt protective of her. She was just out of school and this was her first job. A heavy responsibility for a mentor.

“It’ll be fine kid. The rain can’t last. But I must say I have never seen it raining quite this hard or for this long. That weatherperson actually called it a 100-year storm. Seems we haven’t had one this bad in over a hundred years. I don’t believe it. They just say that to get people going.  It helps their ratings.”

Marcus proceeded to put away his rain-soaked jacket. Every hospital has a group of people no one knows about. Or rather they just don’t think about them. These are the people that make sure the lights are working, the automatic doors stay automatic and the heat keeps everyone warm on those chilly days.  Marcus was one of those people, part of a team. Some of his coworkers were full time and others, like Lila, worked part time. This was one day Marcus thought they might actually be working hard for their pay. Storms can wreck havoc with all kinds of systems.

Lila handed Marcus his first cup of coffee for the evening. There always seemed to be a full pot of coffee brewing. It helped during those sometimes-endless night shifts.

Marcus wrapped his hands around his cup and sighed.

“I heard there was a little excitement earlier. What’s going on? Is there anything I need to know?”

Marcus looked at Lila as he spoke and was surprised to see her face turn as white as a sheet. Her eyes grew wide, her jaw slack.

“Lila?”

When she spoke, her voice was low and forced. She didn’t want to speak. But she knew Marcus needed to know.

“I hope it isn’t true. But it doesn’t feel right. What if he is? What if he’s angry with what we’ve done, or what we haven’t done? I, I’m afraid!”

Panic. Lila’s already small body seemed to shiver and folded in on itself. Marcus was bewildered, concerned!

“What is going on?”

He grabbed Lila’s arms, he spoke more briskly then he meant to . . .

“What . .  Is. .  Going. . On?”

“Let her go. I’ll tell you what’s going on. You can decide.”

Marcus quickly let go and turned to face the new voice. It was another co-worker.  John was the unflappable sort. He had a good head for numbers and was a killer at crossword puzzles. He was also wearing a worried expression on his face.

With a quick look at the raging storm just outside their window, the three sat down. Lila composed herself but she still looked shaken. John took the lead.

“We had an intake a few hours ago. In the Emergency Room. A man was brought in bleeding from several cuts on his head and both his hands. Nothing too outrageous. When he was asked what his name was, he said Jesus Christ.”

Marcus started to grin.

“Yeah, we get those every now and then. Delusional people. They’re just looking for a warm bed in the psych ward and a free meal.”

He shook his head, seeming to brush everything off. His grin was firmly in place.

“Besides it doesn’t affect us down here. Did he break anything?”

“I don’t think so,” John whispered,  “but I don’t think you understand. He sounded . . . Holy.”

Lila started to whimper. “He’s angry with us!”

Marcus jumped up from his chair.

“The second coming? That’s what you’re thinking aren’t you? Look, we get these crazies all the time! What makes this one different?”

“All over the world there’s excessive flooding and forest fires and outbreaks of diseases and, and . . .”  Lila couldn’t continue.

“Well, what did the doctors do? I’ll bet they put him on a 72-hour psych hold. The rain will give up tomorrow morning and all of this will be something we laugh about tomorrow night. It’s just another crazy.”

“You didn’t hear Him speak.” whispered John.  “You didn’t hear His words.  I did.”

“Okay I’ll bite, what did the crazy man say?”

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

It was at that exact moment that the lights flickered and died.

Lord, have mercy.

 

The end

    The Perfect Crime

 

                                       

How do you commit the perfect crime?  So many offences have come dangerously close to being perfect, it is frightening. Actually, there are many unsolved crimes that by virtue of the fact that the perpetrator has not been apprehended, it was a perfect crime.  But let’s talk about the perfect crime, the perfect murder.  How does someone commit a murder that no one knows about?  Would it have to appear to be an accident? Accidents happen all the time.  To garner the most out of committing such a crime, it would be important that there be a suspicion of murder but no proof, no witnesses, no accomplices. Nothing to tie the murder to the murderer.

                                       – A woman shoots an intruder (husband, oops

                                     – Normal teetotaler develops drinking problem (has witnesses) due to stress – wife problems.  Accidentally runs down and kills co-worker while intoxicated, who just happens to be sleeping with wife.  Accused didn’t know?  Swears off drink.

Are these perfect crimes?  No.  The accused may get off but they still go to court. It is still known that they did the crime; they are just able to prove extenuating circumstances.

The perfect crime would perplex the investigator.  No cause of death would be found perhaps, but the victim would be dead.

                                     – frighten someone with a weak heart to death

                                     – Tricking the victim into eating something they are allergic to – peanuts

Killing a stranger would be too easy.  It would have to be someone you know.  Someone whose death would allow you to benefit in some way.  So, our character list includes, a victim who has something to offer.  Revenge is not a good enough motive because it is not profitable.  If you are going to seek revenge you want the victim alive and aware of what you have done, legally.  They must have no recourse. Destroying someone is so much more satisfying than murder.  So, to commit a murder there must be a profit.  Something to make it worthwhile. Working on the premise you have a victim in mind, you need a method.  Motive lies with the victim.  You can’t choose a victim without a reason hence the motive.

 So, method.

                                  – Poison – traceable

                                  – Blunt instrument – messy

                                  – gun/knife – messy

                                 – Electrocution – requires some rudimentary understanding of electricity

Then you need an investigator who is not easily fooled.  It is so much more satisfying to have a worthy adversary.  And of course, we must not forget the murderer.  There must be no witnesses or chance of witnesses, no accomplices, no one to become a loose end.  No dates waiting to be picked up, no one who swears the victim had a pattern and would never deviate from it. Now it starts to get interesting.

Let us choose a hypothetical victim say, an elderly uncle who is very wealthy.  As the only living relative you would stand to inherit the works.  So, it becomes profitable. Unless the uncle really dislikes you and plans to leave everything to an animal shelter. No.  You have always had a relatively good relationship with the uncle.  Perhaps not close, but you do believe you are in his Will.  Do you take the risk that you are not? No. we will work on the assumption that you are in the Will. He has even mentioned it once or twice.

Ok. Now we have a victim and a motive.  A profitable one.  But you are not destitute.  You are not in a position of great need.  Too great a need places too many stresses on the enterprise and will lead to mistakes.  One mistake could be one too many.  No, you are preparing for the future.   Besides, it could make an arresting challenge. Pun intended.  A little humour helps to ease the stress.  After all this is a very serious subject.  Preparing for one’s future should never be taken lightly.

Are there stairs in your uncle’s home? A loose tread could cause a fatal fall.  If you set it up in advance, you probably would be far away from the accident.  Of course, there is no challenge in an accident.  No.  It must appear to be murder by someone unknown. A burglar? Too clichéd. A disgruntled ex-employee? Possible.  But no-one should be named. That entails someone else becoming involved. Too dangerous. Too many players. How about a single shot from a distance, late at night?  Very possible.  Can you shoot a gun?  You would be a suspect. And it is so messy.  Would you want to live in a house with a blood stain on the rug?  Of course, you would be rich enough to replace the rug.

When the investigators approach you, and they will, you are a relative, you must be shocked.  Watch your reactions, these people are trained observers. Don’t weep too much and certainly do not beat your chest, or pull your hair out.  Acknowledge the situation, tear up, choke up a little, not too much, and definitely sit down. Shake your head slightly. It would help to practice this scene, but never with an audience.  It should not appear to be studied.

Of course, you still have to work out how you plan to execute this deed.  Planning is everything.  Just be sure not to write anything down.  A written record really would be dumb.  Take your time and plan, plan, plan.

Oh, and one more thing.  While you were trying to work out the Most Efficient Means of dispatching your uncle, he succumbed to a massive heart-attack.  His funeral is next Thursday and the animal shelter wishes to acknowledge your uncle’s incredible generosity by giving you a puppy.  The licensing fee is $15.00.  Payable by cash or credit card.  Have a nice day.

The End

For Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt.

The White Hart

 

It was cold, bitterly cold. Devon tried to shake his head, he felt trapped. I should never have left the car.  I should never have tried to drive the car.  Too much alcohol, too little sense.  He wondered if anyone at the party would notice that he was gone.  And now his arrogance, his stupidity was going to be his fatal undoing.  It was a snowstorm for God’s sake!

Devon’s body started to shiver, violently. It was trying desperately to warm up.  As his body struggled to stay alive, his mind struggled to remember. A whisper of a memory seeped to the surface. There was a tale, a story told to children about The White Hart.  A magnificent beast that would save lost travellers.  It would appear out of the mist, its head held high, antlers gleaming.  The mere sight of it gave strength to the weary and hope to the wretched.  Devon forced his eyes to open, slightly.  He tried to raise his arm, he could not. With a last burst of strength he opened his mouth and . . . . belched?

“Hon!  You took all the blankets again!  It’s bloody freezing!  I gotta pee!”

Seasonal Changes

I know I posted this last year but I like this story and there are a few amongst you who may not have seen it.  So, sorry and enjoy!

Lea looked around her and smiled.  Life was good.  She felt as if she was on top of the world.  Which in fact, was not too far from the truth.  She was high enough to look down on the teeming masses and feel superior.

A gentle breeze moved around her and she shivered in delight.  With the sun on her face and the faintest wafts of air to keep the bugs at bay, there was no other place Lea would have preferred to be. Here she could while away the days in thought and feeling.  The whole experience was a hedonistic surplus of sensation.

It is dangerous to spend all of one’s time in the near-sighted pursuit of just one ideal.  With the passage of time comes change.

Lea woke one morning to a strange feeling of fear.  She really didn’t understand the sensation but she was sure she didn’t like it.  Carefully she glanced around her.  Everything seemed unchanged.  The people she could see were scurrying about their daily lives. The sun was in the sky, the wind was quiet but still there.  It had rained over the last few days but that was not unusual and it even made the world seem a little crisper, more alive.  But something was different.

Lea didn’t live in her little aerie alone, she had neighbours.  When she finally deigned to actually acknowledge them, she discovered that they had changed.  Perhaps they had spent too much time in the sun because they were definitely a different colour.  Not an unpleasant shade of red but it did depend on your tastes.  Once again Lea felt superior.  She wasn’t going to change, not her.

There are few inevitabilities in life, death and taxes not withstanding.  The passage of time can never be halted no matter how much we may want it to and with that passage also comes change.  We can rail against it all we want but change happens.

It had been a few weeks since Lea had first noticed the changes in her neighbours and she was horrified to see that they seemed to have accepted it.  It must be because they were old, past their prime.  Not like her.  Although, in the last few weeks she had been feeling a little tired, not her usual perky self.  It must be the weather.  The wind was blowing a little harder and the sun wasn’t nearly as warm as it had been.  Lea was sure that it would all pass and that one day soon everything would be back to normal.  It had to; she wouldn’t accept anything else.

The next day Lea woke feeling cold and sore.   She made the effort to look around her and noticed that all of her neighbours had gone.  She was alone.  The people below were fewer and those she could see were not enjoying the day like they used to, they seemed to be in a hurry.  It is hard to feel sanctimonious when you are alone.

A few days later Lea did not wake up.  The wind was blowing hard and crisp. The sun seemed lower in the sky, almost as if it too was finding it difficult to rise in the morning.  The warm days of summer had come to an end and the cool winds of change had brought the autumn.  With her many neighbours Lea now formed a blanket of leaves beneath her cherished trees.  The season had changed once more.

-the end-

 

 

 

 

Smuggler’s Cove . . . Again

 

Anita sat back; she was tired but she still smiled as she remembered.  Today was an anniversary of sorts. Thirty-one years ago today she was reborn.   She remembered the woman she had been, fondly.  Actually, if she had not been the woman she was then, she would not be the woman she was today.

With a quiet chuckle Anita stood up and approached the bed where the object of her remembrances lay sleeping.  She laid a gentle hand on his brow and he stirred for just a moment.  But his breathing was deep, he would not wake for some time yet.  So she sat back down and once again remembered.

*******************

‘John cupped her face in his hand, her beautiful face.  She wore no make-up; she didn’t need any.  There was no artifice to her.  Everything she felt showed on her face.  Right now, it showed her dismay at alarming people and something else.  John wondered what she was thinking, feeling. He took her elbow and helped her to stand.’

It was at that moment that the woman, who used to be known as Anna, knew her destiny.  This man was her future.  She once swore that she would never allow another man to get too close to her heart.  But John had sneaked in under her radar.  And she was glad.  John too was having an epiphany.  As he helped her to stand, he could feel the weight of her heart in his hands.  John knew that his future rested with this woman.

Anita sighed and shook her head.  It had all happened so quickly.  Without a word the two had gripped hands and decided to leave together. The woman who was Anna had never considered herself spontaneous.  But here in the blink of an eye she was running away from a life that she had, with a man that she barely knew.  But her heart was full and her conscience was clear.  John too was leaving behind nothing that meant anything to him.  He was not running away from life, he was running to it and taking with him all that had meaning.

*******************

All those years ago John had already been planning his escape.  He loved the park, he really did, but he could never escape who he really was. Jonathan Edward Bellamy III was a curse, an albatross that John wore around his neck.  So to that end, John had been preparing for his escape for many months.  Money had been secreted away, a temporary hideaway had been prepared, and all that was still needed was a push.  Anna provided the final reason.  So, the two left the park quietly in a canoe that John kept in Smugglers Cove.

******************

Anita’s eyes flew open; she had heard a noise from the bed.

“John? John?”  The concern in her voice was evident, but there was no response from the object of her concern.  She felt his brow and it was cool, not fevered as it had been for several days.  Anita was sure the danger had now passed.  She wanted to weep as a release for her pent-up fears.  She had been so afraid she was going to lose him: this man she had loved for thirty-one years.

***************

“Woman, you are starting to annoy me!”  The voice was gruff but the eyes still twinkled with love and with humour.

“The Doctor said you were to take it . . . “

“The Doctor can take his advice and . . .”

“John! Don’t you dare finish that sentence!”

On one side of the room was a slight, red haired lady with her hands firmly planted on her hips and a scowl on her face.  On the other side of the room was a tall, pale man who was still recovering from a recent illness.  The battle of wills was about to be waged and there was little doubt as to the victor.

“Okay, okay, you win!  I promise to avoid marathons and mountain climbing for at least a month.  Just remove the scowl from that beautiful face, please?”

“John. . .”  Anita spoke lowly and crossed the room to put her arms around her patient. “I was so very afraid; I can’t lose you.”

John raised his arms and encircled his beloved. “You will never lose me.”

*************

Later that night Anita once again thought through all the years they had been together.

It hadn’t always been easy but the one thing they never lost sight of was each other.  That first night in the canoe had been amusing.  They were acting like high school students, running away.  It was a bit tricky canoeing with a cane and she would not give up her laptop computer, but they managed.  They only had to go a few miles by canoe and in some ways, it was quite exciting. Well, except for the almost drowning incident.  And of course, they had met Samson.  He was her constant companion for many years.

She never regretted what she had done.  She did always wonder what everyone thought about the two of them.  They slept for the first night in an old rundown cottage that someone had left unlocked.  Or perhaps John was just good at breaking and entering, she didn’t ask.  It had taken them almost a week of traveling to finally reach their hideaway.  John had planned well.  There was a vehicle, there was food, and there was a place to sleep. Of course, he had only planned on one person on the run not two, but they made do.

Perhaps the first month was the most difficult.  They had to discover each other and had to come to terms with the lives they had left behind. Anita felt that she had not left anything important behind but she thought John had.  After all he came from a family with money and position, how you give that up?  But John thought about it differently.  He hated who he had been and by definition the people who had forced him to be that person.  But he had prepared well.  They chose new identities and set about planning their life together.  But there was always one thing in the back in Anita’s mind: returning to Smugglers Cove.

The money John had saved only lasted a few months but both were prepared to work to support their new lives. Perhaps it was nostalgia, perhaps it was guilt but Anita chose to write children’s stories that were quite successful.  John once again took a position in an out of the way park.  They had what they needed in life and they had each other.  It was a good life.

*******************

‘He saw clearly in the sand the imprint of a man’s feet and right beside them a smaller pair: a woman’s.  He looked out into darkness, they were here . . . again.’

Smugglers’ Cove . . .Between

 

The surface of the river was still, almost glass like.  Looking deep you could see the current running swiftly down stream. Hungry birds circled overhead, looking for a meal.  A small fish leapt above the safety of the river narrowly missing becoming lunch. For a moment the world was quiet.

And then chaos. . . .

“John!  Help!  I can’t . . .” For only a few seconds a woman’s head broke the surface before she was dragged back down into the darkness.  The unforgiving depths do not like to give back.

“Oh, my God!  I’m coming! Please God don’t let her drown!  Anna!”

Mere seconds behind the struggling woman was a man in a canoe.  The terror on his face spoke volumes.  More time went by as he searched for any sign of this woman that had enchanted his heart, his soul.  He had to find her!

“Anna! Anna!”  He shouted loudly.

“ Please God, save her.”  He whispered to the universe.  “Please!”

Two gentle souls had found each other in an out-of-way park and without meaning to, had fallen in love.  John could not believe they would be separated so soon after finding each other.  He felt the tears at the back of his eyes welling.  His shoulders ached from the desperate paddling, his eyes searching for his heart.

“Please, plea . . .  Anna!”

He spied her flowing red hair glistening in the morning light.  The only movement was with the water’s drift trying to tug it free from a branch.

Another foot and he could see a shoulder.  It was deathly pale.

“Please . . .”

When the canoe was within reach John jumped out next to the body of his beloved.  Immediately he felt the water dragging at his clothes, determined to pull him down.  The canoe, caught by another branch, floated nearby.  John’s hands trembled, unsure, desperate to know.

“Anna…”  He barely breathed . . .

As he turned her body over an eyelid flickered.  She was alive!

With that almost imperceptible movement John reacted.  His training took over his actions. He checked her pulse: strong.  Breathing: shallow but steady.  Pupils: reactive. Small contusion on forehead.  She was safe to move.  She needed to be warm and monitored. He needed to check for other possible injuries.

The next few minutes became a blur.  John was able to disentangle Anna and get her to shore.  It may only have been a few feet but it felt like miles.  He made sure she was safe and returned for the canoe.  Those supplies could make the difference between living and dying.

When John and Anna made the decision to run away they left behind their lives as well as their cell phones.  They were on their own now.

It took a little time but John was able to make a fire, make Anna comfortable and put water on to boil.  He cleaned her wounds.  They were minor and should pose no future problems.  Her breathing was stronger but still she slept.  John agonized over whether to leave her to find help or to stay.  A little tea should help.  While he busied himself with the mundane tasks of finding the tea and cups he was able to calm down.  They would survive this.  She would survive this.

His head was down, diligently measuring tea leaves into a strainer when he heard a sound. He quickly looked to Anna, still she slumbered.  He raised his eyes to the forest a few meters away.  His heart stopped.  There, just beside a very full tree was the largest wolf he had ever seen. John had seen hundreds in his years in the Parks Services but never one this close and this . . .alive. He was afraid to breath!  And then it moved.

Wolves have a reputation as true killers, vicious animals that maul the unwary for fun.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Wolves are intelligent pack animals who care deeply for their young and avoid people as much as possible.  And yet here was a magnificent specimen silently staring at . . .Anna?  Normally an adversary keeps his eyes on an opponent but that didn’t seem to be the case here.  Why? Before John had finished his thought the wolf took a step forward and then another. Then it did the strangest thing:  it sat. With its head cocked to one side and its tongue hanging out it look just like a family pet.

John sat back on his heals.  The movement didn’t disturb the wolf at all.  It’s gaze never left Anna.  It didn’t seem to be aggressive, more . . . supportive?  Was John dreaming? After what seemed to be hours the wolf slowly returned to the forest.  At that moment the water started boiling furiously. John was reminded of his duties and returned to them.

The hours did pass. John tried to stay awake to tend to the fire and to worry about the wolf but the inevitable did happen. The stress, fear and fatigue took hold and John slept.

He was dreaming.  He felt cool water on his face, he was drowning! With a yell he force his way up, clawing for the surface!

“John!”

With blinking eyes the man in question came awake. He was confused.  He quickly looked to where Anna lay and she was gone!

“Anna?”

“I’m right here John, I’m fine. Look someone’s dog has come for a visit.”

Someone’s dog?  John came awake in a hurry with that comment.  He looked towards the sound of his beloved’s voice and saw her with the huge wolf gently accepting her ministrations. She was petting him and tugging at his ears and he seemed to like it!

“Anna, Anna . . that’s a wolf!  A wild animal!  You have to get away from him!”

Anna didn’t move except to give her newfound friend a hug.

“I had such awful dreams and then I felt this warmth embrace me.  I felt such love. Then I felt a wet tongue on my face and it was Samson.  He sat by me while you slept. I think he was keeping an eye on us both.”

“You named a wild animal Samson?”

John started to laugh.  It was so abrupt that both Anna and Samson were startled. Then they both joined in.  Or, at least one did, the other gave the impression he was enjoying the process.

When the laughter died down the release was apparent. Then both John and Anna started to speak at the same time …

“I’m sorry!”  “I’m sorry!”

“It was an accident.  We’re both ok and we seemed to have gained a companion.”

Anna smiled at their new friend who promptly rolled on his back and presented his stomach for a rub.

John grinned at the two of them. A wild animal and a beautiful writer. What could be more incongruous and more appropriate? Perhaps Anna would write about a tame wolf named Samson in their new life.  He would find an out-of-the-way park in which to work and Anna would write stories for children. All would be well. They had each other.

The end

 

 

 

Smuggler’s Cove

I’m not quite prepared for my weekly post so I thought I would share something from a few years ago.  This started out as a single story but grew into three due to very strong opposition. Seniors can be quite scary when they want something!  So I complied.  This is the first of the three. I will post the second and third on Monday and Tuesday.  I’ll be back to regular viewing on Wednesday.

Pamela

Jonathan Edward Bellamy III.  A name destined to sit in the Supreme Court after a spotless career as a criminal lawyer, or perhaps the head of a multi-national banking conglomerate with a profit margin in the tens of millions.  Well perhaps Jonathan might have gone that route but not John.  John was sitting in a ten-year-old truck wondering if his rent cheque was going to bounce, and that truck was sitting on a mountain pass that overlooked a pristine national park which that Supreme Court judge would kill to see.  John figured he was the wealthier of the two.

Being born into a wealthy and prominent family brought with it a great many obligations that John had always balked at.  People who knew he came from money were either anxious to be his new best friend or hated him for his presumed privileges.  It had been hard trying to fit into that world. John didn’t like the phoney debutants or their mothers trying to make ‘good’ matches for them.  He just didn’t belong to that world. He belonged here, where the air was fresh, the people were real and where one worried about rent cheques.  When John walked away from the privileged life he also walked away from his wealth.  That was fine with him. Money should be earned not inherited.

Today John was thinking about that rent cheque but he was also thinking about the tourists.  Today was the first day of summer vacation and it had always been a trial in the park.  High School kids brought booze, which was banned, and College kids brought drugs, which were worse. Parents brought small children and expected the Rangers and Park Attendants to be babysitters.   Couples brought their pets and were indignant when they were turned away.  They didn’t seem to understand that this was a Wild Lands Park with wild animals, animals that might mistake ‘Spot’ for lunch.  It had happened.  Not often fortunately.  It really was amazing just how dumb some people could be.

It was almost time.  The Park opened at 10 am and it was almost that now.  John turned his ignition on and started for the main gates.  It wasn’t all bad; there were a lot of good, decent people who genuinely wanted to learn about the bears, the deer, and the other inhabitants of the forest.  They were the ones that made everything worthwhile.

As John approached the main gates, he could see the people waiting patiently for the gates to open.  Not everyone was waiting patiently of course: he could see a couple of cars of what appeared to be college students. We had better flag that group. Maybe they will turn out to be biology students with a real love for the forest and it’s inhabitants, and maybe not.  John heaved a quiet sigh; it could be a long summer. 

He watched the cars entering the park. Movement near the lodge caught his eye.  Red.  Specifically: red hair, long silky, red hair.  It belonged to a single woman who had booked a month at the lodge that was adjacent to the park.  She was quite a looker Miss Anna Wilson. Now there was an interesting story.  Young, attractive, women did not spend a month at an out of the way park alone.  She didn’t seem to be meeting anyone and she wandered the forest trails quite often. Always alone.   She used a cane and carried a laptop computer. Why?  Jessica at the lodge said she was a very nice, quiet woman. She seemed sad some how.  What was she running from? She had been here a week and John had spoken to her often, going out of his way to do so.  She was intelligent, but not forthcoming about her past.  Everyone was entitled to their privacy.  Except John was curious.

* * * * * * * * *

It had been a very long week.  There was the two-year-old who had burrowed underneath the showers rather successfully.  That took a couple of hours and several staff members to bring to a satisfactory conclusion.  Mom wanted to go home NOW.  Then there was the diamond necklace that went missing.  Why anyone would bring an expensive bauble to a park went beyond dumb.  It was located in the husband’s jacket pocket.  He was playing a trick on his wife. As for those college students, they really were here to study the local flora and fauna.  Unfortunately, they were also studying the effects of some of their own personal flora, which was definitely illegal. They agreed to leave quietly, without the illegal plants.  Another one for the burn pile.

********************

John stood at the top of the trail and looked down.  It was steep, an awkward climb even for him.  There was no way a woman with a cane could manoeuvre down to the cove.  It was one of John’s favourite spots.  Here, alone, he could think without any interruptions from tourists.  He scanned the small beach and started to turn away.  Out of the corner of his eye he caught a shape that did not belong.  It was a woman. A woman with red hair and she wasn’t moving.  Her hair was splayed out behind her as if she had fallen backwards. John started to run.  It took him a full minute to reach her but she didn’t move.  He looked for signs of an injury and softly called her name once, twice, three times.  She stirred; eyes sleepy. She stretched like a cat.  John sat back on his heels and pulled out his cell phone.

“Central, this is John.  The package has been located and verified.  All is well.  Out.”

Anna sat up, confused.  “What are you doing here?”

“Looking for you.” John snapped.  He was angry.  This blasted woman had the unmitigated gall to make him fall in love with her, to disappear for a full day and then not even have the decency to be injured or, or, whatever.  He had been worried sick and she was fine.

The object of his silent tirade was completely unaware of the effect she was having on him or the situation away from her little cove.  For that is how she thought of this idyllic spot, as hers.

“John, did you know about this spot? It’s wonderful!  It is quiet and serene. I have been able to write here so easily; it is almost as if . . .. John? What’s wrong?”

Anna had finally noticed the look on John’s face.  The anger was apparent, and something more, concern?

“Anna you have been gone for almost 7 hours. Jessica is worried sick.   Rangers have been out looking for you ever since you failed to show up at the lodge for lunch.  And how the hell did you get down here anyway?”  As he spoke John’s voice grew in volume until he was almost shouting and his teeth were clenched.

Anna smiled.  She tried to hide her grin but failed miserably.  Of course, this made John even angrier. She stopped listening to his lecture on the dangers of the Park and instead watched his face.  It was a good face, clean-shaven with a slight nick under his jaw line.  He was probably distracted this morning, thinking about the latest batch of tourists.  He was always concerned that each individual reaps the most from their stay at the campgrounds.  He wanted everyone to love the park as he did, just as she had come to do.  Anna had come to the park to escape her life.  She didn’t want to end her life she just didn’t want to live it any more. Yes, John had a good face, strong, his eyes were brown, a deep inviting brown. And his body, well….  Yes, he was definitely nice to look at and his voice, well he could read a phone book out loud and still enthral a crowd.  At least a crowd of one.  Anna stopped smiling.  Was she falling in love with this paragon of manhood?  She could not allow that.  That was a dangerous trail she would never venture down again.

John noticed the change in Anna’s face.  Had he been too hard on her?  Dammit he worried about her!

“Anna?”

“I.. . I’m sorry I worried you, I lost track of time.” Her eyes were downcast, her voice cracked slightly.

John cupped her face in his hand, her beautiful face.  She wore no make-up; she didn’t need any.  There was no artifice to her.  Everything she felt showed on her face.  Right now it showed her dismay at alarming people and something else.  John wondered what she was thinking, feeling. He took her elbow and helped her to stand.

Anna looked up the path.  “It wasn’t so hard coming down, really, just slow.  But it was definitely worth the effort.”

John looked at this woman that he had come to care for.  They were both lonely people looking to escape their lives.  Perhaps they were both here on this spot for a reason.

*********************

Coach Adamson wondered if he was doing the right thing bringing these boys to this park for the weekend.  They didn’t know what had happened here, on this spot, thirty-eight years ago.  Actually no one really knew what happened.  Two people were gone. What they had found all those years ago was an abandoned truck and a sweater that had belonged to a park visitor.  His father’s little sister.  Had two lonely people run away together or had an accident claimed their lives? Coach looked out at the river, now shrouded in darkness.  He had been warned that the currents near the centre of the river could be deadly.  Had they been thirty-eight years ago?

“Hey Coach, does that Ranger want us to put out the fire?”

The Coach turned back to the bonfire and his charges, “What Ranger?”

“The Ranger you were just talking to with that hot chick.  Wow I guess there are perks to working in an out of the way Park like this!  The boys laughed and turned back to their fire and their questionable jokes.

The Coach turned back to look at the water’s edge.  He saw clearly in the sand the imprint of a man’s feet and right beside them a smaller pair: a woman’s.  He looked out into darkness, they were here . . . again.