Tag Archives: short story

“He’s Dead!”

The picture used for this post is from Dan Antion’s Thursday Doors over at nofacilities.com.  When I saw it, I felt a shiver go up my spine.  This was the house in my head when I wrote this story several years ago.

Two young men stared at each other, mouths open.   The erudite individuals in question were loitering outside the home of an elderly man who had recently died. Perhaps they were remembering the life so recently passed. Or perhaps . . .

“Cool!  What the fu. ., .sh . Aw man, I promised my girlfriend I’d stop swearing!”

“Wait, Boondog, you got a girlfriend? When?  You didn’t have none yesterday!”

“Yeah, man.  We’re in looove.  She just ain’t met me yet.”

The two erupted in gales of laughter.

Boondog was actually Alfonse.  He was a high school drop out who fervently believed that he would one day be a multi millionaire.  He just needed the rest of the world to recognize his genius.

His companion was Edgeley. No one knew his real name, probably not even Edgeley himself.  He didn’t seem to live anywhere in particular.  He just kept showing up.

The two young men gravitated to this spot most days.  Each day they would spend time smoking a particular illegal substance.  This was the perfect spot.  They were hidden from the road but were still quite close to the house.  Ah, yes, the house.  It had been built in the early 1900’s.  It was three stories tall and had a veranda that encircled the main floor. It was an imposing abode that had seen better days.  More than a hundred years had wandered through the rooms of that house. What had been said and done on those solid wood floors?

Our intrepid adventurers were deep in a metaphysical discussion.

“This Burrito is the bomb!’

“Hey, you got burritos?  I like Mexican food!”

“No, man, the Ganga is good!”

“Huh?”

“Dope, weed, pot, grass! Boondog, don’t you know noth’n?

“Aw.”

For the next few moments they said nothing. The smoke whirled above their heads as they inhaled the noxious weed.  Oblivious to the medical consequences of the drug on their brains, they breathed in even deeper.

Time seemed to stop.

Edgeley was the first to speak.

“Do you think his cats ate him?”

“Did he have cats?” asked Boondog with something akin to excitement on his face.

“I dunno.”

Silence.  Time barely seemed to pass.

“They said he was rich.  I bet he’s got cash stashed all over.”

“Cool.”

Our two geniuses continued to stare at the once opulent house. After some time they both managed to stand (after a few mishaps).  Then came the giggles.  Two grown men trying to keep each other from falling and fumbling up the decrepit steps might have been funny to watch but no one saw them enter the house.  Almost no one.

As Boondog reached for the front door knob, the door opened.  He didn’t seem to notice.

“Hello . . “  He shouted, as if he had just returned from a long day at work.

Edgeley slapped the back of his head.  “Shhh!  You wanna wake the dead?”

“Is he here?”  Boondog’s panic was very apparent.

“Nah, man. I’m just messing with ya.”

The front door opened into a huge foyer with an even larger room off to one side.  They headed there. The two men started to wander around the room. Edgeley immediately started to open drawers in the cabinets, methodically working his way from one side of the room to the other. Boondog couldn’t take his eyes off a painting of an old woman. There was a name at the bottom, his lips moved as he read what was there:  Daniela Winslow, died 1893.

As he stepped back, he looked directly into the eyes of Daniela Winslow . . . . . only to see Daniela looking back. Boondog gasped!

The front door closed, violently, the bolts thrown. The shutters on the windows slammed shut. Within seconds the air became cold, too cold. Edgeley stopped what he was doing and looked up. A mist started to rise from the floorboards. It seemed to caress Boondog, who was frozen in place. It then moved on.  Gently, oh so gently it touched the furniture, stroking the wood of the cabinets.

Edgeley looked at Boondog.  All the effects at the previously smoked marijuana were gone. Neither man was at all unaware of their predicament. Any thoughts of looking for stray cash had gone.  All they wanted now was to leave, quickly.

Almost as if it was choreographed, both moved as one towards the front door. Grasping the handle Boondog tried desperately to open it.  The door wouldn’t budge.

“Hello boys. . . “

The voice was low, soft and ominous. They couldn’t tell if it was a man’s voice or a woman’s. Or even where it had come from. The two boys turned back from the door, fear emanating from every pore.  Boondog started towards the steps to the second floor. He just wanted to get away from the voice. Before he could reach them, the mist descended and formed a barrier. There was no going upstairs.  He returned to stand beside his friend.  This couldn’t be happening!

Edgeley hadn’t moved. Sweat started to soak through his clothes. The sweat of fear has an acrid, pungent smell, it smelled of death.

A fireplace they hadn’t noticed before, burst into flame. The cackling sound of the flames seemed to break the spell and they moved.

They huddled next to the fireplace as if for comfort. There was no warmth from the flames.  They seem to mock them, rising and dancing as if to music.  There was no music, then, no sounds. It became oppressive, the silence. The men, so brave and bold mere minutes ago, reverted to their childhood fears.  They were terrified.  And then . . . she screamed.

“I am hungry!”

Edgeley started to whimper.  “I’m sorry . . . I’m so sorry . . .

Alfonse started to mutter unintelligibly. He raised his head. His eyes had changed. He grew larger.  Then he smiled.  “No one will miss you Edgeley.  And we will all feed!”

 

 

The end

 

The Bus Stop

It was a beautiful mid-summer’s day.  It was early enough that most people had not gotten into their cars to start the day.  But one lady was slowly approaching a local bus stop.  Marcella was starting her day the way she did most every day: walking to the bus.  And like every day before this one, she was complaining.

“I am getting too old for this nonsense.” She mumbled to herself.  “Every day I hurry to get to the bus stop just so I can wait.  The bus is always late.  Always!  And I know if I come late then that damn bus will come early!”

Marcella wasn’t a young woman but she didn’t consider herself old just yet.  Yes, she did have sore knees and her feet would swell if the day was hot, but she was not ready to be put out to pasture.  There would be time enough to be old.  For now, she just liked to take advantage of the fact that everyone else thought she was old.  She could complain all she wanted.  People were so polite and considerate.

As she approached her destination, she became suspicious.  Something had changed.  A new bench had been deposited beside the bus shelter.  Marcella was uncomfortable with change so she looked at this new piece of outdoor furniture with distrust.

“Now why would someone put a pretty new bench out here where it can get all wet?” She queried, “kids will be playing on it before you know it and it will get damaged.  Now why would they do something so silly?”

“So that you can be more comfortable while you wait for your bus, you silly old woman!”

Marcella was startled!  She let out a sharp cry and turned around.

“Land sakes!  Beatrice you scared five years off my life!  And you are late!”

Beatrice didn’t respond immediately.  She simply nodded at the first woman and then proceeded to make herself comfortable on the new bench. After a moment’s hesitation Marcella followed suit.  And then the conversation continued.

“I think it’s very nice of them to want us to be comfortable while we wait for their bus.” Beatrice always seemed to find the good in any situation. She was exactly the same age as Marcella but she looked 10 years younger.  People thought the two of them had a strange friendship.  One always saw the good and one always saw the bad.

“Well I think it’s a terrible waste of money.  They should spend that money on buses so that we aren’t always waiting!” True to form Marcella saw the bad. “And think of the trees that died so that our bums could be comfortable.  It is a terrible shame!”

“Oh, I bet this is a green bench.  No trees would have been killed. People are getting smart about that.”

“Beatrice you are going blind, this is not a green bench.  It’s brown. And an ugly brown too.”

“No, no I am not referring to the colour I’m talking about the bench itself.  Nowadays these things are made green.”

Marcella shifted in her seat and stared at her friend.  She knew that both of them were getting older and that sooner or later their mental capacities would begin to alter.  She hadn’t thought that Beatrice had gotten that old.  But now she looked at her very carefully.

“Beatrice what colour is the sky?”

“Well that’s a silly question, its blue.” She turned towards her friend. “Is this a trick question?”

“What colour is the road?”

“Now I know you’re up to something.  The road is grey, just like your hair.  And before you ask, the grass is green.  Now what’s up?”

“Last question.  What colour is the bench we’re sitting on?”

“Well, it’s brown.  What is going on?”

“Hah! You admit it!  This bench is brown!”

“Well of course it’s brown, woman.  Are you blind?”

“A minute ago, you said it was green.”

Beatrice looked at her friend dumbfounded for just a moment.  And then she burst out laughing.  Poor Marcella just looked on, confused.

“Marcella, when some one refers to an item as being green, they are talking about how it was made.  Green items are made by recycling other items.  They are not necessarily referring to the colour.”

The woman in question sat without moving for just a moment.  Then she turned away from her friend and sat up straight facing the road.  She was processing what she had just heard and trying to understand it.

“Are you telling me that this bench my bum is residing on could have been somebody’s deck?  How do you know where this wood has been?  And who has been doing what on it?  It could be filthy!” No sooner were the words out of her mouth then Marcella jumped up and turned around to face the offending bench.

“Oh, you silly old woman!  Sit down!  I don’t care what this bench was in a previous life, now it is comfortable and I can get a load off my feet.  That’s all I care about.”

Begrudgingly Marcella did as instructed, but gingerly.  As she was settling back down on the bench she started to think.

“Do you think there’s any way we could recycle a few people I know?  I can think of something useful I like to make them into:  how about two gorgeous 40-year-olds for one wrinkle 80-year-old?”

As both women started to laugh, they saw the bus.

 

the end

Dear Diary;

It is been 68 days.  Sixty. Eight. Days. I am a prisoner. There’s been no ransom demand, he hasn’t tried to assault me, still, I’m a prisoner in this hovel, this shack. I am going to die here. I’m going to die alone. I don’t think my friends and family know where I am. I haven’t been to work and yet no one has tried to find me. I have been forgotten.

I’m hiding this diary from him because I think when I’m dead, perhaps someone will find this Journal. My last testament. Proof I was here. He feeds me. I have water. I’m even allowed to shower and sleep in a real bed. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t know what matters anymore.

I’ve begun to question my sanity. Was the life I led before, a dream? Are my memories wrong? I remember large groups of people laughing. I remember crowded sidewalks and arguments with strangers. I remember the smell of cars and cheap perfume. I miss those smells. How did I get here?

I can hear him, my jailer. He’s moving around. Is he the reason I’m being kept here against my will? Have I done something to wrong him? Dear Diary I don’t know what’s real anymore. When I’m able to look out the windows, all I see are trees. There are no people, there are no cars, no buildings. Where am I? He’s coming! Oh, dear God! He’s coming!

“Hey hon? I’m just about to hop in for a quick swim. How about after that I toss a few steaks on the barbecue? The cottage is a great place to sit out the pandemic!”

 

 

The Waterfall #writephoto

 

“What do you think! Teddy used to bring me here. He said it was a spot nobody knew about and it was all ours.”

Two women stood at the edge of a small grotto flanked by a diminutive waterfall. It was an idyllic setting. One woman was bubbling with excitement, the other seemed thoughtful, pensive.

As the first woman started to make her way down to the water, the second woman hesitated. She watched her friend pick her way slowly through the vegetation and wondered if she ever questioned the absence of her old boyfriend. He should not have hurt her. He would never hurt anyone ever again.

“I wonder if Teddy ever came back here?” An innocent question.

Libby smiled. “Oh, I’m sure he’s all tied up somewhere.”

Scrambled Eggs

It was a bright early Monday morning.  The diners were quietly enjoying their morning repast, or perhaps it was the first coffee of the day.  Either way everyone was jolted out of their personal reverie by the door been thrown violently open.

“Yo, Coraline where are you hiding the bodies?  I know you are poisoning people here every day!”  The loud words spoken were at odds with the scholarly looking older gentleman.  The grin on his face was hard to miss and quite confusing.

Some people looked up in horror, some people shook their heads and went back to their breakfast, and some people chuckled and waited for the response.

“Well Adam, the day is young and I’m looking for my first victim.  Please have a seat.  Coffee?” As the well seasoned waitress approached the newcomer, she too had a smile on her face and her coffee pot was already pouring his first cup. Adam took his usual seat at the counter.

It seems that these two were well matched with their witticisms and they had been good friends for many years.  The diner where they met almost every morning had been a going concern for more than seven decades.  In the late 30s it had been a speakeasy and there were stories that could be told about that time but never were.  It had been passed down over the years from father to son to grandson until it was the well attended diner of today.  People came for their morning cup of coffee and a tasty breakfast.  They also came for the entertainment.  Coraline had been working at the diner for at least three decades that people could be sure of.  Adam had been coming to the diner for almost the same length of time.  The two fit together like oil and water, ham and eggs, gasoline and a lit match.  They did honestly respect one another and everyone enjoyed their arguments immensely.

“How is your grandson doing Adam?  It was just an infection wasn’t it?  The concern in Coraline’s voice was apparent.

“Yep, it was just a dang’d bug in his ear.  He’s a tough kid.  He is already out playing with his baseball.”  Adam shook his head and smiled.  He was obviously proud of the young boy.

Coraline grinned as she wiped down the counter.  “Must take after his late grandmother.”

“Excuse me miss? Can I get a refill?” A young college student had watched the discourse between the two and waited for a lull in the conversation.  But the need for coffee outweighed the need for civility.  Coraline was starting to pour his coffee almost before he finished speaking.  She was efficient.

“Miss . . .” once again Coraline was there before the sentence was finished.

“Would you like anything else dear or just the bill?”

“The bill please.” The young woman speaking was new to the diner and she was one of the ones who had looked up in horror when Adam and Coraline had first spoken.  She looked sad.  She was sitting at a table alone and it looked suspiciously like she had been waiting for someone.  She was near tears.

Coraline ripped off the bill and handed it to the young woman. “Never you mind dear, no man is worth any tears.” The young woman in question looked surprised. “Honey just you remember, if it’s a ‘man’s’ world, then they get the blame for screwing it up! They are really only good for opening tight jars.  You go on and have a good day.”

Coraline moved on to the next table and the young woman started to chuckle.  She was feeling better and she would enjoy this day.

The other diners were not in need of her so Coraline returned to the front counter and to Adam.

“You have been studying that menu for ten minutes why do you bother?  You are going to have the same thing that you had yesterday and the day before that and the day before that.”

“Well I might try something new if this menu ever changed.” Adam settled back in his chair, he was waiting for her reply.

“If we changed any of the words on the menu you wouldn’t be able to read them.” Coraline never missed a beat.

“You know your coffee should be on a banned substance list.  Tastes like cheap drugs.”

“And yet you keep coming back for it.  I guess you’re addicted.  Does that make you a drug user?  I knew you were a criminal at heart!”

Adam opened his mouth to respond but was cut off when Coraline raised her hand. “Sorry Adam I would love to continue this conversation but real people require my attention.”

As she moved off to deal with the other diners Adam shook his head and smiled, “she got me with that one!”

With her usual efficiency Coraline dealt with the few customers that were left. Some needed bills, some needed refills and one just wanted information about the way the eggs were cooked.  But no one was dissatisfied with the food or with the service.  That made it a good day. Eventually there was just Adam nursing his coffee at the counter and a beautiful young woman in the corner drinking an ice tea.  She had exotic features and was certainly one that people would notice.

“Well?”

“Well?”

“Adam have you made a decision?  Are you going to have the Eggs Benedict’s like you usually do?”

“Well… yes.”

Coraline chuckled, “Coming right up.  Harold should have it done by now. I already ordered it.”

Harold was the grandson of the original owner of the diner.  One day the diner would belong to him outright.  But for now, he had to pay his dues and that meant cooking to a standard that was acceptable to his parents, to his customers and to Coraline.  So far, he was doing just fine.

“So, what’s her story?”  Adam was curious about the one patron left.  Plus, he was always looking to trip Coraline up.  She thought she knew everything.

“According to my information,” Coraline was loving this! “She is the registered nurse out at the old Wilkinson house.  Old man Wilkinson is 104 years old and he is still trying to pinch the bottoms of the aid workers.  They are really just young girls with no experience.  So, the family decided to bring in a professional. Her name is Nirmal and she was born in . . .”

“Stop it!  Just stop it! She has only been at the Wilkinson’s place for two days how do you get this information? I know because the cook there is a cousin.” Adam was flabbergasted that she had one upped him again.

“Well now, I can’t reveal my sources.  But you know Adam I know lots of things.  I know that you have a new lady friend, it’s about time by the way.  And that she likes pink roses and white hyacinths.”

“What the!  How the? You!  Where!”

“Here you go Adam.  Enjoy your breakfast.” As the Eggs Benedict were placed in front of him Coraline turned to go.

With a noticeable spring in her step she knew that she had stunned him once again and was quite proud of herself.

In time Adam left, grumbling good-naturedly.  Nirmal also left but first she smiled and thanked the waitress.  Finally, thought Coraline, someone with manners in this joint. When the diner was finally empty, she began to prepare the tables for the luncheon crowd.

Several minutes later the door chimes sounded. When she turned around Coraline was speechless, but only for a moment.  What she saw was not what she was expecting but rather a young man with dirty hair, dirty jeans and a gun.

Without thinking she responded in the only way she knew how.

“So young man, what can I get you?  Coffee?”

The individual in question was nervous.

“Give me all your money, I want your money, and I want it now!”

“Don’t be silly,” answered Coraline, “that isn’t on the menu.  And stop waving that gun you might hurt someone.  Now sit down and I’ll see if we have any muffins left.” She kept chattering away mostly to keep her courage up.  She placed utensils and a coffee cup in front of the young man motioning for him to sit.

The poor man didn’t know what to do, so he sat.  Coraline put a muffin in front of him and poured the coffee.

“Oh, we have some lovely preserves that would go well on your muffin, let me get them.”  Caroline moved to get the preserves and the strange kid stood up.

“Lady I’m robbing you!  Pay attention!”

“Well kid you blew it!” She returned with the preserves and placed the jar beside his plate.  Her hands firmly on her hips, she responded, “Harold left this morning with the receipts and all I’ve got is a couple of bucks for the bus and you can’t have that.  Now sit down and eat.  You look awful.  Do you do this for a living?  You don’t look very successful.”

The kid licked his lips and sat.  He was confused and hungry.  He put the gun down and picked up the muffin.  Coraline scooped up the gun and stepped back.

“So, is this a police special or a 45, maybe a 9 mm?  Do you have names for guns?  Like the Buster Special?  Silly things.” She put the gun under the counter and looked at the kid. He was totally frozen.

“Lady are you nuts?”

“So, you want eggs over easy or maybe eggs Benedict?  Harold makes a great eggs Benedict.”

“I thought you said he left?”

“I lied. Do you want more coffee? Oh, and we have great pecan pie left.”

“Lady you are crazy!”

“Perhaps, but I’ve got the gun.”

 

 

The end

 

 

 

 

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