Thursday, February 21, 2019

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 8 - A Knock On The Door


The prompt this week was all about challenging a character, particularly with a blizzard, complete with freezing temperatures and high winds, leading to a whiteout. Life challenges us all, and my character has experienced a great loss, and faces making critical decisions. A massive snowstorm is on its way. Will it help her make the right decision?

A Knock On The Door

Barry will be sorry when they find me. They? Who are ‘they’? Come on, Sheila. There is no ‘they’. Some maintenance guy who checks on the cabins will find me, and think ‘oh damn, there goes my week’. Well, I’m sorry, maintenance guy, but it’s my soon-to-be ex-husband’s fault. Barry and I were married for 11, count ‘em, 11 years, and I find out he’s been fooling around with an 18-year old for months, and now he’s dumping me for her. Months? A fitness trainer at his club, no less. She prances around in a tank top and short shorts and suddenly, she’s the love of his life. I wonder how long she’ll hang around after she finds out that without his little blue pill, he’s only good for 2 or 3 minutes. He’s not loaded either, honey. All his talk about international deals and Deutsche Marks? He sells vacuum cleaners. He graduated from door-to-door to selling over the phone to hotels, but they’re still vacuum cleaners. Buckle up, baby girl. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

I’ll finish my TV dinner, light a fire, and snuggle up under a comforter in this recliner. A few glasses of wine and a bottle of sleeping pills later, I’ll be free. No more pain, no more humiliation, and no more tomorrows. I’ll make sure he suffers plenty though. My note’s going to be a doozy. I need to make sure the door’s locked so it doesn’t blow open. That wind is getting stronger by the minute. I wouldn’t want snow to blow in and get the carpet and furniture all wet. This cabin is Carol and Bob’s pride and joy. If I let their things get ruined, they’d kill me. Kill me. Hah. Good one, Sheila.

What is going on out there? The windows are rattling. I’m going to close the drapes. Oh my God! I can’t see a thing out there but white. Where did this big storm come from? It wasn’t snowing at all when I got here, then there were some light flakes, and now a total whiteout? Great. I’ll be snowed in. I suppose that’s okay. It’s not like I’ll be going anywhere, and nobody will miss me. What the hell was that? I hope a tree didn’t fall on the roof. There it is again. Could that be a knock on the door? I wonder if I can even get it open. What the…

“Please, can I come in? I was out walking in the woods and I got lost.”

Some old lady out for a stroll in a blizzard?

“Of course. Hurry in because the wind’s even stronger. Help me shut this door.”

“Thank you so much, young lady. My cabin is at the bottom of the hill. I was out on the trail that runs through the woods, and the snow started coming down harder. I didn’t think too much of it, but then the wind came up and the sleet started. All at once, I couldn’t see anything. I got so scared, but thank God I found your cabin. I don’t know what I would have done if you weren’t here.”

“You’re up here all by yourself?”

“Yes. You?’

“Yes. I came up here to…I mean, the reason…I’m sorry. I must sound like some crazy person. I assure you, I’m not. It’s just that I recently split with my husband of 11 years, and I came up here to think. This is my friend’s cabin.”

“It really is a small world, dear. Forgive me for intruding on you with my problems, but I’m in the same situation. My husband left me for some young hussy. Thirty years down the drain. I promise you, I’m not crazy either, but I came up here to punish Jerome. The plan was to take my own life. But while I was out walking and thinking, I realized that if I went through with my plan, it wouldn’t be Jerome who suffered. He’d have his child bride to comfort him and he’d simply move on. And me? I’d be the one who lost everything. Know what I mean?”

And how.

“I shouldn’t have bothered you with all this, dearie. I’m really not crazy – just hurt and confused.”

“It’s okay. If you’re crazy, then so am I. I don’t know why I’m comfortable telling you this, but I came up here with the same purpose – to punish Barry by killing myself. But, you’re so right. Barry would move on with his teeny bopper groupie and I’d be the big loser. What do you say we have a glass of wine – sans sleeping pills, and call it a night. Maybe this storm will be over by morning, and I’ll scramble us up some eggs.”

“Sounds great, Sheila. I’ll get the fire started.”

“I’ll get the wine and some cheese and crackers.”

She called me Sheila. How’d she know my name? Huh…

***

“I never slept that soundly. How about you? Hello?”

The old lady was on the couch, but she’s gone, and the comforter’s back on the bed. How’d she do that without waking me up? Sneaky. Wait. Are my purse and car keys still here? Sure are. Right where I left them. Weird. Wonder what it’s like outside. Whew. Storm’s over and the sun’s out. I wonder if the door will open. Wait a minute. It’s still locked and bolted. What did she do – go out the window? Very weird.

It’s not too bad out here. I can shovel a path to the car. I should start it and let it run awhile. I’ll try to get to the road this afternoon. I hate to step out and ruin this perfectly smooth…it’s smooth. The snow is smooth all over out front. How can that be? Where’s the old lady’s footprints? Who…

You know what? I’m not going to try to figure anything out. Not today, anyway. Maybe tomorrow…

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 7 - Love is Blind


The prompt this week was to write a love story between monsters. It is said that love is blind, and that may not always be a bad thing.

Love is Blind

 “My grandmother says if I marry you, she’ll buy a deck chair and lay out in the sun until she turns to dust.”

“My second cousin asked me if you were a side-show freak with that black veil over your head.”

“My aunt says she can’t stand the thought of you putting your filthy paws on her niece.”

“My sister says you’re nothing but a blood-sucking gold-digger.”

“My brother says you switch at will from being a nice person to a disgusting animal.”

“My grandfather says you’re lying to me about how old you really are.”

“My uncle says he would never feel safe in the same room with you and any of your people.”

“My first cousin says everyone in your whole family is cold as ice.”

“My sister says you’re just a dirty scavenger and only one step above a dog.”

“My grandmother says I shouldn’t marry you because you’re a deadbeat and sleep all day.”

“My father says if he survives to be two million years old, his daughter will never marry a werewolf.”

“My mother says the whole family will turn their backs on me if I marry a vampire.”

***

“Excuse me, Mr. Amaguk and Ms. Ambrogio. The judge has time for one more couple. Let’s go to his chambers and get you two married.”

“I love you, Pookie.”

“I love you too, Boo.”

“Our eloping was the right thing to do.”

“It sure saved time. When we get home, we can start planning our family vacation.”

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 6 - Head Start


The prompt this week was to pick a starting line. I picked the very first one. As soon as I read it, the story started forming. I love when that happens. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Head Start

Do you ever think we should just stop doing this?

“Norb, you worry too much. You’ve always been a worrier, even when we were kids. Mom always used to say that her sons were like night and day. Me, I was the go-getter and you were the worry wart. Nothing has gone wrong so far, and nothing will go wrong in the future. I’m always extra careful.”

“But, Connie, you keep wanting more and more money. Don’t we have enough yet to just go off somewhere? I can’t get over this feeling that sometime soon, our luck’s going to run out. If you don’t want to quit, can’t we at least cut back and lie low for awhile? Folks talk, and sooner or later, somebody’s going to talk about what we did and we’re going to walk right into a…”

“Relax, brother. Yeah, people talk. Think about it though, how many players involved in private Poker games want to admit they got scammed by a couple of unknowns like Conrad and Norbert Finkle. But, maybe you’re right. We do have a lot of cash, but if we want to live the good life, we need one more really big score. I’ve got my eye on this game tomorrow night in the warehouse district by the docks where you open with $100. After a few hands, there’s going to be so much cash on the table, there’s no telling where we can end up. We would probably be able to buy our own island. Wouldn’t that be a hoot?”

“Yeah, Connie, a hoot. But, we’ve always worked this with games in small towns. You make an excuse to go to the car to get a head start, then, after a couple of minutes, you beep the horn twice, I grab what’s on the table and make a beeline for the door. We zig and zag through the streets, and before they’ve got their car keys out of their pockets, we’re long gone. Okay, so this has worked every time, but this one is so different. Out by the docks? That whole area is deserted, except for the hoods who stash all their stolen cigarettes, guns, and…”

“I know about all that, Norb, but we’re not getting involved with any stolen property. This is a game that some guys set up, and word on the streets is that there’s big money to be had. We’ll bet whatever the rest do to start, but we’ll fold a few times and let the rest of them drop that cash into the pot. I’ve already scoped the place out. We’ll get there right before it starts, and I’ll leave the car out in front of the building with the keys in it. It’ll be okay because there’s no one around to take it. Everyone will be inside playing.”

“If you say so, Connie, but I still don’t like it much. How’d you get us into this game anyway?”

“You know me, Norb. I can talk my way into Fort Knox.”

“I wish you had, Connie. I’d feel a lot better about walking in there tomorrow night.”

“Stop worrying. I’ve got it all covered. Let’s eat now. Did you get me some chili fries?”

**

“Good evening, gentlemen. Please make yourselves comfortable.”

The large man in the dark suit who opened the door, pointed to the room on the right. Norbert nudged his brother, and nodded at the gun the man was wearing in a clearly visible shoulder holster. Conrad shrugged his shoulders and pushed Norbert into the room. The other players were already seated around the table. Each had several stacks of $100 bills in front of them. Norbert put the gym bag on the table, and pulled two stacks of $100s out – one for him and one for Conrad – and they sat down.

“Couple hands only, Norb,” Conrad whispered. “It’s all on the table. Just grab it all.”

Norbert swallowed hard, and nodded. He was worried. Really. Worried.

The game began shortly after their arrival, and $100 bills filled the center of the table. Conrad and Norbert folded and let the others continue betting. It impressed Conrad how trusting they all were. No one held their winnings close. All that cash placed loosely all over the table, ripe for the taking. Easy peasy. Time to make his move. The guy in the suit probably wouldn’t let him go outside for smokes, so a trip to the bathroom it would be.

“Down that hallway on the left, sir,” the man in the dark suit said. “Don’t worry about the open window though. Lock’s broken, but no one will brother you.”

You’ve got that right, Conrad thought. I won’t be in there long enough to be bothered.

The window was shoulder height and not too large, but Conrad knew he could get out quickly. He found a crate in the corner to stand on and began climbing through the window. He could feel something catch on his belt, and when he was about halfway though, he could go no further. He tried to back out, but that wasn’t possible either.

I can’t be stuck, he thought. I can’t be…

Voices. Outside the bathroom door. The large man in the dark suit and some other man.

“You’re right on time. Willie will be here any time now with those auto parts.” Dark suit man said. “I told him to park out front.”

“Those crates are heavy, Bruno.”

“Yeah, and Willie’s got a big haul tonight. Two of our players left their car out front with the keys in it, so I moved it around back so Willie could pull right up to the door.”

Oh no.

“I hear Willie’s car now. He’s got to get that heap fixed. Do we need to go out now or is there time for me to take a leak?”

“Go ahead. We’ve got a minute. Willie will beep his horn twice when he pulls up.”


Saturday, February 2, 2019

Dark Retribution: Smitty's Calling Card, Volume One by B.R. Stateham - A Review



How far would you go to protect someone close to you? Would you call on the devil for assistance? When the police are struggling to apprehend a murderer whose signature is reminiscent of London’s Jack the Ripper, one cop does just that. He knows that sometimes, the only way to combat evil is with evil. Enter Smitty: A colder-than-ice assassin, and yet also, the ultimate contradiction. He kills without hesitation or regret, yet does all within his power to protect the innocent and vulnerable.

Prostitutes are being brutally murdered, and their killer leaves no trace and no clues. Smitty is asked to stop this fiend before he kills again. The cop has more of a stake in ending this killing spree than simply doing his job. Sources reveal his sister-in-law may be the killer’s next victim. Smitty works his way through the maze of suspects and potential victims, only to be drawn into a convoluted web of deceit and death. As the body count rises on all sides, no one could have ever imagined where Smitty’s investigation would lead.

In Dark Retribution, B.R. Stateham permits us to shadow the dark and elusive Smitty: Hope to the oppressed and living nightmare to the oppressor. B.R. has created for us a character who is neither superhuman nor supernatural, but who possesses an uncanny ability to sift through miscues and lies, and hone in on his intended target. Dark Retribution is a thriller that will lead you down a twisted and disturbing path, and you will relish every step of the journey.

You can order Dark Retribution here


Sunday, January 27, 2019

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 5 - My Adventure


This week’s prompt was to write about a journey. Sometimes you have to run away to find your way back home.


My Adventure

The old man left at 7:30 this morning. Same as every morning for the past 30 years. I fixed a couple of fried eggs, two pieces of rye toast, and a pot of coffee. He grabbed his lunch pail from the fridge. Inside was his usual bologna sandwich, a Tupperware bowl with potato salad, a baggie with chips, and a slice of apple pie wrapped in foil. He put on his work shoes by the front door, where he always leaves them, and left. He’ll walk to the corner and catch the #39 bus to Clarendon, and transfer to the #87 which will take him to his job site at Mitchell and Hathaway.

“My ladies magazines say it’s good to mix things up now and again.”

“Change is the ruin of this country.”

Crazy old man.

The old man is my husband, Harvey Cooper. He does the same thing every day, every night, every week, every month… You can set your watch by that old man. After he left, I walked to the opposite corner and got on the #82, which took me to the 8th Street train station. I decided to get on a train and ride it all the way to the main terminal downtown. Then, I’m going to transfer to a different train. I don’t care which one, cause I’m going on an adventure. When we stop at a station that strikes my fancy, I’ll get off, and make a real life for myself. Far away from that crazy old man.

Next stop, Mundelein Street Station

I took cash from the cookie jar, and left the savings. It’ll get him by if he needs it. I’ll find a cheap motel and get a job. I did factory work before we married, and I still remember how to work a line. It’ll be nice to be me for a change. I was Billy and Martha Jenson’s daughter, Tommy Jenson’s older sister, Martha and Billy Jenson’s caretakers – in that particular order, and Harvey Cooper’s wife. Always somebody else’s something. It’ll feel good to be just Hermione. That’s me.

“My ladies magazines say it’s good to find out who you really are.”

“Folks who don’t know who they are belong in the loony bin.”

Crazy old man.

Next stop, Hendricks Street Station

Every day, when that old man gets home from work, he kicks off his work shoes at the door, goes into the laundry room, takes off his work pants and shirt, and drops them in a pile on top of the hamper.

“Why do you put your clothes on top of the hamper instead of lifting the lid and putting them inside?”

“If I put them inside, you’ll have to take them out. You don’t have to take these out.”

Crazy old man.

Next stop, Willow Street Station

He puts on his robe – the one his mother bought him 20 years ago, puts on his slippers – the ones I bought him 14 years ago, and goes into the kitchen. He turns off the oven, and takes the plate out with his dinner on it that I’ve been warming. He fetches the plate with a piece of pie I leave in the fridge, and a bottle of beer. I’d have already set up the TV tray for him with a fork, a napkin, and the remote, in front of his recliner. He leans back in the recliner, pulls the tray in front of him, and turns on wrestling. That’s where he stays cause he falls asleep halfway through the match. I get him to bed, and set his alarm. Meantime, I’m puttering somewhere in the house.

“My ladies magazines say men should show their wives they’re appreciated.”

“I let you watch me bowl at the VFW every Friday night.”

Crazy old man.

Next stop, Camden Street Station

It’s almost 6 and he’ll be home soon.  In his tattered robe and threadbare slippers, he’ll find the oven’s cold. And empty. I’m sure he’ll figure out how to put a sandwich together. There’s at least a half a loaf of bread in the cupboard, I think. He won’t have any chips. I didn’t do the marketing today. There’s no more pie in the fridge. I didn’t bake this morning.

Next stop, Billings Place Station

He won’t use the tray. He’ll just put the plate with his sandwich in his lap and get crumbs all over the carpet. He won’t run the vacuum either. I’d be surprised if he knew how to turn it on – that’s if he knows where I keep it. He’ll fall asleep in that chair, and won’t wake up on time cause I didn’t set the alarm. His boss will fire him for being late.

It’ll be tough for Harvey to get another job cause he won’t have clean clothes while he’s looking, He don’t know how to run the washer. He could ask one of the church ladies to help him figure out his laundry. Course, Harvey hasn’t been inside a church since our wedding, so he probably don’t know any of them do-gooders. It don’t matter that he can’t cook to make himself a hot meal cause he won’t have lights or water. He don’t know where I keep the bank book, so how’s he gonna pay any bills? How in the world is that crazy old man gonna…

Last stop, main terminal

 “Excuse me, Conductor. How long before this train goes back around to the 8th Street Station?”

***

“Hey, Hermi, where you been? Didn't hear you puttering. My supper in the oven?”

The old man got off early.

“No, Harv. I picked up Chinese take-out. I’ll make you a plate.”

“Okay. Where’s my tray? Wrestling’s gonna start.”

“Get on your robe and slippers. I’ll get everything ready.”

“You’re a good old gal. You wanna watch the match with me?”

“Sure. I’ll fix a plate for me too.”

“Good. The empty house made me worried. I missed ya.”

He missed me. Crazy old man.


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 4 - Rest in Peace


The prompt this week was to roll for a random genre. I decided to use whatever I rolled the first time, whether it was something I was comfortable with or not. Well, I rolled a 7, which was ghost story. I have to admit that writing ghost stories is not my usual fare, but I accepted the challenge and came up with the following. I tried to tell the story from an unusual perspective, and I hope you enjoy it.

Rest in Peace


Why do people always wish for the dead to ‘rest in peace’? What if they didn’t ‘die in peace’? What if they don’t want to ‘rest in peace’? I’ve been thinking about that because recently, I’ve had death touch me personally. I’m still trying to figure it all out, and I learn something new about my feelings on the subject each and every day.


“Carla, it happened again this morning. I don’t know how much more I can take.”

“Elaine, I know you reported the first incident and they wouldn’t do anything, but if you report it each time you believe she came in, wouldn’t they bring her in and question her?”

“It’s a waste of time talking to the cops. They keep asking me for evidence. I told them I know who’s doing all these things to me, but they don’t believe me. I just don’t know what to do. My brother shoots himself, my parents die in a car accident, and my brother’s ex has been coming into my home and trying to make me think I’m crazy. Now, she’s trying to kill me. How much more torment can I take?”

Let’s find out, shall we?

“What’s really going on, Elaine? You said Sara comes in and moves things around, and your lights flicker sometimes. While that’s annoying, I hardly think you’d lose your mind over stupid pranks. You think she’s trying to kill you? Why? Unless she feels you’re responsible for Danny’s death.”

“I’m not responsible for my brother’s suicide. I didn’t even know he owned a gun.”

“I know you’re not responsible, but it’s probably easier for his girlfriend to blame you than herself. Didn’t Sara break up with him just before he…well, you know.”

“That’s what he told me. He said she was going away.”

Going to help her sick aunt for a week. Not away.

“How was he after she left?”

“He stayed in the house and moped around.”

Not moped. Snooped.

“I know you loved your brother.”

“I adored Danny, but when he was dating Sara, he spent all his time at her place. It was tough for me to get things done around here with him under foot all the time.”

Tough, indeed. Wasn’t easy to screw with the brakes on your father’s car so they’d fail on the mountain road knowing you were being watched.

“Elaine, your house is so big, I would think you could go for days without seeing each other if you wanted to.”

“That’s true, but Danny was all up in my business day and night after Sara left, and I don't know why.”

I’ll give you three guesses.

“Elaine, he was upset.”

“I suppose. That must be what drove him to pull the trigger.”

Knowing you’d be arrested for attempting to murder your parents drove you to pull the trigger.

“Sara didn’t even come to his funeral, did she?”

“She told me she couldn’t bear to see him like that. She also said something about already finding comfort, and that would be enough. She must have been planning her twisted revenge, and found comfort in that.”

“I still don’t understand. Have you still been trying to reach her?”

“I don’t know where she’s staying. It has to be close by though since she comes in and out of my house at will. She knows I’m in and out during the day. Damn Danny for giving her a key and not getting it back.”

“Wait, Elaine, we’re off track. You said she’s trying to kill you? Why would you think that?”

“Carla, there were bits of broken glass at the bottom of my shower. I would never have noticed had I not dropped the shampoo bottle. I could have been injured stepping on all that. My lotion bottle was leaking too because there were pieces of glass in there as well. What if there’s glass in the coffee maker or cereal boxes? I could be laying there bleeding to death and no one would know.”

I would know.

“Did you leave everything as you found it? Have the police come take a look because that would be evidence; although, how they could link Sara to it, I’m not sure. But at least they would take you seriously.”

“Oh, I intend to. I just have to go to Millford and drop some papers off at the bank. I need to get them there before noon to release the last of Father’s foreign accounts to me. I’ll personally report these recent attempts on my sanity and my life to the police on my way home.”

No you won’t.

“Well, don’t take the mountain road, Elaine. I know it takes longer on the highway, but it’s safer. If only your father had taken the…I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have brought that up.”

“Carla, I know that road. I’ll be okay. Taking the highway adds an hour and half to the trip and I don’t have that kind of time. I’ll talk to you later.”

No, you don’t, and no, you won’t.

The police ruled it a tragic accident when Elaine Cooper’s car missed the last curve on the mountain road. It was doubly tragic since that was the exact spot where her parents' car went off the edge and plunged hundreds of feet to the rocks below. Elaine’s car exploded on impact just as her parents’ car had. People just shook their heads in disbelief that so much pain could be visited on one family.

Elaine really did know that road, but when I appeared in the passenger seat of her car and told her it was time to pay for murdering me and our parents, I guess the shock was too great. She lost control of the car and went over the side. I’m not sure if I can rest in peace now, but putting my arms around my girlfriend, Sara, while she sleeps helps us both, so I suppose that’ll have to do. For now.


Friday, January 18, 2019

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 3 - The Best-Laid Plans...


The prompt this week was to incorporate a random location and a thing into our story. There were six choices for each, so I rolled the dice to get my prompt. I decided to give it a try with whatever came up the first time. For the location, I got parking garage, and for the thing, I got plastic fork. What a combination! This was quite the challenge, but I ended up having so much fun with it. I hope you enjoy.

The Best-Laid Plans…

“Joey’s a dead man! Who does he think he is, stealing from me? Wait until I get my hands on that ungrateful little punk.”

When he woke up that morning, Joey decided he had had enough. Thousands of dollars in cash passed through his hands each Friday, but none of it ended up in his pocket. He was one of Big Jim’s bag men. At the start, it seemed like a good deal. Ma needed an operation, and Pop had run off with some woman he’d met at the ballpark. When Big Jim offered him $100 a week to do pickups, it seemed like the answer to their prayers. Ma didn’t like it, but she was able to have her operation, so it all worked out.  

Joey’s first stop was the Hotel Royale. The bag was heavy this morning. Gambling there was popular and Big Jim’s cut was hefty. Joey decided this would be enough to set him up in a new life somewhere else. Normally, he, as did all Big Jim’s bag men, would go immediately to the bus depot and put the cash into the storage locker, but not today. Big Jim collected all the bags after dinner. It was then he’d notice Joey’s was missing; but, by that time, Joey would be gone.

“Where would Joey go, Big Jim?”

“Joey doesn’t know I did my count early, so he thinks he’s got time to spare. He’s predictable, Ralph. He’ll eat at his favorite diner one last time. Always does after a pickup. That’s where we’ll start.”

There was no need to rush. Joey went home and transferred the money into a suitcase along with some clean clothes. He walked the few blocks to Danny’s Diner and ordered the special. After he’d finished, he left Danny a sizeable tip. He’d miss this place, but it was time to move on. On his way out, he grabbed a handful of plastic forks and shoved them in his back pocket. It was a habit he’d had since childhood. When he and Ma would eat out, she’d tell him to grab a bunch of forks. They had a drawer full of them at home, but she always wanted more. He didn’t question it. Some folks grabbed packets of ketchup; Ma wanted forks. What’s the harm…

He left Danny’s and walked to the corner to catch a cab to the dock, where he could join the crew of one of the ships. When he looked to his left, he saw Big Jim and three of his goons crossing the street heading for Danny’s. What the hell… There were no taxis coming, and Joey knew he had to make himself scarce, so he ran into the parking garage across the street. It would be the perfect place to hide. And wait. He didn’t wait long.

“I know you’re in here, Joey. You’re like those fairy tale characters leaving a trail of breadcrumbs; only, you leave plastic forks. Come out and bring my money.”

Damn, Joey thought, and reached into his right back pocket. There were only two left of the five forks he’d taken. Big Jim would have his goons at all the exits, so driving out wouldn’t be smart. Wait. There was a way Joey could get out. All he had to do was hide in someone’s trunk. He wouldn’t have to sit in there long since this garage was short-term parking only. He moved quietly trying to find the right car – one with out of town plates.

“Joey, come out, come out, wherever you are.” Big Jim was close now.

Joey saw a car with Jersey plates, and knew that would be his ticket out. It was an older model and the alarm was easy to bypass. He climbed in, put his suitcase in his lap, and quietly closed the trunk until it latched. He didn’t have to wait long. About ten minutes later, someone got in, started the car, and drove out of the garage. I made it, he thought. Big Jim will never find me.

The sounds of city traffic had ceased long ago, and Joey believed they were on one of the county roads. Joey knew out here the houses were few and far between. As soon as the car stopped, he’d exit the trunk, pull the driver out, hop in the driver’s seat, and be on his way to the dock. The sound of the car on gravel brought Joey to full alert. I’ll bet it’s a driveway, he thought, get ready. He grabbed the lever to release the trunk lock and waited. Voices. What the hell…

“You got here fast, Harry. I can’t thank you enough.”

“You don’t have to thank me, Big Jim. You’re family. I’m not going to leave my brother-in-law in the lurch with the old man. It’s all here in $20’s. I’ll just put the squeeze on one of my clients and make up the difference with my boss. Not a big deal.”

Wait a minute. Big Jim? Brother-in-law? Joey’s Big Jim had a sister who lived in Jersey, and her husband’s name was Harry. His Big Jim had a place out in the county where he got the week’s take ready for delivery to the old man. Of all the trunks of all the cars in the whole damn city to climb into…

“Harry, one last thing. I couldn’t resist picking up a couple of things for sis and the kids. There’s also a little something extra in the box for you, just to show my appreciation. I know its heavy, but it should fit on your front seat.”

Whew…

“It would, Big Jim, but on my way home, I’m going to pick up my Aunt Cissy. She’s going to be staying with us to help with the kids after Lucy has her surgery.”

“No problem. Help me lift it up, and we’ll just put it in your trunk.”

Uh-oh…