Thursday, April 7, 2011


This week’s prompt was to write a story about someone who gets caught with their pants down, literally or figuratively. Genre was open. We’re supposed to come up with a good fool for this April Fool’s edition of F3. Enjoy.


I wanted that house ever since the day I watched the Dansons move in--all that expensive artwork and furs. Thinking about the diamonds the missus probably wore with those coats made me salivate. The place was designed to be jacked--set back from the highway at the end of that long driveway on the outskirts of town. No doubt loaded to the brim with items pawnable. I was certain however, that it was also equipped with a state-of-the-art alarm system. That’s where Petey comes in.

I believe a bit of background is needed here. Petey is my wife Connie’s brother. Connie likes the finer things in life, which is why I pull the occasional heist. Why I would really like to hit that particular house is because I could get enough from there to be able to get Connie her much-needed surgery. She’s got this dermatological ‘thing’. That’s what the doc called it anyway. What it is though is a bushy mustache. I’m not talking a few stray whiskers either. Creams and ointments don’t do squat except make it stronger like some alien lifeforce, but one of the docs said a quick in-office surgery would rid her of it forever. Problem is, that quick snip costs a hefty chunk of change, but it’ll be worth it for Connie’s sake. I hate to sound like a pig, but it’ll be worth it for me too. She gets it from her mother, and when she comes to visit and plants one on you, for days after, it’s like you’ve been sucking on a hairbrush. Connie’s not quite that bad yet, but I’d like to nip that while she’s young, if you get my drift. Anyway, Petey.

I’m not trying to sound mean, but Petey doesn’t have the brains a footstool was born with. He’s real agreeable and has a memory to beat the band, but no sense whatsoever. Connie had told me when we met that she took responsibility for caring for him. It seems that some uncle of theirs had dropped Petey one time and he was never right again after that. My guess was that it must have been a helluva drop, but Connie’s crazy about him and keeps reminding me that he’s family. He’s harmless and earns his own keep, so it never really bothered me. Thing is, with this new score I’m planning, Petey’s A-plus memory is going to come in real handy. This was going to be my smoothest caper yet, and considering what could be had, possibly my last. You never know.

Petey’s job is as a part-time housecleaner. Three days a week, he goes with Harold Pilner in Harold’s van and helps him out on jobs. Harold pays Petey in cash so he doesn’t have to fill out any papers for the government, but it doesn’t do anybody any harm. Petey does an honest day’s work and ends up with a few bucks in his pocket. It makes him feel real good helping out, so I know he’ll feel terrific about doing me a favor.

I know this sounds nutty, but I look at this like a fate thing. The Dansons put the word out they‘d be gone a few days to an out-of-town wedding. They hired Harold to come in for a couple of days and get the place all tidied up before they left, which means Petey would be able to get in there. All I’m going to have him do is find the control panel of their alarm system and tell me the brand and model number. When he goes back the second day, it will be with instructions from me on how to disable it. I’m going to make it sound exciting, like a spy mission, and he won‘t ask any questions. I’ll tell him how important it is to keep it a secret between us and let him know just how much he’s going to be helping that family by snipping those wires. Petey looks up to me and he’ll buy anything I dish out. Does that make me a jerk? Probably. But no harm, no foul. The Dansons won’t suspect Harold, everything they own is insured, and I’ll be able to stop kissing a Brillo.

Petey came through with flying colors. Yesterday was their first day cleaning there and Petey told me there was a big box on the wall in their kitchen with pretty colored buttons all over it. He told me what was written across the top and bingo, that was exactly the information I needed. I went to the library in town and did some research on the computers there and sure enough, I found a booklet online that contained the installation instructions for that system. I drew some diagrams that would enable Petey to completely disarm it without leaving any trace that it had been messed with. I went over the diagrams with Petey and you could see in his eyes that he’d remember every minute detail. The guy didn’t know how to put the kettle on for coffee, but he could name every screw, wire and connector of a Firebird’s engine. Life’s funny, huh…

When Petey got home tonight, I asked him how things went on his job and I winked at him. He winked right back and said everything would be okay. He had heard me talking to Connie about going back there early tomorrow morning after the Dansons had left on their trip and Petey asked me if he could come along. He said he had been there twice and knew where all their pretty stuff was. I was going to take the pickup and I knew I’d have time since there wouldn’t be anyone around and there weren’t any neighbors close enough to see anything, but I figured it would go a lot quicker with both of us taking the stuff out. I told him that would be great if he came along because we were planning a surprise for the folks who lived there. But again, it was to be our secret. He was happy to be part of that. Sometimes I really am a jerk, but you do what you gotta do, you know?

It’s still a bit dark out, but that’s alright. I pulled the pickup to the side of the house and Petey and I went around back to go in through the patio door. I shattered the glass by the lock and held my breath, but no siren. I gave Petey my biggest smile and told him I was proud of him for taking care of our little ‘problem’. He grinned from ear to ear and said there was nothing to worry about. Maybe including family in my little enterprises wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

I gave Petey a sack and sent him upstairs to empty the jewelry boxes. I stayed downstairs and looked for the glitter. I couldn’t believe how much bling these people had. Gold this and silver that, and diamond edges on everything else. I started stuffing everything I could grab into my sack when Petey came running down the stairs with his sack overflowing with gem-covered boxes.

“Petey,” I said, “you’re supposed to take the stuff out of the boxes and put the necklaces and such in the sack, not just grab the boxes. But I suppose that’s okay too. Are there any more upstairs? Do you need another sack?”

“Oh no,” Petey grinned. “I got them all. I just came down here to tell you I saw some police cars coming down the driveway with their pretty red and white lights on. Maybe they can help us take the things out to your truck.”

I ran across to the front of the house and saw several squad cars, some pulling off to cover both sides of the house. I looked into the yard and several cops were already coming up to the patio doors. We were surrounded. I dropped the candelabra I had been holding and sat on one of the sofas in the living room. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes.

“Petey,” I said quietly. “I told you to disable the alarm and you said you did. How did the police know we were here?”

“I didn‘t say that,” he replied. “I told you everything would be okay. I didn’t do what you told me with the wires in that box because I didn’t have to.”

I had trouble breathing and wondered if I was having some type of an episode.

“See,” Petey continued, “when the lady in the house saw me looking at the box in the kitchen, she told me she was really proud of it. It only had that one box, the colors blended with her kitchen, and the best part of it was that the alarm was silent.”

I could feel myself losing consciousness.

“That’s why I didn’t have to do anything to those wires like you told me to. Nothing to that alarm but a pretty looking box that didn’t make no noise at all. I tried real hard to figure out why anybody would want just a box and then I knew. It was so you could put it up on the wall anywhere and it wasn’t ordinary like a picture and the buttons had much more color than any pictures I ever saw. I told the lady thank you and finished my cleaning. Oh look, the police are coming in the house now.”

The first cop in removed my hands from around Petey’s neck. I told him that I had two tens in my pocket, a twenty in my left shoe and it could all be his if he’d let me have his gun for just one minute. After he sucker punched and cuffed me, we went outside to his car. Petey, being slow, would get his hands slapped. Me? I’d get put away. Plenty of time to think though. Family. Can’t depend on them, can’t kill them, and in 7-½ to 15, won’t be able to kiss them. Life’s funny, huh…


  1. As always dear, that was amazing! I got to "The Dansons won’t suspect Harold, everything they own is insured, and I’ll be able to stop kissing a Brillo" and I laughed my fool head off!

    Week after week, you turn in top shelf stuff. I hope someone buys you a tall drink for this one.


  2. "Petey doesn’t have the brains a footstool was born with" Hahaa! Best line ever...! The was great, I really enjoyed this one, and really liked the sense of humor running through it...

  3. Well done! Such an excellent set-up and execution with the alarm.

  4. LOL! “See,” Petey continued, “when the lady in the house saw me looking at the box in the kitchen, she told me she was really proud of it. It only had that one box, the colors blended with her kitchen, and the best part of it was that the alarm was silent.”

    I could feel myself losing consciousness.
    Just too funny! Nice story, as always thanks for sharing

  5. The voice was great. Loved the ending paragraph.

  6. Life is very funny! If I ever ventured into a life of crime that would be my ultimate fate. Awesome story as usual!

  7. Excellent character development! I'm glad that Petey remains sweet and clueless.

  8. Such a nice experiance. Good job. Now time to cheer up. Let's do party.

  9. Nice work Joyce. Had me rooting for Petey from the get-go. And like others said, a ton of great one-liners.

  10. BOOM! The U-Boat strikes! Oh Lord, Joyce. The silky 'stache image is going to keep me in chuckles for months. "It's a silent alarm" is good for the rest of my life. Why does Petey remind me myself? Thanks Lady J. This is priceless

  11. Joyce brilliantly plotted as always. Some families should carry a government health warning.

  12. Doc, So glad you enjoyed this. Thank you, as always, for your encouragement and support. I'm still waiting on that tall drink...

    Ingrid, Glad you got a chuckle. This one tickled me too.

    Clair, Thanks. Tried hard to work up to, and sneak in, the silent alarm bit. Kind of the last straw.

    Reg, So glad you liked this one. I wanted my sarcasm to be pitiful and funny at the same time. Looks like I pulled it off.

    Angie, Happy you enjoyed it. Struggled with the ending though. Had to be just right.

    Beach, Thanks much. I feel the same way. My life of crime would probably last like maybe 5 minutes--if I'm lucky!

    Barbara, Characters are my priority. I assure you, Petey came out of this just fine.

    Anton, Thanks for taking time to read and comment. Glad you enjoyed.

    Ray, Thanks a ton. Petey had to be okay. I love to keep the zingers coming!

    AJ, Thanks for your comments. You always know how to make me feel like my creative struggles were worth every second. The silent alarm aspect still tickles me.

    Richard, You made me laugh out loud with your comment, and I totally agree! Some potential spouses and parents should be implanted with warning stickers!