Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Flash Fiction Friday, Week 49: That Green-Eyed Monster
The prompt this week was to write a mystery story that began with one of the listed sentences. The one I chose is highlighted. Please enjoy.
That Green-Eyed Monster
We couldn’t let anyone know we’d been inside. It is true that Benny, Joey and I broke into old man Harlson’s house at midnight, but it was only to find some evidence. See, Benjamin Harlson was a royal piece of garbage. He cheated everybody in town by selling them crap and then charging them to fix it when it broke. He called himself a real estate something or other and when folks bought land in the county, they’d pay his company to build a house for them. What they didn’t know until it was too late was that his crew was made up of nothing but drunks and inmates from the penal farm. He never did get permits; he just paid off the folks in the courthouse to write in the books that everything was being done all legal like.
Families would move in and walls would cave, the roof would leak, and all kinds of other nonsense would go wrong. Then Harlson would send his sleazy crew of repairmen in to fix it up, and charge the residents a pretty penny. This went on all over the county, but folks kept letting him build their houses and fix stuff when it broke. They deserved their troubles, if you ask me, but who am I, but a 15 year old kid that don’t know anything about the world or how it works. What I do know is that bastard Harlson framed our pal Lonny Draymond’s pop for embezzling $10,000 from some families who were building homes in a new subdivision. Mr. Draymond had been responsible for maintaining some of the equipment, and he also ordered supplies, like paint and wallpaper and such. He didn’t even have access to any of the money that changed hands, but Harlson said Mr. Draymond doctored up some invoices and that’s how he got the money.
There’s no way Lonny’s dad made off with $10,000. If he had taken it, why did he, Lonny’s ma and Lonny will still live in a single-wide trailer in Sunset Ridge Trailer Park? Why did Lonny’s pop still drive that heap of a truck with no driver’s side door that dripped oil from here to Kingdom come? Most important of all though, why would he let Lonny’s ma lay suffering and dying in her bed from some nightmare of a disease instead of spending that ten grand on fancy doctors and treatments? Harlson made up that lie and forged some stuff so Mr. Draymond would get blamed and go to jail instead of him. Yep. You guessed it. Harlson was the one who skimmed that cash off the top and would have got caught too because some state auditor was coming to look at his books – something about tax deductions and all. So, Lonny’s pop went to the slammer and that bum Harlson comes out of it smelling like a rose.
Well, us guys weren’t going to let him get away with that. We knew there had to be some papers in the old man’s office that would prove Lonny’s dad was innocent, and we were determined to find them. Harlson had spread it around in town how he was going on a business trip for a couple of days and nobody better get near his house while he was gone. He talked about some elaborate alarm system being hooked up there that would bring the state militia down on anybody who even thought about breaking in. We knew that was bull, but if some lights started flashing or sirens going off while we were there, we’d just hightail it out. Harlson’s backyard was woods anyhow and we knew how to get lost in there real good.
We would have brought Lonny with us, but there were two reasons why we didn’t. First and most important, with his dad behind bars, he had to stay with his ma to give her the medicine that eased her pain, and second, Lonny couldn’t keep a secret if you paid him a million bucks. He didn’t mean no harm, but he blabbed everything to anybody who’d listen. We knew we had to find some evidence on our own, turn it over to the DA, then tell Lonny. That way, when his loose lips let it out, no harm to the case could be done. Sound like a great plan? The greatest plan ever. That is, until we got inside the house, walked into the front room, and found old man Harlson lying next to the coffee table, stone cold dead with a big gash on the side of his head.
There was blood on one corner of the coffee table, so he might have tripped, fallen, and hit his head on it. Only one big problem with that scenario though, and that was the amount of blood on the table and the size of the wound on his head. The ‘fell and hit the table’ story might hold water if he slipped and fell on it from the roof. It was obvious, even to us kids, that a lot of force had been involved; like he had been pushed onto the table hard. That meant somebody else was involved. We looked around and didn’t see anything out of place or hear anybody moving around, so we figured whoever killed him had long gone. We hoped so, anyway. Still, even though we weren’t the ones who did him in, we tried to touch as little as possible. Okay, so our fingerprints weren’t on file anywhere, but we’d seen plenty of shows where folks got nailed for doing something they didn’t do just because they were in a certain place and didn’t touch anything.
Benny and Joey wanted to cut and run, but I told them Harlson was already dead, and since we were already there, we might as well do what we came for. Once he’d been found, maybe any paperwork we’d need would disappear. I told them to look around downstairs and I would go upstairs. Lonny’s dad had told Lonny that Harlson worked out of his house and kept papers all over the place, which made it real hard to keep track of orders and all. Even though the only other person in the house with us was dead, we were all as quiet as we could be. Joey refused to go any further into the front room, but there were other rooms downstairs to search, so he and Benny decided to split up.
I said I would go upstairs and look through whatever rooms were up there. The house was good size, so I figured at least maybe three or more rooms might be up there. I decided to start with the room on the right. When I flicked my flashlight on and scanned the room, I knew this was the master bedroom. Man, the old bastard had some fancy taste. There was a huge four poster bed with silk sheets, a big entertainment center, and…what was that? Somebody yelling outside? I went back to the top of the stairs to find out what was going on. There were cops everywhere, and they were telling Benny and Joey not to move, to put their hands behind their backs, and that they were being arrested for murder. I could hear Bob Dawson, our Police Chief, ask them if anyone else was in the house with them, and they both told him ‘no’. Smart, guys. That way, I’d be free to find out who really killed the old man. First things first though. How was I going to get out of there?
I went back to the master bedroom and saw a narrow door next to the closet that was partly open. It had no doorknob, and if it was closed, it would look like part of the wall. I opened it all the way and saw a staircase that looked like it went down to the first floor. I wondered if it led to another door out the back of the house. Maybe this was how the killer left, but he didn’t close it all the way behind him. I didn’t know for sure where I’d end up, but I didn’t have any choice, so I headed down the stairs and made sure I closed that door with the handle on the inside. What’s this? On the third stair down, was a switch knife. I’ll bet that fell out of the killer’s pocket as he ran down the stairs. What a dumbass. I used the bottom of my shirt to pick it up and slide it into my pocket. Wouldn’t want to mess with those fingerprints. On a few more steps down, I found a broken chain with a St. Christopher’s medal on it. We all got them from Sister Mary Frances at Catechism Class. She had our initials carved on the back. This one had LAD on it. Lonny Allen Draymond. Damn.
I reached the word limit, so this post is at an end. I won’t leave you hanging though. You can find the story's conclusion here.