May 4 for Story a Day. For my thoughts on the piece check out my Story a Day page.
Jen and Dave always enjoyed sitting the promenade near their favorite movie theater. They had a favorite quiet bench all the way at the end that was tucked behind a five foot high urn filled with plants.
In fifteen years of quiet talks they’d never seen anyone near that bench, hidden away as it was. Which was why the couple was surprised to find a phone on the bench one late spring day.
Jen was concerned about the owners missing it while Dave, always a bit more practical, tried to decide where it should be turned in so the owners might get it back.
And the n the phone rang.
“Answer it,” Jenn said, shoving the mysterious phone at her husband like it was a bomb about to explode.
“No,” an equally strident Dave replied. “It’s not ours. Better to let the them leave a voice mail.”
The phone stopped ringing and Jenn stopped shoving it at Dave. “Problem solved.” She smiled and handed it to a now willing Dave. :You were saying something about turning it in?”
“I was thinking about the box office. They probably see the more traffic than the other shops around here.
Jenn was just nodding agreement when the phone rang again.
“You’ve got the phone, answer it.” Jenn again insisted to her husband.
“No.” He was happy when the ringing soon stopped. “Oh look, There’s a text message.”
“Let me see.” Jenn grabbed the phone and opened the message. “It’s from a repair shop and they say the car is ready.” Her eyes lit up. “Now we can easily find out who the phone belongs to. Let’s call the shop and explain what’s going on. They can tell us whose it is.
Dave thought this was the perfect solution and Jenn carefully dialed the shop’s number. It was pick-up mid first ring.
“This is Marco’s,” A deep voice said on the other end.
“Oh I’m sorry. Wrong number.” Jenn hung up and tried again.
“Marco’s. How can I help you?” This voice was slightly higher.
Glad it’s not the same person, Jenn thought to her self. She wasn’t sure what to do. She threw a frantic look at Dave who of course just shrugged his shoulders in confusion.
“Is that you Benny? Hey where you been?” Jenn was frozen. This didn’t sound like a car repair shop. “Specially cause you were supposed to meet him at the promenade last Wednesday and you didn’t show.
“Uh,” her vocal cords clenched leaving her voice barely a whisper.
“You sick or something Benny?”
“Yeah, I need some chicken soup or somethin’,” Jenn managed to croak out while trying to signal her husband that something was wrong.
“Well that don’t matter. Boss still wants his money. You got that?”
Dave yanked the phone out of his wife’s hands and hung it up.
“What are you doing?” He was almost yelling as he pulled his shirt up to wipe Jenn’s prints off the phone and then put it back on the bench. “Come on, the show should be seating by now.”
Jenn just nodded and allowed herself to be pulled along.
Just as the couple reached the end of the boardwalk, three police cars sped up and stopped right in front of them. They froze and tried not to look guilty – of anything – they just weren’t sure what they might be guilty of. It just seemed the right thing to do at that moment. But the officers all headed toward the movie house and didn’t pay any attention to the gathering crowd.
Jenn noticed a woman who seemed well settled on a bench and went to ask her what was happening.
“Some kids said they found a dead body behind the theater. Say it looks like it’s been there about three or four days.”
“That’s horrible!” Jenn felt herself sway a bit.
“You okay? You look a bit pale.”
“I’m fine, thanks.” Jenn hurried back to Dave who was still watching the theater.
“There’s a dead body behind the theater,” she whispered in his ear. “And it’s probably been there about three or four days.”
Dave’s horrified look matched the one already on Jenn’s face and without needing to say anything they quietly slipped away.
That evening Jenn watched the news coverage and was unsurprised to find out the dead man had been Benny Clasto, a known member of a local drug gang. Within days a suspect from a rival gang had been arrested.
Jenn was fascinated by an interview with the victim’s older brother. “How could Benny be dead? I talked to him on Saturday and he asked me for soup. I just don’t understand. He was such a good guy.”
Dave smiled grimly. “My wife, requester of soup for dead guys.” Jenn glared at him.
They never went back to the bench again. It just didn’t seem so peaceful anymore.