Abandoned at Death

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.

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Behind the Risers

File:TromboneFamilyFillmore.jpg

Day 2 of Story a Day. For my thoughts on the piece  click here.

They hovered around us unsure of what was going to happen but knowing that they wanted to see it resolved.

So I punched him. Just hauled back and bottled up my fist (did remember to tuck thumb away) and punched him square in the gut. I swear his eyes grew to the size of lunch plates. I could tell what he was thinking.

“Yeah, a girl punched you. Now leave my section alone.”

He mumbled a bit, doubled over a bit, and stumbled back toward the practice rooms.

It felt good to see his usually sneering face transformed by pain.

I looked around at my boys and noticed they seemed more surprised by my short brutal act then the bully I had just stood up to on their behalf. “Remember boys,” I looked around my fellow trombonists with my new menacing glare. “Brass players don’t take shit from woodwinds.”

“We didn’t think you’d hit him.”

“Two years of talking hadn’t stopped him. What else was I supposed to do?” My second was standing next to me. “Remember,” I told him. “Next year you’re in charge of the section. I expect you to take care of them just like I’ve taught you.”

He gulped and wondered when high school orchestra had gotten so dangerous.

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Tuesday Tales

Conjugal

Come join the Tuesday Tales fun. A picture prompt, a theme word,  What story can you weave with 100 words?

Read mine at Tuesday Tales or on my own Flash Fiction page.

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The House of Memories

Day 1 of Story a Day.  For my thoughts on today’s story click here.

First of the month. And that meant first of the month rituals for Karen. New box of food for the cat, new set of bill paying envelopes, and a new page on the calendar. She ripped the old month’s page off and then realized it was May. Her hands trembled a bit as she crumpled the April calendar and threw it in the trash.

No maypoles and happy flowers for her. Only pain as there was every May first for the last ten years. Memories of the day flashed through Karen’s head. The crash, the surgeries, the double funeral and Sarah’s small casket almost huddling next to Jim’s full sized one at the front of the church.

Tears threatened to spill out of Karen’s eyes before being blotted away with the ever present tissue. “Please help me to get through this month,” she silently prayed.

The phone’s ringing pulled Karen from her reverie and she sighed upon realizing which tune was playing, the Bonanza theme. Her realtor had the worst timing. Karen took a quick look around to make sure the kitchen was clean. She was sure the woman could see through the phone.

“Good morning Ellen.”

“Oh good morning Karen,” Ellen chirped. “I have wonderful news.”

Did she ever have bad news? “Yes Ellen.”

“Three showing requests for the house today…”

The realtor went on about when but Karen couldn’t hear it. Not today, why today? She just wanted to stay home with her memories. It was hard enough selling the house, but did she have to deal with this today?

“Karen, Karen did you hear me?”

“Hunh? Sorry Ellen, the water was boiling.” Karen flipped the tea pot on so the noisy thing would prove her right.

“I said they all want to come this morning. That shouldn’t be a problem will it.” Ellen was good at making a question into a command.

“Yes, yes it is,” Karen wanted to scream into the phone. “The house has been on the market for two months and today you want to bring in the whole world?” She resisted. “Of course not Ellen. How soon?”

“About an hour? The first couple is super excited. They’re expecting a little girl and I think they’ll just love that second bedroom…”

Karen’s stomach cramped and she grabbed the counter for support. “Not Sarah’s room. Did you have to talk about that?”

“Ellen I haven’t even had my tea. Can we do this later, or tomorrow even?” Karen new she sounded odd and could picture Ellen’s mouth firming into a thin line of disapproval.

“It’s today isn’t it?” Ellen’s voice was surprisingly soft.

The tears came in a torrent and Karen could only mumble out a thick, “Yes.”

Neither woman knew how to fill the silence.

“Well then,” came Ellen’s still soft voice through the phone. “How about this.” Her voice gained speed and volume as she gathered her plan. “I’m sending you to the spa for a morning of pampering and then you and I will have lunch and you can tell me all about your family.” She paused. “Sometimes it’s good to talk to someone and let it all out before we can move on. How about that.”

The tears flow came again and Karen let them flow freely. Ten years and she’d never talked to anyone. Ten years of seeing Jim’s clothes in the closet and keeping Sarah’s room just as it had been. Ten years of limping up and down the stairs because her leg hadn’t healed well and she didn’t want to leave this place.

Karen flipped off the kettle before it could boil. She wouldn’t be needing that anymore.

Picture courtesy InternetClipart.com

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Magic in the Library.

For me libraries have always been magical places filled with stories about people that  I could  imagine meeting. In elementary school, not only did I read through entire chunks of the school’s library but I would spend time helping the school librarian. Shelve some books, straighten up a display, or best of all type up some cards for the card catalog – on an electric typewriter no less (Mother wouldn’t let me touch her good one). Yes, I’m dating myself here. But even those cards were magical. One book with so many different ways to organize it – title, author, category. And then to be able to put those cards in the catalog drawers was an event. Very few people were allowed to touch the metal rods that held the stacks of cards in those drawers. I knew I was special. The school librarian encouraged me to earn my library sciences degree in college so I could come back to help her.  It was an intriguing thought but wafted away in time.

As a budding writer I enjoyed creative writing club. Which was of course run in the library. Just another reason to be in one of my favorite places. And then there was the magic day when we had a real live author come to visit! He was a local poet and we each were to write a poem ahead of time that our teach sent off to him and then we were critiqued.  Pure magic! He said mine reminded him of e.e. cummings.  Being only eleven or twelve I had to look up e.e. cummings. Really, I was that cool?

Those times in the school library are some of my favorite childhood memories.  As homeschoolers my children were introduced to our local public library very early on. We’ve participated in summer reading program , my youngest has volunteered in the children’s department for the last two years, and we’ve held NaNoWriMo Young Writer’s write-ins at the library. But best of all is the Creative Writing program. Tuesday afternoons are for all community teens and once a month there’s a special homeschooling group that also functions as a book club.

And last week what happened? They got to meet a real, live author. Terri Clark  writes YA fiction and came for a visit. She talked about the business side of being an author, discussed writing, and brought copies of her books to give away. One of the girls received  Ms. Clark’s newest book Hollyweird two weeks before its release date. Our home library gained Sleepless and The Girl Who Was on Fire.  Even more special for my kids was that Ms. Clark signed the books.

The library magic has now been passed on to another generation and I can only hope that this will become one of my children’s favorite memories.

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